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Moving away from the JRPG in Gameplay

  • flarify
  • 12/14/2013 05:44 AM

Hello and welcome to The Last Pirate Queen's very first blog entry. Today I bring you a short discussion on the state of gameplay - especially combat - in The Last Pirate Queen.

I'll be the first to admit that the combat in TLPQ is somewhat uninspired - it moves very little from default class skills and the skills that aren't part of the default set are usually just rehashes of existing ones with a different skin. Spells do the same damage regardless of their element, and few enemies have elemental strengths and weaknesses. Its only saving grace is the little-used combo system that isn't really introduced in game, and thus is only stumbled upon with luck.

Gameplay is important, though. Even if battles aren't a prime focus, if they're used even a little bit its best to make it interesting. There's many, many ways to do this, from crafting your own skills and effects to utilizing scripts to achieve effects outside of the bounds of the engine.

That's why in the upcoming re-release of Chapter 1 along with the release of Chapter 2 I've changed the flow and feel of combat. I'll break this list down further down the post, but just for the sake of being short, I've...

  • Fleshed out skills and made them unique and build off of each other
  • Replaced skill learning by level with a skill tree
  • Added randomly built troops while retaining on-map enemies
  • Added the ability to autobattle
  • Got rid of the somewhat buggy PCTB system


Skills in general suffered from Final Fantasy syndrome, having the same feel and formula that is used by every FF knockoff - Fire does X fire damage, Ice does X ice damage, etc. etc. To that end I gave skills unique flair to differentiate and give them different use in different situations. For example, Quick Shot has a high bonus to attack rate so most of the time the character casting it will attack first, allowing you to kill low-life enemies or finish them off quickly. Fire has a high element of randomness for it with a large damage range and a higher chance to critical strike. Certain healing spells will heal more as the number of states on a target increase. This also ties into the new skill tree system, allowing you to choose which skills may complement your play style the best.

The skill tree is probably one of the bigger undertakings I've taken on during this project, as it isn't using any of the commonly-used scripts for skill learning and has a custom look to fit with the graphical style of the game. You can see a video of it in action here:

I really wanted to have a way to randomly choose troops when you encountered an enemy, so it wasn't so "oh, 2 bats... oh, another 2 bats... oh, look, 2 bats and a hornet, how interesting!" It goes along with my desire for a bit more strategy to be used in battle, even with the little filler battles you'll be fighting throughout the dungeon. But, for those people who don't like that or having to deal with battles too much in general, there's a new feature for you with...

The ability to autobattle is a feature that I adored in Earthbound and other games. Obviously the AI has improved much since the SNES days, allowing more than just auto attack and heal when health goes critical, but I wanted to have the option there. Since I have made this a story-based game I do want the ability for people who are playing mostly for the story to have a way to not have to worry about battles too much. Also, sometimes you just don't feel like killing something for the tenth time or you don't want to mess with a boss that you've died to multiple times.

The PCTB system, as much as I loved the flow of it and the strategic part of it, had a few bugs - that may or may not have been my fault - that would cause crashes when the battle would end with the actors being uncontrollable in some way (such as confuse, stun, etc.) and sometimes for no reason at all. It was non-reproducible and frustrating when I would get reports and could do nothing to help.

I hope that you've found this in some way interesting, and I hope to post more updates in the next few weeks to let people know how it's going! If you have any questions/comments feel free to leave a comment or send me a message - I don't bite!


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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.
It sounds like you've really improved the combat a lot; good skills make a huge difference. I really like the sound of the new ones, and also the trees.

Randomized enemy groups should just be the way random battles work by default in RPG Maker, honestly. It's so silly to have experienced every possible battle in a zone when you're only a third of the way done with it.

It would be hard for me to hate the idea of auto-battle any more than I do, though. If the player wants it then it means your game isn't worth playing so why are you just giving up on making it fun instead of yaaaaaaargh etc. I guess some people like it though.
One of the particularily fun things in auto-battle - especially when it's bound together with bad player AI - is that you get to see your characters kill monsters just by spamming attack, when a few XP and GP ago you had to use critical thinking to basically creep through the status-effects and tactics-filled battles.

For example when you earn a few levels, buy the right skills, craft or find the appropriate equipment and then suddenly that hard-hitting golem that had to be weakened will be auto-weakened by your armor breaker sword, while no healing will be needed thanks to your newly forged regen rings and high DEF.

Just make sure that battles require different setups, so that auto-battle only ever becomes viable in such situations =P

(there are even a few games that are basically "auto-battle" and are praised thoroughly, such as ogre battle and soul nomad. it's fun! <3)
Those battle sprites are awesome. I never noticed this game before, looks good. But if battle is as uninspired as you say, that's unfortunate. If you beef it up I can see myself playing this game.
This looks frickin' beautiful. Put on my "must play" list.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité
So it's been a little while, just wondering how things are progressing? Yes that's a polite way of saying I'd like to experience your new vision, when can I? Actually that's still polite.

When will it be out?
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
when u release the thing
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