LOGICAL DUNGEONS IN RPGS

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Nightowl
Remember when I actually used to make games? Me neither.
1577
Now, I know RPGs aren't really realistic and logical, after all, how can Link carry all the shit he picks up?

Anyway, today I realized that most of the dungeons in RPGs seem to be weird, empty hallways or mazes that really make no sense. Some are caves filled with traps. Some are skyscrapers that have weird puzzles installed in the higher levels.

I started questioning one thing in particular. Why the heck are there caves in middle of nowhere? Okay, that's not actually really out of the place, but why are the caves filled with traps? Who puts them there? Why do they have weird puzzles? Just to annoy the shit out of trespassers?
Also, let's say some bad dude teleports to the highest level of a 3-story grocery store. As you move through the areas where only workers are allowed, there are somehow demons all around the place and there's some weird laser puzzle you need to solve. Where'd the heck that come from? Did the villain install those in a split second?

If you don't know what I'm jabbering here about, I'm just questioning the logic of various RPG dungeons, and how some of them and their contents seem to lack a logical explanation.

Has anyone else been wondering about this?

EDIT: I'm starting to think that there's some Intergalactic Dungeon Decorator Bob who fills every JRPG dungeon with traps, monsters and puzzles instantly, for a fee.
Yellow Magic
Could I BE any more Chandler Bing from Friends (TM)?
3154
I guess it's just assumed RPG worlds are awful awful places...

No matter what the logic behind it is, I'd always prefer a dungeon that had some level of uniqueness/challenge behind its traversal over long maze-y pathways (hi Persona).
I agree, illogical dungeons sort of ruin the immersion.

But honestly, making your puzzle fit in with the plot ain't that hard if you know what you're doing.

A good example is Fort Dragonia in Chrono Cross. The first time you come there, you have to clear four puzzle rooms: One of them opens up pathways as you change the order of your party and interact with a statue, another is like a maze, with some enemies here and there. Then there's a puzzle where you manipulate platforms by interacting with objects, and a puzzle where you're standing on a rotating bridge, and you can choose the direction where the bridge will drop you.

Anyway, all of these puzzles fit in with the scenario because you're traversing a ruin built by an ancient civilization. A civilization with many secrets and hidden rituals, which makes it only natural that they would install traps.

And now I can hear you say, "But they'd have to go through those traps themselves too". And that's where it all adds up, because later in the game you get an artifact created by that civilization that immediately activates the fortress, without going through all the puzzles.
kentona
I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.
20836
fuck realism. realism and logic ruin games.
Isrieri
"My father told me this would happen."
6155
author=kentona
fuck realism.


10000x this.
author=Nightowl
Some are skyscrapers that have weird puzzles installed in the higher levels.

Well, when you think about it, it makes perfect sense for you to install a bunch of teleporters with no indication of where they lead in your company's offices. That way a crime syndicate won't be able to take over the offices, and just in case they defy all expectations and do so, they won't be able to use the network of teleporters against the kid that's coming to save you.

Silph Co. was a retarded dungeon.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
author=kentona
fuck realism. realism and logic ruin games.
If that were really true, you wouldn't even make a cave in the first place, dungeon one would be a bunch of random geometric patterns and dungeon two would be an assortment of gigantic clip arts floating in gravy. The story wouldn't exist, or if it did, it'd be like a combination of the Bandersnatch poem and the End of Evangelion. But in fact you don't do that because you are trying to create immersion and you want the player to feel like something that can be understood is going on.

There are times when realism and logic get in the way of gameplay - in those cases, jettison them and don't look back. But there are times when they don't hurt anything, and they make your epic story more epic because it actually makes some degree of effin' sense - in those cases, try to make some degree of effin' sense.

Like, I understand why Secret of Mana has switches that cause stone walls and platforms to raise and lower in totally natural caves: it's because they needed some sort of interactive puzzle there for gameplay reasons, but they also needed the area to be a cave for story reasons. But the cave was a path to Dwarf Village, so uh, they probably could have just made that one platform that raises and lowers into a lift that the dwarves made, and the only downside would be that they'd have to draw a lift and add it to the tileset. So I'm not sure why they didn't do that, because it would have made more sense.

Meanwhile I'm not really super duper expecting Mario levels to make any sense because they don't. I think Mario Galaxy literally had a level that was a bunch of pieces of clipart floating in gravy. Don't expect your aesthetics and story to leave much of a lasting impression though, if you go that route. Everyone will just tune them out.
Actually, the monsters thing is valid. Let's consider the cave.

A natural cave forms because of underwater deposits hollowing out areas. These are constantly in a state of flux, since water can cut into the rock making openings, and water can drop through stalactites (stalagmites is ground, stalactites is ceiling) to the ground. Stuff like earthquakes can also cause shifts, or cave-ins. So you have a random natural maze. This is no joke, it actually happens. And yes, there are molds, mushrooms, and the like. The big expansive cave is actually less realistic than the cave maze though (I don't know why people insist on the other), since usually the only caves that big have been prepped for tourism. Now, monsters, yes generally this is true also. Bats and bears, and other such animals do tend to move in to such places. In a fantasy ecosystem, you'd add certain other creatures to the list.

Traps? No, that's totally bogus, until actual humans create a thieves' lair or something.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
author=bulmabriefs144
Actually, the monsters thing is valid.


author=bulmabriefs144
Traps? No, that's totally bogus, until actual humans create a thieves' lair or something.


I usually assume the monsters built the traps (and stored their stuff in the treasure chests). Assuming they're semi-intelligent monsters like goblins or lamias or something. Doesn't make sense for slimes and bats, obviously.
Cortana - "This cave is not a natural formation."

Dom Santiago- "I think it's safe to say that's not a natural cave formation."

Who needs realism? Even physics are overrated.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
At least lampshading it is better than nothing.
kentona
I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.
20836
obvious hyperbole is hyperbole. my point was when they sacrifice fun/gameplay in some misguided attempt to make the game better.
Traps... well depends on the kind of trap. If it's a rock-fall or a pit in a mine, then yeah, those can happen naturally. If it's a mirror puzzle... well, I guess you could use crystals as mirrors and have an element that melts in sunlight. If you bounce the light that is coming from a gap in the roof through the crystals to match up with the certain element that has grown in the way of the path forward, it makes some kind of sense.

It's all about how you play it. You can make up any amount of reasons for something to exist in a setting where it normally wouldn't. Why so maze-like a cave? It was dug out by an ancient gnome civilisation who eventually went extinct. Why treasure chests in a cave? Maybe they're the bodies of fallen adventurers? (Yeah, I used skeletons as treasure chests. Morbid? Perhaps. Make sense? Yes.)

It also depends on the kind of game you're making. If it's something light-hearted like Lufia, Hero's Realm or Pokemon, you don't really need to explain shit to the player or yourself.

If it's serious and meant to be taken so, then yes, explain that shit damnit.
author=kentona
obvious hyperbole is hyperbole. my point was when they sacrifice fun/gameplay in some misguided attempt to make the game better.

If you can manage to get in some 'realistic' explanation without damaging the fun and gameplay, it doesn't hurt to do it. But in most cases, why actually care about the reasoning behind why most stuff is there? Seriously, the real reasoning behind individuals building things could just be... well, let me give you an example: I want to introduce you to a place, a wonderful dwarf fortress known as... Koganusan.
Brady
Was Built From Pixels Up
3134
I've actually been pondering this myself recently.
My latest project is a hub-based missions system and I've been making an effort, for the above reasons, to try and put a bit more of an explanation behind the missions.
You're not just going to a cave with a maze in it; you're going to a fugitives hideout where they've been living in secret.

It's a small thing, but I'm all with you in concept; having that bit of reasoning behind adds some good immersion support for you; although I also do agree that illogical dungeons don't really hurt a game either. Willing suspension of belief tends to cover that and just let you focus on the core gameplay/storytelling without worrying about who exactly maintains and restocks these thousand year old booby traps.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
author=kentona
obvious hyperbole is hyperbole. my point was when they sacrifice fun/gameplay in some misguided attempt to make the game better.
Unfortunately there are way too many people who really do believe that realism adds literally nothing and has no place whatsoever in video games.

Some games actually actively try to correspond to reality as little as possible. For example: bizarre platformers like Earthworm Jim, abstract puzzle games, and Yume Nikki clones.

Others only use realism when it saves them effort and avoid it when avoiding it saves them effort. Their world is realistic only to the degree that it keeps the designer from having to think up anything original, and becomes unrealistic as soon as anything actually would require an explanation, because they don't want to have to think of one. The fifteen minutes it would take to think of an explanation and implement it could be better spent working on the next nonsensical game. For example: Mario's sports and racing games, 99% of NES games, a lot of low budget RPGs, honestly most video games in general.
It's true that gameplay trumps every other concern; Art vs gameplay? Gameplay wins. Story vs gameplay? Gameplay wins. Logic vs gameplay? Gameplay wins. Doing anything else will just make the game weaker, because we are making games first and foremost.

This does of course mean that many RPGs feature downright absurd elements, such as being able to steal grenades from fish in Final Fantasy X, or leaping into teleporting sand holes in Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits, both of which occur in games that are intended to be taken seriously. Ideally, however, it's best to ground a scenario in some kind of logic. Real-world locations don't have puzzles unless they are explicitly built as tests or as traps, so that's worth keeping in mind when adding puzzles into your game. Similarly, the denizens of each location should fit the area, meaning that it's best to avoid having completely unsuited enemies in a location if at all possible (aquatic monsters that 'hover' in the air of dry caves, for example).

On an unrelated note, I think Intergalactic Dungeon Decorator Bob would make for a great game.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
You could totally have stolen fish-scale shurikens instead, it would have made perfect sense.

Wait no, it wouldn't. Because you're still in a swordfight with a fish. What would have made sense would be fighting humanoids and stealing grenades from them. This is actually my biggest complaint with the lack of "realism" in RPGs: you should come up with enemies that actually fit into your game's conflict, instead of random-ass wild monsters. If you want me to care about the conflict the protagonists are fighting, it should also be the conflict I'm fighting. This really has no effect on gameplay and is purely a story thing, so I don't really understand why it's such a common problem.
You mean like how Legend of Legaia had the mist as the reason for the mutated monsters you're fighting?

Not particularly realistic, but at least addressed?
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
That's a decent method. I was thinking more like, uh, the campaign modes in most first person shooters are good examples probably: all the enemies are actually minions working for the main antagonist, instead of just random fightable things in your way. RPGs are so notoriously bad about it that I'm having trouble thinking of examples that don't bother me. I guess Parasite Eve, Kingdom Hearts, and some of the Shin Megami Tensei games did an okay job. All of those are kind of questionable, though, for the same reason Legend of Legaia is questionable: they all still just have random non sequitor monsters as the enemies, but worked in a plot explanation for it. It's logical, but only logical enough to technically not be a plot hole, not logical enough to actually fit and feel appropriate.

99% of RPGs have at least a few dungeons where the enemies are all relevant and sensical, though. They just give up and dump a bunch of filler into the rest of the game. And I mean, I understand that you need to add some filler so the game has more than four battles in it, but at least try to add filler that has something to do with your stupid game, please? Maybe this is a tangent now. Oh well.
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