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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperDesignDoes an RPG needs a combat system?
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deWiTTERS
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« on: January 14, 2014, 04:44:00 AM »

I am wondering if an old school RPG needs combat? I think I saw a post here once, about a game where you could could skip the combat part. And the one who mentioned it actually made use of it.

For RPG Playground, I'm setting hard priorities because of my limited time to work on it. I first thought of implementing a simple Zelda like action combat system. But I have the impression that my users mainly want to create their story.

So I was wondering if you could make an RPG fun without actually having any combat in it.
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« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2014, 05:08:45 AM »

http://kotaku.com/you-don-t-need-combat-to-have-a-good-rpg-476396465

i think it'd be fun for some people, but not others. you'd definitely be cutting off a lot of the RPG audience, but that isn't necessarily a problem unless you are trying to make millions of sales or something
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Uykered
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« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2014, 05:36:47 AM »

RPGs aren't defined by combat, even if popular ones such as D&D emphasize combat.

You can do whatever you want in your game, and if you want to give players that same freedom then thats ok too.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 05:42:19 AM by alastair » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2014, 05:56:56 AM »

ya i think the defining characteristic is having stats and skills that improve as you go through the game somehow (often through experience levels, but that's not the only way). you can just make stats and skills relevant to things other than combat

e.g. it is nearly possible to get through planescape torment just through dialogue choices, without much combat at all, although there are one or two battles that must take place i believe
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clockwrk_routine
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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2014, 06:28:50 AM »

In terms of your engine, I think it's a good idea to have a default combat system in place because I think that's what most devs will expect to find, though I hated the default rpg combat system of Rpg Maker, something I thought was cool was the custom menu system that Visionaire implemented (really suggest taking a look at that engine): http://www2.visionaire2d.net/glenfx/

that could also be tweaked for combat I think, just using variables and what not.  Include a demo combat system that can easily be modified.

If they didn't need the combat system, they could very easily remove it or turn it into another menu of sorts.

Regarding your question no I don't think it's necessary and a good design challenge.  Real life "Role-Playing" means to assume a role, so anything where the player has to do some imagination and take themselves as the character they are playing adds to that experience and qualifies as role-playing imo - so something like Papers Please where you are having to assume a career, where the emphasis is on you and your experience and the events around you, would be a good example of this kind of role-playing - maybe not the common usage of "rpg" (maybe that example is not so good  Shrug).
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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2014, 07:26:16 AM »

You don't need combat, but you need something. If there isn't some abstract system of numbers and such that shapes the gameplay then you don't have an RPG, you have an adventure game. Which is fine, but don't call it an RPG.
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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2014, 07:42:26 AM »

Even if you're using RPGMaker there's no reason to use it's combat system; check out games like Ib or The Witch's House which ignore it entirely (admittedly they're going the horror/puzzle route which rather explains why), and there are a few scripts around that shake up it's (as terrible as Keo states) battle system; check out Standstill Girl for an example.

It's like having an FPS without any shooting (Dear Esther etc) there's no reason to say it won't work.
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« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2014, 07:50:48 AM »

I believe you could beat Oblivion using only stealth and stealing, with your only casualty being the goblin in the starting catacomb(?).

If your game consists mainly of go here, deliver that, take this to there, combat can be accessory, as long as there's no mandatory battles to get such items.
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« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2014, 10:57:36 AM »

I don't know if it needs a proper combat system, but (I think) most roleplaying games (tabletop ones) have confrontation systems as a measure of progress.

Still you don't need them at all, if you feel like just doing an Adventure like To The Moon, it will work for sure.
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« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2014, 11:40:24 AM »

As many have already mentioned, combat isn't a 'must' in an RPG. For many games it's often the way to keep the player interacting with the game as the 'story' progresses and in some cases the mechanics of the combat system go totally against events of the narrative [insert obvious example here].

If you have an idea to keep the player engaged without the combat system by all means try it out.
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« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2014, 12:34:18 PM »

Combat centric RPG's used to be labeled "Hack and Slash" RPG's and that name has fallen out of use -- I think in part because most modern RPG's are combat centric; and the label is sort of implied. In fact you probably need an opposite label if you wont feature combat or rarely do to warn playes that it is not a typical RPG.

In Pen & Paper systems combat is often a lengthy drawn out process with long sheets of paper rolling dice, taking turns, doing math by hand. Then doing a little bit of role playing and then starting the dice rolls and maths over again.

The advent of the CRPG (Computer Role Playing Game) relieved the GM/DM and players of dealing with the mechanical repetitious and 'administration' heavy portions of Role Playing Games and let them just "fight" and have "fun".

The thing is .. fighting is FUN.  It makes you feel more alive .. excited, and rewarded at the end of the combat because you got several immediate rewards and feedback:

- you lived
- you got XP
- you may get treasure
- you learned something about combating the creature (sometimes)

A CRPG without combat is one million percent possible; but you have to seriously consider what is the antagonist in each scene/sequence of your game and what obstacle does the player have to overcome to increase their characters understanding of the world, or themselves etc that results in an experience that develops the character (a skill point or experience leading towards a level).

If you can't devise a system that you can reasonably explain in a written page I would suggest you have under-thought your combat-less system and need more design time before undertaking a combat-less RPG system.

Best of luck with your project.
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« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2014, 12:50:12 PM »

The long term goal of RPG Playground is indeed that you can create a full blown RPG with it, but I want to gradually work towards it. My initial thought was to work towards a Legend of Zelda kind of game first, where focus is on gameplay and not so much on story. But now I'm leaning towards the other end: focus on story and drop combat (drop it for now that is Wink).

Even the Legend of Zelda game is not considered an RPG by Wikipedia, but an 'action-adventure'. So I suppose for my first version I'm going to works towards the 'adventure'. After that I can extend it to 'action-adventure', and finally a real RPG (hopefully before I get too old Wink)

Still feels weird to use 'adventure' because that term puts 'point and click' adventure in my head.

But I guess for the first version, I could stick with the 'adventure' part and let my users still be able to create a complete game. And with complete I mean that you don't get the impression as a player that stuff is missing.
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erebusman
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« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2014, 12:56:21 PM »

. So I suppose for my first version I'm going to works towards the 'adventure'. After that I can extend it to 'action-adventure', and finally a real RPG (hopefully before I get too old Wink)

I didn't want to put any labels on it to constrain your creativity but you did seem to possibly be describing and adventure game.   

An "Adventure RPG" would be fine and lets the player know they will probably solve quests, find items, advance their character.  There may or may not be combat in an adventure rpg; and if so it would probably be infrequent or very simple.
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Infernohawke Entertainment
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« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2014, 04:08:59 AM »

Play Candy Box 2

You'll see that most of what makes an RPG and RPG is not combat, it's all the other systems of progression
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Oskuro
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« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2014, 06:29:20 AM »

Uhm, I think this can be abstracted a bit.

"Combat" is, in essence, a mechanism for challenge resolution, and we could argue that anything we call a "game" requires challenges for the player to overcome.

So the point would be to have challenges for the player, regardless of what specific form they take. You can take a standard combat system and, by changing assets, turn it into something else entirely (Say, a Final Fantasy turn-based combat could become a Debate system with little effort)

Now, the trick is to have players accept a challenge resolution system that is not defined as "combat", something complicated by how prevalent combat-based gameplay is in the medium. But it can be done.

Some combat-less examples:

  • Survival-based RPG where you must search for resources, but never need to fight anything.
  • Socio-Political intrigue RPG where "combat" is performed through political debates, or social interactions.
  • High-School the RPG: Minigames determine your performance in subjects/sports/popularity contests.
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J-Snake
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« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2014, 01:50:21 PM »

What I miss in rpgs is actually a good combat system. Main thing is, you should not try to be different for its own sake. Do whatever makes sense and adds value to the game, even when it involves "copying" ideas/systems.
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« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2014, 11:36:48 PM »

I think the defining mechanic of an RPG is a leveling system that the player can influence somehow. Stats exist, they grow, the player's decisions affect that growth.

Combat is the most straight-forward way of implementing this, but isn't necessary. Dialog choices for example could replace combat.
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Muz
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« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2014, 03:41:11 AM »

Combat's an abstraction for progress and overcoming obstacles. It's also fluff... otherwise a lot of RPGs would be over very quick.

Hillfolk doesn't really have much combat systems at all. Does anyone consider something like Harvest Moon a RPG even though it doesn't have attributes?

It also depends on how you define combat. You can still have PvP/PvE with other attributes. Dungeon crawling isn't the cornerstone of many games. The Monsterhearts system has only one 'attack' option, based on a single skill. Monsterhearts relies more on having influence over other characters, to manipulate them into doing things you want to do. So a character might try to seduce or blackmail a werewolf into beating up a demon, and then come in to comfort that demon to manipulate them into doing something else.
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Silbereisen
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« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2014, 06:14:31 AM »

the sims is basically an RPG and doesnt have combat
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juan
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« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2014, 12:37:30 AM »

If Earthbound didn't have a combat system I would enjoy it more in some ways.
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