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What makes a great RPG?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by yung.carl.jung, Sep 16, 2018.

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  1. yung.carl.jung

    yung.carl.jung Morose & Lugubrious

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    Lately I've been obsessed with the idea of making my own RPG, or just modding an existing one, because I'm so desperately displeased with the state of games today.

    It all started when I tried playing Skyrim for the first time, seven years after its release, and the experience was just bad all around. I can't immerse anymore, I thought the quests and the NPCs were dull, the leveling, stats and abilities system becomes more streamlined and moves away from RPG towards "FPS with some perks". There was zero mystique, bad worldbuilding, no sense of improvement whatsoever, no sense of class or specialization. You are the dragon born, the one true hero, from the first second you step into the game. None of your choices really matter. You will be good at close combat, magic and stealth no matter how you stat or skill your character. Magic in general is completely gutted. There are only a fraction of the skills that Daggerfall or Morrowind had, especially weapons. Some skills have trees that are entirely useless, like lockpicking. One Quest can give you the Skeleton Key and make all of your hard-earned perks superfluent. Factions barely exist besides the two main ones, and they seldom interact. Everything scales with your character. There is almost never surprise loot. There are almost no danger zones, your character is able to explore every tomb, city, bandit camp and so on from the get-go. I tried every difficulty setup, but opted for Expert and heavily modded opponents to make them stronger, that way I finally found a proper difficulty. Don't worry, I am finally enjoying Skyrim. It's a really good action game with some RPG elements. I don't think it's great, I don't think it's very good, but it can definitely be fun.

    There is more to critisize, but most of these mistakes are things that I wanted to get right. So, I've thought a few things up:

    1) Lineage determines your boni to stats, skills and crafts. Also how you look, how much other factions like you, the way you move, jump, kick and dash. Every race has a unique kick, dash and jump animation.

    2) Attributes determine your total effectiveness for everything, your stats, and are split into Body, Mind and Soul, each with three outliers. They also alter your characters look, have you appear more built, or slender and your personality, whether you are intimidating or charming.

    3) Stats are your characters properties: His swing speed is improved by Agility, his carry weight by Strength, his Alchemy effectiveness by Intelligence, his rate of experience, likeability, likelyhood to persuade or threaten, any interaction in the game imagineable.

    4) Schools are the major directions you will develop your character in: Combat and Crafting. Both Magic and Manual have 4 Schools each, that branch out into three specializations. So you pick, say, Elemental Magic and specialize into Fire, combine that with Black Magic specializing in Pestilence. You will be allowed two specialization, whether double Magic/Combat or mixed is your choice. Spells and Attacks from other schools will seldom be available from vendors or teachers, but aside from that you are resricted to the abilities of your respective specializations. Anything from a Druid Tank to a Necromancing Barbarian is possible, but your character will never be a jack of all trades, neither will every single one of the 552 playable combinations be viable. Skill trees have passive bonusses, abilities that are used actively, different forms to transform into, or can trigger in-game events. Craft behaves exactly the way Combat does: You start off being able to choose two Schools of Generalist or Specialist, the former focussing on gathering and the latter on refining. You could go with something basic, like Mining and Engineering (Generalist and Specialist), but also something wild like Thief and Merchant (Generalist and Generalist) for the highest gold-generation in the game. Basic rule of thumb is that General jobs help you with most of the in-world interactions like lockpicking, stealing, harvesting ressources, talking to people, manipulating terrain, travel and so forth, while the Specialist jobs give you buffs to your attributes, weapons and armors, refine items and are in general oriented to make your character stronger in combat.

    5) Skills are improved by using them. They are gained through skill-trees, can be bought, obtained from books or quests. Having a higher skill will simply increase the effectiveness of the act, and will grant you a unique bonus for every 20 points you gain. All skills are governed by attributes, as mentioned earlier. So, brewing a potion, there are several factors for a formula: Intelligence (attribute) * Alchemy (skill) * Passive modificators from your skill tree * Ingredient potency * Luck.

    6) Experience is gained by skill-ups, killing creatures and doing quests (mostly), exploring, reading books, talking to people succesfully, buying and selling, crafting (marginally). Leveling up allows you to spend three Attribute and Skill points each.

    Most of the game world will be scripted, most barrels and chests will have the same content on the same playthrough, but some chests, merchant inventories and monster loots will be randomized. There will be both, a brutally rough world where you can run into high level monster and die instantly, but also "instances", specific dungeons where both monsters and loot are level-scaled, that you will do as a party with NPCs.

    Almost all of my ideas were stolen off of great games, mostly TES 2, TES 3 and WoW, but also Titan Quest, Diablo 2, Dark Messiah of Might and Magic and many others.

    I have a lot of other ideas for lore, game design, aesthetic, combat, immersion, quests and so forth, but to me what really makes or breaks the game are the base mechanics, I would be happy about any comments! This idea is definitely never going to see the light of day, because I'm a lazy slob, but it is a lot of fun to think about. If I ever go through I would probably do it as a Diablo clone first to see if the classes and combat are at all fun, but truly I would love for it to be a 1st person game like Dark Messiah. I have no idea how hard modding Skyrim is, but for the next few months I will be only theorizing anyway.

    Additional Questions:

    1) What is your favorite RPG, aRPG, Hack 'N Slash or similiar game?

    2) If you could design the character system for an RPG (as I have laid out), how would you approach it?

    3) Do you have any crazy or cool ideas for the mod/game in general?
     
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  2. Synsensa

    Synsensa Warlord Retired Moderator

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    I am confused. Skyrim has all of that except it has randomized loot and not as many branches for specialization.
     
  3. Cheetah

    Cheetah Chieftain

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    A good RPG needs a compelling story and good world building. If one can also evolve ones character(s) outside the preplanned path, even better.

    Everything else is about the amount of details to expose to the player: too little and it all feels shallow, too much and it becomes as tedious as real life with having to do the dishes and hanging up the laundry.
     
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  4. brennan

    brennan Argumentative Brit

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    Baldur's Gate 1 & 2
    KOTOR 2 TSL (+RCM)
    NWN SoU & HotU
    NWN2 / MotB
    Diablo 2
    WoW - Vanilla/BC/Wrath era
    Dragon Age (original / Awakenings + Inquisition)
    Mass Effect (despite numerous flaws it's a great setting and story)

    Quite enjoyed Oblivion and Skyrim, but they both have serious flaws, especially after you've played for a while.

    Diablo 3 a massive let down ofc.

    A really good RPG imo has a great story, setting or characters - preferably a combination of the three.

    I've yet to see an RPG that can really implement massively different player classes and playstyles, that's something i'd like to see. Like where some of the classes get by almost entirely on political nouse - talking others into doing the fighting; or engineering classes that buff their allies with siege engines and gadgets, rather than doing the fighting themselves.
     
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  5. yung.carl.jung

    yung.carl.jung Morose & Lugubrious

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    Making something good is not about reinventing the wheel, but about understanding what makes gaming as an experience rewarding, challenging and awe inducing :)

    First off, Skyrim does not have an Attribute system like Oblivion and its predecessors, it's vastly different. Almost none of your attributes actually manipulate your skills: Magicka doesn't make you better at brewing potions, enchanting items or altering reality, it simply gives you more mana (and also mana reg, I think?). That's only ever relevant for combat, really. There is no personality, luck, willpower, speed and so on like in the older TES games. There is also no meaningful choice. A pure mage will always be increasing Magicka and maybe put a few points in Endurance in Skyrim. If Attributes are more split-out however your character will be slow to explore, severely lacking in speed, be killed easily, lacking in stamina and health, and be unpopular, lacking in personality. Choices actually matter in that scenario.

    Skyrim also does not truly have a class system, because you can literally increase every skill in the game to 100 no matter which choices you made at any point in the game. That is cool and some people may even prefer this kind of design, but I like restrictions to some degree. Even though you can do everything, however, the combat styles still feel absolutely bland. If you want to play a Mage you necessarily always have to play Destruction. There is no other good way of actively dealing damage besides Staffs. Conjuration also has a lot of damage, because Atronarchs and Dremora Lords are powerful, but watching them slaughter your opponents and doing nothing is boring and dreadful, you want to be involved as a player. Alteration could've gotten Arcane Missiles, Illusion could have used traps better than destruction, and more thematically, restoration could have drain or absorb spells, conjuration damage over time curses, you know, so they could be playstyle of their own.

    Skyrim races also barely make a difference to actual gameplay, some powers are strong, but some are almost negligible. The same goes for the stat boni. From a leveling POV it actually makes sense to pick classes that do not buff the skills you want to level, because naturally you will have faster skill-ups and therefore level faster. That is just bad game design imo. Of course, since enemy levels scale, doing this will be worse for you, because ironically, you are stronger in skyrim with lower level than with a higher level, if your equipment is the same. Does it actually feel different to play a Nord or an Orc? Do people treat you differently? Not really, imo.

    Skyrim's leveling system is also pretty much completely different, you get no exp for kills, nor for quests, nor exploring, you get it exclusively from skill-ups. Those are some of the major differences, there are some minor ones, but I don't want to make this post too long.
     
  6. brennan

    brennan Argumentative Brit

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    I very quickly figured out in Oblivion, that the way forward was to create a class that had none of the skills I wanted to use as class skills. That meant I had total power of choice over when I levelled and, with a bit of testing, the max stat increase every time.

    Then I figured out how to totally break the magic system using spell crafting...
     
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  7. yung.carl.jung

    yung.carl.jung Morose & Lugubrious

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    I agree completely. I do not want a life-simulator like Daggerfall. It's an amazing game in its own right, but I don't feel like having a house, a wife, pets, riding a horse, chopping firewood and so forth is really necessary. If it is done well then it's good, but it's not what causes immersion. As you say, a compelling story and a believable world are what really suck you in.

    I essentially want a game centered around character development, where your main activities are exploring, combat and crafting. all three shape how your character develops, if one character initially explores the east part of the map, one goes west, they would have a significantly different look, stats, skills and so on if they met again in the middle. exploring new lands, mysteries, discovering ruins, eating unknown food and ingedients, joining factions, plotting intrigues, taking titles and occupations, all that should give experience to reward non-combat oriented gameplay)

    To me, Morrowind was the perfect game in this respect. Broken mechanics and all, but perfect attention to detail. Clever, funny, absurd, epic, violent, old-testamenty, hinduist-inspired, apparently peyote-induced lore that left me scratching my head still to this day, after about 11 or 12 years :lol:
     
  8. AmazonQueen

    AmazonQueen Chieftain

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    I agree with Cheetah. Lore and story make the game.
    My favourite game worlds are https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glorantha and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tékumel, my favourite CRPG is Morrowind. In all cases it wasn't the game mechanics, it was the world that made me want to play.
    As for character development nothing too locked down like D&D classes. The best system IMO is one that allows the player to develop whatever they want but rewards specialisation. Preventing characters becoming overpowered should be done with mechanisms that reflect real world limits like training costing time and money. In TES you never age regardless of how long you spend and can make money without effort (eg alchemy or just chopping logs in Skyrim).
     
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  9. RobAnybody

    RobAnybody Chieftain

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    My impression is that you've put a lot of thought into the "G" in RPG but haven't even touched on the "RP" part.
     
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  10. yung.carl.jung

    yung.carl.jung Morose & Lugubrious

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    Weirdly enough that is pretty much exactly what I imagined. For example: If you picked Arcane Magic as a School and then picked Illusion as a specialization, you could charm, deceive, frighten or confuse NPCs, make them stop fighting you, make them fight their allies, much like in the older TES series, then with Diplomat as a specialization you could gain skills to: manipulate people in order to fulfill quests, excite a war between factions, convince them to levy part of their military for a raid of yours, give you some of their money, even kill someone else. Combine that with Conjuration or Restoration (my names and specs are a little different, just as an example) as secondary fighting specialization and you would have a character that never actively does damage, achieves his goals through intrigue, plotting and manipulation, and actually gets rewarded for that via exp.

    Engineering as a spec would work very well with Ranged for example, you can build spikes that you throw around you at a lower level, to keep enemies at bay, or you can have a fully mechanical automaton that protects you with a shield, is weak to fire but resistant to arrows and steel. I want a system that really specializes in both fighting and interpersonal playstyle. I want actions that you do truly affect the different factions, that people get mad at you, that some cities will not host you, because they're racist, or enemies of your clan, or at war with your guild.

    Also nice to see we both got to see the golden age of WoW. I spent way too much time on that, but when it was in its prime it was probably the best game of all time for me. TBC Season 2 - 4 especially for me. WotLK was fun, but felt broken. Classic in only got to play on private servers and even there it was an absolutely blast. Proper raids must have been legendary with that many people.
     
  11. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    It may sound a bit cheesy, but for me, what makes a great RPG is some indication the developers cared about the game and weren't doing it just for a paycheck. (Not needing to read a textbook to start playing helps!)

    For example, one of my favorite RPGs is Avernum: Escape from the Pit. In the game you create a party and try to survive in a vast underground cave network where the Empire throws all of its criminals, heretics, rebels, malcontents, and any else who looks at an Imperial officer the wrong way. The game was made by one guy and it is clear he cared about the game. The graphics are potato quality, isn't particularly well balanced, is missing several ease of use interface aspects, and can get a bit tedious in the end, but the game is fun.

    Not getting front loaded with decisions - including decisions that determine key character concepts before you even start playing- is also super nice. In Pillars of Eternity or Tyranny, it can be easily over an hour before you start playing while dealing with, in my opinion, a very tedious and not entirely intuitive character system. My first time playing PoE I ended up seriously gimping my character at creation because I didn't really understand how everything worked in the game, a fact I only discovered eight or so hours into the game when I kept struggling against every encounter, even encounters that appeared to be trash mobs. Not every game needs a Divinity OS style classless system, but some flexibility in game is always nice.
    EDIT: Don't make me do serious algebra or calculus to figure out what a spell or skill would do. I'm playing the game to enjoy myself, not have flashbacks to a high school math test where I realized I had no idea what I was doing. Leave the number crunching and optimization to the Hard/Nightmare difficulties.

    Another big thing for me is keeping a consistent tone throughout the game -including the world and mechanics. For example, in Witcher 3, prior to fighting the Wild Hunt you are trying to collect allies to aid you. One ally says he can't send any help, but offers you his family's ancestral sword, and the dialogue where you get it is full of dramatic swelling music and Geralt acts with great seriousness toward it. Once the cutscene was over, I took a look at the stats and it was sort of underwhelming. I had overleveled myself a bit, but had I been at the swords level, I still don't think I would have used it. End result, the legendary family heirloom got chucked in my stash, never to see the light of day. I felt Bioware tends to struggle with this a bit.

    A minor complaint I have is super annoying party members. In Pillars of Eternity, I grew to despise all of my party members except for Eder (a little bit) and the Polynesian Orc Bard dude. The rest were all brain damaged wierdos like Aloth, the creepy priest who stares at you while you sleeping, and the ghost spirit lady. I know I don't have to like every party member (I couldn't stand Sera in DAI) but when that many are just creepy and weird, there might be a writing problem.

    Building off of Obsidian, way too much writing. I am playing a game, not reading a novel. No writer in a game development team is a great novelist, but some devs seem to think they are. In the end, it frequently results in wasting the players time or just drowns them in information they don't remember and aren't particularly useful to the player. Jeff Vogel, the (only) developer behind the Avernum, Geneforge, and Avadon series of text heavy party based RPGs did a good job illustrating the issue PoE had with too much writing.
    http://jeff-vogel.blogspot.com/2017/06/games-have-too-many-words-case-study.html

    http://jeff-vogel.blogspot.com/2017/05/does-your-video-game-have-too-many.html

    Even Josh Sawyer admits that PoE had too many words in it and was/is desperately in need of some editing passes.
    https://jesawyer.tumblr.com/post/161883319926/destroy-that-douchebag-jeff-vogel-now

    Last thing I have for what makes a good RPG, DON'T DROWN ME IN USELESS CRAFTING JUNK. Dear god Witcher 3, Fallout 4, DAI, and Divinity OS drown you in useless crafting junk. For Witcher 3 and DAI, a massive step would be cutting the number of components I need in half. Why do I need ten units of ore? Just make it five and have less annoying clicking and running around and junk clogging up my inventory. Having to run around to fine blueprints for basic items or discovering I am one unit short of basic leather and have to go find another merchant is just time consuming.


    Anyhow, favorite RPGs in no particular order:

    Morrowind*
    Divinity OS 2
    Avernum Escape from the Pit
    Deus Ex
    Deus Ex: Human Revolution
    Mass Effect 2
    Shadowrun Dragonfall
    Two Worlds**
    Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines
    Witcher 2
    Witcher 3

    *I say Morrowind despite being fully aware of its faults. Half the spells are useless, spellcasting is a nightmare unless you are using items, Enchantment and Alchemy skills are either useless or gamebreaking, and the this might be the only time Michael Kirkbride's drug fueled ramblings and hallucinations actually worked.
    **Yes the game is bad, but it is my guilty pleasure.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018
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  12. yung.carl.jung

    yung.carl.jung Morose & Lugubrious

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    I haven't put much of any work into the lore, world, characters, gods, pretty much none at all. It's just things been popping into my mind a lot lately, like a game is manifesting inside of me. Like some weird Frankensteinian creature, different parts of olde dead titles just assemble to be one unholy grindfest with rage inducing difficulty. At least that's how I'm imagining it. I realize my perfect game is probably far from most people's perfect game.

    Either way, I'll continue to write everything down just for its own sake. My life's work will be two unfinished novels, an amateur movie where the main actor goes missing halfway in, a loose collection of short stories and essays that don't fit together at all, and a sheer infinite amount of barely decipherable notes. The Question what really gets people to play RPGs, or games in general, has really been joggin' in my noggin lately.
     
  13. brennan

    brennan Argumentative Brit

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    It makes a difference. I tried out Pillars of Eternity, thinking an Obsidian game would be great, but the characters just feel a bit lame. They lack the silly epic-ness of classic D&D silly-stat beasts and in that case it is the game mechanics letting the thing down.
     
  14. Arakhor

    Arakhor Dremora Courtier Moderator

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    I'd say that a great RPG has to immerse you above all else, otherwise you become painfully aware that you're just playing a game. if it's a clunky stats-based game like Morrowind, then that goes double. Morrowind is essentially my favourite all-time game, but I was often more immersed in Oblivion and sometimes even Skyrim.
     
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  15. dusters

    dusters Loves cats

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    Kingdoms of Amalur - Reckoning is quite decent for a relatively short (30-50 hours) RPG. Skill trees which are all useful, loot, different classes, immersive story. The most recent I played.
     
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  16. The_J

    The_J Say No 2 Net Validations Retired Moderator Supporter

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    I liked the OP, but I think points 2, 4, 5 and 6 are not necessarily relevant. That's how you implement things, but doesn't really touch the concepts.
    When you talk about RPGs, it should also be noted that there seem (?) to be 2 different types of RPG players: The people who want to get immersed in a story, and the people who want to explore a world. Doing both at the same time is very complicated, because the first part needs an eye for detail, whereas the second part needs mass.
    Personally I think Divinity II did this pretty well. The world was not small (not comparable with Morrowind, but still), but there were many unique places, secrets, and just points in the game which looked really beautiful. This helps with the immersion, since it really looks like a unique world. In contrast to the baziilionst Daedra dungeon in Morrowind, which had exactly the same setup as all the others.

    I think the single most important aspect is the one which applies to all games, and as Sid Meier said: Interesting games are about making interesting choices.
    Well, many of them. E.g. I liked Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. But it's not a RPG. It's an action slasher. You don't make any choices there really. But you have an unique world, and you follow an interesting story.
    In contrast to that, games like Plansecape: Torment, Fallout (only played 1+2) and Arcanum, there you make a ton of choices. And they matter. You mess with someone in town X, someone in town Y might hate you. It is great (sort of) that you could actually fail quests. It matters what you did at which point, and even the end was affected by it. This shows that the devs also thought about the setup of the world, and how the world works. If you would slay a town, everyone, also in other towns, would hate you. And you actually could do that, for Fallout 1,2 and Arcanum. Or you could play the whole game nearly without killing anyone (tough game though). You have all the choice, and for the end it matters how you use them.

    tl;dr: Immersive world (which makes sense), unique places, choices which have an impact. That is important.

    Besides not messing up the game itself. Working interface, watchable graphics, balanced combat system, etc.
     
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  17. red_elk

    red_elk Warlord

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    I like open-world RPGs, like the ones where you can go anywhere and gameplay is nonlinear, but you don't have to replay it multiple times to see all of the content.
    - Might and Magic 6
    - Gothic 2
    - Witcher 3

    Witcher 3 has a great storyline, but items and looting system is messed up a bit. You always end up carrying tons of crafting items, can steal stuff in front of traders and other NPCs, etc. Weapons and armor are also not very well balanced.

    Also worth mentioning - Gothic 1 and Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines.
     
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  18. GoodSarmatian

    GoodSarmatian Temporary Pattern...still recognizably human...

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    I'll answer with a question.
    What kind of RPG ?
    One where you control only one player character like Bloodlines, Alpha Protocol or Bethesda games, or the kind where you have several companions like Bioware games or classic JRPGs.

    Both obviously need a good story, setting and well written characters and both should have multiple possible solutions for quests, but the priorities are different. Single character games should have more non-combat skills and possible quest solutions to make a nonviolent approach viable, while party based games need a wider array of combat skills to make the (preferably turn based) fights more tactical.

    Hard to say. Vampire: the Masquerade: Bloodlines ? Witcher 3 ? Dragon Age Origins ? Divinity: Original Sin 2 ?
    They're so different from each other that they're almost seperate genres. Bloodlines is practically Deus Ex with vampires. Is Deus Ex an RPG ?
    Honorable mention to Alpha Protocol which really nails the non-violent and multiple solutions part.
    Oh, forgot the Mass Effect trilogy. Like Witcher 3 extremely combat heavy, but makes up for it with a good story and memorable characters.

    I would use attibutes, skills and skill trees, but I wouldn't let the player directly pick attribute points. Instead you choose several background options -culture, education, occuparion etc- and a few traits.
    Traits could me mental and physical and come with skill trees of their own.
    For example, you can make a character who is slow to trust people. The initial Distrustful trait reduces Charisma by 1 and increases Perception by 1 (no idea yet what any of those attributes actually do) and increases your defense against illusion spells.
    A cruel character would get bonuses to critical hit damage, a compassionate one better healing and buffs. Upgrades to those traits would then increase your attributes and give additional bonuses. Better stealth for the cruel guy ? Higher Willpower (whatever that means) for the compassionate dude ?
    Ideally those would also unlock different dialogue and moral choice options.
    Is the character larger than average ? Strength and HP bonus and upgrades that boost other physical attributes and the intimidation skill.
    Small ? Bonus to defense and Dexterity, upgrades that increase stealth or critical hit rate.

    Of yourse such a system would be rife for min-maxing, but sometimes that's half the fun.
    I think it could work for all RPG sub-genres.

    Yes, but most of them are secret unless I get the money to found a game studio.
    OK, here's one that actually isn't that crazy: Don't make magic too weak and common, but don't make it too rare either. None of that regenerating mana or one use per rest nonsense.
    Instead make mana something that needs to be generated actively. Make your mages meditate or chant for a bit so that the rest of the party has to protect them until they can throw lightning that actually does more damage than an axe. That way powerful magic can be used in every battle but doesn't become trivial.

    Well, that could be a problem...


    I liked the characters ! Except for Grieving Mother who was just creepy and depressing.

    Too much talking can be exhausting, but most of the text at character creation or the glossary in PoE can be skipped. Didn't bother me at all.
    The biggest mistake Obsidian made was sticking to the real-time-with-pause combat system. I've always tolerated it in RPGs, but I never liked it.
     
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  19. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    Currently my arpg favorite is Path of Exile. My past favorites were Diablo 2 and Skyrim.

    Here is POE's current skill tree:

    https://www.pathofexile.com/passive-skill-tree Once it loads, go full screen and mouse roll in for a close look. Character groups (marauder, witch, duelist etc.) have starting points, but other than that any character can be built around any points it can reach. Typical characters accumulate around 100 points to spend.

    Spoiler POE Skill tree narrative :

    This is Path of Exile's passive skill tree. It is a vast web of 1325 skills that provide passive bonuses to your character. Each time you level up or complete certain quests, you can allocate a skill and explore deeper into the tree. All character classes share the same tree, but start at different locations that are aligned with their primary specialties. You're able to either focus on improving your core abilities or travel across the tree to allocate exotic skills that your class normally wouldn't have access to.

    Alongside the regular passive skills are Notable and Keystone passives. Notables have slightly larger icons, specific names and larger effects. They help guide players to build their characters on a macro level, allowing them to see at a glance what a cluster of passives skills does by examining its Notable passive. Keystone passives, however, fundamentally change the way a character is played by altering the game rules. They usually have one positive effect and one negative effect. For example, Necromantic Aegis takes away the properties of your shield, granting them to your minions instead of to you.

    If you want to adjust your passive build during gameplay, there are Passive Skill Refund points available from quests or relatively rare items in the game that can be found or traded for. Fixing mistakes with a character build or improving small-medium sized aspects is relatively easy, but our intention is that players who want to try substantially divergent character builds are encouraged to play a new character through the game, organically leveling it up rather than just respeccing into it.


    If you think seriously about arpgs, you need to think about how POE does it. The game aspect is not perfect, but its character building and gear utilization is pretty outstanding.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018
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  20. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    "Put the big rocks in first" thinking:
    Answer to these types of questions may drive how you approach the other more game detail questions.
    • Open world (Skyrim) versus fixed story line (Diablo 2)
    • Leveling versus end game (where will players spend most of their time and where will they want to spend most of their time?) Is the game a game about getting to end game or playing the end game?
    • Fixed game areas that you play over and over versus endless dungeon (see POE Delve (expansion)
    • Fixed character groups that tend to be narrow but can be complex versus open ended character development without artificial barriers
    • How will characters get better gear? Finding, buying from NPC, trading with other players? Crafting? RMT?
    • Will the cool game experiences be gated and by what? RNG? Amount of play time? In game money? Real money? Leveling?
    • Will the game be balanced toward casual play or only your hardcore players? Put another way: who will you disappoint?
     
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