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RPG + Fitness = Fitness RPG? Need advice


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#1 ducduc8888   Members   -  Reputation: 112

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 02:10 AM

Hi,

I have this idea of making a game combining role playing and exercising into a role playing exercise game...The idea is simple. Just like a normal RPG, you train your hero, go on quest, gain experience and kill stuff. The only difference is that to train your hero you have to do exercises yourself. My game will track how much exercise you do to assign EXP to your hero.

If you are thinking about the gamification craps,... no, this is not it.Posted Image It will be a game with stories, awesome artwork, real battles, and exercises, of course.

Most of my friends say it's a cool idea, but then to put down the time and money to work on a project like this, it's a lot. So I want to hear some honest comment from people I don't know before committing to it. I already have some artwork and story done. PM me if you want to see more of what i have so far.Posted Image

Posted Image
Thanks!

Sponsor:

#2 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 17671

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 02:48 AM

So how does it work?

Do you just tell it how much you exercise on an honour system, or does it actually track your exercise with console hardware? Are you thinking WiiMote, a Wii-Fit balance board, Kinect, or something else?


It sounds like an interesting idea, but the specifics would make a big difference in whether or not the final product is enjoyable. It's probably at least worth prototyping if you're able to do so without undue difficulty.

#3 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6867

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 04:10 AM

From gamedesign perspective you are creating a hybrid game (fitness game + rpg). The dangesr of making a hybrid game is always:
1. Your game scratch only the core ideas of the base genres.
2. Your game is only attractive to the intersection of the two gamer sets which would play both base genres.
3. You can't easily beat the execution level of a sole gerne game while still making it accessible and not too complex.

I would first check the target audience (2.). Who are playing fittness games ? Who are playing rpgs ? Core or casual gamers ? Why are people buying fittness games ? To play a game or to drop some weight ?

#4 Waterlimon   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2417

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 06:47 AM

You must play it on your smart phone and attach it on your neck on a string so that it can use the acceleration sensor along with the gps to determine when you are exercising. (would work for jogging/biking?)

That might actually work... I cant think of easy ways to cheat other than riding a horse or jumping up and down in a human-run-speed-advancing public transport vehicle...


It wouldnt work for stationary exercises though or people would just shake the phone (well i guess that should give you some exp, it exercises your arm after all).


Another way to get it work would be using lets say kinect to detect exercising, but that only works for stationary ones.

o3o


#5 Haps   Members   -  Reputation: 1315

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 08:01 AM

I cant think of easy ways to cheat other than riding a horse or jumping up and down in a human-run-speed-advancing public transport vehicle...


Posted Image

There are a variety of ways to cheat pedometer systems though, including riding the subway, suspending it on a string while driving at high speeds, and even leaving it atop a washer or box fan. It has to be broad enough to cover a wide spectrum of human mobility, which means a lot of room for abuse.

I do think it's a neat idea if there was some way to enforce it, perhaps using the Kinect, but you're going to have to rely on the honor system otherwise. People who are playing the game to cheat are playing for the wrong reasons anyways.

You do have to worry about making it too good a game, where people will cheat simply because they want to do more in their session but won't tolerate exercising further. "Just one more level" has destroyed lazier gamers than this.

#6 NaturalNines   Members   -  Reputation: 334

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 11:39 AM

I agree with Haps on the cheating issue. People will always find a way (I was thinking more of Ruxin in The League wearing the running gauge while masterbating, but same concept, haha) and spending all of your efforts preventing it may cause your gameplay to suffer (or make the exercises required boring).

If you're looking to encourage exercise through your game you could also consider simply applying the player's physical fitness to their in-game stats. In place of being forced to do pushups or squats infront of the Kinect or with equipment strapped on you could have a translation between certain real life physical feats and the player's character stats. How quickly the player can run a mile could indicate the character's stamina, # of pushups/pullups under a minute can be strength, 40 yard dash agility or speed. As the player enhances his physical fitness he enters his new stats and the game translates that to increases in the character's stats. By making it multiplayer groups of friends can police themselves, encouraging eachother's fitness levels while enjoying the results both in real life and in game. This will also prevent you from discouraging non fitness oriented gamers, as they could, well, cheat.

Either way the concept of integrating video games and fitness is an admirable one that I believe should be explored, so good luck.
Good news, everyone! I have a signature now!

#7 Lauris Kaplinski   Members   -  Reputation: 841

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 12:31 PM

I think the pacing will become big problem.
"Normal" RPG-s can be reasonably be played through in about 40-120 hours. For most players it will take 1-2 weeks of serious gameplay.
Now you probably want to keep players exercising for much longer than only 1-2 weeks. To do that you have to lower the pace of game while keeping it interesting. But if you lower the pace too much people become impatient and either cheat or lose interest.
In any case it will be interesting design exercise so please keep us updated of your ideas/progress.
Lauris Kaplinski

First technology demo of my game Shinya is out: http://lauris.kaplinski.com/shinya
Khayyam 3D - a freeware poser and scene builder application: http://khayyam.kaplinski.com/

#8 DaveTroyer   Members   -  Reputation: 1052

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 12:50 PM

One thought I had was about a making the player accountable for their exercise.
To make them more accountable would be to take some control away from them.

Look at traditional gyms. Aside from the monthly bill, they are motivated by personal trainers. If you made "experience" handed out by personal trainers on an online community based off of before and after pictures that were taken with their camera phones, then you could control cheaters and help the player continue with their progress. Maybe even add an in-game app on the game to take and upload their progress images, so that way you know they aren't just taking pictures of models and stuff. Heck, you could even call these trainers something like "Guild Masters" or something to help keep the continuity between the game and their real life fitness goals.

One possible problem with this is its a costly solution, but there is serious potential for profitability by finding a partnership with a gym or fitness company which could make it even easier to hold players accountable for their fitness. And it may be a great stepping stone to break that stigma of gamers being lazy and doughy. Posted Image

Just imagine, a world where gamers are all buff and fit. People will see you coming and say "Oh, don't mess with him. Just look at him, he must be a really high level!" Posted Image


Addition: @Lauris - I used to be semi-addicted to a game called HoboWars for over a year, some days sinking a couple hours just grinding away. I understand that in a traditional sense, most RPGs don't take too long, but I think if he adds a social dynamic, he could get people hooked, which will help with growing the game and keep the players on their fitness goals.

Edited by DaveTroyer, 24 October 2012 - 12:57 PM.

Check out my game blog - Dave's Game Blog


#9 ducduc8888   Members   -  Reputation: 112

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 11:30 PM

Guys, thank you so much for the comments!

I understand that if this game comes to life, people will want to cheat to see what’s gonna happen next. But I don’t think many people will do it because it will take away the fun of playing this game. Even if they do, I think I should focus on the people who seriously enjoy this game and exercises that come with it, and create such a good game for them. So honor system for now.

@Ashaman: your comment touched on one of my concern: I do want to have as many people enjoy this game as possible, but for anything to be good, it cannot please everyone. I guess I will need to do a lot more research, asking around to see who would like to play this game. Possibly I will survey more people, ask them to sign up to beta test and things like that, to get a real sense of who are really going to play this.

Does anyone know how to find people to beta test? And look for feedback as wellPosted Image

@Dave: Man, gamers have lots of determination; so if my game can attrack them enough, your vision will come truePosted Image I will indeed work with real certified personal trainers to come up with exercises and then provide advice on how to do things properly, customer support type of thing.

I was thinking about making it an iphone or android game. But then 1) development cost for iphone/android game is so high, I will be eating ramen for 10 years before I can afford it, 2) this is indeed a hybrid game that requires developers with not only game development knowledge but also other types of application as well. So now I’m hoping someone can suggest some engine or language that could achieve something like this, is well-known and relatively cheap to get a hold of. The game will have of course some turn-based battles, videos, and then for the exercises, some achievement tracking ability.

Edited by ducduc8888, 24 October 2012 - 11:32 PM.


#10 Haps   Members   -  Reputation: 1315

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 12:53 AM

@Dave: I will indeed work with real certified personal trainers to come up with exercises and then provide advice on how to do things properly, customer support type of thing


One problem with providing direct exercise advice is the potential liability for injuries. Google any fitness site and take a look at their ToS agreements to see how quickly they disavow responsibility for their own information. This is why most tracking systems are self-reported, or pedometers, as they only measure someone's natural movement and don't force you to a particular action or rate. But, your game might put them in a position where they have to follow your instructions to advance. You'll definitely need a certified, experienced trainer to draft the exercises, and likely a lawyer to protect you as well.

If you find the cost of Android development high, you really won't like what it takes to pay these guys.

Edited by Haps, 25 October 2012 - 01:00 AM.


#11 Randel   Members   -  Reputation: 326

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 01:18 PM

Agreeing with the cheating issue.

What I would recommend would be to make the RPG aspect as normal, make that a good game in and of itself, then have the fitness part give you bonus items.

I know with pokemon I used to have the yellow Pikachu pokewalker thing that gathered points from walking or playing a simple card game on the device. I'd rack up points (usually through the card game) then spend the points on Pokemon Gold to get special berries and items.

So I'd suggest that the fitness part of the game just be used to gather up some resource (maybe 'mana' or 'fighting spirit' or just 'fitness points') and then when you've gathered up enough of that you can spend them to give you hero temporary bonuses or consumable items. Like some sort of sacred fruit... magical fruits that are normally rare in-game but you can reliably get by using the fitness program. Said fruit should just provide temporary bonuses like increased strength, increased critical hits, health, revive allies, or maybe an increase in experience gain for a while.

Or maybe something like divine intervention? Just recently looked at how Nethack had its prayer system that let you call on your god to do things like restore your health or grant temporary invincibility or give you artifacts. Maybe the fitness program can help you boost your reputation with said deity even when not playing the game.

Basically, you play the game normally and through actions can gather some sort of reputation or morality resource that you can expend (either with gods intervening or civilians recognizing your deeds and helping you our or something) but you can gather it while not playing the game through the fitness program. So you can either gather it by say slaying a bunch of undead or saving people... or by using the pedometer feature while you're jogging (or driving a car or setting it on the washing machine).


Basically, I'd suggest making the RPG aspect great on its own, then have the fitness feature on the side and just allow you give bonuses to the player while they play the main game. Then see how it gets received and take the new info into account if you ever want to make a sequel to it.

#12 Rybo5001   Members   -  Reputation: 490

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 06:46 PM

It's an interesting prospect but you've got two different audiences here:

Those looking for a fun way to workout.

Those looking for a deep story to get into.

Those two groups wouldn't overlap much in my opinion, your marketing/game is going to have to heavily lean to one side. An rpg with fitness elements or a fitness game with rpg elements?

#13 Paul Franzen   Members   -  Reputation: 333

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 04:40 PM

I understand that if this game comes to life, people will want to cheat to see what’s gonna happen next. But I don’t think many people will do it because it will take away the fun of playing this game. Even if they do, I think I should focus on the people who seriously enjoy this game and exercises that come with it, and create such a good game for them. So honor system for now.


That's sort of what I was thinking, too. I don't think it's up to you to make sure people aren't cheating. If they are, and as a result they don't have much fun with the game--I mean, whose fault is that? I'd hope that the sort of person who'd want to exercise by playing a videogame wouldn't then find a way to cheat the system; what's the point of that? Why play an exercise game if you're not going to exercise?

On a different note--have you heard of the iOS game Zombies, Run!?It's a game to play while running around outside. You put the iPhone in your pocket (or your armband, or whatever), and the game (through your headphones) has actors playing out a story about a zombie invasion. While running you pick up supplies that you can then distribute to your town, and periodically you have chase sequences where you have to maintain a certain speed, or else have your brains eaten. It's pretty neat (although I've had trouble getting it to work properly).

Also, let me know if you decide to move forward with this project! It sounds cool!

Life in the Dorms -- comedic point-and-click adventure game out now for Xbox Live Indie Games!

My portfolio: http://paulfranzen.wordpress.com/





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