Our new Indie Games subforum is now open for business in G&T. Go and check it out, you might land a code for a free game. If you're developing an indie game and want to post about it, follow these directions. If you don't, he'll break your legs! Hahaha! Seriously though.
Our rules have been updated and given their own forum. Go and look at them! They are nice, and there may be new ones that you didn't know about! Hooray for rules! Hooray for The System! Hooray for Conforming!

Design a Combat-less RPG

shutzshutz Registered User regular
edited April 2007 in Games and Technology
One of my goals in life is to try to come up with original ideas for games, so that we never have to be stuck playing games that are just prettier versions of previous games. So I like to challenge myself to come up with particularly different game ideas. Here's one I'd like the people on this forum to try to answer:

Your assignment: design a combat-less RPG.

Details:

Come up with a setting, main character, and goal for that character, in a game that plays like a role-playing game, but offer other means of making the game compelling and exciting than the now-common combat mechanics in most RPGs.

You must find a way to replace combat with something more than a simple substitution. For example, the first PC adaptation of the game Magic: The Gathering included a gameplay mode that played as an RPG, where the combat was replaced with Magic card duels. To me, this still counts as combat.

I would also say that scripted, linear and repetitive action sequences found in many recent RPGs aren't a good substitute either, as they wouldn't work if they had to be played in place of every place where a battle would otherwise have occurred.

I'm looking for the most original and compelling ideas you can come up with. Describe a game YOU would want to play, and hopefully, it'll be a game I will also want to play.

I'll drop by, from time to time, to comment, and hopefully, to come up with my own answer to this challenge. I'm really curious to see what some of you are going to come up with.

Don't be afraid to post multiple ideas, if you have them.

Note: I've also posted this challenge on my blog (URL in my sig) and I hope some of you will be interested in pasting your ideas in the comments there as well. Yes, I'm trying to drive traffic to my blog, but it's not for money (I don't have any ads) I'm just trying to build a community of people who like coming up with original game ideas, and discussing those ideas. Mods, if this last paragraph offends you, just ask, I'll edit it out.

Now, everybody, get designin' !

Creativity begets criticism.
Check out my new blog: http://50wordstories.ca
Also check out my old game design blog: http://stealmygamedesigns.blogspot.com
shutz on
«1

Posts

  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    So...this is an adventure game? PC Adventure games have an inventory and, while you don't level, you do solve puzzles in a semi-free environment though your general path is linear.

    For a strategy game that had no combat, see the PC game 'A Force More Powerful.'

    EDIT: For a semi-serious answer, would you have a problem if the point of my made-up RPG centered around evading combat? Like Pac-Man evading the ghosts, you could make a RPG where you gain points by evading attacks and spend those points on better evasion techniques. Think Symphony of the Night but you're not attacking but only dodging. Would that still be combat?

    EDIT: #2 Ooh, stealth game with strong RPG elements might fit this better. This is tricky because, in my mind, if you focus on collecting and stat boosting, you immediately turn your game into a management sim and not an RPG. What's the difference between Railroad Tycoon and Final Fantasy 6?

    emnmnme on
  • EvilBadmanEvilBadman DO NOT TRUST THIS MAN Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    What, like a dating sim?

    EvilBadman on
    FyreWulff wrote: »
    I should note that Badman is fucking awesome
    XBL- Evil Badman; Steam- EvilBadman; Twitter - EvilBadman
  • DHS OdiumDHS Odium Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Not to crap on your thread, but this is like a combination of sitewhoring and "do my homework for me" posts.

    DHS Odium on
    Wii U: DHS-Odium // Live: DHS Odium // PSN: DHSOdium // Steam: dhsykes // 3DS: 0318-6615-5294
  • GarthorGarthor Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Fallout.

    Not only is it an RPG that has no combat, but it's got combat, too.

    Garthor on
  • Katchem_ashKatchem_ash __BANNED USERS
    edited April 2007
    IS this some sort of home work you have?

    Katchem_ash on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • MetalbourneMetalbourne fucking hell, apparentlyRegistered User regular
    edited April 2007
    An oblivion-like game where, once you leave town, you have to survive off the land, find shelter, etc. Finding clean water, edible food, and whatnot gets you exp and levels you up in stats like land navigation and disease resistance.

    Metalbourne on
  • AroducAroduc regular
    edited April 2007
  • BahamutZEROBahamutZERO ROLLING STAAAAAAAAAAAAART Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    first thing that comes to mind are the good ol' Lucasarts point-and-click adventure games.

    BahamutZERO on
  • WrenWren Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    well, I remember Fallout 2 could be combatless for most of it. I couldn't figure out how to get the president's keycard without killing him at all though. of course people say to OD him with stimpacks or plant dynamite on him, while completely missing the entire point.

    since I doubt anyone is going to come up with a design doc for you to use yourself anytime soon

    Wren on
    tf2sig.jpg
    TF2 - Wren BF3: Wren-fu
  • GarthorGarthor Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Wren wrote: »
    well, I remember Fallout 2 could be combatless for most of it. I couldn't figure out how to get the president's keycard without killing him at all though. of course people say to OD him with stimpacks or plant dynamite on him, while completely missing the entire point.

    since I doubt anyone is going to come up with a design doc for you to use yourself anytime soon

    The first Fallout could be done without any combat. Fallout 2 forced you into it at a few points, though.

    Garthor on
  • WrenWren Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Never played Fallout 1, since I've never seen a copy around anywhere.

    And the only part that would force you to do combat in FO2, as far as I can tell, would be the President part. I'm pretty sure I tried every conversation option, but who knows.

    There might be a few side-story parts that are combat only, but you can just avoid those since none of them are part of the actual save your family and get E.D.E.N storyline.

    Wren on
    tf2sig.jpg
    TF2 - Wren BF3: Wren-fu
  • Xenogears of BoreXenogears of Bore Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Planescape:Torment

    Half a dozen cardpgs

    Harvest Moon

    Animal Crossing

    Xenogears of Bore on
    3DS CODE: 3093-7068-3576
  • GSMGSM Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Conflict and violence are often defaults to create engrossing interactive entertainment. Mostly because hitboxes, hitpoints, and physics are the simplest thing in the world to realistically simulate.

    At least when you compare fighting to things like debate, conversation, and manners.

    Fighting reduces things to simple boolean values, like alive/dead and friend/foe.

    GSM on
    We'll get back there someday.
  • harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    I played the game described in the OP in 1999. It's called Ultima Online. I played it for more than a year and found it completely engrossing, and I never lifted a weapon.

    harvest on
    B6yM5w2.gif
  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    GSM wrote: »
    Conflict and violence are often defaults to create engrossing interactive entertainment. Mostly because hitboxes, hitpoints, and physics are the simplest thing in the world to realistically simulate.

    At least when you compare fighting to things like debate, conversation, and manners.

    Fighting reduces things to simple boolean values, like alive/dead and friend/foe.

    Now hold on, is the OP restricting physical combat or all contention? Because it seems to me all fables and fairy tales have a brains-beating-brawn gooey center to them. I mean, trickery and clever dealings can be quantified in meters, too, as easily as fighting stats. Convincing an enemy to join your side? Watch how the convince-o-meter at the bottom of the screen reacts to your dialogue choices.

    emnmnme on
  • Digger DudeDigger Dude Registered User
    edited April 2007
    Basicly you can take any disipline(Such as Cooking, Acrobaticts or Buissiness managment) and turn it into an RPG by have the characters "Face-Off" against another character.

    Digger Dude on
  • KeithKeith Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    first thing that comes to mind are the good ol' Lucasarts point-and-click adventure games.

    When your father first saw you, he must have been mortified

    Keith on
  • PaperPlatePaperPlate Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Tale in the Desert

    PaperPlate on
    Minecraft: PAPRPL8
    League of Legends (your friendly neighborhood support): PAPRPL8
  • GSMGSM Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Now hold on, is the OP restricting physical combat or all contention? Because it seems to me all fables and fairy tales have a brains-beating-brawn gooey center to them. I mean, trickery and clever dealings can be quantified in meters, too, as easily as fighting stats. Convincing an enemy to join your side? Watch how the convince-o-meter at the bottom of the screen reacts to your dialog choices.
    Dialog choices abstract conversation far more than most games abstract violent conflict. Fast button mashing can represent strength pretty well, and perfectly timed or quickly reacting button presses evoke the same feelings as actual reactions to real events. But choosing the "good" or "bad" or "non-sequeter" options seem too often to just result in the good or bad ending.

    I'm not saying it's impossible to get closer to the real thing, it's just that designers are reluctant to put enough time into it.

    GSM on
    We'll get back there someday.
  • Mmmm... Cocks...Mmmm... Cocks... Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    first thing that comes to mind are the good ol' Lucasarts point-and-click adventure games.
    Exactly what went through my head as well. That and those Kings Quest games.
    (Those weren't Lucas were they? I didn't keep up with companies and shit back then, sorry)

    Mmmm... Cocks... on
    sig.png
  • shutzshutz Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    To all the people asking whether this is actual work for me, the answer is no.

    I don't know how I could prove it for you, other than to say I'm not even currently employed in the Games industry, nor am I studying the subject in any sort of school.

    If you check out my blog (I know, I know site whoring... but I really do believe this could be a valid discussion here...) you'll see that I regularly post ideas and concepts for games that I believe to be pretty creative and original.

    This is just my attempt to trigger discussion and thought about ways to turn common game ideas on their heads and see if any interesting games might come out.

    I actually agree that if you take almost any existing RPG, and remove all combat, you're left with what amounts to a good 'ol adventure game à la Lucasarts/Sierra. Which is why I'm trying to see if there's anything we could add back into the mix that would be really different from combat, but would still fit within the narrative and be more than just a "contest between enemies". So if your idea consists of:

    1- encounter an enemy
    2- pull out a chess/checkers/go/Monopoly game and duke it out that way instead of fighting

    ...well, I don't see that as much of a change (well, the Monopoly thing might be intriguing... maybe...)

    I'm trying to (and encouraging you all to) think about other ways of making RPGs interesting, apart from combat.

    Some of you might have played pen & paper RPGs: try to think of any adventures you had which did not involve any combat which were still fun, perhaps.

    Also, I don't mind hearing about existing games that already seem to fill my requirements. But try to justify yourself. For example, from what I know about "A Tale in the Desert" (as I've never played it) it kind of replaced combat with more crafting, and eventually, conflict came from economic forces? Am I right there? That's intriguing, but I wonder if the game could still be called an RPG...

    For that matter, when you take combat out of an RPG (and put something else in), are you still left with an RPG, or do you now have an entirely different genre? That's the kind of debate I'd like to see here.

    shutz on
    Creativity begets criticism.
    Check out my new blog: http://50wordstories.ca
    Also check out my old game design blog: http://stealmygamedesigns.blogspot.com
  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Stealth RPG? Where you can't attack - Is one-sided combat still combat?

    Harvest Moon?

    emnmnme on
  • SceptreSceptre Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Aroduc wrote: »

    Is there anything like this for PC?

    Sceptre on
  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Define RPG. If you don't need a system of advancement, any adventure game would qualify.

    Also, define combat. Say you have a game where you pit your team of sports players against other teams over multiple seasons, with advancement coming in the form of increased budgets and better draft picks when you do well. Such a game is certainly an RPG, but would you consider it to contain a form of combat, since you have to defeat foes to advance?

    jothki on
  • KazhiimKazhiim __BANNED USERS regular
    edited April 2007
    PaperPlate wrote: »
    Tale in the Desert

    Kazhiim on
    lost_sig2.png
  • vhzodvhzod Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    A Tale In the Desert.... also Seed was supposed to be a combatless RPG but that kind of fell through because they couldn't implement features fast enough. Also... HARVEST MOON

    vhzod on
  • Skelly BSkelly B Registered User
    edited April 2007
    Harvest Moon is a sim game styled like an RPG. Actually, I think any RPG with some sort of combat alternative ends up becoming a loose sim game of sorts.

    Skelly B on
  • vhzodvhzod Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Except with Harvest Moon there is a main character with stats. In SIm City or Civilization etc, you're not really personified within the game.

    vhzod on
  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Skelly B wrote: »
    Harvest Moon is a sim game styled like an RPG. Actually, I think any RPG with some sort of combat alternative ends up becoming a loose sim game of sorts.

    Any RPG with a combat focus ends up becoming a combat sim, too. It's arguable that RPGs and simulations are actually the same genre.

    jothki on
  • Skelly BSkelly B Registered User
    edited April 2007
    jothki wrote: »
    Skelly B wrote: »
    Harvest Moon is a sim game styled like an RPG. Actually, I think any RPG with some sort of combat alternative ends up becoming a loose sim game of sorts.

    Any RPG with a combat focus ends up becoming a combat sim, too. It's arguable that RPGs and simulations are actually the same genre.

    touche. So can we design a sim without simulation?

    Skelly B on
  • vhzodvhzod Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    I would suggest that a sim is just a sufficiently detailed RPG. But what about games like Sim City, Civilization...what genre do they fall in?

    vhzod on
  • Skelly BSkelly B Registered User
    edited April 2007
    God RPG

    Skelly B on
  • vhzodvhzod Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    So I guess in a God RPG you're playing the role of god in the game.... we have totally hijacked this thread.

    vhzod on
  • piLpiL Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    GSM wrote: »
    Conflict and violence are often defaults to create engrossing interactive entertainment. Mostly because hitboxes, hitpoints, and physics are the simplest thing in the world to realistically simulate.

    At least when you compare fighting to things like debate, conversation, and manners.

    Fighting reduces things to simple boolean values, like alive/dead and friend/foe.

    This is kind of irrelevent. Fighting is useful and simplifies things, but the point is to make an RPG not predicated on these things. I think that's entirely doable.


    An RPG without combat? Simply an RPG with different skills that are used in checks to perform goals that aren't related to fighting. You might come upon a gateway on the side of a hill. If your character is strong enough, he can knock it down. If he's good at climbing, he can climb over, and if he's skilled at lock picking, he can pick the lock. An adventure game would do this by having you acquire a key, a ram, or a rope at some point. Instead you would design a character and attempt to overcome social and environmental problems.

    That seems to fit the bill the most for me anyway. It makes me think of GURPS as a pnp, or fallout as a game. There is plenty of game in both without even brining stabbing into the mix, and whether the game pigeonholes you into it doesn't void the ideas it represents where you have repair skills and first aid skills and barter skills that you use to interact with.

    piL on
  • AresProphetAresProphet I see a darkness in my fate I'll drive my car without the brakesRegistered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Detective RPG? Run around gathering clues, interviewing witnesses, and solving cases. Maybe you carry a gun, and maybe you have to use it once. But it's not combat, it's self-defense perhaps. Not all killing is combat, and not all combat is killing.

    Unless you're talking about an RPG without violence, in which case you're opening it up to way, way more possibilities, and you'd just have to remove the gun from my detective RPG to make it fit the criteria.

    AresProphet on
    oh, gimme some time
    show me the foothold from which I can climb
    yeah, when I feel low
    you show me a signpost for where I should go
  • RandomEngyRandomEngy Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    I'm pretty sure my favorite game in this genre would be one where all the main character does is play a game that has combat in it.

    RandomEngy on
    Profile -> Signature Settings -> Hide signatures always. Then you don't have to read this worthless text anymore.
  • shutzshutz Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    OK, I guess at this point we should define what a Role-Playing Game is.

    I could be pedantic and say:
    a) there must be some kind of role-playing involved
    b) it must be a game.

    But that wouldn't be very helpful.

    What is a role-playing game?

    For one thing, the player needs to have a role assigned to him or her. The player then needs to be placed in some sort of situation that requires that player act and react according to the assigned role. (I need to put in that last bit, otherwise almost any old action game could fit.)

    In general, a role-playing game tends to be about placing the player/character in a specific situation and environment, and then provide an abstracted level of interaction with that situation and environment.

    What I mean is, in an action game, you tend to interact directly: see a door, open it. See a giant bug? Hit it until it dies. Whereas RPGs (except for action-RPGs, such as the Zelda games, or, say, Secret of Mana) tend to add a level of abstraction where you decide on an action, and an arbitrary set of rules determines the consequences.

    So that the mechanics of combat could be mapped to other actions that a player would take in a game.

    For example, think of an RPG where you're a politician. You have to manipulate public opinion in your favor, you accumulate facts, you decide which ones to say, which ones to distort, and what lies to say. Then the game system crunches some numbers and then spits out the results of the latest opinion poll, along with new headlines (including some surprise events, such as, say, a school shooting, or a successful Space Shuttle mission.)

    Same thing could be done with a Lawyer RPG. (I haven't played any of the Phoenix Wright games yet... I only just got Puzzle Quest, give me a break!) Arguments and counter-arguments, you decide which points to bring up, what evidence to use, how to phrase your arguments for maximum impact...

    Also, people keep mentioning Harvest Moon: I admit I haven't played that either. I'll have to check it out soon. But if the game has enough of a role-playing component, I guess it could fit.

    shutz on
    Creativity begets criticism.
    Check out my new blog: http://50wordstories.ca
    Also check out my old game design blog: http://stealmygamedesigns.blogspot.com
  • shutzshutz Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Detective RPG? Run around gathering clues, interviewing witnesses, and solving cases. Maybe you carry a gun, and maybe you have to use it once. But it's not combat, it's self-defense perhaps. Not all killing is combat, and not all combat is killing.

    Unless you're talking about an RPG without violence, in which case you're opening it up to way, way more possibilities, and you'd just have to remove the gun from my detective RPG to make it fit the criteria.

    I wonder, though: in what way would your game be any different from the old point and click adventure game "Déjà Vu" ?

    I think we're trying to figure out what to put back into an RPG once the standard kind of combat has been removed, since a standard RPG with combat removed basically turns into an adventure game.

    I guess there needs to be some kind of growth for the character (this need not be stats growth.)

    I had a discussion recently with someone where a character's "growth" in the game was based on how many secrets he knew about the other characters, meaning that the more dirt you have on your "opponents", the higher you are in the sociopath ladder.

    So maybe you're a PI who, as a sideline, collects secrets. Think about that for a bit. I think this could be an interesting game, if played in a detailed sandbox-style environment.

    shutz on
    Creativity begets criticism.
    Check out my new blog: http://50wordstories.ca
    Also check out my old game design blog: http://stealmygamedesigns.blogspot.com
  • AresProphetAresProphet I see a darkness in my fate I'll drive my car without the brakesRegistered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Conversation stats and skills are nothing new. Your character might have Perception, Intelligence, and Charisma traits that determine how well he notices clues, how crafty he can be in conversation, and how convincing/likeable he is. He might have skills in lying, or in friendliness, or intimidation. Maybe you have to go undercover, and dress like someone else (equipment) or collect evidence to convince the people you're questioning to give up more info, or to convince the cops to raid some crooks hideout.

    You can factor a lot of RPG gameplay elements into it, and there's nothing that prevents it from being plot-driven rather than sandbox. It'd be much, much easier and more engrossing if there was a central story that you were working with, and even then you can have freeform elements. Think Fallout 2, how much there was to do in that game even though there was a clear-cut goal and plot.

    Pure sandbox would be impossible to make things like this engrossing. Witness the Diplomacy system in Vanguard: there are plenty of unique conversations that are well-written, but by the time you've done a few dozen parleys you see repeats, and after maybe 50 you just stop reading them altogether and focus on the card game unless you're doing a "plot" parley.

    A detective RPG could be combatless and could be done in the vein of Fallout or PS:T or any other story-driven RPG.

    It sounds to me like you're defining an RPG in such a way that includes combat, and then trying to make us design an RPG by that definition without it. Which is clearly just silly. An RPG without combat does not suddenly become an adventure game.

    AresProphet on
    oh, gimme some time
    show me the foothold from which I can climb
    yeah, when I feel low
    you show me a signpost for where I should go
  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    shutz wrote: »
    What I mean is, in an action game, you tend to interact directly: see a door, open it. See a giant bug? Hit it until it dies. Whereas RPGs (except for action-RPGs, such as the Zelda games, or, say, Secret of Mana) tend to add a level of abstraction where you decide on an action, and an arbitrary set of rules determines the consequences.

    So you're saying that a roleplaying game is partly defined by the player not directly playing a role, but directing the actions of others? Except of course for action-RPGs, which are almost completely like non-RPGs except that they're RPGs instead. :|

    jothki on
«1
Sign In or Register to comment.