How many features until its overboard?

Najir

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        So i am designing a open based game right now, This game is being built to allowing the player to play and live in the game however he wants. This means that there are tons of features, from crafting your weapons to designing a shop of your choosing. The problem i am having is how many features before it has too many, what would you consider clustered, or a complicated amount?

Currently i have a few features planned and implemented.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

These include,

Weapon crafting

Armour crafting

Skill choices and basic skill crafting

alchemy

Cooking

Farming

House system

Class and sub class system

Dimension changing

Time changing

Party changing

Moral System

Choice System

Shop System

Side mission

Enchanting

Hunting

and a few(5 or so) more that arnt coming to mind as of now.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

      I have about 70% of them created and usable even if basic. But is this to much, is it overwhelming or complicated, or do you think that i can have as many features as long as they are smooth?

I think that it is possible as skyrim did it but it has to be smooth and well made.
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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Well, the question to ask yourself is "Does my game really need this feature or I'm just adding it just to have it?"


and do remember that normally, adding more and more means the game becomes more cumbersome for the player... :)
 
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Andar

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it all depends on what kind of game you want to do and who your target audience is.


In a project for casual gamers, more than two or three "systems" would be overkill - in a survival/crafting game, about half of your list would be considered "minimum needed" and you'll need to think on what to add to distinguish yourself from the other games in that area.


And a lot of the points on that list aren't really different systems - for example, enchanting, cooking and alchemy are both variants of crafting, and all crafting systems need something for material gathering (which will bring in farming and hunting as neccessities into the crafting).


So your list of features isn't that big if you look at the details, it is just worded in a way to look big (especially since things like "party changing" and "side mission" aren't really "systems" but just names for basic functions in an RPG...


Edit added:


But you should be aware that creating feature lists like that, especially with features that aren't really there, will cause some people to avoid the game without even looking into the substance behind the feature lists, because random features will always overload the game.


If your "systems" are part of an integrated whole, you don't need a list that long and can simply write "crafting and gathering" - and if they aren't integrated, then such a list will often show this to the player, often driving them away without even testing.
 
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byronclaude

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I support your use of many features.  Infact, when I was playing simple RPG games, that was my biggest let-down...   I would explore every facet, every corner of a game, and every ability to be had...   and I was always let down when I discovered how quickly all things could be explored.

Obviously, many will disagree with me...  but the fact is, it truely comes down to the eye of the beholder.

Some, who are more interested in the primary action of the game, or even in the conquest of the game, will be turned off by too many features.  Others however (like myself):  The more, the marrier! 

I guess for me, it is because I am in no rush to end the game, but rather to take part in and to explore a different fantastical world.  The more in-depth the better.  The more side-quests and sub-systems, the better.  The more completely useless (as far as the main quest is concerned) but interesting none the less, the better.

So for my answer...  there is no such thing as too many features.

However, proper integration of those many features will make or break the game.  Is it user friendly?  (hopefully yes)  Is it confusing?  (hopefully no)   Is it possible to complete the game without being an exploration-crazy freak like myself?  (this also needs to be yes). 

Great thread btw!  Good luck on your project! :p
 

Dalph

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1 extra feature = 5-10% of lazyness added to your Lazyometer

too many features = Lazyometer is overload and can become possibly unstable

Result = Uncompleted Game and wasted time

Of course you have to buy a new Lazyometer too, because lazyness will totally affect you at this point.

-

On a serious note now, doesn't matter what kind of game is this, it's a common mistake of many developers to add everything just for the sake of it, it's not much about quantity but about quality.

I think however that being somewhere between these two things is absolutely the best choice.
 
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??????

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I think that as long as the systems are well thought out, visually pleasing, user friendly and most importantly, fun for the user. then you can have as many systems / features as you want.

Personally though, I prefer 'hidden' systems - for things like character progression and optimization. This doesnt really affect the average user, but the odd person will appreciate such a thing very much.
 

Neo Soul Gamer

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I truly believe the "completionist" gamers are becoming a thing of the past. I remember being younger and actually wanting to dig into the additional features of a game because there wasn't really anything else to draw my attention away from it day-to-day. But if you look at how connected we are now (Smartphones, Social Media, texting friends, etc.), I find it hard to believe that someone would really invest the time into exploring every part of the game. Especially if it's a RPG Maker game.
 

Mouser

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A dog's legs should be long enough to reach the ground.

I play a bunch of 'casual' games as well as more 'full-fledged' RPG's. In both I've found cases of features added for no other reason than to have them, without them having any positive effect on gameplay, and often having a negative effect on my playing experience.

Specific example: crafted food - unless there is a _reason_ to eat crafted food, then this is an unnecessary (and probably unwanted) feature. Don't have 103 recipes if only four of them will actually be used in the course of normal play because those four are the best optimized in terms of stats. If you have to go out and gather/buy ingredients, and put in time to 'cook', with a possible chance of failure, the payoff had better be worth all that trouble. Otherwise, it won't be used, and you just wasted a lot of dev hours that could have gone into improving another part of the game. [Edit: many miss this point, especially starting out - everything comes with a cost. Adding one feature by necessity means you're spending less time on the features already present.]

I would much rather play a game with three 'extra' features done really well, than 300 done poorly.

Does the feature even fit the game? Another concrete example: X:Rebirth (the latest in a long standing 'space-sim' series). They added the feature where you can now leave your ship and walk around in space stations. Ok so far, though not really needed. They then went and added the 'feature' where you can climb up and crawl through all the air vents in the station: WTF?!? Am I playing a space-sim or Splinter Cell? It did _nothing_ to enhance the game, yet some devs somewhere spent a lot of time creating all the animations necessary to pull that off.
 
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Tai_MT

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A feature should never exist unless the developer plans to implement it fully.  As in, it's in about 90% of the game and used fairly often.  "Features" should not be relegated to "optional content".  Especially since all content in any game ever created is "optional" to begin with.  If you're implementing a Feature because "someone might enjoy this", then you don't need the feature and you should get rid of it.

Every time you go to implement a new feature you should also ask yourself, "why do I want this?  What purpose will it serve?  Will it solve any problems or will it create more?  How integrated into the game will this Feature be?  How important is it going to be to the story and the gameplay?"  When you go to put a Feature into your game, you need to do your absolute best to shoot the idea down.  If you run out of reasons why you shouldn't have it, and it's still a good idea despite the flaws...  Well, then you go ahead and include it.  Then, you test the crap out of it.  You don't wait until your game is completed to figure out if the Feature works as you want it to or to find out if players enjoy it.  No, you implement it, then you test it, then you rework it and retest it.  Waiting around will simply cause headaches if your Feature doesn't do what you hoped it would (like provide fun) and you have to remove it.  Often, it's better to implement Features into a blank "Test Project" to see them in action and make adjustments.  Often, it's how I test my own Feature ideas.  It's much easier to delete content from some Test Project that is never intended to be a game than it is to strip it out of an actual game you intend people to play.

I can speak from experience here.  As I've moved into further and further development of my own game, I've completely removed features in my game as well as overhauled other features.  I've stripped out pretty much anything that's "unnecessary" because it's a huge drain on my time and ambition.  It's also a pretty big headache to players when they're presented with feature after feature after feature and are trying to figure it all out.  Try to look for ways to eliminate Features that don't really add anything to your game.  You will thank yourself for it, and players will thank you later for it.
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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or make a version of the game which has that feature available for download for those who wants it... XD
 

aozgolo

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I tended to make the mistake in my youth as a game designer that the VERY first thing I would do in designing my game (beyond initial concept) is create an entirely arbitrary feature list:

100+ hours of non linear gameplay!

50+ sidequests!

Crafting!

Fishing!

Monster Taming!

Immersive reactive world with realistic AI!

and so on and on... and guess what? None of those games ever even got off the ground!

I don't discourage from extra features but consider why they would be needed in your game.

For example let's look at crafting games, in most single player RPGs that have crafting there's either a single all-encompassing crafting system where you make everything (like the Alchemy Pot in Dragon Quest) or there's 3 or 4 at most, and usually basic ones like smithing, alchemy, cooking, and enchanting.

Then there's MMORPGs where crafting is a big thing, and you often see 10 or more different crafting skills added... well this is due to "player economy" and "customization", you are part of a living multiplayer world where players compliment each other's skills with their own to further diversify roles and create focus. The reason you don't see many single player RPGs with 10+ crafting skills is they do not NEED it.

My advice is form a strong idea of what kind of game you want, is it story driven? player driven? is it all about replay value? open world? lots to do? That's fine. Make bullet points of everything that is absolutely integral to the experience you want to create. Start coming up with idea nodes, like your feature list... but then you need to connect them together. Here's a visual:

Feature Plotter.jpg

If you start connecting the dots you'll see some things are just... dead ends, or don't fit in with the rest of the gameplay, so maybe they are superfluous and don't need to be there? The above game would work fine without half of those systems in place probably, I'm not saying they can't all work together, but you should start small and work your way big. Consider the point of each feature and how it fits in with the whole.

Lots of features aren't bad, just the ones that feel "tacked on"... like fishing minigames in a game where there's no use for fish outside of a restorative item you could just buy with money you killed enemies for.
 

Stridah

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Personally i think you should focus on 5 specific vital game play features & finish them completely, polish them, flesh them out & make them original.  When you have the majority of your game completed, systems like crafting can be added.  

If you set to many goals it becomes overwhelming, focus on a few things that are high priority, keep the stretch goals in the back of your mind.  
 

whitesphere

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How much do the features add to the game?   Are you just adding them because they sound cool, or because you like the idea?  If so, that's the wrong reason to add the feature.  If the feature is a core gameplay mechanic, and makes sense in the plot, then it might be worth adding.

For example, having a wide variety of crafting skills.  There is a very fine balance there.  Even in Rune Factory, where crafting is a key gameplay mechanic, there are a relatively small number of crafting skills (Pharmacy, Armor, etc).

There might be real replay value in having the different skills, but only if the game plot actually changes because of them.  Maybe the master blacksmith has a profoundly different approach to the problems in the game world than, say, the master swordsman.  And, perhaps, the bare-handed combat specialist gets dragged into an entirely different set of adventures.  This makes your game essentially several games in one, with the player's choices picking the path.

And that obviously increases the difficulty you have as the game designer, to create a different set of paths, and make sure they are all playable.  Which is why it's a tricky balancing act.

Otherwise, having a ton of skills just to have them doesn't add nearly as much to the gameplay.  
 
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What is this game about?

I can understand farming, cooking, and alchemy if you have a Harvest Moon like game.
 

Bonkers

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Well I look at it from this perspective, if I can change dimensions and manipulate time why would I bother cooking or farming?  I have much more important time lord things to do.

If it looks like content wise there is more to do outside of the main game then your extras are too dense.  So I wouldn't be playing your game for the farming/cooking etc if there is something more interesting to do.  

I don't think I can say that if I had the choice I'd come back to the extras after completing the main portion of the game.  While games like Star Ocean had a great deal of crafting in the main menu that could be done, you had it sit until you had enough skill points or unlocked certain things.  By the time it really opens up in the game and you can exploit it, I'd already lost interest in it and went ahead making progress story wise over revisiting things that were dangled in my face from the start.

It also depends were materials are coming from: gold, drops from monsters, dungeons, nodes, or NPCs where these things unlock through quests or if they are all 'front loaded' in the game and easily accessible.  So while hunting is a feature, what is required to do it and where can it be done?  Is it accessible everywhere or just certain spots on the map like Breath of Fire with a certain character in the party?

See I cannot accurately judge because there is information missing.   I don't know how early and accessible these features are to really give impactful feedback.  You are just throwing extras at us and wanting a cut off point.  
 
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Kaelan

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Make bullet points of everything that is absolutely integral to the experience you want to create
^ Do this, then cut every single feature that doesn't directly contribute to that experience (and it should be one core experience, not Tactical-MMO-Monster-Collecting-Farming-Simulator). If a feature isn't solving a problem your core game idea has, it shouldn't be in the game. 

Since you haven't specified exactly how what your game is about, that's really all that can be said. Anything else would require more information and getting into specifics.
 

Eschaton

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Time travel and dimension travel?  All the other features (thank you for saying "features" and not "systems," btw) make the game pretty robust as it is.
 

dinhbat3

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^ Do this, then cut every single feature that doesn't directly contribute to that experience (and it should be one core experience, not Tactical-MMO-Monster-Collecting-Farming-Simulator). If a feature isn't solving a problem your core game idea has, it shouldn't be in the game. 

Since you haven't specified exactly how what your game is about, that's really all that can be said. Anything else would require more information and getting into specifics.
BUT... the ONE core of my game IS Tactical-MMO-Monster-Collecting-Farming-Sim-Crafting-Puzzle-TextBased.... =(

On a serious note...

Features are great if they apply and are well thought out.

Your list basically boils down to this: (ordered by what I think is most important)

Normal game play

Character Customization

Non Linear Story line (assuming the choices actually matter)

Crafting & Gathering (for crafting)

Building Development (if I am interpreting House & Shop Systems correctly)

When you look at this list, I have no problem with it if each individual piece is well developed.

The quantity of features/systems in each category depends on your particular game, but I don't think you need 5 different crafting systems unless each is VERY distinct.

I will echo most of what has been stated, but it all boils down to your individual game and the realization that unless your feature or system is REALLY enjoyable and polished or useful and polished it may not get a ton of game play making it potentially not worth your dev time that could be put into a few features that are more polished.

Goodluck!

~ Dinhbat
 

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