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Breaking the one-to-one paradigm (rpg)

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I recently concieved to concepts which would radically alter the development of RPGs if they were adopted and I would like for those ideas to be heard - if not for their own sake, then for the new possibilities they engender. The first notion is the multi-player single PC concept, whereby more than one player participates in the management and control of a single avatar. The second notion is the PC multiplayer sequence concept, whereby control of a sinle avatar is passed between players in a predetermined order. The first notion has the advantages of increasing PC nuances (and therefore entertainment appeal), increasing player sensitivity to the PC and introducing cooperative perception to otherwise solitary gaming exercises. Similarly, the second notion has the advantages of play-style matching to game, increasing value of an external viewpoint on the PC''s life (as movie, etc.), and introducing long term play considerations to player choice. Neither the discussion nor the introduction of the concept has fully fleshed out all the permutations and implications of the respective concepts, but you should get the gist of it. -===========-- Special thanks to Jesus Christ and the Apostles for the seeds of these concepts.

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before i get into the discussion i would like it to be made clear this is not a new idea and has been done before. squaresoft implemented this type of concept in ff4, and reduced it slightly in ff6. i think ff5 had it as well. basically multiple players could control the characters during battles. during all other times, a single player controlled the party. since ppl sat next to each other, they could discuss the course of action. this is also similar to taking turns at playing the game if you are in the same room. i used to actually have fights against friends after beating ff4 using the characters we had (ie i took two, he would take the other two and we would attack each other nstead of the monsters). it worked out well since you did not need to have other players playing, ppl sat next to each other so there was the sense of control and teamwork, also you knew the other person well so there was not too much arguing or purposful destroying of certain characters. many ppl forget the innovation many old games had, mainly because they either did not play them or did not notice the features (the mulitple player feature in ff4 and ff6 was not pushed at all).

in fact most old school games ahd this concept of ppl taking turns when one player died or wnat to take a bit of a break. this is especially common place when you have siblings and played some single player games.

ok enough with the "this has been done before stuff". lets look at more why this wont work as a main feature of a game, and why its problematic when introduced into a network enabled game thats played on the net.

one simple flaw that destroys the concept. i will speak of purly pay for games, free games dont have the restrictions as much, but most holds true to some degree.

how to determine who gets grouped with who. since players are paying for the game if they dislike their partner trouble will arise. for instance, one player may purposly destroy the character or give items to friends. another possibity is that they fight over whos turn it is to play, since i am sure they will dislike someone telling them who can play at a certain time. ppl with different personalities will bring the character in too many directions causing a clash and ultimitly the demise of the character.

in a MMORPG scenario, other players may get confused who is actually playing as the character. perhaps showing a different name, but then you might as well give each person a different avatar.

controlling a team of characters works. ppl can switch between them, but again if there is a group member that others dislike he may cause havok. its also troublesome that all the work i may do will benefit another player.

an increase of POV for the players is generally a bad thing. in fact such things as interactive movies failed quite badly. you may say its a different thing, but the main diea of removing some player control is there. making the player seem as he is watching a movie will bore him, especially if the RPG is an online one. since online RPGs tend to have less story and more player to player interaction.

basically the main point is you need to be able to ensure players dont mind helping each other and wont use the other player. its a shame if one player works hard and the other player gets all the glory and fun stuff to do (ie one player does leveling while the other player completes the missions forcing the other player to either level or not play at all since his partner will not level up the character).

i disliked ff7 for its movie like gameplay. it was too much cinema and not enough playing. you WANT the player to idebtify with his avater, thats the whole point. even movies and books use this simply technique. the differences is that in a game its VERY important that the player identifies with the main character else he wont play the game. though i seem to already have gotten ahead of where your idea is, and i think you should really flesh things out more for a good discussion.

things like:
1. type of rpg: MMORPG, traditional, diablo. dugeon siege, pc, console, etc. helps define things greatly. rpg means many things.

2. online or offline. will players sit together at the same pc to play or over the internet?

3. do all players that control the avatar need to be present to play? a percentage? only one? is there a time limit that players can play? what heppens when one player is playing and the other wants to start playing? do they simply have to decide or some system will decide? furthermore remember that both players paid equal money for the game, so becareful how you treat this, and think about how you would react if it happend to you (being on either side).

4. how will the actual gameplay change? will it just play like other rpgs except mulitple ppl take turns? hardly revolutionary (in fact very retro). will there be a new mission system? will there be better story evolution? again most things here can be implemented just as well in a normal rpgs (ie each player controls there own avatar).

5. how will you handle players who wish to start over? do all players involved decide? can players switch to naother group at anytime? does anyone have a say whos in the group? what about players that just dont let ppl in there group to control the avatar? remember everyone paid an equal amount for the game, so tread carefully.

6. how will bad players be handled (ie players that just suck at the game)? pairing them with another player causes problems. because the good player now has the potential to lose the work he has done because of the other player.

7. how about obnoxius players who purposly destroy the character by playing as an outlaw while the other player wants to be an upstanding citizen? who about someone who gives items to ppl without asking the other group members permission?

8. how will logins (if needed for online play) be handled? all use the same password and id (might as well play another game then since you can do that in any MMORPG thats availible). each gets a seperate account that are linked to the one avatar? how will you deal with players wanting to play at the same time because they cant play at other times due to other obligations (work, school, etc).

9. how boaut players who curse and are genrally nasty to the point of annoyence (ie chat floods, player killing, etc). temp ban them? put them in a "jail" in the game? but those are problamtaic since it affects the character as a whole. how will you deal with punishment whne only one group member is being bad without punishing the entire group?

lots to think about. i am sure you will notice the idea is not that unique, but might be intriguing if you can think of something unqiue to go along with it. i am not trying to be mean or flame you. i am merely pointing out flaws and things you need to deal with so you can solidfy the concpet better.

your first desrcibtion did not talk much at all about the game playing concepts of possible issues that could arise. they are the important things you should worry about, not the very broad idea you presented.

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You are obviously a creative person.

Thanks for shooting down my concept.

Question 7 was an enlightening question actually, and it is also good because it hints at the psychosocial development of the many-to-one/one-to many PC concepts.

Naturally, I have my own thoughts.

First, consider the B52 bomber; the B52 bomber is a prime example of the many-to-one PC concept. A more useable concept as far as RPGs are concerned might be the multi-part transformer, which would enable single players to break off and do their own thing.

Second, consider PC selling, as it takes place on ebay; PC selling is a prime example of the one-to-many PC concept. A more useable concept as far as RPGs are concerned might be player re-routing on a preference basis. The idea of re-routing would be to give players in a very diverse MMORPG the opportunity to persist towards a particular goal, without breaking natural laws of birth and death.

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