Designing an RPG Game, looking for input.

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Hello all,

Hope you are all having or have had a good day, I've come to the community today in the hopes of gaining some perspective, ideas and in-general starting a discussion on the topic itself.

For the last couple of months, I've been planning out and ideating systems for an open world RPG game with a medieval setting and wide array of species / races. However, I feel that getting input from people with other perspectives, creative outlooks and points of view, would greatly aid me in filling in the blanks and adding to what I've got going right now.

Looking forward to hearing from the friendly faces of this forum. :wooow:
 
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Are you talking about a tabletop RPG or a videogame RPG? That's a big conditional.
 
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So, some questions about broad directions of your planned mechanics:
Real-time vs. turn-based?
3D vs. top down? 1st person vs. 3rd? Grid-based?
Combat oriented vs. clear path to non-combat playstyles?
Party-based vs. solo character?
Multi-player vs. single?
High magic - low magic - no magic?

Obviously don't share anything if you're concerned about someone stealing it, but having a general idea of where on the spectrum of RPGs you're aiming for would help focus the conversation.
 
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So, some questions about broad directions of your planned mechanics:
Real-time vs. turn-based?
3D vs. top down? 1st person vs. 3rd? Grid-based?
Combat oriented vs. clear path to non-combat playstyles?
Party-based vs. solo character?
Multi-player vs. single?
High magic - low magic - no magic?

Obviously don't share anything if you're concerned about someone stealing it, but having a general idea of where on the spectrum of RPGs you're aiming for would help focus the conversation.

It's not a problem, I brought this to the community myself after-all.

My design direction is for the game to be 3D 1st person perspective in real-time combat. The game will be single-player only. The player is incentivized to work as a party but can solo the game if they prefer it, just makes things a bit more difficult for them. Magic and weapon-play are something I hope to strike a balance between, in both aspects I would like the end-game stuff to be pretty powerful, as a reward to the player for grinding that far.

Also, I appreciate you taking the time to ask, thank you. :bocchiwave:
 
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So you want to follow the direction of grinding + getting better equipment + level up as the solution to progress? That's the formulae of every single RPG nowadays, specially if you include magic what would make it more interesting is playing with the environment to solve/defeat foes. You can always include the brain dead gameplay, but if you're fighting in a narrow bridge instead of smashing the foe with a big weapon and big stats you could add alternatives such as creating a wall and bombard them from your side or make the bridge collapse after luring them in (for instance). One way or another, the story should be engaging and instead of rail-roading the solutions letting them guess them without external help (such as pinpointing the area, a journal with every single detail, skills to tell you everything about an enemy, etc.). That would make the game different, but if you aim for a run-of-the-mill kill everything on sight some people will still play it regardlessly.
 
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It's not a problem, I brought this to the community myself after-all.

My design direction is for the game to be 3D 1st person perspective in real-time combat. The game will be single-player only. The player is incentivized to work as a party but can solo the game if they prefer it, just makes things a bit more difficult for them. Magic and weapon-play are something I hope to strike a balance between, in both aspects I would like the end-game stuff to be pretty powerful, as a reward to the player for grinding that far.

Also, I appreciate you taking the time to ask, thank you. :bocchiwave:
The upside to this general format is lots of examples to look through - you can take pieces from what you like rather than having to start from scratch on a lot of things. This should make working up a lot of the various aspects of the game easier, or at least give you a starting point that's a bit further along.

The downside is the difficulty of differentiating your game from the others that already check most or all of these boxes. The setting, gameplay, art/graphics, and technical execution are likely all going to have to be very well done if you want to avoid unfavorable comparisons to what's already out there.

I would suggest starting with a limited scope - work up a single basic, early level encounter (the D&D trope would be 'killing rats in the tavern cellar') and focus on how all your parts fit together there. How does the player character take the quest initially? How does the player's party come together organically without feeling forced? How do you balance various styles of play (direct melee, ranged, stealth, magic, alternative approaches) to make the event fun for all of them, and to help the party complement itself? What visually/mechanically/narratively sets your setting apart? Running through a couple of iterations of this should help refine things and fill in any parts of the world that may have been overlooked initially. (I've never gamed with anyone who didn't have at least a few blind spots when it came to world building, but the best DMs were aware of theirs and took the time to address them before the start of the campaign, and were willing to let the players help fill in any remaining gaps organically as the game progressed.)
 
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So you want to follow the direction of grinding + getting better equipment + level up as the solution to progress? That's the formulae of every single RPG nowadays, specially if you include magic what would make it more interesting is playing with the environment to solve/defeat foes. You can always include the brain dead gameplay, but if you're fighting in a narrow bridge instead of smashing the foe with a big weapon and big stats you could add alternatives such as creating a wall and bombard them from your side or make the bridge collapse after luring them in (for instance). One way or another, the story should be engaging and instead of rail-roading the solutions letting them guess them without external help (such as pinpointing the area, a journal with every single detail, skills to tell you everything about an enemy, etc.). That would make the game different, but if you aim for a run-of-the-mill kill everything on sight some people will still play it regardlessly.

Yeah, I don't want the game to feel cookie-cutter, even if people would still play it as a hack and slash, I'd rather it feel like you're making a proper contribution and effort towards the fight. And as for the story, I have a clear-ish idea as to what it entails, I think people would like it.

I appreciate your suggestions, and thanks for your feedback. :wooow:
 
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The upside to this general format is lots of examples to look through - you can take pieces from what you like rather than having to start from scratch on a lot of things. This should make working up a lot of the various aspects of the game easier, or at least give you a starting point that's a bit further along.

The downside is the difficulty of differentiating your game from the others that already check most or all of these boxes. The setting, gameplay, art/graphics, and technical execution are likely all going to have to be very well done if you want to avoid unfavorable comparisons to what's already out there.

I would suggest starting with a limited scope - work up a single basic, early level encounter (the D&D trope would be 'killing rats in the tavern cellar') and focus on how all your parts fit together there. How does the player character take the quest initially? How does the player's party come together organically without feeling forced? How do you balance various styles of play (direct melee, ranged, stealth, magic, alternative approaches) to make the event fun for all of them, and to help the party complement itself? What visually/mechanically/narratively sets your setting apart? Running through a couple of iterations of this should help refine things and fill in any parts of the world that may have been overlooked initially. (I've never gamed with anyone who didn't have at least a few blind spots when it came to world building, but the best DMs were aware of theirs and took the time to address them before the start of the campaign, and were willing to let the players help fill in any remaining gaps organically as the game progressed.)

Yeah, there's alot of sources of inspiration I've used to pull bits and pieces from. But as you mentioned, trying to make something that hasn't been done already is a bit of a headache, I'm still going to try though. I like to believe that with enough time and effort anything can be somewhat original.

I appreciate your feedback, I'm somewhat already programming under a limited scope, implementing smaller systems to paint a bigger picture. Going brick by brick so to say, and working on lore and background stuff as I go.
 
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Hmm, Medieval RPG, Open World. I'd say strive for differences despite the norms of Fantasy. We've seen so many tribalistic orcs and haughty elves, valiant (or villainous) humans, and ingenious, and at times greedy dwarves. Something different would be nice.
I like to overcomplicate power systems, so I won't advice upon class systems, for my own stories, magic has a 30 page explanation I'm still configuring for the plot. But, overall though, is "Will" beyond the logic, The Will to make something happen, the will to make something appear. A Magi is born with an innate spirit connected to the world about them, that spirit can do anything if it frees itself.
Complex relationships and whatnot are fascinating sometimes, but I feel like RPGS nowadays lean toward sexuality to purely express the utmost of connections sometimes, or the little-most even too. If the relationships were more of words, forging that connection and keeping it... But, that's asking much XD.
When it comes to combat elements, my ideas arise from what I write, and often what I write is maybe too.... demanding, an Enchanter Magi able to manipulate the blood of fallen foes into webs and spikes, the power of an armored berserker and whatnot. Interesting thoughts, but maybe a bit too complex. Maybe start lightly simple, and use those simple cookie-cutter classes to inspire different forms! Though that feels demeaning in a way, like someone saying not to be creative. So I saw be creative.
Story wise... hmm... RPGs are known for their freedom sometimes, and while that's all fine and dandy there's the polar opposites which hold your hand and don't let you think for yourself. I think a median can be found, a story can be told while allowing freedom and a chance to experience all the elements present. A Game or story should embrace all it's elements, each element should have a part into the overarching plot. So that anyone can feel like their experience mattered.
Of course you, the basic simple life elements can remain free, or maybe see a simple person trying to survive some war or something, trying to rebuild a life brought to ruin.
That's all, I'd go deeper, but in the end, that's unnecessary! What matters is the story, characters, world and elements you wish to present, I wish you the best of luck, I wish that you hold onto it, and don't compromise or doubt. Don't make it about anything else but the game. I hate how most things are made for some other reason, that makes it for that reason and no one else. Strive for what you have in mind. God Bless!
 
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Here's my suggestion: do not make it open world.
What you should really focus on is the time between the major events of the game's story, or anyway between cutscenes. If you do that correctly, a linear game can be infinitely better than an "unconstrained" game.
Let's make an example:
Our protagonist has set off from the starting point and during a cutscene she/he learnt the next step is to reach the neighbouring town.
How much "interactive" time is there, i.e. time where the player actually interacts with the core gameplay? Since it's the very beginning, there's barely anything: the character has no equipment (I'm considering whatever starting gear as "nothing"), the player does not know every single mechanics yet (supposedly there is a tutorial somewhere immediately after the cutscene) and enemies do little damage to avoid whittling the 12 HP in one hit. Effectively, the interactive time is until the town is reached and shops with better gear are introduced.
Do we want to allow the player to guide this weakling of a main character straight towards the end game area from the get go? Of course not, nobody wants to get one-shotted just because they turned left at the fork instead of going straight.
Now, let's say the player has progressed through the game and is now halfway or something, maybe it has a vehicle for fast traveling. How much interactive time is there? Unless some plot points say otherwise, all the explored map can be "backtracked" using the fast travel transportation, which means there is a lot of time to actually make use of the actual gameplay. Maybe there is a hidden quest in the starting village, maybe the vehicle allows to reach an area that was previously unreachable, maybe the advancing plot changed scenery somewhere and there is new land to walk over instead of water.
At this point, the game is very similar to an open world game, where you can go anywhere anytime, but the player is now strong enough to deal with end game content. Effectively, the player is incentivized to explore and battle and whatnot instead of simply going through the story; the interactive time is huge.
Please note that getting stronger does not mean levelling up or getting better gear, it can also mean that the human behind the controller got more skilled in dealing with the game mechanics. The first case is the standard RPG setting, the latter is for games like Shadow of the Colossus (the first game that came to mind), where everything is dealt with using the same short sword and the same bow and it's a matter of using the terrain and enemy gimmick to your advantage.
In my opinion, open world game often distribute this time poorly, either by never providing cutscenes to guide the player at least to make sense of the plot and everything has to be guess in one way or another, or by having moments where there is nothing to do because you are actually required to unlock a piece of the map first. Oftentimes, developers "hide" these issues by adding an infinite amount of "collecting quests" in which you have to give X units of item Y to person Z, so you are given the illusion of playing the game even though you are just doing pointless chores. Grinding monsters for experience and gold in a classic JRPG is more rewarding than that.
The first issue is actually very subtle: how does one know where to go next? What is even happening in the game? At best you gather infos from NPCs after doing all those collecting quests, at worst you have to guess it from item descriptions and simply wandering around the map. These are ways to artificially provide gameplay where there should be none, either through a cutscene or through limiting access to parts of the map.
Unless you can make a game without falling in these two major traps, do not make it open world.
(I apologize if something's not clear, it's 2:30 AM.)
 
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@kohelemon I appreciate your input greatly. I'll certainly be sticking with the creative side of game design, rather than making it cookie cutter. I've already kind of got a vision in my head of what the world will be like, and at the very least trying not to be cliché. I definitely won't be compromising on what my dream is for this game, even if someone threw a wad of money at me.

Thank you for taking the time to write all of that out, and for your encouragement. :bocchiwave:
 
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@GipoScribantino That's some great insight, thank you. I was roughly going for something similar to what you're thinking, a linear and progressive plot, with hidden and side plots as the player progresses to stir things up a bit. I do still want the player to have the decision to go anywhere they wish though, even if that means them throwing their controller at the wall after being one-shot by a late game enemy 20 times in a row. 😂

Through the plot being linear, it should also help improve the flow when it comes to the relationships you have with the people of the world itself, and the party members you go with, if you do. That's my hope anyway.

Thank you for taking the time to write all of that out, I appreciate it immensely. :headpat:
 
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The "freedom" of choice is but an illusion ultimately, but when it comes to spending resources creating areas for a whole world connected using walking simulator mechanics it's quite overrated. The best RPGs I've ever played had fast travel to the location of interest and the time needed. If you want an example of this, think of Baldur's Gate II, where areas are unlocked after talking with certain NPCs who give you a reason to go there. And avoid giving obvious solutions, mechanics such as Rance 01/03 that you can interact using different approaches makes it less predictable.
 
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@Manko-sensei I'll have a look into that, thank you. I do agree with you that it's overrated, however when it comes to my personal goals with this project, exploration is at the forefront of it, even if the world's layout is alot smaller than other games. I can still pour my soul into a small handcrafted world without making it bland, it will just take time and effort, both of which I have. 🙂

You can still have a linear and driven plot, while having an "open" design. I fully believe that. Not that it takes away from what you're saying, I do appreciate the insight.
 
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You can still have a linear and driven plot, while having an "open" design. I fully believe that. Not that it takes away from what you're saying, I do appreciate the insight.
It is possible, early Zelda games were very close to that.
Since you're saying the game progresses linearly and the "openness" only comes from being able to walk straight to the end game area from the starting zone (and die), then make sure you do not create, or anyway minimize the presence of, any "too early" locations.
These places are areas which are obviously built to be scenery for an important event, like a cutscene or a gimmick for a boss, so the player is naturally lead to think it's a place worthy of exploring; unfortunately, since the boss battle or whatever has yet to come, maybe because it's the actual ending, there is nothing but some generic monsters.
These areas are always a massive waste of time since they provide absolutely nothing and it's especially bad if it's possible to reach them before the player has fast travel, since backtracking can require even more time than to get to the place at all.
Plus, knowing how to reach these zones is not useful either: since there's supposed to be plot development of some kind right there, at some point in time the player would learn how to go there anyway, making the whole exploration useless.
How to reduce the waste impact of these areas depend on the game itself, like plot elements, gameplay and so on, but usually you can remove the biggest offenders with these following rules and take care of the more subtle ones on a case by case basis.
At worst, these places can simply be cut off from the map until needed: just make a cutscene showing that a bridge has been built, a wall has collapsed or only certain vehicles can reach them. It goes against the open world set up, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
Alternatively, make sure the rewards are good. For example, you can take the closest "early game" location from the area, see which resources (items, monsters, etc.) are available there and drop the "next stage of strength" resources there. With a more practical example: if slimes are ranked in strength using the colors red, green, blue, if the closest zone has red slimes then the area will have green or even blue slimes. Supposedly, this will give the player resources that would help during early game as long as she/he manages to defeat the enemies.
Finally, but this is a difficult to use option, simply recycle areas and never let the player access these places without showing a cutscene or have a boss battle. Overusing it ends up generating too much backtracking (I go north, do stuff, but the boss is in the south where I came from, but then I need to go to the north again for the next cutscene...) and having dedicated places for each boss is not too different from the first option. Still, when used properly it is an immense help in world building and you should seriously consider it.
If you want to have have references for these "too early areas" so that you can avoid them, play Zelda Breath of the Wild. That game is filled with those and every time I ended up in one it had been nothing but a massive waste of time and in-game resources: the first for obvious reason (I had to walk up there in the first place), the second because whatever I found there was never enough to replenish what I used to not die along the way.
 
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@GipoScribantino That makes sense to me, yeah. I'll have a look into Breath of the Wild, and try to look for similar games for reference. I think it'll probably take a lot of experimenting to see what works, but that'll be pretty worth it in the long run.
 

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