As a reference:
I've always been a big fan of the snes-era jRPGs and thought about creating a series of discussions based around the flaws of the genre and how they could be assessed.
Feel free to discuss either:
- The Problem (helping identify the root cause of why this isn't fun)
- The Solutions (either games you know who have found a workaround, or ideas of your own)
Whatever you feel like discussing here, please make sure that you add sufficient explanation/arguments to your logic as I take this intellectual exercise seriously and believe others will too.
This week's topic: Safe Havens.
The jrpg genre generally alternates between dungeons (exploration) and towns (safe haven(s))
Earlier jRPGs have always been struggling with the duality of towns:
- To make them fun, they have to be an abstraction of reality and showcase only that which is important, thus minimizing unecessary movement to reach critical locations
- To make them real and help suspension of disbelief, they need to be populated, and thus, make critical information or services that much harder to find.
Most games have erred on the side of realism in that regard, making it more confusing. The "extra" content ends up being used as filler "Welcome to (insert town name here)" has almost become a convention...
I'd like to list a few ideas that I think could help in that regard:
- Chrono Trigger (the game I seem to quote every week) has had an interesting implementation. The villages are broken down by building on the worldmap thus avoiding to have to design levels for streets and fill them with unecessary npcs. Additionally, only a few buildings are accessible, which amounts to a "best of both worlds" : the village seems big enough to be real, but only lets you go where you must, and provides a very fast way to do so.
- This hasn't been made as far as I can think of, but is remotely related to the Bloodmoon expansion of Morrowind: If the game would take place on a scarcely populated island, it would makes sense to have only 1 actual city, and everything else being "tradespots" or the likes. The player is up against the wild and has but a few allies he can count on, and mercantile ones at that. The further you get from the city, the less you get support from them.
- Another attempt to eliminate the idea of "cities" altogether: a game that takes places on an island or continent with no cities. Instead, you deal with a man that has a boat and offers to take your goods with him to the city and return with what you need later. This could cause frustration as the players are used to instantaneous transactions, but I can see the fun in fetching very rare ingredients in-land, ask for defensive gear, and survive 3 days until the man gets back (could introduce a touch of survival gameplay too).
Have you seen games that attempt to redefine the concept of safe havens and either redefine its functions or implementation?
PS - Apologies for the delay on this one!
Edited by Orymus3, 14 August 2012 - 09:27 AM.