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What do you look for in an RPG?

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Well, I think the title says it all... what do you think makes a good RPG? Me and my friends are forming a small, indepentant company called Twilight Interactive and as our first project we are doing a small, SNES style RPG. Our tools are in the process of being completed, and outlook on the game in general is good, all except for one problem... we don't have any story AT ALL! (how's that for a switch?) This is where we need your help. We are looking for any suggestions you might have that you think would make an RPG good. What type of setting do you prefer? Any particular taste in heros or villans? Is there somthing about Final Fantasy's battles that you absolutely hate? Or do you think a Zelda style system would work better? Get the idea? Please post any oppinions, suggestions, comments, nasty rumors, or "you could have won $1,000,000" messages at: http://pub97.ezboard.com/btwilightinteractive Please note: This is NOT going to be a proffesionally released game! We plan on releasing the game and the tools FOR FREE over the net! Do not post your ideas if you expect to get paid! Thanks, and happy gaming! ----------------------------- Vash the Stampede "Love & Peace!" Edited by - Blue*Omega on February 20, 2002 3:04:38 PM

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Style. A good RPG needs style, and ofcourse a good story and characters, these are the 3 elements are the main ones I look for in a RPG.

Final Fantasy had style in abundance, things like the Circles of Power, Limit Breaks and Summons just made the game a lot more fun to watch, as well as play.

Humour is also important, the game dosn''t have to be a slapstick comedy, but the occosianly bit of comic relief dosn''t go astray. The almighty Chocobo is a good example of this, as well as the jokes in Fallout (like the wrecked remains of the whale).

Anyway, thats what I look for in an RPG:
Story, Characters, Style.

"In the name of God, impure souls of the living dead shall be banished into eternal damnation, Amen"

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I think my all time favorite RPG was Ultima 4. Mainly because of the story (and the main quest was unusal for the genre), but also because you played as if you were really part of the game world.

By the time I was playing for a month I could read the symbolic language that was inscribed all over signs and tombstones in the game. I knew the names of many of the NPC''s and knew where they were located in each town.

No automap told me this, I just knew. Why, because the story in the game brought you back to the same towns and same people over and over again.

Sure many other RPG''s have done this (along with other Ultima titles), but none have ever made such a believable world as Ultima 4.

borngamer

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Immersion. The sense that you are in the game world, and can interact with
and manipulate that world. And thus, you also have a direct hand in
advancing the story.

This is why I don''t rate many console RPGs. They break the immersion.
Maybe you go to a entirely different mode for combat that has entirely
different rules. Almost certainly you watch the story unroll despite, not
because of, your actions. There''s little interactivity with the gameworld.
They''re o.k. as a movie with annoying combat fillers. But not as RPGs.

(note to console RPG fans: my opinion only.)

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Guest Anonymous Poster
borngamer: for me, it was how the gameworld evolved from ultima to ultima.
In particular the move from Ultima 6 to 7, which for me was depressing as
hell. Especially coming across Skara Brae the first time.

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My favourite Snes RPG has to be Secret of Mana, it''s a classic.The story is a bit basic : unlikely hero save the world from total destruction.
My favourite part in almost any type of game are the bosses and SoM has a bucketload of them. Sure some of them are the same as earlier bosses but with more HP and a different colour scheme, but they''re still diverse and interesting with plenty of "Oh Shit!" moments to boot. The areas are interesting and diverse, the music''s excellent. The real time combat system is simple but effective, hell it even stars Santa Claus - it has to be good. Even still with all the previous points, the best part of SoM has to be the Co-op. 3 players sitting side by side at the same time. I remember when me and two of my friends had it on emulator. Every morning we used to go round to one of our houses and play it before we had to leave for school, it made us late a few times We came up with full strategies for the bosses and...... well that''s enough rambling for today. In short SoM is probably the best example of a good Snes RPG. You should look it up.

- DarkIce

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Personally, I think Zelda style fighting is far better than Final Fantasy. You don''t just stand there and attack and cast spells. You have to dodge, run and most importantly USE YOUR ENVIRONMENT. You can jump across things, grab and toss things, etc. Granted, I haven''t played the latest Final Fantasy games so things may have changed but from what I''ve seen you merely trade off attacks in a battle system . Kind of sucks.

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I have to give Fallout 1 and 2 a vote here.
Combat and game play went hand in hand.
Interaction was one flow. Graphics were simple
yet detailed. Nice violence. Awesome music.
No wonder it got so many awards.

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I''m also o big RPG-fan, especially a Final Fantasy fan.

I think it is really important that you''re able to do many things which aren''t important for the story. It adds a lot to the replay, the longlivety of the game. Things like beating high-scores in the Gold Saucer in FF7 or creating the best chocobos also in FF7 or getting al the game-cards in FF8 or getting many secret items like in most RPG''s are really big fun!

quote:
Immersion. The sense that you are in the game world, and can interact with and manipulate that world.


I also agree with this one.

They can because they think they can

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A RPG needs a really good, fascinating plot.
The plot keeps players gaming on. And it needs quests.
Many quests (Side-Quests).

Also the characters are important.
Every character has to have a own plot (his history).
The player has to identify him with the protagonist (main character).

Read the articles about Story Telling.
Story is everything.


schiggl

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Gameplay would have to be the most important, as with any game. It has to be fun and have something to hold my attention. A good combat/magic/class system is part of this. Good graphics are nice, but not vital. Story is not that important most of the time. It just adds a little to the game if it''s done correctly.

Breakaway Games

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I have to strongly disagree.

Story is not everything. If I wanted to be dictated to, I''d rent a movie. If you insist on telling a story, make sure it can branch or at least appear to be interactive. Tactics Ogre (SNES/PS1) did a great job in this, using the story primarily as background glue between battle sequences (the main point of the game) and when it came time for your character to make life decisions, it seriously altered the course of the game.

The one "RPG" I constantly go back to is Angband. It has no story whatsoever - it''s a mindless dungeon crawl with so much diversity I can feel like I''m accomplishing something with every character I make. While your Final Fantasies and Breaths of Fire might be great the first time or two through, it becomes "oh, this again" really quick, and replayability goes through the floor. (but, honestly, with the seriously short attention spans of modern gamers, this apparently isn''t a problem)

My reasoning behind this, by the way, is the reason why RPG type games are appealing to me - escapism. When you present me with pseudo control and a preordained story, how am I truly supposed to lose myself in a character? On the other hand, give me no story and freedom to be whatever I want, and I''m lost (in a good way). (it''s also interesting to note that I play Angband with only character graphics - I get so much more fufillment from seeing my ''@'' attack a ''d'' and having a couple ''$'' and a '']'' as my reward than seeing someone else''s interpretation of what my klackon chaos warrior should look like.)

I strongly encourage any aspiring CRPG designer to at least try Angband, Nethack, or one of their many variants.

-scott

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
borngamer: for me, it was how the gameworld evolved from ultima to ultima. In particular the move from Ultima 6 to 7, which for me was depressing as hell. Especially coming across Skara Brae the first time.


Sorry to drift off topic, but I''d like to ask this Anonymous Poster what they meant by this. Are you just referring to how the story changed Skara Brae with the whole undead thing?

Back on topic... functional graphics and interface, mood-setting music, an immersive and expansive game world, and a decent plotline.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost ]

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It''s already been said, but style. What I mean by that is this:
The RPG really needs to stand out. Panzer Dragoon Saga is one of the best (and I would say the best) console RPG ever made. Why? One of the biggest reasons was its environment. FAR beyond anything Squaresoft could ever do. Its music and environments were endearing and surreal. If you''ve played the game, there is no way you''d ever mistake Uru for any other game. If you haven''t played it, look it up.

To put it simply, try to make your game something no one would have the guts to rip. How many games have taken the Grandia or Tales of Destiny battle system? Very few. Why? I like to think it''s because there''s no way to use the ideas without being almost plagiarism.

Style is why so many RPG series have been grinding to a halt lately. Everyone is trying to be exactly like everyone else, and its getting harder and harder to tell one RPG from another. I don''t necessarily mean graphics either. C''mon, people! How many times can you rip FF''s ATB battle system? It was neat back in the mid 90s, but 7,000 clones later its getting kind of old. That''s what I love so much about Tales and Grandia. Both of them tried something new gameplay wise, and succeeded wonderfully.

To sum everything up, just try to do something people haven''t done before. What are some suggestions? Put some action elements into your game. Let''s face it, RPGs are horribly boring to actually play as compared to a driving or fighting game. When was the last time you saw someone actually move with their character as they fought some mindless slime monster? It happens a lot more with Mario type games, that''s for sure. Secret of Mana and Zelda are great examples, but why not take it a step further? Who knows what potential can be awakened in a properly designed RPG that uses a battle system similar to R-Type?

Anyway, you get my point by now. Try something new. Develop a distinct style, and you''ll have something truly special up your sleeves.

-Arek the Absolute, who will now shut the heck up.

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While I agree with Arek in that an RPG shouldn''t be just a mindless clone of another RPG, it isn''t quite what I meant by style.

There is nothing wrong with reusing a system (as long as it is good, like the FF series battle system) what I meant by style, is the sheer coolness of something that makes you go "wow".

Style is things like the scale of Summons like Knights of the Round in FFVII and Eden in FFVIII where just fun to watch. Style is when Seifer cuts Odin in half with one move. Style makes it fun to play, it helps in immersing the player in a world that is cool.

(please note that my constant references to Final Fantasy are not a hint to rip it off, but just exmaples that I assume a lot of people will recognize)

"In the name of God, impure souls of the living dead shall be banished into eternal damnation, Amen"

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Other than the obvious story line I feel one of the things that would make it interesting to me is being able to manipulate game objects or items that may or may not have an ingame purpose. It is one thing to collect items knowing "this is for this, and that is for that" but not knowing if or how something may or may not be used in a game leaves it open for trial and error and the possibility to add new features later that will blend seemlessly. Hope that made sense.

GRELLIN
Don''t sit and complain about a program, make a better one or shut up!

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Lotsa great comments. I''ll throw my opinion in.

First, I agree with whoever said they really like games that don''t really have much story but have massive immersiveness.

In my opinion, I''ve always seperated RPGs into two categories. The first is the Final Fantasy-type RPG. I use Final Fantasy as an example because they have my vote for best stories. These RPGs tell a story, a good one at that. These are pretty fun. There''s a beginning, a middle, and an end. However, I find that after I beat these games, I usually don''t play it again for a couple years. Even with as many side quests as FFVII had, after I beat it a few years ago, I''m only now considering playing it again. The other type of RPGs are the ones like Mordor (anyone remember this one?) or Everquest (Evercrack) or Phantasy Star Online (yeah, the one where cheaters own the game). These games have no story (well, Phantasy Star has one, but it''s pretty weak. No one plays it for the story). Diablo would also go in this category. In these games, the goal is to level up your character so when a monster approaches you, you can show off your mad combat skills and squash the enemy with your pinky. And these games don''t end until you get bored of them (or, in Phantasy Star''s case, until you get tired of getting your rare weapons stolen and duplicated). Personally, I play these types of games more.

Battle Systems
Yeah, ATB is getting a bit old. In terms of immersiveness, I think the games that don''t have a seperate "battle scene" are more immersive. Especially on playstation games that have really bad load times with battle scenes (FFVI anyone?) By the time, you''re all pumped up, ready for battle, the screen has barely started loading and the music hasn''t half loaded. I''ve been getting back into phantasy star online (yes, I get my stuff stolen too) and today I was playing this really hard online quest. It was just me and some magic user playing the hardest quest in the game. We suddenly teleported into this unescapeable room full of enemies. And as soon as one died, another spawned. I loved it. It was the most fun I''ve had in awhile. And look at Everquest. Could you imagine how boring the game would be if everytime you fought something, you had to transfer to a seperate zone for combat? That''d suck. That''s why it''s Evercrack. You get an adrenaline rush unlike anything else. And speaking of Everquest, I''ve heard that Star Ocean (PSX) has a battle system that sounds alot like Everquest. You''ve got people in your party, and then when a battle starts, you control one character and the AI controls the others. And the AI is actually faster than you and it knows how to test out different spells against enemies until it finds the most damaging one. It sounds really cool. I''m gonna buy it sometime.

Online games are really really fun. I don''t know if you''re planning on implementing any online play into an SNES-like RPG, but for future reference, they''re very unique. Phantasy Star Online comes with an option of playing offline by yourself. That means no one can ever come into your game and kill you and take your money and rare weapon (that''s a MAJOR pain, if you didn''t know). Yet, despite these risks, I almost always play online. I just love the interaction. I love knowing that if I don''t watch this guy''s back, we''re all toast.

That is all

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Pretty much everybody has touched on the "coolness" factor and the great story, so I''m going to touch on some more nuts-and-bolts stuff.

1. Intuitive battle control

If you''re going to throw a player into random battles on a world map every minute, at least have the courtesy to make the battle experience convenient.

- make it as automated as possible. By this I mean that once a party''s moves are selected, everything else that happens should not require the user''s input until their next turn (unless you have special attacks that require user input, like control pad combinations or something).

- make it intelligent. For example, say you have monster A and B. Character 1 and 2 are both assigned to attack monster A. Character 1 kills monster A, so Character 2 doesn''t have anybody to attack. For crying out loud, make your battle system smart enough to automatically attack Monster B with character 2, instead of having character 2 automatically Defend or something lame like that.

2. Convenient management of items

Item management is almost always a nightmare.

- If you upgrade a weapon, give the player the option to equip it right then and there, and then have the merchant offer to buy the old weapon. This would make item management so convenient.

- Present what weapons each character can equip in a grid format, or something else that''s easy to read and understand. I hate having to go through each weapon at a shop to find out who can equip what.

(Note: Another way around this would be to have characters able to equip anything, but with only some characters getting a real benefit. In other words, your small character can''t wield a huge Battle Axe very well, so if that character equips it they suck with it. This would require more back-end design work though, since you''d have to work out how every weapon affects every character.

3. Quick control on a world map. If you have a huge world map to walk around on, make sure your on-screen character can walk quickly. Don''t require the acquisition of a special item to get this done either...that''s dumb. There''s nothing worse than slowly inching across a huge continent.

Hope this helps...

jon

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quote:
Original post by jplindemann
3. Quick control on a world map. If you have a huge world map to walk around on, make sure your on-screen character can walk quickly. Don''t require the acquisition of a special item to get this done either...that''s dumb. There''s nothing worse than slowly inching across a huge continent.

I actually disagree with this. I want to move slowly across a continent. I want to feel like I''m in a real world (eg. Ultima VII) rather than a couple of tiny islands (FF6). I think that the feeling of scale does a hell of a lot to make the place feel believable.



[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost ]

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O-genki desu ka.
Okay what I would suggest is to stay away from an medieval
setting. Try something that is set in a more future time line that way you can create your own style. You should try a turn-based battle system,and also with a futuristic setting only your imqagination is the limit.

Ja mata!

Shado

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quote:

I actually disagree with this. I want to move slowly across a continent. I want to feel like I''m in a real world (eg. Ultima VII) rather than a couple of tiny islands (FF6). I think that the feeling of scale does a hell of a lot to make the place feel believable.


This is a good point; scale definitely matters. I''m more referring to when nearby towns/areas take an excruciatingly long time to get to because your characters walk so slowly across the map (for no good reason). For an example, see Golden Sun on the GameBoy Advance. Great game, but your party walks so slowly across the world map that it starts to drive you crazy after a while.

A good way to mediate this frustration is by having the party acquire faster vehicles later in the game. Way back in the day I played Questron on the C64. It was great because you first bought a Horse, then a Raft, and then you got the Cadillac of them all - the Trained Eagle. The horse was faster than walking but couldn''t cross water or mountains, the raft could cross water but not mountains, and the Eagle could cross both.

Oh yeah, one more thing - RPGs should always have a gambling casino in them. Nothing better than maxing out your gold through nefarious means.

jon


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Travel
I don''t like the use of an overhead map other than to monitor your current position. I want all of the action in real-time in the world, as Zelda did.

Travel does get repetitive though so I would encourage the use of something that helps you out. Zelda did this with a bird that took you to places but only later in the game. Teleportation is pretty popular in games and it seems to work ok.

Money
Gambling''s fun but should be rare. I don''t like the idea of going back to gamble every time you want to buy an expensive item. Maybe have the gambling place be somewhere far away (and not be able to teleport there) so that you at least have to work even if you cheat to get your money.

Inventory
For this and many other things the programmer has to be smart enough to anticipate what would make the gamer enjoy his experience more. Messing with inventory is typically time that takes away from the gaming experience so expose the gamer to this as little as possible. Have ways the players can organize (like putting things in chests, pouches, etc.) or have a really smart inventory system that organizes for you.

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quote:
Original post by GameCreator
Gambling''s fun but should be rare. I don''t like the idea of going back to gamble every time you want to buy an expensive item. Maybe have the gambling place be somewhere far away (and not be able to teleport there) so that you at least have to work even if you cheat to get your money.

gambling isn''t cheating! it is a way to try and get money through luck rather than spending lots of time monster-bashing. it isn''t even really a "cheap" way of getting money, because the odds *should* be stacked against the player (they are in real life; how would an NPC casino that gave away more money than it collected stay in business?).

--- krez (krezisback@aol.com)

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Didn't read everything so excuse me if it has already been said, here's my list of must not be :

- No unavoidable Random Encoutners.
- No FF like battles (how lame)
- No accurate map (Did you ever see one of our old maps ?)
- No useless items, powers or spells
- No monster bashing required
- No murder based XP system
(that means you can win XPs without having to kill anyone, avoiding a fight can give you XPs, solving a puzzle, ending a subquest...)

- Not too many parasite subquests
(They should be linked to the main quest except for a few)

- Do not, ever, take control out of me, except if it's understandable (charm spell, mind control...); and please avoid doing this more than once.

- No unskippable scenes (if you take control of the camera to show me the area each time I enter a new one, make it skippable)

- No all powerfull character, never, ever.

- No stupid restrictions (I can kill who ever I want, I can use my weapon is this bloody village)

- No completely crazy things, like shop owners having infinite amount of each product, of gold, or selling very rare items.
(those items should be subject of a subquest)

- No unrealistic world, if you have spells/powers/items to resurect people, murder cannot be very bad, since after all, you can always resurect the deads...



Things cool :
- I'm the hero but sometimes others are too, having a scene where someone else is a hero once in the game isn't a bad thing.

- A map (doesn't need to be perfect, just to get an idea of where I am)

- An integrated save system (like in outcast in which you save your essence, but the noise and light alerts nearby ennemies)

- A book of the explorer (if I learn moves or combos, for mission objectives, accomplished tasks...)


Optional:
- Accurate role playing XP bonus. If I play a character, I should now how to play him/her, and gain XPs when accurately playing it (most probably reduced to choosing the best sentences to say using the character), like in Skies Of Arcadia (also known as Eternal Aracadia).

That's all for now.

/* edit : spelling & spelling again, english isn't my native tongue - bloody hell I need a brain or to wake up */

-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-


Edited by - Ingenu on February 23, 2002 7:03:31 AM

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