The one year game develpoment duel



What makes a game fun?

This post is a status update, which is how I track progress specific to my game. Check out my timeline to see what I've recently accomplished.

    Key Events
  • Experimenting

I’m at the point of development where I feel I have a rough, yet playable, version of the game’s core functionality. I’ve built the intro, menu system, world map, battle maps, and character selection. I’ve created a playable, yet not very fun, game. And that leads me to my next big challenge which is to make the game fun.

There are no set of rules as to what makes a turn based game fun and I can already tell that my foreseeable future will be spent on a lot of trial and error. Just to give you a feel for where I’m at right now, here are some of the questions I’m going to have to answer about the combat layer.

  • Do some characters take up more than one tile space?
  • How is damage calculated?
  • Can attacks miss or do they always do full damage? How about partial damage?
  • How does melee combat work? Can some characters attack diagonally?
  • How does ranged combat work? Is there a max range? Does damage and/or accuracy decrease depending on range?
  • Can characters walk away from a fight or is there some type of penalty for walking away from an engagement?
  • How do the different character attributes like strength, stamina, defense, health, etc. work?
  • What types of special attacks do characters have?
  • What limits when/how many times a special attack can be performed?
  • Does directional facing matter? Does hitting somebody in the back do more damage?
  • Is the objective to destroy all enemies or are there multiple objectives?
  • Are there delayed attacks?
  • Can characters heal, poison, buff, etc.?
  • What happens when a character dies?
  • How important is balance?
  • How can I maintain balance?
  • Can you place the characters in different positions at the start of the battle or are they automatically assigned?
  • What determines turn order? Can turn order be altered by speed, spells, etc.
  • Can equipment be changed during combat?
  • How predictable is the AI? Is there a random component?
  • Are there obstacles in maps to create strategic advantages (i.e. choke points)?
  • Can attacks stack on top of one another?

There are plenty of suggestions as to what makes tactical based combat fun, but people have their own opinions and it’s easy to love different games even when the gameplay is completely opposite. Chess and Final Fantasy Tactics are two beloved tactical games even though one has a strict set of rules while the other is full of choice. There are also games like The Banner Saga and Fire Emblem which fall somewhere in-between. I don’t know where my game will fall on the spectrum of tactical games, but the only way to figure that out is by experimenting. I’ve already started playing around with some of these questions and I’ll post a video during the next update. I’d like to spend a little more time making mistakes and figuring out what it is exactly that makes a game feel fun in my opinion.

2 of you did not hold your tongue!
  1. REWARDS!!! I love getting rewards, even if it's just gems falling from the sky or hearing a whimsical tune. I'm just saying. I like games that give lots of rewards. When in doubt, add more rewards. :)

  2. Agreed! Whether it's items, gold, experience, or gems falling from the sky while a whimsical tune plays, I plan on having frequent rewards.

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