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CaseyHardman

Will straying far from typical systems put players off?

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Hey everyone,

I've been doing some designing for my dream RPG. Through many iterations, I've started to replace typical systems with new ones that I think work better for the game, or cut out unnecessary frustrations for players.

For example, I've replaced typical stats (strength, agility, intelligence) with a different system of special passive 'abilities' which give you chances to do certain things.

As well as this, I'm planning on making skills learned through finding enemies which use them and using an item to learn the skill, and having all 'skill schools' like fire magic, ice magic, voodoo, rain dancing, etc. available to the player at all times. This system will be used instead of having a class system where each class has 2-4 schools of magic available to them.

So my question is, will a game which doesn't use a majority of the typical RPG systems scare away players? Or might it only be appealing to hardcore players?
Maybe it just depends on how the learning in the game is paced and how well-explained it is?

Your thoughts would be appreciated,

Thanks!

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The success of implementing radical systems can often come down to how well the interface is designed. The more intuitive you can make it the better. That said your other recourse can actually be to develop a series of ingame tutorials i.e. training levels in order to equip players with an understanding of the system you have designed. With regards the physical interface i.e. mouse keyboard etc., you might want to conform in some respects to existing systems i.e. remappable inputs, standardised keys eg Esc key to bring up or cancel etc. However in personal experience I have sometimes come across games that I have found so enjoyable to play that I don't mind the frustrating period of time learning to adapt to the new systems. Of course that didn't stop me bitching about the stupidity of the interface design.

Innovation should not be discounted but if you can deliver a new system in such a way as to not throw a player into a state of confusion then by all means shoot for it and if you can't then invest more of your assets into ensuring that can learn. New systems imo would not cause new players to hesitate unless you handle it so poorly that reviews of your game destroy your market.

Hope this helps :)

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[quote name='Stormynature' timestamp='1343797115' post='4965087']
The success of implementing radical systems can often come down to how well the interface is designed. The more intuitive you can make it the better. That said your other recourse can actually be to develop a series of ingame tutorials i.e. training levels in order to equip players with an understanding of the system you have designed. With regards the physical interface i.e. mouse keyboard etc., you might want to conform in some respects to existing systems i.e. remappable inputs, standardised keys eg Esc key to bring up or cancel etc. However in personal experience I have sometimes come across games that I have found so enjoyable to play that I don't mind the frustrating period of time learning to adapt to the new systems. Of course that didn't stop me bitching about the stupidity of the interface design.

Innovation should not be discounted but if you can deliver a new system in such a way as to not throw a player into a state of confusion then by all means shoot for it and if you can't then invest more of your assets into ensuring that can learn. New systems imo would not cause new players to hesitate unless you handle it so poorly that reviews of your game destroy your market.

[/quote]
Thanks for the response, Stormynature!
Basically what you're saying is that if you explain the systems well enough to players and the GUI isn't clunky, then it should work out?

[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1343799961' post='4965101']
This for example is guild wars, you need to find skills by defeating enemies using this skills. After that you get a token which you can wield to use this skil.
[/quote]

Yeah, pretty much, though I was planning on having every enemy instance obtain a couple random skills of a specific type ('offensive magic', 'melee attack', etc.) Also, this would be the only way to gain new skills, whereas Guild Wars had skill trainers that could teach you skills you'd unlocked.

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[quote name='Sir Mac Jefferson' timestamp='1343814575' post='4965159']
Basically what you're saying is that if you explain the systems well enough to players and the GUI isn't clunky, then it should work out?
[/quote]

That is my opinion yes...unless of course your game just sucks...It is hard to salvage a bad game....I truly hope this is not so though :)

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[quote name='Sir Mac Jefferson' timestamp='1343814575' post='4965159']
Thanks for the response, Stormynature!
Basically what you're saying is that if you explain the systems well enough to players and the GUI isn't clunky, then it should work out?
[/quote]
This is a false conclusion. The interface to a game helps to access a game, but never makes a game a good game. It is true, that a bad interface will turn away players who want to play your game, but a good interface will not attract players to play your game (they need to be interested in your game first). Interface is more about accessibility, less about game design.

A good example is dwarf fortress. Nothing is explained and the [s]GUI[/s] UI is , well, clunky ... still the game is very popular, tough the UI turns away many player from playing an actually very interesting game.

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[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1343824424' post='4965185']
The interface to a game helps to access a game, but never makes a game a good game. It is true, that a bad interface will turn away players who want to play your game, but a good interface will not attract players to play your game (they need to be interested in your game first).
[/quote]

I hadn't interpreted him as saying would this make a good game persay. I had interpreted him more along the lines of not disenfranchising people through exposure to new systems within a game.

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Yes, I was going more along the lines of not disenfranchising people and/or making them feel overwhelmed and discouraged because they think "there's so much to learn just to play a game!" Sorry if I wasn't very clear about that.

Thanks for the replies and help, both of you!

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Gamers are often a lot smarter than developers give them credit for. The two things you mentioned aren't that unusual and have been used to an extent in other RPGs.

As most of us on here are hobbyists or independents, I would always err on the side of new mechanics and unique gameplay. If you were to follow every typical RPG game convention, you would end up with a game that people would compare to multi-million dollar big studio games and that comparison inevitably be negative.

If your game is very unique, it would be judged on its own merits. At the top of my design document for the RPG I'm developing I have a list. "What makes my game unique?" I'm continually adding and changing this list but I feel its one of the most important aspects for an independent game.

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[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1343824424' post='4965185']
A good example is dwarf fortress. Nothing is explained and the [s]GUI[/s] UI is , well, clunky ... still the game is very popular, tough the UI turns away many player from playing an actually very interesting game.
[/quote]

Dwarf Fortress also jolly well could have been Minecraft, financially speaking, many years before Minecraft. But due to their insistence on having as anti-commercial a UI as possible, it never happened. I think there's a lesson here about deliberately turning off your potential audience.

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[quote name='bvanevery' timestamp='1344266439' post='4966690']
[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1343824424' post='4965185']
A good example is dwarf fortress. Nothing is explained and the [s]GUI[/s] UI is , well, clunky ... still the game is very popular, tough the UI turns away many player from playing an actually very interesting game.
[/quote]

Dwarf Fortress also jolly well could have been Minecraft, financially speaking, many years before Minecraft. But due to their insistence on having as anti-commercial a UI as possible, it never happened. I think there's a lesson here about deliberately turning off your potential audience.
[/quote]

Yep. I consider Dwarf Fortress pretty much the best game ever and the one with the most potential, but I don't play it because it's confusing. Then again, it is still only about 1/3rds through alpha. Also, I'm pretty sure he doesn't regret it, but whatever.

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How players would accept it will vary. Players do not mind innovative, different systems as long as they are able to understand it. Will the tutorial allow them to understand the full picture. With regards to this aspect, you may have to lengthen the tutorial or introduce the various changes slowly as the game progresses. You also have to ensure that the leraning curve is gentle as some players may not understand everything in a short period of time. Give them time to understand it and giving examples of those situations in the storyline. Sorry English bad.[img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/laugh.png[/img]

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[quote name='aattss' timestamp='1344276690' post='4966738']
Then again, it is still only about 1/3rds through alpha.
[/quote]

After 6 years of development. So either the authors are too modest about what "alpha" means, are doing low version numbers deliberately to increase the anti-commercial mystique, or they've just dawdled when they really didn't have to. It seems that the game does get some funding through donations, which indicates they could get more money if they really tried. It's a personal choice, but I know I would choose to get more money so that I could focus more time on the game and make it self-sustaining. I think Dwarf Fortress is a cautionary tale in making [i]truly severe[/i] UI and game mechanical choices. Make some different choices, do something offbeat, probably you can find an audience and people will pay you. But make truly "out there," totally uncompromising choices? Well, there are consequences, and it seems so unnecessary.

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