Ever since RPGs (role playing games) became a mainstream
gamers genre, game developers have been trying to ride the
fine line between pleasing casual and hardcore gamers. If
they stray too far from the norm, gamers complain that they've
changed their game too much, but if they stick with the tried
and true formula, gamers complain that they aren't pushing
the envelope enough. It's this conundrum that leads to stagnation.
Since there are so few RPGs out there for the PS2 and both
the X-box and Gamecube are on the horizon, we offer up this
list of suggestions on how to make the best RPG ever. While
there have been some good game ideas, we'd like the put them
altogether and add some ideas of our own.
The whole concept of the perfect RPG starts at the beginning
of the game. When you choose to start a new game, you'll be
given a menu (see sidebar) which will allow you to shape the
type of game you most prefer. These choices won't alter the
game itself, but will let each gamers play as they like. Also,
by changing your options each time you play, you can change
how the game plays, making everything but the story itself
different. It would be like playing a different game everytime
if you wanted.
Personally, I don't care either way when it comes to hand-drawn
sprites vs. polygons, as long as they're done well. While
I can appreciate how good the graphics are on some of the
old-school games for the SNES and Sega Genesis were, I think
that it's time for game developers to come into the 21st century.
Hand-drawn sprites should have a crisp, clean quality. Extremely
pixilated characters with no personality need not apply. Polygonal
characters should be well-detailed with texture mapping. When
it comes to the background, developers should go with what
works best. Both 3D polygon backgrounds (Breath
of Fire IV, Vagrant
Story) and pre-rendered (Final
Fantasy VIII and IX,
Legend of the Dragoon)
have worked well when done correct.
Let the players decide how much of a challenge they want.
If the game seems too hard or easy, then the only person they
can blame is themselves. This difficulty level would determine
how strong average monsters and regular bosses were. Special
bosses would still be hard, because there's no glory in beating
a special boss on the easy setting.
Our perfect party size is between six and eight people. Parties
that are smaller than this get to be a little boring after
a while. More than eight people means that the player spends
a lot of time rotating characters out. Also, it's hard to
develop characters that gamers can feel something for if they
have to keep a playcard to figure out who is who. When it
comes to battles the player will be given two choices: 3 or
4. A 3-man party will be more offensive and each character
will get their turn quicker. A 4-man party will be more defensive
and it'll take a little longer for each character to take
in most games, characters are a dime a dozen. In our RPG,
the main character's personality should be shaped by your
responses throughout the game. If you treat people kindly
throughout the game, you'll have a pleasant, friendly personality.
On the other hand, if you treat people like garbage, you'll
be hard-pressed to make friends. Also, he should be given
two love interests. Taking a cue from Final
Fantasy VII, the hero would end up with the girl he treats
the best, which might sway the ending of the game one way
or the other.
Okay, this is important. The main villain will be someone
you'll be chasing or fighting throughout the entirety of the
game. None of this fighting all of the way to the end and
the final boss is someone you've never seen or heard of before
that point (Necron anyone?). Of course, there should be a
couple hidden bosses that are a challenge to beat.
The player's choices would be: ATB (active time battle) and
turn-based. Anyone who's played Final Fantasy is familiar
with the ATB system, where each character's time gauge fills
at their respective speed. Faster characters get to act quicker
than slower ones. The other choice, turn-based, will have
a little catch to it. Taking a good idea from Breath of Fire
3, if you character is fast enough, they can get two turns
in one combat round. Also, to add a little depth to battles,
let the player hit a button in time with the attack to do
critical damage. On a PSone or PS2 controller, players could
hit one of the four face (L1, L2, R1, R2) buttons to do a
different special strike.
The player can have two choices here: Unlimited or Limited.
Unlimited would allow the player to keep up to 99 of every
item with characters being allowed to access all items during
battle. Limited would give each character a set number of
items they can carry in battle that they specifically can
use. Players could trade items between characters and resupply
when in towns.
The player should be able to upgrade weapons or sells them
off for different weapons. Maybe let everyone in the game
have access to the same weapons, but each character is better
at different types, so the player will want to focus on that
type throughout the game. Allowing players to pick and choose
and then upgrade at their leisure will allow for a lot more
specializations of parties. Also, as characters use weapons,
their skill at using them gets better.
When it comes to travel, there should be a number of options
for the player. They should be able to freely roam the countryside
to get into fights if they wish or take a car or train to
nearby cities if players want to avoid fights altogether.
This is another instance where the player should get the
choice as to how they like their gameplay. They should be
given the option to either have the enemies on-screen or random
battles. When it comes to random battles, though, they should
be given a choice as to how often battles occur. This would
allow gamers who hate to get into fights every five steps
to play at their leisure. On the other hand, people who love
to level up can fight to their heart's content.
Dungeons should have some challenge to them. The introduction
of physical puzzles should at least make the average dungeon
worth working through. Static ("this is the start, this is
the end") dungeons get a little old after a while and should
only be used sparingly. Another option to make dungeons a
little more ingenious and challenging is making them randomly
generated. This option has worked well with games like Diablo
and Darkstone and makes fighting your way through dungeons
fills out a gaming experience like a number of minigames to
break up the constant fighting and traveling. Breath of Fire's
fishing game and Fairy Colony and the collectible card games
in both FF8 and FF9 are great examples of excellent minigames
intended to compliment the main game. Also, you can never
go wrong with a whole area dedicated to side games (Gold Saucer
from FF7). Games that make poor utilization of minigames are
harder for gamers to want to go back and play more than once.
Even worse are poorly developed minigames that just aren't
Nothing gives replaybility to a game like giving it a couple
of endings that are decided by the gamer's actions. And none
of this "If you say no to a shopkeeper in town two, you'll
get this ending". The endings should show direct repercussions
from major events in the story, like the death of one character
or another, or winning the love of one girl over another.
All in all, the idea of our perfect RPG is to both allow
the player to play the game they like while also giving them
choices and opportunities. RPGs can tell great stories that
involve charming characters. These great tales are intended
to take the gamers away to fantastic places and allow them
to live wonderful lives. Since you wouldn't want to mar this
adventure with complications, letting the players pick their
way through will give them the best enjoyment. Also, being
able to change the settings can given them a structurally
different game each time they go through. It's this depth
that would make the most out of a single game.