DYNAMIC DIFFICULTY IN RPGS

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author=RyaReisender
There shouldn't be any disadvantages in getting Game Over other than having to "try again" (whatever that means depends on the game structure). But advantages on Game Over are a good idea.


Unless the game has some kind of ranking element (which I'm not really a fan of,) I agree that it shouldn't give the player permanent setbacks. But I think it can help to have substantial setbacks, like forcing you to restart from the beginning of a long dungeon.

If you lose significant progress by getting a game over, the incentive to avoid them is greater, and the tension is higher. I have games which are considered to be quite difficult where I've never, or rarely, gotten a game over, because I put in the effort to avoid it. And I have games which are quite easy where I've died often, because the consequences are so minimal that it seems pointless to make a fuss over it.

Getting a game over generally doesn't make me happy (there have been a few exceptions, where it cheered me up to realize that I was playing something challenging enough that I'd have to step up my game.) But playing well and gaining a sense of having overcome challenges makes me happy, and some pressure from the possibility of losing helps me take it seriously.

I disagree with you there. How interesting and fun the battles are is completely unrelated to whether the game is resource-management-based or skill-per-battle-based. So that's not really a reason to be against healing after every fight.

The real difference is short-term challenge vs long-term challenge. The advantage of healing after every battle is that a single battle is the challenge itself. Do it right and you win, do it wrong and you have to try it again. In resource-management based games even if you do mistakes you will not die. You will lose more resources however. It can lead to that you only notice much later that your remaining resources aren't enough to complete the dungeon. I think this is a big disadvantage because you get punished for errors you did much earlier.

But of course there are people who particularly like long-term challenges over short-term challenges.


If every battle were sufficiently challenging and sufficiently unique, I think this could be interesting. In my experience, even in games with full healing after battle, combat is very rarely difficult enough that you're likely to lose if you don't play your best. You have leeway to survive suboptimal play, so you don't have to put much thought in, and the individual battles end up not being particularly challenging.

Action RPGs can get around this quite effectively, because incorporating dimensional maneuvering can make every battle really demand your attention; you can't just memorize a few simple patterns when you need to dodge, block, and pursue a dynamic opponent.

Which games with full recovery after a battle did you play? In SaGaFrontier and also for example FFXIII (if you don't grind), every battle is quite challenging and can very easily lead to a game over if you underestimate the enemy (SGF) or use the wrong tactic (FFXIII).

I of course agree that if you don't need to manage your resources at all, every single battle needs to be a hard challenge (but never of the "you need to grind more" type, the correct tactic has to lead to victory).


For me, if "Game Over" is too punishing, like replaying the last 30 minutes I played, it's simply WAY too frustrating and pretty ruins the game for me. RPGs simply are too "boring" (I currently can't find a better word) to make a dungeon interesting to play twice. It's different for example in roguelikes where every try is different or in shoot 'em ups where the focus is noticably on player skill which causes the gameplay to stay interesting even after playing the same stage 10 times.
Really? I've played SaGa Frontier, and I never found the random encounters difficult, although the bosses could be fairly challenging.

I don't own a copy of Final Fantasy XIII, but from what I played of a friend's copy, my experience was more in line with Travio's; I barely had to pay attention to what was going on, and found the combat more tedious than challenging.

When you don't have to preserve resources past the end of a battle, then unless it's a really large scale battle with a lot of moving parts like a tactical RPG, I generally just don't find that working out a sufficiently effective battle strategy to come out on top takes a lot of effort.
The one problem with a comparison of FF13 here is that, unless you've played the first 20-25 hours of the game through until chapter 11, you're still in the hand holding tutorial section, which is rather sad and speaks to a lot of the game's problems. At that point is when that particular game starts to shine in the combat sections; until then, only the odd boss - particularly the Eidolons - is truly challenging. After that, though, is when you start to get access to what are, essentially, the game's superbosses. Unfortunately, they're still liberally sprinkled in between with fights where, once you're at a point where you're sufficiently powerful, you can just keep mashing the X button and call it a day five minutes later. These are the problematic fights and the ones that drag the game out too long without a challenge.

The real types of 'challenge' fights are things like the Oretoise family - even characters who've finished the game will still be challenged by these guys, as they can basically wipe out characters in one shot if you're not careful (something none of the final three bosses are capable of, by the way).

The problem's also aggravated in 13 by what, as I discovered last night, are a number of flaws in the combat system I didn't really notice on my recent playthrough. The problem is, I completed the game's story and pretty much decided that I'd come back later to 100% it because the 100% portion is pretty difficult to obtain. So I moved on to 13-2, which I'm sitting at about 95ish% on (there's two paradox endings I have left to get, and one is considered the hardest fight in the base game - one with Serah fighting Caius with just a monster to help; the other one just requires me to recomplete a tedious dungeon and I haven't bothered yet). The problem here is that 13-2 fixed a lot of problems with 13's combat - it feels faster, plays cleaner, and actually is balanced so that if you're not overpowering the enemies, you have to stay on your toes. Unfortunately, the game fails there in that you quickly and easily overpower your enemies; before I finished the game's main ending, I had level 99 in five of the six roles for both characters and the other was the mid-30s and one they never use anyways (so it's just extra stats). And that was without making a concentrated grind effort outside of raising a chocobo to race.

(I have yet to try Lightning Returns, but the battle system from the demo was interesting as a solo style game.)

If it could be done right - the need for a strategy when you don't overpower your enemy and not overpowering your enemy too quickly - it'd work for a game.
Really? I've played SaGa Frontier, and I never found the random encounters difficult, although the bosses could be fairly challenging.

You never died in normal battles? Even against Kraken? For me it was around 20% of all battles in which I died which made me save after every battle. SGF is a bit different from full recovery, though as you don't recover "LP/WP/JP". That means the real challenge is to win a battle without using any of those or using only very little. Which means that you need to estimate the difficulty of the encounter properly and only use skills that cost points if you are sure you will otherwise lose LP.

The one problem with a comparison of FF13 here is that, unless you've played the first 20-25 hours of the game through until chapter 11

The game difficulty is challenging right from the beginning in FF13. Though of course due to much less options it's a lot easier to figure out what to do. But many encounters required you to think and use the correct patterns or you lost. For example the monsters that could only be hurt in break mode, you had to use at least one but often two ravagers to get them there fast before you're dead.
author=RyaReisender
You never died in normal battles? Even against Kraken? For me it was around 20% of all battles in which I died which made me save after every battle. SGF is a bit different from full recovery, though as you don't recover "LP/WP/JP". That means the real challenge is to win a battle without using any of those or using only very little. Which means that you need to estimate the difficulty of the encounter properly and only use skills that cost points if you are sure you will otherwise lose LP.


There were some points in the game where I died; I remember skipping to places where I wasn't supposed to be yet and finding that the enemies were too powerful. But I can hardly imagine losing a fifth of all the battles I'd step into in that game.

author=RyaReisender
The one problem with a comparison of FF13 here is that, unless you've played the first 20-25 hours of the game through until chapter 11
The game difficulty is challenging right from the beginning in FF13. Though of course due to much less options it's a lot easier to figure out what to do. But many encounters required you to think and use the correct patterns or you lost. For example the monsters that could only be hurt in break mode, you had to use at least one but often two ravagers to get them there fast before you're dead.

But the problem was, until Chapter 11, they still weren't difficult. The only enemies requiring Stagger I can recall before Chapter 11 (having just replayed it in the last week) that weren't bosses were the Pulsework enemies, the ones that open when you stagger them and can't attack any more, and those shell enemies that lose all defense when staggered. The only other enemies that require stagger the game tells you you should outright avoid them - and they're right, because those ones are tuned way beyond your ability to defeat in most cases.

Even then, you can usually keep Yin & Yang (COM/RAV) and clear most enemies without ever needing to switch paradigms. Once you get three characters, Diversity (COM/RAV/MED) is pretty much the only paradigm you need for most fights.

Now note I am the one in favour of the system 13 uses - resetting health after fights. I'm just saying that 13 didn't use it properly and the game ended up suffering for it (combined with the stupid idea of your game being over if the main character died but the rest of your party was fine). 13-2 fixed a lot of the problems with it, but ended up making it too easy to overpower enemies in the process.

South Park is another game that uses the reset after battle (well, technically no - your PP recharges, and you regain health outside of battle, but your mana doesn't refill) but it does begin to push the challenge as the game progresses (plus, it keeps you from just mashing X in other ways, which is <3).
Final fantasy 13 is the only game I've played that comes to mind.

Although, right now I am playing a mobile f2p game called Marvel Puzzle Quest Dark Reign. It is a match 3 of a kind game with rpg elements. (Levels, abilities, HP, and 3 person teams).

The dynamic is level related and rank related but it not only scales up it scales. The ranks from easiest to hardest are trivial, easy, normal and hard.

The rank determines the level and difficulty of the enemies. The higher your level the higher the enemy's level. But if you lose battles or go in and out of the app several times or don't play for a while (testing this to see if it is true), the enemy lowers in level making it easier.

I've played FF13 from beginning to end. I didn't even realize about the auto heal "feature" was there until a couple of battles in. That's when I started to play it more like an action game and less like an RPG.

The only time I would go into RPG mode when facing a boss or when I would be killed by a regular enemy. Only difference is the regular enemy was usually something that required me to approach the battle more like trying to find the right key to open the door so I Can continue.

Those battles were more annoying since you couldn't avoid those annoying regular enemy battles.

I don't think there have been enough dynamic battle system RPGs to really compare if it is better or worse than what is the norm.

Edited for spelling
author=jnf1985
rank relatrd

For a second there I thought this said "rank retarded".
Sounds like how most people would describe Battle Garegga...

Also, I'm a bit confused by your example, so let me see if I got this straight: You level up (somehow) and it raises the difficulty, starting with "Trivial" on up to "Hard" and only goes down if you lose, quit and re-enter multiple times, or don't play for a while. Is that right?
I haven't played that one before, but the idea of a game penalizing you for time spent not playing sounds much worse to me than anything else discussed in this thread.
I took off running in the other direction when I first came within a hundred paces of Animal Crossing.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
author=Desertopa
I haven't played that one before, but the idea of a game penalizing you for time spent not playing sounds much worse to me than anything else discussed in this thread.
A lot of MMORPGs (and also FF: Bravely Default) actually do the opposite, giving you bonuses for time spent not playing.

MMORPGs are actually legally required to do this in some countries such as China - anti-addiction laws require the game designers to provide an incentive to stop playing.
I remember The World Ends With You also doing something like that, although the rewards for time spent not playing were pretty negligible compared to those for time spent playing.

Honestly, I think we could use some kind of anti-addiction laws for video games over here too, or we'll be seeing games race even further towards the end goal of being as addictive as possible to maximize revenue.

I have to admit a kind of personal stake here, since my dad became addicted to Everquest, probably the first major mainstream MMO, back in 1999, and it practically put an end to me or the rest of my family having any relationship with him for about ten years.
It's not really on-topic, but I really like some concepts in MMORPGs that limit your play time per day. Too bad they ALWAYS get removed when adjusted for the western market. It just doesn't work on the western market at all. I guess main income here comes from addiction and to get them addicted you need to let people play all day long.
It's also quite interesting how much rage there is on MMORPG forums when someone has the idea to limit play time.
I personally wouldn't mind a "free players can play 2 hours per day, paying player can play 4 hours per day" payment model at all.

Back to topic. Rewarding for "sleep mode" seems silly to me too, but I can see its uses. Like... when you quit a game because it's too hard for you and you want to come back to it later you will have a big bonus for not playing it for so long.
This does not only have the use to be able to now beat the boss you couldn't beat before, but also that it balances out the fact that you don't know anything about the game anymore if you haven't played it for a year.

I wouldn't really want to feel FORCED to put my console/handheld into some kind of "sleep mode" instead of just switching it off to get some rewards, though.
author=RyaReisender
It's not really on-topic, but I really like some concepts in MMORPGs that limit your play time per day. Too bad they ALWAYS get removed when adjusted for the western market. It just doesn't work on the western market at all. I guess main income here comes from addiction and to get them addicted you need to let people play all day long.
It's also quite interesting how much rage there is on MMORPG forums when someone has the idea to limit play time.
I personally wouldn't mind a "free players can play 2 hours per day, paying player can play 4 hours per day" payment model at all.

The "pay-per-play" model for MMOs was actually extensively tested in the Western market during the 90s. It doesn't work here - which is why sub-based games are monthly fees in the west and hourly fees in the east (where the payment method thrives due to heavy use of internet cafes).

(For some reason, when companies discuss this particular topic, Japan tends to get dumped into the west category, especially since FFXI proved monthly subs work in Japan.)
author=RyaReisender
It's not really on-topic

I don't think there really is a topic anymore. I may have well asked if there were games where you played as a unicorn pasta chef or something.

author=RyaReisender
I wouldn't really want to feel FORCED to put my console/handheld into some kind of "sleep mode" instead of just switching it off to get some rewards, though.

Pretty sure these games just go by the internal clock, checking the time you quit vs the time you booted the game back up.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
author=turkeyDawg
author=RyaReisender
I wouldn't really want to feel FORCED to put my console/handheld into some kind of "sleep mode" instead of just switching it off to get some rewards, though.

Pretty sure these games just go by the internal clock, checking the time you quit vs the time you booted the game back up.
In FF: Bravely Default you do have to leave it in sleep mode. Annoying. I don't know of other games that do that, though maybe they should since it keeps you from cheating by changing the system clock to the year 2100
I'm pretty sure Animal Crossing, or at least the Gamecube version, was able to detect when you manually changed the system clock, and I think punished you for it if you did it more than twice within a certain amount of time.
Also, I wouldn't hold it past a cheeky developer like Nintendo to include a secret post-apocalyptic "Game Over" screen if you actually set your clock that far in the future.
Dynamic difficulty is one of my favorite features in a game, actually.

As Locke said a page ago, TWEWY is an excellent example of it done well. Same with DMC.
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