emotional attachment to your party (monster raising RPG)

Chompil

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Hello again. I'm working on a monster-raising RPG.
I'm looking for ways to make monsters feel special to the player. encourage emotional attachment to them.
like, no fusing two monsters, and no easy way to get 99x of the same monster. (so players will deem 98 of them inferior/useless). I was going to make an Egg Shop, but I'm not sure, as it means a limitless amount of each monster. So I wanna use a random egg system instead.
there are recolors/forms of each monster, to make them feel unique / having something to collect. and there's randomness in the monster's battle skills, but you can use items/ skill-scrolls to customize it. you can also choose how it grows & evolves- which final-form it becomes. there's also a way to breed a monster with a higher attack stat (but lower HP/Defenses), so even the monster's stats are customizable to some degree.
basically, would you play a monster-raising game with "random eggs", where you must use whatever hatches? no picking your favorites, at least for the first half of the game-- assuming you can customize your monster/ choose how it evolves?
and would you enjoy creating your own recolor & using it in game/sharing it with other players ?
 
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In my opinion, it's not necessarily about the looks or customizations, it's about the journey and story we go on together. Appearance tends to matter very little in the context of growing attachment to something. Some of the ugliest characters and beasts out there (especially in films) can have loads of fans because of their backstories and intense livelihoods.

Let's take Pokemon for example...
In pokemon, there is definitely some degree customization you can do (adjusting stats, choosing which moves it knows, etc.) . And everyone has different tastes in terms of what pokemon they find "cute" or "ugly".
But what makes us love our particular pokemon so much is because of the journey we go on with them. We take our Pachirisu's to beauty pagents, our Pikachu's on walks...there is a love system as well. Pokemon are more loyal the more you spend time with them, and use them in battles (which makes some moves powerful like "Return" or "Frustration"). It's about taking on those Elite Four and grandmasters of legendary pokemon...as well as fighting the bad guys of the silly yet charming Team Rocket or Team Galactic.

The way I see it, the journey we go on together, and making it through is what allows us to grow so attached to our beloved animals. And the same kind of logic can, (and in fact, I think should...) be applied to your game.

If you want players to really attach to your monsters and random eggs, give us a journey to go on with them so that the time we spend together is memorable.


But this is just my opinion of course!
 

Milennin

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What makes me attached to my Pokémon in games is 1) building my team with the ones I like most from what's available. 2) the ability to custom name them. 3) the journey I take them on, and each one being useful in their own right to get through the challenges along the way.

Basically, I like the customisability in team building so that my party feels mine, and also to have all my monsters feel useful in their own way. I don't think I could get attached very easily to a Pokémon if it was forced upon me, being able to make the choice as to whether I want them in my party or take something I like more is important to me. This why getting to choose between 3 different starters is so effective.
 

Chompil

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ok, thanks for the feedback
 

Failivrin

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I'm not sure what your random egg system entails. I guess it would be fun to buy a mystery egg at a shop or get one as a quest reward, but I wouldn't handle all eggs like that.

Legend of Mana had some interesting monster raising stuff, which was unfortunately downplayed by everything else in the game. In LoM you would find mystery eggs hidden like treasure chests, and you could take them to your home to hatch them. Your home included a monster pen where your adorable monster pals would frolic around until you chose one to take on your journey. The monster sprite would then follow you around and engage in battles with you.

Something I never understood about the Pokemon games is why you can't do anything with your monsters except battle. In the Pokemon anime, you see people doing all kinds of fun stuff like racing on their Pokemon, sharing meals with their Pokemon, using their Pokemon's abilities to get past obstacles or avert dangers. I think being able to do any of those things in a game would really increase the player's emotional connection with their monsters. (Just don't make it weird like the beauty pageants, no offense).

Also, give the player something to do other than order monsters around, so that it really feels like teamwork. There's an early access game on mobile called Coromon in which the player carries a gauntlet that contains spinners (game version of Pokeballs). The gauntlet can be upgraded with different modules that act like Pokemon's HMs, so the player has something to do. Your monsters' abilities can be used instead for quests, which are very well integrated into the story. For example, one quest requires you to catch a certain number of high-powered electric monsters to donate to a power plant. The quest is initiated because you defeated the power plant's number one electric monster and now the plant needs extra help.

There's no limit to what you could do with monster pals, but of course you can't make a game with unlimited possibilities. The Pokemon games let your imagination play with possibilities that the game doesn't actually support. For example, you see a race track in Ruby and Sapphire, and you're told it's for racing Pokemon. You can't race Pokemon (disappointing), but you can at least imagine doing it. Same for the power plant quest in Coromon, which doesn't introduce any new mechanics but allows you to imagine using your monsters' abilities to address complex problems in the narrative. These simple acts of imagination radically increase your emotional attachment.

EDIT: I was thinking more about how to make this work. What if there was some compelling narrative reason why the player has to accept whatever monster they get? What if instead of being a classic trainer catching monsters, the player's goal is to rescue monsters that are lost/injured/abused/abandoned/endangered? Basically, what if the player is working for Nurse Joy instead of Professor Oak? The player has to take whatever monsters they get, but they do so with a sense of epic calling and purpose: It's their job as a rescuer. And, of course, it's also their job to make sure the monsters are rehabilitated by traveling with them and battling with them...

PS - I like your avatar. Is that one of the monsters in your game?
 
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Wavelength

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My instinct is that if you really want to maximize the emotional attachment that players will feel to all of their mons (and not just a select few), you probably want to limit (or at least push down) the number of monsters the player can actually get and raise (at once, at least). The dynamic should be less "collect them all" and more "raise the ones you really like" - if the player is making the choice to raise a certain monster at the opportunity cost of others, they may feel more attached. Random is okay too (as long as the player can't keep rerolling eggs a million times until they get what they want), but there's something to be said for making choices.

You will also want to do a lot with "behaviors" to make the monster feel like a real creature rather than a videogame asset. You can abstract away a lot of stuff that's tedious, unpleasant, or frustrating, but the core of what makes it feel like a real, living, breathing creature should be there. Moods and patterns. Random little actions like preening itself or chasing its own tail that may have no in-game use but make it feel alive. The potential to show affection for the player that's taking care of it (but maybe not in such a reliable way that it feels like a skinner box).

As @Failivrin addressed, finding a way to work the player's mons into the narrative itself is a really good way to build an emotional connection to the player, too.
 

TheoAllen

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I don't play monster raising game, but I did play a game that makes me emotionally attached to the playable characters in a non-linear game.

First of all, Wavelength is right. Cut down the quantity of the character does work. Limit the character, or at least make it hard to control more characters at once. There is a reason why Rimworld does not allow you to control many characters at once, so you know them personally.

Second of all, customization is the obvious answer. Aside from aesthetics (color, name, looks), customizing the skill is one of the contributing factors. Not a mere customize the skill but make them shine or specialized in a certain situation. So whenever a situation happened (in the battle), you know, you can count on your character/monster.

Adding to "behavior" from the Wavelength point, it also does work. So, instead of using your character/monster as a tool (in battle), they also have their own need. For example, exhaustion, or affinity. They will start to complain if you keep using them. Or a trauma from a certain match-up with another monster after something happened to them. So you don't want to use them if that happened.

Regarding randomization, it is alright. As long as it is not too specialized into something and you could not build something the player wants to build.
 

Chompil

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yes, that's one of the monsters. glad you like it ^^
and I actually considered a "ranger" kind of plot, where you go around helping people and monsters. I can see this working. each ranger-mission would have a specific monster to save. they can be the "basic monsters" (hatchling) which then evolve in a branched way, into everything else (it's like Digimon's evolution tree). the monster's color/form can be randomized. once the player has each of the basic stage 1 monsters, I can do missions of specific stronger monsters. monsters which aren't connected to the evolution-tree (mythicals, rare stuff, fan-made monsters) can be exlusive to random eggs, where the most common result is a basic monster.

that sounds nice, just having the monsters act like a real life animal, even if it's just text: __ is preening itself, etc. monster behavior is one of the planned features, they'll move on their own, and interact with the map/ small animals on the map, etc.
how would I avoid people just re-setting the game for a different random egg though? I don't like the idea of auto-saving when it'll hatch, as my game has a single-save-file.

there's customization planned, you can affect the monster's stats. there's ahidden value that makes one monster better at avoding status effects, one is better at critical hits, etc. you'll learn what the hidden value is from experience, by using it n battle. I'm not sure about monster "needs", I'm worried it'll get annoying
 

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