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Plethora

Quick Question... equipment slots in an RPG

5 posts in this topic

I'm just brainstorming a little bit regarding equipment slots in the game I'm currently making.  I have a character development system which allows for a great deal of choice in developing a character.  In my original design I had a system in which, aside from 3 slots which were available for all characters (namely a weapon, a chestplate, and boots), other equipment slots would be opened by spending points in particular skills.  I intended to have a large number of potential equipment slots, but any given character would only be able to access some small subset of them.

 

However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that other games that have had such systems tended to annoy me.  I'm just curious if others would be put off by that sort of thing.  I know to some extent the answer is all about execution of the idea rather than the idea itself, but still, I'd love to get some outside opinions rather than just turning it around in my head for the 80th time.

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It could be interesting. Take it even a step further and have all slots be unlocked. The player would basically build the character's abilities by purchasing them.

You could unlock armor slots individually and upgrade them to bigger and better things. For example, you could unlock the hand slot, but they could only wear light armor on their hands which would be something like leather gloves. Then you could upgrade it to a medium type, which could be something like chain gloves. Then upgrade it to heavy so they could wear full plated gauntlets.

You could also do about the same thing with character skills like magic and what not.

A strong magic user would be good at magic not because 'the developer says so' but because they spent their valuable xp on increasing their magic abilities at the cost of not increasing their weapon usage abilities or armor wearing abilities. The strengths and weaknesses that are normally built in would come naturally from how the player has decided to evolve their character over the course of the game.

Alternatively, if you go the route of armor and weapons infer attribute bonuses and what not like in WoW for example, you could have all slots open, but they are for only clothing and very basic weapon types, like a staff/walking stick.

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Another way of thinking about gear is to create sets of gear aimed at specific environments. Instead of replacing/equipping one item at a time, you would choose a "set" or "costume". Then there would be some editor where you could create and name these costumes. Of course, players would mostly want to wear the most optimal equipment at all times, so this might not be a good idea for your particular game.

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I think you can make it work. Like you said, its all in the execution. The first (good) step you've made is realize you can't start the game with all of these slots opened. This would be overwhelming.

On the other hand, I kinda like how games such as La Mulana have managed their inventory, somehow forcing you to make choices (very similar to Zelda a Link to the Past).

Also, do you plan your equipement pieces to be passive or play an active role in the game (additionnal input, etc).

You need to gauge that level of complexity, and gauge it in a way where the player actually has to make choices (not just unlock a new slot and equip whatever "objectively best" item they can).

 

My suggestion would be to play it like a "robot" type of game, where you need to return to a specific area (manufacture) to change your equipment. Since you can't change pieces on the fly, your choices actually matter. You could easily theme this idea differently, but I think the result is there. That way, some players will choose to play it risky and use very specialized items that suit their need, whereas other players will settle for more general-purpose items to insure they don't come across unexpected obstacles they cannot overcome.

 

What type of game would you implement this in?

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I'm making an SRPG type game.  Think of something like Final Fantasy Tactics (though in actual truth I'm aiming for something closer to a series called Shining Force from back in the day).  The real "hook" to my game, as in the thing I am putting the vast majority of thought and effort into, is character development.  The basic idea of it goes like this.

 

I have around 8 skill categories that I am calling "quadrants".  These are things such as Thievery, Nature Magic, Weapon Mastery, Necromancy, etc.  I haven't finalized the list, but you get the idea.  Each Quadrant is a 3x3 grid of more specific skills in which the player will distribute points as they level up.  Thievery might have pickpocketing, backstabbing, detect/disarm traps, stealth, and so on.  From there each individual character will have a skill grid made up of 4 Quadrants (hence the name).  

 

Thus, for the purposes of this discussion, it fits rather well that spending points in various places would open up slots useful to those pursuing certain disciplines.  Ideally, I would also like to include items that enhance given skills, such that they would be useful to some characters but not others.  The Boots of Stealth, for example, could be quite valuable to a thief, but useless to a warrior.

 

I also intend to have a "weak" class system, meaning a characters class is determined by where they put skill points, rather than the other way around.  For example, to be a Paladin, you may need to have 2 points in sword, 2 points in shield, and 1 point in healing.  You would then have the option to be a Paladin (if you so chose, obviously, a Character would likely be eligible for several classes if all goes according to plan).  Choosing a class would grant you some bonuses (no more than 3, usually 2 if all goes as planned), and I think using this mechanic to open equipment slots might also work pretty well.

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maybe think about *why* you usually got annoyed at games-with-unlockable-item-slots, maybe because you couldnt play/explore all the option ? this would be largely negated in a game where you have a small army :)

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