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Reply to topic GDR Forum Index -> Game Developer's Refuge -> Non-linear game play, but keeping a large, intricate story
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mandrake
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2005 11:23 am    Post subject: Non-linear game play, but keeping a large, intricate story Reply with quote

Well, one of the things Iíve been thinking about working on for the GBA RPG, is to create a seamlessly non-linear world with a nice, engaging plot/storyline. One of the things I liked about Ultima 4 was the ability to travel anywhere in the world from the start of the game. Thatís something I want to keep, since I enjoyed that aspect.

So, what Iím thinking is that Iím going to create enemy difficulty based on player level, to always give the player a consistent challenge. Iím also going to create story-pockets, which are basically linear sub-plots that happen in areas. I think this can give the game a bit of story-telling without forcing players to go from point A to point B in a specific order.

I was also thinking of having areas that reveal the past of characters (fleshing them out a bit) that also connects the overall larger plot-arc of the game.

What do you guys think?
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Sirocco
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2005 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Instead of having the enemies follow you in terms of strength, you could do what Ultima IV did and have the quantity of enemies increase. Walking through a flooded room in a dungeon with a couple of low-level flunkies might see you being attacked by 2-3 nixies. Walk through the same room with four high-level characters, and suddenly you've got a dozen of the little bastards nipping at your heels.

Of course, given the format of the game (and style of combat) that approach might not be useful at all.


The go anywhere, do anything format is great, but make sure you give the player a way to get back on track if they start to feel lost (in terms of the main story). Perhaps an Oracle in the desert, or something that can offer tidbits of divine guidance.

Having an optional sub-plot devoted to each character strikes a good balance between letting speedy players run through the game, and allowing thorough players to enjoy the world and its denizens. I'm using this approach to FB, and it seems to be working out well.
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mandrake
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2005 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I want it to be like the old Ultima's, where the purpose of the game is known from the start, and the plot develops in areas and is not part of the main story arc.

Basically, the main "overall" plot of the game will be collect parts of item foo to destroy evil thing bar and then save the world. The actual story of the game will be based on what had happened to the characters and interaction between them during the game itself. This, I think, doesn't have to be linear to mesh correctly (if done right). So most of the story (up until the ending area) will be back story with some interaction to the main part of the game and can be done out of order. The ending area, of course, will be strictly linear in plot.

I'm not sure about increasing enemies at higher level. Since I plan on using a DW style combat, this might get frustrating.
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Sirocco
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2005 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

I'm not sure about increasing enemies at higher level. Since I plan on using a DW style combat, this might get frustrating.


Hmm... that's what I suspected. I'm sure you'll find a good method for coping with that.
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mandrake
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course, the problem with keeping the enemies moving up in power when the player does is that it makes levelling up moot and pointless. I'm thinking about using a Lunar 2 style level-up, where the bosses of an area are adjusted according to level but the enemies are not. This should keep things challenging, but still give you the power of levelling up.

EDIT:
Of course, if I do something like Lunar or Lufia, I could increase the number of enemies per area and not be as annoying. In fact, I think this might be the best route.
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Sirocco
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Or... <drum roll please!> how about doing away with levels altogether, and instead use an equipment-based system like Zelda? It would be trivial to control difficulty, as you'd know what equipment a player would need in order to beat an enemy. And if you, as a player, meet an enemy and it totally stomps your arse, you immediately know you need to find some better equipment. Plus, you know when you get some new equipment that it will actually be worth getting.

Sounds a little weird, but I think it could work out nicely.


Edited by Sirocco on Wed Aug 31, 2005 11:39 am; edited 1 time
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mandrake
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, I like it but it wouldn't work for this game. I planned on having limited equipment changes due to character design.

Of course, change the word "equipment" with "spells" and this might work. Like, if I let player "find" spells instead of gaining them when the level up.

*might work*

Of course, it would have to be test played insanely to make sure it all balances out. But I like it. It enforces the expolaration aspect of the game. It would feel real unique, having a turn based combat focus on something other than level or skills.

-One thing to note-

Here are the characters different classes, and how they would act (combat wise):

-Nuala-
A fighter. Has no spells. Can only do different forms of attacks. How would this effect her?

-Hazel-
A pacifist and a healer. Doesn't attack and only has defensive spells.

-Xen-
A demonologist and a mage. Casts offensive spells. Also has a demon trapped inside of his body, and at night this demon takes over and has a different set of spells/attacks.

-Moebius-
The demon trapped inside of Xen's body. Has extremely strong magic and combat attacks.

Of course, like in Castelvania 2 the monsters become more powerfull at night, thus balancing Xen's transformation into Moebius.

The main problem I see here is that it currently makes Nuala very weak. Of course, this could be counter-acted by allowing her to equip different attatchments to her weapon, thus making it more powerful.

Thoughts?
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JackDark
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know as a player it would annoy me to encounter the same enemies over and over yet they are stronger and stronger as time progresses... instead, why not have it so that stronger (and different) enemies will only appear once a player has reached their level of occurence?

Circle Of The Moon used this technique to significant effect.
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mandrake
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ultima 3 did this as well. But I like enemies living in specific areas. Like it's their natural habitat.

Sirocco's idea is looking more and more attractive as I think about it. The question is how to keep it interesting. I'll need to rewrite the spell system, but since it's only 10% finished this shouldn't be a problem.
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Sirocco
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The other benefit is encouraging the player to stick to certain areas until they are strong enough to face sustained combat elsewhere. This doesn't have to be extreme... especially since you want the game to be largely non-linear.
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FrankyR
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You could also in some areas have move powerful monsters wondering around but they don't take note of you or care about you until you become stronger. The same could go for weak monsters when you become stronger. That way when you're really strong you don't have too many trivial beasts bothering you all the time.
It could be implemented so that each enemy has a level sweet spot so that when your characters are between those levels they are prone to being attacked, the farther away from the sweet spot the less likely the monster will notice them. Then you could easily control what monsters the characters would encounter in a given zone.
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mandrake
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well the way I see it is each dungean/combat based area will have monsters of a type. This type will be effected by certain spells/enhancements.

For example, insects feel more from fire-based dammage. So an insect area would be weak to fire based attacks. I realised that by giving Hazel ways of augmenting other people's attacks (since her spells are defense only, she can't attack directly...but she can change other people's attacks) her spells can increase the dammage done by Nuala, who doesn't gain any spells.

This makes a perfect balance. So, instead of levelling up, spells are found in the different landscapes, allowing different combat modifiers on different enemy types. Xen/Moebius's spells attack directly while Hazel's spells effects Nuala's attack. Therefore, nobody is left behind. Heh. An interesting little triangle that should prove to provide more thought into combat than normally required.

With this I'm also getting away from Random combats, and will most definately go with a Lunar/Lufia approach (ie monsters on screen, when touched go into seperate combat screen). I think Ultima 1-5 did this as well, but their combat was tactical.
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
So, instead of levelling up, spells are found in the different landscapes, allowing different combat modifiers on different enemy types.

I can also see this getting annoying. What's more frustrating than entering an area, not knowing what spell effects you need to kill enemies only to find out "crap! I only have fire and water spell effects. Now I have travel to annoying-vania in order to get wind spells to kill these stupid monsters. That's annoying!"

That's a pain in the ass to me. Nobody wants to go through a large portion of adventuring just to find out you have to backtrack to get a specific type of spell to kill the enemies ahead. If anything, there should always be some sort of way to overcome the enemy even if you don't have the "correct" set of equipment to take them down.
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DantheKat
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah... I'm pretty sure Golden Sun had something like that (except it was collecting spells so you can complete puzzles, rather than defeat certain enemies). I managed to overlevel just trying to figure out where to go.
mandrake
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, GS used it to solve puzzles, which gave it a sort of Metroid/Zelda feel to it.

Quote:


I can also see this getting annoying. What's more frustrating than entering an area, not knowing what spell effects you need to kill enemies only to find out "crap! I only have fire and water spell effects. Now I have travel to annoying-vania in order to get wind spells to kill these stupid monsters. That's annoying!"


You can still defeat enemies normally, it just won't be easy. Each required spell will actually be in the area that effects the monsters. The trick is finding it. There will also be small, normal spells that can be used on any monster/player. These will be much weaker, and won't tip the tide of combat at all.

And besides, think of this more like how Zelda does it, or Metriod. It's not get all the way to the end of the game and have to backtrack to the begining to get just one thing. There is no back-tracking, the world is non-linear and you can reach any point at any time.

I personally don't see any of this as annoying. But some people find DW-random combat/turn based battles annoying and I enjoy those as well. To each their own.
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sonrisu
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If it works in the magical ways of Zelda and/or Metroid, in the fact that you can go anywhere but are limited in where you go because you do not carry with yourself the proper equipment, then that is fine.

What I am saying I find annoying is the situation where you can go to some location (and have a hard time of doing so) to find absolutely nothing of benefit to you other than "viewing" a new area. Take, for instance, Metroid. When you come to a new area blocked off by, say, a super missile requirement, you aren't required to go find super missiles just to break that door down. There will be something else of consequence for you there that does not require super missiles.

I think you obviously understand what I mean and intend to implement your game in such a manner that there aren't any "no sense" areas. Exploration is great--and if your game can offer a great world that is free to be explored how the player sees fit, then your game will also be great (in my book, at least).
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mandrake
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2005 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:


I think you obviously understand what I mean and intend to implement your game in such a manner that there aren't any "no sense" areas. Exploration is great--and if your game can offer a great world that is free to be explored how the player sees fit, then your game will also be great (in my book, at least)


No, there will be nonsense areas. Or just pretty areas. This world will be steeped in mythology and history, and this plays an important part of the meta-plot. Each area will have it's own story, which will trigger memories with each character as well and also fit into the overall plot of the game.

So, essentially, the entire game will be connected in some way.
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