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This question got closed on gaming SE as off topic. I hope it's on topic here.

Many years ago, a friend and I prototyped a simple 2d rpg with what we thought was a unique idea for the combat mechanics. It used wandering monsters and a cutaway battle screen system. We added a bunch of effects like "conditions" that could affect your player - the standard stuff like blind, dazed, weak, etc.

The unique part is that we wanted to make the combat as close to you, the player actually fighting, and not just you commanding a character to do stuff. So we made it so what the character experiences, you experience. The basic combat screen included an outline of the enemy, and one of you. At randomized times, targets would appear on either figure, and begin to shrink. On the enemy, these were "openings" and you had to click them before they disappear, the closer to center, the better the hit. On your figure, you had to click to defend from an attack before the target shrank.

The conditions on your character made this interesting. Like I said, they were intended to affect the player literally. So blindness literally dimmed the screen 90%. If you were dazed, the targets would wobble randomly. If you were weak, your mouse cursor would lag and glide around. Everything translated to an actual impairment in your gameplay, not some arbitrary "your attacks do half damage".

This would have logically extended into a spell system, where you actually have to remember spell words and combine them into creative combinations and type them real time. I know some games have done variants of this kind of spell system.

Looking back, I think this was still a fun idea, but it seems awful from an accessibility standpoint. Players like their games to make them feel powerful, not to acknowledge and emphasize their real life flaws. So have any games attempted something like this and had some success? What came of it? If not does it seem like a reasonable and creative idea to try?

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I'd play it. You should give it a try... if that's what you're asking. –  Byte56 May 12 '11 at 21:29
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Seems like it might become more of an action game than RPG. But given the state of most RPGs lately you probably still have a large audience. Might just get repetitive however. –  edA-qa mort-ora-y May 13 '11 at 14:14
    
I'd try this out if it was a touchscreen game for a tablet - that might make it more interesting (and much more accessible). With a mouse, I'm not sure. –  lunchmeat317 10 hours ago

5 Answers 5

There's been similar stuff in various games, where you character becomes harder to control when you're drunk or on drugs (GTA3 et. al.), where aim stability is affected by experience/etc and also where the screen display is severely affected by different things (many RPG-FPS:es has this).

I suggest you research that and see if it makes for a good gameplay component. It will make users be frustrated if done improperly, so careful tuning is required.

Usually challenging, but overcome-able (...) gameplay mechanics are good. So a dim view, or laggy/overshooting (but predictable) mouse pointer may work well, but be careful with randomness. Game outcome based too much on chance aren't that fun (for most of us at least, some people enjoy bingo... but these rarely buy videogames).

Personally, I enjoy "bad control" or "random jittery targets" as an occasional change to the regular gameplay, but I don't think I'd enjoy having it as a core gameplay feature.

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In roguelikes, blindness makes your character disappear (so you don't know where you are, unless you're counting steps) and confusion makes him move in random direction. In Morrowind (and I think other Elder Scrolls games) blindness made the screen totally black. A lot of games where bow is used make crosshair wobble when the bow is tightened for too long (Thief did that, for example). Many games that have booze in them made screen wobble when the character is drunk (GTA, Deus Ex); Carmageddon had drugs that messed with the palette, transforming the picture into a mess of clashing colors. Metro 2033 makes mouse cursor lag when your character is under heavy burden. Note that many players considered this a bug and were very frustrated!

However, I'm not aware of any game where this stuff was a central mechanic. It might be interesting if the effects are varied enough and not TOO challenging.

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Carmaggedon had some psychadelic colors on the screen and the camera moving everywhere when taking a drug power up.

RPG like Bladur's gate also reduce the player's field of vision by increasing the 'fog of war' when you're blinded. (the interface is not affected though...)

Anyway, how would this system work when you cast a blind spell on a computer controlled enemy for example? You would need different impairing rules for the AI.

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Very good point, we never got that far. –  Tesserex May 13 '11 at 13:10

Look out for Nintendo DS titles. They tend to use the stylus for game mechanics similar to yours.

There are rhythm games like Elite Beat Agents employing something similar to your attack/defend game mechanics but based on music. Elite Beat Agents is actually quite challenging but fun to play.

I'd also recommend playing The World Ends with You! It's an action RPG with very similar combat mechanics. It's also quite innovative and unique.

Regarding crippling the player (controls) I'd always advise not to. I haven't seen a single game where not-being-in-control due to darkness, staggering, impairing effects, etc. was adding fun. Realism != Fun != Immersion.

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To be clear (not sure if it was misinterpreted or not) only the combat area would be affected. The rest of the interface, menus and such, would stay normal. You're right, it would suck if a blind spell meant you couldn't read any information. –  Tesserex May 13 '11 at 13:11

Something to that extent is certainly nothing I've heard of before. However, you should be careful when implementing it. The number one thing players expect from their game is control. Actions or sequences that remove control from the player are the most universally derided gameplay mechanics. A player expects to have complete and total control, within interface limitations.

It would certainly be an interesting idea, and objectively a great mechanic, but I think you'll find that in reality, human players will hate it.

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