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Landfish

Take Two

23 posts in this topic

Alright, and this time we all read before we post, right? If it helps, I''ll *try* not to be controversial, but I can''t promise anything. My thought was that there are a great many people out there who seem to be in love with the IDEA of RPGs as a genre. They decide "I''m going to make an RPG" and then go about "filling" in the wholes that your tradition RPG template leaves to the "designer". This usually amounts to some crap story with little or no meaning or symbolism, which would be ok if it had any characterization or original plot elements to speak of. I have personally met one too many kids who have said "I wanna make an RPG, time to write a plot!" And then go to choose between cliches like he was at a buffet or something. "Hmmm, let''s see. I''ll take an amnesiac main character... ooh, that evil empire looks good... one of these foster-parents who gets killed..." of course, all served up on a fantasy setting plate! The same thing only worse when it comes to gameplay systems. When was the last time somebody thought really hard about the signifigance of Hit Points before plopping them in the game? Oh, sure some people do... but when you consider how abstract hit points are, should it really be revolutionary every time somebody doesn''t use them? Not that you shouldn''t use hit points. I''m not saying we should do away with anything. Can we just freakin THINK first? So here''s my theory of how gameplay should work. Actually, I''ll post it as a response, so that you may all rest your eyes. peace out! "The unexamined life is not worth living." -Socrates
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OK. Ten minutes later...

Many games start with either completed technology or a vision of completed technology. Content is then created to suit the technology. This can work, and is most effective in low content games.

Then there''s the reverse of that. Kind of a mid 90''s CDRom thing. Content is created, and somebody puts together the tech to make it work. When well done, you end up with an engine that supports the content of the game really well. Like anything, this is rarely done well.

My theory is this (open to criticism and contribution as always)

A game needs a central theme. This could be described as a moral (though it isn''t always moral... heh heh. sorry.) or a message, but it really is just the feeling and mood you want the player to have when he or she plays your game. This is essentially the bones of the design.

From there I think EVERYTHING; gameplay, engine, plot, characterization, music, artwork... every last feature of the game should support that theme or one of it''s facets. This would only seem to make sense, right? Everyone on the team tries to give the game a unique feel, but everything is pointing to an overlying theme. Hence the game feels Unified.

This shouldn''t be overly restrictive, but a guideline in the same way directors unify a movie. There are a lot of things going on, someone has to make it make sense.

So under this paradigm, setting out to "make an RPG" is placing emphasis on a traditional style of gameplay, not on creating something of value. Go ahead, no one will play it.
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I just thought i''d reply and give you some of my points (though i''m not sure you wanted a reply).

First of all, I think you missed the point that most of us (amateur) game developers make the RPG''s for fun, for people to have fun playing, and so they are probably going to be set in a fantasy world with amnesiac main characters, probably with little sybolism (as you put it).

Again, not a lot of people play on serious, lifelike games, thats the whole point of an RPG, to get away from the complications in real life and into a world where you can kill the evil brother who turns into a vampire, and not care about the cosequenses.

Also, i''d die if I did''nt have hit points.
Hit points signify how far into the game, you are, for example i''m happy playing on FF8 with 8000 hit points, I know I''m advancing in the game, and doing better than a freind down the street who only has 678 hit points.

I belive in your idea of a central theme though. At the moment most of the themes of the game depend of the time they are set it. It gets like a broken record. The theme of an RPG seems to be either futuristic, or ancient, why? there has''nt been a lot of RPG''s where the main theme is''nt love, jet ski-riding, football. Is this because the publishers want the game to appeal to a lot of people.

I think a lot of this reply is a load of rubbish, but anyways it something to think about.

//end
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Is it just me, or does every post I reply to end right after I say something? >

Ahem...anyway. A central theme is definatly a good thing. However, you can''t forget that out of place things have their..um..place. Take FF7 for example: in most of the main areas of the game, the setting is dark, techno, and almost absent of happieness. Now throw in Aeris, a "flower girl", wearing a friggin pink dress (what color is happier than pink?) and is so sweet and innocent. She goes against basically everything the rest of the game is trying to set, yet she WORKS. It''s like the end of the world when she dies, because the only happy part of it is gone.

I could be way off base here, so please feel free to refute every word I''ve said.
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you know not all games are RPGs. When I design a game I don''t think about what you would call content (setting, plot, etc...) or technology, well I think about them a little but I don''t concern myself with them. I think about game design, the actual rules that make up the game. That''s the real problem.
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Pacman, you aren''t wrong, you''re just thinking of things visually. For instance, if I were to say the theme of a game was the struggle between humanity and a harsh, oppressive mechanistic society, I might very well have two completely contradictory images as you just suggested. But those images would be both supporting a single theme.
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Ah...the Landfish is such a glorious thing, is it not!?

That aside, I think Landfish definitely has a point (and no, it''s not just because I know him/her/it personally!), in that a centralized theme should be a part of any good story, not just games as a whole or RPGs as a subgenre.

As a whole, writing *needs* to involve such themes in order to be unified and draw a reader/player in. But in a gaming situation, this unity extends to other things, like the engine, technology, graphics, et cetera, as Landfish stated earlier. Or at least it should. I think that if a design team can keep these things in mind, and perhaps have a certain theme as the focus of the design, and it WORKS, you have a great game on your hands, because everything ties together into one neat little package, as opposed to some game, where you play and you can tell immediately that all the team thought was "Hmm...let''s make a game about X and Y, where you can do A B and C, and lots of other cool stuff," or something to that effect. With everything based upon an idea like that, some elements of the design can''t help but feel tacked on, or an afterthought.

Anyway, that''s just my two cents...and it''s probably not even worth THAT much.

-Matt
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Hey Matt! Everyone, Matt isn''t just a Landfish groupie, he''s on my team. So he doesn''t even count as an opinion in my favor, because if he doesn''t agree with me, I''ll kick his sorry ass out and he know it! =)

And if any of my new "detractors" have a problem with my groupies, they know where they can shove it! We''re a takin over this board! (ha ha funny joke, get it, yeah.)
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Theme...you know, I''m not any good at coming up with those inspirational themes that sound like the topic of a good English paper.

So I can''t say I use a theme, or necessarily see the need to have one. I''m all for the idea of a unified feeling to a game though. But that is something that should come out from everyone helping with the design (if you''re trying to make a CRPG with a group that hasn''t worked together before, or even worse, hasn''t made a game before...well, you''re nuts, in my opinion ).

I, personally, intend to make an RPG. And you know what, it''s set in your typical magical medieval fantasy world. Why? Not because of any mass-market appeal, but because it happens to be a genre that I like, and I feel I can make a vivid world from that. I spend half my time under the delusion that I''m an elf, so I think I''m qualified to make a fantasy RPG : )

To me, the first and most important thing to designing a game is the "hook", or what makes your game different than the 400 other ones that will be released at the same time. For my RPG, there are two hooks--one is to twist a lot of the cliches and turn them on their heads, and the other is to make it LONG...something that almost comes with a guarentee. "If you can beat this game in 40 hours, we''ll give you your money back." There isn''t really a theme to my storyline, or if there is, it isn''t one I can put into words.

As for thinking about what you''re doing, I''m in whole-hearted agreement on this one. EVERYTHING you put into your game should be thought out. Do you really need a numberical hit point system? Does magic have to work the same way it does in every other game? Is Fight, Magic, and Item the only battle commands you can have? What''s the underlying unity to the items you use? Are they fruits, berries, and herbs? Or are they gems? Or little balls of light with strange names? All this is an issue, and should be thought out, debated, and mulled over until you''re happy with the result. Don''t do things just because that''s the way everyone else is...do it because that''s the way YOU want to, and the way you think will make the game fun to play.

Sorry if that rambled a bit, it''s getting late : )

Silvanis
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Here''s a trip for you: Do you need items? =) Thik long and hard about why you might not...
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Landfish, try outcast to see how they find a solution to include the savegame feature into gameplay.


I NEVER, EVER thought of a game that as no central theme, chapters moralities, story...

I think my game, write the story, think about the gameplay, thereafter look @ what can be done.

And then I change some gameplay and story elements to have a playable (read more than 20fps) game.

I don''t think that I''ll do like that game use that dunny tech or anything.

I think I do it that way cause it''s about 10 year I''m a GameMaster (RPG) and that I don''t have any problem to do what I want.
(Their aren''t to hard AI to program, to slow 3d effects...)

I even find strange that you may think of YOUR game as a one thing like game with a Quake like 3d engine...

-* So many things to do, so few time to spend *-
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Another trippy thing that occurred to me as I was reading this thread:

How many times would anyone have thought of a game concept, a story, and a central theme, and THEN thought "Hey, this might be good as an RPG!"?

My first guess: never.

I wish I''d think of my games that way, but I KNOW I''m currently going against my own judgement again and designing the number system before even THINKING about game setting etc..

Probably a professional hazard, I''m always working on Graphics Engines, never really on designing stories/scenarios for applications or games.
( though I DO write stories, just the paper kind of stories ).




Give me one more medicated peaceful moment..
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~
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Yeah, I think the original post is a little short-sighted, Fishy. It''s not like you to forgo philosophy and deep-thought in favour of a rant!

Most people who want to make games do it for fun. They do it for themselves, for the glory of making something, of seeing the things they do come to life on their computer screen. They do what -they- think is fun. They chose an RPG because they love RPGs. They love RPGs because of the things that RPGs contain: goblin genocide, stats, alignment, random encounters. (Kylotan dons his flameproof suit.) Writing a game for the market, or as some sort of mould-breaking genre-stretching masterpiece is not only far from most new developer''s minds, it''s also beyond their abilities. It''s hard enough to make a game (I''ve still not finished one after 12 years of trying), never mind making a good game, and never mind making a truly great -and- original game.

And sadly, at the other end of the spectrum, the few people who have the budgets, ability and foresight to make these steps forward, are often limited by commercial concerns. In an industry where only 5% to 10% of commercial games actually makes a profit, the people who fund you like to know that you are doing something ''tried-and-tested'' with their money.

Let the new guys make their clichéd RPGs. They can concentrate on getting the traditional methods actually working, rather than sitting here philosophizing forever about new and radical ideas which will probably never get implemented. It doesn''t matter how good the ideas are, if it''s not made, it''s not played. (There''s a maxim for you all.) So get making the game first, before you get discouraged about how difficult it is to make a percentile skill system with attrition and diminishing returns etc etc.
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I may be wrong, but I think that Landfish''s call for a revolution in RPG design was directed more towards experienced game designers rather than the hobbyist who is trying to complete his first game.

If anything revolutionary is going to happen to the RPG genre, it will most likely not come from an established gaming house (like Kylotan says, commercial concerns). I think that it will come either from some small company that is sufficiently new as to not have lost its idealism or from a group of independents.
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Mikyyf said:
"I think that it will come either from some small company that is sufficiently new as to not have lost its idealism or from a group of independents."

Like us? Eh, Landfish?

And yes...I am deathly afraid of my evil master...the fish that walks...*shudder* I would never even *think* of crossing him or differing in opinion!

-Matt



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Jebus!!! Someone actually replied to me!!!

I totally see where you''re coming from, Landfish, but the reason why I chose that particular example is that it is mostly visual. Most games these days are almost totaly visual, so that''s where most of the impact is for the player. So logically, wouldn''t that be the ideal way to introduce or set a theme for the game (until smell-o-vision comes out, maybe)?

Also, if you have a humanity v. mechanical tyrant, the two very different images would be more like team uniforms than out-of-place images to the theme. And, again, I could be wrong here, but I think that it would ultimatly become something to this extent.

Pretty much what I was saying was that, if you do it right, things that totally go against the central theme can be not only effective, but philisophically stimulating (isn''t that your ultimate goal?)

God be with you.

Nic

/*initiates shouldn't have signatures*/
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[I’ve read this thread and I’m not going to quote yet]

Quick joke: I think that there’s probably a lot more role-playing in these threads than there is in all the CRPG’s I’ve ever played. 
But, but there is a lot to be learnt by this joke I think. If I may carry this on…
I believe that there is a lot in common between writing a post here and playing a RPG. RPG and Game Design are both Genres/Topics that we want to contribute to so we get involved. People will not get involved also if there is no theme/subject but everyone will interpret the theme their own way so… this is where the power of interaction (game design) really has its problems. If the theme is so/too strong that everyone “must” interpret it in the way the writer wanted, then they will be forced into a linear line of comprehension. This can turn people off especially in a game or thread where they want to have an impact via a creative sence of thinking. That’s the risk of going purely linear in theme.

The problem I’m seeing is that if you remove the linear element you remove the desire to have an impact. As in, “I like to stuff things up and stir the pot” but “if the contents of the pot are completely abract then why would I?”. So you have to give the player the desire to have an impact on the game and theme is the tool/yes? So does theme = linear? LandFish has argued since the beginning of time that it is and I say no. haha-har 

So here I go to prove it again from a new perspective that theme does not equal linear (at all). Firstly, as I noted above a theme can be interpreted differently as in “Jay thought the movie meant this but I thought it meant this”. So if the messages can be interpreted differently then “a” message becomes “these” messages. “These” messages can be tools for a game design to allow a completely non-linear game that still contains messages. The only reason’s why this hasn’t been done sucessfully is that the ending’s to games kill the muiti-message concept, as follows… all games that contain a muitiple ending tend to emphasis one ending as the “correct” ending. In other words the developer simply puts more work into one ending than they do into another ending. If the “Badie” ending was just as glorified as the “Goodie” ending then people would feel the they have received a message that they are happy with.

Moral of my story: Message =linear, Messages = Non-linear.

P.S. If you make a game that has an exrememly strong message that it’s not open to interpretation then your best making the game as linear as possible. Otherwise, well the choice is yours.

…I think we need a lot more stats in RPG’s in order to make them more fun and enjoyable for everone! Hmm definitly.



WE are their,
"Sons of the Free"
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quote:
Original post by Paul Cunningham

The only reason’s why this hasn’t been done sucessfully is that the ending’s to games kill the muiti-message concept, as follows… all games that contain a muitiple ending tend to emphasis one ending as the “correct” ending. In other words the developer simply puts more work into one ending than they do into another ending. If the “Badie” ending was just as glorified as the “Goodie” ending then people would feel the they have received a message that they are happy with.




I agree with you totally there. After watching a ( pretty crappy ) tv movie last night on asteroids, with a rather unhappy ending ( the extermination of all mankind ), I agree, that sometimes a "bad" ending can give just as much of a message as another. It may be highly unsatisfying, leave a bad taste in your mouth, wrench your sense of morality, and those would ALL be good things.

I think I follow Ernest Adams when I say that I believe games should make people think; You can make them think we''re invincible whatever happens ( just about every Hollywood Disaster movie ), or that sometimes things just don''t go the way you want them to ( many English movies, Remains of the Day, anyone? ).




Give me one more medicated peaceful moment..
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~
ERROR: Your beta-version of Life1.0 has expired. Please upgrade to the full version. All important functions will be disabled from now on.
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quote:
Original post by MadKeithV

Another trippy thing that occurred to me as I was reading this thread:

How many times would anyone have thought of a game concept, a story, and a central theme, and THEN thought "Hey, this might be good as an RPG!"?

My first guess: never.



Guess again! That''s how I ended up on GameDev actually - I was sitting in front of my computer brainstorming worldbuilding ideas (I generally write science fiction/fantasy novels), and I came up with one that was something like genetic vampirism and I thought "Hey! That would make a great alternative to that dumb get-a-new-sword-and-sell-the-old-wimpy-one-every-15-minutes method of getting stronger. Maybe I should write this as an RPG." Now my problem is that I don''t know of any way to sell just the script for an RPG, so I''m trying to resist writing it because I don''t want to risk wasting my care and energy... Sigh.
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The only fact here is this: We at the forefront of a medium that has exceedingly few rules. Even if you don''t believe games are any kind of medium, you still have to admit this. We just don''t know what is the "right" answer or the "wrong" answer; we don''t even have a firm grasp on the questions yet.

Some of us have decided to ask questions about interactivity. Some have asked questions of reality. Some have asked questions about narrative. It is up to us, the developers, to forge the rules of this new medium. We are not only developing individual games, but each game we make adds to the wealth of techniques and content in the medium. So we are developing the medium.

There is no rule that states "we cannot go in different directions." I for one, would love to see how those developers who aim for complete interactivity fair. I think that due to the variety of different but EFFECTIVE techniques that could and will be used in games in the near future, much splitting and rejoining will occur in theory before we have something concrete. And even then, the "concrete" techniques will only exist to be smashed yet again by those who choose to ignore barriers.

Hows that for philosophy Kylotan?

When I take a stance like I did in this post, and it''s predecessor, I am trying to provoke a conversation. Don''t get me wrong, I''m not *pretending* to be ignorant. I really am. I want to see what is out there, what you guys think. I think many people on this site do a damn good job of learning these things with me.

Yeah, you are probably right. Vast speculation on a distant possible future is pretty irrelevant. But hey, maybe one day they''ll call me a "visionary!"
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quote:
Original post by Landfish
Some of us have decided to ask questions about interactivity. Some have asked questions of reality. Some have asked questions about narrative. It is up to us, the developers, to forge the rules of this new medium.


Well when we ask these questions on interactivity, narrative etc we are setting the foundations of computer games. We are saying that this is where we think its going, right?
The best thing to me about computer games is that there''s no head huncho like hollywood trying to control this medium.Every time i think of this i feel happy and relieved ;-). Which as you said LandFish, it leaves everything up to us to explore.

quote:

There is no rule that states "we cannot go in different directions." I for one, would love to see how those developers who aim for complete interactivity fair. I think that due to the variety of different but EFFECTIVE techniques that could and will be used in games in the near future, much splitting and rejoining will occur in theory before we have something concrete. And even then, the "concrete" techniques will only exist to be smashed yet again by those who choose to ignore barriers.


I don''t think there ever will be rules to making computer games as i believe its an open medium. It can be used for all sorts of purposes like entertainment, eductation, expression, communication (online rpgs) and more.

I''m starting to detest the term Interactive Entertainment, this term must have come from some one that''s probably never even played a game. I get angry thinking about it! :-( (nothing aimed at you LandFish) That''ll make a good debate for a new thread actually.

quote:

When I take a stance like I did in this post, and it''s predecessor, I am trying to provoke a conversation. Don''t get me wrong, I''m not *pretending* to be ignorant. I really am. I want to see what is out there, what you guys think. I think many people on this site do a damn good job of learning these things with me.

Yeah, you are probably right. Vast speculation on a distant possible future is pretty irrelevant. But hey, maybe one day they''ll call me a "visionary!"

(if you were ignorant then you couldn''t answer a question, could you? you''d simply lift your nose and change topic or some crap like that)

Visionary... isn''t that the next thing from initate :-) or is that after avatar. Well i got to say, you do a damn good job at "I am trying to provoke a conversation" /debate/civilized argument.

I call vast speculation on a possible future, wisdom. And we should all exercise it more oftem than not! Period.

[i could sit here typing this crap all night, its fun]



WE are their,
"Sons of the Free"
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Amen to that! If we ever have a Hollywoodlike nexus in the game industry telling us what to do, ZI''m so gone. Can you say, "video game underground?"
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quote:
Original post by Landfish

Amen to that! If we ever have a Hollywoodlike nexus in the game industry telling us what to do, ZI''m so gone. Can you say, "video game underground?"


As in "six feet" underground! I think thats what you meant.


WE are their,
"Sons of the Free"
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