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RPG survey. will help all game designers...

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i thought id ask a few questions about designing RPGs, eveyone should give in their 2 cents cause it will help a lot when we want to make one. we''ll know what the general opinion is through this survey. and if you can think of any more questions add them (with you answers) to the end of your post so the next poster can take them on. Questions :- 1)Should the story line be straight with a few dialogue choices, or should it be branched out and lead to different endings, OR should it be branched out and lead to the same ending? 2)should there be deep detailed character histories for the user to go through? or should it be sufficient just so that they understand the story, or should we add small side quests that lead to character histories? 3)should there be a lot of towns that have nothing to do with the game. or not that much? 4)should battles be random or should u be able to see the enemy on screen and be able to dodge them? 5)what do u think should be the minimum avarege hours it should take to finish an RPG? 6)should the majority of major twists/surprises in the story come soon in the story, or should they come late in the story? 7)you think Dark mysterious worlds/stories for RPGs are better (like xenogears) or happy bright cheerful type of worlds (like zelda) or maybe old magical type (like wizards/dragons/elves and what not)? 8)what is ur favourite RPG and why? My answers 1) I think the story should have multiple paths to different endings (like in chrono cross) it keeps the user coming back for more. but ofcourse you have to find a way that will make it obvious to the user that is s/he plays again it will go differently 2)character histories are necessary but not so deep histories. i think enough is when the the user know why something is happening 3)i think there should be a little places that dont have anything to do with the game otherwise the users could get confused. 4)random battles are better becasue it forces the user to level up. just kep the battle system fun and it should be good. 5)i think a minimum a 30 hours for any RPG or the user might feel cheated in some way. 6)i think major surprises should come soon first so it grips the user from the beginning, and then have surprises come is slowly so the user keeps on wanting to play to se what happens 7)i think dark and mysterious worlds are more adventurous and more fantasy like. 8) my fav RPG is Xenogears because it had a mind boggoling story, and the battle system was fun, not too hard, not too easy, and you actually have to plan ur battles if you want to win, which makes for a lot of strategy involvement. the only bad part i didnt like was the beginning of disc 2. those who have played it probably know why thats my 2 cents. hope u people keep on adding to this survey so people can use it as a reference. and im sure there are many more questions like the ones above that can be added. just make sure its to do with design nothing technical.

"We call em ''natural disasters'' but ''he'' (or she?) calls them memory leaks!!" Al **MY HQ**

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1)
Dialogue should not be shallow. If it is, it serves no real purpose, and is just here to be an obstacle to gameplay, or just information dump disguised as dialogue. I know it''s said a lot of people don''t like to read stuff, but I can''t really believe people are so dumb. If it''s intelligently written, people will read and appreciate. And if not, they''ll play Counterstrike.
However, this comes at a cost, so probably only major/important NPCs will have researched dialogue.

2)
If it servers the story, by all means yes. If not, a simple description that helps fit the character in the world should be enough. Unless dialogue, this is something that you can access
"out of the game" (most of the times), so it doesn''t have to be
(IMHO) as much detailed. However, linking it to the story is a good thing, and helps give life to the world, and, hopefully, quests as well.

3)
Really depends what your goals are. If you want a deep and wide world you can explore, yes. Many people will get lost and dump the game if they don''t know what do do though. It''s a decision that belongs to you and your particular game.

4)
Random battles suck. To me it''s just a random "you lost" messages that comes up on the screen while you''re playing. Who likes windows crashing yet once more while you''re playing ? Don''t add another windows.

5)
Way more than most games, if it''s well done. I like long RPGs, but one can be bored if the RPG is repetitive.

6)
Balanced.

7)
Any. Different people have different tastes. You must choose the balance you want your game to have between novelty (have the player want to discover what your world is) and knowledge (have the player find her marks quickly).

8)
After a quick thought, I decided not to answer this question.

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quote:

8)
After a quick thought, I decided not to answer this question.



i had an internal debate if i should add that question (number 8) or not. but i figured i should because even though a debate could be inavoidable (but it can be avoided as well), it would do a lot of good if we can ignore what other people say about their favourite games (after all everyone is entitled to their own opinion), and focus on why they like what they like (so we can put that in our games, to make our games better)

on another note. please people do not say anything about other peoples answers to number 8. this survey is to help all of us make better RPGs, so lets keep it to the point ay. just give ur own opinion and stay away from other peoples opinions (its theirs...not urs)

thank u



"We call em ''natural disasters'' but ''he'' (or she?) calls them memory leaks!!"
Al
**MY HQ**

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First of all a answer to almost all of the questions: isn''t the idea of RPGs to create an illusion of an alternative world and aren''t you kicking the illusion down if you restrict the players freedom in ways that do not have a proper explanations... Of course the computer sets the limits, but I think that breaking these limits is the challenge of making computer RPGs. And my answers are...

1. Branched and lead to different endings, definitely.

2. Very detailed character descriptions and histories.

3. Well, maybe not a LOT of towns, but places and things that just make it more believable.

4. The players should be able to see them if they would do so in
the game world. I mean that an ambush is hard to dodge, but if you see the enemy from a hill you can make up your tactics easily...

5. I think there is no minimum or maximum(?!) playing times. The game ends when it ends. If the player is killed by the first goblin he sees then it is he''s destiny.

6. The story should be interisting all the way.

7. The darker/miserable/sicker/crueler/unfair/blacker/etc the better...

8. Fallout 1 (or Diablo 1, but Fallout is more lika a RPG...)

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quote:

First of all a answer to almost all of the questions: isn''t the idea of RPGs to create an illusion of an alternative world and aren''t you kicking the illusion down if you restrict the players freedom in ways that do not have a proper explanations... Of course the computer sets the limits, but I think that breaking these limits is the challenge of making computer RPGs. And my answers are...



yes to all of that. but majority wins. so if we can figure out what most people enjoy more. then we can make a more successful game, ya?



"We call em ''natural disasters'' but ''he'' (or she?) calls them memory leaks!!"
Al
**MY HQ**

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1) Branching story with different endings.

2) If the player is allowed to make his own character then there should probably be enough to just continue the story. If you have to play as certain character''s then you should explain their history etc.

3) More towns

4) Should be able to see and dodge enemies(or at least have most battles reasonably easy to run from)

5) It should take awhile

6) I would say sooner and later. Sooner as in you have hidden magic powers. Later as in your long dead father is the main badguy.

7) I think RPG''s should move away from the elves being good, dwarves like mining and humans can be good or evil kind of storylines and more oh my god the elves are the ones who summoned the demon but they only did it to destroy the goblins who were raiding their farms because they were hungry.

8) Fallout1/2 because of it''s open-endedness and they arn''t your typical fantasy RPG.

- DarkIce

500 error *1

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1. This is entirely a matter of taste and has no bearing whatsoever on what kind of game you should make. I just asked this question to my roommate a couple weeks ago, and he said it depended on what kind of mood he was in. Sometimes he likes the power to make choices, and other times he just wants to be entertained without having to use that power. Final Fantasy and Daggerfall are both very popular, but for different reasons. There is no general answer to this question. You just have to do what you feel like doing.

Another thing you need to keep in mind: dialogue choices have no bearing on the linearity of a story. This is what you would call a design flaw. Personally, I believe actions speak louder than words, and your dynamics should involve what a player does, rather than what he chooses to say. This is not so difficult to program as you might think, provided the player can't do anymore than your game world allows.

2. Detailed character background is only necessary if it's important to the story. (AP said pretty much the same thing.) Most people don't really care about a character's background so much as how the character acts in the now, and what abilities s/he has to offer. But it certainly doesn't hurt to have the background there for the small number of players who are genuinely interested.

As for side-stories on character development, I think this is a bad idea. Character development should be the story, not a side-story . . . unless of course that's not the focus of your game, in which case there's no reason to have character development at all (e.g., Diablo).

3. I don't know why you'd go to the trouble of designing a town for you game if it's not important. That's something that always bothered me about Daggerfall. There were something like a thousand towns in the game, but only three of them were integral to the plot, and maybe ten-percent of them were big enough to be worth visiting. The rest were a waste of hard-drive space, and there was never any explanation as to why so many towns existed. Because, realistically speaking, in a world full of hostile creatures, your cities would be centralized and very well-defended.

But this is entirely up to you. There's no ethical reason you shouldn't have dozens of useless cities, but you'll create more hassle than it's worth.

4. Again, combat is a matter of preference. Some people enjoy random encounters specifically because they're surprising, and you don't always know what to expect. On the other hand, a lot of other people get sick of them pretty fast . . . partly because it's unrealistic, but mostly because it abruptly interferes with the story, which is what we're really interested . . . and random encounters are counter-intuitive to a smooth-flowing story, because you never know when your party will be magically teleported to an alternate-dimension battlefield to fight monsters they've defeated a thousand times already.

But that's just one way of doing it. A long time ago, I came up with an idea for random encounters in an immersive first-person world that let you know before the battle began that there were enemies approaching. You'd be walking along, and the music would fade, and an ominous pre-combat track would play, and then the first of the enemies would wander out of the fog. This gave the entire situation a very realistic feel, while at the same time preserving the shock factor of random encounters.

Of course, not all your encounters have to be hostile. Fallout had its share of non-hostile random encounters — most of them being pointless wastes of time.

5. Hardcore gamers generally don't like to finish games in less than 40 hours, but this is because most of the game consists of random combat and walking around for hours on end. When you get down to it, your average Final Fantasy has maybe ten hours of actual gameplay, plus 30 minutes of cinema, and anywhere from 40 to 70 hours of walking and fighting. But it seems to be popular, so what can I say?

Note to Stan555: If the player is killed by the first goblin he sees, then it's bad game design. Player-characters should never be killed under less than dramatic circumstances. These are heroes we're talking about, and heroes simply do not die like this . . . at least, not the type of heroes we would like to play. This was Gothic's greatest shortcoming (see below).

6. Your story should never run out of twists and surprises. The first five minutes should have something that captures the audience's attention. Every form of entertainment abides by this rule, including movies and books. After that, expect to have mild twists every 30 to 60 minutes, and an earth-shattering flip-flop of a twist about halfway through the game. Just remember to abide by the five basic aspects of a story, and you'll be okay.

7. This is even more a matter of taste than your first question and does not deserve a serious answer. Whatever you like is what you should make, because it's what you'll probably be best at. The general populace seems to prefer fantasy, but the general populace also takes whatever it can get, and 90 percent of the RPG's we see are pure fantasy. Don't be afraid to try something new. That's all I can tell you.

8. I don't really have a favorite because I don't really like any RPG's on the market. They all have good points, but they have even more noticeable bad ones. The most recent RPG I played was Gothic, which is actually more of an action-adventure with Tomb Raider controls. Some of its features were so innovative and gripping that I had trouble putting it down, but eventually the flaws became overwhelming and I realized that it's just another one of those games that wasn't play-tested enough. It's too bad, because Gothic could have gone down in RPG history.

[edited by - Tom on September 3, 2002 4:36:43 PM]

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1)Should the story line be straight with a few dialogue choices, or should it be branched out and lead to different endings, OR should it be branched out and lead to the same ending?

Either way, I''ve seen it turn out awesome all of those ways. It really depends on what you''re doing, and I have no preference.

2)should there be deep detailed character histories for the user to go through? or should it be sufficient just so that they understand the story, or should we add small side quests that lead to character histories?

Once again, either way, depending on what you''re doing. It does need to be said that my favorite games do have a TENDANCY to not get too involved in back story for the characters, but I don''t really prefer one over the other.

3)should there be a lot of towns that have nothing to do with the game. or not that much?

Generally, I prefer a deep, large world. Still, some of my favorites only had one or two towns. I still say go with lots of towns, but only if you can assure that it''s not going to stretch out the story and environment too much.

4)should battles be random or should u be able to see the enemy on screen and be able to dodge them?

Random battles have no reason to exist in the gaming world any more. It almost brings tears of anger to my eyes when a game has random battles.

5)what do u think should be the minimum avarege hours it should take to finish an RPG?

If I didn''t get twenty or so out of it, I''d feel like I wasted my money on it. But if it''s that short it better be damn impressive. (i.e. Chrono Trigger, Panzer Dragoon Saga) Other than that, length never hurts. The only problem is the longer the game is the more likely it is to feel stretched out. I believe a game should never be ANY longer than NECESSARY to tell its story. It''s kind of Dragon Ball Z syndrome. It absolutely ruins things when time is wasted.

6)should the majority of major twists/surprises in the story come soon in the story, or should they come late in the story?

Personally, I''d prefer a balance. If I had to pick one, I''d say I''d like to see more in the beginning, just ''cause sudden plot twists always seem to happen at the end.

7)you think Dark mysterious worlds/stories for RPGs are better (like xenogears) or happy bright cheerful type of worlds (like zelda) or maybe old magical type (like wizards/dragons/elves and what not)?

Either. If you were to check my top five RPGs ever, you''d see all of those appear. Just make sure its done well and I''m happy.

8)what is ur favourite RPG and why?

The game gaming forgot: Panzer Dragoon Saga.
As far as my opinion is concerned, there is no game that came even CLOSE to having as deep and involving an environment. It was one of the only games where I was absolutely torn between hanging around exploring the intricacies of the areas I was in and going on to find even more. I have yet to see any RPG environment so impressive as the sunken ruins in Uru.
Throw on top of that that it had a great story, even better soundtrack, and a battle system only bested by Grandia, and I''m hard pressed to find any real flaws in the whole thing. Other than length of course. (20-25 hours. )

Honorable mentions:
Chrono Trigger
Final Fantasy 6 (III SNES)
Lufia II
Skies of Arcadia
Betrayal at Krondor

Probably the recurring theme here is, I don''t so much care about certain aspects of a game nearly so much as I care that they''re done right. Only certain things (like random battles) that I believe are positively outdated. If you know the games on my list, hopefully you''ll recognize that generally speaking, they have almost nothing in common with each other in story, setting, or much else for that matter. They''re all just exceptional examples of what they are done right.

Oh. And remember these are all just my opinions an'' all that.

-Arek the Absolute

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1. I think it should branch and lead to the same ending

2. It should do it through small side quests near the beggining of the game and larger quests near the end. whats the point of a RPG without character histories

3. there should be alot of towns but each town should have something more than sleeping, shopping, and talking

4. random battles are ok but they get annoying after awhile

5. It should be as long as possible

6. It should be throughout the whole game

7. I like the happy cheerful ones but the story should still have some sad parts to it

8. my favorite RPG is FF7 because of its battle system, graphics, story, length, and the fact that you can replay all the minigames at the gold saucer.

all rpg''s should have minigames for when your tired of killing monsters

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By all means this is not how RPG''s should be made. These are just my views and ideas from my own RPG im developing. RPG''s really should be whatever you want them to be. Personal and Unique.

1)Should the story line be straight with a few dialogue choices, or should it be branched out and lead to different endings, OR should it be branched out and lead to the same ending?

I like more linear RPG''s. It should have a main story, but you can branch off. You could have say 5 Key points in the story that will never change. But have multiple paths to get from each key point in the story. Learning the story from different views. Meet different characters. Thus having replay value with the same great story. Just being told from different angles.

2)should there be deep detailed character histories for the user to go through? or should it be sufficient just so that they understand the story, or should we add small side quests that lead to character histories?

I like RPG''s where you DONT create your own character. I like when they are predefined. I don''t really know if I like the idea of learning there history through a side quest. But you should definatly learn about them, there past through out the game. A little at a time.

3)should there be a lot of towns that have nothing to do with the game. or not that much?

I like the ideas of having towns to explore. But not a LOT of towns. It should reflect your world. How the game is setup. I think having say a couple Main cities/towns. and have a handfull of others. And each one should be important. They should foward the story in some way.

4)should battles be random or should u be able to see the enemy on screen and be able to dodge them?

I dont like Random battles. I used to, but as time went on. They just got repetitive. I prefer Real-time battles now. You can get creative with the enemies. And make Random battles Real-time. Say have a creature pop up from the ground or jump out of trees. But dont force them to battle. And make them rare. Personally I enjoy the Exploration of the worlds and the story of RPG''s rather then the battling.

5)what do u think should be the minimum avarege hours it should take to finish an RPG?

I think the game play time should be about 35 - 40 hours. For an average play. The people that speed through the world and skip the dialog could play in about 30. The hardcore players should be able to play forever. Make the world interesting. Always something to explore. So even once your done the game [story] you could still run around and find new things in the world.

6)should the majority of major twists/surprises in the story come soon in the story, or should they come late in the story?

I love plot twists. They should be throught the game. Final Fantasy does this amazingly. The game should start out fast pased. To grab the player and throw them in the world. Get them interested. Explain the situation. Just as they think they know whats going on. Throw in a twist. Give some Exploration time. Story. And then another twist. I dont really like when the game starts out slow. And the twists come towards the end. they should be a the beginning, in the middle, and at the end.

7)you think Dark mysterious worlds/stories for RPGs are better (like xenogears) or happy bright cheerful type of worlds (like zelda) or maybe old magical type (like wizards/dragons/elves and what not)?

If it''s done well I love both. However I do tend to lean towards more serious [final fantasy 7/10] games then cheerful games [zelda / grandia]. It really depends tho.

8)what is ur favourite RPG and why?

Hmmmm I have a lot. Most are from Squaresoft. [dont flame me ]

Final Fantasy 7 - Amazing story. Great twists, Battles, Worlds. It grabbed you and you just had to keep playing.
Final Fantasy 10 - Although it had a crap ending and was compleatly linear. I really enjoyed the story. And thats really what holds me with RPG''s.
Zelda [Snes / n64] - Huge worlds, Fun story. Lots of exploration and puzzles.

BTW, I''ve grown up with consoles RPG''s, and thats what I prefer them. I don''t like and cant play pc RPG [cRPG]. They just dont have the same feel.

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