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RPGs, What do YOU expect from a great RPG?

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53 replies to this topic

#21 zircher   Members   


Posted 14 December 1999 - 07:11 PM

Given the current trend in games and 3D graphics in general, lots of high poly cut scenes. Being a wargamer, I prefer campaigns to open exploration. There should be a lot a room to walk about between sub-plots and the ability to use a variety tactics to achieve the goal(s).

As far as game mechanics, have you seen the combat system in Hybrid Heaven? It's that kind of twist on conventional game play that will make for a memorable title.

If you're wanting to cater to the power user faction, look at different ways to go about it besides the ability to level a mountain with you pinky. Exceptional accuracy or dexterity can also make a power user. (ie. Every hit is a critical hit or you can deflect every attack directed at you (ala Neo in the Matrix))

#22 mussepigg   Members   


Posted 15 December 1999 - 06:07 AM

I would say the most important thing in every RPG game is highly interactive environment and freedom to do lots of stuff.

If you are doing a multiplayer game
I think it's important to be able to make very individual characters with lots of different skills to choose from (many skills quarantee possibility to do many different things). Then ofcourse interaction possibilities with other players are also important.
And possibility to affect the world permanently, for example, if one could build a house at some point it would be awesome, but ofcourse it's pretty difficult to implement.

If you're doing a singe player game
You might still consider the option of allowing multiple players. For example support 4 player multiplayer mode.
I think the story is pretty important in single player RPG. You should have the main plot that goes from the start to the end, and then fill the game with smaller plots that keep players busy. I just had an idea of having the main plot being pretty small (like finding the cure for player's soon to be wife's genital herpes.. just kidding and when player is reaching that goal, the smaller plots could actually be a lot more important, so that player could save the world (maybe couple of times) while he's trying to reach the main goal.. Just an idea though..
Then about rising levels. I don't think it's good to just add some hitpoints and hit probability when player reaches higher level. But if player would for example get more skills that he can creatively use to achieve different goals, it would be pretty cool..
And you should avoid linearity by all means necessary, I hate rpg games that are linear.. You might encounter something in game that you cannot handle right now, and you just have to give it up and come back later when you have tools/skills to solve the problem.

That's pretty much it.. I have a lot of ideas for RPG's since I'm planning to do one myself (one of these days), but I'm too lazy to write all of that down right now

Couple of more things tho (that I just thought of).. Don't make just combat spells, since combat is what fighters are for. Make spells creative and make them for very different purposes (ofcourse this adds complexity to creating the game, but..).

And learn from Half-Life! Use scripted encounters if possible. You could have goblin's escaping with wagons just after they have slaughtered and robbed some innocent (or maybe not so innocent.. make twists to the plot) travellers.. Or you could have a big monster that's way too hard for players to kill, and the solution for problem could be like shotting fireball to a big tree so that it falls on top of the monster, and kills it.. or something.. you get the idea.

#23 stviemr   Members   


Posted 18 December 1999 - 09:11 PM

Thanks, again, to all for the feedback.

I have been thinking of ways to improve our Game Design, based in part by the messages you have placed on the board.

Design Concept:
What about creating a fairly detailed setting environment, (not to say "gaudy" or cluttered) where the user begins the game with so many possesions? The user then can choose to explore the land(s) or stay in the local area and build up supplies, etc.
While the user is figuring out what to do, we could introduce semi-random encouters to add elements of the plot, being also somewhat random in nature. Of course, I feel that it is necessary to incorporate a little linearity in the RPG. Otherwise, you can have no objectives.
My theory is that the player can go through several sub-plot steps, not set in any given order, to find out what his/her objective really is. There will be no set story line persay, only the framework for the user to develop the storyline. This way the User could play the game twice with a different twist than the time before.

For matters of simplicity, I believe we intend it to be single player. In a future project, we may choose to incorporate a multi-player RPG, but right now we need to start more basic.

I would like the game to have a grandiose epic sort of feel, like the game is really a big deal. And that user be drawn in to taking it seriously. We will introduce friends and foes, some will interact with the player and others will simply be static enemies like bog slimes, what have you...
We could add features like the users ability to create a market in town to sell goods for gold or something, or the capacity for the user to start their own kingdom, like in Ultima...

The framework is still in development, and I want to get it narrowed down soon so that we can further develop code for the actual game. So far our progress is mainly isolated to the technical aspects, such as the sound/music and graphics engines.

[This message has been edited by stviemr (edited December 19, 1999).]

#24 jtecin   Members   


Posted 18 December 1999 - 09:44 PM

One thing I think is important is a big and yet realistic world. Zelda 64 for example had the coolest world in my opinion. I thought the best part of the game was exploring that world and finding the new areas. However, the world was kind of small so later in the game I thought it became kind of boring. Stress two points: A story and the world.

#25 Jeranon   Members   


Posted 20 December 1999 - 01:09 AM

You should, nay, must have a story. While the hardcore RPGer may love the non-linearity of the game, the casual gamer will most likely not. Usually, do not ever make the player work out what they are supposed to do by themselves.

If you do, have encounters but not random ones with a few random ones thrown in. Have encounters that have to do with the plot. I'm talking like...ummm... people in the town are getting sick because of the town river (their water source) and this is because some sort of poisoning or pollution is occurring further upstream and the player finds out it was a battle site and the dead bodies are poisoning the river and then the player finds out that some sinister force is sneaking in to take out the country (or whatever) and there we have a beginning to a story right there (hmm sounds corny at the end, but whaddya gonna do?).
Throw some red herrings in as side plots or stories which although are red herrings add to the world's complexity itself.

But then, that's all my opinion...

#26 stviemr   Members   


Posted 20 December 1999 - 10:57 AM

I like the idea about the poisoned river... Very good points.
I agree about linearity being necessary, I thinks it's when the linearity becomes so obvious and dominant that the player realizes they have no control over how the game goes that it gets boring...
Much as you said, I want linearity, I would just like some of the "Red-herrings" to be unessential plot elements that the player may or may not encounter. There will be many preprogrammed encounters, and some will be random. I guess we need to find a happy medium for the Pro RPG-er casual gamer.
I would enjoy hearing more from you on this.


#27 Jeranon   Members   


Posted 21 December 1999 - 12:32 AM

Heh, perks of being an old fashioned pen and paper roleplayer...

Anyway, to go further with the red herrings and continuing with the poisoned river idea, sure you could do a townsfolk ask hero to go get a herb from some place to help cure everyone, which while ok I suppose, is an obvious fedex quest. Be careful here not to do too many as they get tiresome, unless you do it well (FPS comes to mind). It would be better to say, ummm, the poisoning has disturbed some water trolls which are adding to the woes of the townsfolk and the hero has to track them down, while the townsfolk have to go without water, yet another thing to do. Behind the scenes though, every day the hero takes is one more day the sinister force has. A side plot is born. What's the red herring? The trolls. Perhaps change trolls with something else? Just throwing random thoughts out...

Make your world live.

#28 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   


Posted 22 December 1999 - 12:43 AM

Lhae0 is a blubbering idiot.

#29 null_pointer   Members   


Posted 22 December 1999 - 02:59 AM

Since I've played a lot of different styles of RPGs, I'd like to offer my likes and dislikes of many popular types of games. Hopefully this will add a somewhat fresh viewpoint. (I think this is my longest post yet!! )

I think the most important thing in a Role-Playing Game (RPG) is the role the main character(s) play in the outcome of the game. (I just had to state the obvious.)

Now, there are many different styles of RPGs; some stress combat, others stress plot and interactive movies, some stress puzzles, others stress sub-games (Super Mario RPG comes to mind). In short, much of it is subjective and depends on what the user wants to experience/develop.

I personally like many different types of RPGs: Might & Magic, Diablo, Final Fantasy, Secret of Mana, Breath of Fire, Shining Force, etc. They are all good RPGs, but in a very different way.

The only really useful piece of information I might be able to add is the element of weapons/armor/magic availability. Make lots of stuff! I mean really cool things that people can tell/brag to their friends about. Maybe that super-secret ultimate weapon. Or a cool-looking piece of armor. What makes a game really boring to me is when I can't purchase the latest stuff and the monsters are all using it for like 10 battles or so and my characters are getting massacred (think Shining Force II).

But don't ever fall into the trap of making an item just to address a short-coming in the game.

What I am trying to say is to add a lot of variety -- enough so that many different people can play the game and enjoy it, each with slightly different goals. For example, I personally would rather clobber the monsters with a large ax, but that's mostly because the magic in most games is terrible. It's either a real pain to get and not worth the trouble, or really really really limited and simply worse than regular fighting. Diablo was great this way because it let you pick a style of play and then mold your character, equipment, and spells directly to it. And have you ever played it multiplayer using a LAN? WOW! It's like a completely different game!

Very few (if any) RPGs actually show the character's equipped stuff all the time. Why should I buy a Mighty Broadsword of Evil if it looks like an ordinary broadsword? That is very frustrating. And it encourages the player to buy equipment that looks more like the actual character graphic. There must be better ways of keeping character abilities unique throughout the game!!

Finally, what most games overlook is the idea of data security (yes, I know what I'm talking about here). Many games have "cheat" utilities that completely ruin the effect of the game. I say ruin because as a game designer, you want to be in complete control of the user's senses from start to finish, even if it's generated randomly or along several different storylines. That's why games (and gamers, of course) continually seek more realistic graphics, sound, communication, and input. Cheat utilities destroy this control and thus ruin any emotional effects you wish to have upon the player.

Just make it so people with very different backgrounds can play and enjoy the game with different goals and for different reasons and endings. If you try to fit everyone into a stereotype who just likes combat, or plot, or sound, or sub-games, you'll alienate your audience.

Good Luck

- null_pointer

#30 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   


Posted 22 December 1999 - 08:33 AM

There is a limit to making a game too varied and too customized!
You can't please everyone all the time. You are not going to come
up with a hundred different variations on a theme and make them all
work out. I personally only would perfer at most 3 different outcomes
of a game. I don't want to be drowned in a soup of customization.

Lastly, people cheat because they want to cheat. Let them. Don't
bicker over security. This is pointless. Some people just want to
finish the damn game if it drives them nuts or if they do finish it
without cheating, they want to explore the limits of the game by
cheating. Let the players decide if they want to "ruin" the game.
It should not be your decision. And these "cheat utilities" weren't
designed for cheating players in mind, they were designed to let the
developer debug the game! They left them in so the player could
have fun with the game, not ruin it.


#31 stviemr   Members   


Posted 22 December 1999 - 08:35 AM

Thanks for the detailed entry, null_pointer.

I am pushing a more "universally admired" type of game. Believe it or not, I do not regret posting this board topic one bit, and I am sure that it will be a BIG help in designing our game from all points. My colleages are for the more part hard-core, full bore or no bore types, (Programmers, Graphics Arts types) The lead programmers are immersed in building engines, but we are still quite hazy on what the game will be like, and about...
I've sort of taken the task of molding an RPG out of the bits and pieces the group has contributed. We have some good ideas, but they have, until recently been only ideas. Now I am focusing on making the ideas work. I've been careful not to get too attached to elements and ideas culminated this far, as I end up rejecting a good share of them in the sake of producing a solid, money-making game.
I do know that there will be a remarkable degree of freedom for the player. Also, there will be a variety of characters and items. The game itself will have a serious, epic sort of feel (which it seems many recent games are void of, excluding Final Fantasy.) I also like a little humor to lighten things up.
I figure the game events will work something like this:

We will create several Static events that are not directly related to the ultimate plot, but may lead the player to a Crucial event.

Like in this example posted by Jeranon, (people in the town are getting sick because of the town river (their water source) and this is because some sort of poisoning or pollution is occurring further upstream and the player finds out it was a battle site and the dead bodies are poisoning the river and then the player finds out that some sinister force is sneaking in to take out the country - Jeranon)

(People sick = Static element) -> (Sinister force = Crucial element; ) etc.

I am also opting for shorter average gameplay. (About 40-50hrs tops) as opposed to 60-70hours. I feel that if we keep the pace moving and get the dedicated player some satisfaction in a week or so of play, they will be more pleased with the game, only a select group of gamers are prone to waiting through three months of play for a resolution.

By the time people get sick of this game, we might have a sequel.

Joe, one of the Programmers is more set on moving on to a different genre and subject matter in future projects. I think there is definately validity in sequels, (though I don't want 8 or 9.) Plus a sequel should have come improvements, or at least some enhancements over the original engine. (in my opinion...)


[This message has been edited by stviemr (edited December 22, 1999).]

#32 Gary   Members   


Posted 22 December 1999 - 01:08 PM

There are some major questions you need to answer before you can really begin design.

Multiplayer - Non-Mulitplayer?
If you do multiplayer you need to deside if it's going to be a large world multiplayer or a small dungeon hack world like diablo.

Linear - Non-Linear?
I don't think you can combine these two types of rpg's because thier design is dramatically different. Linear games, usualy have a smaller much more detailed world. Most non-linear games have a large much less detailed world. Compair Daggerfall to Zelda 64. Big difference.

Strong Plot - Weak Multi-Plots?
The above choices would most likely deturmine this. Most largescale multiplayer games and non-linear games use multiple plots to keep interest. Where as linear games need a fine detailed plot.

*If your planning on doing a good plot, just as a suggestion, learn how to write story's first, it will help drastically. Usually it's more interesting in a thick plot to have many dynamic charecters.

We'll I hope that wasn't too long.


#33 null_pointer   Members   


Posted 23 December 1999 - 10:33 AM

DatsIt: The "cheat utilities" I am referring to are specific software that are made by users of the game for the purpose of cheating. By this I mean running another program, often called a "trainer," during the game to make the character invincible, allow him to walk through walls, edit stats, create hacked items, crash other people's games (in multiplayer games), create false images, among other things. Creating a program like that takes a thorough knowledge of assembly (from what I hear) and a lot of work. This "magic" is done by finding and changing certain memory locations. "Trainers" work kind of like the Game Genie and Game Shark, except of course that they're for the PC.

I am NOT referring to press-the-right-buttons-and-find-a-secret-character game secrets. I believe that plenty of those secrets should exist. They revitalize games when they begin to get old and generate interest on game discussion boards. (I just recently located the special button combination to give X his ultimate armor in MegaMan X4. Played it the entire day. )

And I personally believe, that with a little extra effort, a programmer could make a game MUCH harder to hack.

Like you said: the cheat utilities are going to be created anyway. But if the game is much harder to hack into, won't there be fewer utilities? And besides that, it is not just 5 people creating their own utilities and then those same 5 people use them. It's more like a 5:5000 ratio (depending of course on the popularity of the game). So if you cut it down to 3 people making the utilities, you've cut the number of people cheating by 2000. Not bad for a few tricks, eh?

RPGs should never be so hard that you can't finish them! Most of those difficult areas are the ones where there was a mix-up between the manual/documentation creators and the game content creators. Others are simply bugs (i.e., programmer forgetting to factor a certain number into a spell equation -- then it does triple damage). They are all design errors. Design errors should be fixed by patches and updates. Not by unlicensed third-party utilities! When programmers shirk their responsibilities to the players of the game, someone else will pick up the slack but the game itself will suffer.

About the level of customization. Game content is created through many hours of hard work, on the part of all involved. I will cite Diablo as being an example of a large quantity of items. With a little work and some creativity they created a simple system that allowed for the dynamic creation of thousands of different items. They didn't have to create them all by hand. They simply used the laws of probability to multiply their efforts and add more variety to the game play. So it isn't that hard.

Finally, I would like to clarify what I was saying earlier about being able to customize the game. There will always be those people who like the game and those that don't. Hence, game discussion forums. However, I was talking about allowing the game to adjust to the player's particular playing style. Like hacking through hordes of enemies with an Axe? Fine! Just pick the warrior and be done with it! Or do you like dueling with spells? Take your pick! We've got spells for teleporting, increasing/decreasing abilities, physical damage spells, elemental spells.

You don't have to create twenty different characters; just allow the weapons and armor to be used to customize a few characters accordingly.

See where I'm going with this? Allow each player to fulfill his dreams within the game's story and he'll like it. That's what role-playing is all about.

- null_pointer

P.S. I apologize if I sounded a little unclear in my first post.

[This message has been edited by null_pointer (edited December 24, 1999).]

#34 null_pointer   Members   


Posted 24 December 1999 - 04:36 AM

Is there a prize for the longest post?


- null_pointer

#35 Gromit   Members   


Posted 24 December 1999 - 05:37 AM

I really don't think that the developer should do anything to try and block someone from making a cheat or trainer for your game. I believe that these would increase the popularity and enjoyment factor of the game. The people that use these utilities are most often stuck somewhere in your game and a cheat might help them get over that one obsticle. As for FPS's the user might just want to run around and blow people apart with the biggest weapon your game offers.

The only part that I feel should be protected cheating in multi-player games. The people using the cheats are the only people having fun. And that is the bottom line of what makes your game successful. It has to be fun. If someone gets stuck, they need help getting past that point. If they can't, then they might get frustrated and give up. If that happens then they might recomend to other people to buy a different game.

Besides, If they bought the game, they should be able to do anything they want to it while it is on thier computer.

#36 Jeranon   Members   


Posted 24 December 1999 - 07:03 AM

I agree. Let the player do whatever he wants in terms of cheating or trainer programs (or even do what Blizzard do and provide cheats) and let them at it. It's on their conscience. But only allow them as much leeway as possible without it affecting anyone else. In singleplayer, this is fine. In multiplayer, be careful.

Personally, I would stress working on a singleplayer game to begin with. With all the hoopla over multiplayer (I have and always will prefer the purity of single player), it just becomes another marketing buzzword. Better to master other aspects of game making first before plunging into the messy world of multiplayer gaming.

#37 null_pointer   Members   


Posted 24 December 1999 - 07:09 AM

Blizzard provides cheats??

- <b>null_pointer</b>

#38 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   


Posted 30 December 1999 - 09:55 PM

First off I HATE cheats... In RPGs that is. A RPG is a challage to the player and if the player cheats his/her way through the game what have you accomplished. Besides the lose of about $40 for the cool new game you got. Nothing. As for what makes a RPG great is... Creativity, new ideals. I hate seeing the same thing over and over in RPG's. Also, of course Freedom of the Character. Story line and plot in my oppion also is what makes a great RPG. Online or offline. Offline games like Lufia, I didn't think the controls, graphics, or music was very good for that game yet... the story line was awsome and keep me going. When it comes to Online games... UO for instance, Plots and story lines ARE NEEDED!!! When I first started UO I thought it was a truly great game, After a month I still liked it... Then it just got to repetitive, just running around aimlesly killing stuff, storing stuff, and selling stuff. That got old fast... needly to say I think UO is very boring now and a wast of time. If the game had enough random quest, plots, story lines, I think it would has kept my attention longer. Also, Players for the most part didn't know how to roleplay. But that's not the Games fault.

Well any way that's what I think, sorry about the writting errors, I not a english major.

Jason M. Goebel

#39 kressilac   Members   


Posted 31 December 1999 - 05:38 AM

Wow, wish I would have found this thread earlier. Lets see.

Cheats: Ah you can't stop them. 80/20 rule applies here and as developers you should develop with that in mind to prevent running overtime and overbudget. The vast majority of people don't use them maliciously anyway and in multiplayer games I tend to stay away from cheaters and don't play with them. Nuf said.

Someone posted that the RPG world is nebulous. This couldn't be more correct. When I compare sports games to RPGs I notice one thing. RPGs draw the game rules from life and sometimes fantasy life. Sports draw game rules from a small 100 page book you can get at a Barnes and Nobles. BIG difference here. What this means to the developer is essentially the same thing that a novelist faces or a director faces with each new book or movie. Given the HUGE array of possibilities I have, how do I get my point, story, or anecdote across to the viewer/reader.

In games all these rules of life come out as constraints withing the processing power of a computer. How deep do I make the world, or what about character involvement. How many skills should I have, and in what ways can those skills be used. What combat tactics can I use..... Since we have limited resources on the computer we have to quantify these rules of our virtual world and decide which ones we want to use to tell our story. Creating a game that balances all of the variables is essential.

This is why RPGs are so difficult to make. This is why movies are so hard to make and books so hard to write. Arguing here about which feature is better than another only leads to subjective opinions that are all correct and makes about as much sense as arguing that Michael Jordan should be #2 to Babe Ruth in ESPNs Greatest Athlete series. The answer for your development team should be which answers given here feel right to the team. Following through by marketing to that segment that your team identifies with will help create a successful game.

Enough with the philosophical bulls*^t. What I look for in an RPG is a sense that I am part of something bigger. Resident Evil while not an RPG perse had this feeling. The books found in the game told of a story that could and did directly affect me. That game did the emotional thing we talk about. I still remember the first time I saw the rabid dogs crash through the windows. *shiver* Anyway give me an immersive world, with lots of choices and a non-intrusive interface to go about my business. Lace the whole thing with a snazzy plot, lots of eye candy and the ability to share my experiences with others and I am all over the game. Oh it has to be bug free and install in seconds. Lastly don't forget the incredible sound track and sound effects. Without them the world is not as believable.

#40 Bracket   Members   


Posted 31 December 1999 - 06:41 AM

I'd say that the key to an RPG's success revolves around building up an attachment to your character. This requires a strong story (and one that doesn't inspire the "so what?" response in players), NPCs who are at least believable enough to make you feel that your character is important, and some form of character development (to encourage the power gamer types!). It has to be said that I STILL think of Ultima 6 as the best RPG ever.... it had a very strong story, quite believable (if repetitive - but thats okay) NPCs and an okay graphics engine. In general, I couldn't care less what an RPG *looks* like - if anything, too much emphasis on graphics scares away players with lower-end machines.... and takes the emphasis away from my imagination. The scariest monster is the one you don't see, after all. Graphics, sound, etc. really are secondary to a solid plot, good characters, etc.

A personal peeve of mine against a lot of modern RPGs is that there is WAY too much combat, and insufficient ways around fight scenes. I like to develop a character who is more than a Diablo-esque firebolt slinging machine. NPC AI generally sucks, and I can confidently say that I'll win any combats that are put into a game (assuming that they are set up to be winnable) (I used to be European League of Gamer's wargaming champion, and I tend to win at Quake/Unreal type deathmatch games - hence, combat is rarely a problem from either tactical or "twitch gaming" angles). Thats no fun. What *is* fun is trying to think of an innovative way around the problem. Warren Spector (currently working on Deus Ex, and of Ultima Underworld fame) has repeatedly pointed to this in his recent writings.

Oh, and it helps if the user interface is simple enough that I won't scream at it - but that is a secondary consideration. I like Ultima IX, even though its interface sucks, to get a decent frame rate I have to put graphics on hideously low detail, and it still crashes every 2 hours!

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