Add that little extra depth

  • Sam
  • 03/24/2009 12:00 AM
So, you've got your game's story, your game's main characters and your world. You're making your RPG, but something just doesn't feel right. It's most likely the fact that the world seems to revolve around your main character and their quest. Here's a few tips on how to make your hero seem like a part of a much larger world!

Your game world should have it's own history, past wars, dictators and heroes are always good starting points points. Whilst the player doesn't need to be told every detail of your world's past, it's nice to know it has one.

Also, towns don't start as towns, they develop and grow. Some games, such as Fable 2, are able to show this by making it's towns change as the game progresses. Whilst you don't need to go to that extreme, it's always nice to know little things. This could be little details like, who founded the town, possibly mentioning it started as a small campsite, and why the settlement was there. It doesn't have to be complicated. You could simply say that during the last great war, some refugees fled and formed a camp, that camp is now the town you're standing in.

On the other side of that same coin, you should be able to see remnants of past settlements. Ruins and temples are all very good, but the odd destroyed or deserted town dotted about wouldn't hurt either.

This history can be put across in a variety of ways. You can have it written in books or diaries, told to you by the biased elderly who were alive during the time, inscribed upon walls, or visually implied. If you see a certain symbol in a variety of towns and then find the same symbol in a ruin, you're going to assume those places have a connection.

Yes, you might be on your quest, but unless your character is famous, a lot of people won't even be aware of that fact. NPC characters should have their own lives, families, friends and issues, and as such, each town should have it's own issues.

Instead of people just telling you things about your quest, have them complain about a neighbour, comment on their mayor, or talk about their job.

If your hero fixes one of the town's problems, then of course they should be thanked. I would encourage you to change an NPC's attitude towards the hero based on story progression as it makes the NPCs feel more characteristic and alive.

They should also comment about global events and give their opinions. If you defeat someone powerful they probably won't hear about it, but, if an entire town is wiped out, or there's a meteor shower or eclipse, they'd definately hear about it and discuss it.

The bottom line is that NPCs shouldn't just appear in one single spot all the time with only one line to say. Shenmue is the extreme example of this, with every NPC haveing their own unique looks, personality and routine.

Other Events
There should be other things going on in the world aside from your effort. If your tale is of classic good vs evil, then what are local police and armed forces doing to stop your villain?

You could set up an interesting optional boss by having people speak of a celebrity hero and their deeds. They could say he's winning tournaments or freeing slaves. After a while telling you you've just missed them as they came through the area you're in, hinting at their current location.

Also, if there are recurring characters, whether they're an ally or recurring villain, we should hear about their adventures from time to time. Make it feel like they're out there doing something rather than just waiting for you to turn up so they can help/ hinder you.

It just gives the feeling that you're not alone in this world and you're not the only one trying to make a difference.

Cultures and Regions
If you can combine the above with a certain degree of skill, you can create multiple areas, countries and cultures. Putting turbans and cloaks on people who live in the desert is all well and good, but if they speak about their feelings towards other nations, show a different belief system, and have different routines it'll truly feel like you're travelling the world. You don't have to go as far as to make them speak another language, like in Final Fantasy X, just bear in mind that the Japanese stop working half way through the day for an exercise routine, whilst in other parts of the world, everyone takes a nap at noon.

I hope this will help you breathe some life into your game's world and characters. The problem with a lot of the games I've played is that the world they're set in feels static, these pointers should get things moving.


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Where do I click to start making a game??????
Returning from RMVX Death
"I would encourage you to change an NPC's attitude towards the hero based on story progression as it makes the NPCs feel more characteristic and alive."

I am creating a game right now, however, I would love to implement what it is you just suggested up there... I have a Honor Points system I am working on at the moment, the more honor points you have, the better your chances are at getting people to speak with you.

My problem is, I don't really want to have to create a new page for every honor point you earn... Example given below:

Mr. Smith and you, the hero:
You have no Honor Points, so when you ask Mr. Smith a question, his response is:
"I don't trust you enough to answer that."

You have 25 Honor Points, and you try to ask Mr. Smith the same questoin, his response is:
"Hmm... I think I have heard of you from somewhere..."

You have 50 Honor Points, yet again, you ask Mr. Smith:
"Oh! It's you! Yes, I know the answer to your question!"

My problem is, the only way I can seem to get this to work is through using Variables and so forth... but, that still requires making multiple pages for the person. And if I want multiple comments from the NPC when you walk up to them, then I have to make seperate pages for each of those as well...

Can someone help me out on this matter please?

Thank you,
Use a Conditional Branch in the event's page to check how many honour points you have and then have each reply as an outcome to that conditional branch.
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