I’ve recently been thinking about how I could approach the default RPG Maker VX Ace system differently, particularly combat, to make things easier for me. What does the design suggest & what is the best way it could be utilized? I feel I’ve made some of these points before, so sorry if there’s a sense of deja vu here.
- The battle screen seems to show a first-person view of the fight since you only see the enemies, not your own characters. To me it suggests you’re looking through the eyes of a single character, which goes against having a party of characters. That’s works in my favour; one character is easier to design & balance than multiple characters.
- As is typical of JRPGs, you have ‘Attack’ & ‘Guard’ readily available with all other abilities in sub-menus like ‘Magic’ or ‘Special’. To fit with this layout I could rename Magic to Spellbook so it feels like looking up your abilities is akin to opening the book. It does make physical combat seem predictable, though perhaps I could base the Attack action on what weapon you have equipped.
- I’ve found combat becomes more enjoyable when I speed through it (I imagine that’s the reason why “attack” is always the top option). While there’s no ‘active time’ element to the system, perhaps it’s better to design enemies & abilities in a way that doesn’t punish the player for playing this way. No one likes to be hindered for playing a game the way they want to.
Notes for the next RPG Maker project:
- Play as a single character.
- Character is likely a magic-user. I’m thinking something like an alchemist or a witch. Which gives me an idea – instead of gaining XP & gold from (most) enemies you gain reagents which could be used to make potions.
- Don’t punish the player for wanting to speed through combat too much. Hence, be less hardcore about statistics & allow the player to recover from mistakes.
Lastly, some more notes (this is more for my own sake):
- No levelling, makes things more complicated. I do still want the player to learn new skills though. I might do what Zelda does & have skills tied to findable items in the game world.
- Don’t tie skills purely to combat. Have interactable objects that certain skills can affect, e.g. fire will melt a wall of ice. To me this is a more inventive form of ‘locked doors’ & can also make exploration more exciting.
- Keep the attributes & formulas I came up with before (Strength, Endurance, Aura, Craft, Agility, Willpower). I might edit the formulas to make them less complex.
- Don’t just have random encounters since these can easily become annoying. Keep them rare if possible & only when it makes sense. This won’t be so simple though as RPG Maker doesn’t have many monster sprites so I might need to be more inventive with this.
- Start thinking more about the game world & lore. I liked the idea I had for my other project, of a world haunted by spirits & magic being tied to spiritual energies. I’m thinking of expanding on this.
That’s all I can muster up right now. Might have more later on.