Life’s Impetus Devblog #5 – Looking at the Choices Behind the Gameplay

A couple of devblogs ago, I talked about how Life’s Impetus’s battle system was like, or in other words, I basically talked about the gameplay. Now, I’m going to talk about why I chose each of the main aspects, and in the process look deeper into how the game is like.

The Decisions

Time Based Gameplay

Before Life’s Impetus, I worked on a game (my first bigger-than-tiny game) for a competition from Square-Enix. It was called “Ruins of Time”, and as you can guess, it had time related mechanics. It was your standard time puzzle platformer where the main quirk was that you could make objects older or newer. It didn’t win anything (it wasn’t particularly good…), but I kept on being interested in time. I wanted to use time in some way other than the typical puzzle game so I decided to do an action game, and that’s how I decided to work on Life’s Impetus instead of the other ideas I had. It also relates to the themes of my story, themes I actually wanted to have in Ruins of Time, but didn’t manage to due to time constraints.

Minigame Based Action

The battle system heavily relies on “minigames”: time this button to execute the attack correctly, aim and mash the button to damage the enemy, etc. This was mostly because I liked the Mario RPGs like the Mario & Luigi series and Paper Mario, but also because I felt like it made the game fun. The first prototype I made after scrapping the first line of prototypes was just your basic turn based RPG, but timed. I honestly admit not much heart nor variety was put into this prototype, but it was boring anyways. It just felt like at it’s essence, it was just an accelerated loop of “attack enemy – get attacked”. I had played Paper Mario recently, so I decided to take the minigame elements from there and put it here; it worked. It was much funner, so I started adding more mechanics like this: dodging enemies, attacking enemies to prevent them from getting to close, etc.

No RPG Standards

I’m not really sure if I made it clear in the battle system devblog, but Life’s Impetus has little of the RPG standards like levels, stats, armors and such, even if the gameplay is menu based and actually inspired by RPGs. What happened is that originally the game actually was going to be an RPG, but I couldn’t really go through with it in the end. The first reason I encountered was the most simple one: I don’t have the time nor experience for it. Adding these systems and balancing them takes time, and even more if I’ve never done it before.
But, the arguably most important reason why I didn’t go with RPG standards is because, as I see my game currently, it just wouldn’t fit in the gameplay. For example, you have only one character, something most RPGs avoid. I think the main problem is that the whole game takes place in just one area (due to time constraints); there’s basically no big world to speak of. In RPGs, you find new shops to buy new items, you undertake quests to get money, you explore; none of this is possible in my game, so RPG mechanics don’t really make sense.

As you can see, my game is kinda pretty weird; a RPG-like menu battle system with no RPG elements and a focus on minigame-like actions. Why didn’t I make an true action game instead? Good question. But if anything, this is pretty original. And, it’s fun.

Bonus Question

Have you played any game that felt like a weird mix between genres that wasn’t really one or the other?

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