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View Full Version : An alternative model for RPG games



riadsala
22-11-2011, 11:37 AM
Hello,

no idea if this has been discussed before, or even implemented properly. But here goes:

The current model for large scale RPGs seems to use a jackalltrades design. So you end up with a game in which you can play as a melee specialist, or a stealthy assassin, or a mage, etc. Player choice is good I guess? But then you end up creating a game in which most player will only see a small portion (which is ok in my book, but you can see why Bioware are turning their back on this approach)

So why not, instead design a series of games, which all share the same setting. But they have different quests, UIs, etc depending on the role you're wanting to play. So you still get to chose what type of character you want to play, but instead of deciding at the start of the game, you decide before you buy/unlock that portion of the game. That way, the game designers can concentrate on making a better experience for each character, without having to worry about making the game accessible to all possible character builds. So if you play as a thief, you get a game a bit like Theif3, Hitman, etc. Playing as a knight, and the game is more like Mount&Blade. And playing as the king's general gives you a turn based strategy game :)

Obviously, it could all be viewed as a shameless way for developers to make more money. But hey, they already give us crappy DLC. Why not just make the DLC class specific. Or, get a load of indie game desingers to start chatting on it If they all shared the same game world, benefits of scale would reduce costs (reusing art assets, voice over stuff, well written in game fiction, etc).

I think it could be pretty neat it done properly, with love and care. We could end up with something like the Pulp Fiction of RPGs.... interlocking characters and stories. Or something like Discworld, in lots of different characters are used to explore different subgenres and themes.

I guess this has been toyed with a little in the past, but without much success as far as I'm aware (the FPS CnC spin off, and the RTS Halo game spring to mind).

hamster
22-11-2011, 11:43 AM
Well, it's not really a RPG anymore then but many genre-specific video games sharing the same setting but probably not even the same architectural game world (the thiefy architecture is different from the action ones as well as the platforming ones and the assassination ones).

Vexing Vision
22-11-2011, 11:50 AM
To me, personally, replay-value is a really important thing. If Neverwinter Nights only locked me on a single character, I wouldn't have spend ages in the game. I *love* knowing that there is a portion of the game I get to see because of my character-design choices, because it feels like a have real impact on the game world. Baldur's Gate 2's strongholds are a brilliant example of that - I loved teaching my mage apprentices, or holding court in the keep as a fighter.

riadsala
22-11-2011, 11:56 AM
To me, personally, replay-value is a really important thing. If Neverwinter Nights only locked me on a single character, I wouldn't have spend ages in the game. I *love* knowing that there is a portion of the game I get to see because of my character-design choices, because it feels like a have real impact on the game world. Baldur's Gate 2's strongholds are a brilliant example of that - I loved teaching my mage apprentices, or holding court in the keep as a fighter.

Oh, me too, exactly. Don't get me wrong, this is one my the main reasons why I like RPGs. But I also find it's one of the biggest problems, as none of the individual parts (roles) are done as well as dedicated games.

Maybe the best approach would be a mixed model, where the basegame is big and broad and open, and the DLC is very focused and class specific. (As, despite what we may think, DLC isn't going away). That way the quests don't need to be compromised in order to make them accessible to most class builds.

And note: I'm not saying ALL rpgs should be like this. Just that I think it's an interesting model.

Nalano
22-11-2011, 07:32 PM
Well, it's not really a RPG anymore then but many genre-specific video games sharing the same setting but probably not even the same architectural game world (the thiefy architecture is different from the action ones as well as the platforming ones and the assassination ones).

That's certainly an interesting point: I can't run along rooftops as a thief in a non-thief-based game.

Wizardry
22-11-2011, 07:40 PM
I'm sorry but this is the worst idea I've ever heard. I'm not even sure it's serious. I hope it's not.

Juan Carlo
22-11-2011, 07:57 PM
I think it depends on how story driven the RPG is. IF it's heavily focused on a storyline, as Bioware's are, for example, I don't understand why more RPGs haven't done what Warcraft 3 and Starcraft did and force you to play as different characters at various parts of the storyline--so for the first third you'd be a fighter, then mage, then rogue--or what have you. Although, party based RPGs probably wouldn't need to do this as you can usually control all the classes anyway. But single character RPGs could maybe do it.

Anyhow, Blizzard is already doing what you are suggesting with Starcraft 2--i.e. releasing 3 separate games for each race.

Wizardry
22-11-2011, 08:01 PM
IF it's heavily focused on a storyline, as Bioware's are, for example, I don't understand why more RPGs haven't done what Warcraft 3 and Starcraft did and force you to play as different characters at various parts of the storyline--so for the first third you'd be a fighter, then mage, then rogue--or what have you.
That's not even an RPG.

Nalano
22-11-2011, 08:18 PM
That's not even an RPG.

Aaaand another thread has been derailed.

Wizardry
22-11-2011, 08:22 PM
Aaaand another thread has been derailed.
How is is derailed? This thread is about how RPGs could be improved by removing the RPG. You can't escape it.

Heliocentric
22-11-2011, 08:25 PM
Hahaha!

Do not incite the beast.

Berzee
22-11-2011, 08:32 PM
Let's use a less explosive terminology then and say that this is a discussion of a single giant Open World Sandbox game versus a package of smaller games focusing on a particular function within that world.

Question to the OP then, is how does this differ from companies simply producing linear action games within a specific sub-genre?

Do you image there being connections between the different subgames in the package? So for example, founding a large guild of thieves means that when you return to play as the Captain of the Guard, you have a whole new rash of thievery problems to deal with?

riadsala
22-11-2011, 08:35 PM
How is is derailed? This thread is about how RPGs could be improved by removing the RPG. You can't escape it.


a) I don't think i said it would improve anything. I just thought it might be an interesting model.

b) Lets not get into the semantics of what is and what isn't an RPG. I'm using the terms in the loosest sense... you play a role in a game. The difference is, usually, you decide what role you'll play in the character creation part of the game. But it's not a giant leap to chosing your role before you buy the game. And that way, the game will be optimised (in terms of interesting quests, balance, etc) to your choice. And like I said, the best place for this would probably be option DLC... the developers could concentrate on creating specific quest lines for certain character classes, rather than trying to create a series of quests that all character can complete.

Actually, am I right in thinking that WoW does something like this? You essentially get a different set of quests depending on your class and race?

Nalano
22-11-2011, 08:36 PM
Do you image there being connections between the different subgames in the package? So for example, founding a large guild of thieves means that when you return to play as the Captain of the Guard, you have a whole new rash of thievery problems to deal with?

I like that idea.

riadsala
22-11-2011, 08:40 PM
Question to the OP then, is how does this differ from companies simply producing linear action games within a specific sub-genre?


Well, why would they have to be action games? They could still use turn based classic-rpg mechanics, etc.



Do you image there being connections between the different subgames in the package? So for example, founding a large guild of thieves means that when you return to play as the Captain of the Guard, you have a whole new rash of thievery problems to deal with?

That, would be pretty neat :) Difficult to do, but yes, having interactions and whatnot would make for an interesting game.

Surely there is room in the world for something like this? It's not like I'm suggesting that nobody should ever make a sandbox rpg again!

Berzee
22-11-2011, 08:55 PM
Whoa, I just realized Siege of Avalon did something similar to this! (http://www.ataniel.org/avalon2a.htm#three) That game had a lot of innovative ideas about digital distribution and episodic content =)

Basically, there were 6 chapters, but only the first two and the last one were strictly necessary for all classes. Between chapter 2 and chapter 6, the was one specialized chapter each for fighters to have a fightery adventure, scouts to go...scout things, and mages to be all magicky. You could play through all 6 chapters with any class, and usually did, for the training points, but playing through the fighter one as a scout would probably not exactly play to your strengths, so you could see it as Hard Mode I suppose. =)

Of course in practice it ended up just feeling like long sidequests, and not anything as interesting as remaking a game multiple times with different skills in mind -- but still I thought I'd mention it. =)

deano2099
22-11-2011, 11:09 PM
Actually, am I right in thinking that WoW does something like this? You essentially get a different set of quests depending on your class and race?

Race yes, for the first few hours, then they tend to join up. But not by class, so the play-styles aren't different (there are a few class-specific quests but they're fewer and fewer).

SWTOR is meant to be doing this though (completely different story and missions for each class).


To me, personally, replay-value is a really important thing. If Neverwinter Nights only locked me on a single character, I wouldn't have spend ages in the game.
On the flip side, some of the most interesting user modules were those that said "play as a Thief" or similar.

I can see a certain elegance to this. There's a dislike by developers in designing content not everyone will see (waste of money) and a dislike by some players of not getting to see everything. It's a somewhat clever solution - take the middle part of the game, have say three routes through it (Fighter, Mage, Thief) and stick a code in the box for one of them. Sell the others as DLC, which will fund the extra development needed. I'm not sure I like it, but it's interesting.

b0rsuk
23-11-2011, 06:42 AM
It seems the OP is longing for a time when (cRPG) game developers stop chasing amazing graphics and reuse the same content, and focus on gameplay. I don't think that's going to happen. Look at Skyrim. It might be a good game (I haven't played it) but it's primarily turning heads because of how it looks. Less people care about game mechanics than it's believed around here.

riadsala
23-11-2011, 11:21 AM
It seems the OP is longing for a time when (cRPG) game developers stop chasing amazing graphics and reuse the same content, and focus on gameplay. I don't think that's going to happen. Look at Skyrim. It might be a good game (I haven't played it) but it's primarily turning heads because of how it looks. Less people care about game mechanics than it's believed around here.

It needn't be that way though. Building these lovely worlds is expensive. And now Skyrim has been built, why not use the world for more interesting adventuress? We all know there's going to be DLC. So instead of something generic, wouldn't it be interesting if they developed some quest lines that were really geared towards certain character classes. It would add to the replay potential of the game, and encourage you to explore the game with a couple of different characters, rather than "do everything, go everywhere" on your first playthrough. (I remember a friend boasting about being head of pretty much every guild in Oblivion at the same time)

Jockie
23-11-2011, 11:50 AM
It needn't be that way though. Building these lovely worlds is expensive. And now Skyrim has been built, why not use the world for more interesting adventuress? We all know there's going to be DLC. So instead of something generic, wouldn't it be interesting if they developed some quest lines that were really geared towards certain character classes.

I'd imagine the answer from a business perspective would be that content aiming for only a subsection of the audience, won't make as much money as content targeted at the whole audience.

It applies to this idea in general - making content that only a small % of the gamers will see is not an effective use of time or money.

I don't agree with the above philosophy of course, it's just that that appears to be the way mainstream gaming has been going for a number of years (hence Biowares, all content for all characters strategy in recent games).

BillButNotBen
23-11-2011, 11:55 AM
I rather like this idea, though I can see how it would appall cRPG purists.

Without getting into an unwinnable argument about what an RPG is, I do think that it'd be possible for an RPG to only have one "class". Since most RPGs insist on you choosing a class at the beginning of the game, it wouldn't actually change the game itself, just the character creation pre-game.

It's something that other genres have played with. Eg: Starcraft 2 splitting out the 3 races. Or similarly, several action games where the different protagonists have different paths through the game.

I do feel that the usual split between Fighter, Mage, Thief tends to introduce a lot of problems. Fighters are overpowered at the start, Mages are overpowered at the end, Thieves usually have very little to do. It's very hard to pace the game, balance it, and give all classes interesting things to do all through the story, and it often leads to strangeness like being a hero who robs everybody blind.

Personally I never replay games (portal excepted) so 2/3rd of the content is wasted on me - i'd rather have an RPG where the thief mechanics actually make sense than an RPG with bad thieving and lots of other things I won't use/see.

I think it'd open up the chance for some more varied stories as well.

Then again, you'd run into the age old genre trap - what's the point where it stops being an RPG and starts being Thief?

archonsod
23-11-2011, 11:58 AM
Skyrim has no classes, though I'd say you already have questlines designed around certain attributes (the thieves guild for stealth types, Magic college for mages and so forth). It doesn't arbitrarily restrict you from embarking on one just because of a choice you made at the start, but then doing so would make it somewhat pointless to be designing a sandbox in the first place.

The other problem is it's not really needed. Why design a separate quest for each class when I can design one quest and allow the player to fight, sneak or magic their way through it? You're kinda running backwards to the idea of the class system in the first place - for most designers the class describes how the character approaches problems, not the kind of problems that the character is likely to face. You'd need to be incredibly careful to avoid destroying the believability of your plot (it's like the Bruce Lee effect - you'd need to explain why your big bad is letting the character play to their strengths rather than taking the more sensible route of targeting their weaknesses).

Some games do actually do it though. Dragon Age you had the whole origins thing; Drakensang II splits the main quest depending on your class for a while; The Witcher 2 also splits, although that's more of a moral/outlook than class thing for obvious reasons.

Wizardry
23-11-2011, 05:24 PM
The other problem is it's not really needed. Why design a separate quest for each class when I can design one quest and allow the player to fight, sneak or magic their way through it? You're kinda running backwards to the idea of the class system in the first place - for most designers the class describes how the character approaches problems, not the kind of problems that the character is likely to face. You'd need to be incredibly careful to avoid destroying the believability of your plot (it's like the Bruce Lee effect - you'd need to explain why your big bad is letting the character play to their strengths rather than taking the more sensible route of targeting their weaknesses).
The most sensible thing in the thread.

If the game is broken up into quests for each class then it's basically multiple games stitched together. Imagine a menu during installation that asks you which class you want to play as. If you choose a thief it installs Thief, if you choose a leader of men it installs an RTS etc. What's the point? And more importantly, how is this an RPG? Are you playing an RPG when you browse Steam or visit your local video game shop? Because there you get to choose how to spend your next 10+ hours of your life.

RPGs are all about solving problems based on your character's strengths and weaknesses. If a game is made up entirely of exclusive problems for different character types then the game practically plays itself after character creation. You'll never have to think to yourself "how am I going to solve this problem with a character who has better stealth skills than combat skills?" You'll never have to ask yourself "how am I going to get past this guard as someone who doesn't have very good dialogue skills?" No. You'll just be playing the game as provided. You'll be able to talk your way past that guard every time because you know that you've only been allowed on that quest due to picking the talky character during character creation.