When making my RPGs, I always found myself asking the question: do people play only for the romances, or also for the RPG gameplay part ?
Initially, I thought the most requested feature was romances, and I still think it’s one of the most important things people look for in my RPGs. After all, there are plenty of other RPGs with much better gameplay, but not many with also a good amount of romances (or like in Planet Stronghold 2, SIX love interest for each playable gender!).
However, as time passed by, I also noticed that there’s a good amount of people who play also for the roleplay element. I’m not saying they only play for that, but beside a good story and romances they’re also looking for a challenge. This was especially obvious during Seasons Of The Wolf development, with people who replayed the game like… 10 times!
The Fatigue System
And this brings me to the post title and to the new feature I recently added to my game Planet Stronghold 2 (still in beta/development): the ‘fatigue system’.
In short: while testing the game last year, I had a “deteriorating armor system”, which meant the armor wasn’t regenerating after each fight. Since armor is very important in this game, it would force the player to go back to the colony after several fights.
I was then forced to remove that system since was messing up with the items (I should have each single armor have a defense value that could go down… sort of “condition” of items, but that was a bit too much). The result was that during the beta, I had some player clear the first three quests of chapter 1 in a single day.
This clearly wasn’t working anymore as it should: if you design a game so that there’s a deadline and you must run against time to finish it (if you don’t finish the quests, it’s not a game over), and then people can complete all quests in a single day, then they have 7-10 days to fill in which they do nothing but clicking “End Day”.
A similar problem happened to Cursed Lands, but that was more due to how the plot structure was made. In this case, the gameplay mechanic was broken. So I sort of re-introduced a similar feature to the deteriorating armor called “Fatigue system”. In practice each party member has a Fatigue counter that increases as they fight, and the counter reduces the HP/PP of the character in percentage. It cannot go above 30%, but already 30% less makes a lot of difference especially when playing in Hard difficulty.
It’s a medium-impact change, because it doesn’t make the battles themselves harder, indeed if you go back to the colony you can rest and recover fully. So if there’s a difficult battle you can simply rest and try later. But it makes the whole experience more challenging and at the same time more immersive: it was really jarring to read the story in which clearly the player’s colony was short on resources, there was a war going on, desperate situation, etc and then… the protagonist could kill everyone and solve all quests in a single day ! lol
In conclusion, I think this addition was a good idea, since people who are interested only in the story, can play the game in the Visual Novel Mode or even the full RPG experience but in Easy mode, which makes most battles really trivial! I tested it and I could win 90% of the fights just upgrading equipment and using auto-combat without any use of the party skills or items!
Those instead who want a challenge, with Hard/Nightmare difficulty and this new addition will find it.