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[VX Ace] How Many Characters Is Too Many Characters?


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#1 Rio Cortez

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 02:17 PM

Hello. Rookie dev here. Been messing around since RPG Maker 95, been creative writing on forums for 10 years, huge JRPG fan. Many years later, I'm finally committing to making a game, because I finally have the genius plot concept, and the caliber RM I needed.

 

I already have 25 main playable characters, and at least 4 confirmed secret characters (every secret actor will have their own development quest line within the game that may have it's own maps and the like, so it's important to consider that here too). I'm now facing the reality of how much work it is to create equips and skills for each of them, and set up all of their skill trees, lol. I want a diverse pool of skills, both class-based, and secret/additional skills earned through skill books. So this is a rather herculean task for my newbian sensibilities.

 

 

 

So my question to everyone, experienced devs in particular, how many characters is too many?  


Edited by Rio Cortez, 13 February 2017 - 02:17 PM.


#2 lonequeso

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 04:39 PM

There is no magic number really. As long as you can make the characters skills diverse enough that they aren't just clones of each other, and if it's a story-driven game make the characters interesting enough to care to try them there is no limit. It would also depend on how your using them. is the player choosing them out of one big pool? Can the player rotate characters in and out? How long is the game? Is this the sort of game that takes a few hours to play through with emphasis on trying to complete it with different characters? If it's longer game, I would strongly recommend the player having a lot of freedom in switching them out. Characters on the bench should also gain some XP or leveling the party is going to be extremely tedious. 

 

In my game, there's are 10 playable characters in the party. The battle party is the default four. The four that finish the battle get full XP, and the other 6 get 1/2 for the above reason. My characters have a fair amount of classes, which bring up another question. Are your characters locked into one class or are there several to choose from? If it's the latter, I'd say be careful about how many characters you have then. Having lots of options is great, but that can get out of hand quickly both from a development perspective, and from the players feeling overwhelmed. 

 

One of my favorite games with a huge character pool is X-Men Legends II. For every mission, you chose four characters out a huge pool. Every character had a single class. Stat and skill points were earned on Level up. You could freely choose which stats and skill to improve on each character. Characters that you don't use for a mission still got some XP (not sure if it was 50%.) Equipping items was pretty simple. Too lazy to check my lown link and see how many items you could equip :/ I'm pretty sure it was just 2 or 3. If you have a lot of characters you may want to have a lower number of equippable items, but it can be done with more as long as you're willing to put in the work. 

 

Hope that helps :)



#3 Tarq

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 04:59 PM

I've always believed that, when adding anything to a game, its better to ask 'why?' than 'why not?'.

In this instance, when you reach the first character that provides no meaningful addition that is when you've reached too many.

 

Realistically, if its your first game solo I would say that adequately creating and balancing nearly thirty characters is going to be an unpleasant task.


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#4 lonequeso

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 05:24 PM

^^Unless you really really reeeaaallly like creating characters. I neglected to mention, I have 55 character classes in my game (my 1st game), too. It is a lot of work, but if you enjoy doing it, it's really fun and rewarding to see them all come to fruition, and balance well with one another. 

#5 Rio Cortez

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 05:26 PM

There is no magic number really. As long as you can make the characters skills diverse enough that they aren't just clones of each other, and if it's a story-driven game make the characters interesting enough to care to try them there is no limit. It would also depend on how your using them. is the player choosing them out of one big pool? Can the player rotate characters in and out? How long is the game? Is this the sort of game that takes a few hours to play through with emphasis on trying to complete it with different characters? If it's longer game, I would strongly recommend the player having a lot of freedom in switching them out. Characters on the bench should also gain some XP or leveling the party is going to be extremely tedious. 

 

In my game, there's are 10 playable characters in the party. The battle party is the default four. The four that finish the battle get full XP, and the other 6 get 1/2 for the above reason. My characters have a fair amount of classes, which bring up another question. Are your characters locked into one class or are there several to choose from? If it's the latter, I'd say be careful about how many characters you have then. Having lots of options is great, but that can get out of hand quickly both from a development perspective, and from the players feeling overwhelmed. 

 

One of my favorite games with a huge character pool is X-Men Legends II. For every mission, you chose four characters out a huge pool. Every character had a single class. Stat and skill points were earned on Level up. You could freely choose which stats and skill to improve on each character. Characters that you don't use for a mission still got some XP (not sure if it was 50%.) Equipping items was pretty simple. Too lazy to check my lown link and see how many items you could equip :/ I'm pretty sure it was just 2 or 3. If you have a lot of characters you may want to have a lower number of equippable items, but it can be done with more as long as you're willing to put in the work. 

 

Hope that helps :)

 

Large pool you can swap out freely, that was very important to me. At any given time, the main plot progression will dictate active party (sometimes they are split up, and you get no control over how the plot splits them up), so at times you have to use this character or that character.

 

It's going to be a very long game. I plan on the "End" actually being more game. A free-roam portion of prep time, and then a new mission that will take you to a new area, an impossibly large tower, every floor having it's own landscapes. You wil have to scale this tower with the entire party doing bonus quests, with bonus story, script, battles, and bosses.

 

The shared exp thing is a nice idea. I fear the ability to lvl up X amount of characters without even using them . Perhaps I'll lower the amount gained to 25% or less. I plan to make my characters extremely valuable each in their own right, and I can this easier and better with less, so I'm going to trim some of them to secondary characters, that may never even enter the party, or briefly for a portion of the story before leaving he group.

 

EDIT: They are also limited to 1 class per character, but I have added ways to customize and tweak builds using skill books and stat boosts (I'm regulating thet also, so it can't get too out of control. Ingredients to craft boosts themselves will be extremely rare, then you have to create them).


Edited by Rio Cortez, 13 February 2017 - 05:28 PM.


#6 Takeo212

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 03:08 AM

25 seems alot in my opinion. I suppose it depends on how many you can have in your battle system.

If your battles uses 3 in a battle, then I would settle for 6. If it uses 4 battlers, then 8 should suffice. Mainly for variety within skills though.

If you can make every character part of the story, then yes, go for it, but from my experience only one game "pulled many playable characters off" and that was Suikoden IV. Even then, I personally only used like 6 of the many playable characters. They were mainly for battle variety but each did have their own backstory and had requirements to recruit.

 

In short, if you make the 25+ characters relevant, then I suppose? But I don't recommend having 25 characters if only for the sake of it.


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#7 Rezanta

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 11:47 AM

Let's throw things into prospectives.
 

1) Do all of the characters play a role unique to themselves, rather than another character?

a. If yes, then ignore #2.

 

2) If no, then what characters might need to be changed or removed? (Go through the list and see what repeated traits there are. If a character has all of their traits or goals repeated by one or more character, then you don't need that character, blatantly enough.)

 

3) If all of the characters are unique in their own ways, then it's time to look at the length of the game. Is it playable under 30 hours? If so, then do you really need that many characters? If it's above, look at how the story places all of the playable characters together. If it's some loose end deal, maybe consider changing/removing that character from the game. (I'm not saying rid yourself of that character, as any character is useful to have.)

 

4) Finally, once everything is said and done, does your game feel heavy with choices the player has to make with parties and such?

 

That's what goes throughout my mind when I make a game. IT's a way to make sure you don't have too many characters. However, as lone has stated, there isn't a true number that somebody needs to stick to. I hope this helps! :3


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#8 Guyver

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 03:42 PM

25 is a lot for me personally. I'm working with six human characters and 12 monster characters that act in their own teams for my current project. That's a total of 18, which is still a lot of work to have proper development and backstory that ties in with your game.



#9 RoooodWorks

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 05:06 PM

All that is a lot to me, i prefer a smaller team, like my current project only has 4 members and even that is alot to do just for the skills they learn, equipment to equip etc. So I Think if this is your first project start of small like 3 or 4 then once you have more games under your belt make more characters the more games you create. Like i know suikoden does it very well and so does Fire emblem, but how can someone keep track of that many characters in a game. I barely can keep track of who does what and who holds what in fire emblem series.

 

So take that as you will, I am just saying my opinion, don't bite my head off just for having one :)


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#10 lonequeso

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 06:01 PM

Making that many characters relevant to the story is a tough task for sure. In my X-Men example, the developers had the luxury of using an already well established team so there was no need to really go into character backgrounds or development aside for key points in the story. All they needed was to provide little bios that the player could read. 

 

That being said, developing 25 unique characters and making them relevant would be hard to pull off, but not impossible. The longer the game, the easier it will be to develop them. If you already have a solid foundation of the story and how you'll accomplish it, then you're ahead of the curve. I'm curious to see if yo can actually pull it off in a traditional RPG. the other luxury of the X-men game was it was a brawler/RPG which lends itself to large party sizes a bit easier. An action RPG or whatever Fire Emblem is classified as would likely be the easiest ways to do it. 



#11 freakytapir

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 07:05 AM

I believe the maximum number of characters is determined by asking some simple questions about your game :

1. Do I have enough time for each character ?

Each character has to be introduced , and their interaction with the other members established. The more characters you have, the longer the establishing of their interaction with the others takes.

2. How much can I mechanically change one character into another through character customisation, and do I need both characters then ?

If I can make any character any class, why do I need more characcters than I can take into battle ? 

3. Are all of your characters along for the entire ride from the moment you recruit them?

You can have a lot more characters if some are only along for a part of the ride

4. What is the maximum combat party size ?

No use having 20 characters if you can take only 3 of them into battle.


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#12 roninator2

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 10:04 PM

I'm working on a project with 18 characters. They are all different in various ways, but it is also a little easier for me as I have them split to good and evil. So in developing the story line, I only have to work on 9 characters at one time. Not that it's easy. It's been 9 months working on the demo and the back end workings of the game. Every time I saw a new script I liked, I tried it out. If it added an effect I will use then I kept it. So now I'm at 185 scripts. That's what primarily took me so long was working out glitches and incompatibilities with scripts rather than character development and story line. So even though I don't have 25 or more characters, It has still been a massive project.

Be careful of how in depth you want to go and don't stress if it takes a long time to make it right. I'm going to be thrilled when I finally finish this game. (hopefully it will be steam worthy(those greenlight guys are pretty harsh))

 

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#13 Lihinel

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 04:16 AM

61 are too many.

 

60 is just right, I use that in my game.

 

Believe me, I did the math.

I mean 60 is a really cool number, divisible by 30, 20, 15, 12, 10, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.

Heck, we even use it to keep time, as base for 1 minute in seconds and 1 hour in minutes, isn't that proof enought?

 

Some may claim 42 is better, but they are just delusional people who listen to what computers with stupid names come up with as answers to questions they don't even know themselves.

 

"How many characters are too many?"

-"42!"

 

See? Doesn't make sense.


Edited by Lihinel, 16 February 2017 - 04:16 AM.

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#14 Rio Cortez

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 11:02 PM

10 years experience doing Forum RP, I can integrate that many characters into a story, and make them all unique, valuable, developed characters in that process. That's how I arrived at 25, not trying to stack them or anything like that. I've cut some characters that were altogether unnecessary to join the party (as in, script and tie-in to the rest of the plot on steady basis) after their portion of the plot. They will all remain part of the cast as secondary characters and allies, but they won't actually be playable.

 

I've got it down to 15. Those who's stories and involvement were the most central, and also baring in mind character builds, but I did a good job of varying my core characters so it wasn't too bad.






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