alias_sqbr: "Creative genius" with an arrow pointing to a sketch of me (genius!)
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Watching how much fun this Let's Player is having in Twilight Princess with RPG mechanics I find frustratingly difficult got me thinking about what it would be like to play an RPG I was that good at that.

I'm not likely to make one any time soon, since I have plenty of other games on my plate, but wanted to get my ideas down while they're fresh in my mind. I would be curious to hear other people's thoughts, especially people who, like me, enjoy RPGs in theory but find them a bit tricky in practice. It's impossible for one game to be good for everyone but it's still useful to know other people's preferences. I'd also love to hear any recs for games that sound suited to me!

So! I'm using "challenges" for stuff like fights, puzzles, etc.

Things I like in conventional RPGS, both Western and Japanese:

  • Exploring new areas and finding unexpected cool things like money in chests etc.
  • Unexpected "fights" as you explore which are a little scary and often involve destruction and/or violence.
  • Puzzles!
  • A variety of locations and challenges that all feel like part of the same coherent setting.
  • As the game progresses, your character gains new skills and helpful items, and faces correspondingly more difficult challenges.
  • A main story made up of a sequence of quests that you can put on pause to do other things.
  • a party who help out with challenges and have character arcs that connect with the main story.
  • Non compulsory side quests and minigames, some are connected to the main story but others are largely unconnected.
  • Usually having multiple available locations at any given time, most have to be visited at some point in the main story but can also be visited at other times and may change to reflect the ongoing plot.
  • NPCs that generally have very little character but add some colour and personality to the world, and can tie into the quests and sidequests.


Things I don't like:

  • Getting stuck on challenges I find too difficult
  • Complex strategy involving what armour to wear, what items to use when etc. Related: feeling like I have to replay a huge part of the game because of some seemingly minor choice I made ages earlier that has unexpectedly screwed me over in terms of strategic gameplay.
  • Anything requiring hand eye coordination, such as timing or jumping based challenges.
  • zombies (walking skeletons are ok, thankfully, or I'd never play RPGs at all)
  • having to grind a LOT to advance the main plot (I'm fine with grinding for optional stuff like completionist achievements or sidequests)
  • Sentient foes with personality we are expected to have zero qualms about killing.
  • Having to think cleverly about puzzles etc while my character is under immediate threat.


Now trying to put those together...

It is always possible to keep going no matter what. If you can't pass a challenge you may have to wait for a "skip challenge" timer or have to try and fail a set number of times but eventually you can keep going. This isn't a universal solution to hard challenges, having to skip all the time is no fun.

There may be SOME stategy to choosing skills etc but it's relatively simple and the negative effects of the wrong decision should be roughly linear to how poor your strategy is, not "I made the seemingly arbitrary decision to learn fire magic instead of ice five hours ago and it's been fine but now suddenly I have to defeat a monster that's immune to fire".

No. Jumping. Puzzles. Jumping onto a ledge directly in front of you is about it. No real requirement for hand/eye coordination in general.

Maybe some VERY easy and short timing based challenges, since I do sometimes enjoy those.

Fights are either turn based or allow for lots of pausing.

Not sure if I'd prefer the game to have sentient foes and consider their point of view (eg moral nuance and shades of grey) or just have non-sentient foes. I guess you could have a mix of both, mostly non sentient and a specific kind of sentient one whose perspective is related to the central arc. There's also the "you fight them and there's violence and destruction but they don't actually die" approach of, say, Pokemon. I don't want to make a pacifist game like Undertale where you CAN kill things but are always made to feel bad about it.

Preferably the skip mechanic would feel integrated with the story but not make everything feel pointless.

The actual plot etc I don't know. Having written all this down I think I'm going to let it percolate for a while. It looks like I can make RPGs on the Mac in Unity if nothing else, so if I do get an idea I can poke at it.
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