Issue #7 - December 2000

RPG Tutorial - Plots, characters, and Bears! Oh My!

By QbProgger <qbprogger@tekscode.com>

99.99% of RPG's out there have a stupid-ass "Do this. Do that." interface. Some culprits are Dark Ages, The Mystical Journey, anything by Majiko, Diablo (yes even professional games do this), and Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. These are foolish games where the character is obviously not human, because he gets up to do EVERYTHING he is told no matter what it is. The best way to make an RPG, is to have a progressive plot, and give the character some options. For instance, the Fallout series allows a broad range of movement, where you decide where you go and what you do, not some king or lame plot-line.

9 tips for making a non-cliched game and making it FUN:

  1. Play your damned game and work on it until you actually like it. Seriously. If you don't have fun playing it, nobody will. That's a fact.
  2. If your program crashes a lot, or has a bug every so often that causes things to screw up, your users WILL find out about this and will be very pissed. Please fix all of your bugs for a more enjoyable experience for you and your players.
  3. Add in some extra stuff. Things like codes at the title screen, or hidden rooms. Possibly even some fun mini-games. Final Fantasy 3 had the Coliseum, for example, where you could bet items and win better items. The same Coliseum could be used to find a character as well.
  4. Try something other than "treasure chests" or "swords". How about backpacks, lockers, dressers, something like that? Also, swords are horrible to put in your game. Put something in like a lance, a baseball bat, brass knuckles, or something along the lines of that =].
  5. If your plot involves saving someone from something evil, scrap it. It'll go nowhere.
  6. Add some humour! I loved Kids of Karendow because it had humour, not because it was an ultra serious story. Also, know what parts are supposed to be serious, and what are supposed to have humour. If a character dies, don't make your other characters laugh, make them disturbed, or make them have emotional problems later on in the game. These details add depth to your story.
  7. Weird does NOT equal original. Just because your character is a ChiChi Warrior! does not make him any less cliched. Also, don't copy the Chrono Trigger characters, and don't copy anything basically. If you can't come up with your own plot, make a parody on your own life story. After all, the easiest character to come up with is yourself =].
  8. Don't be afraid to add some love! For instance, if there's a guy and a girl and they're travelling together, there's bound to be some attraction going on. [Editor's Note: Was just watching ST:Voyager. That's not always true, but then again, how many QBRPGs have Vulcans in them? =]
  9. Don't get too wordy with your story. Let the player take it as he/she goes. For instance, don't make your characters have 10 minute long conversations unless it's a major part in the story. 80% of time spent playing an RPG is manueuvering through the world created by the game, so why not spend some time making it enjoyable? Add some things like places to explore, caves to spelunk, oceans to walk on, etc. Just because it's not relevent to the plot doesn't it mean it shouldn't be there for the enjoyment of the player.

After you've taken a look at your RPG, does it really qualify as a fun game, or some shoddy product you've shoved out in order to get your name out there? Is it really an RPG, or is it a hard-plot-lined story where there's not much imagination? Take a look at your game before you go around spreading the word of the "BEST RPG EVER!" ok? I've seen way too many people arrogantly proclaim their game as fun or a great RPG, when it is total crap (I myself did this a while back, but I have spent my time building good engines so I can someday make a good game =)). Don't worry too much about my article though, just keep the entertainment of the player in mind.