Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Thoughts for game designers: Thrilling combat - what is your game about?

What is combat about, in your game?

Is it just aiming to be a simulation of combat in real life? Well in real life it's kind of a hack fest until one drops - the reason that's exciting, or even just plain frightening, is perma death.

If combat in your game is about 'wanting to win' more than it's about simulation, then what do you win from combat? Basically it's an easy formula - the more you stand to win, the bigger the excitement.

The formula continues that the longer it takes to get there (ie, were waiting for hit points to go down), the more the excitement is reduced. I'd really recommend having a chance on each attack of one shotting the other warrior. Because instead of going "oh, I did 5 damage...and he's got 95 to go...well, what's the point of watching in the next few seconds to a minute? Nothings going to happen" they watch in anticipation because at any point one guy could be dropped instantly.

But again, the excitement is a multiplier of the potential reward.

Which is generally an issue to online game designers, because they want to spread out rewards over a long period of time. Sadly, even in big name mmorpg, the designers seem to have gone 'Oh, just in case someone grinds for eight hours each day, we'll make all the rewards really, really damn small'. Which sucks and is lame design. At the very least you could simply have someone have X number of chances per day of a big reward, thus the grinder does not break the reward spread AND you don't have to make the rewards pathetic - they can be substantial.

Anyway, for a long time I concentrated on how to make combat options that were exciting. But after a long time I came to the conclusion it was like flogging a dead horse. All the combat options in the world doesn't make combat exciting if the reward is pathetic.


I originally posted this over at indie resource in reply to another poster. But it warrants it's own post here, as well.

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