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[RPG] Help with getting started

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Hey guys. A friend and I have started work on a RPG over the holidays. The game system is inspired by Dragonquest and the Mother series (the latter having a bigger impact on design). Our map editor is fast approaching a useable state where we could actually start scripting the events and we figured that we could start actually making the game. We have the basic story put down, so that's not an issue, but I'm having trouble linking the events all together. I'd like to draw out all my maps on paper firsthand but I'm having trouble getting started. How can I make sure that my world feels organic? I have this huge fear that things will feel so static and linear. I suppose my request incorporates storytelling and mapmaking elements. I'm relying on the infinite wisdom that you guys seem to have. Also: How do I make sure that my maps aren't too big or too small? Do you guys have tips on how to measure the length of what I'd like to do? I'd hate to design my chapter thinking it will last the player an hour and then see that most finish it in ten minutes. I suppose my best bet would be play testing it but that's a little difficult when you're designing on paper. [smile] The game in itself will be very linear (as are most SNES era RPGs) but how can I minimize the obviousness of it all? I appreciate any helps you guys have to offer.

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Quote:
Original post by Gazillion
getting started. How can I make sure that my world feels organic? I have this huge fear that things will feel so static and linear.


Don't let the fear stop you. Design it, play test it, then (like cooking) see what ingredients you need to add. I think it's far easier to get a feel for what's missing when you're able to actually play it than when it's an abstract in your head.

Quote:

How do I make sure that my maps aren't too big or too small? Do you guys have tips on how to measure the length of what I'd like to do? I'd hate to design my chapter thinking it will last the player an hour and then see that most finish it in ten minutes. I suppose my best bet would be play testing it but that's a little difficult when you're designing on paper. [smile]


It's difficult but not impossible. You could design it as a board game, with the general elements thrown in that give the game it's feel, then play test THAT. It won't be perfect, but it could both expose flaws and push you in a direction that's more fun. For instance, if you decided that discovery and surprise were really fun elements (of opening chests or vaults, say) then you could design a paper level and use coins or cutouts as counters, then apply your battle system and item discovery rules to get a sense of what it might be like. This might help you define monster / treasure ratios and not just how large, but how dense a map should be (do you get tired of discovering the same thing? Or are the monsters so easy but numerous it feels like a slog? etc.)

Quote:

The game in itself will be very linear (as are most SNES era RPGs) but how can I minimize the obviousness of it all?


Maybe take a page from Deus Ex: Invisible War. You're going to eventually go to the same places, but the reasons why you go can change, giving the place a different feel. Maybe in one storyline you're investigating a mystery, but in in another you're going to the same place to cover up a crime. You could also fiddle with having different starting locations. Maybe in one storyline you do a level in reverse?

Just some thoughts.

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Thanks Wavinator, you always seem to have very good insight into these things [smile]

You definitely gave me a good idea on how to make things feel less static. If I use backtracking in the game then introducing new elements on the playing field (a fallen tree, change the position of NPCs, change the time of day) would probably make things feel a lot more alive without adding too much development time.

The board game idea is also interesting. I might not use it exactly as described but using pen & paper mechanics could definitely help me measure playing time.

What about the cityscape? RPG-cities tend to be very minimalistic in nature, would it be best to draw inspiration from rural towns or would that look/feel boring? I'm under the impression that a real city is designed to be efficient while I'd rather design it to be fun. Hmmm I think I'm going to GIS maps from different games.

I'm sorry if these questions seem very basic but I never thought these things would become an issue. None of these things were a concern when I was making my art assets but now that I'm down to actually implementing things I'm always second guessing. Thanks again.

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You're going to eventually go to the same places, but the reasons why you go can change, giving the place a different feel.


To add to that, a great way to give maps some dynamic element is to limit access to certain areas. Allow the player to SEE the courtyard of the duke's palace, but there's no way into the gate until she rescues the duke's prize hunting dog.

In my opinion linearity is not such a bad thing. The story is largely fixed. Moving to new, previously unreachable areas, gives a sense of progression through the game. One of the reasons that NWN & NWN2 felt so claustrophobic was that the majority of the games took place in the same maps. I was running back & forth between the same maps and the same scenery for the better part of the game.

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I always figured I'd need "artificial" barriers to keep the player from going to new areas to progress the story but I never thought of using it as a way to promote exploration. Non-story related areas could open up to the player which they can decide to revisit if they feel like it. Gold I say! [smile]

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