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RPG Storytelling Elements

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I just needed to make a post on a few subjects that have been bothering me for some time, and I was hoping someone out there can shed some light on them... First of all, I''m in the midst of designing an RPG, Working Title ''Divine Shadows''. I''ve got the skeleton structure of the story sorted out (Beginning, end, several events throughout the course of the game), I''ve got all the PC characters and a few NPC''s designed to a ''T''. (Eleven PC''s, 6 NPC''s.) I''ve got an artist''s rendition of most characters, and I''ve got an artist. The questions I have are: Are Eleven Playable Characters too many? I''ve been in storytelling for much of my life, and I''ve handled a story successfully with over 15 characters, at some points all in the same scene, it was hard to do, but I did it, and most of the eleven characters are integral to the plot. How long should it be? The way I''ve got it estimated, the game is looking at around 20-30 hours of gameplay, whether or not it is long enough, I''m not sure. I do feel it should be longer, however, but I wouldn''t want to stick in useless sub plots unless they enhanced the story, rather than took away from it. License an engine, or develop my own? While it''s true I know nothing of programming, save for some _VERY_ basic HTML, and a little Turbo Pascal from back in the day, I''ve long understood the merits of having an original engine, but with the new 3d modelling engines out nowadays, I''ve become interested in those. Which would any of you suggest? Art & Music? My artist is incredibly good, she happens to be a good RL friend of mine, and my musician is equally as good. They are both dedicated to the project, but I find I have a few problems... My artist is but one, and while she can do amazing pieces, she cannot animate, and I''m not sure of the way to go about using her drawings as a base for animation. As for my musician, she plays the guitar, bass and piano, which is mainly what I''d like for the game atmosphere, which would be a mainly rock-based atmosphere. (Easy listening, hard, alternative, etc...) I know she''s talented, but we''ve both strained out brains thinking of ways to record the music, and how exactly it would fit into the game. Any tips on either of these subjects would be cool. Thanks. Yes, I''m a beginner in RPG Writing...

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It seems that you''ve got a good direction
you want to take with this RPG, but
apparently you dont have the fuel required
to get you to your destination.

you say you know nothing about
programming, and that, i believe is whats''
going to keep your dreams from becoming
a reality. The 3d engines you can get
these days aren''t exactly easy to use,
and writing your own takes an extensive
knowledge of both programming, mathmatics,
and general logic. Even a 2D engine can
be percieved to be easy to create from the
outside looking in, but when you sit down
and start coding it becomes a whole different
ball game.

my advice to you is this:

#1 never give up on your goals.. because you
are definately going to hit some tough
times trying to get this game into completion.
I say this only to prepare you, because i really
dont see any way you can avoid it.

#2 Try to sell a programmer or a few programmers
on your story and have them help you.. everybody
and their brother has a project they''re working on,
but it wouldnt be impossible to get some help if
your story and design are good enough.

#3 If all else fails you''re going to need to learn
to program. It''s not going to be an easy road because
you''re constantly going to have this urge to break
away from whatever you''re studying and dive right
into working on your game. This will probably happen
several times, and each time you''ll hit a brick wall,
take a few steps back, pick up studying where you left
off, repeat. (trust me i''ve seen this happen a million
times). My solution to this: start small. only program
games that you know you can finish. and always
design all aspects of a project on paper before you start
coding. you''ll save tons of time this way.


and to answer a few of your questions:
Length: the length of a game shouldnt'' be more than 30-40 hours
for an intermediatly skilled player.
Art: if your game is going to use models (3d) then you wont
really need animated sprites.. and you could pick up a lowpoly
modeler from here or polycount.com. If you''re going to be doing
a 2D RPG, one of the things i did for mine was this:
make 3D pre-rendered models. if you dont like the "look" of them,
you can use cell-shading to make it look ''cartoony''
Music: alot of newer RPGs have alot of jazz elements to them..
(eg: Chrono cross) and it has worked out very well. It
also seems that you''re having problems deciding on a way to
record this into the computer with only one mucisian?
my recommendation would be to record each instrument into
a seperate track in a multitrack sequencer program (ie- cubase,
cakewalk, acid, ect). From there you can mix the instruments
to the appropriate levels, add effects, ect.

good luck! i hope you can make your dream a reality.


-eldee
;another space monkey;
[ Forced Evolution Studios ]


::evolve::

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quote:
Original post by TydRipper
Are Eleven Playable Characters too many?

That depends. In terms of playability, 11 is fine. I think Ultima VII gave you 9, max of 8 at once (although you could try and get 9 and crash the game ), and Final Fantasy 6 had, what, 14 or so? But only 4 at once, except for certain situations.

As for the story itself, I think 11 is too much. The 14 FF6 characters all had their own background and plot threads, but while some were good, some were indifferent and largely pointless. The game also failed to go into as much depth as was necessary and I was left feeling that focusing more on 6 main characters would have been more satisfying.

quote:
I''ve been in storytelling for much of my life, and I''ve handled a story successfully with over 15 characters, at some points all in the same scene, it was hard to do, but I did it, and most of the eleven characters are integral to the plot.

Whereas I don''t doubt your storytelling abilities, there is a good chance that the players (or readers) are unable to satisfactorily keep up with 11 different people to the degree that you would like. The author always knows the characters better than the players will, giving them an advantage in such stakes. One book series I used to enjoy, Robert Jordan''s ''Wheel of Time'' series, became a nightmare because in each new book he would introduce up to 10 new characters, while referring back to characters from 2 or 3 books previous. Remembering all those names and what makes them unique became next to impossible. Similarly, I am currently reading Tad Williams'' ''Otherland'' series, which also features many important characters, and while I can keep up with them, a friend of mine who is also reading the series has trouble with it.

How long should it be, you ask. Well, I feel like I''ve been robbed if I only get 20 or 30 hours of gameplay. Ultima VII gave me at least 3 times that, and Final Fantasy 6 gave me 40 hrs, not including about another 5 hrs for the parts where I must have reloaded. Other players will doubtless have a different opinion, but I like an epic.

quote:
I know she''s talented, but we''ve both strained out brains thinking of ways to record the music, and how exactly it would fit into the game. Any tips on either of these subjects would be cool.

There''s not really much to this. Either ask her to write stuff inspired by your stories, characters and situations, or ask her to write general music for the theme and fit it in as appropriate. Perhaps both. A lot of the Japanese RPGs like to have theme tunes for each of the characters, which is one way to go. Also, think about developing a main musical theme for the game and then writing different versions of it... slower, faster, different instruments, and so on. If you want more ideas on this, post in the Sound + Music forum.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost | Asking Questions | Organising code files ]

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Suikoden had something like 108 characters with 70 or so playable in groups of 6 at a time. The only trick to more playable characters is to make sure the player is giving the resources to manage them and not punishing them for letting some characters fall behind on their experience levels.

As for story/game length, 20-30 is getting robbed a bit. I would put in sidequests, but write them smartly so that they intertwine a bit. They don''t neccessarily have to have a lot to do with the main plotline, but it should be enough so it seems like a worthy expendature of time with a nice reward at the end (like an item or something thats unavailiable otherwise).

Now, the important part. Programming. It is VERY important for a game designer to know what capabilities and limitations his engines/hardware/general environment have. Even if you get some hardcore hacker cracker coders to do the work for you, you need to know what they''re doing and you need to not be told "It can''t be done," when it probably can and the programmer just doesn''t want to do it.

And, engines, whatever. Whatever best represents the ideas you have going up there. Since you are an ameture when it comes to game design, I recommend hitting a smalltime game creation system, like Megazeux or Verge or Sphere or whatever best suits you. I personally used to use Megazeux, but only because I grew up with Tim Sweeny''s ZZT, and the community around it was of better mentality.

-> Will Bubel
-> Machine wash cold, tumble dry.

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You can`t have enough characters I always say, but players will get frustuated trying to level up everyone. I mean there will be matches where certain people are only capable of destroying an enemy. Shining Force on sega had a nat of doing this. but they did limit the number of characters in a battle, 11 at a time!
But my point is, if you want to have a large number of characters, at least make the gameplay longer so the player will be able to learn and understand each character. Anyway, I will like to hear your storyline and know about the main, main characters.

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And I may be able to help you because I`m learning C++ right now and C++ I hear is one of the best programming languages to use in making video games. So email me at psychic_p@yahoo.com

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11 is okay, but prepare to mess with a lot of logistics in intersecting stories. I guess you''ve done that.

Yeah it''s the selling of the story to the programmers that''s the rub, in my mind there are always more artists than people who know how to make it actually work. You''ve got to make a corporate presentation today, pie charts and all.

But I guess it is hard work...

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