Battle System uses

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Adorya
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Re: Battle System uses

#31 Post by Adorya » Thu Dec 27, 2007 4:40 pm

I assume you are pretty much into Resident evil / Silent Hill / Siren like gameplay, where actions are not evidently proposed to the player during the game and with no transition. Still, you are limited by the gameplay (you know what actions are available to you, you know your time is limited).

Counter example might be Alone in the dark and his pseudo sequel Flashback, the good ol' Dragon's Lair, Clock Tower...but I would rather consider them as action game, and with some extend to click'n point game.

I would rather keep the choice given to player, but open to him many different possibilities to achieve his goal.

Guess I ate too much mmog those past years, and being cornered to a few choices give me an unpleasant taste in term of gameplay, even if in fact there is a very limited panel of real choices in thoses...

Edit to crosspost : Also in Sakura Teisen, shielding a girl in battle will raise relationship level toward her.

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Re: Battle System uses

#32 Post by Samu-kun » Thu Dec 27, 2007 4:48 pm

I have the feeling your game is more "half and half" of both genres. Removing the VN or the shmup will probably destroy the experience as a whole ^^;... (well, maybe not, but given the descriptions, that's how I see it). So... unless you think it's possible to turn shmup scenes into VN scenes, you probably won't want a "VN-only" mode. Therefore, the idea of difficulty levels is certainly good as it'll lower the entry barrier for many people. Once that's done, though, you probably can't help having some people still uninterested by the VN/shmup mix. But I'd say that's the risk of mixing genres.
Oh, what I meant was that the VN-only mode will just reduce the difficulty of the SHMUP segments to nill, not get rid of the segments at all. That allows the player to get through the SHMUP segments and still continue the story, while still allowing him to see what happens during the action as well. It'll probably just multiply his HP by 10 and half all the enemy HP to make things ridiculously easy for the player to get past it. It's not a pretty solution, but atleast it'll avoid the situation where the player quits playing because he can't get past a gameplay segment. As for turning the gameplay sequences into VN, I don't quite think that's possible without extending the storyline by another 30 000 words. They're pretty much full blown SHMUP levels filled with enemy attack patterns, power ups, Ikaruga style gameplay, sub-bosses, and bosses, so it's going to take alot of work to transform them into VN format... And I don't quite think it'll be time efficent to spend that much time on a feature not everyone will even use at all.
I'd suggest that one way to integrate the two better would be for parts of the shooter sections to have an effect on the story sections, and/or vice-versa. Perhaps in one place, if the player grazes a lot then the romantic lead gets put off 'cause he's "just showing off"; in another, failure or success to shoot down a particular enemy before they escape might branch the story; maybe upsetting another pilot might mean they refuse to fly back-up for you in the next misssion.
Mmm... I actually didn't find this particular idea practical. The problem with branching parts is that no matter what, the player won't see all the branches, so why even bother spending time working on some branches that he won't see? I'd rather have one strong story to back everything up instead of spending time making three or so branches. The increase in work just didn't seem worth it. I don't particularly think that the gameplay needs to have a direct effect on the storyline. In my project, there's action because the storyline demanded that there needed to be action. The gameplay sequences just take all the fighting that you'd see in the storyline of a typical sci-fi action adventure anime and presents it in a SHMUP format. The gameplay itself is a part of the storyline. It would be great if your actions during the gameplay controlled the storyline, but I don't think it's really necessary or time efficent to make something like that. I'm making gameplay segments in my project just because it's easier and much more satisfying to present certain parts of the storyline in SHMUP format rather than in a VN format.
But this leads to the other problem I could think of - communicating things to the player in the middle of the shooter sections. Their eyes are going to be glued to the part of the screen where they're avoiding enemy fire, so they won't want to look up or down to see dialogue boxes. The conclusion I've come to is that in-action plot development would probably have to be entirely voiced, to avoid distracting the player from the shooting/dodging and annoying them. Which means that realistically, the whole game should probably be voiced so that the player knows which characters are talking at any one time...
Mmm... Well, even in manic bullet curtain shooters, there's usually a short break at the beginning of the level and before and after the boss. I generally try to add in a few seconds dialouge during those two parts. But I've tried to stick the majority of the storyline before and after missions to keep the pacing of the gameplay segments stable. But if you really need to add storyline during the gameplay, then there's also the option of having cut scenes where the gameplay temporarily stops and the characters talk a bit. This can actually be really handy because the gameplay engine might be better able to present certain moments in the plot better than the VN engine. For example, in my project, there's a non-gameplay sequence where the main character is rescued by another character during a dogfight. I could present that moment in the storyline using the VN novel engine, but I think it'll be much more exciting to present that moment using the SHMUP engine, just because it can actually show the character being rescued instead of just saying he was rescued in the text. The voicing's a wee bit unrealistic in my project. I'd need like 2 gigabytes of sound files if I want to do that!
You could, but then you're still effectively segregating the story from the action. Maybe not so much as if you switched to an entirely different scene and showed huge character sprites talking, but you're still creating a situation where story doesn't happen when there's action going on, and vice versa.
I don't quite think that's the case. I'm just presenting the storyline in a format that works the best. But I guess in my situation, it's a bit different from other VNs. The thing about my story is that there's an inherent gap between the story and the action. The story generally happens when all the characters are talking on the mothership or visiting a planet. The action happens when everyone suits up, boards their space fighter, and launch into space towards a fleet of enemy ships. It's not realistic or plausible for there to be alot of story during the gameplay segments because all the main characters are battling for their lives against impossible odds. The story itself allows for a gap between the gameplay and the story. It makes perfect sense for there to be this gap because they must take place in two very different settings under different conditions. There's a difference between talking on the lounge of a capital ship and flying through a battle zone in a space fighter. The storyline demands that there must be a difference in the way the action and the story is presented.

However, I do admit that in some other VN where there isn't such a huge distinction in the storyline of what exactly the gameplay and the storyline intales, the gap may be disjointing.
I found the game. It was Mass Effect for Xbox 360, and that it works something like "an interactive movie" because of the choices. I can't find the other one I mentioned.
Of course I can't say whether it works any better than the game you mentioned....
Mm... So far, I'd say that Mass Effect is the best commericial game to make realistic dialouge sequences. Too bad it's not in the anime style. Hahahaha. ^_^ But I'm not quite sure it's even possible for indie developers to even dream of creating something on the same bar as Mass Effect. It's pretty crazy how realistic it looks. And thanks to having a 3D engine capable of presenting both the action and the storyline using the same engine, it avoids having the gap between gameplay and story altogether, I think.

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Re: Battle System uses

#33 Post by Samu-kun » Thu Dec 27, 2007 5:04 pm

The Deus Ex example I gave is one such situation - you're in an apartment with Paul, you find out that there are government goons coming to kill him. If you stay in the apartment, Men in Black break open the door and you have to fight them off, triggering your opposition to the government you're supposed to be working for. If you do as he suggests and leave through the fire escape, you don't see the Men in Black and you never see Paul again, and IIRC you're still working for the government until a later scene.

Now, as it happens the Deus Ex plot doesn't actually diverge that much, it just has features which are turned on and off depending on your actions (Paul's place in later scenes is filled by a different NPC if he dies; a fight with one of the other augmented agents takes place in one place if you make one choice, or later in the game in another location if you don't, etc.), but the integration of the choice into the game engine was done pretty well. It wasn't a menu which popped up asking you which path you wanted to take, it wasn't dependent on your timed skill or whether you were playing on easy or hard, it was a conscious choice which you made and determined entirely by in-game actions. If you left the apartment through the window, you'd made one choice; if you hung around until the door broke down, you'd made the other.
Mmm... That certainly seems like a good way to integrate choices into the gameplay, if there are to be choices at all. :3 But I don't quite like having choices.

First off, there's all the repetition. No matter what choice you make, there's bound to be events that repeat in all branches. It's really boring playing through a game more than once, having to pass through the same stuff over and over again, just to see the of new content at the very end.

Then there's the possibility of a bad end. This is a big problem especially if your project is huge and the player has to sit through an hour of almost the same content just to get a better ending. I don't really think ending hunting is fun.

Also, there's the added work burden. The player won't even see all the content you make, so what's the point of making all the content at all?

However, there are problems with having a linear storyline as well. Mainly, in the form of ending up with a girl that you don't particularly like at the very end. ^_^;

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Re: Battle System uses

#34 Post by Jake » Thu Dec 27, 2007 6:03 pm

Adorya wrote:I assume you are pretty much into Resident evil / Silent Hill / Siren like gameplay, where actions are not evidently proposed to the player during the game and with no transition.
Actually, personally I can't stand survival horror games, so all of those are out. ;-) But I'm not talking about what I like, I'm talking about what I consider good storytelling, and the Silent Hill bits I've seen have pretty good storytelling. The storytelling in Touhou games is crap, but I love Touhou games, because I love 2D shooters.
Adorya wrote:Counter example might be Alone in the dark and his pseudo sequel Flashback
(Point of trivia: Flashback (Delphine) was the pseudo-sequel of Another World; Alone in the Dark (Infrogrames?) was another (possibly the first?) survival horror game.)
Adorya wrote: being cornered to a few choices give me an unpleasant taste in term of gameplay, even if in fact there is a very limited panel of real choices in thoses...
I'm not saying that there have to be choices, or that every choice has to be integrated into the action. Just that integrating choices into the action tends to be better for telling immersive stories than presenting the player with a context-breaking menu. As the old adage goes, actions speak louder than words, and this works in reverse as well - the player has more of an emotional attachment to actions he has committed himself than actions he has selected from a menu.
Samu-kun wrote: Mmm... I actually didn't find this particular idea practical. The problem with branching parts is that no matter what, the player won't see all the branches, so why even bother spending time working on some branches that he won't see?
I didn't mean that you absolutely have to have branches, I meant that - as I expanded on later in the thread - storytelling is better achieved in-situ than as a totally separate part of the game. It doesn't matter whether you decided to annoy your friend or whether you got railroaded into annoying your friend by a linear storyline, if they're refusing to back you up on the next mission because of it, then it helps immerse the player into the story; if they're not, and they behave exactly the same as they have every other mission, then it risks breaking the player's immersion. It's easiest to explain this concept in relation to branching plots, but that's not the only place that the approach is applicable.
Samu-kun wrote:The gameplay itself is a part of the storyline. ... I'm making gameplay segments in my project just because it's easier and much more satisfying to present certain parts of the storyline in SHMUP format rather than in a VN format.
If the gameplay is actually presenting story information, then fine - you're already doing it. The concern with hybrid games in general is that the second gameplay type is there just for the sake of having a second type of gameplay, and doesn't actually add anything to the plot. If the action elements had no bearing on the story other than to kick you out of it if you died, then one would wonder why the VN could not have been presented without them.
Samu-kun wrote: Mmm... Well, even in manic bullet curtain shooters, there's usually a short break at the beginning of the level and before and after the boss. I generally try to add in a few seconds dialouge during those two parts.
Yes, but that break is often there specifically in order to deliver dialogue or exposition which the designers couldn't think of a good way to deliver within the game. :P
Samu-kun wrote: For example, in my project, there's a non-gameplay sequence where the main character is rescued by another character during a dogfight. I could present that moment in the storyline using the VN novel engine, but I think it'll be much more exciting to present that moment using the SHMUP engine, just because it can actually show the character being rescued instead of just saying he was rescued in the text.
This is exactly my point. ;-)
Samu-kun wrote:The voicing's a wee bit unrealistic in my project. I'd need like 2 gigabytes of sound files if I want to do that!
Mm, perhaps. And you'd need to find actors, as well, unless you wanted to do all the voices for the entire game yourself. I don't mean to suggest that this is necessarily the best course of action, just that I think it's probably a better design, where it's feasible.

(But I suspect you'd be surprised how much you can compress voice before it becomes unsuitable for use in a game.)
Samu-kun wrote:But I guess in my situation, it's a bit different from other VNs. The thing about my story is that there's an inherent gap between the story and the action. The story generally happens when all the characters are talking on the mothership or visiting a planet. The action happens when everyone suits up, boards their space fighter, and launch into space towards a fleet of enemy ships. It's not realistic or plausible for there to be alot of story during the gameplay segments because all the main characters are battling for their lives against impossible odds.
You're conflating 'story' with 'dialogue', where in fact the two are only coincidentally related. If in your scenario above the rescuer jumps in and shoots down the enemy fighters and doesn't say a thing until he and the protagonist are back at base, then it's still a story event - it's just a story event which occurred with no talking. If you watch your best friend get shot down, then it's a story event; if you rescue a transport ship full of refugees it's a story event. If no story events happened in the action sequences, then the action sequences would be entirely redundant.

(Not to mention that if you watch any TV drama or anime with fighting sections, you'll note that there's actually usually quite a bit of dialogue in the action scenes. From VanDread to Battlestar Galactica, people talk while they're battling for their lives against impossible odds all the time. Why? Because that's how you tell stories. Maybe it's ridiculous compared to real life, but that's how action stories work. The problem with doing this in games is that you don't want to distract the player from the game part, but this is part of why so many shooters are so bad at telling stories.)
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Re: Battle System uses

#35 Post by Jake » Thu Dec 27, 2007 6:08 pm

Now, on the unrelated subject of branching stories:
Samu-kun wrote: First off, there's all the repetition. No matter what choice you make, there's bound to be events that repeat in all branches. It's really boring playing through a game more than once, having to pass through the same stuff over and over again, just to see the of new content at the very end.
Yes, but it's even more boring playing through a game more than once, seeing exactly the same thing as you did the first time with no variation at all. Having alternate branched parts to your story makes it more replayable than it would be without them.

Case in point: I happily played through Fatal Hearts several times, because the story diverged drastically quite frequently. I don't think I've ever replayed a story-based game with an entirely linear story, save for those which had a 'succeed/fail' at the end. And those I found incredibly frustrating, no matter how much I liked them the first time through.
Samu-kun wrote: Then there's the possibility of a bad end. This is a big problem especially if your project is huge and the player has to sit through an hour of almost the same content just to get a better ending. I don't really think ending hunting is fun.
Me neither. But that's not a requirement of branching stories - it's just as feasible to have six different endings which are all equally good.
Samu-kun wrote: Also, there's the added work burden. The player won't even see all the content you make, so what's the point of making all the content at all?
As Monele noted quite recently - someone will see it. If you're so concerned that not every player will see all of your content, then you'd better remove any idea of a 'game over' in your shooter sections as well, 'cause that will stop some players from seeing the end that you worked on.

Yes, a branching story will involve more work for the same length of game - but that's a factor that has nothing to do with good game design. ;-)



Now, plot branches are far from necessary, and sometimes projects are better off without them. It's certainly a lot easier to write a good solid single-path plot than one plot with ten equally good, equally well-written endings, and sometimes even having branches is a bad choice for the individual game. I think I've probably enjoyed more non-branching stories in games than branching stories in games, in fact. I just don't think it's wise to discard the idea entirely just because of the first two reasons you gave here. Forget about it because you don't think you can bring yourself to put the extra work in, by all means, but not for those other reasons. ;-)
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Re: Battle System uses

#36 Post by Showsni » Thu Dec 27, 2007 8:11 pm

I'd prefer to find an example where a character's relationship to the protagonist changing affected combat, but I can't think of one offhand.
Baldur's Gate 2, maybe? If Minsc and Aerie get along well, she'll become his new witch; then if she's killed in combat, he automatically enters a berserker rage. Though that's not something you have much control over, other than keeping them both in the party or not.

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Re: Battle System uses

#37 Post by Samu-kun » Thu Dec 27, 2007 8:37 pm

I would agree that choices certainly are a nice thing to have; afterall, I like to choose which character I like the most and follow her path to the end. :3 A branching path would be great for projects such as a romantic VN where you eventually have to pick one girl and follow her storyline. There are drawbacks to having a branching storyline - there are drawbacks to not having it as well. But with that said, it takes alot of work to add branching paths, especially for something that's not exclusively focused on just romance. But in the end, what finally clinches it for me is the additional workload it would intale. I need to limit the size of my projects more!!! My current one is already spiralling crazily out of control on the workload. ^_^;;;
If the gameplay is actually presenting story information, then fine - you're already doing it. The concern with hybrid games in general is that the second gameplay type is there just for the sake of having a second type of gameplay, and doesn't actually add anything to the plot. If the action elements had no bearing on the story other than to kick you out of it if you died, then one would wonder why the VN could not have been presented without them.
That's exactly what I'm concerned with as well. I don't want the gameplay to be just tacked on there to give the player a game over screen. I want the gameplay in there so that I have a better medium to tell the story.

edit:
But not only that, but to also add a fun experience. The entire point of adding a SHMUP in it is so that it's fun!

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Re: Battle System uses

#38 Post by Adorya » Fri Dec 28, 2007 10:52 am

Shmup is rarely "fun" but rather "challenge" (especially if you count danmaku shooter). If you want to make big animations with big explosions just because of immersion, it's better to make a scripted animation thus a movie sequence.

Okay, you would say that the interactions of the player during a "movie sequence" and its consequence is better for immersion, but if you think about it...it is no longer a Visual Novel anymore but an interactive movie.

One of the main difference I think about movie and novel is that you have this objective view of the story to the opposite of subjective view. You can sometimes stop reading, think about what you read, imagine and even read back (okay, if you have a movie player you can wind back but will you do that in an interactive movie?).

Keeping the text, being able to visualize mentally the scene with the few images/animations provided is what I call a Visual Novel (originally a paper visual novel had 3 images for...a thousand pages?), and it will cheapen the production because movie and animation cost a lot.

About the branch system and the frustration of the player, suggestion to the player about saving his game or using an quick/auto-save is one solution, providing a game over with added content is another (Ciel-sensei lesson anyone?) so it's not a dead end.

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Re: Battle System uses

#39 Post by Ignosco » Fri Dec 28, 2007 11:26 am

I'd prefer to find an example where a character's relationship to the protagonist changing affected combat, but I can't think of one offhand.
There's an example of this in Elven Relations, where your romantic interest defends/assists you in combat using a different 'move' than their normal behaviour. Also, by defending your partner in combat, they grow to like you more.
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Re: Battle System uses

#40 Post by monele » Fri Dec 28, 2007 1:28 pm

Just a little side note : I've started working on the generic battle system. It's all in Python for now and there's no interface >.>.... but heroes can equip stuff now, yay :D

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Re: Battle System uses

#41 Post by Vatina » Fri Dec 28, 2007 2:41 pm

I'll be looking forward to seeing what you come up with ^^

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Re: Battle System uses

#42 Post by monele » Sat Dec 29, 2007 6:40 pm

Thankies ^_^.

Still progressing. I've just dealt with the problem of "formulas" (such as chances to hit). You'll be able to define the chances to hit for items (grenades?) and skills (attacks, spells) based on the caster and target's stats.
It can be as simple as "100", which means "100% chances to hit",
or as complex as "8 * target.agi/caster.dex" which means "8 x target's agility / caster's dexterity % chances to hit".

And it's only "agi" and "dex" here because I chose these but you could have it based on other stats. And you can actually choose your own set of stats. I'm using STR, DEX, AGI, INT, HP, MP for now but you could use the D&D stats STR, CON, DEX, CHA, WIS, INT, HP if you wanted to.

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Re: Battle System uses

#43 Post by Lee_Hitsugaya » Tue Jan 01, 2008 5:10 pm

lol, I haven't been active in a while but I know I'd need some sort of battle engine for my game. However it would work a bit differently. When you click an attack like "Fire torpedos" it would cut to a CGI shot of th Courageous doing a pass over the enemy Bird Of Prey or any other starships. Then after the CGI shot it would return to an image of the bridge. After they fire back one of your officers would give you a damage report and it would then loop.
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Re: Battle System uses

#44 Post by monele » Tue Jan 01, 2008 5:45 pm

The way I'm doing it now is having a package dealing with the basic formulas and tests such as "did it hit?" and "was it a critical hit?". It also adds, multiplies, subtracts... all that is needed to keep up with the stats of all actors.

To leave as much freedom, though, I don't want it to decide about the interface, about the inventory (one inventory? one per character?) and what actions you can do (Attack & Skills?... Attack, Defend & Spells?...).

So, basically, what you're describing should be possible with what I'm creating ^^

Actually, if anyone else already has a good grasp of what their battle system would be like and could describe it, it would help me see if my current engine can deal with it or not.

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Re: Battle System uses

#45 Post by Counter Arts » Tue Jan 01, 2008 7:47 pm

Haha... I remember the major problem with my Battle System was making useable for non programmers. Then I realized that unless you know a lot of battle systems then making a fun one is hard.
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