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How do you get the most bang for you buck?

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Recently, I posted a question about rpg''s and how short they could be before character development is no longer fun. After the discussion I was convinced that they didn''t have a length requirement that was any differint than any other games. Personally I want to make big, huge, innovative games, but I know that we all need to do small ones untill this is our day job or we become more experienced otherwise we''ll never finish them or we''ll take forever doing them as has been the case with my team (team = me and som other guy). So, knowing that, what kinds of tricks, methods, whatever, can you think of, are using, or have seen that gets the most out of the little work you can do? Reuse of resources is a big thing. This can be overdone. Many are the games that can reuse a zombie or skeleton. First it''s a decayed body, then the walking corpse, then a zombie, then a corpse fire, etc. Another is to design a level to be revisited. Let''s say you get new powers like a high jump or a witches broom (whatever) that let you explore previously unexplored area. Or you can fill it with new monsters. You could turn the whole world upside down or on it''s side like in the Alice in Wonderland leve of Kingdom Hearts. Another way could be to focus on making your game engine very versital. Even if you''re just in one little area, if you can do a lot in that area, if there are lots of things to interact with, everyone says something differint, you can turn on the burner for a cooking mini game, let''s say, or you can beat people up, race somebody, and have a three legged race (I''m just throwing stuff out here), then the player won''t care that he''s still in the same damn place. Yet another way would be to have a night and day cycle and have differint things happen at different times. Maybe the freaks really do come out at night. Anybody have have any other ideas? I post some others if I think of some.

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Not allowing the player to reach certain sub-sections of an area when he first arrives(entering a building or dungeon is most common) helps engage his curiosity - though it can get frustrating if you do it badly and bug him with a "mysterious door" at the start and then open it without explicitly directing the player to go back and check.

This doesn''t necessarily extend the game, but it helps add some character to a section of it that might otherwise feel boring and repetitive. The backtracking time will add a little bit of playtime onto the game, as well.

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What you could do is give the players powers. Which allow them to interact with people and things in a new way. Thus allowing you to do new things in the same place. For instance the game takes place in a anbandoned asylum. The player gets the first power which is an animal mind swap. Which allows them to enter the mind of animal become that animal. Now those rats the player has seen scurrying around are now have a use since they player can become a rat.

I''m currently working on a little game in my spare time. That takes place at a school. It only has a few small areas, and instead focuses on giving the player lots of diffrent options of what to do, as well as multiple ending depending on the players choices. To give hopefully lots of replayability.

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Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project
Chaos Factor Design Document

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