Game designer hopeful. Have designed several tabletop RPGs, and have long wanted to start into the video game space.

My focus when designing is to create challenging experiences that force the player to make difficult choices, and change the paradigm when someone thinks of an RPG.
Binding Wyrds
A modern fantasy game, delving into the shadows of the supernatural.


[RMVX ACE] Detecting Death of an Actor

Hey all,

So I've been mulling this issue for a while, since its a major roadblock between me and a release of a build that's not balance-only.

I need a way for the game to A) Realize that an actor is dead (easy enough, parallel event that detects dead state), B) Remove them from the party (again, easy enough), and C) Let me know -which- actor died. (The hard part), and finally D) Change a variable specific to that actor.

The brute force way of doing this is a giant If chain check, if(actor1) then change (variable for that actor). I keep brute forcing things though and finding much more manageable things later, so I thought I'd toss this out if anyone has any ideas for a better way to implement this.

(Obligatory death of a salesman joke here)

Thanks in advance!

[RMVX ACE] Boss design tips

I know myself, and I know my tendency to over-design things and make them more complicated than they should be, so I'm asking here first before I redo the wheel:

Does anyone have some base level tips for boss/complex monster designs? I've taken a look around the monster design framework in ace, and it seems the most control you have is when they use certain skills, ie at a certain health level, after a turn number, and how often they use them. I know we can make skills call events and the like, but I want to limit the amount of scripting I do in the game. So some basic design tips and tricks that people have picked up that can make for interesting fights would be nice.

(I am limited in my current game on how much I can design them given its intended that any boss can be taken down first try without trial/error and being a danger in only that the game has perma-death, but more complex tips would still be nice for later use.)

Thanks in advance.

Character development with a large cast

This is a topic near and dear to me, given my current main project already has around thirty characters, with a rather non-linear development, but I am always interested in hearing if people have run into other games or issues with this in mind.

In general, RPGs are known for their story and characters. Obviously this is not unique to them, as we can admit even games like Modern Warfare have had some compelling stories and characters, at least initially. However it is easy to note that how much time and development a character gets is inverse to how many characters there are. Even in games with fairly small casts, it is easy to have certain characters fall by the wayside except for a few moments that are 'their' story. The Final Fantasy games fall victim to this, as 'optional' characters and even required ones can sometimes have one or two parts of a game, and then do nothing else story wise. Rather frustrating if you really liked Vincent, but he got like two parts in the whole story that you had to hunt down.

The worst offender I have noticed is the Suikoden series, given that their main selling point is that they have a massive cast of characters. Too bad that out of the 108 characters, maybe a dozen get any story outside of their recruitment, and sometimes that 'story' is two sentences of 'Oh, you met my requirements, now I join you.' Other than the games gimmick being lost, you could easily trim out 80% of the cast, and not lose an iota of story or development. When an entire characters story can be summed up with "This elf runs really fast, beat him in a race and he'll join you" it feels very superfluous.

I have run into one set of games where this is done amazingly well, and is what I am mostly basing how I develop characters in my game on: Territorial Conquest Simulators. For those (most of you) who have never played a game in this genre, they tend to mix tactics/strategy/RPG natures together with games like Romance of the Three Kingdoms. They tend to tell stories in a visual novel style, but have strategic battles with characters. As a note, my favorite examples are also Eroges, so any google searches for them might be NSFW. My favorite examples of this genre are Sengoku Rance, Big Bang Age, and lately Eiyuu Senki.

These games tend to have a turn based system, and something in the game constantly urging you forward, to conquer more territory and not stop. Usually that is a hard time limit (Big Bang Age limits you to 99 turns before the end game occurs, whether you have everything or not). They also tend to have large casts of characters, some of which you have to play through multiple times to see them all. And yet the characters are well developed. Usually this is helped by them being enemies you end up recruiting, but it also helped by the system itself. In example, in Big Bang Age, they have the star system, where activating a character event gives them a star. These stars have widely varying requirements for activation, from just talking to the character, to stationing them in certain provinces. When an event is activated, you see a scene developing the character, and they get a bonus, either a stat or new ability. This requires you to actually seek out the characters story, sometimes sacrificing valuable game time to do so. You won't be able to get every character event in a single game, but the game encourages you to get as many as you can, as a character you get every event for in future games starts with higher stats. This integrates the story development of characters into the gameplay, and encourages you to seek them out for characters you like so they are better in your next play through.

Have any of you all run into other ways to develop characters in games with a broad cast?

Making Grinding Fun

As a note, I will go on record and say that I don't think any game should require grinding. My ideal situation is always referred to Final Fantasy IV, where if you fight every enemy encounter, do most of the side quests, when you get to the final boss you are almost perfectly at the right level to kill them.

That being said, there is a lot to be had in the design of leveling up and gaining power, and I've seen a few games do this well enough that I didn't mind the fact that I was grinding, while acknowledging that yes, I was actually grinding. I'll mention two examples, maybe you guys have some of your own:

Shin Megami Tensei games, main-series at least: If you don't know, the SMT games have a system where most of your party is made up of enemies you recruit, and you can create higher level ones by fusing together ones in your stock to make new ones. What does this have to do with grinding? Well, you can't fuse a monster that has a higher level than you. You can still see what you would make though, and that alone is enticing. There were numerous times in Nocturne (SMT3) where I was at the fusion station and saw a demon one level higher than me that I could fuse...so did a little grinding to get that extra level...and then saw another one just one more level higher...having the incentives and power actually viewable and enticing to players certainly helped me not mind the grinding.

Pokemon: Pokemon is ostensibly a game about grinding until you win, since you can grind past literally every boss fight if you want to and not care about tactics. Obviously if you play smart you can get by with less, but you can always grind more to win. How does the game make this better? By making each level feel important because if you are not spoiled (read: looked up when it happens), you don't know when you're going to get that next move, or when they will evolve. I tend to play pokemon unspoiled just to keep that anticipation fresh, and that helps a lot in leveling up my team. It also helps that fights are rather fast, with most leveling up you do ending a fight in one or two moves.

Any other ideas for keeping grinding fresh?

Using Chance well in games

This is a topic that has come up in a few games I reviewed recently, where random chance was used poorly and without much thought, causing actual problems in the game. So...might be best to discuss the best ways to use and when to use chance in games!

Perhaps I think about this more because I designed tabletop games before I started designing video games, but randomness shouldn't be 100% random. Even the best designed games can use chance very poorly. One example from tabletop was when I played the Mechwarrior tabletop game (not Battletech), the hit region roll was 2-12, rolling 2d6. We wondered why we kept hitting people in the right arm over and over...and it turned out the book had the hit region for the right arm be 6-7...which if you know the probability of a six-sided dice, are some of the most probable numbers (7 being -the- most probably when rolling two dice). A simple thing like that breaks immersion and the fun when you realize your highly trained team of commandos is constantly shooting people in the same arm over and over.

When you design video games, you obviously have a very finely tuned control over chance, since we deal with straight up percentages. I'll mention a few areas we tend to use it, and how it can be used well, and not so well.

The first and most obvious is encounters. Lots of old school RPGs use random encounters, which are obviously listed as a probability per step (or rising probability as you take more steps in more modern games). This helps the game if done well, as it provides a sense of danger, and not knowing when to be ready for the next fight...should you heal up now, or wait a bit and risk getting into a fight before the next recovery area? Poorly used, this can be an annoyance...too high of a random encounter set makes exploring a chore, and seriously hinders any decision to explore.

The second is numerical, meaning in combat. This can be hit/evade chances, damage randomness, and the like. Two recent games I played struggled with this, one game punished you for missing, and had characters whose job was noticeably hurt by having a high miss chance when it punished what they were supposed to do. Another had enemy damage be way, way too random. An enemy could do 20, or 200 damage, and you never had any idea when to heal. Obviously randomness is nice in combat, because it adds to the danger as well. If you know an enemy can't hurt you, or only does 10 damage a turn, the battle becomes just a math formula, not an engaging combat experience.

The third is drops, which not all RPGs use, but can be used to good effect if you like. An obvious use is randomly dropped items, the 1/256 best gear in Earthbound, etc. Too random makes getting the items an exercise in frustrating grinding, while properly used random drops can make finding healing items after a fight just when you need them all the more satisfying.

What do you guys think? How do you deal with randomness in your game?

Limitation on non-RMN hosted downloads

I don't know if this is a limitation that can be overcome in the sites coding or not, but just ran into an issue downloading a game that linked to another website. First time, accidentally downloaded the italian version, second time I borked up the browser. Third time it gave me a message that downloads were limited, so I had to troll through my history to find it again. Should there be a limit on clicking on a download link, if it goes to a non-RMN site to be downloaded from anyway?

[RMVX ACE] Can't load project on new PC

Hey all,

So, probably an easy fix, but I can't seem to figure it out on my end. Basically, I have a new computer now, and since I left the copy of my game on RMN unencrypted, I thought I could just download it, unpack it, and pop it up to get back to work.

However, VXACE when pointed at the directory doesn't acknowledge the game is there. I think it needs a project file, but when I try to create a new one in that directory, thinking it'll fill it back out, it just informs me there is data there and asks if I'd like to delete it.

Any ideas on how to resolve this? I'd rather not boot up the old PC and have to worry about whatever was infecting it getting into the new one.

Thanks in advance!

[RMVX ACE vs Ren'Py] Making an RPG in Ren'py

So, I've done a lot of thinking and devving while my computer has been half-done, basically tinkering with things that if they got lost wouldn't be a big deal. One thing I've noticed while trying to implement the systems I want in Binding Wyrds is...well, I'm doing a lot of grinding uphill against the maker itself. I also feel like I'm doing a lot of -extra- work in order to work with the standards of the system and including things I don't want, IE more encounters/maps to make things feel more RPG-like and interactive.

So after a lot of thought, I'm considering switching my engine from RPGMaker VXACE to Ren'py. I know Ren'py is primarily a visual novel engine, but I've played a lot of games made in it that have implemented RPG elements. Given my game is more about proper distribution of characters to missions and doing the best with your roster, as opposed to epic boss/dungeon slogs, I feel its a better fit to have a design thats visual novel/story first, RPG second, as opposed to the other way around.

I have only looked at what others have done with the system, and the basics of Ren'py itself, so I could use some advice and other's experiences with it. Currently my pros/cons for it are thus:

+Can freely define various stats without much extra effort, so I can have more granular stats that aren't just combat (IE, investigation stats, diplomacy, crafting, etc).

+With the above, more stats and a more visual-novel esque design for missions would allow me to have different checks, and missions that aren't just 'kill x amount of monsters'. Instead of varying degrees of that, I could have missions where the team could be diplomatic and talk the enemies down, or sneak through without incident, with different results.

+No need to design maps. This has felt like a major burden, since my game really is the opposite of dungeon crawling/monster fighting, at least in theme.

-Have to build the RPG system from scratch.

-Can't use RTP stuff, which means stand-in black squares until I pay an artist.


[Concept Feedback] Monster-based RPG

So this is one of those that I couldn't decide would fit better in help or here...I figured it was more feedback about a design concept as opposed to direct help in a game, so sorry if I guessed wrong!

So, I was thinking of taking a short break from Binding Wyrds (mostly because the next step in development other than 'more missions/more characters' is a rather large scripting exercise) to sharpen my teeth on some more standard RPG fare, with a simple graphical style I might actually be able to do myself.

The main concept I was looking for feedback on is fairly simple, but I wanted to get people's opinions on any potential challenges for basing a game/system around it. It'll look familiar if you ever played Final Fantasy Legend II.

The concept of the game would be a world of monsters, where they grow stronger by eating stronger monsters. In essence, you would start with a party of four identical monsters, and whenever you defeated an enemy, you would have a chance of them dropping meat. A monster in your party can use the meat to change into the same monster that dropped it, stat-wise and everything. In example, you start with four slime-styled monsters, you kill a hornet and it drops meat, now one of them can be a hornet. This would hopefully allow the game to focus more on strategy, building the right combination of monsters to beat an area, rather than leveling up.

Some concerns/thoughts I had:

A) Should I allow leveling up? Obviously not strictly XP based, but perhaps a certain monster would get stronger if it eats the same meat over and over, up to a certain level limit.

B) Should the meat choice be a usable item, or an after battle choice? The after battle choice limits later choices, and obviously makes it worse if it turns out you don't like the new skills since you can't have old meat saved up. However, I worry about some abuse if you can just store up meat and switch back and forth between healing monsters for example.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

[General Design] What is the worst implemented/thought out system you've encountered?

A bit of a broad topic, but to be specific, what system in a game (whether the game itself is good or not) was so poorly thought out or implemented that it dragged the rest of the game down? It can be a small part of a system that just wasn't thought out well, or a major system entirely that made the game unplayable. I always figure it is best to discuss terrible design as well as good design in these discussions.

When I thought of this topic, I immediately thought of Magna Carta and specifically, its magic system. In Magna Carta, each spell has an elemental affinity, and casting that spell takes some of that resource from the battlefield. Pretty much every ability in the game is done like this, including basic healing and most attack abilities. Using an element increases the amount of the opposite element available, but not as much as a full spell. In practice, this means that all the elements you actually use in the battlefield are gone after a few rounds, and they won't recover fast enough to be useful. This is further burdened by not getting to pick your party very much, and a lot of duplicate character designs. One part has you getting stuck with two water magic/healers, and one tank. You quickly run out of any water magic.

The second example I thought of are most 'use it to improve it' systems. While there are good examples (Elder Scrolls games), the terrible examples are far more common. It isn't a bad system or idea per say, but they tend to make players act in completely silly ways in order to get through the game. Final Fantasy II for example ended up encouraging players to fight weak enemies...then brain their own party members to get more HP. Rime Berta, while a bit better of a game, still encourages you to go to the first map and just whack each other with skills you want to level up to get to higher classes, rather than have the randomness of actual fights.

The last one, while even more general, is a personal pet peeve of mine, and that is any 'Kill only XP' system. Disgaea 1, while a game I love, has this system, where only the killing character gets any xp from an enemy. This effectively nerfs healer XP gain, unless you give them weapons instead of something that improves healing. It also makes you do the whole 'cherry tap until killable' thing so your lower level guys can get XP. They do have XP gains from map rewards, but they're much less common. Many other strategy games implement this in an even worse way...come on people, at least give XP for damaging them too!
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