3 seperate stories in 1 game. good or bad?

gigaswardblade

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ever since deciding that i wanna make my first game in RPG maker, I've wanted the first game in my (hopefully prosperous) game series to actually have 3 seperate stories with 3 main characters in 1 whole game. (and then sometimes separating the party members from 1 another and playing as the main villain for 1 section) but im worried that it might not be a good idea.

on 1 hand, i could pull a pokemon and have 3 separate versions of almost the exact same game but with different characters, locations and enemies. that way people can play as who they want right away instead of having to wait for the section that lets them play as their favorite people.and it would be much easier to make since i wont have to do much programming. AND id make more money that way. but then the 3 games would be shorter than i want them to be (i was gonna do 12 chapters in all so that would mean each game only has 4 chapters.) and some people might find it tedious to buy all 3 just to get a full experience and i might be seen as one of those money loving crap spewing big guys like EA.

(EDIT: everyone seems to be taking that paragraph the wrong way. i was implying that i could do the 3 separate stories in 3 separate games so as to not overwhelm the player with too many characters and stories and/or fill up their hard drive with content.

pokemon probably wasn't the best example to use. i would've said fire emblem fates, but i know nothing about those games so i just went with what i knew. i meant that the core gameplay would be the same seeing as all 3 would be made in rpgmaker. i would've had different locations, characters, stories, enemies, ect.

also, i wasn't in favor of doing an EA where i release the same game 3 times just so i could get some ca$h. even if i did go along with that idea, i wouldve sold each game for like 4$ anyways. hope that cleared things up a bit.)

but on the other hand, i could combine all 3 games and make the game much longer and have many things to do like collect all the weapons and outfits for each character, fill up the bestiary, and experience every character interaction moment. but then every chapter i'd switch to the next main character and that might ruin the flow of the story. (i would try to make things somewhat resolve quickly to prevent cutoffs however.) also it would be absolute H311 for me to program it all. since the 3 characters all have separate inventories and party members. (unless there is a plug-in that could help) i mean, i could try to give an option before you begin to play through whoever's story you want first, but then the climax at the end where all the characters meet up will be kinda confusing since you don't know these people too well.

also the characters who were in the other person's party might not be the same level as you'd want them to be since you'd have no control and i would have to set them at the expected level and give them passable weapons. (which might defeat the purpose of trying to collect as many weapons as you can for each character.) either way could work and either way could fail. so if any veteran RPG makers out there could help me out here, it would be great.

i want my game to feel like something different from regular RPGs and yet still try to remind people of the good ol' days back in the early to mid 2000's with its art style (which i haven't worked on at all >_> ) if anyone could help, i'll promise that if i succeed that i'll mention you helping me make my game almost perfect. ill be asking for more input in other posts when the time comes to it.


PS sorry if i posted in the wrong category again. still getting used to these board things.
 
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Shaz

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Yeah, I once had an idea for a game with 4 main characters, who eventually came together for the main quest, but depending on who you chose, you'd start in different locations and have a different first-part of game, and possibly a different game ending too.


I don't think you'd make more money.
 

FDSuprema

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I'm pretty sure this is how Wild Arms on the PS1 started. You had multiple main characters who each had their own intro segment, which you played until the end of and then played as the next one, and then the next one.


I'm not mentioning that to say 'it's been done, that's too unoriginal', but actually quite the opposite. If you are able to make it flow well enough, if each of the characters are interesting enough, and the story is written well enough, this is definitely something that could work well. 


I will say, however, I'd avoid doing multiple games that are nearly identical, unless the games can interact with one-another in a meaningful way. Pokemon does so because of the ability to trade monsters found exclusively in their respective versions, and that works. A game where the only difference is a single chapter or less, I feel wouldn't do well with that sort of release.
 

Sekunri

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Like FDSuprema just said the game Wild Arms 1 for the PS1 had multiple stories at the beginning of its game. There are also other games where you separate from party members to go do different tasks.


As long as your story telling is good and separating the characters doesn't become a chore or a major detour from the core plot of your game it can go well. That said you also don't always have to make the characters join up with one another.


The game Tales of Xillia on the PS3 has two characters to choose from at the beginning. They're stories are mostly tied together but there is an important character development chapter where the characters are separated and you only visit the chapter of the character you chose at the beginning of the game to focus on.


This element with a good story can make a game re-playable but by no means does that mean "more money" just more work on your side that could lead to a game people remember.


Another option would be finding a way to make the three stories into three separate smaller titles. A smaller title for your first game is encouraged as it will allow you to gain an understanding of the program and how it functions before diving into a large project. People who start on larger projects first rarely complete them, set your goals with your experience. You can always write down a story you have and come back to it when you're able to do what you want for it.
 
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PsychicToaster

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AND id make more money that way.
This attitude, I hate to say, isn't the best way to dive into your first game. I know it seems a bit abrasive to say this, but the chances of you going through with it and making it of a decent enough quality to sell it are slim. Learn the program, experience frustration and imminent disappointment, toss it aside, pick it back up and start anew, get a bit better, and do all over again until you really have the capacity to make a good game. Don't try to sell your first game either, because winding up never wanting to make games again due to a lack of sales is not conducive to growing this from a hobby into a potential business and career.


I am in no way discouraging you or dumping on your dream, but a little harsh reality and acceptance of it go a long way.


For discussion's sake, 3 stories in one game is entirely doable. But ask yourself how you'll tie it all together into a central narrative. The way I'd go about it is telling a character's story as it relates to the overall main quest, and eventually linking it all together. Otherwise, you'll eventually find yourself in an exposition nightmare where none of it feels connected in any way. 


A quick(and cliched) example:


1.There is a Bad Dude, you've got to stop him. That's your end goal.


2.You have Hero1, Hero2, and Hero3. These are your story characters.


3.You choose to play through Hero1's story.


4.You still party up with Hero2 and Hero3, with a Hero4 to fill the quintessential fourth party slot(or not, your choice really).


5.You play through the beginning and middle of the game differently as Hero1 than you would have with Hero2 or Hero3.


6.Toward the end of the middle, the story comes together to prepare you to stop the Bad Dude.


7.You stop the Bad Dude at the end. 


8.Done.


So basically, you've got a different first half or even first three-quarters of the game, involving an introduction of the characters, their personalities, goals, etc, with an emphasis on the one you've chosen. As you progress, you move toward a central area where the story merges with that character's, irrespective of which story you've chosen. It all builds together to form a cohesive narrative. I wouldn't try to separate party members. Just introduce each one into the other's story somehow, which will prompt the player to go "Gee, next time I kinda want to learn more about Hero2 than I did just having him as a secondary protagonist". It gets them wanting to play it again as a different character. Bear in mind that regardless of choice, the other characters need to be developed at least somewhat. You can save their dirty, dark secrets, penchants for wearing silly hats, or muttering at rocks for later, but the meat of each character needs to exist, or nobody will be inclined to care about any of them.
 
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Kes

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To see something like that in RPGMaker, try @Matseb2611's game 'Atonement: Scourge of Time' which I think does a very good job of telling the same story from the point of view of 2 different protagonists.  It is effectively 2 games in one, you choose which character you want to follow for this game, and see everything from their POV.  They follow different routes, have conflicting understandings of what's going on, have different parties join them, etc., so when you next play through and pick the other character it feels very fresh.  Only he can tell you about the extra work involved.


I think that even to consider basing such a key part of your design on the hope that it will make more money, is likely to lead to disappointment.  Higher sales are the result of so many things coming together, some of which are within your control, some are not.


However, this isn't the thread to be discussing the commercial side of game development, and I don't want to get the main aspect of discussion derailed.
 

Plueschkatze

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Suikoden III did this.


You had 3 (ok 4) main heroes which would meet at some point. And afterwards you could also see the villains side.


So it works out! I really love the idea, but didn't like most of the characters. And it's hard if you're forced to play as someone you dislike D:


I actually have 2 Stories in mind that would have such a gameplay feature.
 
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Matseb2611

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I am still a bit unsure. Is it a single playthrough where you get to witness every character's side of the story before they fuse together into one party, or are you able to only witness one hero's side of the story per playthrough? I am guessing you must mean the latter. One thing I would say is you'll have to make each character's side of the story fun and interesting enough, because there will be many players who will only play through that side of the story and not bother with the others. So one hero's side of the story would need to feel like a complete game of its own.


I would also suggest to keep the goals more or less modest. 3 heroes POVs + 1 villain POV is a total of 4 separate storylines and that can be a lot of work. If I had to suggest, I'd say keep it down to 2 POVs for the first game. Either 2 heroes or 1 hero and 1 villain. Otherwise you might find the project bloating up and becoming too ambitious for what you can pull off. There will be some aspects of work that will be saved, like if all heroes visit the same town, you won't need to remap that town each time, you can just use the same map, but you'll still have to change some details about it (like NPCs responding differently to each hero, or different cutscenes and events occurring in that place). Overall, the more parallel stories you have, the more work, and it wouldn't really make you more money. If you're going for this, then it should be purely for the story/creative reason and not the revenue reason.


I would strongly advise against releasing them as separate games if majority of the stuff in them is identical. That's a sure way of being branded as a cash-grab developer and will ruin your reputation. Just don't do it.


Just my two cents. Hope it helps.
 

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As many said, don't release them as separate games unless they are much cheaper than you would as a whole one. Pokémon (and copies)'s main attraction to buying the different versions is the multiplayer side, both the trading for collection and the battling, so not a good example.


If you are worried about players wanting to play as such character first, I'd suggest letting the player choose the section they'll go through first. Ever played Live a Live for SNES? It got seven starting open chapters you can choose in any order.


Or Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep for PSP and soon with a PS4 re-release, you got three characters with different stories but that basically go through the same world. Also you choose which order to do them through.
 

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I agree with most of what have said so far, but I'd like to really stress that I think isolated narratives between each character that have a strong metaphorical relationship, and/or revisited places and times.  There are some movies like Palo Alto or Lost in Translation that do this well that you might want to check out. I think one of the more difficult parts of creating narratives like this is (as other people have mentioned) making sure the player/reader doesn't feel lost and disconnected from the plot and characters. 



Making sure the protagonists are all relatable is important in making sure players are compelled to continue and good way of combatting that issue.  I would say that the more separate you can keep each narrative while having it relate to the core storyline/end part, the more dynamic the story will be. Of course, doing so is more difficult and more likely that you'll run into difficulties! 

But this being your first game, I don't think you should shy away from trying to do something unique! Sure, it's a lot of work, and a lot of learning you'll have to do--but, hey! If you don't finish it this time around, the beauty is you can always take the concept and do it again until it feels right!

Good luck! 
 

gigaswardblade

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#1 HOLY CRAP i was not expecting to get these many replies. :o


#2 when i said that i'd make money from this, i meant i'd sell it for like $2 or something. i meant that having multiple games that are incomplete unless you buy all 3 to get the big picture would mean more money since they's all be $2.(which sounds very tedious and would make me look like a corporate fat cat and i dont wanna look like that)i do care more about making a good game rather than making money but i don't wanna put all this work into something that will just be free to download. i'd rather make money doing something i like rather than be a grocer or a fry cook.


#3 i feel that people are under the assumption that 3 main characters means only 3 party members. i was gonna have each character have quite a few party members. maybe the amount of party members i gave was a bit too much though. each main character has about 15 party members and i feel that that might be a bit too much for both me, the programmer/designer/writer, and the player being overwhelmed with so many characters to chose as their waifu/husbu. i could cut a few characters that i'm not too emotionally attached to and save them for the next game (which i hope that the game is popular enough to require a sequel.) also in order for that to work i would've made the game harder which would probably balance out the fact that you have a friggen army.


#4 i wasn't gonna separate their parties too often. sometimes in chapters, they might be split up because a few members got lost from the main party or maybe 1 character is going out to have some alone time while beating up the local fauna. but eventually they'd return to their respective parties and all be friends again.


#5 i realize how bad of an idea making 3 separate games for the same game is. (as i somewhat mentioned in #2) i was really hoping it would never have to come down to that. i'd much rather all 3 stories be connected into 1 story where you get to see all 3 of their POVs. and maybe having them unintentionally help each other out like burning down a tree they may have been blocking the path of someone's party who had no fire tools. and then have those fireless guys access a treasure with something only their party had.


#6 by "and have 3 separate versions of almost the exact same game" i meant that the game mechanics were the same in each game. all 3 characters have different locations that they explore in their chapters and fight different bosses. i might go into more detail about the 3 characters and their friends in a different post.


#7 i love the name "psychictoaster"


#8 i may be getting myself into some serious shiza by making my game too long and intricate, but its still fun to try. i may be inexperienced in literally EVERYTHING it takes to make a video game. but ill still try. and if literally everything fails, i'll just become a minecraft lets player. JK i'll just move on to unreal engine 4 and try to make the sequel and pretend the first game never existed. (sometimes i do wonder if i made the right choice making my first game in RPG maker)


#9 not to sound ungrateful or anything, but nobody really mentioned anything about the technical aspect of this situation. by that i mean how exactly am i going to manage the inventories of the 3 when it goes to the next person? they're not gonna have a shared inventory until chapter 13 so how exactly am i gonna manage it? let me know if there's a plugin to help with that.


#10 i hope i don't come off as a total scum sucker. i'm not the best at showing gratitude, even online. im thankful for all the help, i'm just not too good at showing it. so sorry if my points seem like i'm calling you guys idiots for not understanding my intentions or something.
 
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Basileus

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This reminds me of Dragon Quest IV. You had 5 main chapters to the game, each with a different protagonist, that all comes together in the final chapter.


The 1st chapter follows a lone knight searching for children that have mysteriously vanished. It's pretty straight-forward and does not really have any unusual mechanics, but amusingly has a talking HealSlime (normally an enemy) to keep things from getting too hard. An excellent low-level tutorial.


The 2nd chapter follows a tomboyish princess as she sneaks out of the castle to go to a fighting tournament a few towns over, followed by the castle's court magician and her long-time friend who is a priest. This chapter is more upbeat and has funny character interactions with the princess' friend having a crush on her but is unable to tell her, the princess herself who is kind of an idiot and likes to punch things (she fights like a Monk), and the poor elderly court wizard who has to try and reign her in. The player finally gets to use magic and the chapter ends on a somber note as the princess returns victorious only to find the castle mysteriously empty.


The 3rd chapter follows a lone merchant and is one of the most interesting segments in the entire franchise. Your only actual goal is to complete a tunnel to the neighboring kingdom. But this can be done in multiple ways. The merchant can continue to work at the store he starts out in the entire chapter, save up some money to start his own shop with his wife to get all of the profit from his sales, fight monsters until he has enough, or explore some ruins for valuable artifacts to sell. The player only needs to save a certain amount of money and can play with a bunch of interesting mechanics to do it - it's actually possible to complete this entire chapter without fighting even once if you desire. 


The 4th chapter follows a pair of sisters - one a fortune teller and one a dancer - as they search for the man who murdered their father. This chapter is much more story-driven, focusing on the sisters and their search. There's combat but no new mechanics to work with, just plot. The chapter ends with them finding the man who killed their father...and finding they aren't yet up to the task. It's a downer but it's not the end yet.


The 5th and final chapter follows the actual "chosen one" hero (finally) as their hometown is burned to the ground by the forces of a shadowy villain and all of their friends and family killed. With nothing left to tie them down and keep them from their destiny, the hero ventures forth to find out who is behind his/her (yes, you get to choose) village being attacked. The hero starts alone but begins to gather the protagonists of the previous chapter as he runs into them and eventually all of them team up to find out the truth behind these incidents and how they all link together.


Given that each chapter is pretty much standalone - the only thing that really carries over are some levels and equipment - a story like this lends itself very well to something like a mobile platform and each one could really be done as separate smaller games if you wish. The 5th chapter is the only one that really needs a solid link to the previous ones, and it's really easy to just plop the characters into the final chapter just by knowledge of how their individual arcs ended and where they were planning to go. You can even let the player "metagame" a little bit and go out of their way to locations they know the previous characters want to go just to pick up party members they like a little sooner. As long as you make sure to tell either complete arcs in the individual chapters, or character arcs with clear cliffhangers that can be picked up on in later chapters, then you should be fine.
 

TheGamedawg

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I've seen games do this before.  Usually how it works is either there's an A plot and a B plot, with the later being somewhat of an intermission after major events in the A plot.  More commonly I see games with multiple big stories come together near the end where everyone teams up.  If the stories really don't have much to do with each other however, I would make it it's own separate game.  It'd be better from a scope perspective, and it would build sort of a universe, with multiple stories taking place in the same world at around the same time.
 
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Bottom line, a game with 3 stories needs to be written better than average, and the way you've written your forum post is definitely less than average.  If this is something you want to do, you need to seriously study writing, especially game writing.  


Free tip to start you off, brevity is king.  When you write something, look it over again and ask yourself, is every word pulling its weight?  Does each sentence and clause really need to be there?  Everything should have a specific piece of information or mood to convey and be laser focused on delivering it.  This is especially true in video games where plot sequences are often seen as "in the way" of the getting to the next point in the game.  Pre-voice-acting Final Fantasy games are a great example of this style of writing.  
 

gigaswardblade

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@TheGamedawg i was actually thinking of having multiple games at different times in the story, but that might take a lot of rethinking of how my games world is structured. like certain characters may or may not ever meet depending on how spaced apart the games stories are. but i really do like the idea of 3 stories happening at 3 different points in time. kinda like jojo's bizzare adventure or star wars.
 

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Goodness this was hard to follow! If you want people to understand your posts better, I recommend splitting them up into paragraphs, generally with 1 to 3 sentences each.

I would not release each character's story as a separate game. While I admire your entrepreneurial spirit, Pokemon was a special kind of thing where everyone in the world was trying to collect them. You are not going to create that kind of fervor with your first RPG Maker game.

However, your idea of having separate, intertwining stories is pretty cool. I've seen this done well in two different ways in the past:
  1. The player picks a single character whose perspective they see things from for the entire game. The main course of gameplay changes very little from the time the party joins together (which is usually very early in the game), but sometimes characters will split up for a task and you'll play as whichever character you chose, and sometimes characters will have little scenes that the player will only see if they chose that character (like a conversation with family, or a romantic date). This is cool because it gives players who really loved your game and want to play through it a second/third time a few new and unexpected moments to enjoy as they do so.
  2. The story starts off as multiple individual stories of characters (or small parties) who eventually come together into one larger party, or (much less often) vice versa where the story starts off as one party and then becomes the separate tales of individual characters. During the "individual" arcs (which usually make up about half the game), the narrative's point of view changes from one character to another, each of whom is treated as a separate party. During one playthrough, the player essentially sees everyone's story, but this method is still cool because it allows each character to feel much more unique, like they have their own story (and perhaps even their own style of gameplay) before everyone comes together.
Game Mechanics Design is not usually the place to discuss technical implementation of ideas (for that, visit the appropriate Support subforum, because the answer might be different in each Maker). As a quick tip though - Hime's Party Manager script would be a good way to implement your idea in Ace. Each Party gets a separate inventory.
 

gigaswardblade

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  1. The player picks a single character whose perspective they see things from for the entire game. The main course of gameplay changes very little from the time the party joins together (which is usually very early in the game), but sometimes characters will split up for a task and you'll play as whichever character you chose, and sometimes characters will have little scenes that the player will only see if they chose that character (like a conversation with family, or a romantic date). This is cool because it gives players who really loved your game and want to play through it a second/third time a few new and unexpected moments to enjoy as they do so.
  2. The story starts off as multiple individual stories of characters (or small parties) who eventually come together into one larger party, or (much less often) vice versa where the story starts off as one party and then becomes the separate tales of individual characters. During the "individual" arcs (which usually make up about half the game), the narrative's point of view changes from one character to another, each of whom is treated as a separate party. During one playthrough, the player essentially sees everyone's story, but this method is still cool because it allows each character to feel much more unique, like they have their own story (and perhaps even their own style of gameplay) before everyone comes together.
i was thinking of allowing the player to pick which of the 3 they wanna play as first seeing as though not everyone wants to be forced to play as 1 characters group for an entire chapter that they don't particularly enjoy, but i haven't gotten that far into my project yet to do that sorta thing.

the thing about the group splitting up into separate stories sounds like a cool and original concept, but it doesn't really fit the mood that i wanna create in my game. that idea feels like one of those artsy type games with more realistic tones and stuff. i want my game to have a friendly vibe with sweet moments and colorful characters. not saying its a terrible idea, just something that doesnt fit into the game i wanna make. (ps i had no idea my paragraphs were hard to follow. not the best at noticing my own flaws.)
 
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sabao

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I recall a couple of RPGs that played with the idea of multiple perspectives. I'll go through them one by one and hopefully glean insights on how each worked or didn't work.

The Wild ARMs series lets players pick who they start as, and then switch to the perspectives of the other characters before their eventual team up. After that, switching characters becomes more of a game mechanic than a narrative device.

Suikoden III
featured what it called the Trinity Sight System. Its story was broken down into chapters and each chapter was broken down into episodes. Players can choose to play as Hugo, future chief of the Karaya, Chris, knight captain of the rival Zexen Confederacy, or Geddoe, the mercenary. These can be done in any order, but players had to finish each of their episodes for the chapter to advance. Their points of view are from radically different points despite sometimes happening at the same time, which helped paint a more balanced view of the overarching conflict, which would have been more difficult to accomplish had the players been stuck in the point of view of a single character.

The problem with this system was that by allowing players to choose the order they play the episodes, the story became difficult to keep track of. There's also the possibility of your players not liking being forced to play characters he doesn't like (Ugh, Thomas).

Celestian Tales: The Old North lets players choose their main character out of a pool of six. Once you've selected a main character, you play in that character's perspective for the rest of the game. The events that unfold in the story are more or less the same for all six squires, but each story also includes moral dilemmas unique to their character. Playing each character is recommended to get the full scope of the story, but I imagine not everyone will be into playing the same game top to bottom six times. I personally haven't even finished my first playthrough of this one.

Fire Emblem: Fates comes in three separate flavors (Birthright, Conquest, and Revelation), a la Pokemon. You play as the same protagonist across all three versions, but the stories for each play out differently depending on which faction you choose: the Goody-goody Kingdom of Hoshido, the Evil (Superior) Nohr Empire, or Screw It I'm Building My Own Country. Each version was designed to play differently, with Birthright being more newbie-friendly, Conquest being for fans of the traditional Fire Emblem, and Revelation being a healthy mix of both. Apart from Revelation, each version could be more or less considered a complete story.

the thing about the group splitting up into separate stories sounds like a cool and original concept, but it doesn't really fit the mood that i wanna create in my game. that idea feels like one of those artsy type games with more realistic tones and stuff. i want my game to have a friendly vibe with sweet moments and colorful characters. not saying its a terrible idea, just something that doesnt fit into the game i wanna make.
This sounds like you're hewing close to what Wild ARMs did. If your characters are going to be spending most of their time together, then that stands to mean they'll be experiencing the events of the story together. Unless there's a lot of internal monologue here, what's the need for switching characters?
 

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@gigaswardblade Just a gentle reminder. 'Game Mechanics Design' is not for discussing just one particular project, though a specific project can be used as an example. It is meant to be for discussing aspects of gameplay at a more conceptual level. Therefore the conversation will range more widely than what might fit with your ideas for your game (e.g. the comments made by wavelength) and that's okay.
 

UnicornsVomit

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My votes for suikoden 3's system, I felt it worked really well. Based on some of the things you've said maybe keep your "extra" characters as just story filler? As opposed to playing out a fully fleshed out game with them leveling up and getting equipment etc just do something like "screen fades to black switch hero " and now you're using "hero b" to figure out what was happening at place x while "hero a" was progressing the plot.
 

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Started playing Danganronpa 3 in French - Eyes started bleeding in less than 5 minutes - Installed English text instead.
Why, translator, whyyyy???
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colorize an old sketch
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