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DuranStrife

Opinions wanted about game in progress

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I am currently designing an action-RPG (similar to Seiken Densetsu 2-3) with Strategy RPG elements. Although the game is primarily a real-time Square-like action-RPG, it allows for drafting of "generic" characters (characters that fight under your command but are not a central part of the plot) and has some battles that involve more individual combatants than are normally found in an action RPG. The game will allow the player to pause the game with a button press in order to enter a command mode, send instructions to any or all of your units, and then unpause it to return to "normal" mode, where the player directly controls one of the characters involved in the battle. Does anyone have any opinions about my basic concept?

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It sounds like a solid concept to start on, but there''ll have to be a lot of considerations made to ensure that controlling your hirelings will be simple, not tedious.

What kind of scale are you going after, exactly? If you have a group of up to five or six, it''s easy for the player to keep track of each one''s stats and equipment, and with good identification battles won''t be too confusing. If it starts getting to seven or more, it becomes difficult to remember all the details, and players will probably get lax on tuning up their group to be at perfect health and have all the right equipment(and in that case, it''d be best not to require the player to manage them at all except to heal them or set their tactics.) If you''re thinking of something very large, like 15 or more, they should either be nameless and faceless, or be split up into subgroups of leaders(and the leaders could pass on their powers to their followers.) Also, at that amount, things could easily become confusing in a fight without colorizing the sides or some other obvious means of identification.

One game that sounds similar to what you have is Battlemaster, which was on the Sega Genesis and possibly other systems. In that game, you chose a character to start with, and as you went along, you fought other armies and hired guys to create your own, eventually becoming the "Battlemaster" and winning(though I never finished it.)

Making the world furry one post at a time

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The maximum number of characters allowed to the player will probably be 50. While a dozen or so of these characters will be personality-developed and have storied backgrounds, the rest will be faceless, nameless (unless the player chooses to name them) soldiers, wizards, healers, etc.

My system shouldn''t be too confusing, as I plan to include a very smart "Auto-Equip" feature which should reduce equipment confusion. (Haven''t gotten around to figuring out the specifics on this feature, but I don''t plan to skimp on the AI in this game, as the battles will require it anyway.)

As for the problem of confusion of individual soldiers: you might have gotten me there. Although characters grow in power automatically as they advance, one of the key concepts of my game is a leveling system that lets you partially customize (up to 2/3 of abilities, HP, etc.) any individual character. When left alone, characters pursue their starting "classes", but if a nameless character is modified, it could become a hassle to remember where you put him. Have any ideas on how to make this work?

In order to allow you to keep track of HP and status ailments among your characters, a warning chime will sound and the imperiled character will glow red whenever something worthy of your attention happens, giving you an opportunity to pause the battle, check that character''s status, and send orders to a healer of your choice to go after and protect that character. The character currently being controlled by you will have his HP, MP, and abilities (if any) displayed at the bottom left corner of the screen.

Finally, combat in this game, though large in scale, emphasizes speed and strategy over power. Sending fifty soldiers in at once, although possible, is probably not a good idea, as it would limit their ability to move around each other. There will also be parts of the game where bringing the whole gang along would be a bad idea, such as tunnels, fortresses, and traditional dungeon settings.




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You could ease up the process of customizing character development by using a system of customizable templates for use with the nameless characters(and possibly the major ones, too.) When you go to monitor those characters, you bring up a list containing their various stats, commands etc., and then the name of the development template being used, or "Custom..." if they''re not using one, and choosing an advancement path for your guys is suddenly made into an easy task - allowing selections of groups to customize would be an additional bonus. You could have some pre-made ones("Balanced," "Speed," etc.) and also allow the player slots for their own. The default advancement would simply be another template.

I think you''ve got the in-battle case of confusion handled nicely, however, as long as the screen can fit all of those characters, or it zooms out or scrolls or something.


Making the world furry one post at a time

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If you have the time, develop custom art lists, so your favorite nameless guy can wear a Pimp Hat or have a special shield or something. Alternatively, you can set special colors for some features, like the feather in his cap or a headband or something.

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