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Member Since 09 Jul 2012
Offline Last Active Sep 28 2012 11:59 AM

#4972038 Alternate routes

Posted by on 21 August 2012 - 07:27 PM

A lot of triple-A games these days are trying to incorporate personal choice, with excellent examples like Mass Effect and Deus Ex...and not-so-good ones like Fable. But meanwhile in Type-Moon visual novels, you get games where one single choice puts you on a totally different plot-rail. Even if you ignore the abundance of hyperviolent 'bad end' paths, you still have totally separate plotlines with different villains and themes. Where Mass Effect was always headed toward an ultimate showdown with the Reapers, Fate/Stay Night can make your greatest enemy Gilgamesh, Archer, or the Holy Grail itself all depending on what you do.

D'you think more traditional gaming can take after visual novels in this regard? Where rather than amazing writing only slightly changed by your choices like Bioware gives us, or being so impersonal that you can kill everybody or nobody (Way of the Samurai), you have grand, artistic, emotional paths waiting at the end of each choice, all with full production values and character development. Is that asking too much? And more importantly, would you be interested? =P

#4970709 What makes RPGs good or bad?

Posted by on 17 August 2012 - 06:23 PM

Personally, what can make or break a game for me is how much I feel like my character fits their role. So many games say "Oh my god this dude is the best fighter ever, respect!" but his amazing skill is just spinning around until people fall over dead. The master swordsman archetype is so heavily ingrained in fiction that people feel they can skimp on showing what makes one, but that just makes the title -- and the character as a result -- empty. It's gotten to the point where fistfights end with one hit while you need to hit a dude with a sword 70 times to make him fall over, which is exactly opposite of how it works. Maybe that was interesting at one point when somebody used it perfectly in their story, but now it's the go-to cliche that leaves everything flat and unexplained.

The one saving grace of Legend of Legaia -- a game with an otherwise laughable plot -- was the combat system. Even though you were putting on the usual (incredibly well-designed) weapons and armor, your fight command was a series of brutal combos designed to flow together wonderfully, carrying impact and making you feel that you really were playing a feral child, a martial arts student, and a Buddhist monk. Similarly, Resonance of Fate's Hero Gauge-based battle system actually makes you feel like one of those important people that Storm Troopers can't draw bead on. It literally quantifies plot armor and lets you be an action hero while still rewarding tactical thinking.

Compare this to the tidal wave of games about a funny-haired kid with a sword most bodybuilders couldn't use, beating up giant robots. So many RPGs flop because there's just no personality, no attachment to your character, your role.

#4969807 Always moving in platform games

Posted by on 15 August 2012 - 05:49 AM

Gotta be careful with on-rails touchscreen games where you have to split swipes between yourself and the enemy. I tried out Lunar Knights a little while ago, and they have sections like Kingdom Hearts' gummy ships. The problem is that you can't dodge incoming bullets and retaliate at the same time, and sometimes the fat ass of your ship will block the target you mean to click on -- meaning that it's easier to shoot at a funky angle than to shoot somebody who's literally right in front of you >_>

Ideally I'd have some sort of jump button totally separate from the touch-to-fire system to make it kinda like a Canabalt with guns. If not, you'll have to very carefully balance your game to make sure the switch between offense and defense/evasion is practical. You don't want enemies who fill the screen with projectiles you have to dodge, then force you to shoot them to make them stop firing in the middle of their salvo. Because offense or defense will take a hit.

#4969803 [NotSoWeekly Discussion] on RPG Genre's flaws - Week 6 : "Safe Havens...

Posted by on 15 August 2012 - 05:25 AM

My biggest problem with safe havens in RPGs is usually just that they exist xD You're being told that an ancient soul-sucking evil has been unleashed on the world to cause chaos wherever it turns up, so why are villages so close to ground zero still hosting carnivals? It really kinda ruins the tension in an effort to make the game 'varied' and 'relatable' instead of focusing the theme.

Parasite Eve did things pretty well, the way I figure it. Like a survival-horror game, most of New York was left desolate, evacuated but for a few scattered survivors and the corpses of the less fortunate trying to kill them. There wasn't anything as handy as a shop owned by some plot-armored shopkeeper. You took what you could find, and when you collapsed one night only to awake near an abandoned gun shop, you went to town looting everything in sight. The police station you were deployed from seemed safe for a while, but that sense of security was shattered when Eve broke in and mutated the police dogs into killing machines.

The best part was that New York's ruin wasn't loud and explosive. It was slow, quiet, lonely, and made you feel like if you died, nobody would ever know. You wouldn't get some heroic death storming the enemy helicopter from the rooftop, only to eat 50 RPG rounds at the last minute and die in a blaze of glory. You would bleed slowly from the innards, shivering as your extremities grew cold, and you would pass. Nowhere was safe. Our world was in danger. And you were the only one equipped to fix that.

This also worked as a balancing factor, as it meant that for the most part, you couldn't just grind mercilessly for a better gun. You'd find the weak guns early on and get progressively better armaments as you went on, not only in terms of damage, but with extra effects like more shots per turn or a shotgun-style spread blast. All in all, it was like a more subtle version of Megaman X's power curve. There was no fanfare, no "You got the Two Actions Per Turn mod!!!" just quietly acclimating to your new abilities. "Oh, so that's how that works. Neat. Been wanting something like that."

#4961181 Fantasy RPG Without the Adventure

Posted by on 19 July 2012 - 11:04 PM

Depending on how it's done, I think this could be interesting. Maybe have a hard time limit for every day like in Harvest Moon, so you can train what you like after you've seen to the day's duties or decide to blow off your day job grinding out sword skill. A well fleshed-out battle system would be a must, and the presence of mythical beasties far outside the village could add a lot to the game. Your average player will get by selling bread and horse shoes, but the occasional, truly exceptional fighter could dare venture out into the world and make a name for himself slaying things three times his size. Depending on how well-written the combat is, the ratio of people taking on these 'hard mode' challenges would end up much like it is in real life. But the combat would have to be just about perfect to facilitate this: forcing the player to take turns bonking the enemy on the head like Final Fantasy won't fly, even for fighting deer.

Similarly, interpersonal matters would have to be a lot more involved than they are in Fable. Carbon copy NPCs put together from scrap parts, reciting one-size-fits-all dialogue repeatedly won't actually make the player feel connected.

Still, it seems like it'd be very easy to fall into a pattern of "Water the crops, pluck the barley, help at the bakery, go to sleep, repeat." The problem with marketing your game on having an unremarkable adventure is that it'll be...well, unremarkable.

#4957458 An RPG without levels/experience

Posted by on 09 July 2012 - 06:10 PM

There's nothing inherently wrong with level-ups, but we've been going at them the wrong way. You can and should get constantly better with your chosen fighting style, but spamming Overhead Chop seventeen thousand times isn't going to spontaneously teach you the ins and outs of Renaissance-era fencing. All you need is one or two instances of the proper insight to learn a new move. If you're fighting a guy and you circle your blade up to catch his, then you lower it on top of his sword and stab him in the throat, congratulations! You've just executed a basic bind-six. Now make the motion smaller, less obvious to the opponent and less time to perform. A tiny little circle the size of an orange should be enough to perform it, so you don't need to draw one around your entire opponent. Keep this up and if anybody is foolish enough to point a sword at you, you'll swoop in over the top of their blade and stick them in an instant.

Until you meet people familiar with the move, anyway -- capable of countering it.

Similarly, this notion that you amass more and more health is just ridiculous, as is the idea that you need to up your strength to kill somebody with a sword. Having more muscle may pad you against blunt force, which works nicely for fisticuffs, but a mace is still going to break your skull. Being strong does help when using a sword, but only so that your arm doesn't get tired performing the parries. Cutting a person open ain't hard; getting the chance to try it is. You only really need one direct hit, and what keeps you alive is your reflex, your ability to predict the following attacks based on your opponent's position -- "From here, it'd be easiest for them to _____." That's what makes a good fighter, not having 5000 more HP.