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Ceri Handen

Weapons powering up throughout Story

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Something that has always bothered me about many RPGs is how there are multiple instances where you will be going into a weapon/armour shop and spend a lot of time buying and selling stuff. It feels weird to think that the characters will hold their starting weapon and then throw it out the window for something they have possibly never seen before. This is also the case with armour, one moment your fastest character has casual clothing, BOOM, now they'll wearing shining knights armour.

 

So after playing Blue Dragon, it gave me inspiration for how I made character stat progression. In Blue Dragon, there are no weapons or armour, instead, you have the character's dragon/soul and accessories that act as armour. My idea is that each character has their own unique weapon that they keep start to finish, whenever they beat a boss that drops an upgrade for their weapon, they can (game is still in progress, so deciding between the two) either go to a specific area to get it upgraded or it is upgraded right on the get go. Accessories will still be purchased from an item shop along with another feature in my game.

 

Other than that, that's an idea for my game. To me, it feels satisfying to watch the little parts of characters grow as well. What are your thoughts?

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I find the allure of equipment management to be timeless, although not essential to an rpg experience. Unique aspects are always a bonus to make your game memorable to the player (speaking as a player before a developer). Part of what makes enemy drops, treasure chests, and item shops (that feeling of getting to a new town, and hunting down the gear shops) so great is the prospect of finding that rare weapon or accessory, buying a shiny new sword that may have special properties no other sword can offer. Some of my favorite rpgs have great gear for great characters, not just a stat bonus curve. I appreciate when a game can allow me to choose what gear I want to use in order to create desired strategies. Sacrificing some attack power for elemental damage, or an evasion boost, for example.

 

And gear doesn't last forever. Unless every character happens to start off with a rare, master-quality weapon that is impervious to the wear and tear of combat, there may come a point in time when your archer says “This Elven longbow is probably superior to my simple oak hunting shortbow.”

 

Now having said all of this, by no means am I trying to change your mind or create doubt , just saying for the sake of conversation.

 

One thing you might consider is adding a secret weapon for every character. A type of legendary of master weapon that can be found and replace that weapon you’ve been staring at since the beginning of the game.

 

I find it as unlikely that a warrior would maintain the same sword for duration of his quest across the world, slaying foe after foe, after foe, after foe. ^_^

 

That’s one hell of a sword. ^_^

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(Wow, I forgot I even made this topic haha)

For my game, the equipment management comes from the unique type of armour; modules. These things do all kinds of things: add abilities, resistance, magic, vice versa. So really, the weapons are base stats while the modules do all the nasty strategic work. It adds a challenge that players could attempt. A no module run. (Which already sounds like a bad idea lol)

 

There will be secret weapons, the initial idea that they exist is after a key moment in the story. These bad boys will be super rewarding for people doing a no module run as the weapons do in fact has some special powers that every other weapon doesn't. Combine it with some of the best modules and BOOM, you got yourself a beast slayer. (until you meet the super boss that is)

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I have been thinking about this topic lately. I want the player to experience progress and growth. One step in the progression is obtaining better weapons throughout the game. 

 

My main issue with many RPGs is secret weapons at the end of the game are too powerful. These overpowered weapons break the game and make it too easy to defeat the final enemies. Where is the fun in that? Dealing max damage is not an effective strategy for a game that is about strategy.

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Personally I think obtaining equipment throughout the game that are just plain 100% better then your current weapon is kind of a waste. There are two many games where you just end up throwing away or selling all your old equipment because they just end up completely worthless. I rather if you find quipment that they be different and not necessarily better. I mean sure, you might start with basic lower quality equipment and you might be able to get your hands on a legendary equipment somehow, but why not have different equipment have be more or less effective for some things instead of flatly getting more powerful every time?

 

Also, on the subject of equipment getting more powerful as you progress through the story in general, here is a question: Why? Your party already levels up and gets stronger. Why do RPGs need progressively more powerful equipment as well? I don't know about anyone else but I kinda think equipment is better off being a matter of playstyle or preference and be more situational, not another way to flatly upgrade your character. I mean, what if you could eventually just get a fire sword, an ice sword, or a holy one that did more damage to undead? What if you choose between a dagger that inflicts poison or one that allows you to always attack first? And all these weapons could have about the same effectiveness throughout the game instead of being junk you just replace later with a superior weapon?

 

Not that I am necessarily opposed to crafting/upgrading/leveling equipment as such, but honestly? I rather not have to micro manage my inventory that much when ever I go to town or worry that much about if I should use that brand new sword I got or if I should stick to the setup that works, or worry that my cool weapon is going to become useless. I rather be able to use the equipment I want to use when I want to use it and feel like it's an actual tactical decision rather then see what one has the bigger numbers. I rather a character's overall power be more related to that character and not what equipment they have, while still letting equipment give them a bit of an edge sometimes.

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I sort of agree with @Kayzee , but I think there needs to be more of a balance. Weapon and armor curves allow monsters to get progressively stronger as well, and they add a layer of evolution and change to keep things fresh and keep coming back to aspects of character management. Golden Age rpgs on the SNES and PS1 started using accessories to balance out the special effects as well. You have to be careful when balancing gear effects so as not to enable perk stacking.

 

Lately I have really been playing around with ideas surrounding deeper social mechanics in rpgs. Things like Morrowind's npc relationship status. One idea I had was replacing the notion that every piece of jewelry you buy at any old shop does something magical to your body. Instead I thought what if jewelry served a more realistic function in an rpg with a highly social dynamic? What if it costs a ton of money,and wearing it improves your perceived social and economic status among npcs? What if wearing pricier items increased your odds of being jumped by bandits and thugs looking to rob you? What if npcs were unique in their beliefs, with some respecting wealth whilst others resent and distrust it?

 

I like where this realm of thought is headed. I had been wanting to do an FF Tactics style rpg for quite some time, and this whole "better npcs = better play experience" idea helped flesh that Tactics concept out into something I can work with.

 

Edited by That One NPC

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11 hours ago, That One NPC said:

Weapon and armor curves allow monsters to get progressively stronger as well,

 

Ah, but they really don't. That was one of my points. Your character can get progressively stronger and the monsters along with them while equipment doesn't. If it's all about the numbers getting bigger it doesn't really matter where those numbers come from. Thus I prefer it when equipment is used to tweak or redirect the characters power to different ends, not flatly augment it. For example, instead of flatly adding to stats, what if equipment worked with percentage multipliers? What if different bits of the equipment balanced the multipliers differently? You could have standard equipment which didn't do much, and more "high level" equipment which had great bonuses for some things but some bad drawbacks for others. You could have equipment that just had great stats and others with less great stats but more interesting features.

 

Not that equipment curves are always all that bad really, but you know I would like if the sword that the hero was given by their grandpa at the start of the game could act as a solid if basic weapon to use through the whole game, instead of being thrown away at the next town. Letting it be upgraded is one way to do it, but not the only way.

 

11 hours ago, That One NPC said:

Lately I have really been playing around with ideas surrounding deeper social mechanics in rpgs. Things like Morrowind's npc relationship status. One idea I had was replacing the notion that every piece of jewelry you buy at any old shop does something magical to your body. Instead I thought what if jewelry served a more realistic function in an rpg with a highly social dynamic? What if it costs a ton of money,and wearing it improves your perceived social and economic status among npcs? What if wearing pricier items increased your odds of being jumped by bandits and thugs looking to rob you? What if npcs were unique in their beliefs, with some respecting wealth whilst others resent and distrust it? 

 

I actually had a similar idea once upon a time! Allow me to suggest something though: In addition to wealth, there are many other social factors that clothing can show. For example: gender identity, cultural identity, faction alliance, rank, role... You know how mages often wear robes and pointy hats? Maybe that's a common mage outfit for practical reasons, or maybe it's part of a guild uniform. Different nations might have different popular clothing and/or uniforms for different guilds/jobs. NPCs could react positively or negatively to different things.

 

It reminds me of a minor feature in my game, though I don't use it for NPC interaction currently. Maybe I will in the future, though my game doesn't have many NPCs. In my game items and equipment can have 'keywords' such as 'magic', 'demon', 'cute', 'basic', 'holy', 'fire'...  whatever I want really. I wrote the keywords system mostly for shops and random treasure so I could automatically generate lists of items that fit a set of themes, but I also was planning on using it for other things.

 

Anyway, no reason why an NPC couldn't look at what you had on and react to keywords set on the equipment. I think that would be pretty interesting! If you are in a nation with the common clothing of another and the nations are enemies, maybe some people don't react too well or you could even get arrested! Come to think of it I played a really neat RPG Maker game recently where some people reacted to what equipment you had on, but only a few times so eh. Mostly they reacted to if you were armed or not, but you also needed a uniform for some jobs/events.

Edited by Kayzee

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10 hours ago, Kayzee said:

 

Ah, but they really don't. That was one of my points. Your character can get progressively stronger and the monsters along with them while equipment doesn't. If it's all about the numbers getting bigger it doesn't really matter where those numbers come from.

 

 

Of course you can use different formulas to place all of your factors solely on stats with that bit of weapon damage added in. But the industry norm for 20 years was the opposite. Because if gear doesn't change, and all you have to do is get levels to change your strength and therefor damage, it can become a monotonous grind situation pretty quickly. Equip management is a timeless aspect of rpgs that adds another dimension of play, albeit a very small one. It reinforces a certain awareness of your characters current limitations and progress, and the desire to improve it. It gives money more value and purpose, particularly in the old days. And it allows a good developer to populate their world with different minerals and materials, weapons and armor styles. Again if they are a good dev, they will use that gear wisely when fleshing out their cultures and regions. Too often in older games you just got weapons in whatever order. Bronze, Iron, Steel, Gold, etc. It's nice when you can flesh out cultures and races based on the weaponry, clothing and armor they wear.

 

And I agreed with you on not having a list of 20 swords that get sequentially stronger. I like a more realistic setup where there a variety of weapons and armor from all over the world, each of them having their strengths and weaknesses. Attack, defense, speed, one handed or two handed, slashing, stabbing, blunt. Now you're getting into an interesting system with some strategy involved. Instead of just spamming the confirm button to kill monsters, you've got to know the enemy's weaknesses, and consider what weapon you want to use for each character.

 

I think it relies on the slash/stab/blunt elements, or anything that elevates the nature of your weapon dynamics, and you've got to have a good selection of weapons if you're going to limit it. A lot of people who play rpgs are medieval weapon lovers. Like, a lot, lol. I love finding new weapons in games. You know how many successful games went out of their way to elevate the weapon system in their game to do the opposite of limit the selection? Think of games like Diablo, or any other game with random weapons. Half of the reason you grind in those games is to find new, better gear  than what you've already got.

 

Limiting gear in 2019, in any game is a risky move, but at least if you have larger, nice set, you can get away with it in certain games.

 

I've been working to flesh out Avery's gear set to make sure I have a large array of consistent gear sets, for games where you can craft items.

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Edited by That One NPC

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8 hours ago, That One NPC said:

Of course you can use different formulas to place all of your factors solely on stats with that bit of weapon damage added in. But the industry norm for 20 years was the opposite.

 

Wouldn't the opposite be having equipment be where almost 100% of your stats come from? There are games that do that sure, but I don't think it's the industry norm. Then again a lot of rpgs seem to rely on equipment a fair bit, so maybe so? Anyway, that kinda reminds me of old-school Zelda-style games more then anything else, where the whole game revolves around getting more and better equipment and has no real grinding (except farming for money I guess). And I think that also works really well honestly! Zelda is also a perfect example of having a limited set of equipment most of which is not really any more powerful then any other. You only really tend to get direct upgrades with a few items like the sword, and they usually just outright replace the old items in the menu so it doesn't really feel much like a whole new item.

 

8 hours ago, That One NPC said:

You know how many successful games went out of their way to elevate the weapon system in their game to do the opposite of limit the selection? Think of games like Diablo, or any other game with random weapons. Half of the reason you grind in those games is to find new, better gear than what you've already got.

 

Games like Diablo are kinda perfect example of what I don't want equipment to be like in a normal RPG. Because seriously, 90% of all the equipment you get in games like that is just complete trash. I mean, I can see where you are coming from for sure. For roguelikes it sorta works! Finding a random cool new item is part of the appeal of roguelikes for sure! But even then if the game is completely focused on grinding away for slightly better items, well then it's basically like loot boxes without the microtransactions isn't it? It becomes nothing but a skinner box pretty quick. It's a really tricky sort of balance to hit!

 

I have been working on a roguelike, and these are issues I have sorta struggled with myself. How much should I allow randomness to effect the equipment you find? How should I tier equipment, or if I even should? Should I work harder on making as large an item pool as I can, or make sure all the items are diverse? Should I allow spawning of items with enchantments or +1 bonuses? Maybe I should even do something more like the items in The Binding of Isaac where most of the items you find just boost your stats a little for the rest of the run? Should I reset most everything with death to keep things fresh or allow more character progression in between runs? I am still experimenting with all of that, and I am not too sure what I will end up doing in the end.

 

For normal RPGs though? Yeah, grinding for random loot drops is kinda a pain, and I think RPGs could be designed a little more tightly to make equipment more 'ballanced'. Just my opinion though mostly. :3

Edited by Kayzee

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17 hours ago, That One NPC said:

(shared a nice icon set)
...most that play RPGs love Medieval/Feudal weaponry...

 

Those are really neat looking, and I most certainly do. I own and wield a katana that's twenty-five inches, end to end.

 

8 hours ago, Kayzee said:

(mentions Diablo)


Eh...hehehehehe...
I play Diablo for the same reasons I play Unreal Tournament, lolz

As for the topic at hand...
Having a system where equipment is improved over the course of the game is most certainly not an unwelcome feature. Faria (an underrated NES RPG) is a great example of an RPG where one relies more on their skill with equipment than on just getting new equipment, though, keep in mind that Faria is an RPG that plays like LoZ in that all battles are live action sequences rather than turn based battle. Yes, one can buy new equipment and doing so is a good idea, but upgrades are expensive, and money is not easily acquired early on, or ever, unless you're really good at not getting smashed.

However, as aforementioned, not all RPGs are meant to use such a system. I have a wide range of likes when it comes to equipment systems, one of my favorites being equipment add-ons, like the infamous Materia from Final Fantasy VII and VIII as one example of several. Actually, limiting skills and abilities to what one can use as equipment add-ons is one of the most brilliant ideas for a game, and not just an RPG either. Pretty sure a lot of battle royale/FPS games have this too, not that I've actually done an in-depth look into this since a lot of my FPS faves are reaaaalllllyyy old, lolz

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