RPG Where battles are significant. (no grinding!?)

2toes

Member
So I was thinking, what if there were an rpg where there was no grinding. Kind of like in tv shows, animes, or whatever. People don't just go out and beat up wolves to get better, they become better through fights in the story.
So what if an action rpg game didn't have areas where you go to beat up the wild life, but instead, the battles were based solely on quests, and every battle had a unique person the player was to fight, and the battles mattered! Kind of like every fight is a boss fight. The problem I see, is this kind of sets a limit on the player's strength before he does certain things, people like to grind and be rewarded for their hard work.
That's why I was thinking maybe side quests could accomplish this, the player could do quests for npcs that have them go out and beat up someone, etc. and they could do more side quests to level up. Or maybe the player can just go back and beat up the same dude multiple times! kind of like in games when you replay a certain level to earn more coins or whatever.
I haven't got this idea fully fleshed out but i do think it's interesting, if you have any inputs, ideas, suggestions or know of a game that does this! that would be super interesting and I'd love to hear.
 

zircher

Member
You could aim for something like Scott Pilgrim (the graphics novels and movie, not the game) where you have a finite number of boss battles to win in order to date Ramona.
 

Ninety

Member
I hate grinding. So I automatically like this idea.

Perhaps each major fight or boss could give you part of an item, like a shard of a gem or something, instead of levelling you up via XP or whatever. Thus removing the incentive to grind.

Alternatively you could implement weapon degradation, so you have to weigh up risk vs reward, making fights against lower level enemies less attractive.
 
M

Mr.F

Guest
Check out the Fire Emblem series! the ones before Sacred Stones were focused on going from story battle to story battle, while later ones had that option but also side chapters or skirmishes with enemy armies off to the side. With the action RPG aspect, you can make the battles act like levels or smaller worlds. Or lets brew up a generic little story example for it to fit.

There is a war between two kingdoms, you do not control the main army, but rather a small squad or some mercenaries that are sent on missions. Simple stuff at the beginning, you are sent to take out a camp of bandits in a mountain who are taking advantage of the war, no wild animals to grind on you just go to fight. You get noticed by the king and slowly get more important missions, each battle can be lead by an important enemy (varying in importance, first bandit camp is lead by a bandit guy, but he was sent out by a nomadic war lord who is angry now) You can have a kind of hub where you set up character load out before going out on missions, and if you want to keep the "replay a level for more coins" you can add something like a coliseum. Fight prisoners of war as an excuse to refight old enemies, or cave and add wolves and other wild beasts! Other battles could be launching a midnight attack on an enemy camp, or having to play militia and defend your home base after ticking off enough bad guys, before having to try to take out the leaders of the enemy army.
 

MishMash

Member
The general reason grinding exists in games is because there is an active limitation for how much significant content can exist in a game. If say a game has 5 well-scripted boss fights which each take 10 minutes (assuming no deaths/re-attempts), the game would be over very quickly.
Grinding isn't always essential in games, though it does give players an opportunity to take play "safe". Going into a boss when you arent ready is still possible, and you can still beat it, but it requires a greater level of skill to do so. Grinding is generally an alternative means of allowing players who are not as good at a game to progress and finish the whole game without it being overwhelmingly hard. (Or on the contrary, too easy such that everyone just storms through bosses).

The advent of rogue-lite games is interesting because these games give a new spin on grinding. You still have to grind to an extent in order to improve your character, though given the nature of random items, every time you play the game gives you a unique style of play based on the item synergies you ended up getting. This makes grinding far less monotonous.

Quests are used to flesh out games and allow indirect progression towards bosses, though technically you could class quests as being a form of grind. Ultimately, you are only doing the quests in order to either progress the story, or to gain some benefit from doing them. This is not to say quests can't be fun.

I feel that a better approach is to look at what can make grinding more enjoyable and meaningful, rather than just trying to outright get rid of it (as that probably wont work, depending on the style of the game.). Quests are a great way to make it more varied, though this will be directly related to the quality and uniqueness of quests. One thing I love in games are meta-mechanics. Things that aren't directly related to the progression of the game, but things you can do to fill your time whilst you improve. Meta mechanics often provide you with alternative goals which exist alongside your main intentions.

If you look at games like pokemon, this may be doing challenge centres, or hatching eggs, or attempting to catch a specific kind of pokemon. Sure, technically its grinding, but its made interesting by the fact that you have a clear goal in mind. This greatly benefits the players as well as you will gain experience, level up your pokemon and what not in preparation for the gym battles that make up the main story line.
Grinding becomes an issue when the sole purpose of grinding is to get your character from level 10 to level 15 just so you can beat this one boss. This sort of grinding is running out into a specific region of the world and repeatedly killing simple enemies for example. Though you could easily make that more interesting by creating sub-stories and quests (as you said) that give this grinding some purpose.

Alot of RPGs offer micro-storylines to give you a sense of purpose and progression as you are grinding.
 
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Yal

🐧 *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
Grinding becomes an issue when the sole purpose of grinding is to get your character from level 10 to level 15 just so you can beat this one boss. This sort of grinding is running out into a specific region of the world and repeatedly killing simple enemies for example.
Definitely supporting this. Grinding only becomes bad when you're forced to do it, but it has its uses when it's optional. I've tried playing some MMORPGs because of friends claiming it's fun, but running around killing stuff that instantly respawns anyway for a month isn't my idea of fun. If you're playing an RPG, you want to feel like you're actually making a difference, not running around in a field for an arbitrary amount of time with petty distractions popping up with set intervals. Dark Souls games more or less always funnel you through a sequence of setpieces where every enemy matters, so replaying those and trying to find the most efficient and safe way through is a lot more fun than grinding in a traditional RPG. Paper Mario games has player input be a necessity for most special moves to even work in the first place, so at least you have something to do while grinding. (The Thousand-Year Door also has the mechanic with Stylish inputs that gives you extra Star Power but changes the animations of a lot of your moves, making the normal action commands harder to pull off, which is an interesting touch).
 

The M

Member
This reminds me of Xenoblade Chronicles. While there were a lot of enemies to grind there was always some kind of additional reward for killing the enemies (be it generic quests, story quests or skill coins (if that was the term) for defeating unique enemies) and you could try to avoid combat if you didn't want to fight. It rarely was a chore unless you wanted something specific from a specific enemy. Plus, it helps when combat is fun!
 

Yal

🐧 *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
Xenoblade Chronicles is a nice example, btw - if I remember correctly, quests could be fulfilled before you took them on, so if you'd slain the right enemies you could hand in the quest immediately for some rewards. The main exception being quests that require you to hand in some enemy drops, but if you found one of those items before taking on the quest, you would get a vision of the future (both a plot point and a battle mechanic) about the quest, so that you could make a mental note not to sell that thing. (Actually, I'm pretty sure the game itself would even note down quest items to prevent you from selling them unintentionally, even ones revealed via visions)
 

2toes

Member
Thanks for all your feed back guys and gals, it's been very interesting and enlightening reading your comments. What do you guys think of kind of like only boss fights, but then you could do things like go to a gym or something between fights to work on your skills.
In Mario tennis for the gba for example I really liked their training, for example you could run on a treadmill to increase your speed and learn tennis moves that use speed.
 

2toes

Member
Maybe you can find senseis to teach you moves and to learn the moves you hAve to play a mini game until the progress bar on that move is filled, again a lot like Mario tennis gba haha, I really liked how they did that
 
I really like the whole "boss battles only" concept, but usually loads of enemies are here to help you learn the mechanics of the game safely before fighting the boss. Just make sure that those battles have a scenaristic purpose, and that they actually teach you tricks for the upcoming boss.
 

Yal

🐧 *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
Just making enemy setups varied could help a lot with this. Especially if enemies has synergies. You'd start fighting stray enemies learning about their strengths and weaknesses, and then end up fighting enemy parties that are set up to be proper threats. The Darkest Dungeon is really good at this approach - you start off fighting easy predetermined parties that pose no real threat, but once you're done with the tutorial you start running into armored skeletons protecting acolytes in the back row chewing through your party's mental health like popcorn, forcing you to come up with the best strategies to disrupt enemy formations to stand a chance.
 
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