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Retro turn-based RPG, good indie idea?

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Recently, while reading through a tabletop RPG ruleset I devised, a friend of mine suggested making a 2D single-player/cooperative turn-based RPG out of it with 32-bit graphics. (Early Fallout titles and ToEE are good single-player only examples of this genre.) I've been thinking about it for a while, and I see no reason why we couldn't do it if we had one or two more people. All we'd need is an artist for the 32-bit sprites and possibly a concept artist to help them out. Since the graphical requirements are so low, this isn't asking much. Steven knows javascript, and if the game engine we end up going with doesn't use it he can learn another programming language. (I can as well, but it's *all* he can do, so I think I'll let him do it.) I'm good with rulesets, I can write, I can worldbuild (I've done a lot of it in other 2D, 32-bit games) and although I admit it's been a couple years (actually, it's been more than half a decade) I used to make music with a digital sound studio, so I can score the game myself. (I'll use 16-bit audio. Fits the retro graphics and it's also easier to do.)

 

I haven't gotten very far into this concept yet, but the ruleset it uses is a tabletop ruleset I've been working on, and I can post that if anybody cares. What I want to know now is how big of a demographic we would have. We want to turn a profit, after all, and even though our expenses more or less amount to a couple programs, energy drinks and pizza, I want to make sure that it will pay out more than the couple hundred we'd be putting into it. Especially since unlike the "Wounded Gaia" pipe dream, this is something that I could actually do at any time without needing many extra resources or any extra training.

Edited by Jeremy Williams

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In order to sell, you need something to set your game apart from other turn based strategy games that are out there. Will it be like early Final Fantasy games? I've played fallout 2 and it does set itself apart from others with it's gameplay. With whatever you're doing, you need to add an aspect of it which sets itself apart from other "cookie cutter" turn based RPGs. Maybe something like customization of armor and weapons like Diablo where you can add skills or gems or however that works. Do you have a story written out?

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In order to sell, you need something to set your game apart from other turn based strategy games that are out there. Will it be like early Final Fantasy games? I've played fallout 2 and it does set itself apart from others with it's gameplay.

 

There actually aren't many of this type. This RPG is controlled like a turn-based strategy, similar to Fallout and Temple of Elemental Evil, NOT Final Fantasy or Pokemon. You can (and must) move your characters in combat, and the environment does matter. (For instance, the game takes cover into account, standing around naked in inclement weather will inflict cold damage, and you have to make swim when in water.) 

 

With whatever you're doing, you need to add an aspect of it which sets itself apart from other "cookie cutter" turn based RPGs. Maybe something like customization of armor and weapons like Diablo where you can add skills or gems or however that works. 

 

To some extent, I already have this through the modification/enhancement/enchantment system. Crafting is also a major part of the system, and there's an entire class devoted to it. (Artisan.) The game includes a lot of features that look exploitable, allowing players in any class to create apparently overpowered builds. (Like combination that allows Savants to gain something like 600% experience, or the one that can let a warrior hit enemies over a kilometre away, or the one that can allow casters to cast all day without emptying their spell slots.) And, of course, there are two other important features. There aren't many cooperative games in the genre, (up to 8 players here) and there aren't any that I am aware of that allow you to have quite this many characters. (Total 16 player characters, and 32 total characters in the party. Even in single-player.) Customization is also important, as the system has a large number of feats, traits and templates the player can use, in addition to having twenty classes, twenty species, two sexes (no shit) and five ages for a total of 4,000 combinations in basic options alone. Adding on the ability to make sixteen player characters right off the bat, and create a custom home village gives this a great deal of weight. You can even set up party relationships in advance, and set up relationships to your NPCs in the custom village. You can not only decide that, for instance, your warrior is married to your shaman and your ranger is their daughter, you can make it official when making your party and it'll impact in-game dialogue.

 

The last thing is the ruleset itself, which is farther on the "simulation" end of the spectrum than any game I've ever seen and contains a number of features not common in this or any genre. A character's wounds impact their body, not just their health, and limb damage causes impairment. Low health also causes penalties, and when wounded a character bleeds. (Which does, yes, equate to more health damage.) Wounds that are not healed can become infected, and your needs must be maintained. Death in this system can be an extended, bloody affair and if you can't do damage control you're pretty thoroughly screwed. (Translation: Get a healer or bleed to death.)

 

Do you have a story written out?

 

Yes, actually, I do. But it's a bit twisty and I don't want to give out any spoilers. The working title is "Nonnullus delusion." (Might just shorten that to "Delusion.") It's part of the motto of a faction within the game, which crops up a lot throughout gameplay. "Populus nunquam redono suum licentia tamen sub nonnullus delusion." It's there for a reason.

Edited by Jeremy Williams

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Well it definitely sounds like a huge project. I don't think javascript would be best for something like this, but if your buddy thinks he can do it then more power to him! All the customization sounds like it could be really fun, and having to watch each aspect of your character is definitely something out of the ordinary

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Well it definitely sounds like a huge project. I don't think javascript would be best for something like this, but if your buddy thinks he can do it then more power to him! All the customization sounds like it could be really fun, and having to watch each aspect of your character is definitely something out of the ordinary

 

He can learn another language if he needs to. As for the "huge" part of that, a lot of corners are being cut. Class will not impact your appearance, age will not impact it (unless you're really young, then it's just a matter of scale) and clothes are just pasted over your basic sprite.  Lastly, most of the effects here are fairly basic, and you will get notifications when effects are applied. (Not only this, but mousing over them shows a list of status effect symbols on their health display.) And since your characters take care of most of their own needs as long as they have the provisions, just keep them stocked and let them rest when they need it.

Edited by Jeremy Williams

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Class should be visible somehow, even if only by a sign near the character, for example a shield depicted on the left top of a character that is a knight, an axe for an axeman.

You asked how big of a demographic you would have, and it depends;

you 've not realy explained what the game is about except that it is based off a tabletop RPG ruleset, and i think that is your main demographic, namely table-top players.

I think you should check out in that community a bit to see whether people would enjoy it, whether there s competition.

If you still want to know about demographic outside table-top players, i suggest you rewrite your introduction and pretend that your listeners have never even heard about table-top games.

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What I want to know now is how big of a demographic we would have.

 

ah yes, the 64 billion dollar question.

 

that's really what it all boils down to.

 

The depth and scope described are impressive. 2d turn based means you won't have to spend all your dev time on graphics, allowing you to concentrate on the simulation behind the paint job ( I personally am of the school of thought that "PICTURES are for looking at, GAMES are for PLAYING!").

 

javascript probably won't be a problem.

 

best of all, you already have the "rules of the game", and just need to implement them in code.

 

so in those respects you seem fine.

 

 so its all about how many copies you can sell.

 

the title sounds niche to me. not mass market like angry birds or something. much more hard core. basic demogaphic: turn based 2d rpg fans, especially the hard core ones who want more of everything (like 16 PCs under your control and a max party size of 32, 20 classes, etc).

 

i'd start by checking out the competition (if any). those are the titles you'll be competing against for the user's dollars. you'll have to clearly outdo them all. at the same time, try to get a feel for the popularity of the genre based on things like web presences and download counts of similar titles, and number of hits on relevant Google searches, etc.

 

you will discover one of two things:

 

1. the market isn't big enough to make it worth your while

2. you could own the market, such as it is, if you build and keep updated a superior product. this may not make you rich, but it might be worth your while. based on the tight focus on hard core turn based 2d rpg, i don't think this will do well enough to allow you to quit your day jobs. 3d has more mass appeal. realtime has more mass appeal. non-hardcore has more mass appeal (unfortunately).

 

off the top of my head, i'd say you have perhaps as much as a 50% chance of this being something you could make some money at long term. which is much better odds than most titles people consider.

 

the next step is market research. look at everything out there. get a feel for the current state of the market for this game type. is anybody into these games anymore? whats the competition like? can you outdo them in all respects? or at least outdo them in most respects, and match them in the rest? If there's signs of interest in the game type, and the competition is not too stiff, you may have a winner!

 

i wouldn't worry about chrome like different graphics for the PCs depending on their age. there will be time for that once you've built the basic game, released it, proven it sells, and is worth the extra time on graphics. See, right there, you already have the beginnings of a feature list for version 2.0, and thus another "franchise" is born. if the game sells, by version 3 or 4 your game should be synonymous with hard core 2d turn based rpg play.

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Class should be visible somehow, even if only by a sign near the character, for example a shield depicted on the left top of a character that is a knight, an axe for an axeman.

 

Most classes are really flexible, and none are as restrictive as an "axeman." I'd need a more complex symbol than that, but I symbol I can do. For instance, the "warrior" class is largely based on the Mandalorians of Star Wars (the only thing in that festering dung heap of a franchise I feel is worth my attention) so a tusked skull could be their symbol.

 

 

You asked how big of a demographic you would have, and it depends;

you 've not realy explained what the game is about except that it is based off a tabletop RPG ruleset, and i think that is your main demographic, namely table-top players.

 

Possibly, yes. And it's worth noting that it's not just "a" tabletop RPG ruleset, it's MY tabletop RPG ruleset. Which I made personally, by myself, with no help on the system itself and only very little help on the content. I feel that's important.

 

 

 

I think you should check out in that community a bit to see whether people would enjoy it, whether there s competition.

 

Way ahead of you: http://rpgforumsonline.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=41739

 

 

 

If you still want to know about demographic outside table-top players, i suggest you rewrite your introduction and pretend that your listeners have never even heard about table-top games.

 

What about other fans of this small, vanishing genre? There are other games like this and some were quite popular. Fallout, for instance.

Edited by Jeremy Williams

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Site really isn't working any more, is it? I thought it was supposed to have a pop-up when somebody replies while you are typing.

ah yes, the 64 billion dollar question.

that's really what it all boils down to.

The depth and scope described are impressive. 2d turn based means you won't have to spend all your dev time on graphics, allowing you to concentrate on the simulation behind the paint job ( I personally am of the school of thought that "PICTURES are for looking at, GAMES are for PLAYING!").

javascript probably won't be a problem.

best of all, you already have the "rules of the game", and just need to implement them in code.


Well, I haven't gotten into audio, really. And in that matter I feel detail is important. I intend to put a LOT of effort into the soundtrack, and use the music to help tell the story. And yes, that is possible, even in games and even with 16-bit sounds. Go play Final Fantasy VI, the music in that game is 16-bit and not only sounds incredible it does a better job telling the story than the dialogue does. (Think "Peter and the Wolf" with visual aids.)

so its all about how many copies you can sell.


Exacta!

the title sounds niche to me. not mass market like angry birds or something. much more hard core. basic demogaphic: turn based 2d rpg fans, especially the hard core ones who want more of everything (like 16 PCs under your control and a max party size of 32, 20 classes, etc).


And tabletop fans, as it is based off a tabletop game. And even if it's priced at $5 and we lose half to royalties we'll only need to sell a couple hundred to cover expenses. Any more than that is profit. This game has a lot going for it in the hard core community, and the world is visually distinctive enough to catch eyes.

i'd start by checking out the competition (if any). those are the titles you'll be competing against for the user's dollars. you'll have to clearly outdo them all. at the same time, try to get a feel for the popularity of the genre based on things like web presences and download counts of similar titles, and number of hits on relevant Google searches, etc.

you will discover one of two things:

1. the market isn't big enough to make it worth your while
2. you could own the market, such as it is, if you build and keep updated a superior product. this may not make you rich, but it might be worth your while. based on the tight focus on hard core turn based 2d rpg, i don't think this will do well enough to allow you to quit your day jobs. 3d has more mass appeal. realtime has more mass appeal. non-hardcore has more mass appeal (unfortunately).

off the top of my head, i'd say you have perhaps as much as a 50% chance of this being something you could make some money at long term. which is much better odds than most titles people consider.

the next step is market research. look at everything out there. get a feel for the current state of the market for this game type. is anybody into these games anymore? whats the competition like? can you outdo them in all respects? or at least outdo them in most respects, and match them in the rest? If there's signs of interest in the game type, and the competition is not too stiff, you may have a winner!

i wouldn't worry about chrome like different graphics for the PCs depending on their age. there will be time for that once you've built the basic game, released it, proven it sells, and is worth the extra time on graphics. See, right there, you already have the beginnings of a feature list for version 2.0, and thus another "franchise" is born. if the game sells, by version 3 or 4 your game should be synonymous with hard core 2d turn based rpg play.


To be honest, we don't need to make a living off this game. We just need to make a profit. I'm not really doing this for money and I'd run it at a loss if I had the means to do so, but I can't afford it. As long as it goes for more than we put in, even by a dollar, that means it's not impairing my standard of living and that's enough for me to make another. Of course, I would like to make money (and since Steven is much more materialistic than I am, he won't stay on if we don't) so I'm planning it to make money. As a result, we needed a couple gimmicks. These include giving it a modding kit so people can make their own campaigns. (Tabletop ruleset means tabletop players. Co-op means people to play with. See the direction this is heading?) Add on small, cheap, frequent DLC. It's a win/win for me. DLC isn't free, so I get money. It also stirs a modding community like nothing else, and as a modder I do enjoy modding communities and the work they put out. Edited by Jeremy Williams

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What about other fans of this small, vanishing genre? There are other games like this and some were quite popular. Fallout, for instance.

 

i doubt those other fans would (only) buy your game "because it is a table-top game made into a computergame"

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