• Announcements

    • khawk

      Download the Game Design and Indie Game Marketing Freebook   07/19/17

      GameDev.net and CRC Press have teamed up to bring a free ebook of content curated from top titles published by CRC Press. The freebook, Practices of Game Design & Indie Game Marketing, includes chapters from The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, and An Architectural Approach to Level Design. The GameDev.net FreeBook is relevant to game designers, developers, and those interested in learning more about the challenges in game development. We know game development can be a tough discipline and business, so we picked several chapters from CRC Press titles that we thought would be of interest to you, the GameDev.net audience, in your journey to design, develop, and market your next game. The free ebook is available through CRC Press by clicking here. The Curated Books The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition, by Jesse Schell Presents 100+ sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game’s design, encompassing diverse fields such as psychology, architecture, music, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, anthropology, and more. Written by one of the world's top game designers, this book describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design, demonstrating how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in video games. It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again. View it here. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, by Joel Dreskin Marketing is an essential but too frequently overlooked or minimized component of the release plan for indie games. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing provides you with the tools needed to build visibility and sell your indie games. With special focus on those developers with small budgets and limited staff and resources, this book is packed with tangible recommendations and techniques that you can put to use immediately. As a seasoned professional of the indie game arena, author Joel Dreskin gives you insight into practical, real-world experiences of marketing numerous successful games and also provides stories of the failures. View it here. An Architectural Approach to Level Design This is one of the first books to integrate architectural and spatial design theory with the field of level design. The book presents architectural techniques and theories for level designers to use in their own work. It connects architecture and level design in different ways that address the practical elements of how designers construct space and the experiential elements of how and why humans interact with this space. Throughout the text, readers learn skills for spatial layout, evoking emotion through gamespaces, and creating better levels through architectural theory. View it here. Learn more and download the ebook by clicking here. Did you know? GameDev.net and CRC Press also recently teamed up to bring GDNet+ Members up to a 20% discount on all CRC Press books. Learn more about this and other benefits here.
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
tomsoderlund

Unextraordinary: You are no one special – an RPG

30 posts in this topic

Most RPG's follows Campbell's monomyth: ordinary person in ordinary place becomes hero in a fantastical place. Old Man (Gandalf, Obi-Wan) comes to young boy and gives him a magical object (ring, wand, lightsaber).

Well, screw that. Let's say you (the player character) is just ordinary. There are heroes, sure, but you're not it. The Old Man won't ring on your doorbell. You're unlikely to get a lightsaber. You're likely to get a cold.

-----

What do you think about this as a premise for an RPG? What would you expect of the game?

All constructive feedback is welcome!
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For me the are two main questions:
- What is your goal?
- Why would it be fun to play?

Most questy games offer both right off the bat; you're trying to defeat the Sith and you get to chop people up with a lightsabre. Done and done. I'm not saying that a game that fulfils both under your criteria isn't possible, but you need to answer those questions.

PS - I know all games don't follow that formula, but it's a safe start. Without the first people often don't "get it" and/or can't explain it to their friends. Without the second... maybe it's an art game, maybe it's an addictive grind-fest. But it's a much harder sell.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For a single-player RPG I'm slightly sceptical.

If you're talking about having a totally "normal" character who constantly plays second/third/fourth fiddle to everyone else and isn't at all important in the story then I can imagine it would be very hard to create a compelling reason for a person to keep playing. The player would end up as nothing more than an onlooker.

On the other hand if you going for more of real life simulator "your nothing special, but important in your own little world." then I don't don't see why it wouldn't work. Although you're not really changing much around, the player is still the protagonist and it still vital to the story, its just your talking about "staying alive on the street of Victorian London" instead of "Kill the dragon and save the known world". The problem here is that you would have to have a well crafted story, unlike most games you couldn't rest on the premise of the story to keep someone engaged.

Oblivion did something like this. For the main quest the prince played the protagonist instead of the player. Yes the player was important, but it was the prince who was the true hero at the end. It really didn't work that well from what I remember and is probably a good example of how to get it wrong.

For multiplayer RPGs (whatever their scale) it's a good idea. It gets around the whole "Why are there a load of other One True Saviour's Of The World and why am I having to rely on their help?".
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In addition (or as an alternative to) the above, I could see this potentially working well as a funny game, which could be enjoyable if done properly.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When you're writing a story, you choose the protagonist and the plot to go together because the protagonist is "uniquely able" (i.e. contextually special if not special in an absolute sense) to solve the plot's overall problem. Usually in games the protagonist is the playable character, or one of them, because playing is pretty much by definition "taking action to move towards a goal" which is what protagonists do. Even when there is a main character who is not a protagonist, the main character is chose because they have a unique emotional perspective and insight on the overall story problem. Even in a game with no written story, such as many adventure games, the player is special because they are the one solving the puzzles that the world implies no one else has solved/cares to solve/can solve, or anyone who solved them in the past "graduated" with some award recognizing their specialness. Added to this is the fact that gamers in general are motivated by the desire for an adventurous escapist experience which praises their cleverness and kickassness. We kind of all think we are heroes anyway; in writing theory it is a truism that every villain thinks he is the hero of his own story. Every person cleaning their house does noble battle against such forces of darkness as dust bunnies, hairballs, and mold. Every person cooking something new feels a little heroic and kickass if it turns out delicious and they didn't burn the kitchen down in the process.

So, really it depends on how you define hero. The protagonist of a game doesn't have to be the last person of a special bloodline, or the child of prophecy who is as strong as 10 men and blessed by luck, or the only one in the world who can do magic. The hero doesn't even have to be a warrior if it's not a game about killing monsters, though usually RPGs are. But the Pokemon series is an example - you are a normal person like all the NPC trainers in the world, it's your commitment to your quest that makes you special.

Not all RPGs, but here are some of the non-traditional hero story roles I've played in games: Plant breeder trying to become the best in the world, cake baker trying to raise enough money by a deadline to save a foreclosed property, time traveler trying to locate and retrieve objects lost in time, archeologist who accidentally fell into an alien automated testing arena that they used to determine the nobility of their society, general of the vampire kingdom, trainee plant faerie trying to earn my rank of being a full faerie, farm boy who found a lost princess and got drafted to help her get home, zombie apocalypse survivor trying to defend my house and brains from zombies, person with amnesia in an insane asylum trying to figure out how I got there and what's real, person who accidentally fell into a magical world and must figure out how the world works to either go home or make a new home for myself in a magical world, spaceship pilot who stumbled upon an alien relic ship...
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awesome feedback everyone!

[quote name='jefferytitan' timestamp='1336944836' post='4939890']
- What is your goal?
- Why would it be fun to play?
[/quote]

1. The idea behind the premise is just to do something contrary to the norm, and see how it turns out.
2. Can't answer that yet, too early to tell. Will crunch the feedback in this thread and get back to you!

[quote name='Bigdeadbug' timestamp='1336946479' post='4939898']
On the other hand if you going for more of real life simulator "your nothing special, but important in your own little world." then I don't don't see why it wouldn't work.
[/quote]

[quote name='sunandshadow' timestamp='1336972274' post='4939970']
So, really it depends on how you define hero. The protagonist of a game doesn't have to be the last person of a special bloodline, or the child of prophecy who is as strong as 10 men and blessed by luck, or the only one in the world who can do magic.
[/quote]

I think this is the watershed design decision: 1) a game where you play the "hero in their own little world", or 2) a game where you are not a hero in any sense, maybe even an anti-hero.

[quote name='Iron Chef Carnage' timestamp='1336951767' post='4939920']
Recettear casts you as a shopkeeter in an RPG world. Heroes and adventurers frequent your store, and you make a living wage stocking and selling the various potions, weapons and items that they'll need to fight monsters, and also by bankrolling their quests as an investor in exchange for a share of any loot or gold they discover.
[/quote]

Nice! Will check Recettear out. Sounds a bit like [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_King"]Little King's Story[/url] for Nintendo Wii.

[quote name='sunandshadow' timestamp='1336972274' post='4939970']
archeologist who accidentally fell into an alien automated testing arena that they used to determine the nobility of their society
[/quote]

This sounds awesome, which game is this? Edited by tomsoderlund
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='tomsoderlund' timestamp='1336982218' post='4939996']
This sounds awesome, which game is this?
[/quote]
Old Win/Mac adventure game Jewels of the Oracle. Good luck getting it to run unless you have a legacy game box or possibly a legacy virtual machine. It doesn't really explain the story clearly, so that's sort of my interpretation of the minimal amount that's there - in the little intro movie you (in first person view) are exploring some ruins, and some kind of machinery recognizes you and lets you in, leaving you trapped in a room with a checklist of puzzles, you must complete them all to get out. Throughout the game you are talked to by (presumably an alien ghost or AI) person that looks like an upside down pyramid. The instructions, clues, and praises when you solve a puzzle are all given in kind of poem/riddle language which gives the impression it expects you to be a candidate for some sort of important position in the culture that built it, and expects you to be either an ancient egyptian or an alien, and doesn't understand that world it's training you for is long dead. There was a sequel, not as interesting but it at least made the archeology part more clear. Alien archeology was a popular topic for novels and movies for a few years there - Fifth Element, The Dig, and Stargate are all related to the subject if you find it interesting. I think alien archeology would still be an interesting topic to write a story about, game or otherwise. Edited by sunandshadow
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What about being the old man? Find and protect the young ordinary person, give him your magic staff and help him in the background without him knowing it and then when hes fighting the boss and is losing you come speak some random wisdoms and give him more magic items.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='sunandshadow' timestamp='1336986157' post='4940002']
Old Win/Mac adventure game Jewels of the Oracle. Good luck getting it to run unless you have a legacy game box or possibly a legacy virtual machine.
[/quote]

Thanks! I found some videos on YouTube at least.

[quote name='Waterlimon' timestamp='1336997647' post='4940035']
What about being the old man? Find and protect the young ordinary person, give him your magic staff and help him in the background without him knowing it and then when hes fighting the boss and is losing you come speak some random wisdoms and give him more magic items.
[/quote]

Awesome idea! Indirect control, a bit like Dungeon Keeper.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I guess [url="http://www.majesty2.com"]Majesty[/url] is worth mentioning in this context. It's an RTS where you are the king but the heroes have a will of their own, and you can only influence them by assigning rewards to different goals. Edited by tomsoderlund
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's worth pointing out that games like Majesty tend to have their own special kind of frustration that goes hand in hand with the design. I lost count of the number of times I quite those games because of the lack of control over the heroes resulted in some catastrophic failures.

Heavy reliance on a games AI to carry out the players will, without having some sort of override function, is one of those ideas that's both bloody great and bloody awful at the same time.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='sunandshadow' timestamp='1336972274' post='4939970']
archeologist who accidentally fell into an alien automated testing arena that they used to determine the nobility of their society
[/quote]

In my head this is hilarious because I'm imagining the aliens as 2 feet tall. So the archaeologist is completely normal or even incompetent, but able to eventually win because he/she is 3 times larger than expected. A boulder careers towards him/her, hits... "Ouch, you little @#%%#!".
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote]2) a game where you are not a hero in any sense, maybe even an anti-hero[/quote]
The antihero is already someone special.

[quote]This sounds awesome, which game is this?[/quote]
There's a similar game which is easier to run then the aforementioned one. It's about a particle physicist who got caught up in a dimension tearing accident at a research facility during which the facility became infested with all sorts of aliens. It's not an RPG though. Like Sunandshadow said, the protagonist is the unique person suitable to solve the problem presented in the story. Whether you're saving the world (Dragon Age, Mass Effect), or simply getting revenge on the people responsible for the murder of your wife and child (Max Payne) or even just trying to live your school life (Bully).
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The thing I like about this idea is the metagame possibilities from average RPGs. I'm imagining Diablo where you are the town's folk and merchants. Kind of like the cooking mama of the adventuring world. Make a sword for the warrior and then hear about how well the warrior did in battle from a bard, make a shield and watch a hero brought back on it. Create potions and spells for great sorceresses and other strong characters, then listen as the story unfolds.

However because players are naturally bold a game play element has to involve something to keep the player from seeking adventure. The character would have to have a physical limitation or mental block that actually keeps them from wondering past the city guards and exploring. The focus has to be on internal struggle more then external I would imagine.
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
At the base, you're not gonna attract a lot of players, unless you have some clear alternative. Also, I think you underestimate people if you think that "ordinary people" are genuinely just ordinary. What does it actually mean to be ordinary? It's being variably a copy of everyone else, isn't it? Because the more ordinary you are, the more similar you are to others.

Then you have the idea that whatever is ordinary to me, isn't necessarily ordinary to you. You can feel like a hero doing things that for me seems bland and boring. So ultimately, it's not about the value of me or you, but rather the commonalities between the greatest number of consumers. What has proven time and again to be that which sells the most copies. And that happens to be the heroic approach, I'm afraid. In whatever form, it's the method that lift the player up to a greater level. Even in Wii Sports, this is the case (because it's sports, and sports work in the same manner).

But there are no rules saying that you [i]have[/i] to sells the most number of copies for your game (or rather that you have to do things that assumes the most number of copies, since you cannot know that perfectly a priori). Go ahead and sell half of those numbers and your games is still gonna be among the bestselling games. I consider it more of a balance, rather than trying to make the game that you think will sell the most. Instead, if you insist on catering to others, think of what will bring the biggest experience overall (in your opinion, obviously, but listening to feedback is also crucial).

In the regards of experience, why would anyone waste $60 on something they can do for free? I think that's your biggest challenge. Edited by DrMadolite
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I suspect the new Fable: the journey is something along the lines that you are no longer the hero but an ordinary guy?
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So, just to make sure, not only are you not a hero, but you are litterally as weak as every single other low-level character in the world?

This sounds like the game Kenshi, although in Kenshi there's no magic. Although Kenshi is still in early development (and has a demo), it sounds like it embodies this idea.

When you're as strong as everyone else, you have to be cafeful, as every fight is a boss battle, and you are likely to lose.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sorry, I'm not trying to be offensive, but I just don't understand why this was even posted.

I guess the OP thought of (typical game scenario) and then decided to...get ready for this...DO THE OPPOSITE to create something 100% unique and marketable!!

Seriously, though, I think this belongs in the Completely Raw Game Ideas With Very Little Thought Put Into Them forum. It's just a basic idea that I'm sure has been thought of a thousand times over when people were wracking their brains to find (typical game scenario) so they could...get ready...DO THE OPPOSITE!! or...CHANGE ONE TO TWO THINGS!!
-3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I like the idea of being just another soldier but being led by a commander that knows how to put you in the right place at the right time. Like the old Band of Brothers series, following someone that knows how to do their job, then exploring the contrast of having to follow someone who then challenges you to simply survive. Exploring heroics from its core (being the last one standing). aattss has a good point about every battle being a boss battle.

Something a game like this could explore is the slow down and bullet time mechanics that all games seem to have now but instead of it just enabling a player to make heroic combat choices it could do something games haven't explored (in my experience). Building inner monologue on top of these bullet time moments. When a player makes a pass in FIFA the commentator calls out that pass and even occasionally judges the pass as a mistake or a skillful move. Like FIFA a player should be able to use a bullet time moment to make a choice and during that moment the characters inner monologue could reflect on the inner conflict or inner victory the character is experiencing as the moment then plays out. That way this regular everyday character reflects the real challenges a person faces everyday (sword or no sword).
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='GHMP' timestamp='1337729792' post='4942377']
Sorry, I'm not trying to be offensive, but I just don't understand why this was even posted.

I guess the OP thought of (typical game scenario) and then decided to...get ready for this...DO THE OPPOSITE to create something 100% unique and marketable!!

Seriously, though, I think this belongs in the Completely Raw Game Ideas With Very Little Thought Put Into Them forum. It's just a basic idea that I'm sure has been thought of a thousand times over when people were wracking their brains to find (typical game scenario) so they could...get ready...DO THE OPPOSITE!! or...CHANGE ONE TO TWO THINGS!!
[/quote]

I agree.

"Unextraordinary" bystanders are expandable, skillless, uninteresting. If one of this isn't true, than you're someone special. But if all of these are true, then...why would anyone want to play this character in a video game?

Someone brought up the game "Recettear" in which you play as a shopkeeper. But in that game, you are THE shopkeeper that everyone loves and pledge their loyalty to. You are only the one who leads adventurers to conquer dungeons that no one else could. Hardly "unextraordinary".

Furthermore, if you are one of the last few standing after experiencing grueling challenges, then you ARE special. Simply because you 1. Are one of the few who survived, 2. overcome extraordinary challenges. To be plain and "unspecial" would mean randomly, meaninglessly dying off somewhere, somewhen.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1337863794' post='4942879']
[quote name='GHMP' timestamp='1337729792' post='4942377']
Sorry, I'm not trying to be offensive, but I just don't understand why this was even posted.

I guess the OP thought of (typical game scenario) and then decided to...get ready for this...DO THE OPPOSITE to create something 100% unique and marketable!!

Seriously, though, I think this belongs in the Completely Raw Game Ideas With Very Little Thought Put Into Them forum. It's just a basic idea that I'm sure has been thought of a thousand times over when people were wracking their brains to find (typical game scenario) so they could...get ready...DO THE OPPOSITE!! or...CHANGE ONE TO TWO THINGS!!
[/quote]

I agree.

"Unextraordinary" bystanders are expandable, skillless, uninteresting. If one of this isn't true, than you're someone special. But if all of these are true, then...why would anyone want to play this character in a video game?

Someone brought up the game "Recettear" in which you play as a shopkeeper. But in that game, you are THE shopkeeper that everyone loves and pledge their loyalty to. You are only the one who leads adventurers to conquer dungeons that no one else could. Hardly "unextraordinary".

Furthermore, if you are one of the last few standing after experiencing grueling challenges, then you ARE special. Simply because you 1. Are one of the few who survived, 2. overcome extraordinary challenges. To be plain and "unspecial" would mean randomly, meaninglessly dying off somewhere, somewhen.
[/quote]

The point is supposed to be that you have to become extrordinary the same way everyone else did. You don't level up faster than those around you, but when you start off, everyone else is stronger than you. Compare a martial artist in real life to a martial artist in a video game. In real life, a martial artist began as a white belt, but after several years, finally became a 1st dan blackbelt. He then continued working hard in hopes of getting to the next dan. However, in videogames, the martial artist is the chosen one or something, or even if he isn't, has 20 times as much hp and attack damage than everyone else because he's the main character or "the good guy".
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'd love to see a Diablo-esque game where you didn't start as a fully-powered barbarian with a great sword and a big helmet. Rather, you start as Joe Average with a broom and a bucket (as weapon and armor resp.) at about level -30 equivalent and have to fight your way through neighborhood bullies and so on - in multiplayer - until you're powerful enough to face basic demon spawn. At that point you start playing Diablo instead.

The main attraction of such a game would be the hilarity and playing with friends - for example, PvP practice using said brooms - and acquiring new weapons, at the baseball store or the hardware store. The weirder a weapon is the better.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This sounds to me like a chance to explore existential game design with a focus on understanding the facticity of a character.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0