How many party members?

fireflyege

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So I have been wondering how many party members are too few and how many party members are too much in a game which you can take 4 party members with?
 

Andar

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Depends in the game and the balancing.

Some games are impossible to complete with less than the full Party, others give extra points for difficulty if you manage to complete them without a full Party.

There are even games where you need dozens of actors in your party to completely them...
 

Lihinel

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I am personally a fan of 10 (in base 60). :kaoswt2:

On a more serious note, it all depends on how your game mechanics work.
For example:
Do all characters get exp/level ups after a battle, so that you won't end up with some outleveled characters that become useless?
How hard is it to keep characters equiped with items that are neccessary for their level?
Do you need many characters, because they and their enemies have different strengths and weaknesses that need to be exploited for challenging content?
And so on.
 

Frogboy

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3 is obviously too few. Lots of games do 4 and then the story revolves around just those four characters.

The high end is a little trickier and has no definitive number. You can add as many as you want as long as they have a good amount of time dedicated to their story and have enough unique or distinctive mechanical aspects tied to them so that they just aren't a better or worse copy of other characters.

There are exceptions with some games that have tons of disposable, simplified characters that aren't really developed much but fit a more chess-like mechanical role where story isn't as tied to the individual characters themselves. But in a traditional, story-driven RPG, you're probably not going to fit more than 8-10 at the upper end without some feeling like they were just thrown in as bonus characters.
 

bgillisp

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Depends on your mechanics and how many classes and such you have. My game I have 4 in battle at once, and at the end I had 11 party members. However, I also have 10 classes, and the 11th is a multi-class character, so the party ends up with one of each class plus a unique multi-class character to use as well.

I used to have 16, but with only 10 classes, I was getting a lot of duplication in the end. Hence why I ended up with 11. Though, the 5 others still show up as NPC's throughout the story, so they still got a role, just not as a party member.
 

AmazingKazuki

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Honestly, depends on the story. You balance the enemies around that.

My somewhat current project features two brothers, and that is all I really plan on making for usable characters. If I change the story, I may have a third enter the fray. But my enemies would be increased from when I had two members to now having three at the point in the game. You can do something like some Final Fantasy games and have more than four but only have four in your party. Totally okay and you'd balance enemies for roughing the level you think the player should be when going into the area. You could also use scripts and have enemy levels and stuff like that.

Really just depends on you and how you balance the enemies. This is all, of course, referring to a more RPG-like game and not a game for finding clues, or a straight up story you just go from point to point; a more traditional RPG that incorporates the battling into it.
 

jade_angel

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From my experience, I felt like the number of available party members in, say, Final Fantasy X, which had 7, was too few, because you used pretty much all of them in pretty much every fight. Yes, you had a party of 3, but because of on-the-fly switching of reserves, you pretty much had everyone all the time. But, 7 was generally enough in Chrono Trigger - you could only switch out of combat, so some variety was maintained.

Final Fantasy 6, OTOH, with 14 plus some guests, felt roughly right. It was closing in on too many because of some shortages in synergy, but it was pretty much right. With a party of 3, 14 would have been far too many. With a party of 5, it would have been mostly fine, but maybe verging on too few.

Final Fantasy 4, as another, had only 11 total playable characters with a party of 5, but that didn't feel too bad because you really couldn't control your party composition.

So, as a general rule of thumb, you need anywhere from slightly more than double to slightly less than quadruple as many playable characters as you can have in your party at once. If you can freely switch your party around on the fly, go for more, if you can't, go for fewer. Of course, leveling has a lot to do with that, depending on whether your reserves gain XP even when they're not actively being used. (Personally, I would prefer reserves that gain XP even when not being used, but more available options, rather than a strong incentive to just always use the same set of dudes all the time.)
 

lianderson

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4 party members in a traditional JRPG? I´d go with at least 8, preferably 12.

But factoring in you´re a lone developer with limited resources, 4, no more than 8.
 

Basileus

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Based on Mechanics? It doesn't actually matter. You can base and balance the game around any number of characters.

Based on Story? Only as many as are actually needed. Every playable character should be important, and that means they all need a reason to join, a character arc to build over the course of the game, and probably some unique quests to build on their backstory and personal development.

The original Dragon Quest only had 1 playable character and built the story around his solitary journey. Dragon Quest II had 3 party members and thus gave a reason for the other 2 to be in the plot and story segments where they get recruited. Dragon Quest IV had 8 party members so it devoted entire chapters to introducing them and fleshing out their backstories and giving each of them an individual story that gives them a personal reason to want to help take down the Big Bad.

If your story is about a trio of friends getting caught up in a conspiracy, don't feel you HAVE to add additional party members. If the other characters are just filler then make them NPCs and put all of the focus on the characters that actually matter. Games with too many playable units often leave many of them to rot since there is too much kit overlap for some to ever be useful and/or not enough dev time to give everyone a full arc leaving some characters with little motivation or backstory.

Just figure out what actually matters, however many characters that ends up being, and balance your game around that.
 

XIIIthHarbinger

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I would say it depends upon a great deal of factors, that will vary greatly from project to project. So as with most things, it isn't a question of right or wrong answers, but rather what is the best answer for what you are trying to do.

For my current project I use four, three secondary characters, & a created main character. The reasons for my using four characters were as follows.

1) To illustrate different perspectives upon previous events that have impacted the various characters & the game world, as means of exploring the game world. I decided it would be better to go with fewer characters that are always being used & explore in greater depth how the events of the world had affected them; rather than trying to give equal time to a much larger collection of characters, some of whom the player might not even be using.

2) My characters aren't set archetypes, but rather start out as black slates that the player can determine the build of, via the selection of a primary class & subclass, each of which have different skills. & each of the characters gain a point with each level up that can be directed towards acquiring an active skill, a passive perks, or an attribute bonus. So limiting the number of characters forces the player to consider what role each of the four characters will play in the battle party.

3) Skill progression along with gaining points is based upon skill usage, via variables that are increased with usage. So each skill must have a variant for each of the characters, as well as one for the enemies. That when the enemy throws a fireball, all of the player character's pyromancy skills are unaffected. & when the player's Paladin casts a healing spell, the other three characters healing skills are unaffected. Which means A LOT of skills slots being taken up, & there are only two thousand in total.

So the question is not so much what we think is the "golden number" as it were, but rather what is the "golden number" for your specific project.
 

Lonewulf123

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This is really a question that’s hard to answer without knowing more about your game.

Some games only have one player character (see dragon quest 1). Others can have upwards of a hundred (the suikoden titles). It really depends on how much work you are willing to put into balancing.
 

Caitlin

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This question is sort of hard to answer, but I'll give my view to help you form your own opinion. There are playable characters, important characters and non important characters in a game and there came to be a time where people thought giving people hundreds of choices was an awesome idea, only I do think it can overwhelm a player. Chrono Cross is loved by some, hated by others and others don't care one way or the other. I had to ask myself the same question and I decided on four playable characters, with lots of important characters to round out the drama of the story. I have the opinion that four and nine characters, so use whatever feels comfortable to you.
 

Wavelength

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The right number of party members to have in your game is...

17.

 

bhindi1224

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I personally think that 3 or 4 simultaneous party members is pretty nice. You could change out the 3 or 4 members when you go to a new region to keep it fresh, or carry some over because of the way they've developed. Speaking strictly as a player, I like it when I feel like I'm getting to know the characters I'm playing with. I think the biggest roadblock to switching characters in and out constantly is whether or not those inactive characters will be leveled up to deal with the current things your party is facing. If they are, then I think having a lot of characters can add to the overall narrative.
 

mauvebutterfly

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Something that annoys me in games is when I have more members available than I would actually use in battle at one time. If your game uses a party of four, then only have four characters available at a time, and give each of those characters a reason for being in the active party.

You can have more than four playable characters, but if you want a fifth character to be used, come up with some story reason why some of the other characters have to leave. Doing this also helps with the writing, since you need to be aware of all the characters' motivations at all times, and ensures that all characters are getting their share of the spotlight when they are present.

I would personally only allow the player to select their team members once you have gotten through most of the main game plot. It's probably a good idea to let the player use their favourite members in the final boss or dungeon, after all. A good spot to give the player this freedom would be when the world opens up towards the endgame, assuming that you have that kind of a story structure.

An issue I have with choosing who my team will be early on, especially if it's before I really know the characters, is that it tells me that the individual characters aren't that important. It also kind of bugs me when you have five people present, but only four are allowed in combat for some reason, and when those four are K.O.ed the fifth character just decides to leave them there and go home (or whatever the useless spectator character ends up doing.)
 

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