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Generations in an RPG

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I know this was discussed a bit a long time ago but I wanted to see the current ideas, sorry if it was discussed recently but I've been away from Gamedev for a while. One of the things I often find myself wondering in RPGs is what happened afterward. Often the game ends with the universe conquered and all is well but there are usually little things in the background that could pop up to cause trouble in the future. An option is similar to Mass Effect, use the unknowns to lead to sequels but I expect the final game to still leave the, I wonder what happens next. While I know this idea isn't a complete solution either I was wondering about using generations, similar to The Sims, to allow the player to keep moving into the future so the game does not have to end (in a sandbox RPG anyway). The way I think I would do this is have the characters marry and have children. The player could then spend time training the children, or let them learn on their own, and once they come of age the player can choose to change to one of the children, either when the player chooses or on death of the current character. This seems like it would give more RP options where the player could choose to go from a "good" character to a "bad" character or other such transitions all within the same world. Additionally the player can pass knowledge down so that knowledge growth can be done over many lifetimes instead of short term for a single character. Thoughts?

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I really like this idea in principle. Continuing on and building up your line and name could really feel like carving out a place for yourself in the game's world and maybe make it feel more alive.

But I can see some big challenges:

1) How do you handle the point of family creation? Do you fight monsters, then park your character in some town and click "Retire," then automatically get a family? Or do you have to go through specific steps, including courtship? If so, how does that work?

2) When you're not playing either family member, how do they behave? And when you switch from parent to sibling, do you have to be consistent in terms of how the player played their previous character? For instance, if you play goody two shoes superman and save the world, then have a child, how is the AI going to play your old character?

2a) Also, does the family tree grow in size? Can you have multiple children? And if so, do they automatically have children? This is probably something that would need to be constrained before it got out of hand.

3) What's the main incentive to keep playing a character that you'll ultimately lose? If you work really hard to build up your first generation character, then he gets old and feeble, you're essentially starting from scratch with the child unless there is something that can be passed on. If it's equipment, then you're faced with a world that has to keep leveling ad infinitum (think about the 10th generation and what would make it worthwhile to go from 1st to 10th)

4) How do you keep the gameplay fresh? Most RPGs are highly static: Go here, save this town, get that item, etc. etc. In the 5th or 10th generation, these same quests would be pretty old, so unless you're MMO (and even then) you'll have to come up with a scheme to regenerate the world. That would suggest that new gameplay opportunities (quests, items) are continuously spawned.

I would suggest some sandbox gameplay that always allows the player to work toward something, and some active and ever present force that's constantly screwing things up. That way, you always have something to build towards and you always have some force to try and overcome.

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The whole idea is a general theory that needs a lot of work and quite possibly a lot of trial and error. My current game development projects are research projects more than for profit development anyway...

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Original post by Wavinator
1) How do you handle the point of family creation?


Most of my approach for my games right now is start from reality and then go from there to what makes it fun. My expectation is starting a family would be like a mini game with multiple possible options, making yourself visible due to reputation, wealth, existing relationship with a family, deeds, etc.

An example is if you save a wealthy family from raiders and random chance decides this family has a potential spouse then the player may be offered the choice to start the courtship process (courtship seems better then the old, you saved me, marry me now!).

Another option is you are playing a wealthy character and a poor family with skills in weapon making offers marriage to exchange your wealth for their knowledge.


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2) When you're not playing either family member, how do they behave?


This part needs much consideration. My current thoughts is to give the player the option to choose the children's demeanor or have it chosen by the game performing a slightly random merger of the two parents demeanor. This would allow the player to continue with the same type of character or create a rebel with the possibilities of the child rebelling against the parent as controlled by the player or NPC.


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2a) Also, does the family tree grow in size?


I expect many children having many children for the specific game I have in mind, other game designs may differ. I intend to drop the character in a population that is peaceful only when very small (not noticed by the other factions) but attacked increasingly as they grow larger and their holdings are more valuable. As a result the population could quickly diminish if not properly replenished. This does make balancing deaths and births a careful balance, likely the players last child would need to be balanced unless jumping to other relatives is an option...


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3) What's the main incentive to keep playing a character that you'll ultimately lose?


Twofold, passing on both knowledge and goods.

If the player character dies, his holdings are passed on based on the laws of the land (possibly changeable if the player chooses to seek a position of power). If the player jumps to the next generation while still alive then he can give up to a certain percentage of what he owns to that child based on the laws and preventing the player from bankrupting the parent.

It is expected the player will pass some knowledge along to his children, if he doesn't then he will only loose out after dying. By passing along knowledge, the child is further along the skill path than the player was when he started. Also, depending on the relationship with the family, the relatives may continue to work with the player after moving to the child and skilled relatives would be quite a benefit. This leads to the possibility of different branches of the family being experts in different fields.


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4) How do you keep the gameplay fresh?


What I'm shooting for, and I prefer to have my end target shoot for the moon while accomplishing much smaller targets and trying to get there, is to create what is basically a single player version of an MMORPG. Set it up so everything is dynamic and there is a constant struggle between multiple factions and the player can work with one, more or simply profit from all of them.

Most of my work will probably setting up proper rules so balance is maintained but this type of work interests me. Otherwise one of the hard parts will be finding a way to produce enough content to keep things interesting long enough to reach an end game or to keep the player interested in continuing to play with the game balance.

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What I'm shooting for, and I prefer to have my end target shoot for the moon while accomplishing much smaller targets and trying to get there, is to create what is basically a single player version of an MMORPG. Set it up so everything is dynamic and there is a constant struggle between multiple factions and the player can work with one, more or simply profit from all of them.

I believe i wrote something extremely similar...somewhere...some time...cant remember. Anyway, let me know when you'll start actually making this, i'll definitely offer you whatever help i can. :)

As to the point - if there are indeed multiple dynamic factions - there is no need to actually have a realistic family. My suggestion would be to skip some game time, while dynamic simulating takes place, and then simply generate a new character from the same faction. The logic here could be that the faction is watched over by Fates, or a highly evolved being secretly manipulates a more primitive society.
The point is not in growing treasure hoard in the family chest(has been done to death), but bringing your whole faction to power. Or even creating an entirely new faction with your current character on top of its chain of command. In my view its much more interesting and fresh than just having an in-game descendants.

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This could lead to some very interesting game play elements if the AI behind it was developed enough.

You mentioned a sort of "inheritance" system for passing on some percentage of your loot / skills to you offspring. Then the player takes control of offspring that your original character had. In cases of having multiple sibling / offspring there could then be all sort of infighting and taking sides by the children to get a larger percentage of the loot.

Or It could lead to more peacefully outcomes, such as extremely loyal allies in your siblings. Humm lots to play with here.

Seems like the balance of Macro and Micro here would be very hard, or at least involved. In my mind you have this 1 on 1 courtship process and then you also have the opportunity for there to be castles passed down lineages, epic generation spanning feuds.

Personally I don't like the idea of you losing control of your character and having them still be around in the game world. It would be very difficult to implement an AI monitoring system to maintain consistent behavior as to how you played the character. I feel that your current character would have to die before you can take over one of the children. Perhaps getting old and feeble is exactly what should happen and eventually you get killed by that lvl 1 sewer rat...hummm.

just spouting ideas- sry if they were not too organized.

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I know I say this a lot :D , but...

Have a look at this game: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sword_of_the_Samurai_(computer_game)

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Original post by Karnot
I believe i wrote something extremely similar...somewhere...some time...cant remember. Anyway, let me know when you'll start actually making this, i'll definitely offer you whatever help i can. :)

As to the point - if there are indeed multiple dynamic factions - there is no need to actually have a realistic family...

The point is not in growing treasure hoard in the family chest(has been done to death), but bringing your whole faction to power...


I've started working on it, learned spawning a NPC and path following, now I need to start up player interactions. Any ideas you have, please throw them my way.

While I like faction control best myself, there are a couple reasons I want to give more options.

First, I want attach the player to the game emotionally when possible. It seems to me that a player who has invested time building up a family will be more emotionally involved to each NPC in the family and faction whereas a player who has only spent time building up a faction will not be attached to individuals, only to the faction.

Second, I want to give the player as many options as possible (at the current time, if I release this game I'm sort of expecting to release the base game and then keep working on feature and storyline expansions). So I will probably add your suggestion as an option. If the player skips out on family building they will be reborn as a random or chosen member of the faction. On the other hand they can choose to build a family to build and perhaps expand into their own faction or have conflicts within the family to build from.


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Original post by vs322
just spouting ideas- sry if they were not too organized.


Kind of where I'm at right now. The general idea is very broad and needs a lot of input to parse through and refine so all additional ideas are most welcome :)


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Original post by Edtharan


I need to look for a copy of this game, if it even runs on modern computers... Where is my copy of Win98... need to try it on VirtualBox.

This encompasses part of the ideas I'm interested in experimenting with. Kind of combining all parts of that game plus some more.

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I need to look for a copy of this game, if it even runs on modern computers... Where is my copy of Win98... need to try it on VirtualBox.

This encompasses part of the ideas I'm interested in experimenting with. Kind of combining all parts of that game plus some more.

I am not sure if it is abandon ware as I have my original copy that I bought back when we had a 386. I still play it and use DosBox (on vista), so you should be able to play it still.

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