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stviemr

RPGs, What do YOU expect from a great RPG?

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I would put the user interface and combat/magic system as the two most important parts of a good rpg. An awesome rpg needs no plot at all. I think a lot of people play rpgs just to build up a charater and don't care at all about the plot. Online games like Everquest, UO, and even Diablo are like this. Some of the best ofline games like Fallout, Daggerfall, and all the rogue-likes are also. They all have a plot, but the plot is not what is going though the players mind as they see a cool looking sword fall out of the monster they just barly beat. All they want from the game is to be able to create a godlike charater then can kill everything it sees.
I like your picks on a theme and soundtrack. Kinda sounds like the ff series. Those games and others made by square had the best music ever put into a rpg.

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Guest Anonymous Poster

Freedom and plot, depending on the game.

I like RPG's that let me wander a bit, choose my own path, etc. Krondor was like that; I was free to go pretty much wherever I wanted, even though the game was ushering me in a particular direction.

At the same time, if you have a plot, I want one that's interesting and non-trivial. Yet another "save the kingdom from the evil sorceror" plot and I'm going to hang myself. The plot needs to be engaging and at least somewhat complex, or I'll go back to reading a fantasy book. :-)

At least, that's my opinion, for what it's worth.

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I think the plot IS important, it depends on the player. Multiple ways, endings can be nice too since it increases the replay value.
Combat should be well-thought too. If you're having randomattacks, don't let it happen too much. And I think ATB should be in it too (active time battle, or so I think).

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I've been wondering actually, would Square object if a person used their ATB thingie in a game? Actually, I haven't been wondering about that, but rather if the creator of Zelda(I can't remember his name right now for the life of me) would object if someone were to use that neat little Z-Targeting idea. That makes a 3rd person game so much more fun

Jonathan

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You cant patent or protect those kinds of abstract things, so yes, you could use any interface you like it other peoples games. What you cant use is the art of other people, or other copyrightable materials (chekc out the US Copyright Office and US PTO (www.uspto.gov).

-Geoff

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I would consider myself a hardcore AD&D player.(Pretty much a power gamer most of the time)

I think you have 2 ways to go about on the rpg.

If its massive online type thing i dont think plot is that important.(the ppl will make there own plots)

If its a single player rpg though it had best have a fantasic plot/story,and freedom.

As far as combat goes i have to say ive grown out of number crunching all day.(I would like to say the first video game rpg i really played was phantasy star for the sega master system. I give that game the rating of the best rpg i have seen yet. Though ill tell you one thing it took alot longer than 60hours to beat. More like a month of 10hours a day.Largly dew to the need for exp and money)

Anyways like i said it depends on the game.
I dont really get off on making a god character in a single player rpg because all the challange is gone.Now multiplayer yes yes yes.


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Did you ever play Daggerfall? (follow on to Arena-Elder Scrolls) This game, which was all in 3D (apart from monsters) had literally thousands of towns you could visit, hundreds of dungeons and an infinite number of missions. It was also free-form, so you could go anywhere at any time. You could follow the main plot, or ignore it completely.
The way it coped with having so many towns/dungeons was to generate them randomly and then store them so they would be the same when you came back. It was probably the most ambitious RPG ever. The world was about 50 times bigger than Everquest. If I was writing an RPG this is the sort of game I would try for.
Another idea is to implement a really good distance-abstraction system and have a really high view distance (or even infinite). No one has managed this yet. You generally can't see very far in games that have outdoor environments.
Also, have a look at Ultima Underworld (1&2) and System Shock (1&2) which are probably the four best 3D RPGs ever.

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The plot and story are very important. I find games that have you running around like that pointless with no overall 'objective' that I haven't taken the time to emerse myself in.

Look at the literary world and see how many books there are that can keep you reading for hours just to know what happens next - this is what you want to reproduce. You also need to use the players emotions to get them into it. Get them to know the characters history, what drives them to do what they are doing.

I understand that this is different for action games and the like, but come on - why waste 60+ hrs on an RPG?

Character developement and interaction is also very important. We're way past the days of one-liner NPC's, and want a more advanced AI in there. Character weak? Hire a bodyguard that knows how to fight and how to protect you, but doesn't just aimlessly follow you around or have to be told who to attack or whatever.

Take it easy on puzzles and combat. I mean how many times have you had to solve a sliding block puzzle or key finding game to open a door to somewhere in your life? Make them more sensable, and have them fit in there better.

Of course the world is a big place, and there's lots of bad people out there, but do you have to stop and kill one every ten feet?

And of course, combat leads to experience. Why does every single game have you pumping up into a massive godlike character? I don't care how many golbins you've stomped on - there's no way you can still take a direct blow from a sharp sword. Make damage more realistic.

For instance, increase dexterity - at least if your more experienced, you can block easier or get the heck out of the way, or have better armor to protect you, but don't make people human punching bags.

Whoa that's a lot Didn't mean to ramble on...


Jim

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I'd say that there are 2 things you should look at:
Is the game offline/online? If it's online I'll just assume it's massive multiplayer.

Online massive multiplayer : Key to making it good is making character interaction the most important thing, and combat second to that. The only reason people play online RPGs is to interact with other characters that other people are playing online. Then, after they've done that, they want to impress those other people by being more powerful than them. Thus, the combat.

For offline RPGs:
Plot is the most important. If I start playing a game and the plot is "the world is about to end....luckily you, a young lad of no more than 15 years, happen to be the "chosen one" who it is foretold can save the world from the dark evil".

good god...please don't subject us players to so many cliches! I mean, the occasional cliche, if it's got an interesting twist, is just fine. Cliches have one great thing going for them : the players are familiar with them, thus when they see them you can expect a certain response. This can be great for predicting what a player is going to do in a certain situation.
However, too many cliches and your game becomes boring and worthless, because it's just like all the others out there.
And make sure your plot contains plenty of character growth. Having characters grow and change throughout the course of the game makes them seem more real, so the player's become more attached to them. I mean, if some no-name wizard dies I say "big deal", but if Jeffrey, my hero's best friend get's eaten by a dragon, I want to make that dragon wish he was never born. You can make me elicit a certain emotional response just by making the characters more real. This manipulating of the player is very important.

After plot, I'd say that the next most important thing is a tie between combat and interface.
If I have a really good plot going, but I can't navigate through it because of the clunky interface I'll probably give it up and go play D&D.
On the other hand, if I can navigate through the game fine but I meet so many random encounters that getting from one town to the next is an hour-long affair then that game will get relegated to the deep recesses of my hard drive, most likely never to be seen again.


The best RPGs I've ever played (on a computer of course, we all know D&D is the best RPG) are:
NetHack (http://www.win.tue.nl/games/roguelike/nethack/)
Final Fantasy 2
Final Fantasy 3
Fallout
Fallout 2 (except the out of character references nearly ruined the game)

------------------
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gameguru4@yahoo.com

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I still don't think plot is that important. All it really does it add to the enviroment. System Shock one and two had a great enviroment to play in, great graphics, sound, music, play control, and story. But it wasn't the plot that made these games great rpgs, it was the charater advancement and the customizion of the player. Without these the game woud have been no differnt then quake2. In fact i would say these games even had a weak plot. It was all the other elements toghether that made them so great.

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I'd like to second something that has only been mentioned once, but for me is the real key to an RPG, developing your character.

It is the idea of being immersed in a new world with a character that is a relative weakling, and making that struggle to improve that makes the most compulsive element of the game.

If it was just about the combat you could play a beat-em-up. If it was just about the plot you could read a book. Whilst both of these ARE important (would not dream of saying otherwise) it is the journey that you take to improve your character that makes for the most immersive RPG experience.

Furthermore there needs to be variety to this. Enough scope that, for instance, two players playing the same character class, can end up with entirely different characters.

Best of luck,

Woop

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Ah, RPGs, that most nebulous of genres.
Personally, I don't like the online scene, too much humanity of today taints the immersion and also, I despise player killers yet I do see their point (*urk* much as it pains me to say it). Anyway, it has nothing to do with whether a game is online or not, but rather the linearity of the game.

So here I go on my rant which is merely that, a rant. Ignore at your own leisure.
You have the Final Fantasy's, in which plot and character development is paramount. Highly linear.
Then you have the RPG high games in which there is a plot, but you can follow it at your leisure (which also means, the world revolves around you - but much can be sad about Final Fantasy). Highly interactive. Here we have Darklands and Arena.
Then we have the many shades of grey in between where one can find the Fallouts and what not. Of course, I ignore the RPG-lite games like Diablo (merely RPGs for FPS fans in my opinion *ducks flaming ball*).

Ok, on to the actual question far above...
What makes it a hit? Thoroughly unknown. Look at Betrayl at Krondor. When it came out back in the days of diskette, it did not do well. When it was rereleased on CD, Boom!
It's a market thing. Just pray, even if you did make a good game. As long as you are in the black, everything's good!

Plot: Don't cliche it is the main thing. If you must use a cliche, use it, but then twist it.
Graphics: People are spoilt now. 3D or 2D? 3D requires machine (Ultima 9 anyone?). 2D requires a lot of art (Baldur's Gate anyone). 2D/3D hybrid is my opinion the best to go. Then again, if the game's good, 30 hours into the game and graphics don't mean anything. Gameplay keeps the player.
Music: I'm partial to classical, but if you mix classical training into anything else, you've got something. But music is highly subjective.
Action: Ah, lots of it? Be careful. Most of this has been covered by others.

Hmmm, I haven't really answered what makes a RPG a hit. It depends on the person. I don't like (and boy, I've tried) 3D first person perspective games. I like it even less when combat is required to be done manually, as in point and shoot (Eye of the Beholder although first person had simple combat - point and click). I prefer the abstract simplicity of the strategy in Fallout and the Gold Box SSI games, or the simple menu select method of Final Fantasy, or the point and click method of Baldur's Gate. But that's just me. As long as music is not too repetitive, it's ok, unless it's something I like to which case, I don't care if it is. I'll pause the game and listen. But I feel I'm in the minority mainly because of this 3D thing (and I do occasionally play FPS, they just don't hold my attention for more that 10 hours cumulative play, even in multiplayer).

Just my gaming habits and I feel more a casual gamer rather than a hardcore gamer. Now the disclaimer: The opinions of this poster does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the gaming community.

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Thanks for all the input. A good point that you brought up is about the interface. We are still divided on some of the fine points of that issue. We DO plan on having an "overhead" 3D interface. Not a FPS like Diablo, I agree that hardly classifies as an RPG at all, and if it is allowed to, 99% of the games out there should.

The lead graphics man and I were kicking around pro's and con's of these interfaces. I thought we should perhaps render some actions in a seperate 2D interface. partially to add variety. Perhaps when the player enters "Combat" mode or something, we could have the game jump to a combat graphics engine, which could be 2D, but elaborate, and cool looking, also giving a feel of action...

Action is very important to us, but we don't want to sell out other features that we like about the rpg, such as freedom, detail, and character development. Obviously there is a balance in there somewhere that will please most.

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I suggest to try implenting the ring menu system that is seen in the game Secret of mana. The reason I like this game is that it shows that developing RPG without random attacks, and a lot of action IS possible.
Although implenting this in 3D can be difficult...

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Whatever you do, don't put in mazes. I hate mazes. Ya know, Ultima-like
dungeon mazes that go on forever over 8+ levels. I think mazes are the most
boring and laziest way to create a 'puzzle'.

Reaver

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Given the current trend in games and 3D graphics in general, lots of high poly cut scenes. Being a wargamer, I prefer campaigns to open exploration. There should be a lot a room to walk about between sub-plots and the ability to use a variety tactics to achieve the goal(s).

As far as game mechanics, have you seen the combat system in Hybrid Heaven? It's that kind of twist on conventional game play that will make for a memorable title.

If you're wanting to cater to the power user faction, look at different ways to go about it besides the ability to level a mountain with you pinky. Exceptional accuracy or dexterity can also make a power user. (ie. Every hit is a critical hit or you can deflect every attack directed at you (ala Neo in the Matrix))
--
TAZ

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I would say the most important thing in every RPG game is highly interactive environment and freedom to do lots of stuff.

If you are doing a multiplayer game
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I think it's important to be able to make very individual characters with lots of different skills to choose from (many skills quarantee possibility to do many different things). Then ofcourse interaction possibilities with other players are also important.
And possibility to affect the world permanently, for example, if one could build a house at some point it would be awesome, but ofcourse it's pretty difficult to implement.

If you're doing a singe player game
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You might still consider the option of allowing multiple players. For example support 4 player multiplayer mode.
I think the story is pretty important in single player RPG. You should have the main plot that goes from the start to the end, and then fill the game with smaller plots that keep players busy. I just had an idea of having the main plot being pretty small (like finding the cure for player's soon to be wife's genital herpes.. just kidding and when player is reaching that goal, the smaller plots could actually be a lot more important, so that player could save the world (maybe couple of times) while he's trying to reach the main goal.. Just an idea though..
Then about rising levels. I don't think it's good to just add some hitpoints and hit probability when player reaches higher level. But if player would for example get more skills that he can creatively use to achieve different goals, it would be pretty cool..
And you should avoid linearity by all means necessary, I hate rpg games that are linear.. You might encounter something in game that you cannot handle right now, and you just have to give it up and come back later when you have tools/skills to solve the problem.

That's pretty much it.. I have a lot of ideas for RPG's since I'm planning to do one myself (one of these days), but I'm too lazy to write all of that down right now

Couple of more things tho (that I just thought of).. Don't make just combat spells, since combat is what fighters are for. Make spells creative and make them for very different purposes (ofcourse this adds complexity to creating the game, but..).

And learn from Half-Life! Use scripted encounters if possible. You could have goblin's escaping with wagons just after they have slaughtered and robbed some innocent (or maybe not so innocent.. make twists to the plot) travellers.. Or you could have a big monster that's way too hard for players to kill, and the solution for problem could be like shotting fireball to a big tree so that it falls on top of the monster, and kills it.. or something.. you get the idea.

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Thanks, again, to all for the feedback.

I have been thinking of ways to improve our Game Design, based in part by the messages you have placed on the board.

Design Concept:
What about creating a fairly detailed setting environment, (not to say "gaudy" or cluttered) where the user begins the game with so many possesions? The user then can choose to explore the land(s) or stay in the local area and build up supplies, etc.
While the user is figuring out what to do, we could introduce semi-random encouters to add elements of the plot, being also somewhat random in nature. Of course, I feel that it is necessary to incorporate a little linearity in the RPG. Otherwise, you can have no objectives.
My theory is that the player can go through several sub-plot steps, not set in any given order, to find out what his/her objective really is. There will be no set story line persay, only the framework for the user to develop the storyline. This way the User could play the game twice with a different twist than the time before.

For matters of simplicity, I believe we intend it to be single player. In a future project, we may choose to incorporate a multi-player RPG, but right now we need to start more basic.

I would like the game to have a grandiose epic sort of feel, like the game is really a big deal. And that user be drawn in to taking it seriously. We will introduce friends and foes, some will interact with the player and others will simply be static enemies like bog slimes, what have you...
We could add features like the users ability to create a market in town to sell goods for gold or something, or the capacity for the user to start their own kingdom, like in Ultima...

The framework is still in development, and I want to get it narrowed down soon so that we can further develop code for the actual game. So far our progress is mainly isolated to the technical aspects, such as the sound/music and graphics engines.

[This message has been edited by stviemr (edited December 19, 1999).]

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One thing I think is important is a big and yet realistic world. Zelda 64 for example had the coolest world in my opinion. I thought the best part of the game was exploring that world and finding the new areas. However, the world was kind of small so later in the game I thought it became kind of boring. Stress two points: A story and the world.

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You should, nay, must have a story. While the hardcore RPGer may love the non-linearity of the game, the casual gamer will most likely not. Usually, do not ever make the player work out what they are supposed to do by themselves.

If you do, have encounters but not random ones with a few random ones thrown in. Have encounters that have to do with the plot. I'm talking like...ummm... people in the town are getting sick because of the town river (their water source) and this is because some sort of poisoning or pollution is occurring further upstream and the player finds out it was a battle site and the dead bodies are poisoning the river and then the player finds out that some sinister force is sneaking in to take out the country (or whatever) and there we have a beginning to a story right there (hmm sounds corny at the end, but whaddya gonna do?).
Throw some red herrings in as side plots or stories which although are red herrings add to the world's complexity itself.

But then, that's all my opinion...

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I like the idea about the poisoned river... Very good points.
I agree about linearity being necessary, I thinks it's when the linearity becomes so obvious and dominant that the player realizes they have no control over how the game goes that it gets boring...
Much as you said, I want linearity, I would just like some of the "Red-herrings" to be unessential plot elements that the player may or may not encounter. There will be many preprogrammed encounters, and some will be random. I guess we need to find a happy medium for the Pro RPG-er casual gamer.
I would enjoy hearing more from you on this.

Steve-

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