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RPGs: Should there be Party Selection?

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For me this question is rhetorical. This is a philosophy i have about RPGs. If you look at the history of squaresoft games, the concept of party selection seems to be a "more advanced way to do something". I base this off of the fact that it doesn''t seem to be until FF6j that you could choose your party. But ever since then, i haven''t really seen an RPG where you can''t choose your party at some point. So what do you people think about this RPG characteristic? Is it good? Is it bad? Does it not matter? Here''s my opinion. I don''t like it at all. You have to admit that through 75% of any RPG what you''re doing is trying to move from point A to point B. Along the way you are fighting monsters and believe it or not, THIS is where you bond with your characters the most. For the other 25% of the time you''re learning about the story. You''d think that 25% of the time is where you''d bond with your characters but actually it''s totally dependent on the other 75% of the time. Why? Because if for 75% of the entire game, a character in all practicality doesn''t even exist (he''s not in your fighting party) then why does it even matter what happens to him in the game''s plot? Here''s a real world example: Pretend you meet with your friend and he tells you, "You know that guy with the red hair at that baseball game last week? He died man." You know what your reaction is? "Man, that sucks, i can''t believe it" But if that same person says, "Our friend James died", you''re mourning for years. This is the difference between having the game choose your party for you and you choosing it for yourself. The latter gives you the ability to make your own character a stranger!

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Guest Anonymous Poster
That is not truw at all i personally hate games where I cant pick the team becasue then I cant bond with the chaacters. And another thing i dont like about The current rpgs is the fact that you are always the good guy and the storys always lock you in to something. I dont like linnear games.

EXAMPLE:

You start the game you can recruit any npc in the game. you recruit some guys the take part into your group and you begin to Think of them as second nature nut if one dies you need to replace him. but you still grow to like the new one or you ditch him/her.

old way example:
Your stuck a whiney brat who cant do anything because you have no impact on the game.
You group of friends are strangers that you may or may not like. Me personally never liked any of FF10 chars except Wakka and aurun and brother. The other onews I wished i could ditch And would have loved not to be a guardian for yuna.

I consider most rgs today Adventure games.

now you play Might and magic or something along the lines of NWN where you get to make the main char. those are rpgs but again they are adventure rpgs.

A true RPG has only been achieved by P&P homebrew games that will never ever get to the market because to many people like to watch books.

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
EXAMPLE:

You start the game you can recruit any npc in the game. you recruit some guys the take part into your group and you begin to Think of them as second nature nut if one dies you need to replace him. but you still grow to like the new one or you ditch him/her.
There are plenty of games that does this. However, one little problem is the level system. At the start of the game, you and NPCs around you are at level 1-3. You do your adventure, leveling up, then when your party reaches level 16, one of them died. So you have to replace him. So you go back to where you start, and seeing all these level 1-3 NPCs that you didn''t recruit before. Now you have one person in your party whose level is wayy below your level.

Ok, now suppose there are NPCs around level 16 too. But this could go on for level 30 50 60 70 80 100 and so on. Basically you need to provide NPCs in different range of level. Or, provide some sort of mechanism to update the level of these NPCs to match your level. But what do you think the players would react if they see this Joe NPC who was level 3 before and now is level 40 but he is always in the same place as before? What do you think the players would react when they see the NPCs are leveling up too along their party? It would make leveling up much useless, wouldn''t it? Why do I need to recruit this guy and keep him alive if everybody else is leveling up at the same speed as he does?

There is one game called Uncharted Waters: New Horizon where you could hire sailors. It does some sort of nice thing by creating a new random NPC with random skills every a couple of month (game time) that is around your level. It can be higher, it can be lower, but definitely not level 1. And it would only create them if you have played the game long enough. I remember my brother and I used to play this game just to see these random NPCs because they usually have nice stats and skills with them. And since these NPCs are randomly generated, you would never see them twice, so they are unique. Sometimes it would generate some crappy NPCs (with crappy looking face), and sometimes it would generate some cool uber NPCs (with tough-looking face).

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party selection is important since it give the player both choice and verity in their gaming experince. If the player can''t choose the make up of thier party you have already elimeniated choice from the game thus decreasing the players potiental enjoyment of the game. There are ways around this though such as the job system seen in FF3, FF5 and FF tactics.

But its also important not to give the player to many useless npc as this becomes more anyoing the helpful in the end. Chrono Cross was the worst offender for this. There must have been 50 npcs you acquire through the course of mulitple play throughs of the game. However you could only use at most 2 of them at anyone time. Which meant you ended up using your two favorites all the time and the rest contributed nothing to the game. If your going to give the player alot of npc then you should either allow for a large party size, or have npcs not in the primary party contribute in other ways.

as for npcs starting level there are two approachs that have been used, have the npc start at a fixed level, or have the npc always start at level relative to the main charcters level.

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Or you could just have them certain levels as they would be in the towns or areas you find them.

Or better yet why not incorprate AI for the npcs that lets them walk around hunt monsters as a player would. Then if an npc dies the game randomly creates another one.

That would be a single player MMORPG.

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Limited party selection makes most sense- that is, based on the plot event, certain characters will have to be in your party. In games like Final Fantasy 4, it is somewhat irritating to not be able to switch out members of your team that aren''t involved in the story that much. Conversely, in Final Fantasy 7, 8, and 9, there is more of a "replacable dialogue syndrome" where it doesn''t really matter who the other characters are, provided the main character is there.

Phantasy Star 4 almost achieves this, though you can only really mess with your party at the very end, and only one member of it, as does Final Fantasy 6, which is on the opposite end of the spectrum. It''s also perfectly acceptable to have "useless" NPCs, provided there is balance.

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i have to say i disagree. Those that like being able to pick their characters may like the concept of a choice, but that is at the risk (and perhaps a true rule) that the storyline has to suffer. People seem to ignore this or dismiss it. Most people that played FF4 WHEN IT FIRST CAME OUT AND WAS NOT PRIMITIVE will agree that it has the best storyline of the whole final fantasy series. This is because it had a static storyline and every line of dialog was meant to be said by every character that said it. This makes it easier to write a story for a game. And a great benefit of it is you can customize the storyline for each character. You couldn''t do that with FF7 because you could never be sure what party you would have when it was time for dialog.

What part of being able to pick a party actually improves your bond with them? You didn''t really explain why, you just made a statement.

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Basically what it comes down to is the game priorities. If you want a carefully scripted story (which will inevitably be somewhat linear), then you should not allow players to choose their party. If you want a high level of gameplay interaction and player customization of the gaming experience, then you should.

Didn''t Seiken Densetsu 3 or something let you choose your characters in the beginning, and then the plot shifted so that those three would meet and fight together, and the characters you didn''t choose would either wander alone or even be your enemies? If you used actual game-world characters instead of "creating" them at a soldier office or something, then I think that sort of thing could be heavily refined to be a really positive game element.

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i think a way you could have the best of both worlds is to not be able to pick your party but to include a job system. That usually works well.

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If a strong story is your aim then why can''t it include party selection? Lets say at story point four you have a choice of two npcs to be your companion. Why can''t you have the story point change depending on which npc you bring? You could altar the story in ways depending on how the story points play out.

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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