Interesting blog post about defining visual style

I don't know if you guys play League of Legends, but recently the company who makes the game have been taking huge leaps forward in the game's aesthetics. Basically, the game is mostly played in 20-60 minute-long segments on the same big map, and that map has changed very little over the last 3 or so years; until now, which is a pretty big deal. In my opinion the change has been a huge improvement on the original style, and is quite refreshing to see after playing the game for about 2 years.

Anyway, some of the visual developers who worked on this project have made a blog post about the work they did to define a new visual style for League of Legends. Though most of us aren't working on a game that's going to be anything like League, it's still interesting to see them talk about the kinds of decisions they made when they were working on the new map, and a lot of it is still relatable to any kind of game.

It's a cool read, and I suggest you guys check it out. Here's a link.

Making the story into a journey

In my experience in designing games, one of the biggest obstacles I seem to consistently face is this:

I've a story concept. I've developed it enough to where I know who the main protagonist(s) is/are, I know who the main antagonist(s) is/are, and I either know or have a good idea as to why either party is involved. I know at least some of the setting, have some of the game world in mind, have some key themes I want to integrate, and maybe even one or two specific scenes or bosses which I have planned out because that's how the game comes alive in my mind.
In short, I have my main ideas. I have my major plot points. At this stage I have a good feel for the foci which my game is going to be revolving around.

Yet despite having all of that, it ultimately means nothing to anyone if it isn't all tied together through gameplay.

I'm finding this difficult to explain with words, but what I mean to say is that, though I know where I want to take the player in my world, I have trouble figuring out how to get them there as a part of a video game. It's this that I mean when I say "Making the story into a journey"; that is, to take a story, a few characters and a plot, and how to make it come alive by intertwining it with an interactive game world that's going to have enemies and bosses and some towns and non-player characters that just aren't important to the plot, and really hold no other weight than for being there because without them I wouldn't be able to use the actual gameplay elements I designed to make playing the game fun. In some ways I guess you could just call it "fluff", but it's more important than that to me because if you don't put your game in a world where it fits, then you risk breaking immersion and making everything seem too forced.

So I guess I'm asking how you guys find yourselves doing it, or at least to give insight to the problem and maybe some tips as to how to get better at doing it. One solution to this problem I've observed is to just make a number of small objectives for the player to follow until they hit the big plot points the designer had planned, but then how do you guys come up with the small things?

How important are extra playable characters?

There are a lot of RPGs that offer more characters than are possible for you to play with all at once. This often leaves the player with an option to pick and choose which characters they like the best and want to make a party with.

Now I'm not about to reject this design choice, I actually enjoy it very much. I feel as though it gives the player more room to be creative with my game and more opportunities for them to become attached to the characters in the game. I've also enjoyed this when it's done in other games, i.e. Chrono Trigger, Pokemon, Romancing SaGa, Final Fantasy, etc. There's no need to pigeon-hole the player in to playing with one set of people when you can design more people to let the player express themselves more freely.

However, and this may just be my perception, it seems to me as though if you want to make a game (in particular a game with a battle system that involves more than just one or two characters), and you want it to be good, you can't just design enough characters for there to be one possible party; in other words, it seems to me that extra playable characters are kind of necessary in order for people to take your game seriously. That or something like in Final Fantasy V where your 4 party members can take on the abilities of several different ones at the same time.

What do you guys think? How important is it to you to have more than one kind of party available to play with? When, if at all, is it necessary to have more than the maximum number of party members?

What is this song? (from some RPG)

I've been trying to identify this RPG tune that's been stuck in my head all morning with no luck. I actually have the score to a part of the song, but I don't know if there's more to it because I don't know what this song is.

For your listening pleasure (jk it doesn't sound great here because I can't quite play the note times right), I've included the portion of the song I know. Thanks to whoever reads and to who can help me with my plight.

Interchangability between ability targets - 2k3

I honestly don't know about other kinds of RPGs, but I know in Final Fantasy at least there is the option to use any spell meant to heal a party member on an enemy as well, and vice versa (use an aggresive spell on an ally). Is there a patch or plugin or something for 2k3 where this is possible, because right now it seems like you have to define the target for the spell in the editor and this cannot be changed during battle.

EDIT: Can you only put "no" in the "Are you a bot?" section of the create topic page?

rm2k3 ATB meter

I'd like to know how the ATB meter in RPG Maker 2003 works. Mostly, I'd really like to know what factors affect its fill speed, and if I can set it at to a certain position for a character or enemy via a buff or debuff or something like that. Any other miscellaneous information on the ATB meter would be appreciated as well.

Thanks. :)
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