Gameplay vs graphics?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by wardaddy73, Nov 8, 2016.

  1. wardaddy73

    wardaddy73 Warper Member

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    My fiance and I are working on a fantasy game in RMMV, and we wanted to know how others feel about the appearance of the game over the gameplay.


    We're not artists so we have to use standard assets, therefore we're focusing on story and gameplay features. We're adding in a story with multiple branching storylines, being able to move between the storylines at certain times, with certain conditions, if you don't like the way a story is going, crafting, a lot of characters who have their own unique classes with skills tailored to their personality and style, and many chances to get experience and money that don't involve grinding. The main character is also a blank slate who can be anything, and has access to all skills in the game, and he can get the skills through training or books or so on. That way the main character can be tailored to what you want him to be.


    Our main focus in the story is about making choices that have consequences, whether they're little or far reaching consequences. Almost like what Fable was promised to be. This will be done with a lot of switches and conditional statements.


    Would you guys still play a game like this even though we're using standard assets or is that going to keep players away? What are your thoughts on the gameplay ideas?
     
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  2. AcetheSuperVillain

    AcetheSuperVillain Veteran Veteran

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    Frankly, this sounds like what 90% of RPG fans say they would make.  It could be interesting, but it depends entirely on how good you are at making games.  It's not something that makes me think, "gee, that sounds interesting" without knowing anything about you and your writing style.  Character design would be crucial in attracting people to your game.  The standard assets can be interesting depending on how they're used, and using the familiar standard assets would be better than badly drawn custom assets.  Hardcore RPGMaker fans will turn their noses up at RTP graphics, but if you're putting your game on Steam or BigFish or the like, it's probably less of a big deal.  
     
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  3. wardaddy73

    wardaddy73 Warper Member

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    I understand what you mean. Right now it's hard to pitch anything because I don't want to give away story elements or say I'm going to do something but then not deliver. I'm mostly wanting to know how people feel about standard assets, so that I don't spend a lot of time on this only to find out that the game won't get anywhere because so many people won't get past the standard assets. Thank you for your feedback though, and I'll keep it in mind.
     
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  4. AcetheSuperVillain

    AcetheSuperVillain Veteran Veteran

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    I guess if it was me, I would start making the game with standard assets so that you can have something solid to get opinions on.  With RPG Maker, it's easy enough to replace them later if you need to.  Also, if you end up hiring an artist later, it will be easier if you have some example of your game to show them.  Like, I would be interested in taking art assignments, but I don't want to waste my time on someone I don't believe in, you know?  
     
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  5. Basileus

    Basileus Veteran Veteran

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    My advice is, if neither of you are artists then you aren't going to be focusing on graphics. If your efforts will not be focused on making good graphics, then it should go toward making fun gameplay. 


    NOTE: By buying the RPG Maker MV, you should own the standard graphics packaged with it if you wanted to make a commercial game. Any other graphics you use in a game you intend to sell for money should either be made by you, purchased by an artist, or be free-to-use. 


    I personally would not charge money for a game using the standard graphics. The assets packed with each version of RPG Maker are not that great and are very easily spotted, so a lot of people really dislike seeing them in any commercial game due to the huge number of bad and incomplete projects floating around using the standard graphics. If you are just making a free game, then it shouldn't be an issue...mostly. Depends on where you plan to distribute the game from (i.e. if it's going to be on Steam, even as free-to-play, it'd be for the best to not use the pre-packaged graphics). Honestly, if you are able to I would strongly recommend learning to make custom map spites for the main characters and battlers for the monsters if nothing else, along with a customized menu if you can. Just to stand out form the sea of unfinished projects if nothing else.


    That said, graphics are something you should worry about after the game is mostly done. You can always take some time to make better spites and change them out at the end. Using all your development time making graphics is how you end up with a game with few mechanics and light story and dialogue. 


    What I didn't see in your pitch is actual gameplayBranching story paths and well-rounded characters are great, but they mean nothing if you don't have fun gameplay to go with it.


    Unless you are making a Visual Novel, then plan out your combat system first. Do you want a Turn-Based System, an Active Time Battle System, an Action Combat System, or a Tactical Combat System? Do you want the game to be combat-heavy or puzzle-heavy? Lots of Bosses or big stages full of mooks to clear? What is the appeal of playing your game - what type of fun does it aspire to achieve?


    Myst Series - Total exploration and puzzle games. The game wants the player to feel smart for solving it's puzzles.


    Castlevania/Metroid (Metroidvanias) - Exploration and Combat games. The game wants the player to feel free to explore anywhere, but locks tools to get around the Castle behind challenging but satisfying boss fights. 


    Fate/Stay Night - Visual Novel, no actual gameplay, just 100% story and dialogue text. The game wants the player to feel immersed in the fantasy setting and the highly developed characters with heavy use of inter-character dialogue, using Choice Points to let the character decide the course of the story and try to avoid Bad Endings with 3 different "Routes" each representing an alternate possible outcome of the story focusing on different characters.


    Chrono Trigger - Classic JRPG with focus on combat and linear character development. The game wants the player to "maximize" numbers - to get better weapons and armor, to get more money, to get points needed to learn new skills, etc. The central appeal of the game is a fun combat system centered around the use of "Dual Techs" where two or three characters can combine their turns to perform cool super moves, so increasing the effectiveness of combat is the key player motivation. Having a solid plot and fun characters are nice extras, but would be pointless if the combat wasn't the best it could be since most of the game time will be spent in combat encounters.


    Halo - It's a First-Person Shooter. The game's goals are to competently handle shooting gameplay, have cool sci-fi guns to shoot, and try to make decent vehicle gameplay if possible. Story and characterization came come after all to help complete the package.


    First you have to decide what the player will be spending the most time doing. Then devote most of your time and resources to that thing. If the thing the player spends most of their time doing is NOT the same as the Appeal Factor/Fun Engine, then you have made a grave error. Scrap everything and go back to the drawing board.
     
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  6. PsychicToaster

    PsychicToaster Best Clairvoyant Appliance 2018 Veteran

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    Graphics do not make a game. This is primarily why games like Call of Duty, Crysis, Destiny, the newer Assassin's Creed games, and yes, even Halo are all boring to me. No engaging story, mindless one-dimensional characters,  and insipid gameplay. The games are pretty, but that's all they are. 


    Branching storylines and blank slate characters bug me. They don't make for a cohesive narrative experience. If the story branches due to choices I make, then cool, but if there's four different characters with four different stories to play at random times, it mucks it all up. 


    Make a story-driven game. There need to be more of those. Not combat driven or mindless Macguffin collection based progress games, but real stories. If you don't have the graphics to please the modern gamer, then a dayum good narrative can compel people to keep playing. 
     
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  7. HexMozart88

    HexMozart88 The Master of Random Garbage Veteran

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    @PsychicToaster How is Master Chief 1-dimensional?? (I'm not even triggered, I don't play any of those games, but I've seen Halo.  :p


    And also, I think there are a lot of story driven games, and perhaps the most likely reasons why there are more games about the gameplay is because:


    1. More memorable in general. 


    Think about it. If you play a game that is gameplay based, you tend to remember it better because it's usually easier to remember the experience than the story, especially if we're talking about games like Kingdom Hearts. The only reason why that worked is because they also had a creative battle system to even it out. Otherwise, the story would've confused so many people, they likely would've stopped halfway through the game. 


    2. Easier. 


    I mean, if you really think about it, stories can be hard to make, and match gameplay with. So I think story based games are more likely to fail, for the simple reason that it's very hard when you have a story based game to also have good gameplay. You'll probably overlook something eventually. 


    If you want my opinion, I'd say try to have as much of everything as you can, without overwhelming the player or yourself. If you have no art skills, find resources, or go to the recruitment forum. For the story, you have to make it memorable, but not confusing. For the gameplay, you need to make sure it's fair, and ties in with the story.  
     
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  8. PsychicToaster

    PsychicToaster Best Clairvoyant Appliance 2018 Veteran

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    Master Chief is a character with little personality. A sturdy, manly rock with no degree of emotion whatsoever. He isn't a silent protagonist, which only contributes to his lack of personality because unless he's agreeing with or repeating something Cortana says or confirming a mission, he has very little to say. I think it would almost have been better if he didn't speak, for at least at that point you would have known him to be a silent killing machine that exists for a single purpose. The "strong, silent type" personality doesn't really work in a game that thinks it has a story to deliver(hint:it doesn't other than "aliens bad, go kill aliens") and everything around that silent protagonist isn't larger than life. Chrono Trigger was fantastic for that reason. Chrono may have never said a word, but the entire game world was so well-done that it didn't matter.


     You don't ever connect with him in any way, he doesn't grow as a character, and you really couldn't give a crap less about him really. At no point did I ever feel like I was more than a gruff voice in a power suit guiding a gun around the screen. I realize it's probably not as reasonable to expect that characters be well-developed in an FPS game, but Bungie tried to some degree of success, which indicates to me many missed opportunities with what is arguably the most important character in the entire story. Being mankinds last chance, the god damned Master Chief, should have felt more significant. It didn't. 


    But I don't want to derail the entire thread talking about it, so that's all I've got to say. There may be, as you've said, plenty of story-based games, but not very many of them are well-written. Diablo 3 had fanboys screaming all over the world about how fantastic the storyline was, and I'm sitting here going "are you kidding me? Azmodan is literally a Saturday morning cartoon villain and the whole Nephalem thing really cheapens the idea that Diablo and the other Prime Evils are an imminent threat to Sanctuary because some special breed of human exists to stop them. Nonsense!". Good storytelling is harder to come by, and often feels like an addition to a game rather than an integral part of it. I'm not trying to come off as pretentious, but there truly are some terribly written games out there that people gobble up because they're blinded by the flashy, instant gratification gameplay. I don't think people even read dialogue half the time these days. 


    Gameplay and story are important, far outclassing HDR lighting and 4k textures. Master these, or at least deliver something interesting, and you'll do well.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 9, 2016
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  9. Milennin

    Milennin "With a bang and a boom!" Veteran

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    I don't mind seeing the basic assets used in RPG Maker games (hell, my latest game is 99% RTP assets), what matters is what you do with them. Frankly, I'm not the type to care much about stories in games, especially if they tend to be mostly plot-driven, though I can appreciate a game with a set of fun characters and events revolving around them. But I really just want to see good map design and an interesting combat system that doesn't default to using Attack, Skill that's stronger than Attack and drinking HP/MP potions to stay alive. If you can manage that with your game, I'll love it, even if it consists of only basic assets.
     
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  10. amerk

    amerk Veteran Member

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    Gameplay can only get you so far with poorly drawn graphics; likewise, pretty graphics can only get you so far with poorly designed / broken gameplay mechanics. Both need to be properly balanced.


    That said, I'll take a well designed and working game with entertaining mechanics over graphics, so long as the game is fun and the graphics at least appear as if an attempt was made.


    But what I think people mean when they ask gameplay vs graphics is gameplay vs stock graphics. In that case, it's all in how you use the resources. If you have custom-designed artwork that is either horrible, or in a game that is severely broken, do you really think people are going to high five you and say "Well the game was poor, I couldn't get far before hitting all sorts of bugs, but the graphics were awesome! Recommended."?


    While people will most like crap on a game that uses stock resources or doesn't use them well, I can guarantee you they will crap even harder if you don't put some effort in designing a fun game.
     
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  11. wardaddy73

    wardaddy73 Warper Member

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    Thank you all for the feedback, this makes it a little easier on us and gives us a better idea of what needs to be done. We really appreciate it. It's nice to know we can get away with using stock graphics if we make the game interesting, so we'll focus more on that.
     
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  12. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    If you want my opinion on Graphics and gameplay...  I play Dwarf Fortress.  That should be all you need to know about my opinion on that particular subject.


    However, I think it is more important to have your art direction match everywhere in your game than to have some really pretty and flashy graphics.  Gears of War looks pretty stunning graphically...  But visually?  Lots of grey.  Lots of brown.  Nothing particularly interesting to look at...  Lots of chest high cover.  Pretty stock.  Pretty dull.  But, it renders that dullness AMAZINGLY.


    It's more important to have better aesthetics than it is to simply have the flashiest graphics.  I'd absolutely play a game with poorly drawn sprites if it's fun and if all the graphics match that poorly drawn motif so that it's the art direction of the game.  But, a game like Final Fantasy 7 bothers me because you've got these blocky sprites running around on a beautifully rendered matte painting.  It's like someone drew stick figures on a Van Gogh painting.  It breaks immersion pretty badly for me.  And it only gets worse when the animation frames outside of combat are far smoother than the ones inside of combat (which frequently omits large segments of frames just to keep the game from being choppy).


    I, personally, have no issue with people using the RTP.  As long as they use it well.  Heck, it's what I'm using.  You can make some amazing maps and such using just the RTP.  I mean, your monster variety is going to be heavily hindered without some custom assets...  But that's just one of the drawbacks of buying a program that attempts to do most of the work for you.


    My advice to you is just to try to keep to whatever aesthetic and art direction you've got.  If you're using the RTP stuff, try to keep everything looking like the RTP.  Spend time tinkering with how the stuff looks a little bit in order to get the most out of it.  You might need to actually commission Title and Game Over screens, however, since the default ones the programs ship with aren't exactly... "good".  But, if you're lucky, you probably won't need more than that.
     
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  13. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    This is not really a Mechanics question.


    I've moved this thread to General Discussion. Please be sure to post your threads in the correct forum next time. Thank you.
     
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