A question for RPG lovers: plot or combat?

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jack_norton
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A question for RPG lovers: plot or combat?

#1 Post by jack_norton » Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:18 pm

I'm doing a lots of polls to help me in the development of my next game Planet Stronghold (a sci-fi RPG).
What do you prefer: a cool, long story with many plot twists and subquests (lots of texts to read) or focus more on the RPG elements like combat, including many skills, weapons, different enemies, variety of scenarios, and so on?

I'm asking because now I'm doing a good story-part, but if most people are just going to skip it to get to the combat, there's no point in having it at all :) So I could spend that time improving other aspects of the game instead.

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Re: A question for RPG lovers: plot or combat?

#2 Post by Chansel » Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:31 pm

Personally, I always prefer the story elements of an RPG. I just love to discover the secrets of all the characters and explore their personalities. And, assuming you're game has multiple paths, play all of the paths :)
I want to see what the ending would be like if I ended up with character A. Or see what'll happen to that final boss if I chose to betray character B. Etc, etc.
For me, that's what a Role Playing game is all about ;)
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Re: A question for RPG lovers: plot or combat?

#3 Post by jack_norton » Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:36 pm

Yes, well a friend of mine made me notice a thing though. Story doesn't necessarily means lots of dialogues. My question was because of that: I realized I probably couldn't put both long dialogues AND a good variety of enemy/weapons/etc (due to time and resource constraints).
So I thought I had to pick one of the two, but actually I believe I could go on just by not making dialogues too long (but still have many plot twists).
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Re: A question for RPG lovers: plot or combat?

#4 Post by blakjak » Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:37 pm

I can accept a combat mechanic that is not revolutionary, as long as it's decent, I'll probably have fun with it, if I feel involved in the story. The better the story, the more I empathize with the characters, the more I feel the battle I'm having is important. Bonus goes to a well written story that blows my mind, and characters that are believable. I prefer combat systems in which I don't have to spend too much time managing skills and inventory though, so that might not make me a good sample; but it is what attracts me to the VN/RPG genre.

edit : I also think that when I read about a person's favorite rpgs, whether in an article or forum, what usually stands out is the way the player got into the story and characters, but again, I'm biased =).

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Re: A question for RPG lovers: plot or combat?

#5 Post by jack_norton » Fri Jul 02, 2010 6:03 pm

Thanks for the feedback. I also am wondering if anyone would play a sci-fi RPG at all, since 99% are fantasy setting, but now is too late to change theme anyway with almost all art finished :D
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Re: A question for RPG lovers: plot or combat?

#6 Post by Jake » Fri Jul 02, 2010 6:34 pm

jack_norton wrote:Thanks for the feedback. I also am wondering if anyone would play a sci-fi RPG at all, since 99% are fantasy setting, but now is too late to change theme anyway with almost all art finished :D
The short answer is "if it's any good, of course". :P

I suspect 99% of RPGs are in a fantasy setting just through a combination of tradition and swords being easier to write battle systems for than guns and magic being more generally accepted than any Sci-Fi excuse for flashy alternative skills.
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Re: A question for RPG lovers: plot or combat?

#7 Post by Aleema » Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:32 pm

If the RPG mechanic is really, really good, then a story might "get in the way" of playing it. But I don't like playing RPGs where the story is just a big cliche or has no point or weight to it. I'd rather play a really good story with a sucky battle system, then the other way around. I find that I'll play through a crappy game just to get to more story. So: PLOT!

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Re: A question for RPG lovers: plot or combat?

#8 Post by vaanknight » Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:48 pm

I suppose I prefer plot as well, an example of this are the Eureka 7 games for the PS2, where it's very fun to control the LFOs and all, but the story is slow as hell and pretty bland... at least it was in the Vol. 1, I wasn't bothered to buy the next ones.

Silent Hill 2, in the other hand, has a masterpiece of a plot, and while fighting the monsters does get a bit frustrating and the camera will give you a headache unless you're an old school SH player, the story is so immersive that you barely notice the flaws.

So yeah, a story that lets you focus on a good story doesn't give you time to whine about the battle system and whatnot. Few people really manage to create a game where both aspects are beautifully balanced, an example: Shadow of the Colossus, wickedly fun to play and with a gorgeous story behind.
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Re: A question for RPG lovers: plot or combat?

#9 Post by LVUER » Fri Jul 02, 2010 9:43 pm

If you are that confident with the combat system, you could survive with bad story... just like SRW:OG Endless Frontier. The battle system (and battle graphics) is very good, but rest of the graphics (outside battle) is bad and the story is mediocre. The battle system is so good that I ignore that fact.

It also works the other way around. Good story but bad combat system. As long as it's not frustrating, I think people would forgive the so-so battle system. Like Lunar series which have so-so traditional battle system, but the story is good, so I still play it anyway.

But... if you could do both (good story and good battle system), it would be a lot better, of course.
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Re: A question for RPG lovers: plot or combat?

#10 Post by DaFool » Fri Jul 02, 2010 10:23 pm

I looked at the battles so far and they seemed flat. I'm assuming you will make the enemy bots at least change posture when they execute their actions? (Although I'm not really too fond of the facing-RPG Maker style battle layout)

More story or more combat can either go fine with me. Just make sure that it's the strength of the game you're emphasizing. The only time combat annoys me is if I'm on a worldmap and there's a random encounter for every 2 millimeters of movement.
Aleema wrote: I'd rather play a really good story with a sucky battle system, then the other way around. I find that I'll play through a crappy game just to get to more story. So: PLOT!
It's the other way around for me. Resonance of Fate had the most "wtf just happened" vague story even worse than FFXIII but it's challenging battle system was so good I spent over 115 hours on the game (my average for a typical JRPG is 65 hours; I usually don't bother to platinum things once I finish the main story).

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Re: A question for RPG lovers: plot or combat?

#11 Post by Mirage » Sat Jul 03, 2010 12:51 am

Well, I like RPG. It's my most fav game genre. I love it for both plot and combat. Missing any of them wouldn't make much of an RPG for me. But the thing is, sometimes some RPG have better story, while other have better gameplay. The one that usually became my favorite is when both are equally great.

I have been following Planet Strong Hold for a while, and tried the alpha you posted a while ago. To tell you the truth, the combat is lacking. I can't explain why I was dreading when playing it despite my love for RPG. Maybe it's because I can't even tell if my characters are attacking or I got attacked besides the sound effects and some texts description. It would look much better if I can see some attacking effects, or attack numbers appear on screen.

Another thing that bothers me is the amount of option. I thought I was supposed to be playing an early game tutorial that taught people how to play, but it looks complicated for a first battle ^^' Btw, since we have plenty attacking options, it would be great if they all produced different effects. It gives you incentive to try out different combination.

Last but not least is the lack of music. Usually in RPG, battle music is the one that spice up the game, especially when you get to fight boss. It does not make me excited hearing nothing but SFX. (Reminds me of Chrono Cross last boss which is utterly disappointing despite being an excellent game overall.)

Btw, I always like RPG for exploration, going to new places, discovering mysteries, etc. So it's not just for plot and combat. :)

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Re: A question for RPG lovers: plot or combat?

#12 Post by jack_norton » Sat Jul 03, 2010 3:06 am

Thanks for the replies. Is good that at least a sci-fi setting doesn't seem to have a big impact on trying/buying choice (otherwise I'd be doomed at this point, lol).
About the combat:
1) the problem with adding animations is that at that size/quality they're hugely expensive. I am not competing with the commercial games of course, but with other indie games. If you have played any RPGMaker XP games you'll notice that there are some SFX when using special combat skills/spells, but the enemies are "static" like in my game. I agree it's not cool to watch: however as I said I need to compete with those games and not with AAA titles.
2) many options in combat: actually, there are 4 options. attack (with the weapon), psionic skills, defend and item. I don't think it's too much. Again, I compared that to other RPGMaker games and there are exactly 4 options in most of them :D
3) about combat music, surely will add some! and also more "feedback", beside reading "you hit roboant 02 for 5 damage" I'll also at least flash the robot or make it shake or some other minor SFX so you know what you have done.

I plan to have an open alpha/beta anyway using my auto-updating system so I can grab the feedback since I really want to make a game based on people's feedback.
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Re: A question for RPG lovers: plot or combat?

#13 Post by Jake » Sat Jul 03, 2010 7:43 am

jack_norton wrote: 1) the problem with adding animations is that at that size/quality they're hugely expensive. I am not competing with the commercial games of course, but with other indie games. If you have played any RPGMaker XP games you'll notice that there are some SFX when using special combat skills/spells, but the enemies are "static" like in my game. I agree it's not cool to watch: however as I said I need to compete with those games and not with AAA titles.
I'd say it would really benefit just to have one or two extra pictures per bad guy, one for attacking and optionally one for being hurt.

But if you're not going to add extra graphics, though, you really do need to do more with the ones you have. If you have each character bob up and down or briefly flash white whenever they perform an action, maybe dissolve to a red-tinted version and then dissolve out when they die, it'll add a lot of tactility to an otherwise-flat presentation. Mechanically it doesn't add anything, but it gives a better feel.

You can do all of this with Ren'Py's various image manipulators, as well; check out the im.MatrixColor stuff in particular.

RPGMaker graphics may just have the one frame, but they do these things, and they display attack 'swipe' graphics and so on, which helps a lot. As it is, what you have here isn't really giving that much extra to the user over just giving them the text.
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Re: A question for RPG lovers: plot or combat?

#14 Post by jack_norton » Sat Jul 03, 2010 7:53 am

Yes, I agree. I'm going to check if just adding an "attack" and "hurt" frame isn't going to be too much expensive, otherwise I'll add the effects you mention.
I'm also thinking if to add normal melee combat. On a sci-fi game feels a bit weird probably, but since all combats is done with long-range weapons (pistols, rifle,etc) all I could do is display some bullets/laser beams/explosions... well, that could be a start already :D
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Re: A question for RPG lovers: plot or combat?

#15 Post by fortaat » Sat Jul 03, 2010 8:32 am

Jake wrote:I suspect 99% of RPGs are in a fantasy setting just through a combination of tradition and swords being easier to write battle systems for than guns and magic being more generally accepted than any Sci-Fi excuse for flashy alternative skills.
Really? I thought guns are a much easier option. Animating a gun being fired is infinitely easier than animating a character using a sword.

I watched a demo for the game on the youtube channel.
You could try give each monster a different size and location on screen, based on random values, to make the basic presentation more interesting. Right now it looks like all the monsters stand on a straight line.

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