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Planing a CRPG

Any novice programmer that decides to make a game, usually has an oversized type of project that would like to tackle, specially as first project.

In my case it was an CRPG (Computer Role-Playing Game), and it is funny to see how things change a lot to essentially remain the same. I’ve seen newbies trying to make their first game, and it was a JRPG (Japanese style RPG). Then an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online RPG). At some point, interest shifted to the FPS (First Person Shooter) genre. The White Whale changes, yet remains the same, unreachable.

Now that I’m more experienced and I’ve finished a few games, perhaps is time to make that CRPG; although not even now I’m sure that I’m capable of finishing such a project!

I’ve spent some time deconstructing the genre, and I read “Fundamentals of Role-Playing Game Design” by Ernest Adams, a bit by accident. I can’t remember when I bought the ebook.

Although the book didn’t tell me anything new, strictly speaking, it was a good overview of the genre, and it kind of encouraged me to give the idea another go.

At the end, I think I’m going to focus on the core gameplay, and then expand from there. Instead of having everything I think a CRPG should have, I’ll see how much of a subset is sufficient to recognise the genre.

I’ve settled in a few points:

  • It will be dungeon focused, probably with no over-world or “city” view.
  • As part of the dungeon exploration, there will be object/key/switch puzzles.
  • I’m keen on a rogue-like component, so I don’t have to design the dungeon –and I can have more fun playing it–.
  • There will be inventory, and some sort of management of it.
  • I’d like it to be story heavy, or at least with an interesting story, via scripted scenes and NPC dialogue.

The only part that I’m undecided is the combat. I know the player will walk into a new room and there will be enemies, and there will be a fight.

For now I have this list of possibilities I like:

  • JRPG turn based combat, party based. Limited actions: attack, magic, use item, defend, etc. See Bard’s Tale, FF or Dungeon Quest series.
  • Turn based combat, party based and the environment matters. Same actions as before, but the characters move on a map that can be used strategically. See Ultima or Shinning Force series.
  • Action RPG, with little skill involved. The player bumps into the enemies, and stats kick in. See Ys, and lots of rogue-likes use this mechanic.
  • Skill based action RPG. Which is not really, really an RPG, but I guess you can make stats count. See 8-bit entries in the Zelda series.

Depending on what I choose, the implementation may vary a lot. For example, inventory management is quite different if you manage one single character or a party.

Another constraint is that it must be small, even if that means being less of an CRPG. Mostly because that would increase substantially my chances of finishing it.

I can start working on the points I know for sure I want in the game, and hope that, as I work on them, the rest will reveal itself naturally.

I have some nice Zelda-esque tiles for the MSX, so I may have decided the platform already!

Would you like to discuss the post? You can send me an email!