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### #11Servant of the Lord  Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 20365

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 11:30 AM

Game offenders : Morrowind, Kingdom of Amalur, Wow.
Games immune to that feeling: Skyrim. Oblvion.

In what ways did Skyrim and Oblivion change from Morrowind to reduce the 'filler dialog' problem you're talking about?
(I haven't played Skyrim, and I only played Oblivion for a very short time, but I invested loads of time into Morrowind)
It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
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### #12Orymus3  Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 10121

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 10:25 AM

Restrictive? Hardly. Just defining what is the spirit of exploring in RPG to me. Take for example, you have a quest to set an npc free from prision. The main or default path will be fighting your way through. Say the game allows you to bribe the guard or set a fire as distraction. That to me is exploring; allowomg player to try different ways to solve a problem. The more unrelated to the main quest, to the core mechanics of combat the more i regard as exploring. Skyrim is a good example of it. There is a lot of things to do outside of the main quests.

What would you call the actual navigation portion of the game between leaving area X and reaching objective Y then?

Exactly how important is exploration to a RPG?

I'm considering having very little (or no) exploration in my game. The quest system is setup more similar to RTS campaigns. The game takes place during a war and most of the "quests" are battles where you travel to a single large, drawn out encounter. There might be a little bit of exploring an area before the battle and preparation but not much. Between battles you walk around base camp to heal, talk to NPCs, shop, etc.

How do you guys feel about this? Is exploration a vital part of RPGs that will be sorely missed?

Well... Here's a few examples that I'm aware of:

Mystic Quest simplified world map navigation to barebone arrow pointing (so you could just move from area to area ala Mario). It kinda sucked as a result.

Bahamut Lagoon was a tactical rpg, and as such, it couldn't really do with regular worldmap movement or movement at all, but they've actually had this rather lenghty sessions of exploration and mini-games (feed the dragons, etc) so as to avoid being repetitive. To me, it kinda 'saved the game' from being dull and repetitive.

From my experience, I'd say exploration is a vital part of making RPGs less repetitive and more fun. The best compliment you can make about exploration is that you haven't noticed it (there wasn't too much or too little to do in-between fights).

In what ways did Skyrim and Oblivion change from Morrowind to reduce the 'filler dialog' problem you're talking about?
(I haven't played Skyrim, and I only played Oblivion for a very short time, but I invested loads of time into Morrowind)

I'm curious too. To me these games were all the same from that standpoint. Very wordy games at that!

### #13elobire  Members   -  Reputation: 141

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 10:54 AM

I always thought Oblivion and morrowind did the best exploration.
I think what you have to capture is a sence that you are 'safe' in the cities, but outside your in danger. Morrowind did this brilliantly. I cant stand games that feel like your going for a walk in the park, when you really should be worrying about the danger of it all.

Games should also have little side quests and stories put in for any small towns and caves and that sort of thing. Its interesting to go into a bandit camp and find a letter they wrote about their next plan, even though it doesnt actually effect anything.

### #14n00b0dy  Members   -  Reputation: 103

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 11:50 AM

n what ways did Skyrim and Oblivion change from Morrowind to reduce the 'filler dialog' problem you're talking about?

1) all npc's in oblivion have voice. in morrowind only few story npcs have.
2) in oblivion each minor npc has 1-4 topics you can ask, that are UNIQUE.
in morrowind each minor npc has 10-30 topics, that you have to ask until they get grayd.
Kingdom of amalur got jealous and copied morrowind dialog flaws.
3) oblivion has some memorable npcs e.g the lady that loved the rats (oh my poor babies).

when you really should be worrying about the danger of it all.

i believe that rpgs cant capture that feeling, only permadeath games can make you worry.

Edited by n00b0dy, 17 July 2012 - 11:54 AM.

### #15elobire  Members   -  Reputation: 141

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 12:05 PM

1) all npc's in oblivion have voice. in morrowind only few story npcs have.
2) in oblivion each minor npc has 1-4 topics you can ask, that are UNIQUE.
in morrowind each minor npc has 10-30 topics, that you have to ask until they get grayd.
Kingdom of amalur got jealous and copied morrowind dialog flaws.
3) oblivion has some memorable npcs e.g the lady that loved the rats (oh my poor babies).

Quote
when you really should be worrying about the danger of it all.
i believe that rpgs cant capture that feeling, only permadeath games can make you worry.

Morrowinds system was better in some ways. It allowed for the player to get much more information and a better background story. I guess it also made it easier to make new quests because actors only had to say a few words, which where used repeatedly.
Although it had its flaws. Its much less unrealistic and not as memerable. You recalled the rat lady from oblivion, but there was a almost identicle person in Morrowind, but you dont really remember her partly because she didnt say much.

I dont think permadeath is needed to make you worry about danger. If you really get into a game you will always be worrying if you die. Of course being able to save before you make the decission, kind of reduces the worry though.

### #16RedBaron5  Members   -  Reputation: 580

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 12:34 PM

Well... Here's a few examples that I'm aware of:

Mystic Quest simplified world map navigation to barebone arrow pointing (so you could just move from area to area ala Mario). It kinda sucked as a result.

Bahamut Lagoon was a tactical rpg, and as such, it couldn't really do with regular worldmap movement or movement at all, but they've actually had this rather lenghty sessions of exploration and mini-games (feed the dragons, etc) so as to avoid being repetitive. To me, it kinda 'saved the game' from being dull and repetitive.

From my experience, I'd say exploration is a vital part of making RPGs less repetitive and more fun. The best compliment you can make about exploration is that you haven't noticed it (there wasn't too much or too little to do in-between fights).

It sounds like your big concern is that without exploration the game would get repetitive as a cycle of fight, heal, shop would get old very quick. I hadn't really thought about this and I agree with you. I think varying the fights up will help, but you should still let the player "take a break" from the fighting routine every once in awhile.

Do you think these breaks have to be exploration based? What if in between encounters you did something else other than explore to break the monotony?

### #17TMKCodes  Members   -  Reputation: 271

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 02:54 PM

In my mind exploration is fun if the game has cool scenes and nice rare monsters, but to make players want to do exploration instead of doing it just for wasting time would require the map system to be so that only those areas the player has visited would be available and in the hard access secret locations should be a reward chest which only gives reward once so that the system will not be farmed for drops. The most best thing is if the game area is so huge that visiting all of the places will take long time and is not just few day run job to visit every cool place. This way you can actually find new places other players have not visited before and can take your friends there to see the place.

### #18Orymus3  Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 10121

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 07:37 PM

I think what you have to capture is a sence that you are 'safe' in the cities, but outside your in danger. Morrowind did this brilliantly. I cant stand games that feel like your going for a walk in the park, when you really should be worrying about the danger of it all.

The question is, how do you capture this feeling of danger with other stuff than actual combat?
I remember Chris Perkins discussing about the setting of D&D 4e. The basic idea was that there were city-states, which made it logical that everything else was chaos. Capturing that chaos however is rather hard. You have to play with player's expectations, make them expect monsters surging through, but doing something different instead.

i believe that rpgs cant capture that feeling, only permadeath games can make you worry.

I beg to differ. Survival horror games generally succeed at getting the players on their toes. They do not fear the loss of progress, but the fear of fear itself, even if they're only 1 savegame away. Ambience and suspension of disbelief help here.

Do you think these breaks have to be exploration based? What if in between encounters you did something else other than explore to break the monotony?

I'm all for that. Unfortunately, most games just insert an artificial system here (card game for example...)

can take your friends there to see the place.

Feels to me this doesn't apply so well to classic jrpgs and sounds more like an MMO solution.

### #19tychon  Members   -  Reputation: 652

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 02:27 PM

I think that making exploration fun depends on the context of the game. A 3D first- or third-person perspective title can make exploration fun for scenic discovery, and for shooter genres, discovery of a position of superiority or cover and concealment. However, since you're focused on a 2D JRPG I think the context is narrative.

Given that a JRPG tends to be linear, or at least strongly pushes the player in a particular direction, so that the story unfolds in a predetermined sequence, the narrative discovered from exploration has to be secondary to the main plot, or at least optional in that the full breadth of the story can be appreciated without discovering a particular area. For example, expanding on personal interactions, such as Tales of Vesperia did with skits, on personal background, such as a character stumbling across an old haunt and providing backstory for themselves, or even on social and cultural background by describing the region, structure, or whatever other element they're interacting with by traveling through the area. How this additional narrative is revealed can be accomplished in a number of ways. The skits idea used by Tales of, walk-along dialogue as the party travels, or even expanding entries in an encyclopedia, such as was done with the codex in Mass Effect. Heck, you could even work the act of exploration into the narrative. Perhaps your character is a cartographer and his whole point in being here is to survey the land.

Since narrative is the main context of a JRPG, I feel like this should be the main purpose of exploration, but it doesn't need to be the only reward for it. Most JRPG I've played would put a treasure chest in some optional branch, giving you an item that you might not find anywhere else. As mentioned in another of these threads, XP can be rewarded for stealth or cunning, so if your explorative branch ends up leading the party around some combat obstacle, you could reward them with XP for it. Passive rewards are also a possibility. Suppose your game has multi-character combos, such as in Chrono Trigger. Revealing backstory about a character could make the party more connected with them and provide a synergistic boost, so any combo using them gets a +5% effect or some such. Though I think you need to be careful with this because making these rewards too powerful can lead to exploration being more of a treasure grind than something you do optionally because it's fun.

Making the exploration 'dangerous' could be achieved through events: the mountain path you chose to take gives way to a landslide and you have to dodge trees. This particular mechanic would get tiresome if everything were a timing event, so you can always mix it up with puzzles that trigger traps if solved incorrectly or mini-game progression (think the bike race in Chrono Trigger). Even a Metal Gear Solid style hallway sneak is possible. You avoid making the exploration itself rely on combat by instead making the failure consequence a difficulty increase on future opponents on the main path, and these being opponents you would have had to fight regardless.

### #20Orymus3  Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 10121

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 07:36 PM

Thanks for the input tychon!

Given that a JRPG tends to be linear, or at least strongly pushes the player in a particular direction, so that the story unfolds in a predetermined sequence, the narrative discovered from exploration has to be secondary to the main plot, or at least optional in that the full breadth of the story can be appreciated without discovering a particular area. For example, expanding on personal interactions, such as Tales of Vesperia did with skits, on personal background, such as a character stumbling across an old haunt and providing backstory for themselves, or even on social and cultural background by describing the region, structure, or whatever other element they're interacting with by traveling through the area. How this additional narrative is revealed can be accomplished in a number of ways. The skits idea used by Tales of, walk-along dialogue as the party travels, or even expanding entries in an encyclopedia, such as was done with the codex in Mass Effect. Heck, you could even work the act of exploration into the narrative. Perhaps your character is a cartographer and his whole point in being here is to survey the land.

To me that still feels like the endgame, and not the journey itself. I'm really looking for specific elements of gameplay that are not fighting.

Since narrative is the main context of a JRPG, I feel like this should be the main purpose of exploration, but it doesn't need to be the only reward for it. Most JRPG I've played would put a treasure chest in some optional branch, giving you an item that you might not find anywhere else. As mentioned in another of these threads, XP can be rewarded for stealth or cunning, so if your explorative branch ends up leading the party around some combat obstacle, you could reward them with XP for it. Passive rewards are also a possibility. Suppose your game has multi-character combos, such as in Chrono Trigger. Revealing backstory about a character could make the party more connected with them and provide a synergistic boost, so any combo using them gets a +5% effect or some such. Though I think you need to be careful with this because making these rewards too powerful can lead to exploration being more of a treasure grind than something you do optionally because it's fun.

Once again here, it feels we're talking more about the endgame (reason) to exploring rather than the actual act of exploring.

Making the exploration 'dangerous' could be achieved through events: the mountain path you chose to take gives way to a landslide and you have to dodge trees. This particular mechanic would get tiresome if everything were a timing event, so you can always mix it up with puzzles that trigger traps if solved incorrectly or mini-game progression (think the bike race in Chrono Trigger). Even a Metal Gear Solid style hallway sneak is possible. You avoid making the exploration itself rely on combat by instead making the failure consequence a difficulty increase on future opponents on the main path, and these being opponents you would have had to fight regardless.

I think that's the kind of gameplay elements we're after here. I personally invested some time in developing a 'rafting sequence' mini-game, but as is the case with most mini-games, you ought to use as little as possible. So I was wondering if rather than including mini-games, there could be an actual gameplay system that could be integrated altogether (ala jumping system which is sadly based on action in a genre that doesn't really work with that). Some games use the push-pull ability of the character, or a singular well crafted ability (grappling hook, etc). Anything that makes exploration itself less mundane at the end of the day and doesn't feel tossed in as a mini-game but rather is a strong system that is an integral part of the game.

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