LOGICAL DUNGEONS IN RPGS

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kentona
Your mom is a hero
20844
aren't like 95% of fantasy RPGs like 'The Demonlord is returning OH NOES MONSTERS N' DEMONS ERVWHERE NOW!'?
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
Totally untrue! A solid number of them are 'Join the resistance movement and stop the evil empire.' (Most are both combined, I think)

But like, okay, in FF4 for example, the assumption that all the random monsters are working for Golbez makes some kind of vague sense, but I dunno, if that were the intention it could be phoned in a bit better. As it stands it kind of just strikes me as an afterthought, invented by players who give Squaresoft too much credit as a justification to preserve their sanity.
Craze
i bet she's a diva with a potion popping problem
14360
LockeZ
As it stands it kind of just strikes me as an afterthought, invented by players who give Squaresoft too much credit as a justification to preserve their sanity.

dude that is how I feel about 98% of ffvi
Personally, I don't want necessarily logical dungeons, but I would like dungeons that look like what they are supposed to be. If it's a castle, I don't want it to be a linear set of hallways and room who's layout makes no sense.

A problem is that normally you want to design a dungeon so that the player sees at least most of it, you rarely want to say design a realistic forest where there's no point for the player to see more than a quarter of it. This requires you to either skillfully hide the linearity, meaning it is linear, but it doesn't look linear unless a player carefully examines the layout or you need a nonlinear design.

That or you don't even bother making the dungeon believable.
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
Or you decide what types of dungeons to make based on what kinds of areas you think you can effectively make believable barriers in. I try to avoid making plains areas for this reason. I tend to put all my outdoor zones up in the mountains if I can, whether they're grassland, wasteland, desert, tundra, or forest. Or if they're not up in the mountains, they're bordering a cliff face to the north and an ocean to the south.

(Ultradense tree barriers and one-tile-high cliffs are an unrealistic and illogical workaround which I nevertheless also use ALL THE TIME but don't tell anyone)

Indoors, it's much easier. "This door is locked."
I think that it would only require a little bit of creative thinking to create puzzles that follow the theme of the dungeon and circumstances. In a cave, how about a puzzle that's a monster?

In that respect, RPGs can take a hint from puzzle and action games... I'm thinking of certain sequences where the hero in an action game would follow a villian to the top floor where a bomb had been placed, and the player suddenly had to disarm the bomb, but first, a kidnapped scientist somewhere who was forced to wire the bomb has the schematics...

author=Zachary_Braun
I think that it would only require a little bit of creative thinking to create puzzles that follow the theme of the dungeon and circumstances. In a cave, how about a puzzle that's a monster?

In that respect, RPGs can take a hint from puzzle and action games... I'm thinking of certain sequences where the hero in an action game would follow a villian to the top floor where a bomb had been placed, and the player suddenly had to disarm the bomb, but first, a kidnapped scientist somewhere who was forced to wire the bomb has the schematics...



You can always have conjure up scenarios that match the activity. But sometimes in an RPG setting, that's more difficult.

Does there have to be a hostage and a bomb at every location you arrive at?

Even if you just talk about the dungeon in between two towns in an RPG adventure. For example, a forest between Town A and B.

It might be totally illogical for this forest to be a total maze. I mean, how do normal civilians get thru to Town B?

You could set it up that the forest is easy to pass through normally, but it's blocked off by the evil empire's army or whatever. Instead, you have to go through some less traversed cavern inhabited by foul creatures, and boom there's your dungeon. But do you need to find an excuse to block off major roads between every single town? At some point, the mazy forest might be more believable than some of the scenarios you wind up with.

Really, the best option is to have a world that is inherently difficult to travel across. Such that nobody can normally travel it. Then, the difficulties are more sensible. That, however, dramatically changes the type of world you can develop.
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=Sauce
Really, the best option is to have a world that is inherently difficult to travel across. Such that nobody can normally travel it. Then, the difficulties are more sensible. That, however, dramatically changes the type of world you can develop.

I'm not sure it does. Every game has a major conflict. It might span the world or only a city, but it definitely spans your whole game, right? Any area that's in the midst of upheaval from this conflict is going to be difficult to travel through for a variety of reasons. Any area that's not in the midst of upheaval from this conflict is unrelated to your game and shouldn't be visited!

author=Sauce
You could set it up that the forest is easy to pass through normally, but it's blocked off by the evil empire's army or whatever. Instead, you have to go through some less traversed cavern inhabited by foul creatures, and boom there's your dungeon.

This is exactly the sort of problematic scenario I meant earlier when I was talking about conflicts that have to do with your game. Going through the cavern full of foul creatures is moving the hero away from the conflict. In fact, he's going into an area that he's visiting specifically just to get away from the game's central conflict. It makes no sense, from a dramatic perspective, to do it that way. He should be sneaking through the blocked off area and having to fight off the evil empire's army, instead! Both ways are honestly equally logical, but one is putting the player in a situation that's relevant to the game, and the other is not.

If you can make your game make more sense without hurting the story, then do that, but don't forget to do the same thing the other way around also. Improve the story if you can do so without hurting the sensicalness. Yin and yang, peanut butter and chocolate.
author=LockeZ
This is exactly the sort of problematic scenario I meant earlier when I was talking about conflicts that have to do with your game. Going through the cavern full of foul creatures is moving the hero away from the conflict. In fact, he's going into an area that he's visiting specifically just to get away from the game's central conflict. It makes no sense, from a dramatic perspective, to do it that way. He should be sneaking through the blocked off area and having to fight off the evil empire's army, instead! Both ways are honestly equally logical, but one is putting the player in a situation that's relevant to the game, and the other is not.

If you can make your game make more sense without hurting the story, then do that, but don't forget to do the same thing the other way around also. Improve the story if you can do so without hurting the sensicalness. Yin and yang, peanut butter and chocolate.


Simple solution: Make the enemy army competent. Make it so that a small group of people attempting to 'fight off the evil empire's army' is considered a suicidal idea, just like it would be in the real world. This especially applies if the story has heroes that are attempting to contribute to the war effort in some way that isn't merely "kill every enemy you come across".

For example, maybe they're passing information to their side's generals about enemy troop movements. Maybe they're trying to sneak into the capital to assassinate the enemy leader (in which case fighting their way through is army when he isn't with that army makes no sense from a logical perspective). Maybe the heroes are trying to recover the mystical Orb from a thief who will eventually offer it to the evil god, but who isn't working with enemy armies because he doesn't want to share the credit (and therefore, will not be found with the armies).

Summaric version: Going through the cavern full of foul creatures is only moving the hero away from the conflict if your hero has no long-term goal and is just killing every enemy soldier he comes across. If the fight with the army is something that the heroes don't think they could accomplish and they have other goals that would help to defeat the army without directly fighting them, then they should be looking for the path of least resistance, regardless of how "Related" the conflict on that route is.

(By the other logic, the crew of the Millenium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back should have never attempted to escape into an asteroid field: After all, why would they try to move away from the conflict with the Empire?)
Brady
Was Built From Pixels Up
3134
Very interesting point, Muninn. As much as you do want the central story elements to be predominant in the narrative, it's also good to consider the value of everything else that happens that has nothingto do with it. Adds some perspective/contrast to the game and remains for logical storytelling.
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
They go into the asteroid field for a chase scene with the Empire's TIE fighters. They don't go in there and spend 10 minutes of the film dodging asteroids. Once they're free from the Empire's pursuit, there's exactly 30 seconds before it cuts to the next scene - just enough time to imply that they figured out what to do from there.
Brady
Was Built From Pixels Up
3134
The point remains true, however. The antagonists involvement with the diversion is at the discretion of the developer.

In the given example, our hypothetical heroes don't go through the forest because there's a heavy military presence, and instead opt to go through "Distraction Tunnel". This gives an easy aside to the player, but you can still link it to the antagonist if you want. For instance, you can have the player enter the forest and see the military, who then chase them into the Tunnel.
You could also have a patrol squad already in the Tunnel and need to be avoided or escaped from, or even just have the military at the arse end of the tunnel waiting for you, which can easily lead onto fights, chase scenes, capture, escape etc

In movies it may be good to have everything at least somewhat relevant and connected to the plotline, but games have a lot more freedom to introduce elements that have little or nothing to do with the central story, and can often benefit from small diversions. Keeping with a realistic tone is just a bonus, really.
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=Brady
In movies it may be good to have everything at least somewhat relevant and connected to the plotline, but games have a lot more freedom to introduce elements that have little or nothing to do with the central story, and can often benefit from small diversions.

No, they don't. They don't don't don't don't don't. I really do believe this. There's nothing about games that makes this any better of an idea than it would be in any other medium. Nothing about adding player interaction to the experience, as far as I can imagine while wracking my brain, makes it more enjoyable to go off and take a break from the story and spend a bunch of time doing irrelevant stuff that isn't compelling. There are high and low energy points in stories, sure, but the low energy points are there to set the player up for the high energy points. They provide groundwork, and contrast. They're not there to let the player "take a break" from the stuff he cares about.

I guess I've gone from arguing for logical dungeons to arguing against them, but yeah. I guess there's a limit. It's logical to avoid the enemy, and it's logical to take the path of least resistance. Just like it's logical that the heroes have to find a place to eat at twice every day and spend a lot of time organizing and maintaining their equipment before they head on the road. But that kind of logic isn't an excuse for bad storytelling or uncompelling gameplay. You must direct the story towards what the audience cares about.
Brady
Was Built From Pixels Up
3134
I said they can benefit from diversions; I never said those diversions couldn't be compelling.
I think you're misunderstanding what I'm saying for the implication that we should have fun bits and boring bits.
That's not at all what I mean; I do agree with you that everything should remain interesting to the player, but I don't think it all has to tie to the same central plot elements.

Take FF6 for example; there's plenty of character related side quests in the second half of the game that have basically nothing to do with the central plotline, and are there purely as a diversion. They're still interesting and fun to play, but give you time off from th main story.

Maybe "Take a break" is giving the wrong idea (Was it me who said that? I forget), but giving you something else to think about, or another goal to aim towards briefly. Chasing the same story/goal/baddy for an entire gamae can become exhausting to a player, so it's beneficial to have diversions and less relevant sections and paths to...hmm...give you a breather, I guess. To let you still play the game, but take the intensity down a few notches.
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
This has evolved into a totally different topic at this point, so, gonna make one.
Stereotypical jrpgs didn't feature logical dungeons and relevant enemies.

Underground dungeons beneath the enemy castle shouldn't have mechanized traps. Roads between towns shouldn't be infested with monsters. Fancy swords shouldn't be lying around in random caves.

In fact, stereotypical jrpg stories/settings aren't particularly conducive to logical dungeons and relevant enemies that include elements that you want to include.

How would you spin Lufia 2's puzzles in order to make them sensible at all those locations?
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 good question, really. I'm actually trying to do a more sensible lufia 2/wild arms style puzzle system in my current primary project (which has been going on for like a year and a half now) but it's not going as well as I originally hoped. First dungeon is a weapons factory, where you get a laser rifle. You can use it to destroy things like crates. However, I couldn't come up with a better way to do long-range-activated switches than crystal orbs that you shoot with the laser, and am very open to suggestions. Some realistic alternative to pressure plates that open gates when you push barrels onto them would be appreciated also. I'm pretty sure no gate in the world is opened by a pressure plate, but I can't think of any better way to require that you put a specific thing in a specific place.

Arkham Asylum and Arkham City do an UNBELIEVABLY EXCELLENT job of making very very logical and location-appropriate puzzles that you have to use an array of lufia/zelda/wildarms style tools to solve.

Lufia 2's locations are harder since they are mostly completely natural caves and so the retractible floor spikes and piles of glass blocks are just incomprehensible. Probably I would end up changing the locations as well as the puzzles. Like, that mountain you climb to find the ghost tree so you can build your boat? Make it an orcish war camp instead of being uninhabited. Then you can do so much more with the puzzles.
Well, the weapons factory comes with a question - is it old and abandoned? It is still up and operational? That in itself can change the flavour of puzzles and such inside it. The second question is the type of setting - is it modern, near future, sci-fi?

For example, abandoned near-future to sci-fi, you could have the location you need to push an item be a place where the floor's missing a piece and wires are exposed - the barrel is just a piece of debris (the only piece around that's the right size and shape) that you push into the spot to connect the wires from one spot to another, allowing power to return to the door for it to be able to operate.

For the ranged thing... that's a little harder, though it could be like... the opposite of what I just described - something like a steam barrier and the place you shoot is a piece of weakened piping that, when shot, allows the steam to vent from that part of the pipe instead of where it was previously.

Again, those kind of puzzles are going to depend on the exact type of weapons factory and the game's setting.
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