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Killing People, Falling In Love, And Saving The World...at 17???

I never minded the old "kids save the world!" shtick of a lot of RPGs. To me, it can instill the feeling of being a kid again and the seeing the world with fresh eyes. It's sort of cathartic to experience the kinds of adventures you dreamt up when you were 12 through the eyes of youth.

On top of that, there's a timelessness to the coming of age tale that allows it to repackaged so many times. As an example, I did not grow up with studio Ghibli films and have only recently started watching them. So I saw Kiki's Delivery Service a few months ago in my mid-twenties and I found myself really enjoying it, and I think it's due to how relatable a coming of age story can be and the sort of memories it can stir up like a lot of firsts and key moments that a lot of people went through at that age. Everyone can remember their first love and the innocence to it.

A young adult protagonist is also at an age where they're more likely to change as a person making for easier to create character arcs. An older grizzled character set in their ways requires a more complex narrative which isn't always what you want for a medium that doesn't have narrative as its primary expression. Overall I'd say a youthful pair of eyes open to new experiences can be a great compliment to a fantasy setting and letting players see your world through that lense, if you're going with a more traditional jrpg setting. It's not what I'm going for with my game, but nonetheless I'm favorable to teens and tweens being the leads of an adventure.

What are you thinking about? (game development edition)

Thanks for your reply! I haven't forgotten R and L. Believe me, the old back out of the equip screen back to the character select screen deal is something I always intended to stay far away from. I am concerned with how to get the same feel of using shoulder buttons on a keyboard. GBA and DS emulators tend to map them to something like S and D for default, but this doesn't feel intuitive to me. Switching between character pages on a console game with shoulder buttons feels natural because your index fingers are already sitting there and your thumbs don't have to move at all. With a keyboard, moving from Z and X as confirm and cancel to S and D feels more like moving between different face buttons which asks more of the player's muscle memory and something I'd like to avoid.

Some Wii games had a nunchuck control scheme where you held down Z with your index finger and that would change the function of the analog stick while held to switch between pages. I was thinking of doing something similar where the player holds down left shift and then the arrow keys can be used to switch pages. There's a great blog post by the UI designer of Nier: Automata where he discusses the intent was to make it possible to navigate the whole menu with just two buttons and the analogue stick. Shortcuts are still there if the player wants them though. (Here: https://www.platinumgames.com/official-blog/article/9624). This got me thinking about reducing the number of keys used. Ideally I'd only like to use Z, X, arrow keys, shift, and enter. Unfortunately, it looks like I need to find a better balance between muscle memory and reduced number of clicks - they work against each other.

And yes, Chrono Trigger has a great menu. It uses the first method I listed with five minimum clicks. Many games are like this and it's perfectly fine. I think I got a little too married to Xenoblade 2's character pages which is why I've become so concerned about that extra click that comes with it. The DS version of Chrono Trigger is even more interesting as it takes one click less than the SNES version. Tapping equipment takes you right to the equip screen for the character in slot 1. The shoulder buttons are then used to swap between. There is no character select. Hadn't played it for years but went back to see after you mentioned it and I was surprise by how good it felt.

FF8 is one of the only four numbered FF games I haven't played so some of what you described went over my head, but I'll look up some videos to see GF exchange in action. Again, thanks for your help!

What are you thinking about? (game development edition)

Hi, I'm new here. Admittedly I use Gamer Maker Studio rather than RPG Maker, but a discussion on design theory goes beyond the engine so I figured I'd post here.

It's still early days for my project. I've hashed out a design doc but have only just started working on the actual game. Anyways, I've been thinking a lot about UI design. With GMS, I'll be creating everything from scratch ergo I have flexibility for designing the UI.

Articles I've seen on game UI design have mentioned things like making sure it takes players the smallest amount of clicks possible to do common actions like equipping that new sword they just found pronto. That's good and straightforward advice, I'm just struggling to realize that. An inherent challenge with party-based games is that it necessitates additional clicks for choosing which character you want to equip. With that in mind, the smallest number of clicks I can get it down to is 5:

Click 1 (Open the Menu) > Click 2 (Select 'Equipment') > Click 3 (Select Character) > Click 4 (Select Weapon Slot) > Click 5 (Select New Weapon)
Now, obviously it will take even more clicks if the character you want isn't in the first slot and/or the equipment piece you want to swap out also isn't in Slot #1, but this seems unavoidable.

So, the other thing is, I have normal equipment and then I need a menu option for equipping active skills, and a menu option for equipping passive skills. Moving over to these obviously takes extra clicks, but players aren't going to mess with them as often as equipment, so that's fine. I am concerned about the menu looking cluttered or ugly if there's too many options up front (there are five other menu option in addition to these three, so a total of eight).

I've been playing a lot of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 recently since the Torna DLC came out, and one thing I noticed was that all menu options for character building stuff were all shoved under a character menu. So, if you wanted to mess with Nia's stuff, you'd go to Nia's character page from the top menu, and then have a small platter of options for adjusting her skills and equipment. I really like each character having their own page with all options to improve them clustered together. I also like the idea of the top menu having broader options with smaller related options clustered together. So, another option in my game would be clumping equipment selection, active skill selection, and passive skill selection together under a character option. The problem is it adds an additional minimum click:
Click 1 (Open Menu) > Click 2 (Select 'Characters') > Click 3 (Select Which Character) > Click 4 (Select 'Equipment') > Click 5 (Select Weapon) > Click 6 (Select New Weapon)

So, what are everyone's thoughts on this? Is that one extra click an annoyance? Should the top menu have broader selections housing related menu functions put under one umbrella at the cost of extra clicks? Is there a way I can get the minimum amount of clicks down even further that I haven't thought about yet? Thank you, for any help.
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