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Game Mechanics Part 13
- 07/14/2023 12:24 AM
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Game Mechanics Part 13
Yo! Another week or so has passed, time for another edition of the game mechanics blog series.
Tonight we will be talking about boss battles, quests, and how story branches will be handled. Let's get into it.
Boring Bosses? Not on my watch
Boss battles are an integral part of any RPG. What a boss battle is has evolved greatly since the days of Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy I. These days many games treat boss fights as spectical set peices.
Which is cool and all, but kind of hard to do with RPG Maker. So I am opting for the next best thing; interesting boss fights.
Every boss fight in Legend of Emilar will have at least two phases. Most will have more; mainly the first three or so will be only two to get you introduced to how the battles will work.
Normally some kind of battle event will happen at each phase shift and not all phase shifts will be large scale. In most cases, these are just a means to let you know which third of the battle you are in so you can attempt to predict when the difficulty will ramp up. That's also a purpose shared by the HP gauge system.
Other times, these phase shifts have practical implications for your strategy. A hypothetical example might be that an enemy that had a weakness to fire nullifies that weakness once you reach a certain point in the fight. There might be an event scene during the battle when this occurs (usually there probably will be).
As I have mentioned a number of times, there will be three boss types. Regular bosses, super bosses, and optional bosses.
Regular bosses are your standard, run of the mill boss that you will run into every so often throughout the story.
Optional bosses will be tied to certain side quests and non-quest/story related encounters. Generally optional bosses will be harder than normal bosses, but not insurmountable without preparation.
Super bosses are end-game content save for a few you can run into earlier on. Super bosses are intended to be extreme challenges on any difficulty that will require you to understand the battle mechanics of your character's classes, be able to utilize advantageous status effects, have counters to common negative status effects, and to take advantage of every weakness that the boss has.
These boss fights will not often be gimmicky fights where they are immune to all things under the sun except this one obscure skill. Most will have certain immunities, but there will be a multitude of ways to beat them. Obviously there will always be a certain golden strat, maybe a few, that allows you to taken them down quickly or with less preparation than others.
Most super bosses will have high stat values and millions of HP. Grand classes will also most be a necessity against these due to their unique abilities and their damage output. A couple super bosses will have sub-1m HP which you can run into and fight around mid-game. Those specific bosses will be designed to be beatable with Compound classes.
Each super boss will have at least 8 to 10 abilities which will include charge abilities that will do major damage if not interrupted.
Ideally it should take between 15 and 30 minutes to take down a super boss if you are not overpowering them. Using the specific tactics to defeat them should also cut down the time by 25 to 50% depending on what the strat entails. For example, enhancing an elemental weakness will make the fight end sooner than exploiting a weakness to Slow or Stop.
Rewards from super bosses will include the usual gold and exp. You will also get some unique items such as stat/level increasing items, rare materials for the crafting system, unique equipment, and more. Defeating some super bosses will also lead to new lore discovery and can unlock new side quests.
On top of all of that, each super boss will unlock an achievement upon defeat.
In most cases you will be required to hunt down super bosses, though in some cases it is possible to stumble upon them by doing certain actions. You will find a bit of seed information to start out. This will be something like a mention of a powerful creature, maybe some kind of myth or legend, or historical reports of some sort.
This will add an entry into your Codex. As you find more information about a target, it will be added to the codex entry. At a certain point, you will gather enough information that you will be able to start deducing the location that the creature had/has been spotted in. This might be a lengthy process or you might find something that points you to a location quickly; it depends on the super boss, what information you find, and what you know about the game world.
This is where the hunt starts. Once you track down the creature you will usually be given a choice to attack it or not so that, if you don't feel ready, you are not immediately thrust into the battle. Sometimes you won't have a choice, though, so be sure to be ready for such situations.
You can run from any super boss fight and return later to fight it. If you are beaten you won't get a gamer over. Instead you will exit the battle and then a retreat event will occur, sending you to the nearest town.
The meat and bones
Quests are very important to RPGs, a lot of the time these are the means by which the player learns a deeper level of understanding about the game world. They can also be responsible for the downfall of a game if not done correctly. Next to actually writing the story for the game, I would say quests are the next hardest thing to do well because placing the wrong quests at the wrong time will destroy the pacing of the game.
In the Legend of Emilar, I will be taking a holistic approach to quests, while also having some of the more divisive traditional types as well. What are these divisive types of quests? Stuff like fetch quests, monster hunting quests, and all of the other typical things you would associated with padding or MMOs.
Fact of the matter is that I hate MMO quest structure. I find it dull and unimaginative. The problem is that those types of quests are quite easy to do and in many games the side quests are treated as throw away tasks only there to give you more exp and gold.
We're going to have those, though usually they won't be tied to anything and you won't be required to do them.
There will be five types of quests in Legend of Emilar:
Main Line Quests - These are quests directly related to the plot of the game. Doing these quests will advance the game forward. In most cases this won't have any affect on accessibility of other types of quests, but in some cases areas may become inaccessible for a time. In those situations you will be told ahead of time when you are entering a part of the game where your ability to travel may be limited for an extended period.
Requests - These are the general side quests. They will range from kill, escort, and fetch quests all the way up to mini-story lines and lore related quests that aren't usually part of the main story.
Hunts - A hunt quest is at its heart a bounty quest. You are given a target and a general location
of where that target was last seen. In many cases your targets will be in that area, in some you may have to track them down. These will usually be harder fights as many of the monsters you will face will be variants that are causing problems, though you may find yourself hunting down outlaws as well.
Character - A character quest is a quest related to the one of your party members or a potential recruit. Each party member will have a series of quests that, once completed, will allow them to put their full effort behind your mission and unlock their full potential. Some recruitable characters may request that you assist them before they join you as well.
Expeditions - Expeditions are a unique type of quest where you will be contracted with an NPC to investigate what amounts to a dungeon. These could be anything from lost ruins to underground cave systems. These are a good way to gain some levels mid-game and give you access to areas of the world needed for some super bosses.
A quest chain is a series of quests that are related to each other and are unlock by completing them in sequence. You will be able to see if a quest is part of a chain or unlocks a chain from the Request menu.
Most of the time quest chains will be built from side quests, though there may be times where a main line quest unlocks or is part of a sub-chain, or a side quest chain started from a main line quest.
For example, say you finish a quest that has a world changing event. As a result of the changes you caused, a side quest chain is made available dealing with these changes. This would be a sub-chain.
Generally you will only see these for main line quests that have a large impact where the after effects are not going to be dealt with within a main line quest chain. There will be some outcomes with main line quests that will essentially pause the main plot of the game until they have run their course.
These types of events will generally have large impacts to the game world.
While I don't like having to do it, there will be some instances where quests that will give you certain key items will be included in quest chains with the more "padding" styled quests though I will attempt to minimize these.
There will also be several Ocarina of Time styled trading quest chains that will give you access to some useful items, so be on the look out for the tell-tale signs that you've stumbled onto those.
Not all quests will be handed to you on a silver platter. In many cases, you will find a few NPCs per town that, throughout different parts of the game, will have tasks for you to complete that won't be available through the Request system. These quests won't generally differ from requests that much, but some will.
Then there will be the other type of hidden quests, ones that you will stumble upon while playing through the game and exploring the world. At first you probably won't think that you have found a quest location, or maybe you will. Early on in the game, during the prologue, you can find one of these quests. The idea behind including one early on is to expose you to this game mechanic early on so you can recognize them when other events happen.
For these types of quests, you'll start out with something added to the codex. As you play through the game you will be able to learn more information about the quest until you have enough to try and complete it. Generally these will be lore-based puzzle quests and the answer to the puzzles will be found through exploring the lore. In many instances you will also need to find certain items, a lot of them you'll only be able to find by exploring.
These are designed to feel similar to Super Boss hunts; you won't immediately know what you need to do or won't be able to do them because you will lack the required information/items to complete these quests; though I wan to try and limit the instances where if you know what to do, you are prevent from doing so because of magic character knowledge.
Let me explain that term. Magic character knowledge is what I call it when you, the player, know something, but the characters do not. As a result of the characters not knowing, you are prevented from carrying out an action until they do know. I find this sloppy when it comes to puzzles and certain quest types.
For the main story; fine, sometimes you need plot McGuffins, but for side content no; if I know the combo to a safe, I should be able to open it without finding the combo first.
In most cases, hidden quests will be a mid to long-term effort and will require some level of exploration of the world to complete unless you already know how to deal with the puzzles, though if items are required then you will need to find those first.
All aboard the MQL Express!
Okay, that joke physically hurt me; I hate terms like "Main Quest Line" and "Main Story
Quest". It implies that these are the important quests and that the other quests are not worth your time. In an MMO, maybe, but in a single player game you should endeavor to build your quests better.
That said you still have to have a way to tell the player that doing this specific quest will progress the story; so I shall continue my emotional damage and be using Main Quest Line to describe these types of quests.
The MQL progresses the story; fairly obvious statement. How they do this though, is a bit more interesting. As spoiler free as possible, throughout the first 10 to 14 hours of the game you will be on a linear quest progression. Each new segment of story leads directly to the next. Once you reach Chapter 3, though, you are given your choice of how you want to proceed.
Think of it kind of like a Mega Man game, you get to pick the order of how you take on the Mavericks.
Similarly, in Emilar you will have the ability to choose how to proceed with the story starting in Chapter 3. Certain paths may be harder than others, maybe you won't have a particular set of abilities that would make enemies in an area easier to kill due to an elemental weakness, for example.
The story will be chunked out similar to Mass Effect 2/3. You will have a series of destinations to choose from, then some mid-game events will happen that will pause the main quest while they are dealt with. These are not events caused by you, but story related events that are designed to break up the two halves of the game and give you a break from total, unfettered freedom and bring you back into linear story-telling land.
Then, in the second half, you again will have free reign of what you will be doing until all of your objectives are completed and the end-game is upon you.
All throughout this process, you can trigger cascade events that will thrust you into events that will prevent you from continuing with the main story. These events may even trigger a branch to occur.
A story branch is when an event shifts you onto a new path within the progression of the story.
Most of the time, these are minor deviations which will eventually feed you back into the main quest path. Other times, however, these may represent adverse shifts that take you down a series of cascading events that change how the story progresses and ultimately will end.
These types of branches can be triggered by both actions during the main quest line and also by some side quests, those those will be very limited.
Most of the time, causing the story to branch off will, by necessity, prevent other branches from occurring if they happen around a similar time frame in the story. There will be a few cases, though, where a story branch can branch off of the main quest line or also another story branch, causing a series of compounding world events.
These types of complex interactions have the greatest chance to permanently alter the story progression.
In all I have planned out 13 story branches. 5 of them are minor branches that represent a small portion of time and only cause minor changes before you are thrust back onto the main quest line.
another 5 a more mid-length versions of these minor branches that will take longer to work through, but ultimately won't change much with the story; these ones though, will change more about the game's world.
Finally there will be three branches that will cause major changes to the story or unlock an entirely unique story progression that will lead you to a unique ending to the game or change the main quest line story drastically. These three will be requirement-heavy to unlock and require you to pay attention to story beats, information discovered during earlier related quests, and things that those quests unlock in order to find them.
Another week done, another set of mechanics explained. Next week we're going to be talking about item crafting, the magic system, and magic loadouts.