Future RPGs

Games with combat, inventory, crafting and more beside a story and dating/life sim gameplay
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jack1974
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Future RPGs

Post by jack1974 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:23 am

If you followed the discussion in SOTW forums you already know a bit what is going to happen in future. In practice depending how SOTW will perform, I'll decide if in future I'll do more games like it, or go back to more VN/RPG (where the VN part is much bigger) like Loren. As I said several times SOTW was an experiment, it made no sense for me to make another game like Loren since there is ALREADY Loren 2-3 planned :) So I wanted to try to make something different, and anyone who has played both Loren and SOTW knows how different they are (gameplay wise).

However I also noticed that probably making games "so big" could be counter-productive for me. This is just an impression I have right now. In any RPG, battles tend to become repetitive. No matter what RPG it is. With real-time RPGs is less evident, but with turn based... yes. Even masterpieces like Fallout became repetitive in a while. This is normal of course. But when you can't afford to make games with a tactical map or in general you have MUCH LESS resources than a AAA company like me, it becomes very hard to add variety.

Then a few weeks ago while waiting for assets for SOTW, and to relax a bit, I played Banner Saga and it somehow opened my mind. You don't need to have 8+ characters with 15 skills each. You don't need to have a LOOOOOOONG game with 250+ battles, 100+ enemies, etc. The game CAN be fun by reducing the options carefully. Balancing becomes much easier, since you don't need to consider a crazy amount of skills or enemies. Etc etc.

In summary, after SOTW is finished I'll take a break because it was really an exhausting experience. In future, I might do what many other indies do though:
1) reuse the same engine with MINIMUM CHANGES and do another game with a different story/setting (see Spiderweb, Amaranth, Aldorlea = they make 10 games reusing same engine, aren't crazy like me to make a new one for every game!!)
2) try some smaller games, with an according lower price (not everyone wants to play an epic journey of 50h!). Smaller also means that you don't necessarily need to do 6 x 6 battles. It depends on tastes but I think SOTW Act1 battles, with only 3 party members, were very fun, sometimes more than latter ones :lol:
3) try to make a RPG/roguelike without plot. This would save a lot of time since I wouldn't need to hire writer, follow a story, etc. It would also be something different and fun for me to try

Loren 2-3 will still be made of course, and 99% will be like the first one: battles, but mostly story. Roger Steel is still in early stages so can't say much about it, PS2 same but we had different plans (engine) for it. The next ones, depends. If SOTW will sell 1 million copies (lol no way) then of course I'm not crazy, it means people want such a long and complex game and I'll do another one like it. But if only sells just like Loren, which is a good result, but won't be really worth all the time I spent on it, since in the same time I could probably have made 3-4 other games :lol: Or even 2 "normal" RPGs.
I love doing RPGs but I have a life too! :oops:

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iWeasle
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Re: Future RPGs

Post by iWeasle » Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:29 pm

Whatever you decide on, I like SOTW, I personally like Loren style more, but SOTW is really fun. I typically only play gameplay only games if they have a multiplayer component I can do with my friends, but I understand that rougelikes are actually really popular right now, so it actually might be an economically sound idea to try, especially since theoretically it could potentially be done whilst other games were busy being written. The appeal of doing nothing but dying for fun confuses me but hey, whatever people like :mrgreen: .

I'm a huge fan of SOTW, and from what I've seen from the forums, a fair number of people want more RPG RPG's, but in all honesty I doubt it will do that much better than Loren. This has nothing to do with quality, its simply that while new people are finding these games, most of the people who are going to buy SOTW likely also have bought at least some of your other games, since from what I understand, as Steam Greenlight is shutting down, knowledge of the game will mostly spread by word of mouth. Which beyond just wanting to suggest great games to my friends, is one of the reasons I recommend these games to my friends so often 8) . (Trick is, this game will likely become a huge success now since I'm almost always wrong in my predictions :lol: )

On a separate note, why would you code a new engine every game? I've taken several coding classes and if I were programming games I would make however many engines I needed, then just upgrade them and reuse them until they became outdated since that's a lot of work for something that isn't truthfully necessary :lol: . I mean it makes sense in some cases, such as PS and Loren being on different engines since you made the gameplay fairly different, but from what it sounds like you made a different engine for every game, even the VN's. While I respect the dedication it sounds like you're putting yourself through a pain in the ass :)

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jack1974
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Re: Future RPGs

Post by jack1974 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:38 pm

iWeasle wrote:(Trick is, this game will likely become a huge success now since I'm almost always wrong in my predictions :lol: )
Now that is something I'd like to see!!! :lol:
iWeasle wrote: On a separate note, why would you code a new engine every game? I've taken several coding classes and if I were programming games I would make however many engines I needed, then just upgrade them and reuse them until they became outdated since that's a lot of work for something that isn't truthfully necessary :lol: . I mean it makes sense in some cases, such as PS and Loren being on different engines since you made the gameplay fairly different, but from what it sounds like you made a different engine for every game, even the VN's. While I respect the dedication it sounds like you're putting yourself through a pain in the ass :)
I know I know! Even SOTW was SUPPOSED to reuse Loren's engine with "few minor tweaks". Then somehow exaggerated.
The problem I think is that in the beginning, when I start a new game, I'm very motivated/enthusiast, but then I forget that the fatigue doesn't simply go away but you carry it through the whole process. So if adding randomized items, 15 skills each character, lots of variations, battle conditions etc was fun in the early stages, in the long run it was really exhausting :mrgreen:

But I've learned my lesson now, trust me!!! I plan to reuse the engine more often and do some smaller games (be RPGs or dating sims) in future. I don't want to end my life in a madhouse :twisted: :twisted:

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iWeasle
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Re: Future RPGs

Post by iWeasle » Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:27 pm

jack1974 wrote:
iWeasle wrote:(Trick is, this game will likely become a huge success now since I'm almost always wrong in my predictions :lol: )
Now that is something I'd like to see!!! :lol:
iWeasle wrote: On a separate note, why would you code a new engine every game? I've taken several coding classes and if I were programming games I would make however many engines I needed, then just upgrade them and reuse them until they became outdated since that's a lot of work for something that isn't truthfully necessary :lol: . I mean it makes sense in some cases, such as PS and Loren being on different engines since you made the gameplay fairly different, but from what it sounds like you made a different engine for every game, even the VN's. While I respect the dedication it sounds like you're putting yourself through a pain in the ass :)
I know I know! Even SOTW was SUPPOSED to reuse Loren's engine with "few minor tweaks". Then somehow exaggerated.
The problem I think is that in the beginning, when I start a new game, I'm very motivated/enthusiast, but then I forget that the fatigue doesn't simply go away but you carry it through the whole process. So if adding randomized items, 15 skills each character, lots of variations, battle conditions etc was fun in the early stages, in the long run it was really exhausting :mrgreen:

But I've learned my lesson now, trust me!!! I plan to reuse the engine more often and do some smaller games (be RPGs or dating sims) in future. I don't want to end my life in a madhouse :twisted: :twisted:
Ah, I suppose that makes sense :) . And there's nothing wrong with a little insanity now and again :twisted:

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jack1974
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Re: Future RPGs

Post by jack1974 » Thu Oct 30, 2014 9:01 am

Image
making some prototypes while I wait for the last SOTW icons :mrgreen:
I'm using much smaller numbers, and each skill costs 1SP, with the impossibility to regain SP at all. Battles are shorter (obviously) and while I kept healing, now every heal counts. Seems fun so far, if I can combine it with what I have in mind could be a fun SMALL GAME (for real!).

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iWeasle
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Re: Future RPGs

Post by iWeasle » Fri Oct 31, 2014 5:06 am

jack1974 wrote:I'm using much smaller numbers, and each skill costs 1SP, with the impossibility to regain SP at all. Battles are shorter (obviously) and while I kept healing, now every heal counts. Seems fun so far, if I can combine it with what I have in mind could be a fun SMALL GAME (for real!).
Suuuuuuuuuure it's going to be short... :lol: That's what you said last time :mrgreen: .

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jack1974
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Re: Future RPGs

Post by jack1974 » Fri Oct 31, 2014 7:35 am

Heh after SOTW I've learned my lesson :)

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Re: Future RPGs

Post by Troyen » Fri Oct 31, 2014 8:11 am

jack1974 wrote:If you followed the discussion in SOTW forums you already know a bit what is going to happen in future. In practice depending how SOTW will perform, I'll decide if in future I'll do more games like it, or go back to more VN/RPG (where the VN part is much bigger) like Loren. As I said several times SOTW was an experiment, it made no sense for me to make another game like Loren since there is ALREADY Loren 2-3 planned :) So I wanted to try to make something different, and anyone who has played both Loren and SOTW knows how different they are (gameplay wise).
Always worth experimenting, otherwise your games would all end up being the same. I completely avoid anything mentioning RPGMaker because they all pretty much look and feel and play pretty much the same, and it's nice to try something different.
However I also noticed that probably making games "so big" could be counter-productive for me. This is just an impression I have right now. In any RPG, battles tend to become repetitive. No matter what RPG it is. With real-time RPGs is less evident, but with turn based... yes. Even masterpieces like Fallout became repetitive in a while.
I certainly noticed this (as you know!). It's not even limited to computer games; happens on tabletop games as well.

I think there are a few parts to the problem:
- Combat for the sake of combat. There's a desire to toss in fights to let the party level up or show that there are evil creatures in the world or demonstrate waves of guards around the general. However, I'm not sure it's necessary to actually include every fight in a game, especially not if it is a VN/RPG hybrid. You can ditch random encounters entirely and use prose to dispatch waves of faceless guards, letting the battles the player fights be the truly unique and interesting encounters. And you can even tweak the battle parameters to match the prose. Why make the player fight seven waves of guards before the boss commander when you can just skip to the boss fight and demonstrate fatigue by starting the party wounded with half-stamina?

- Combat is encouraged. Even when alternatives are available, you usually get more EXP for choosing to fight and beating the bad guys. The minotaur quest is an example - you get the quest reward either way, but actually killing the minotaur gives bonus experience and potentially bonus items. Thus, some players feel like they're forced to grind every fight.

- Combat is usually to the death. The kill mechanic also encourages this, because you get more EXP for actually killing enemies. But really, if I down the Bandit Leader, my party is all alive, and only three wounded bandits remain, why don't they just flee? If I squash the Alpha Wolf, are the others really going to fight on to the death, wounded and outnumbered? Most of the time, there is a tipping point where the victor is determined midway through the fight, and then the last bit becomes waiting for enough turns to grind down your enemies (and/or restoring your HP/mana for the next fight). Once I'm guaranteed to win, why force me to go through another 120 turns of auto-attack to prove it?
Then a few weeks ago while waiting for assets for SOTW, and to relax a bit, I played Banner Saga and it somehow opened my mind. You don't need to have 8+ characters with 15 skills each. You don't need to have a LOOOOOOONG game with 250+ battles, 100+ enemies, etc. The game CAN be fun by reducing the options carefully. Balancing becomes much easier, since you don't need to consider a crazy amount of skills or enemies. Etc etc.
I also think fewer skills, fewer battles, fewer enemies...but all of them more unique and interesting would be better.
1) reuse the same engine with MINIMUM CHANGES and do another game with a different story/setting (see Spiderweb, Amaranth, Aldorlea = they make 10 games reusing same engine, aren't crazy like me to make a new one for every game!!)
I think this would be a mistake. As alluded to above, I played one Spiderweb game, tried a second and found it too similar to the first that I dropped it and went looking for someone else. You don't have to remake the engine each time, I think the SotW engine does pretty well. But there are definite improvements over the Loren engine, and some things you could experiment/improve upon in a future game. Maybe just limit yourself to a certain number of engine changes per game and stick with it so you don't go too overboard, but evolve the engine slowly.

Sid Meier's rule of thumb for Civilization is 1/3rd the same, 1/3rd refinements on the previous version, and 1/3rd new. That ratio might not work exactly when it's only you doing all the work, but the general idea I think is sound.

(Psst...the resistance system badly needs help!)
2) try some smaller games, with an according lower price (not everyone wants to play an epic journey of 50h!). Smaller also means that you don't necessarily need to do 6 x 6 battles. It depends on tastes but I think SOTW Act1 battles, with only 3 party members, were very fun, sometimes more than latter ones :lol:
Smaller games also let you experiment more with those crazy engine ideas. ;)

I didn't enjoy the Act 1 battles so much (though it probably depends on the classes you pick). Actually, Act 1 had the most repetitive battles, because you couldn't do a whole lot with a small party, though that could be just because of how SotW was set up. But it doesn't have to be 6x6. 4 might work pretty well. Plus, battles should go faster if they're 4x4 instead of 6x6.
3) try to make a RPG/roguelike without plot. This would save a lot of time since I wouldn't need to hire writer, follow a story, etc. It would also be something different and fun for me to try
Hmm...the most appealing parts of your games are usually the plot. Would have to see...
Loren 2-3 will still be made of course, and 99% will be like the first one: battles, but mostly story. Roger Steel is still in early stages so can't say much about it, PS2 same but we had different plans (engine) for it. The next ones, depends. If SOTW will sell 1 million copies (lol no way) then of course I'm not crazy, it means people want such a long and complex game and I'll do another one like it. But if only sells just like Loren, which is a good result, but won't be really worth all the time I spent on it, since in the same time I could probably have made 3-4 other games :lol: Or even 2 "normal" RPGs.
I love doing RPGs but I have a life too! :oops:
I wonder if you had broken SotW into two. With a bit of reworking the story, you could've done something like Acts 1, 2, and 4 as one game and then Act 3 + some new stuff as an expansion (if Act 3 was rewritten to come after 4), and it might've been easier to make. Given the lengths of the acts, 1 + 2 + 4 would make a decent length for a game.

I mentioned in the other thread, but I am kind of worried about Loren 2. There are so many characters and combinations that it sounds five times more complex to make than SotW.

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Re: Future RPGs

Post by jack1974 » Fri Oct 31, 2014 8:34 am

Thanks for the feedback. Some random thoughts:
1) all depends on tastes: for example you saying that you didn't enjoy act1 battles, was surprised. I and other beta testers really enjoyed act1, probably TOO MUCH since is the act that took most time to test compared to its length. Is OK since it was the first one so the engine needed bugfixes and so on, but for example initially I had less skills and NO traits, then I decided to add both during that stage, and probably was a mistake. I mean surely the game is better and has more variety but I spent quite a lot of time :)
Same thing for battles, I'm sure that fabula would disagree about the opportunity to skip the battles with the plot :wink:
2) that said, and to address your Loren 2 concerns, that game will be much more similar to the first one (makes sense since players would expect to play something like the first title). I'm definitely going to simplify combat using less inventory slots and other "tricks". The biggest effort will be for the writer really. I know he also is going to bring in another one, and I have no problem adding even a third to do maybe some sidequests/extra texts. I don't know yet what engine I'll use, but even if was the same, I think I can change it only doing some small changes. The prototype that I talk about in another thread took me just 2 days to make and plays already quite different (small stats, attack is fixed and is shown on the character portrait, armor goes down by 1 every hit, all attack have same delay, you can bring reinforcements on battlefield, etc). So is "quick enough" to make something VERY different even using the same engine (luckily!)
3) Yeah probably SOTW could have been split in two but of course is too late now :lol: I'm going to raise the price when it's "officially out", probably some people will complain but as a matter of fact for play time is much bigger than Loren+DLC. Then of course it depends also if people like the new combat, maps, etc :oops:

Anyways, the next projects to be finished (which COULD have RPG elements) are Amber's Magic Shop and Queen Of Thieves (the tower defense game doesn't really count as RPG). They're still behind but hopefully writers will finish them next year. Then the next "full RPG" could be either Roger Steel or PS2 (lol at last!).
We'll see, as always is basically impossible to predict what will be out next!

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Re: Future RPGs

Post by Troyen » Fri Oct 31, 2014 8:47 am

It could just be the variety. Act 1 you fight wolves, tigers, spiders, and the occasional bear or goblin and the animals all pretty much used the same skills: either heavy attack on one front row character or a bite/spider's nest that hits everyone on the front row. So most battles pretty much played the same way, and your heroes don't have enough skills nor SP to really do much different. Also, I think I had to replay the act like seven times during the beta.

That said, I think Mormont was one of the best balanced nightmare bosses in the game - even more surprising because it's a 3v6 fight and there's such a varied experience depending on what two classes you pick.

(Totally random aside: One downside in the SotW engine - the health and mana flags look nice, but it was a lot more difficult to use skills based on % of health. I had to select each target and do math instead of looking at a health bar. Or for healing, if I wanted to see if anyone was under half and needing a Life, I needed to click and check each party member.)

Also, fabula is just slightly insane. ;)

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