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theBenni

Comments on an RPG party system

8 posts in this topic

We're currently in pre-production for an RPG upcoming in 2014/15. At the moment we are discussing the finer details of a party system we've planned to implement, however the details are still very much in debate. 

 

Quick Summary: A 3D Action RPG for mobile devices which uses a party system to command 2 AI team mates during combat (the team mates are not playable at any point, but can be swapped for others throughout the game). The party you have with you also affect elements of the gameplay outside of the combat system. Currently, player's would choose from 3 broad types, each of which having an affect on an facet of the non-combat gameplay. Within combat the broad types also serve particular functions, and have skills and behaviours defining them as such.

 

Would love to hear opinions/comments on:

 

  • Should the party composition affect the stats of the Player's avatar? (E.g. Increased health for the player if he has 2 healers in his party).
  • Should the party members be characters in their own right, or are they purely tools/buffs for the lead character? (story is told from a first person writing perspective).
  • What would you be most likely to choose a party member for? Their appearance, combat abilities, out of combat abilities? Anything else?
  • Do you like to see all the effects and benefits of a particular party set-up or do you prefer a softer, less overt approach.

 

Any advice, suggestions or opinions would be great. 

 

 

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1 - No, that would diminish their importance and lessen the importance of your lead character.

(Should I assume the player-character never change throughout the game?)

 

2 - They should be full fledged characters, otherwise, I, as a player, wouldn't care for them, and as such, neither would I care about their presence.

If what you want to do is an accompanist system instead of a party, look up BrainLord.

 

3 - Story/Appearance, and some of their abilities. In a conventional 2D jRPG, I tend to choose my party members along these guidelines (Frog in Chrono Trigger, and Cyan in FF6 for example, are definitely not the best of characters, but they are the closest rendition to swordsmen with a story to tell you can find, and as such, are interesting to bring along).

 

4 - I like stats, it allows me to min/max my part composition when needed.

 

Are you hellbent on the not-switching-the-character part?

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Are you hellbent on the not-switching-the-character part?

 

It's a license I'm afraid, the lead character is already established and the story is told from his perspective. So... I don't think there's too much chance at the moment of changing that. 

 

I was thinking that if someone was more interested in a party member's personality and character, then they might be less interested in stats. So, the models I was exploring were along the lines of:

 

More Stats = Impersonal party members or Fewer stats = Party members as characters

 

My thinking is that if there's lots of stats to assess, you'll be spending time doing that rather than getting to know the party members.

 

Thanks for your input btw. 

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I guess you could sum your interrogation with this:

 

Do you want your supporting cast to enhance gameplay or help tell the story?

(Are they already part of the story?).

This will determine if they support the lore, or the gameplay mechanics.

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Thanks for the in-depth response powerneg, appreciate it. The game will have a relatively high visual fidelity, we're using unreal 3 for mobile and we've released a game with it before so characters should be fully actualised. 

 

The issue I'm having is devising a system in which the Player's choice of party members affects their performance in combat. It's important for the characteristics of the party members to affect the player in some way. I guess I'm just interested in ideas for party members influencing their leader in some way. 

I'm a fan of the "less is more approach", so it has to be just the right mechanic for us to add it to the prototype list. 

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The issue I'm having is devising a system in which the Player's choice of party members affects their performance in combat. It's important for the characteristics of the party members to affect the player in some way. I guess I'm just interested in ideas for party members influencing their leader in some way. 

I'm a fan of the "less is more approach", so it has to be just the right mechanic for us to add it to the prototype list. 

 

I think party members should influence combat mainly in what they do. If you bring a healer and he heals you he has an influence. If you bring a melee fighter he can deal damage, tank damage, tie up opponents and potentially interrupt ranged/support opponents. This is plenty of influence. I don't need +phys dmg or something on my main guy on top of it.

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The issue I'm having is devising a system in which the Player's choice of party members affects their performance in combat. It's important for the characteristics of the party members to affect the player in some way. I guess I'm just interested in ideas for party members influencing their leader in some way. 

I'm a fan of the "less is more approach", so it has to be just the right mechanic for us to add it to the prototype list. 

 

I think party members should influence combat mainly in what they do. If you bring a healer and he heals you he has an influence. If you bring a melee fighter he can deal damage, tank damage, tie up opponents and potentially interrupt ranged/support opponents. This is plenty of influence. I don't need +phys dmg or something on my main guy on top of it.

 

 

Awesome. My thoughts exactly, it's nice to hear it from someone else. Cheers for the help. 

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  • What would you be most likely to choose a party member for? Their appearance, combat abilities, out of combat abilities? Anything else?

 

I think you're coming at this a bit backwards. Character appearance, combat abilities, background, dialogue, manners, everything sums up to who the character is. And who the character is needs to be designed as a whole before you start breaking it into smaller pieces like appearance. Who one player or another will like in the end and why is too broad a question to be answered on a general level in my opinion.

 

But of course you can drive character choices with different things.This all reminds me of my thoughts while playing FF games and perhaps it helps to visualize these aspects with FFVII.

 

If the story is immersive and the player will build emotions to the characters (both positive and negative) that will of course effect who they want to bring with them. Red XIII totally saved the game in Midgar near the end of disc 1. Who wouldn't love the adorably puppy especially after following him through the events in Cosmo Canyon about his father? Vincent has a big attitude but hey, that's just spot on for his character! On the other hand who would want to play with Yuffie after what happened in Wutai? Or Cait Sith after Gold Saucer episode? Loving these characters could still happen if the player chooses to forgive and what a strong bond could that build.

 

If you have super hard encounters that will require the certain lineup people will mostly pick whatever they need. If these characters are unsympathetic the player will resent you for making him play with them. If there's an über guy that kills everything then he will be probably used mainly to pass some difficult thresholds and to boost some sympathetic but combat-wise poor characters the player actually wants to play with. These are just some of the technical truths that are often present in RPG games.

 

I actually spent 15-20 hours in Gelnika farming luck and str sources for Cait Sith. Why? Because I loved his theme music and because of that I wanted him to be even somehow potent in battles. Take that for an answer of how people orient towards game characters. :)

 

But I think how you need to go about your characters is you first limit the palette to so there is very little choice but then start introducing different characters and little by little give the player more choice as to who to pick. Force him to try out everything so he doesn't just use the first setup that succeeds. Then he is practically free to prefer anyone he wants to.

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