I've been playing with RM2K since 2000. Been working on my current project since 2006. My approach to game-making involves attempting to do things that I've never seen in other games, and incorporating all of the elements of film making (lighting, music, symbolism, deep structure, plot twists, panning, zooming, cuts, etc.) into game making. The RPG's I've spent the most time playing are FF1 and FF6, followed by Super Mario RPG, FF4, and FF5.
The Sun Is A Star
Fantasy RPG with 6-character party size and mild humor



Button Mash - Forcing the player to use different skills

Some of the skills you suggested though, interrupts and defending, are rather hard to get the player to use without actually forcing it.
I never use the defend ability in games. If you attack with every character, you will usually win. If you defend with every character, you will always lose. So why would you use a mixture of attack and defend unless you were able to telegraph who the enemies plan to attack? But the better defend is implemented, the more it should be used. You can do the following:
-Make the enemies focus all of their attacks on one character until that character dies. I like this because then the enemies are using the same tactics that the player is, and it's a solid tactic. If the enemy attacks in this manner, then you are encouraged, but not forced, to have the isolated character defend.
-Give your meat shields (warriors) a command like taunt, that forces the enemies to attack him. Then defend could be strategically correct, as per above.
-If you think the above is too predictable, then have the enemy attack a single target character 50% of the time, and attack a random character 50% of the time, to make the decision of defending a little more ambiguous, instead of obvious and forced.
-Make enemies that attack in a pseudo-random pattern, but with either some sort of subtle tell that might indicate who it attacks next, or it attacks in a set but not easily discerned pattern.
-Give an enemy some sort of tell the turn before it uses a very powerful attack. It could be some in-combat dialogue, a wink, it always uses command A prior to command B, or otherwise. It would be wise, but not always automatically correct, to defend when you read this tell. Sometimes, although defending is tempting, a certain character is low on HP so it will die either way, and might as well attack. Sometimes, although defending is tempting, you absolutely have to cast a Heal All spell before this attack unleashes, because everybodies' HP is collectively too low. Therefore, it's not straight forward.
-Give an enemy skill points instead of MP, and make their skills physical in nature. Then, in rope-a-dope fashion, you could defend a lot until it runs out of SP, and then battle it regularly. This would be a boring battle for the player, but it could be more like a desperation tactic if they can't otherwise win, rather than being a forced strategy that they have to use.

Button Mash - Forcing the player to use different skills

You could make a form of fatigue, where using a command reduced that character's effectiveness with using that particular command by X% for the remainder of the battle.

Or, if you felt like wasting a few variables of space, you could have the enemies keep track of how much each player uses a command, then the enemy passively predicts what command you're going to use, and has a decent chance of dodging if it predicts correctly. i.e. if you've used 3 hooks, 1 jab, and 1 cross, then there's a 60% chance the enemy will predict a hook next, 20% that the enemy will predict a jab next, 20% that the enemy will predict a cross next, and 0% that the enemy will predict an uppercut next. Then when you choose your attack command, the enemy's evade rate is boosted if it predicted the same command that you select (the player isn't informed of which command has been predicted).

You could make at least one battle, perhaps many, where an enemy has a sort of discouragement countermeasure for each of your commands that last for the remainder of the battle, and uses them after every command you use, and they stack. So if you attack him, he grows a few spikes, and then future attacks will reflect 2% damage back on the attacker. You attack him again, he grows more spikes, now future attacks reflect 4% damage, etc.. He's got a counter like this for each of your commands. Therefore, if fight is say, 10% better than a command called kick, you might use fight 5 times, then kick once, then alternate between fight and kick. Except you would be doing this balancing act with a majority of the commands you have access to, not just two.

My preference is just balanced variety. You can have a regular attack, then a command that only attacks with 90% strength but it ignores the enemy's defense, a command that only attacks with 90% strength but it never misses, a command that attacks every enemy simultaneously but divides the damage amongst them (probably for a total of 120% of normal damage, otherwise it would be strategically poor), a jab that deals about 50% of normal damage but only sets your initiative back by 50% instead of the full 100%, an ability that builds power for X turns and finally unleashes an attack that deals more than X times the damage of a regular attack, etc.. Give a warrior access to all of these abilities, and the player is less likely to just spam the basic attack against every enemy.

Btw, good thread. I read the whole thing and probably created about 15 new commands for my game while reading.


I think you fumbled the dungeon link - it shows a non-interactive room with no order of progression.
Well it's a demonstration of one way that you can quickly outline the map, fill-in walls, add pits, add these interior islands of rock (I can't think of a better term), quickly fill in the details, and so on. Some people would have trouble doing that in 10 minutes or less without seeing a guide. I've drawn dungeon maps that were approached pretty similarly, except the movement was more restricted , and there were fewer correct paths and much more incorrect paths; which is one problem that tutorial had.

It is helpful, if your imagination is strained for how to draw a dungeon, but it doesn't have everything you need in one place. You still have to draw from other advices, like my suggestion of starting with the ceiling filled in, grab the floor tile, draw the critical path, draw every other path, then broaden the paths almost to the full extent that you have room for, usually, and then fill-in the walls and everything else. Just for a generic dungeon. Include any added complexities as desired, like multiple levels of elevation in a single map, wading through water, falling down a waterfall, levers that alter the terrain, bridges, broken bridges, bottomless pits, hopping across stepping stones in lava, riding on an animal's back, moving obstacles like an axe on a pendulum, puzzles such as of the rock-rolling variety, etc.



I used to be awful at dungeon design, then I youtubed things like "RPG Maker mapping tutorial" and sometimes included a term like "dungeon," "town," or "world." I tend to like the ones that are sped-up and have no commentary. If you watch a good dungeon drawn in 5 minutes (sped-up), it's easier to shut your brain off a bit and just do it. Here's some tutorials that influenced me, and any other tips I can share:

Town: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBkiyOaMyIw&feature=related

World: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHbcjjg2p3E
Draw an outline in 1/8th magnification. Try to make it reasonably jagged.

Dungeon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRiMluZw9R4
This starts with drawing a crooked oval outline. That tends to be a good starting point for drawing caves.

Town: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMK8dKjVF3U
Waterfall: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcv1ifUCKSc&feature=related
Notice how these tutorials both begin with grabbing the wall tile and drawing a crooked line (then turning it into a hillside)? That turns out to be a better starting point than I would have thought.

The theme is... don't get bogged down by analysis paralysis and chasing something perfect. There is not one perfect map, there's unlimited possibilities of great maps.

Wow,you 've seen the subject through and through, would like to see one of your games, sometimes ?
Awesome, thanks. Still working on my first project. Set the bar too high, so it's been taking a while. I've got plenty of good maps, though :-D


Mazes tend to have something, I think it's called the critical path or w/e, that is the shortest, if not only route from the entrance to the exit. The fastest way to design a dungeon, let's say of the cave variety, is to start by filling it in with the ceiling tile. Then, in under a minute, draw a critical path that winds to your content. Then draw any other arms that lead to dead ends and possibly any other arms that re-intersect with the critical path. Again, you can do this in under a minute. So far, all of the paths are just narrow, one tile wide. From here, broaden anything you have room to / want to broaden, and fill-in the walls that would be attached to your various paths. Make some number of maps, like 4-6, connect their entrances to their exits, and make a few false exits also on your wrong paths that lead into empty rooms. Finally, fill the dungeon in with all of the fixings, like bridges, broken bridges, bottomless pits, bodies of water, all of the little details like stalagmites and rocks, treasure, monsters, etc.. Occasionally, you can make a section inside map A that is like a tunnel or passage that will bring you to the entrance of map B, and when you walk through the exit of map B, you come out in another area of map A. Often, you may want to draw different levels of elevation within a single map, that involves some climbing of stairs or w/e.

That's the fastest way to generate generic but fine content, and often, your analysis paralysis is going to be what's stopping you from moving forward in any aspect of RPG design. If you look at any mapping tutorial, you'll see that they can draw you a great map in a pretty short length of time. It's all about just doing it.

Then, when possible, try to give your dungeons original flavor / gimmicks. For every aspect of game design, I keep a notepad file that contains every creative idea I've ever had for that area (like one for skill design, one for plot, one for monster design, one for town design, etc.). You can just pull ideas from your notepad randomly or deliberately, or we can list a collection of ideas in this thread, or maybe they're in an existing thread. Three similar ideas I had are 1) a dungeon that is simultaneously being raided by another party, so the faster you raid it, the more loot you get, 2) a dungeon that is being raided by a party ahead of you, and you always see them walking through the exit maybe 15 steps ahead of you, and 3) you go into a dungeon, and sometime later, an NPC comes-up from behind you, and they came from town to give you something or tell you something that might help you in the dungeon. You can have a merchant or even a small village inside the dungeon. Obviously people like to insert puzzles into dungeons, especially of the rock-rolling variety and the lever/switch/button-pressing variety (especially when those switches actually alter the dungeon's floor plan). You can make a dungeon whose true purpose in the grand scheme of things is to get captured by the bad guys mid-raid (unbeknownst to the player). We've seen in the past dungeons where you can only use magic, dungeons where you switch between multiple parties, dungeons that repeatedly take you above grounds and then underground again, dungeons where you gain a party member, dungeons where wearing heavy metal is disabling (due to magnetism), dungeons where your method of movement is in flux (i.e. bridges that appear and disappear, move, retract, etc.), dungeons where you can optionally release an optional boss, dungeons that require finding a secret passage or other secret trick to get past them, dungeons where you encounter an old friend or an old enemy, you can make a gimmick where your appearance is altered for the remainder of the game (i.e. you lose your hat, you lose an arm, you get sick in that dungeon and your skin changes color, hair gets burnt off, etc.), etc..

So you say your game has strategy

Yes, I agree with LDanarkos; status effects should be used in moderation, or even not at all. It's no fun discovering you have run out of poison antidotes and having to limp all the way out of the dungeon back to town to buy more, just as it is no fun to watch your party be immobilized for five turns before receiving a game over.

Granted, some status effects can be useful ways to add spice to a combat system; the ever-popular attack up/down and defense up/down, elemental shields, status effect shields, speed and slow skills and regeneration and auto life, to name a few common ones.

I'm only talking about the status changes that don't let you choose commands. Like the ones that stun you, paralyze you, put you to sleep, berserk you, confuse you, etc.. Players don't want to just sit there, unable to control their characters.

So you say your game has strategy

Shin has a recognizable pattern. Shin will use AoE status effects over and over again - specifically Curse (your dealt damage splashes back on you) and Confusion (yeah).

That's already poorly designed. One of the very important rules of game-making to bear in mind is that the player wants to play the game. Hitting the entire party with status changes like confusion, berserk, sleep, stop, etc. basically takes away the player's ability to make any decisions. Above all else, always give the player the ability to play the game.

A player's humble request.

A character's normal physical attack might not do much against, say, a bird monster when compared to mage's wind spell, but if the former character has a technique that specifically targets birds then it balances things out.
I've never understood why so many people think obvious attack type weaknesses are strategic. Like "should I use the silver bullet on the werewolf? I dunno, tough strategic decision."
What if it isn't so obvious though? Just because a monster uses an ice attack doesn't mean it's automatically weak against fire. Again, just look at the Megaten games for some truly difficult elemental strength and weakness puzzles. In those games you have to pay careful attention to what an enemy does in order to claim victory, such as observing what kind of elemental defense an enemy uses on itself, waiting until it is gone or otherwise dispelling the defense, and then using the appropriate elemental attack, all while defending against the enemy's own elemental attack (and that's just the absolute simplest example). It rewards thought and planning, and it is a far cry from the 1980s-style fire-water wind-earth routine of turn based RPGs.
I want to prevent the player from repeatedly using the same attack and getting bored. I wouldn't be satisfied if that was just disrupted by giving them a constantly fluctuating obvious command. Like "This time, fire is definitely best," etc.. Not saying that I interpreted what you described as being that. It's difficult to find ways to make players struggle to find the correct course of action, and to keep that correct course of action fluctuating each turn. I'm still working on that, but here's some ideas...
-A 3+ enemy party could make it so that each enemy occasionally uses the block command (meaning wastes a turn to take reduced damage), and possibly also give them some sort of powerful attack that puts them off-balance, therefore taking extra damage until the next turn. In a way, you could say "well then it's obvious that you should attack the vulnerable ones and avoid attacking the blocking ones." Sure, but remember, it's usually ideal to focus all of your attacks on one enemy until that enemy dies, then move on to the next one (so that you're taking hits by one fewer enemies). So in a long battle, with enemies having shifting vulnerabilities, you have conflicting interests about whether to focus your attacks or spread them around.
-Any time the enemy hurts the heroes, you have to choose whether to heal or keep attacking.
-If an enemy party has one healer, the correct strategy is often to kill the healer first. But what if the enemies' behavior is such that all three enemies do healing sometimes, and the healing role rotates every 4 turns, and it takes about 9 hits to kill an enemy. It could be wise to figure out which enemy is going to be the healer 9 turns from now, start trying to kill it now, and if successful, the enemies will be without a healer for 4 turns.
-Perhaps enemies could have shifting magical / physical weaknesses, but they wouldn't be absolute weaknesses. For example, they could have an ability that does whatever desired effect (like hurting the heroes) with a side effect of improving magical resistance and reducing physical resistance, and then another ability that does the opposite. But they wouldn't go from absolutely weak against physical and strong against magic to the opposite, it would go from like magic defense 70, attack resistance 30 to magic defense 60, attack resistance 40. The resistances would change by like +/-10. You would have to maintain a vague idea of where each of their resistances stand, then estimate where they stand after shifting, take the probable course of action, but include one probing attack (i.e. you think physical attacks are better, so you hit them with 3 physical attacks and 1 magic attack, to maintain your reference of how effective magic is) then reevaluate where you think they are now.
-Imagine a party of 3 enemies, that are all wall-changing, and perhaps the wall changes are even explicitly stated (meaning you're told what the enemy is weak against now). But the curve ball is that whenever there's a wall change, the severity that its weak or strong against an element is not constant. For example, an enemy might become weak against ice (ice deals 160% normal damage). Then a second enemy becomes weak against fire (fire deals 190% normal damage). and it doesn't say what that percentage is, it's just randomly determined when there's a wall change, and it doesn't tell you the number. It might take some prodding to figure out which enemy has the more severe weakness, and therefore which is more optimal to attack. This would only be of great strategic importance in a long battle with multiple enemies, and perhaps if the enemies healed (not a heal to full) whichever member had the lowest HP, it would magnify the strategic importance. Otherwise, without the healing, you might say "eff it, I don't care which enemy is optimal, I'll just focus on one of them regardless."

So resistances that are subtle are better than a flame elemental that wears its weaknesses on its sleeve, shifting weaknesses are better for attack variety than static weaknesses, but also, ambiguous degrees of weakness take more detective work than absolute weaknesses. In the example of the rotating blocking, wall changes of randomly determined magnitude, and the rotating healer, it's great when weakness isn't a question of "which attack hurts this enemy the most," but it's a question of "I know which enemy I can deal the most absolute damage to, and I know which attack to hit each enemy with, but deciding which enemy to attack this turn is hard."

Stat customization - How do you think it should be done?

You can make it so that there's a limited amount, maybe 20, of stat boosters in the entire game. You can make it so there's some sort of DOJO where you train and get a limited number of boosts in the stats of your choice. Possibly something that gives you +1 in one area and -1 in another area; or +1 in a stat like strength and -2 or so from your HP max.

A player's humble request.

A character's normal physical attack might not do much against, say, a bird monster when compared to mage's wind spell, but if the former character has a technique that specifically targets birds then it balances things out.

I've never understood why so many people think obvious attack type weaknesses are strategic. Like "should I use the silver bullet on the werewolf? I dunno, tough strategic decision."