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Wavinator

Fast motion essential or even ok in an RPG?

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I may be overthinking this one... but what would driving, or horseback riding look like in an RPG without being "twitch" I was rethinking how you might be able to navigate through various city maps in a vehicle or mount. It seemed to me that only two types of gameplay were possible: Combat based, or speed based (racing, chasing). If you make the gameplay for combat and racing in vehicles or on mounts the way it would look in real life, the gameplay would be action-arcade. It would require manual dexterity and good hand-eye coordination to weave through obstacles, perform special manuevers at the right time (like a jump over a gorge or handbrake turn). Normally, this doesn''t sit well at all with RPG players. They tend to hate (at least on the PC) things like jumping puzzles, timed traps and any sort of frenetic "twitch" gamer pressure. My first thought, then, is that they have to be dumped or you risk alienating your audience. My second thought was what if the pace for such activities could be compensated for? I don''t want to do something as silly as "horses can''t gallop" or "cars can''t go faster than X speed" but it seems that the real problem simply is giving the player enough time to digest information. Two possibilities: Players can slow the game down at will, or the game "auto-navigates" after a certain speed based on character skills. The first would be like a continuous Max-Payne or Matrix slow-mo whenever the game detected higher speeds. The second would keep the game the same, but might end up turning it either into a movie or game on rails at a certain point. Which (if any) of these sound more acceptable? Have something else that would be better? -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership...

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If I''m reading your post correctly, you''re talking about travel as gameplay, and the twitch skills that are inherent in driving-type games.

Are you talking about times when travel would be a part of the game''s action, like a car chase or a getaway or something, or are you just referring to simple place-to-place travel?

If it''s going to be travel, then autonavigation is probably the way to go. Depending on what your city map winds up looking like, you might not even need moving vehicles in the game.

For more active sequences, you''ll have to be more clever. I don''t know if you could use a combat-style engine, with "attacks" like cutting off the other guy, shooting at his tires, or performing a handbrake turn, but that''s one way to do it and keep character skill at the fore. Alternatively, you could make it a very easy twitch system, like the drag race in Chrono Trigger. That was pretty fast-paced, but required almost no twitch skill whatsoever.

I guess I need a better idea of the circumstances in which you want to employ this system if I''m going to give you useful advice.

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quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
For more active sequences, you''ll have to be more clever. I don''t know if you could use a combat-style engine, with "attacks" like cutting off the other guy, shooting at his tires, or performing a handbrake turn, but that''s one way to do it and keep character skill at the fore. Alternatively, you could make it a very easy twitch system, like the drag race in Chrono Trigger. That was pretty fast-paced, but required almost no twitch skill whatsoever.

I guess I need a better idea of the circumstances in which you want to employ this system if I''m going to give you useful advice.


Thanks ICC. I''m thinking strictly about the latter. I could use a world map idea for autonavigation and say, "you just get there." But I took to heart your comments in another thread about how a world map would formalize encounters, and started thinking about how to make things like chases, tailing and getaways more interactive.

I know there are some pen & paper RPGs that actually have rolls for high speed turns and whatnot. You could have a system where the player has to do something to make a skill test for different manuevers that was slow paced enough so that they could strategize. They wouldn''t weave in and out of traffic, for instance, because that would be too fast paced. But they could plan to shoot a tire, or make an upcoming turn that they could see far in advance. Such a system would be like driving on rails.

As I mentioned above, there''s also the Max-Payne / Matrix approach, where time can be slowed down so that they can make quick turns or weave in and out of traffic. This doesn''t sound as interesting, though.



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First.. fast motion being essential in an rpg? definitly not essential. Being ok for an rpg? it can even be the main feature of it.

I love action rpgs, I love the ''twitch'' part, just as I love a good puzzle, but fast motion depends heavily on the way of controling the game. You could design a way that does not requires too much manual dexterity.

Take for example, that the gameplay uses horseback riding, in the way they dueled in medieval times, where they choosed a weapon and a shield, ride the horse and rush towards the other combatant, but their horses are separated by a fence.

You get on your horse. You take your time to choose between the two weapons you carry, both with different advantages and disadvantages, depending on the tactic you plan to use based on the information you got from the townfolk about the way your opponent fights. You weild your brand new shield you just bought from the shop, after you sold your old shield. If you wish you could choose right now how you would like to attack for the first time.

You hit the X to make your knight show he''s ready, the sign for the beginning of the fight is given and you start to move your horse. You can move it to the left and right slightly to measure the correct distance between you and your enemy based on where his and your shield is and how big his and your weapons are,and the attack you are going to use and the one you think he is going to use. Also you can make the horse to go quicker or slower. Asumming you didn''t choose before how your first attack would be like, you choose between three different types of attacks. You do have a time limit to make your choices. It''s just before you two are near enough to hit each other.

If the first attack didn''t dropped any of you two off the horse, your horse turns and now you have to again choose your attack before you two colide. Repeat until there is a winner.

So I think you could change the gameplay and controls in order to give the player enough time to think.

And about slowing down the game, it would be cool to show it in slow motion as if the player was thinking and all that matters are his toughts, to world goes on but very slowly, and his toughts are how to attack the enemy.

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But if you make driving a real-time affair, you wind up with the problem you cited in that other thread, that of having a gigantic city that''s mostly inaccessible facades and megabyte after megabyte of "Joe''s Diner" texturemaps for a four-polygon object that only serves as an obstacle.

Assuming for a moment that it''s feasible to build a city on par with GTA or True Crime for each city on each planet in the galaxy, it would mean the player is spending ten minutes of gameplay to get from the spaceport to the main office for the next mission, or twenty minutes wandering around the wharf looking for that shady guy who said he could juice up your ion propulsion array.

That''s basically "down time", and having the occasional car chase or surveillance mission wouldn''t justify the doldrums unless they became a major component of the game (i.e. you have a car chase every time you buy groceries) or you turn them into "random encounters" that occur while you''re blipping from place to place on the map. Either solution will hijack the game, which is supposed to be about running a spaceship.

Maybe you could do it with an "autopilot" system like the one used in Wing Commander, where you hit a button and it zips to through the staight flying to the next waypoint or dogfight. You could have the game skip through the driving until you either get where you''re going or something happens, and then give you the wheel. If you have a million encounters you''ll hijack the game, and if you don''t then you aren''t using your city map effectively, and you''re squandering the creative investment that you''ve made.

I don''t think there''s a happy medium here. I recommend that you either make cities into the overworld system you discuss elsewhere, or you make everything happen at the space station in orbit around the planet, so you can use the same five basic maps again and again, with super-efficient mass transit. It''s a real pickle. Good luck.

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When it comes down to fast transportation and autonagivation, I appreciate it when you can just teleport to where you want to go. In Morrowind (once you learned how to use the transportation system and got in good with the mages guild) you could get across the entire continent in a couple seconds. At the same time you had the option of just walking everywhere and seeing the sites.

So if you want to just use it for transportation you can implement cars, horseback riding, etc. as a teleport to different sections of the world. If you have some kind of in game time you can speed that up, but the realtime travel would be instant (not including load times.) You could add random encounters on top of this and build a slower paced tactical (turn-based, phased-based, realtime with phase, slo-mo, etc.) combat engine that can handle vehicle combat.

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quote:
Original post by Coz
So I think you could change the gameplay and controls in order to give the player enough time to think.



Good points. More than anything I think the RPG player wants time to strategize, even if the gameplay is real-time (meaning the need a lull before the action starts).

quote:

And about slowing down the game, it would be cool to show it in slow motion as if the player was thinking and all that matters are his toughts, to world goes on but very slowly, and his toughts are how to attack the enemy.


Yes, I was thinking about a motion blurred slow-mo visual when you slow things down akin to the replay in the game Burn Out. Only, rather than like in Max Payne or Matrix, you could do it at will in order to enjoy as much time to strategize as you wanted.




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quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
But if you make driving a real-time affair, you wind up with the problem you cited in that other thread, that of having a gigantic city that''s mostly inaccessible facades and megabyte after megabyte of "Joe''s Diner" texturemaps for a four-polygon object that only serves as an obstacle.


You have a very strong point here, but consider: Cities are somewhat repetitive anyway. I can show you areas in nearby San Francisco that are row upon row of Victorians. Now I realize that just because it''s realistic doesn''t mean it''s right, but it may partly act to quiet expectations of unique content every singe square inch.

As to them being inaccessible, what if the game adopted something of Arcanum''s approach to random environments: Interior tiles load and end up repeating within certain bounds, flavored with the odd random encounter (a hostage situation, or con artist in the lobby, whatever).

quote:

Assuming for a moment that it''s feasible to build a city on par with GTA or True Crime for each city on each planet in the galaxy, it would mean the player is spending ten minutes of gameplay to get from the spaceport to the main office for the next mission, or twenty minutes wandering around the wharf looking for that shady guy who said he could juice up your ion propulsion array.


This right here is the biggest problem. When you''re in your ship, you''re expected to wander solar systems that might be just as large. But you can jump around them via gates and always stop to play around with your ship and deal with your crew. If you''re driving, even in an RV filled with equipment and people, it''s not exactly the same thing.

quote:

That''s basically "down time", and having the occasional car chase or surveillance mission wouldn''t justify the doldrums unless they became a major component of the game (i.e. you have a car chase every time you buy groceries) or you turn them into "random encounters" that occur while you''re blipping from place to place on the map. Either solution will hijack the game, which is supposed to be about running a spaceship.



Exactly. I see the two major problems as being the time it takes to get around, and the diffused sense of purpose possible with so much freedom.

quote:

Maybe you could do it with an "autopilot" system like the one used in Wing Commander, where you hit a button and it zips to through the staight flying to the next waypoint or dogfight. You could have the game skip through the driving until you either get where you''re going or something happens, and then give you the wheel. If you have a million encounters you''ll hijack the game, and if you don''t then you aren''t using your city map effectively, and you''re squandering the creative investment that you''ve made.


I like the autopilot possibility. WC had nice large encounter areas where you often got a bit of "sim" time before you got to the meat of the action. It was just enough to give you the feel that you were flying without making the cosmos too empty, and it got you into the action soon enough. This would solve any problem with needing to "teleport" around a large city, as well.

I''ll have to give this some serious thought because it is a real time balance issue. In a game that''s a strict vehicle simulator, it would be no problem. You''d just duplicate the gameplay in space for the ground, so that a ship becomes a fighter becomes a tank. But the addition of crew and social dynamics really throws a wrench into things.

The idea of making cities spartan could also work (as you suggest with the station layouts). Maybe everybody lives in huge, centralized towers, meaning there are only a handful of buildings per city...




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quote:
Original post by Impossible
In Morrowind (once you learned how to use the transportation system and got in good with the mages guild) you could get across the entire continent in a couple seconds. At the same time you had the option of just walking everywhere and seeing the sites.

So if you want to just use it for transportation you can implement cars, horseback riding, etc. as a teleport to different sections of the world. If you have some kind of in game time you can speed that up, but the realtime travel would be instant (not including load times.)


I really favor this approach, restricted to any area that you''ve already been. Rather than being a function of a special item, like a Divine Intervention scroll or Mark and Recall, I think it should be a standard feature of gameplay. You indicate where you want to go on the map, and the game interrupts you if there are any encounters. Then the professional transport methods, like the Guild and Silt Strider function not to transport you instantly, since you can alread do so, but transport you without any encounters.



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Guest Anonymous Poster
Is it possible to have an actual driving skill, but still use the click and point method to move.

someting along the line of syndicate..if anyone here remembers.
u click on the vehicle, get in and then click where u wanted to go and the vehicle would ride the streets, kinda like on rails.
turning corners and what not.

when u were attacked, u could shoot out of the vehicle at other cars and people walking around on the street... kinda like drive bys

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quote:
Original post by Wavinator Maybe everybody lives in huge, centralized towers, meaning there are only a handful of buildings per city...
Or you could make some cities subterranean. In Heinlein''s universe, lunar cities are all underground for a number of different reasons, and so the only things on the surface would be antennae and scientific installations. The underground parts are basically tunnels, and thus rather limited in scale and vista.

You could make the entire planet/moon/asteroid fractal, and just have airlocks and observatories scattered around. Naturally, it would be lame to have absolutely every city underground, but it might be a useful tool now and again.

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Why not just use the map screen for travel, zooming in when a destination is reached or something important happens. In fact, you could just include a number of "hotspots" on the map, allowing the player to zoom in at those locations. I believe they did something like this in Legend of Mana for the playstation. This means you could make a huge city, but only have to provide details for a few key locations.
In terms of handling action scenes, I think the Knights of the Old Republic did an excellent job. You could pause the action at any point to give the character''s commands. If they didn''t have commands, they just ran of the AI. The key here was giving each character an editable command queue. This means you could set the commands for the next several actions, and knew to pause again when they were getting towards the end of the sequence.

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
Is it possible to have an actual driving skill, but still use the click and point method to move.



Yes, I''m not sure there''d be that much pain in doing both. The starship and air movement is supposed to be like this already, with you able to take over manually to weave and turn for a bit of that arcade feel if you want (this represents you being in charge, while the former represents your AI hirelings being at the wheel).

There might be a problem with AI and common sense in an area with dense obstacles, though. Since it''s 3rd person zoomable, you''d either click on the ground or click in a general direction if the camera is hanging right over your vehicle. If you click into an area where there''s a bunch of obstacles, is the driver expected to weave through them, or go around? IOW, did you mean drive through the park, or drive in the general direction that you pointed, following the streets? (Hmm... maybe this is like a "SHIFT-click" versus regular click choice?)


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quote:
Original post by Shimeran
Why not just use the map screen for travel, zooming in when a destination is reached or something important happens.



Thanks, I thought about that approach in this thread a couple of days ago. I may still end up using some of it in the form of a quickmap that let''s you autonavigate near your destination. It would be just like world map encounters, but the world map could be a large city. Once you get close, you sort of just drive your way in, and if you get any encounters along the way, they interrupt you.

The general feedback I''ve gotten from those that I''ve raised this idea to, though, is disappointment. Most want to SEE the new worlds they''re traveling to, and not just from above.

quote:

You could pause the action at any point to give the character''s commands. If they didn''t have commands, they just ran of the AI. The key here was giving each character an editable command queue. This means you could set the commands for the next several actions, and knew to pause again when they were getting towards the end of the sequence.


Thanks, I like this idea. You could even cue up a bunch of turns and manuevers, let that run, then swing the camera around and direct those inside to shoot at targets or whatever. You could even preplan a trip and just sit back and look at the scenery.

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I believe Fallout 1 and 2 (and bless the poor aborted soul of 3) handled the tradeoffs between having a map+encounter system, and seeing the world around you. Every time you got to someplace interesting to explore, it zipped you right off the map into the game world. Of course the games focus was on post-apocalyptic human settlements and not the irradiated wilderness in between... which may or not be the sort of case you''re dealing with. I think a really flexible encounter system, which can balance both exploration and cutting out the "boring" parts is the best solution. Perhaps better would be a system (inside or outside the game) that allows the player to cut out the parts of the game that they don''t like, but at a possible risk (for instance, hand-delivering a seemingly insignificant piece of cargo could be done by henchman or hired courier... but what if that piece of cargo is hijacked between the spaceport and wherever?). Of course, if the player sucks at the 1st person twitch personal combat mode (or other somesuch system), it might be a better bet for them to hire it out.

Perhaps the player might end up owning a whole fleet of ships, each captained and crewed by henchman...?

(Sorry for the wondering topic on this post)

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The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time had a mount and it worked quite well. You had equestrian challenges, speed based challeges, horse back archery etc etc. So yeah, a horse could work quite well in an rpg type game. You could also throw in jousting to soice things up a bit. : )

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quote:
Original post by SteevR
I believe Fallout 1 and 2 (and bless the poor aborted soul of 3) handled the tradeoffs between having a map+encounter system, and seeing the world around you. Every time you got to someplace interesting to explore, it zipped you right off the map into the game world.



I actually like the approach myself. Don''t get me wrong, it''s very nice to walk through the whole isle of Morrowind-- the first 30 or so times. After awhile, I just want to get there already!

quote:

Perhaps better would be a system (inside or outside the game) that allows the player to cut out the parts of the game that they don''t like, but at a possible risk (for instance, hand-delivering a seemingly insignificant piece of cargo could be done by henchman or hired courier... but what if that piece of cargo is hijacked between the spaceport and wherever?).



Yes, this would be a great tradeoff, along the lines of "if you want it done right, risk your own hide and do it yourself."

quote:

Perhaps the player might end up owning a whole fleet of ships, each captained and crewed by henchman...?

(Sorry for the wondering topic on this post)


No worries at all! My hope is for you to control your own character and hire up to 15 others who are detailed NPCs. These 15 others can then hire other NPCs (which is automated based on resources and stats). So the idea is for you to end up being able to own a lot of ships and real-estate if you want.

If stitched together correctly, it''ll blur some of the lines between RPG and RTS and empire game, while staying RPG at its heart.



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