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Liquid Metal King Slime
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 PostSat Aug 29, 2020 7:32 pm
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That's all well and good, but all you're doing is attempting to explain standing tradition right?
The things you listed aren't even all universal in most games.
What I see is that you're defining the box.
Now let's think outside it and make something new.


Why bother making a game at all, if it's just like another game.
If we can achieve what we're trying to do by reskinning an snes rom, than maybe we should reskin an snes rom instead.
There's a LOT less work involved, plus there's a bigger player base.

Let's talk more about how we can flip this idea of party number. What would be the opposite of what rpg's tend to do?
RPG's have advertised in the past based on the number of playable characters. Pokemon showed off it's 150 count. Octopath traveler has the fact that there's 8 characters right in the name. If you heard an RPG had 10,000 playable characters, would be want to see more?
How can this all be flipped on it's head? Can we make it infinite playable characters? Is there a way we can make it 0 playable characters?
Most RPG's are about 3+ members, and most other games have 1 main characters. What if your game only has 2? How would that be handled?
Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostSat Aug 29, 2020 8:13 pm
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Spoonweaver wrote:
That's all well and good, but all you're doing is attempting to explain standing tradition right?


Traditions exist for a reason. There's always freedom to ignore traditions - no game actually follows all the cliches, and some are mutually exclusive (singular "Chosen One" vs. "Band of chosen heroes, one for each element of magic" vs. "Make your own destiny, there is no predestination")

Spoonweaver wrote:
Why bother making a game at all, if it's just like another game.


If I like a certain type of experience and want more of it, why not make more of it?

Or if I like a certain kind of game but would like something common about which I see as a shortcoming to be handled differently, why not make an otherwise-normal genre example with the change I want to see?

Spoonweaver wrote:
If we can achieve what we're trying to do by reskinning an snes rom, than maybe we should reskin an snes rom instead.

There's a LOT less work involved, plus there's a bigger player base.


If I don't like major mechanical conventions of a given genre, why make a game using a dedicated genre engine instead of learning to code a game in an actual programming language? If I'd really rather make a 2D platformer than a traditional console-style RPG I'd track down an engine designed around 2D platformers and figure out how that works instead of jury-rigging something out of the "make NPCs and heroes walk around and dramatically change direction during cutscenes" feature of the RPG engine to make a platformer.

(Though since I like "RPG mechanics merged with another gameplay style" games like Zelda 2 a lot, it's probably easier to start with something that has good native support for the RPG elements and go from there anyway.)

Well, it's nowhere near as redundant as writing an entire different turn-based RPG battle system in an engine that natively supports turn-based RPG battles for the sake of having a different visual flourish on it.

Spoonweaver wrote:
If you heard an RPG had 10,000 playable characters, would be want to see more?
How can this all be flipped on it's head? Can we make it infinite playable characters?


I would not be interested in a game boasting 10,000 playable characters. "Infinite playable characters" would be sorta possible if you made a game with a character creator option, completely opened up the ability to code their own spells/equipment/appearance and draw/import their own textures, and kept letting them make and recruit more and more active characters to the party with no inbuilt cap, just keep going until it literally breaks your computer because it can't process that many objects.

Spoonweaver wrote:
Is there a way we can make it 0 playable characters?


Progress Quest, sorta. You go through a character creator screen where only one of your choices matters (Strength stat) and then everything else is automated. Your character automatically grinds until his inventory is full, then automatically returns to town and sells everything, rinse and repeat with just some progress bars and silly text indefinitely.

Likewise other games where the player is not in direct control of the characters. A lot of them give players great power of suggestion and/or landscaping powers to literally reshape the game world and indirectly control things, so "you're playing a god" instead of "you're playing the onscreen characters" which in essence is still having 1 playable character.

Spoonweaver wrote:
What if your game only has 2? How would that be handled?

I've got a game with exactly two heroes in the works right now (well, shelved for about a year but still in my main "games I'm working on" folder). They're a romantic couple and both are jack-of-all-trades types in skillset. The guy uses one-handed bladed weapons (sword, axe, spear) alongside a shield or an off-hand dagger, the girl uses a two-handed blunt implement (staff, mace, hammer). They both learn the same spells at different levels - the guy learns attack spells faster, the girl learns heals and supports faster.

I could've given them completely different skillsets that complemented each other, like a black mage/warrior and white mage/thief or warrior/thief and generalist mage or something. Instead I decided, contrary to my usual writing, that they're attracted by their commonalities instead of their contrast and this is highlighted in how similar their spell lists and stats are.

And in one of my released games (Snake Hallway) I had exactly two heroes: A pirate (strong and able to steal items) and a mermaid (able to use magic). Writing them was a lot of fun. I'd briefly considered making the undead skeleton of one of the pirate captain's crewmen join the party but decided against it; I figured it'd be a little redundant to write two cheesy Hollywood style pirates and the mermaid girl as dynamically as just the one pirate and mermaid I'd settled into a groove with.

One of the games I worked on but permanently lost was going to also be a game about a romantic couple (knight rescues princess from dragon, way out was blocked off by dragon before they killed him, need to take the long way home by leaving through the back door of his dungeon and emerging elsewhere). The guy had a good mix of healing spells, attack spells, physical attacks, and thieving skills; the girl had a mage/cleric spell list. Guy would only wear upper body armor (shirts, breastplates, whatever) and girl would only wear lower body armor (pants, skirts). Game was going to be a surreal mind-screw like Weegee and a silly NSFW weirdness game at the same time. The two characters would have constant flirting back and forth at just about any significant interaction with the scenery or NPCs.

Duos are a pretty easy character dynamic to write, I find. In fact a lot of games where I make a whole four heroes at least one of them kinda winds up being filler, there to take a combat role but not much for personality (Lesley in Maces Wild extra redundant because he doesn't really do anything special in combat, Thriff in Trytuges to a lesser extent, Foxi in Wolf's Quest, the thief girl in my current Zelda Scroll experiment game). I felt really good about how well I was able to juggle the personalities of the four heroes in A Quest.

A pair of siblings, a pair of friends, a pair of rivals or adversaries forced to work together by circumstance, a pair of strangers, a simple barbarian warrior and a charismatic thief, a knight and his squire, a cat and a dog, a cowboy and his horse...there are a lot of well-defined duos you could work from. A lot of straightforward two-character dynamics for a two-hero game.
In the past, I apologized when I was in the right because I was afraid of peer pressure. For this, I apologize.

I must be cruel, but to be kind; that bad may begin, and worse be left behind.
-Prince Hamlet of Denmark
Liquid Metal King Slime
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 PostSun Aug 30, 2020 5:22 pm
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HA! Shots fired!
I get a lot of crap for making a platformer in an rpg engine for sure.
But my main point is that indie games should strive for originality whenever possible.

Now! All this stuff about a game you made or will remake, that's more like it!
Let's talk specific game idea examples!
Let's brain storm that next big hit!
Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostSun Aug 30, 2020 8:09 pm
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That kind of thinking is exactly why I made this thread and the one about fleeing from battle; I was looking through the archives of forum posts on Castle Paradox and realized how many threads were discussions of game design concepts like elements and difficulty and final dungeons and memorable villains.

I figured our community needed more actual game design discussion, rather than just showing off graphics and reporting bugs. Analyzing our choices and weighing pros and cons between them when it comes to designing individual projects. Taking a good look at some RPG traditions and deciding why they became such before just varying things for the sake of variety whether or not the end result will be fun.

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Two games that pull off a huge roster well are Spooks & Summons and Puckamon. In both cases, you have a single player character and a huge pool of potential backup teammates. Puckamon gives a lot more personality to the movepools of individual creatures and a lot more variety to the stats (im)balance between various species like a traditional monster collecting RPG. Lots of focus on exploration and interacting with NPCs.

Spooks & Summons is a lot more consistently structured: Monsters are divided into tiers
Pumpkin Tier, pumpkins are trash; every tier above this has six monsters on it, one each of a physical attacker/tank, a thief, and four types of mage
Tier where a monster learns three spells and can equip one type of weapon
Tier where a monster learns six spells and can equip two types of weapon, I think

And it's basically always in your best interest to dismiss outdated/weak monsters when you find out what the replacement is for it on your highest available tier. Don't even think about bothering trying to keep a weaker monster around because you like how it looks more, the final chapters are going to absolutely wreck you.

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One of my game concepts is to do something kinda similar to Puckamon and a game Fenrir's sometimes talked about on Discord: Using some form of dungeon randomness and giving you a set of recruitable heroes from other OHR games. I really like giving lots of customization options to players; I prefer arbitrarily laying out the monster/treasure placement for the world, handing a set of potential tools that might help it, and saying "That's your goal, figure out for yourself the best way to get there" rather than hand-picking an optimal puzzle solution. For this concept (called "OHRRPCE Reference Party" at the concept stage) there'd be considerations like evaluating Frumpy McFrazzle vs Bob Surlaw vs Dogunzaki Tendo vs Spellshard Cleric (or Claire Valiant) as your white mage options (or taking all four of these heroes for an All White Mage party and thus neglecting your not-healing-each-other options a little) would be a pile of tool options as much as my usual choices like "heavy armor that slows you down or light armor that doesn't protect as much".

When making a huge cast like this, there's got to be a level of acceptance that not all characters are going to see equal use; when multiple characters share the same basic niche but one is a lot more versatile, a lot more powerful at the niche's main function, or just plain aesthetically look better.

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For example, while I'd say my overall favorite OHR game (possibly my favorite indie RPG) is Spellshard, the only really good choices for character selection are deciding between Fighter and Ranger (mostly whether you'd rather have a guy or a girl, but the Ranger has a small boost in Speed and the Fighter is a touch stronger) and between Paladin and Cleric (both can learn the two most important spells: Cure Wounds and Disrupt Undead, and since it's FF1 style MP they both cast as often. The Paladin is stronger and tankier while the Cleric's Disrupt reliably kills basically all non-boss undead up through the desert chapter because of her better magic stats and also items heal twice as much when she uses them).

The Thief can, right out the gate, do something the Bard can't replicate even if she's got magic and a potentially better weapon/armor loadout list; he can STEAL. Stealing items is important to dungeon logistics in a game like Spellshard, and makes the Thief synergize with the Cleric considerably. Meanwhile, the Wizard is so frail and so laser-focused on his specialty of casting spells and being a glass cannon that he's almost completely unusable. In early chapters especially you need to either burn up all his magic attacking even the most basic enemies or spend multiple turns buffing his defense even in random encounters. When other heroes are pushing 50-60 HP, he'll be lucky to have a max of 25 and common fodder monsters will be hitting for 13-30; Sorceress can wear a little armor, has better max HP, and can use swords so there's really not much reason to take a Wizard over a Sorceress even if she doesn't learn all the same spells.

When it comes to a tighter design, such as the 2003 Spellshard demo rather than the full version, you simply had a flat set of four distinct heroes. The wizard was hilariously frail back then, too, basically being a load on the party's resources for most of the game because he's constantly dying, being behind on experience totals as a result, dying more because he's at a lower level as well as being frail, needing a $300 item to be revived every time...but these four set heroes are all distinct and serve their own niches and it's not as hilariously imbalanced as my early OHR games (I'd give the "all arounder" character all stats at 10; the warrior something like 19 HP and 1 MP, 19 ATK and DEF but 1 INT and WIL which he wouldn't be using anyway; the Wizard like 5 HP, 15 MP, 1 ATK and DEF, 19 INT and WIL then get frustrated at how frequently my wizard would die while I was being stingy with his MP).

For A Quest, I decided to actually fully focus on the available game mechanics of the earliest CUSTOM.EXE demo: Elemental damage, ATK vs DEF and INT vs WIL, healing, target stats HP and MP only. I thought thoroughly about how to differentiate characters under these restrictions, so what I wound up with was thus:
- Eric is an all-arounder jack of all trades, master of one: He's the best healer. Has a decent selection of both physical and elemental fire magic, also has an element nearly-unique to himself (Mags and Mina can each get a weapon that does holy damage, but he has it on his base weapon, a unique spell set of Zolt/Plasmast/Judgement and a physical damage technique of it in Smite).
- Mags is a typical black mage type with a couple of minor healing spell as backup. She does magical damage and has access to both fire and ice elements, including a unique spell that causes damage with both elements at once.
- Dirk is a pure physical attacker; equipment with an INT boost is literally worthless to him as none of his attacks use it. Has access to physical damage from every element other than holy - there's no sacred holy-elemental weapon he can wield and he can't learn the Smite technique because he's a revenge-driven raging brute allied with the good guys due to a common enemy.
- Mina is a mixed attacker, speedy DPS type. Good mix of physical and magical damage options but can only use one element naturally to inflict damage: Ice. There's not a single flaming weapon she can wield, and her one holy weapon, the Alicorn Dagger, is a healing item so she can only use it to harm undead enemies (its main purpose is to turn her Attack stat into a free in-battle heal on the allies, slightly varying her role to include a heal that works on someone other than herself).

So despite the lack of access to design elements like "stat buff/debuff spells" or "Steal Item" and "Absorb Damage" attack bitsets I still managed to make all four heroes quite distinct. I think chaining might've been an option, but I didn't use it. A Quest was designed to ape a lot of the simplicity of my earliest OHR games, but it was significantly colored by my better game design skills developed over the decade and some change since I started.

The four heroes of Trytuges are just parodies of the Spellshard Demo characters; the warrior with slow Speed and very high Attack, the Thief who can steal items, a cleric and a wizard. Considering that game's legacy as a remake of a game I made in either late 2003 or early/mid 2004 and subsequently lost all copies of in which the main heroes were literally ripped sprites from Spellshard with facial hair removed and clothes/skin recolored slightly, you could say instead that it's a self-parody of my old ripoff.

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If characters are going to have a personality dynamic (optional) it's best to know how many you're actually willing to write and have interact with each other. I tend to struggle even with a small cast.

Hera and TOBMAC in Maces Wild don't have any interaction at all, and Hera's dynamic with Lesley is just that she's scientifically curious about studying a thought-extinct species of anthro animal in her world much like a modern medical doctor might be curious to study an elf or an ogre if we actually believed those to be real and one was unfrozen from the Elizabethan era today. TOBMAC's dynamic with Lesley is instant distrust because his 3GB hard drive doesn't have any information about the kingdom and time period Lesley claims to be from, Ken has an unexplained aversion to being followed around by a floating surveilance camera with a gun turret on it and his dynamic with Hera is that he asks her out on a date from time to time and she doesn't accept or tell him to stop asking so he just tries again later.

Meanwhile in Snake Hallway, you get a lot of back and forth between Captain Flint and Marina McMermaid; she's the kindly, friendly aquatic fey you might expect from a modern fantasy story for children while he's a rough and tough bandit of the sea and not at all ashamed of robbing and murdering. Their goals of escaping alive naturally align and they keep a sort of friendship afterward, but it's not like he's a reformed man afterward, he's still a treasure-seeking cutthroat with just as much loyalty and protectiveness of his crew as before (just a different crew because the last one kinda died on him).

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If characters aren't going to have distinct personalities and important specific dialog at plot points, number of available heroes becomes a purely game-mechanical choice. I still think total number of heroes available in a party should generally not exceed four, but total hero definitions easily can just because swappable reserve heroes cause so many complications and weird edge cases. Having a sort of "home base" where swapping is done for these is probably the best option if you still really, really want that many heroes available at a time (Ruida's Tavern in Dragon Warrior 3, Pokemon Center PCs in Pokemon).

But there's also nothing wrong with only having one or two or three or whatever total heroes and also giving them blank slate personalities. The first Dragon Warrior has a single hero with no personality, the second has three heroes and the second very briefly displays glimpses of a personality (casual, carefree, likes to wander, doesn't want his little sister to tag along on the important quest, willing to tell the others to go on without him if he gets hit with a death curse that leaves him bedridden) but the first and third heroes don't.

...Blank slate characters and silent protagonists is probably a good candidate for another thread.
In the past, I apologized when I was in the right because I was afraid of peer pressure. For this, I apologize.

I must be cruel, but to be kind; that bad may begin, and worse be left behind.
-Prince Hamlet of Denmark
Red Slime
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 PostSun Aug 30, 2020 8:44 pm
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Spoonweaver wrote:
Now! All this stuff about a game you made or will remake, that's more like it!
Let's talk specific game idea examples!
Let's brain storm that next big hit!


You start with two characters and eventually get eight to work with, and can send them in and out of the party at will. Everyone gets the same amount of experience, in or out of the active party, live or dead at the end of each battle. Depending on who's at the front of the party at a given time, they get treated as the "main character". The default silent protagonist is actually three characters with the same stats and abilities, of whom you pick one: the twin brother, twin sister, or the family dog. Also the story has three paths which have their own characters, so including each version of the DSP, there's seventeen total.

why no I don't have issues with scope creep and constantly revising things and biting off more than one person could feasibly chew what makes you think that
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