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Text-Based Combat System

9 months ago

So, I've been working on a duel system (and keep in mind that I literally started it today, so I know it's very lackluster and lacks in variety). Basically, the way it is now, it's a basic combat system. You have two combatants, the player and "Edgar," who each have healthpoints. Then you click the fight button and it randomly generates some text based on what happened in a particular "exchange." (They don't die yet, though)

I'm planning to make it a little more complicated. For example each combatant has six body parts (head, torso, arms, and legs) which will effect their combat abilities and eventually will have armor stats and stuff.

Anyways, the issue I'm having is, while all the behind-the-scenes stuff is awesome, the actual gameplay is so boring. So, I was wondering whether anyone has any ideas on how to spice up such a system?

If you want to look at it, have a go. Let me know what you think: https://chooseyourstory.com/story/of-house-elwine

Text-Based Combat System

9 months ago

Step 1: Download Unity.
Step 2: Do Unity tutorial.
Step 3: Make a video game.

Anyway, the question is, why is the gameplay boring?

Because you just click a button and get samey text (because of how many times you have to click fight before getting anything to 0%)?

Make blows more impactful. Make it shorter. If I hit his head either have it cut off immediately or go to like 50%.



But it'd still be boring, since I'm still not making meaningful decisions. Distance doesn't matter, checking condition means I have to click an extra time to see the impact of my action (beyond the text description which doesn't seem to reflect the %, although I admittedly didn't read too closely), and the focus seems to be for targeting which doesn't matter.

Adding complexity might improve things since then I'd have more choices, such as targeting mattering, but is this a correct assumption?

If armour covers the whole body it doesn't really change anything, if it covers 1 or 2 sections then I just change focus once before spam clicking fight. Or would it work differently to what I'm imaging?



Ask yourself what the purpose of this gameplay is. Will there be a lot of fights? You don't want to spend ages on something that barely matters for the end storygame. Can you lose fights? Does it matter?

I probably lean towards 'anti-combat scripting', since I'd say the build-up to the fight is what actually matters, but it isn't like they can't work. Dungeon Stompage! is pretty good, and that uses stats/heavy-scripting.



Suggestions

Think about how others handle this. Could take inspiration from Dungeon Stompage's style, or look at turn based games.

The managing of stats before combat could play a big part and be what is actually engaging, and the combat is a test where you see if you prepared properly. Alternatively, the stats could guide how you play the combat out.

Or, if you want meaningful choices in combat, then the stats could be impacted by the options, such as distance, focus, etc. But how does the player figure out the distance to stand at? How do they know what focus to use?

You could also considering making more of the background stuff visible, that way players see the awesome stuff.

Probably don't need to tell you, but be careful of scope creep. Adding weapons that you have to switch between to break armour would, theoretically, add depth, but would it make things more engaging? Be stingy with the systems you add, to ensure it all fits together nicely.

My last piece of advice is to prototype quickly, since allegedly that helps with game systems. Coding everything every time could be tedious, so maybe try doing it with paper (where you're the computer), board game style.

Text-Based Combat System

9 months ago

Well, this is extremely insightful, so thank you for the in-depth write up.

Basically, the idea was that the player sets the distance, target, stance, etc. prior to the round, and then their player fights based on those stats (so if they chose a short distance, head, aggressive, they would go pedal to the metal trying to cut off the opponent's head). So in theory, all these little stats would wind up affecting how your character fights in a certain round, then the next round, the player would adjust the stats based on the performance.

But of course, the distance isn't really intuitive, nor is the armor system.

I'm glad you mentioned how you didn't read too closely. I think I was most intimidated by the need to present an immersive, jaw-clenching narrative, but the more I think about it, I just don't think it's feasible with randomly-generated encounters. So, perhaps changing out the generated text for something simple like "Edgar cuts your head for 60 damage" would work? That way, I could focus more on complexity and choice?

Text-Based Combat System

9 months ago
Edgar cutting my head for 60 damage would save me a click to know what he done (stat wise). It would also shift the focus towards pure combat more than the surrounding combat narrative. So I think it could work, in letting you focus on other things. (But when adding complexity and choice, do it with purpose!).

Randomly generated encounters can be neat, but I'd say just having like five prebuilt encounters and having one randomly happen would be more than enough. Although you should ask yourself if the player should be able to influence what encounter they get in such a system, and if yes, then you have to wonder if it even should be random.

(Altho this isn't the best route for randomness since making 5 encounters is still a lot of work, but it depends on the scale).


I don't know how exactly you're handling the random text, but using it to create immersive stuff would be difficult from my perspective. So, rather than rambling with my limited knowledge on that, I'll add this:

Consider finding ways to make the player care about their character, since by getting emotionally invested they'll care more about what happens in combat even if the opponent isn't someone who tortured them for years (or whatever).

This is a way to make the combat more jaw-clenching since I'd be invested in the outcome, without actually needing some insane levels of variation and logic behind the descriptions.

Building up the fights themselves would also probably help, but just caring about the protagonist could be enough. (Do whatever makes the most sense for your storygame).

Text-Based Combat System

9 months ago

It's a storygame after all, so what you say about prebuilt encounters makes sense. These are pretty solid tips that I'll certainly take to heart. Thanks for all the help!

Text-Based Combat System

9 months ago
Make it so they do more than press a button. Options are what makes things interesting for a player. There's not strategy or thinking involved when you just press "fight".

Text-Based Combat System

9 months ago

Yeah, I'm certainly leaning towards that. I went for a gamble to create a prototype of a system like this and failed. 

Text-Based Combat System

9 months ago

So, to anyone reading this and has some spare time, I'd appreciate some feedback. Essentially, the following two links are the same system, just with different UI design. Personally, I feel like the one with art is less intuitive than the text-based one, so I'd like to know what you guys think.

https://chooseyourstory.com/story/of-house-elwine - Fully Text-based
https://Duel-System.jordanvang4.repl.co - Integrated Art

[Note: Stab is ALWAYS the worst choice as of now. Stamina is VERY important. Attacking uses stamina. Missing and getting blocked uses a lot of stamina. Replenish it by waiting. Whoever gets one of their health bars down to 0 loses.]

Edit: Forgot to add, you can click on the little "guys" on the "art" version. That will set your guard (red) and target (blue).

Text-Based Combat System

9 months ago
Yeah, I had no idea what I was clicking on or why with the art one.

Text-Based Combat System

9 months ago

Ah, that's what I thought. Well, back to the drawing board, I reckon. Thanks for trying it.

Text-Based Combat System

9 months ago
I'll add to my comment that while the different options were good, I was meaning more options as to what to do, not so much as in how to fight.

Like, functionally there's still strategy in determine how I do an attack and a stance, but effectively all I'm really doing is determining how I'm going to do an attack.

As opposed to say:
- Option to attack
- Option to do a strong/weak attack
- Option to block (is more meaningful is there's text to indicate what the opponent plans to do next)
- Option to parry (block + attack, but low chance of success)
- Unique option (Punch/Kick/Pocket Sand)

The most important question to answer is: Is the player ACTUALLY making a choice, or are they just doing a thing repeatedly? Typically that requires actual unique options, along with information as to whats actually happening so they can plan accordingly.

Text-Based Combat System

9 months ago

Ah, okay, I hear you. Honestly, I have no idea why I haven't focused on this before. I guess I've just been so caught up with the complexity of the system, that all the basic gameplay flew over my head. I'll give it a shot.

Text-Based Combat System

9 months ago

I don't necessarily think you need to have more options. The problem I found is that I have no idea while playing what the difference is between slash and stab. If tthere is actual strategic weight between the few choices I have, the game would probably be more engaging.

While I was playing, I was also not given a clue that stamina was very important. You don't have to be on the nose about it, but it's importance could have been conveyed a little better. 

I do like the idea of the art version with the health bars. It's easier to convey information more efficiently and having lots of numbers on a screen can be very overwhelming. 

Still, this is pretty cool programming work! I sure as hell couldn"t do such a feat.

Text-Based Combat System

9 months ago

Yeah, as it is right now, slash and stab really have no different functionality. It just does damage. But what you say about the attacks having strategic weight is a great idea, actually, haha, so I'll try to rework my system around player choice and strategy than rather about clicking attack 500 times.

I'm glad you like the idea of art. I'll just have to do some fiddling around with it to see if I can make it more intuitive for the user.

But hey, thanks for the input, and if I could do something like this, I'm sure anyone could conjure something similar.