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I'm developing an indie game for mobile platforms, and part of the game involves a PvP battle system (where the target player is passive). My vision is simple: the active player can select a weapon/item, then attack/use, and display the calculated outcome. I have a concept for battle modifiers that affect stats to make it more interesting, but I'm not convinced this by itself will add enough of a fun factor.

I've received some inspiration from the game engine that powers Modern War/Kingdom Age/Crime City, but I want more control to make it more fun. In those games, you don't have the option to select weapons or use items, and the "battling" screen is simply 3D eye candy. Since this will be an indie game, I won't be spending $$$ on a team of professional 3D artists/animators, so my edge needs to be different.

What are some alternatives to expensive eye candy that you or others have used to make a non-3D PvP game more fun and engaging? Did the alternative concepts survive the release?

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I think this a little more discussion-oriented than may be appropriate for this site -- perhaps you should consider asking about the topic in the chat? – Josh Petrie May 31 '12 at 15:36
Reading it over again, I'd have to agree. I'll edit to make it more specific. – Matt Beckman May 31 '12 at 16:08

How about the attacking player gets to be able to say where on the body he is going to attack and the defending player gets to be able to say where he is going to block or dodge the attack. It has been done before, it is somewhat oldschool, but i think it is still a fun function.

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The best way to handle asynchronous play with fun/engagement would be similar to designing any feature in any game: allow for interesting meaningful choices. Specifically, allow both players to make decisions, which means the "defending" play must be making preparatory decisions.

In order to prepare for attacks of unknown variables, either allow the defender to prepare a challenge for an attacker to overcome, or allow the defender to offer more than one defense setup for possible attacks. For example, either allow the defender to prepare a defended "base" that is attacked or allow the defender to respond to, say, three different attack scenarios with defense scenarios.

This methodology allows for both attackers and defenders to have more active participation and make more meaningful choices, which you'll often find results in more fun despite the asynchronous nature of the fighting.

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