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Got_Rhythm

No Items, Money or Store in RPG?

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Good evening, 

 

I am putting the finishing touches on the prototype of my game, I pretty much have all of the basic features set for this first development cycle. 

 

Short Description-

 

A monster collection RPG that is almost mechanically identical to the original few Pokemon games. 

 

 

 

The only feature I have decidedly left out is an item system (including money, loot, potions and stores). Capturing new monsters will be luck and skill based, not item based. Mostly because I don't believe items would really add anything to the game- I can't really find a compelling reason to include them. Also most RPG games in my experience lose the money balance very quickly- like a quarter to halfway through the game the player accumulates so much money that they can buy pretty much anything. 

 

Can you let me know if I am missing something? Thank you.

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Mostly because I don't believe items would really add anything to the game- I can't really find a compelling reason to include them. Also most RPG games in my experience lose the money balance very quickly- like a quarter to halfway through the game the player accumulates so much money that they can buy pretty much anything.

Items always have a very important role in RPGs.

1. Items as reward: it is just satisfying to find new and better items after a challenge as reward.

2. Items as progress-key: Items are often used as obfuscated keys to progress to new areas (craft X and use it on Y to receive new monster Z).

3. The collector in us: Many people like to collect items, it is a very strong motivation in RPGs for some people.

4. Items as character progression: Same RPGs just use items to represent the progression of the player character (aka gear based).

5. The businessman in us: Some people like to trade/buy/sell items to gain more money.

 

Money is just a convenient way to compress large amount of items which are no longer useful for the player, but useful to users (trader).

 

I'm not sure if your reasons against items are honest. Well, I tended to exclude some aspect in my game, because I wanted to avoid the effort to code and maintain it. In this case I often thought, that it was actual not really neccessary to include this feature, and I looked for some reasons to support this assumption. Eventually it didn't work like this. If you want to leave something out, you should think about why it is really uncessary. The same for adding new things, is it really necessary to include X to support your core game mechanism.

But in your case you take an existing, successful game design and removes some parts, which could break down the whole design.

Edited by Ashaman73

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Hi Ashaman73.

 

All of your reasons are completely valid and true. Thank you for responding.

 

I guess my real point is that with the Pokemon games specifically, the seeking, capturing and evolving of Pokemon seemed to fulfill all of your points (reward, story-progression, game-progression, collection, character-progression, trading) so well in fact that money and items and stores took such a back-seat that they might as well have not been there at all. 

 

Would the Pokemon games have been much different, much worse or much better with no items or money at all? And instead of Pokeballs there was just a player-skill used?

 

(I should have clarified that I had a second separate point that most RPGs don't seem in my opinion to balance money well, but that isn't important). 

Edited by Got_Rhythm

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I guess my real point is that with the Pokemon games specifically, the seeking, capturing and evolving of Pokemon seemed to fulfill all of your points (reward, story-progression, game-progression, collection, character-progression, trading) so well in fact that money and items and stores took such a back-seat that they might as well have not been there at all.

I'm always a big fan of removing as much as possible, so, it seems that you are convinced that items/money are just not necessary to support the core gameplay smile.png Then get rid of it and try to get out most of the Pokemon aspect. Eventually you should think about the RPG aspect, do you really need character progression or whatever you think is an RPG element ? Take a look at Zanzarah, a pokemon like game, without any RPG elements.

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In the context of a pokemon game, there are only a few items that I think the game would really suffer without; none of these items would necessarily be sold in a store, so I'm not concerned about that part.

Items:

 

HMs - I actually wish the pokemon games would have made a lot more use of the ability to customize a pokemon's moves, temperament, gender, color, and stats with items.  Hardcore pokemon players have to do kind of disgusting things to get a 'perfect' aka fully customized pokemon.

 

Key Items - The pokedex, bicycle, flute, and such are very important to the plot.  It seems very limiting to not be able to give your player progression requirements like "go talk to NPC A and get the KEY to open the gate and be able to progress to the next level".

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Also most RPG games in my experience lose the money balance very quickly


If that is your qualm with money, why not make your game so that you do not get unlimited money. An example game for this would be Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, in which you never accumulate all that much money.

Mostly because I don't believe items would really add anything to the game- I can't really find a compelling reason to include them


For many RPG players, inventory management is a key aspect of the game. Taking this away will remove an element which many players enjoy a great deal.

Items and money are important in the game for many reasons. I think the main reason being that it gives you a break from killing monsters. Without any items, money or inventory, an RPG would be a rather repetitive attacking and killing type affair. Having items in inventory leaves the player with interesting decisions. Do I want that dragon armour, or should I stick with this mithril? Should I risk attacking that dragon for its armour? Should I wield a bow, or a sword? What items do I have to get me out of this situation? etc...

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I think I'll be making an RPG without "items" too. But like your pokemon inspired monsters, it still has collection of things to grow your abilities in interesting ways. I think it helps to take a look at what role items would play, like Ashaman described. If you find that one or two elements of items might be missing, consider adding those elements to your monster collection, unless you want to explicitly leave it out.

 

Transistor is an action rpg where you collect abilities that can be combined together in interesting ways. It technically has no items, but the ability system is complex enough that additional items aren't really necessary. The interesting set of abilities allow you to grow in ways that kind of take on the role of items, even though there's no trade system.

 

*Edit: How about taking a look at the role money and stores play? Stores are a way for players to have some control over which items or abilities they get, but there are plenty of interesting ways this can be done without the need for a store. Currency isn't required for trade, but helps smooth out it's rough edges (which you may or may not want to do). Some games use experience points like a currency, allowing you to buy points in different abilities. With options like this, I totally don't think money or stores are necessary. Items/stores/money can definitely allow for a fun trading aspect to the game, but depending on the game's focus and theme, it might be better to cut this stuff out.

Edited by DifferentName

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Thank you guys, I will try to make the prototype available soon so you can try it and maybe give me feedback on if you feel items and inventory are needed for my project or maybe in some of the less traditional capacities that you mentioned.

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it is just satisfying to find new and better items after a challenge as reward.

 

Arguably, in this case, the monster-collecting does cover this.

 


Items are often used as obfuscated keys to progress to new areas

 

This, too, is covered by collectible monsters.

 


The collector in us: Many people like to collect items, it is a very strong motivation in RPGs for some people

 

Once again, here, with collectible monsters, items are unnecessary.

 

 

In essence, I feel like thinking about what to remove is an odd process, as your game design should contain what you need and that all parts should arise from need (not stripping down the RPG experience one feature at a time).

 

However, in this case, with a collectible element already present, items could play a redundant role unless you have a specific need for consumables.

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your game design should contain what you need and that all parts should arise from need
100% this. You start with nothing, and add meaningful features to your game that enhance and support your vision. Never add any meaningless feature to your games.

 


Can you let me know if I am missing something? Thank you.
For a comprehensive list of video game features and their use, I refer you to the Video Game Tropes page on TV Tropes, and more specifically to your question the Video Game Items and Inventory category.

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For this particular project the design process wasn't normal (everything arising out of need as you say).

I was simply daydreaming one day that I'd like to play Pokemon, but I feel like I'm too old to be playing it and wish someone could make a new monster collection game aimed at a slightly older audience (not so cutesy).

I then started imagining what other features I'd add and take away from the original Pokemon games, and that's what became my design document.

Not best practice I know, but I'm having fun and it is going well.

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That would be very useful thank you! If you would be willing to share your impressions (systems you personally liked and disliked, or thought worked well) that would be very valuable too please. 

Edited by Got_Rhythm

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As far as combat goes, my favorite system for a pet game is tactical turn-based combat, particularly that in the Disgaea series.  This isn't primarily a pet game and has no breeding system, but you can create original units and certain monsters that you have defeated in combat become unlocked as unit options.  So you can theoretically have an army of all dragons and similar monsters.  (This all applies to Disgaea 1, I have #2 on my to-play stack but haven't gotten around to it yet.)  If I remember correctly, (and I'm not sure I do...) monsters can't be modified other than by leveling them up and equipping them.  Equipment can be improved by adding defeated bosses or other gear to it to increase its stats.  So, not a particularly interesting item system, and no skills system aside from one pre-determined sequence of skills per monster type.

 

Other variants on a turn-based tactical combat system with pets or summons as units: Eternal Eyes (PS1), Monsterseed (PS1), Dofus (MMO) (if playing class Osamodas)

 

My second favorite combat system for a pet game is where you as the monster go around killing other monsters and eating them.  This is arcade/action combat.  Tokyo Jungle (PS3) and E.V.O. The Search For Eden (PS1) are the two best examples, though they are quite simple systems with almost no variation in combat from one monster type to another.  For a more complex system you'd have to look at a non-pet fantasy action RPG such as Vindictis (MMO), Tera (MMO), or... I'm sure there are good single-player games of this type but I guess I haven't played any.  Skylanders, maybe??

 

As far as visual systems for monster looks go, I strongly favor the kind where the monster is built out of various pieces, then colors and patterns are applied to the shape.  For example, a monster might have body shape A, head shape B, foot type C, tail type D, horn type E, and wing type F, plus base color purple, pattern1 stripes, accent color1 green, pattern2 socks, and accent color2 yellow.  Spore is the best example of combining body shapes in a 3D system, though it's over-complex for what a pet game really needs.  Spore's ancestor-games Creatures (old PC game series) and E.V.O The Search For Eden (PS1) also both feature 2D body part systems.  Other games with monster body part systems include Critter Forge, Monster Breeding, and Celebrity Pedigree.  (All free online.)   2D color and pattern systems (with genetics and breeding) are quite common among virtual pet sites, e.g. Flight Rising, Tygras, BeastKeeper, and OviPets.  (Again, all free online games, as pretty much all virtual pet sites are.)  Sadly, not one virtual pet site has a good combat system (IMO), with the exception of ones which use racing/jumping/agility courses instead of combat.  Good examples of racing/jumping/agility gameplay (among a ridiculous number of crappy examples...): Petz Horse Club (PC) and Riding Club Championships (Free Online).  The chocobo racing minigame in Final Fantasy 7 is also nice, though the difficulty isn't very balanced.

 

Other pet-related games:

 

Breeder Tycoon:

Fish Tycoon (PC)

Plant Tycoon (PC)

 

Eater phone game:

Pocket Frogs

Zen Koi

 

MMO with humanoid avatar plus multiple automated followers and merge system:

Eudemons (MMO)

MixMaster (MMO)

Azure Dreams (PS1)

 

MMO with humanoid avatar dps/healer plus one pet tank:

WoW

Perfect World

 

Single player pet capturing:

Miscrits (free online)

 

Single player pet merge system:

Monster Rancher series (PS1 and 2)

 

I'm leaving out the pet grooming/feeding sim and fishtank sim types, as they don't seem to be relevant to what you want to make.

Edited by sunandshadow

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