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Beyond gameplay, reasons to stay in the game? (RPG)


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#1 cronocr   Members   -  Reputation: 755

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 11:21 AM

Hi! I'm new to this community. I want to throw some ideas here that would like to implement in my RPG. Hope to find some discussion points that help me see the problem from other perspectives.

Watching some chapters of "Skyrim: Rags to Riches" ( http://www.youtube.c...w?p=NIbrJLGT4sE ) I realized that there should be reasons to keep playing a game after the last mission is completed, or simply to avoid the game story and live your own adventure in the wild. I like 4X games, like Civilization, in which you can continue playing after defeating other opponents. As long as there are resources to extract and advances to achieve it will be fun. But how do I translate this improvement race to an RPG without making it an strategy game?

To solve this question I focused my interest in exploiting the character class, and give the player a very long self-improvement path, which is the main goal in a role game. But before defining the shape of this path, I meditated about the actual classes that a player would be interested in developing. For example, in Rags to Riches the player avoids most actions related to war, magic and theft, yet it's pretty fun to watch. In other words the player might be bored with the usual classes: Warrior, Magician and Thief, and instead created a new one. In this case he adopted the role of a Hunter. So which activities are interesting to include?

After several days working on this problem, I summarized all the specialities in these 6 classes:
  • Warrior
  • Magician
  • Thief
  • Hunter
  • Landlord
  • Explorer
For example, if you want to be a missionary and spread some cult, you select Explorer. If you want to be a fisherman, select Hunter. Or, if your goal is to amass fortune and political power, you will be a Landlord.

Ok, I still haven't talked about my thoughts on the first question, but I would like to discuss these classes first. I'll expose more ideas later on. Cheers!
 

 


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#2 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7567

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 02:08 AM

An interesting topic.

First off I would differ between role and class. A class in a RPG is a game design framework, to force or move a character into a certain role, whereas a role is more like a play style. Both have restictions, but a player who plays a certain role, attempts to artificially limit the character abilities. This is a kind of self-limitation-challenge which goes beyond standard class restrictions. Think of a player who want to play a monk. He could choose a warrior and limit himself to use only robes as armor and at most a staff as weapon. The same could be true for a pure skill based , classless system.

The idea would be now to support this kind of self-limitation-challenges. A class system is spoiled nowadays (everyone expects, that a class based system is in an absolute balanced state), one common solution are archievements. They introduce some kind of self-limitation-challenges (kill 100 ogres with a toothpick) and gain in popularity. The other solution is a sandbox environment, to give the player the ability to play the game in a huge variety of ways. But eventually it is a very individual decision and the latter one (sandbox) is the best way to support it (IMHO).

#3 cronocr   Members   -  Reputation: 755

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 10:45 AM

Thank you Ashaman for your post.

I too like the idea of roles instead of classes, because the player doesn't have to think ahead what he wants to do in the game. He would just discover the situations and act as he feels, developing his own class by picking a little more or a little less from the roles available. He could for example start as a thief, reform and become a missionary. That gives a much richer gameplay, beyond the actual story of the game, which is what I'm trying to implement.

Achievements are a great feature, but I still can't see them as a feature that will greatly enhance the self-improvement path. I think players see achievements as bonus missions, that might be cool to complete to test their skills, to make the most of the game, or just to brag. Testing skills is nearer to the self-improvement goal, but there are many ways not recognized by the game designer in which the player could test his abilities. Taking your example, is killing 100 ogres enough? What about 1,000? But is that number really testing the player's expertise with the toothpick, or merely his patience? And that makes me think that achievements are mostly nice trophies the player will put aside to continue his development journey.

Edited by cronocr, 09 August 2012 - 01:16 PM.

 

 


#4 JonBMN   Members   -  Reputation: 702

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 01:36 PM

The idea would be now to support this kind of self-limitation-challenges. A class system is spoiled nowadays (everyone expects, that a class based system is in an absolute balanced state), one common solution are archievements. They introduce some kind of self-limitation-challenges (kill 100 ogres with a toothpick) and gain in popularity. The other solution is a sandbox environment, to give the player the ability to play the game in a huge variety of ways. But eventually it is a very individual decision and the latter one (sandbox) is the best way to support it (IMHO).


Me personally I agree with Ashaman in saying that a sandbox style of stats would be best, like if you chose the place your character starts off in gives bonuses to certain stats, but truly stat upgrading is completely up to you. That's what I've always personally liked is to be able to literally model my character after exactly what my play style is.

#5 JonBMN   Members   -  Reputation: 702

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 01:39 PM

Achievements are a great feature, but I still can't see them as a feature that will greatly enhance the self-improvement path. I think players see achievements as bonus missions, that might be cool to complete to test their skills, to make the most of the game, or just to brag. Testing skills is nearer to the self-improvement goal, but there are many ways not recognized by the game designer in which the player could test his abilities. Taking your example, is killing 100 ogres enough? What about 1,000? But is that number really testing the player's expertise with the toothpick, or merely his patience? And that makes me think that achievements are mostly nice trophies the player will put aside to continue his development journey.

Achievements aren't nessecary for a true gamer for the fact that Immersion is everything and to me Achievements make me feel like i'm following something else way to closely. I would make them so that they have to do with things in the game that deal with immersion, like sneak through a dungeon without being seen, for people who would do that anyway, and make them so that they are personal trophies in the player house maybe. Just a thought. :)

#6 MisterFuzzy   Banned   -  Reputation: 161

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 02:18 PM

What usually keeps me interested in an RPG is usually not the multiple classes/roles available to play as; usually those don't give much REAL gameplay variation. Instead, I prefer the kind of game that branches a storyline from one central idea: That way, no matter how many times I play the game something different is likely to occur.

"Only idiots quote themselves" - MisterFuzzy

 


#7 cronocr   Members   -  Reputation: 755

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 04:26 PM

but truly stat upgrading is completely up to you. That's what I've always personally liked is to be able to literally model my character after exactly what my play style is.


I feel the same about roles. And that's exactly the reason I'm looking for a way to let the player advance as much as he wants. But if he takes his role seriously by obtaining all the perks and becoming a true specialist, I want the game to open new possibilities to improve his character.

make them [Achievements] so that they are personal trophies in the player house maybe


That's an excellent idea. Indeed I already had another idea that expanded the role improvement path, but I needed a way to attach it, and this idea of substantial trophies in the game allows me to do exactly that. I'll expose the concept soon.

no matter how many times I play the game something different is likely to occur.


That would be great, but how do you accomplish that? I gave you some reasons (in your own thread) of why this is difficult to achieve, but it's in an interesting topic that should be discussed more. As I told you, in my case I want to allow the player to avoid missions and to concentrate in developing his own role in the game's world.

Edited by cronocr, 10 August 2012 - 05:12 PM.

 

 


#8 Densoro   Members   -  Reputation: 196

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 08:46 PM

It seems to me that making 'mastery of your role' the ultimate goal would just be seen as another chore, achievement, or 100% completion run by players though. By endgame, you've got the skills you're comfortable with, the combos that work for you, and have carved out your own little niche and identity as the warrior, the mage. Games like Crackdown and Fable have a problem with forcing a character to hit 100% in their field: they became homogenized as the customized training they've been going through all game steadily makes them more and more like everyone else. Good warriors don't master every fighting style known to man. They may familiarize themselves with the other styles, perfect counters against them, but they aren't gonna learn every single technique.

Unless of course you force them, like making a different parry for every situation, but by locking them into having that weakness, you unnecessarily limit them, and most will find it frustrating when they know intellectually how to avoid an attack but their character can't do it. The best way to do a self-improvement path is by forcing a player to pick a side and steadily carve it out more and more sharply. For example, in The World Ends With You, I spent weeks collecting sword- and spear-themed pins so that my entire deck was based around my obsession with weapon martial arts XD

#9 cronocr   Members   -  Reputation: 755

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 04:36 PM

Well, the idea is not forcing the player to make his character 100% skilled in a speciality, but to allow him to make more of the game by developing skills. I think it would be wrong to tell the player "you can't finish this game unless your character completes a given role", but it's right to tell the gamer "you can start your own adventure if you master any of the specialities available".

Ok, I think it's time for me to continue solving the question on how to expand the character improvement, to give a reason for the player to stay on the game after the final mission is complete.

Currently my idea is giving the player level points for performing certain actions, like two-handed weapon attacks, alchemy, lock picking, etc. But actions will be grouped into the 6 "most interesting" roles that I defined for my game (Explorer, Landlord, Hunter, Thief, Magician, and Warrior). For this reason each role will have its own level counter. And I'll put various hierarchies of perks inside these roles. For example in my game, Magic will have hierarchies related to: Conjuration, Elements, Transmutation, and Sentient; if the player creates a few potions, his magic level will increase due to alchemy, and will be able to choose perks from any of those Magic hierarchies, but not from the Theft or Management hierarchies. Of course the player can increase levels of various specialities at the same time, but the expanded improvement path will open when one of them is mastered.

To allow this expansion I want to transform a known concept into a layer on top of the hierarchies concept, that will create a bridge from the player's ordinary speciality to a super-speciality. This concept is "ranks". My idea is giving the player ranks according to the highest perk the player has achieved, indifferently of the hierarchy or the brach. And when the player reaches the top of a branch, he will be considered a real specialist for the given role. At that point, his rank will be the actual role. For example, in the Warrior role the first ranks will be: Boaster, Fighter, and finally Warrior. I don't want to divide this into a lot of minor ranks like swordsman, defender, warder, etc. because my idea of ranks is to sugest the gamer that there is something higher than perks, putting the ground-level at the top of the hierarchies. I want to tell the player you are not a real specialist until you master a stack of skills, and I think that will challenge him to enter the improvement race.

So these are the ranks for each role in my game, including the super-specialist:
  • Warrior:
    • Boaster, Fighter, Warrior, Champion
  • Magician:
    • Initiated, Mystic, Magician, Arcanist
  • Thief:
    • Rogue, Bandit, Thief, Spy
  • Hunter:
    • Survivor, Trapper, Hunter, Ranger
  • Landlord:
    • Owner, Bookkeeper, Landlord, Governor
  • Explorer:
    • Wanderer, Finder, Explorer, Conqueror

I still haven't talked how the super-speciality brings an expansion to the improvement race, but I'd like to hear comments on this first. Regards!
 

 


#10 Malabyte   Members   -  Reputation: 589

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 07:33 AM

Three points I wanna make:

1. There's a lot you can do in terms of adding "supermonsters" to the game or other superchallenges (or a combination). Instead of beating Final Fantasy 7, you could grind yourself up to taking on the various "Weapon" bosses in the game or, in FFX, the Dark Aeons and later Penance (after killing all Dark Aeons), the strongest boss in the game or Nemesis (after beating all Arena monsters).

2. Non-combat-wise, consider how minecraft caters to a player's creativity (which is arguably its main reason for success). In a RPG, there's can be a lot of possibilities for creativity if you just design the world around it. I think too many people think inside the box when in comes to RPGs, that an RPG must somehow be focused around combat-based progression only.

3. Don't limit your classes too much. Class systems are a nice way to group players and also to introduce new players to the game (a more focused learning curve). But classes can also limit players and eventually we all get fed up by the main role of our character. Some choose to reroll, but the ability to reroll won't always cut it. A lot of players (including myself) want to just have that 1 character to focus on until the end of time.

E.g. A warrior class who can only reach so far in trading is much better than a warrior class that can't trade at all. Same with gear restrictions and more.

Edited by DrMadolite, 12 August 2012 - 07:39 AM.

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#11 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1551

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 11:26 AM

Dr.Mad is super concise there. I'd add to build situations that demand specialization, this works the same way "supermonsters" do. A player must uncover and focus on a class of character re-arranging their play style (hopefully learning a new one) to defeat a monster or environment that couldn't otherwise be defeated. Many RPGs have stats that the player ignores because the majority of the game doesn't really call for it (luck, bravery, etc) Make the player need these stats (or an object to imbue this stat) to overcome these class focus areas/monsters.

#12 cronocr   Members   -  Reputation: 755

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 04:44 PM

I agree with all your points, so there is no discussion :) But I want to add that as you know those supermonsters are used for final battles on given quests, or those are the bosses in other game genres. What I'm looking for is a way to make the game interesting for the player after those quests have been finished. The monsters are now buried, what is the character going to do now with his own life (appart from maybe getting married)?

For example in LOTR, Frodo ends wounded in the physical, emotional and psychological, and he goes to Valinor. Is he looking for more adventures? No, he is going to recover his soul. And how is he going to confront his "addiction" to the ring? In my mind that's a character improvement path.
 

 


#13 Malabyte   Members   -  Reputation: 589

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 09:50 AM

What I'm looking for is a way to make the game interesting for the player after those quests have been finished. The monsters are now buried, what is the character going to do now with his own life (appart from maybe getting married)?


But that could be said about anything that isn't infinite. At some point, you have to either add some game elements that are infinite (e.g. creative features like in Minecraft and similar) or keep on adding bigger and bigger scopes (WoW, anyone? Posted Image) until you decide that there's no real need for more, because players won't bother progressing that deeply into the game before moving on to a new game.

I think the most important thing any game developer can do in this regard is to just add new core elements to the game - I.e. new dimensions of gameplay, as opposed to taking an already existing dimension to new heights. The problem with being too linear with the game content is that, if a given game feature lies too far into the future (inaccessible to newbies), then fewer people will end up enjoying it because they may very well get fed up with the game before that time.

One example for me was Age of Conan. I tried it till level 25, and then I got fed up. It just felt too repetitive. But then some people said that I should get to max level because that's when the fun starts. Well, I'm not going to play a game where I need to do a million different boring things just so I can get to the fun part. So I quit. A game should be fun to play when you play it. No excuses.

I think proper progression in a game is important, but I also think a lot of people overestimate that importance and let it get to their heads. One way of solving progression "bottlenecking" is to provide players with additional dimensions of progression - something that is available to everybody, regardless of their current level of progression. This is what is sometimes called "horizontal progression".

A good game should have a nice balance between horizontal progression (n specializations) and vertical progression (the depth of each specialization), IMO.

Edited by DrMadolite, 13 August 2012 - 09:59 AM.

- Awl you're base are belong me! -

- I don't know, I'm just a noob -


#14 cronocr   Members   -  Reputation: 755

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 12:36 PM

I think the most important thing any game developer can do in this regard is to just add new core elements to the game - I.e. new dimensions of gameplay, as opposed to taking an already existing dimension to new heights.


Yes! That's exactly the side of the problem that I'm attacking. One dimension is the quest oriented gameplay, but now I'm designing a new journey for the character, with a foundation that starts with the player's ambition to enhance his character. I think of it as a strategy game, in which you conquer territory (RPG: level) and then build cities/buildings (RPG: skill hierarchies/perks). The player can "improve" as much as he wants, but if he does it carelessly things can get out of control and enemies will take advantage. If you are a good strategist you don't aim to have the biggest, but to make the most of less. A player might believe that having the strongest warrior he will defeat any super-monster, but the new journey won't have monsters, instead it will have antagonists. My game will confront the player with characters that he just can't defeat with brute and direct force, no matter how high his level is, and the only way around is to be a strategist of skills.

Edited by cronocr, 13 August 2012 - 12:38 PM.

 

 


#15 Sercan Altun   Members   -  Reputation: 137

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 12:39 PM

This discussion has steered in a certain way so i don't know if what i am going to suggest will contradict with previous posts.

When i read about classes and roles, i immediately thougth they would be connected to distinct game mechanics. You can leave robust class system with everything balanced out as part of combat system, and make roles part of other game mechanic.

For example you can make use of roles as part of questing/adventuring in such way that roles unlock and level up via doing related quests. Passively effecting combat system with rewards, skill unlocks etc.

Or use roles much like professions, a money making/item building mechanic.

#16 cronocr   Members   -  Reputation: 755

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 01:45 PM

All comments are welcome, as I'm looking for different points of view, and even found ideas that helped me to bridge some of my early ideas with others, and to proof test my current design that I shaped under the light of the almighty Monomyth Posted Image

I want to note that I'm not dropping the idea of quests from my game, and I totally agree with everything related to them that have been mentioned. But I do believe that the game can challenge the player's imagination to create his own quests, and then expand considerably the value of the game itself. I do believe this can be done because in a 4X game the player is the one that creates the quests. Little and simple quests, like "I must send a unit here, so the enemy is distracted, and I can enter thru this path to the city". The game is just allowing the situations, and I want to translate this dynamic to an RPG, without converting it into a strategy game. RPG is about roles, so the strategy must be about roles, not about a building mechanic.

Edited by cronocr, 13 August 2012 - 02:07 PM.

 

 


#17 Sercan Altun   Members   -  Reputation: 137

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 02:05 PM

Well questing/adventuring is a broad definition. While it mostly refers to get quest, do task, get back for reward type of structure, i also consider rescuing random prisoner from imperials, or chopping wood in local lumberjack for money in Skyrim a quest. It is up to content designer to create these seamless experiences.

Returning to using rules part of questing mechanic, you can think of a thieving role where you receive no quests but as you steal your thieving levels up you can now get access to quality fences informants etc. Or you can level up in Bandit role can hire shady characters as guards etc. If you can provide a system where resources for these roles do not deplete ( like fishing ) player can continue to steal or raid camps as long as he wants.

#18 cronocr   Members   -  Reputation: 755

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 02:26 PM

If you can provide a system where resources for these roles do not deplete ( like fishing ) player can continue to steal or raid camps as long as he wants.


Yes, and that was also one of my early points in my very first post: "...like Civilization, in which you can continue playing after defeating other opponents. As long as there are resources to extract and advances to achieve it will be fun." So I agree and there is no discussion. More on that, it's a way the player can play the game, and it's totally valid.

But that way is limited. From the point of view of the Monomyth (I was editing my last post to include it when you replied) this situation is equivalent to the mundane world of the character. The character is just doing his chores (from you example, the thief is stealing, so the thief is being a thief), and so the game must bring a supernatural aid to take the character out of that repetitive situation. To solve that I re-defined the ranks concept, so that now the player will have a mentor or helper that will allow him to enter the super-specialist rank and start his other journey. What if the thief reforms, and becomes a missionary?

Edited by cronocr, 13 August 2012 - 03:03 PM.

 

 


#19 Sercan Altun   Members   -  Reputation: 137

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 03:48 PM

Now that you mention Monomyth i remember an old idea of mine. To break mundaneness, we can have a hidden parameter with value increasing overtime that effects random encounter formulas increasing their probability. If a player keeps chopping wood that value increases chance of a bandit raid to his little town. When player completes the encounter he id given a choice to return his chores and reduce that value or pursue a new adventure and increase the value for greater encounters and rewards. But lets not drift away from the main topic. I agree this is a good topic. Lots of good ideas...

#20 cronocr   Members   -  Reputation: 755

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 06:13 PM

Well, I still remember talking once to a good strategy games player about how cool it would be to make a game with random events, and the emotional way in which he told me that everyone would hate that game because players like to have full control on the effects of every action they take hahahah Posted Image

I think this could be useful to punish or reward the player for following a given role, for example if you are a Landlord that has the bad habit of stealing, you could attract some negative karma that will make easier that your trade caravans are assaulted. But it must be used wisely because as I learned can make the player mad. Interesting indeed, thanks for sharing.

Edited by cronocr, 13 August 2012 - 06:40 PM.

 

 





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