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murdock

RPG limiting story progression

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murdock    164
I'm currently doing some pre programming design for an RPG that I'm going to start work on in the near future and had a question. How does one go about limiting access to the game world until certain elements of the story have happened? For example, if you have a game world with parts a, b, c, d, and wish to limit the play to parts a and b until they defeat Boss Z then how do you go about that?

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Narf the Mouse    322
The simple, appropriate, but perhaps not helpful response here is to work it in as part of the story.

For example, in Morrowind, the Dagoth Ur region is cut off for most of the gameplay for the simple reason that your character would normally die there from various factors. And it makes sense, in-game.

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murdock    164
So in essence you limit your players by making that section so hard it would be impossible until you are ready for them to go there? That's along the lines I was thinking.

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Kuraitou    250
Generally, you will have a table of flags (usually booleans). When an event is completed you will set the flag for that event as true, or completed.

In your case, let the player access areas A and B; when they kill boss Z set flag BOSS_Z_KILLED to true. When the player tries to enter area C, check to make sure that BOSS_Z_KILLED is set; if not, deny passage, else, let him continue.

The increased difficulty route is an option, but you'll need a flag table in pretty much any RPG. Besides, more difficult areas can be exploited by the player if the game isn't balanced well. What if player manages to kill a beast many levels higher than him and he levels up 20 times?

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Zipster    2365
If you absolutely don't want the player to go somewhere, you need to make it impossible. This means using either clip regions (i.e. the classic "fat-NPC-guarding-a-doorway" trick), dealing a bazillion damage to the player if they try to pass so they die every time they try, or some other technique that you've probably seen in plenty of games. Making a section "too hard" for a player might work, but it's not a guaranteed approach to limiting player access.

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taz0010    277
Most of the time there's just a locked door. If there's a scripted event you're being forced to follow, there might be a party member that pulls you up whenever you try to go the wrong way. But still, most RPGs just lock the door.
The Zelda games control progression using upgrades. Every item you collect needs to be used somehow to open up a new area. The Metroid games do this too.

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faultymoose    128
Consider firstly whether it's absolutely critical that the area be locked off. If progression is a measure of player ability scaling (levelling, new weapons, new armor) then it's relatively trivial to create a difficulty barrier, in which case... do you absolutely need to prevent the player from getting to Boss Z until a series of conditions are met?

Part of the fun of explorative/non-linear RPGs (which yours may be, I'm not sure) is giving the player the autonomy to 'break the rules' so to speak. In Fallout 3 for example, I know I can go to almost any part of that map from the moment I leave the Vault. The first time I played, I ran off and got insta-gibbed by a Deathclaw. That was a really fun and exciting moment, because it really clarified the world as a dangerous place.

If, however, it is important to put absolute roadblocks in the game, then camouflage your intent as much as possible. To use Fallout 3 as an example again, something it does not so well is the inclusion of the occasional safe/computer terminal/door that cannot be bypassed but requires a key. It feels contrived, and could have been easily masked with new models/textures to give the impression that we're encountering a new, special obstacle.

And obfuscate the game logic with story logic. Don't simply throw an invisible barrier or insta-death zone into the game - ensure it's logically consistent within the narrative. The GTA series has made a bit of a motif out of 'under construction' bridges to prevent access to new areas of the city until the narrative has progressed to a specific point. It can feel contrived, but it fits within the universe of the game, does its job, and isn't so blatantly anti-suspension of disbelief as a "You cannot go this way at this time" message popping up on the screen.

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Wyrframe    2426
All manners of adventure games typically implement hard gates (read: impassable barriers to progress into an area not yet accessible in the narrative) via player abilities. For instance, in Zelda or Metroid games, you simply can't access areas until you have the navigational ability to. From Ocarina of Time, think the hookshot and the planting of deku leaves in the past that grow into climbable objects in the future. From Metroid, think the ball bomb or the varia suit. The most obvious form of hard gate, however, is the "do this next"; you simply can't access an area until you've completed a task, such as defeating a guardian (whether puzzle or character).

"Firm" gates, that can be bypassed with unusual skill instead of abilites, include Ocarina of Time's fire rain (the metal shield makes it easy, but a clever player can do it with just agility), or Metroid Prime 2's Sonar visor that allowed invisible platforms to be seen (but a clever player who knows they're there can partake in leaps of faith).

"Soft" gates, that can be passed through with unusual skill but not bypassed or gone around, is like the levelling of (J)RPGs and MMORPGs; a given "boss" is a fixed strength, and grinding your characters to be stronger than he makes victory easier.

The use of "hard", "firm", and "soft" is purely my own nomenclature, but hopefully the examples will help you figure out how to design what you're after in your story. Your "boss Z" will either be a guardian of the way through to area C/D, or will grant the player an ability or a requisite skill level to pass through the hard, firm, or soft gate which you create between areas A/B and areas C/D.

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Daaark    3553
All open world games implement this.

In Grand Theft Auto games, the areas are connected by bridges, and those bridges are under closed down for various storyline reasons until the story is ready to progress into those zones.

You can swim to those zones in the games that allow swimming, however, you'll get a permanent full wanted rating if you do, and you won't be able to survive for more than a little while before being caught, and sent back to a hospital or police HQ in the zone you came from.

You might also need an item for passage, like the ferryman who wants something for passage across river Styx. Or a key, or a castle that won't open it's gates unless you return with the head of a monster, etc...

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If you can find the scripting tutorials for the original Neverwinter Nights, they can be very helpful showing you how to do this stuff. Especially with dynamic, conditional dialog trees.

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