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Default Rampant Games - Why Are RPGs So Hard to Create?

June 1st, 2010, 23:38
I think the answer is fairly obvious but the Rampant Coyote expands on the difficulties in developing RPGs over other genres. The first reason:
Content Consumption – RPGs are traditionally exploration-based and very content-intensive. The player is always pushing forward to see something new. In addition, older content – enemies, items, etc – quickly becomes obsolete. While there are still many opportunities for repetition of content as found in other genres (combat, usually the core mechanic, offering the most opportunities for repetition – but too much of that and players resent the “grinding”), it’s nothing like, say, an old-school fighting game where you are just changing the backgrounds from level to level. Players want a constant flow of upgrades to their equipment, lots of opportunities to customize their characters, and a constant opening of new areas to explore.
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June 1st, 2010, 23:38
This was not intended as an excuse in any way.

I was just pondering on this a bit over the weekend as I was trying to figure out why I still had river-stones in my inventory after they were supposed to have been socketed into the bronze artifact in the Lizardman Lair. The stupid little puzzle (and I hesitate to call it a puzzle, really, as there's really nothing puzzling about it) had taken me quite a bit of time with some additional code support and testing required, and I thought, "WHY oh WHY is this so time consuming?"

Thus this post was born. Because it's hard for me to write about anything else these days, as it's about all I've got on my mind…
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June 2nd, 2010, 02:22
That quoted paragraph (more, better, faster, repeat) makes sense if you're making a Diablo clone. An RPG can do repetition of content, considering it's the story and quest structure that matters more than any of the things they list. With interesting, involving, well written, challenging quests that still allow you to think of various ways to complete them, you can have a player stick to the same general area (say a town and surrounding lands that may also be involved in the quests to be found there) for hours, and still enjoy it. The author needs to reevaluate his priorities with RPG titles I think, if the rest of the article (which this paragraph doesn't entice me into reading) is in that same tone.

A recent example would be Risen's cities which have lots of quests and stuff to do, not all of them involving killing dudes (so, no, it's not like WoW "quests"), but also doing detective work like an advanture game, or whatever else. If the whole game was like that it would have been a classic, alas it went downhill fast when they decided to move through with the save the world plot. Similar for the academy monastery or whatever it was called. Oh well, it's still a solid, yet flawed, game, but man what it could have been with extra time to write more quests, polish the existing, and find a better way to move the story than crappy dugeon crawling and a horrible 80s-3D-Action-Game-Boss.

Even quests need items obviously, but depending on your ambition they may as well be mere icons shown in your inventory. The same for stuff you use, like weapons, they can all look the same and just have different statistics, maybe color changes, and the occasional unique model/sprite/ for special fancy loot. As long as your aesthetics are charming, people won't mind compromises if the gameplay delivers.

Enemies are easy to repeat in the same way. It's not like action games have you killing the same stuff on stage 1 and the final stage, they also tend to have a lot of enemy variety. Do the same effort for an RPG, and add color and statistic variations for different areas on top, saving unique models per area/region/whatever and for special bosses. You can do a lot of content without that much extra work, leaving you able to put the focus where necessary, ie the quests and story and gameplay as said already. Not to mention humanoid enemies which can repeat just the same with different equipment and no issues, so it's once again good to make interesting quests involving human interactions instead of just send the player off to kill 90% of the world's wildlife.

Etc.
Last edited by Al3xand3r; June 2nd, 2010 at 02:37.
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June 2nd, 2010, 08:06
You are exactly right - I didn't go into too much detail about how to solve these issues, but those are pretty straightforward solutions. Some of which I use, others… not so much.

What I was thinking about with repetition was actually the old gold box games - or other tactical combat RPGs. Similar composition of bad guys, but with a little bit different battlefield arrangement, and your party in a somewhat different state, and a little bit more randomness in initiative, and it could be a whole different ballgame.

But even that could only go so far. They could also get kinda tedious…
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June 2nd, 2010, 10:55
Don't forget the choice and consequence which at least to me is very important in an RPG…. it quickly creates exponential amounts of opportunities and possibles.

Another thing I never understood is why the companies are not using a quest editor. I made a quite simple one based on block graphs.

Stop the drug trade.

Branch 1: Kill the leader
Branch 2. Frame the leader
Branch 3. Burn the fields

Each of these have subbranches, and after that the scripts are generated from the blocks, you'll never miss any path, and it is easy to get an overview, as long as your scripts are solid you don't need to test them in game either.

+ You can write a spider who goes through the graph, and check if there is any redundancy or exploits.

To me it has always been a mystery why companies don't use this……
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June 2nd, 2010, 12:25
Originally Posted by GothicGothicness View Post
Don't forget the choice and consequence which at least to me is very important in an RPG…. it quickly creates exponential amounts of opportunities and possibles.

Another thing I never understood is why the companies are not using a quest editor. I made a quite simple one based on block graphs.

Stop the drug trade.

Branch 1: Kill the leader
Branch 2. Frame the leader
Branch 3. Burn the fields

Each of these have subbranches, and after that the scripts are generated from the blocks, you'll never miss any path, and it is easy to get an overview, as long as your scripts are solid you don't need to test them in game either.

+ You can write a spider who goes through the graph, and check if there is any redundancy or exploits.

To me it has always been a mystery why companies don't use this……
That sounds interesting - can you expand a bit on this? What options (blocks) are available to build such a graph? Do you allow global states or flags from other quests? Did you build a visual interface?
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June 2nd, 2010, 12:32
Interesting indeed - please elaborate, so the rest of us might benefit (read: steal and copy) your good ideas
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June 2nd, 2010, 13:45
Well, I figured the idea MUST be out there, but in a lot of roleplaying games even recent ones it is so obvious they didn't use anything like this, which just keeps me perplexed, actually I did not write it before because I am sure there would be a market to sell it. But as busy as I am I would probably never have time to finish it and make it advance and generic enough to sell to any sort of RPG games anyway……. so it might be better to get out there and improve all the RPGs. I even found it amusing I mean companies spends millions of dollars to write advance shaders and radiant AI ( which doesn't work ) and advance engine features and what not. But they can't write such a simple thing as a quest flow editor, which would improve the game a lot more than any of the things mentioned earlier + reduce a huge amount of bugs.

I don't really want to reveal exactly how it works though, maybe after Tactica: MoF is done…..
Last edited by GothicGothicness; June 2nd, 2010 at 14:08.
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June 2nd, 2010, 13:49
How about kismet? Is that something like you are talking about? I saw these charts in the Alpha Protocol presentation "But thou must!", I think.
Regarding Tactica: One more reason to hurry up, then
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June 2nd, 2010, 14:07
Yeah, something like that, except I think kismet is a bit too generic, since it is not focused on RPG's but any type of game and events, while it also work for RPG's it becomes a bit too complex to use for the purpose stated above.
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June 2nd, 2010, 14:46
In the first paragraph of the article, I guess you meant that is one of the reasons so *many* mainstream developers shy away from them.
And yes, you're absolutely right. RPGs are the hardest type of games to make for all the reasons you mentioned and more. The worst thing is, all that work, and most players will only see 20% of that unless they play it several times (and let's face it, most people play it once, if that)
Last edited by wolfing; June 2nd, 2010 at 14:59.
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June 2nd, 2010, 15:32
I absolutely hate games that don't allow you to see 90-100% of the content in one playthrough. I rarely play a non-sandbox game more than once. If a game boasts a lot of replayability because you can't see everything with one character, I stay away. Even a great game, I'll typically play the same type of character over and over with minor variations. I've played my favorite game, Oblivion, multiple times but I've never done the Dark Brotherhood quests. Why? I don't play evil. I don't murder. I rarely steal. I would never play a game where I'm the anti-hero. It's not in my makeup.

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June 2nd, 2010, 15:38
But if you don't have any options? I mean even if you only play through the game ones, you might as well watch a movie as play a game?
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June 2nd, 2010, 16:31
Here's a question for RC: how on earth does he find time to create an RPG and still write two or three articles about RPGs every week?

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June 2nd, 2010, 16:41
Here's a question for RC: how on earth does he find time to create an RPG and still write two or three articles about RPGs every week?
This is what I want to know. I am convinced he is twins.

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June 2nd, 2010, 18:03
I gave up sleeping a few years back. And also, proofreading.
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June 2nd, 2010, 23:24
Yeah, I agree; sleeping is such an unproductive waste of time!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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June 3rd, 2010, 10:56
Don't forget profreeding. Another black hole!!

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June 3rd, 2010, 12:21
Actually, I think it was within the German period of the so-called "Sturm und Drang", of which Goethe and Schiller are far most known from, sleeping - o the need to sleep - was actuall considered as kind of a weakness - a weakness of nature the human mind had to overcome.
I have been searching for articles of proof for what I think I remember about this, but unfortunately I couldn't find any. Sorry.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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June 3rd, 2010, 21:31
I heard Thomas Edison held the same belief. Bragged about only sleeping two hours or something per night, but then secretly caught cat-naps all day long.
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