I really enjoy RPGs and they way they handle combat. It’s a fun system with some excellent abstractions. Unfortunately, so very many iterations of it are the same. That’s all well and good, but how about we look at some ideas for how things could be different?
There are a lot of games I would really love to play. Unfortunately, plenty of them don’t exist yet. I’m going to describe a mish-mash of mechanics that I’d love to see, making up a game that I’d love to play. These are going to be very bare bones descriptions – I’m not outlining an entire game start to finish. As promised when talking about my ideal FF7 copy cat game, I had one other very old idea that I was going to write up. Guess what, it’s time. I’m going to examine the skeleton of my ideal Legend of Zelda-style MMO.
As long as there have been RPGs (particularly JRPGs, though this applies to early western RPGs in a broad sense as well) there has been turn based combat. Games are a world of fun (well, if they’re well made) abstractions that let the player interact with the setting in a meaningful way. One of the more abstract but rather effective systems out there is turn based RPG combat. I couldn’t say for sure if it’s a matter of the genre imposing inherent limits (though I’d argue that it’s not), but there’s been a lack of innovation among relatively traditional turn based combat systems. It’s been around for long enough that I think we could be throwing in some new ideas. So, in that spirit, I’ll talk about some of my ideas for one of my favorite gameplay systems.
Handheld gaming occupies a special place in my heart. No, it’s not just because my first console that was mine was a handheld (the Sega Game Gear, actually). It’s not just my deep love for Pokemon (though that helps). It’s not even my fond memories of playing Final Fantasy Tactics Advance at stop lights while working as a delivery driver (probably not super safe, don’t recommend it). Handhelds fit the way I game that consoles hooked up to a TV and PCs just can’t match (though my laptop certainly tries).
In an effort to be constructive rather than just critical, I’m dreaming up some alternatives to the standard “list of spells (gained by level up or purchase) that you can cast with MP” magic system that forms the standard for RPGs. If you want to read the prior systems, check out parts 1-3 (really, someday I’ll make this a link). Okay, time for one last magic system.