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Reusability in game mechanics

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With so many people posting ideas for RPGs and MMOGs, I can't help but wonder how many of those people stop to consider reusability in the game mechanics they are planning? Does it occur to you to design a system that can work with any RPG you may decided to make? or do you simply design a system to fit your current needs and ideas? After all if making rpgs is somthing you want to do, then desiging game mechanics you can use for any rpg idea you have; would benifit you far more in the long run.

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Everyone seems to want to make those role playing / massively multiplayer role-playing games.

I'm sure there are already commerical engines out there that share rules between titles (like Balders gate).

Thing is 99% of these ideas expressed here probably won't see the light of day in anycase because people set out to do these things as their first project and never finish.

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Well, I'm pretty much trying to do programmable game logic. The goal is to make an engine that any designer can turn into a AAA title(barring little things like having AAA technology and content).

btw I totally wouldn't mind if someone necroes this thread here
http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=225938

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I think the real problem with reusing game mechanics is that it removes part of the novelty of the game. When I purchase a (commercial) game I expect it to be similar, yet completely different from every other game. Else, I wouldn't purchase it.

Granted, I do think a lot of things should be reused. Code is RECYCLABLE!! But the problem with recycling code for RPGs is that there (usually) is so little of it because most of it lies in the artwork and scripts and such.

The parts that are coded, the battle system, stats, graphics presentation, etc, should differ slightly from game to game. Otherwise, it will eventually get repetitive and old. And then the genre is no longer fun.

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Well, to be honest I wasn't even thinking about code at all, I was thinking of the actual rules and mechanics that make up the game. For instance take something like skills, how are they used? learned? and improved? If take the time to create a skill system for a game, why not take a little more time to ensure that system can be used in any game? Sure in one rpg you might have a firearms skill, and another you have telepathy. But if they are both skills why not use the same system?

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In the paper and pen RPG world, there are some universal systems out there that provide a core set of rules which apply across all genres and settings. This provides a foundation upon which the particulars of a setting or genre can be built on. Examples of these systems include GURPS (Generic Universal Role Playing System), and the Hero System. I'd highly recommend looking at the Hero System which uses a sort of primitive metadescriptive language to build functionality in the game.

What do I mean by that? Well, the Hero System originally started ass the game Champions back in 1981. It was a super hero roleplaying game. Unlike almost every other game even to today, Champions didn't give the players preset powers that described both the effects of the power as well as its implementation. Instead, powers were grouped by what game effect they produced, and the description of what the power was left to the imagination of the player. There were also power modifiers that gave advantages or disadvantages and which fleshed out how the powers actually worked.

For example, instead of having a static power called Force Blast which is described as a bolt of pure energy that damaged a target by kinetic force, Champions had a dynamic "language" that allowed you to build a power to the player's taste. Instead he used the power, Energy Blast, and defined it as doing kinetic (physical damage). Whether the player wanted this as a gun, or as a mental bolt was up to him. Moreover, he could modify it by applying limitations like charges that limited the number of times he could use it, or give it advantages like autofire or penetrating.

This meant that anything from super powers to mundane technological affects could be achieved by describing how the power worked (rather than proceduraly like most other games do....hmmm, maybe OpenGL got it wrong?).

Moreover, Universal game systems reuse many rules components. A skill was a skill no matter whether the setting was in the far future, or in a fantasy world that never existed. Experience was gained in the same manner, and attributes were the same across all possible genres and settings.

Now despite all these advantages, there are some drawbacks, some of which have been overcome. The biggest drawback is that certain genres and settings have something unique about them which has to be accounted for. This unique aspect has to be given rules to account for how it affects gameplay, but sometimes this unique aspect can go against the universal settings. For example, I've been coming up with a pan-asian setting that is heavily martial arts and philosophy oriented. Indeed, the player should choose a path of life (a combination of philosophy and moral code) that helps determine some combat attributes. As a specific example, characters in this game, no matter the genre, have two things to worry about in combat: Emotional States, Mental States. Emotional states that are most involved in combat are hatred and fear, and the Mental State we are most concerned with is fatigue and focus. In the martial arts setting I have, there are certain key aspects of the martial or philosophical training that greatly affect the Emotional or Mental states.

It is more than just a generic Willpower at work, but a training provide by a way of life that is part skill, and part innate ability. In the martial world, you often hear of things like Mushin (no mind), zanshin (awareness), ma-ai (the ability to negate the advantage of speed or reflexes...literally "time distance"). As I said though, these are more than skills, they are also in many ways reflected as internal attributes. For example, the samurai had a maxim, "Control your emotions or they will control you". Detachment from the prison of the ego is a very eastern concept (prevalent in Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism, but the ego is actually encouraged in Western culture). But how strong your ego is greatly affects the character's ability to control his Emotional and Mental States.

So do I include all of these things in the Universal system even though it is really only practical for a specific genre? The way to get around this is either to have "pluggable" attributes or to simply create a new game which incorporates the rules and attributes of the genre specific setting but which shares most of the rest of base rules.

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Informative post. The effect system you mentioned was also something I was thinking about, after all if you set up the effects system correctly it should cover everything from magic to high tech implants.

As to your question my thoughts are this: Specific attributes should not be part of the universal system instead the system would include rules for primary, secondary and hidden attributes. Which would allow you to have whatever attributes are most approprite to the current game.

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