Saturday, October 22, 2011

Game (also includes Role-Playing)

I want to make a game that is fun to play. That is my number one goal with Valor Seed. Many people play RPG's for the story—I am not one of those people. A good story in an RPG is very important, but an RPG is a game first.

I have said on here before, that basically everything in an RPG is an abstraction of something. Graphically, you have one tree representing a forest, a building representing a town, or a monster flashing red to represent a spear being driven through its skull.

Mechanically, you have a menu system representing the player rummaging through a bag of stuff, a menu representing browsing the wares of a shop, a sudden distortion of environment followed by the party sprites swinging a tiny sword into empty space while barely moving which then corresponding to numbers bouncing up from out of the ground at the feet of a monster sprite, to represent a charging group of adventurers running down a band of hapless goblins and hacking them to pieces while screaming at the tops of their lungs.

Really, the further from these abstractions games go, such as accuracy of attacks being a function of the player and not of a mechanic to represent accuracy, the less they are RPG's. A game that requires the player to jump over obstacles with timed presses of the button, but also features an experience growth system is as much an action game as an RPG. There is nothing bad at all about cross genre games that do this, but a game that is exclusively an RPG does not involve player input to determine the success or failure of an action. I could probably be explaining it better, though I hope my point has still been somewhat made. The easiest way to put it, is that if a game's battle system requires the player's own reflexes to determine success or failure in battle, that game is also partly of the Action genre. Action games are about overcoming physical environments, role-playing games are about interpreting abstractions. Games that require timed button presses in combat to add a boost to damage are a gray area if the actual success or failure of the attack is not dependent upon it.

I have seen a lot of evidence that many players believe that the whole point of an RPG is the plot. I just do not understand this. Any person who wants to tell a story, and feels that the best way to do so is with an RPG, is just insane. The effort taken to create a story is just laughable compared to the effort in making an RPG. Above all else, an RPG is a game. The points of playing any game are to have fun, and try to win. In an action game you win by jumping over pitfalls. In an RPG you win by buying stronger equipment relative to the enemies you must soon defeat. The reason the short victory sting plays at the end of each battle, in most RPG's, is to congratulate you for not-losing.

Here is a brief anecdote: When I was in fifth grade, I made friends with this kid named Eric. Eric invited me to his birthday party. We played around outside for awhile, and then huddled around his basement television and played Nintendo. The four of us took turns at Captain Skyhawk, eventually finishing it. Eric had a pretty impressive collection of games, including Final Fantasy. It was hard to find a kid without a copy of the game around 1993, because Toys R' Us sold it for $19.99. I popped in Final Fantasy as was rather dumbfounded not to find a saved game. So I started it up, and went into the Cornerian weapon shop.

Eric said, “Those don't do anything.”

I said, “What don't.”

“The weapons.”

I then opened up the command menu, selected Equip, and equipped them. When I went into battle, and began depopulating the forest of imps, Eric was blown away.

The point of the above was not to call Eric stupid, despite his having the game's instruction manual. My point is that you just cannot finish an RPG without knowing how to play one. The “game” in “role-playing game,” is most important. If Star Wars Monopoly has taught us anything, it is that it is not a Star Wars game.

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