Although map mode isn't nearly as intricate as battle mode, there are a few suitable points for discussion and ideas to share and contemplate. Below are a list of some ideas that I've had for map mode in the recent weeks, as well as a mentioning of planned features that we have not yet implemented. And FYI: none of these features will be making it into the 0.2.0 demo, just so we're clear on that.
#1: Running and stamina
I think there definitely needs to be a run/walk option. But the question we need to address is: can the player continue to run continuously, or do they have a limited amount of stamina? I think that we should either add a stamina meter in one of the screen corners, or find some other way to restrict the player from always running (ie enemies spawn faster while running or something). Some random thoughts about this:
- player should be allowed infinite stamina in 'safe' areas such as towns, where no battle occur, but limited stamina everywhere else
- stamina regenerates slowly while walking, and faster when standing still
- stamina should be static throughout the game (higher experience levels do not increase stamina amount or regeneration rate on maps)
- no 'potions' or other typical means available for quickly restoring stamina
- perhaps that if you encounter an enemy with a low stamina, the enemy party has a head start on you (ie they get the first attack), meaning that its not always wise to keep the stamina bar continuously drained in dungeon maps
#2: Running animations
I know that its not wise to further burden our art department, but I really feel that eventually, all main playable characters (and perhaps some more distinguished NPCs) should have running animations. The "turbo walking" just doesn't cut it.
#3: New dialogue icons
Refresher: all NPCs that have dialogue that the player has not yet read will have a small little icon appear above their head that indicates they have something new to say. This eliminates the need for constantly querying NPCs to see if they have any new information.
#4: Weapon use in puzzles
If you've ever played Lufia II, you'll know what I mean. Basically, you have different weapons available to you to try and solve puzzles. Swords can slash down brush and vines blocking your way. Arrows can hit distant targets to trigger switches. Fire arrows burn all that cross their path, etc.
I was thinking we could do something similar, only the weapon that is used depends on the active character sprite on the screen (which can be cycled through by pressing the swap key or something). So when Claudius is showing, he swings his sword. When Laila is showing, she can shoot arrows, etc.
#5: Weapon use against map enemies
Perhaps weapons can also be used to avoid encounters with enemies on the map. Maybe a sword slash will stun the foe that it hits for a second to allow the player to run away. Or maybe it allows the player to then encounter the enemy and give them first strike in battle or something.
If we do something like this, we'll have to have a limiter on how many times weapons can be used on maps (ie, only once every 2 seconds). Otherwise, the player can abuse the ability to make it through a dungeon without a single encounter.
I think that's a good list for starters. Basically, I want map exploration to be more than walking around and talking to people. I want the environment to be more interactive and "fun", because I find random dungeon crawling in most RPGs to be a bore.
Share your ideas here as well please!
1 & 2 - No, unless you can find gameplay-related elements in which case you could just a contextual "always run" system. For example, the player is chased by lava. Then, all movement speed is X2, but if you miss a step, you fall. This is a "good" application of a running system. Having the opportunity to run, will result in always running. Trying to tone it down will only result in frustration of "why can't I run now".
3 - Yes
4 - The idea of simplifying puzzle ideas to weapons seems a bit limited. I like the idea of zelda-like manipulations (lift big rocks, etc). The problem with turn-based rpgs is that bringing the weapons out while not in combat feels a bit odd. The obvious reaction will be "why must I enter a turn-based battle system when I drew my sword and could slash a switch with it?). I think Mystic Quest did a pretty funny job with this. Some doors could be opened only by bombs, some switches by swords, others by axes, the only downside is that the protagonist had all of them at the same time which kinda ruined the approach of "oh but did you bring an axe along?".
Hence why I'd stick more to protagonist related movements (climb, grab, etc) rather than weapon-based actions. Then again Lufia II did well, although there was a bit too much of it.
5 - Perhaps, although from my answer to # 4, you'll probably guess how I feel about this. Of course, there is always an alternative...
(6) the alternative: The hybrid system. This game is clearly, and out of doubt, a turn-based battle system rpg. There is no denying this. However, it feels as though several real-time ideas have been brought forwards. The most memorable games I've played were games of a genre that allowed themselves to fall out of their own genre when necessary. If you've played Shadows over Imdahl, you'll know what I mean. The game has no combat throughout, but then, oops, real-time boss fight based on position and reflexes. Weird? Definately. Good? You kidding me? It was awesome.
My suggestion is that the game could work with an hybrid environment.
a) The party-based combats, aka, the bulk of the game, would be fought encounters from touching an enemy, as is currently the case. It is much easier anyway to micro-manage a party on a turn-based approach.
b) Rarely, a duel in-game may occur. Rather than stats, reflexes come forwards here. The upside is to wake up the gamer from what he thinks he knows and give a slight taste at something else. Likewise, it makes him understand that "odd" things can happen in this game. It is a GAME, not a turn-based RPG. It is an experience of its own, not tying to fit in the genre per se. It could make up memorable moments, ala, the boss was so cool he couldn't be fought the normal way.
c) By using B once, the player will be more accustomed to thinking outside of the box. Weapons in-game but outside of combat will become a possibility to him that makes some sense. Throwing arrows at targets to go on his quest will make sense in the end because he has seen sword in action. Then again, C can be B. How? The boss attacks you real-time, but you need to solve the puzzle to kill him, aka, toss arrows at each target. Except now, you have a time incentive. See the possibilities?
With the occurence of a slight "hybrid" system, all of these ideas become relevant, even perhaps, the stamina one.