It seems as though every RPG Maker crafted game advertises its unique battle system. I believe this says a lot about how most people feel about combat in RPG’s – it’s some sort of necessary evil for most of us, so designers are constantly searching for ways to make battles more engaging. I can just hear them thinking, “If we can just make the combat system more compelling, we’ll have the best game in the world!”
I’ve played a lot of games over the years, and the only battle systems that have really stood out to me as being actually unique were in XenoGears and Valkyrie Profile. Random encounters were almost fun. Almost. Seriously, does anyone actually enjoy random encounters?
Which makes me wonder why they’re even in a game. Ok, I know, otherwise you’d just have scripted encounters, which would leave players unable to grind levels (shucks) or grind money (double shucks). Of course, we could just design a game where grinding levels and money wasn’t necessary.
But then suddenly we’re left with a game that’s too “easy.”
Back to RPG Maker. I haven’t yet found a game with a combat system that really stands out to me, but I’ve only played maybe half a dozen RPG Maker games so far. That said, I’m not so certain that sprucing up the system is what would make the most difference. To me, encounter rates and encounter difficulty are the keys. Did anyone else feel a major sense of accomplishment when you ran through an entire floor of a dungeon – or maybe down a long hallway – with just one encounter? Somehow, that always made me feel as though I had done something special. And it’s nice that when you do fight several random battles if your characters aren’t left requiring immediate triage afterwards.
Creating a unique combat experience in a game would be an admirable achievement. For now, though, I just plan on being generic. Hey, there’s a lot of diversity out there in the generic realm. We’ll see where that takes me.