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January 7th, 2009, 17:35
Rampant Coyote Jay Barnson muses on exploring other dimensions beyond geography, to make the content creation easier. This is a key point for indies but perhaps it could also allow development time to focus on other interesting aspects:
One of the things that makes RPGs so friggin' difficult to make for indies is the sheer quantity of content required for the traditional exploration-based gameplay that is one of the hallmarks (but, I note, not necessarily a requirement) of computer role-playing games. Indies have a constrained budget, almost by definition - and all that content can be really, really expensive to create.

Besides using higher-level building blocks to create content, another approach I've been fascinated by is to separate "exploration" from geography. Television shows re-use the same sets over and over again. It's usually when they decide to take a road trip to some exotic location that they jump the shark. While television shows aren't exactly a key example of "exploration," they do explore ideas, characters, and issues. While the locations change, the context changes each time. The bridge of the Enterprise may usually be the same (except when it's half-destroyed), but the people, time, and situations change. And those are things that could be equally fun to explore in an RPG.
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January 7th, 2009, 17:35
I'm of the opinion that a few settings that you'll have to revisit often and that actually change between the visits are far more interesting than hundreds of square kilometers of new stuff. Simply because I actually start to care about a place (whether I like it or not doesn't matter, I still have feelings for it).

Gothic 1 & 2: The few cities that are there change in the game, new people appear, things happen, etc.

The Witcher: Vizima changes, I like that.

NWN2: Oh, I just like Crossroad Keep and how it keeps changing, and actually the thing I liked most about the second expansion was that you can visit West Harbor or Crossroad Keep or Neverwinter, and see the change.

The Longest Journey & Dreamfall: Not an RPG, but there is also a lot of change.
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January 7th, 2009, 17:39
you know, I totally agree with the article. I hate 'open world' games, in Fallout 3 I pretty much visited only what I needed to finish the game (probably missed like 75% of the 'game' that way, but I never felt a need to explore other locations). I prefer contained worlds and exploration in terms of gameplay (factions, PC relationships, quests, crafting, spell making, etc.). Like the author, I also played and loved Persona 3 in my PS2. Somewhere in the past, for some reason, developers got the idea that CRPGs necessarily required a huge open world to explore (which increases development time and costs 10-fold). I say, go back to the basics, reuse your assets. There's much more gameplay in having 20 locations with 20 things to do in each than having 100 locations with 2 things to do in each (and costing a lot more money to develop by the way)
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January 7th, 2009, 18:01
I agree with the changes in gothic 1 & 2, how wonderfull the changes felt in the cities but Gothic had both: changes + a giant world( but on a small map)
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January 8th, 2009, 00:28
What I'd like to see are evolving parts of the country meanwhile being in a game … Building new houses, for example … I mean, NPCs could do this as well, I think …
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January 8th, 2009, 06:24
Given a limited budget, I would definitely prefer to see more investment in creating detailed and dynamic locations rather than vast, empty geographic areas.
Ideally, though, I prefer a good balance between the two. What most attracted me to the early RPGs (Ultima, Might and Magic, etc.) wasn't so much the stats and the combat, but the fact that, unlike adventure games, there were no invisible barriers. The sense of exploration and preparing for a long journey into the unknown is hard to reproduce, no matter how great the changes to conditions and circumstances of a particular location.
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