How would you personally approach making an RPG with a lot of party members?

How would you personally approach making an RPG with a lot of party members?

  • Base the story and/or gameplay around to give them all use in some way.

    Votes: 3 15.0%
  • The Suikoden approach(Large chunk optional but mandatory for the best results)

    Votes: 3 15.0%
  • The Pokemon/SMT approach(Collectible "Monsters" you can swap out.)

    Votes: 3 15.0%
  • Chrono Cross approach(No benefits but there for gameplay variety)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • The Mass Effect approach(Every character you recruit has their own sidequest dedicated to them)

    Votes: 7 35.0%
  • The Fire Emblem/Strategy game approach(Lots of characters but permadeath to compensate)

    Votes: 1 5.0%
  • No way: Small roster only.

    Votes: 3 15.0%

  • Total voters
    20

Bernkastelwitch

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I've been making my own RPG for a long while now and the #1 complaint people give is the large amount of characters which is intentional and I have been making the gameplay and story themed around a lot of characters. All this ended up getting me into thinking what would the "ideal" approach for this would be so out of boredom and curiosity, I am making this poll.

Like for comparison sake, try 50 characters for an example of this(Half playable, half villains, not including NPCs)

In your opinion, what would be the best approach to something like this and why?
 

UgyBoogie

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I voted for the Mass Effect one, even thou I never played the franchise. I'd say that one combined with Suikoden.
Every character should feel unique in some way, so at least a small sidequest should be dedicated to form a bond with them. And if we're talking about such a big roster, like 25, you just HAVE to do a big chunk of those optional. Optional party members are very healthy as a game mechanic, in my opinion. You don't have to force the player to do something for a character who does not interest them anyways. And once the player knows that some party members are optional, he'll think twice about doing side missions if the end result could be an exciting new face in their group.
 

Raijinn

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leenat40

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I personally only have one or two (very rarely) three party members in the whole game. So, I flesh out the characters a lot and mostly focus on the storyline with the rest of my time. Besides big roster or members, would just be useless, because the player would only choose some of them and a the other part of the story would never be experienced.
 

umbralshadows

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Rather a smaller number but focused on charas than a big bunch but as long as tha plot has a reasoning for that many an as long as ya can find dedicated use for each (even if optional) then its all fine. ... but dont make a huge cast for tha sake of just shovin in a huge cast. It never works.
 

autophagy

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Hmm, this is a difficult question. 50 characters sounds like an awful lot to get to know and remember. If they are all relevant in some way to the story/gameplay, I feel like it would get confusing or tedious. And if they are not relevant ... why put them in in the first place?

For example, let's say every character has a certain gameplay element assigned to them, like different battle styles, or some sort of ability that is necessary to the plot. At around 50 characters, I personally would run out of ideas halfway through and I feel like the game would be just a constant string of introducing new gimmick characters who are, in essence, forgettable.

Of course there's games like Pokemon, where you have literally hundreds of "protagonists", but those games are specifically built around collecting them, and they don't get any character development or anything. Also, you can only have 6 at a time in your team, so you can kind of focus on your favourites and won't really need to worry about more than those. In my opinion, way too many Pokemon have been introduced by now, which indeed makes so many of them interchangeable and negligible. Cutting down the "cast" by at least half would not do any harm at all.

If you are aiming to make a game with characters who have an interesting personality and whom the player will form an emotional bond with, they will need screentime for their character development, and therefore the more characters, the longer the game will need to be. With so many characters, you could fill multiple novels, so I can only imagine how that would translate into game time. Also, the plot will need to be more complex, and at some point it could become bogged down with all the character development.

So I guess what I'm hinting at here is, yes, you could design a game around so many characters, but I would advice against it. There are most likely many characters that could simply be combined into one or left out completely without taking away from the plot. When I started working on my current project, the party had more than 10 characters, but now I cut them down to 6 permanent ones and even that I feel is almost too many. The plot and gameplay didn't suffer any from getting rid of those "fluff" characters.

I'm mostly looking at this from a writer's and player's point of view, by the way. It's possible that different rules apply for video games in which story and character development is not very relevant, but personally, I don't enjoy those games as much.
 

UgyBoogie

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Just an option you maybe did not thought of: Instead having a giant array of party members, you could use some kind of class-system. Have a core group of playable characters and give all of them (unlockable) classes to change to. This way you don't have to introduce many new characters and the player gets a better feeling for the core group, while still having a lot of choices party wise.

I once made a game with a core group of 4 characters. Each character was able to "promote" to 2 different classes. And much later in the game to "promote" again to 2 different classes that were based on the previous choice. That's 4 potentional endgame classes. 16 across the whole party (plus the 8 mid tier classes). These numbers may seem small compared to yours, but trust me, it was A LOT of freedom for the player.
And let's not start talking about balancing... oh boy...

So yeah... maybe a class change system is better suited for your idea?
 

Bernkastelwitch

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Hmm, this is a difficult question. 50 characters sounds like an awful lot to get to know and remember. If they are all relevant in some way to the story/gameplay, I feel like it would get confusing or tedious. And if they are not relevant ... why put them in in the first place?

For example, let's say every character has a certain gameplay element assigned to them, like different battle styles, or some sort of ability that is necessary to the plot. At around 50 characters, I personally would run out of ideas halfway through and I feel like the game would be just a constant string of introducing new gimmick characters who are, in essence, forgettable.

Of course there's games like Pokemon, where you have literally hundreds of "protagonists", but those games are specifically built around collecting them, and they don't get any character development or anything. Also, you can only have 6 at a time in your team, so you can kind of focus on your favourites and won't really need to worry about more than those. In my opinion, way too many Pokemon have been introduced by now, which indeed makes so many of them interchangeable and negligible. Cutting down the "cast" by at least half would not do any harm at all.

If you are aiming to make a game with characters who have an interesting personality and whom the player will form an emotional bond with, they will need screentime for their character development, and therefore the more characters, the longer the game will need to be. With so many characters, you could fill multiple novels, so I can only imagine how that would translate into game time. Also, the plot will need to be more complex, and at some point it could become bogged down with all the character development.

So I guess what I'm hinting at here is, yes, you could design a game around so many characters, but I would advice against it. There are most likely many characters that could simply be combined into one or left out completely without taking away from the plot. When I started working on my current project, the party had more than 10 characters, but now I cut them down to 6 permanent ones and even that I feel is almost too many. The plot and gameplay didn't suffer any from getting rid of those "fluff" characters.

I'm mostly looking at this from a writer's and player's point of view, by the way. It's possible that different rules apply for video games in which story and character development is not very relevant, but personally, I don't enjoy those games as much.

Just to put it there for my idea, my own game is inspired by Suikoden in a few aspects from the war themes to the loads of characters on both sides. I am aware not all characters will get development but I am also looking into a gameplay perspective here. The way I put it, obviously, a handful will get "main" development in the actual story and there'll be the ones who have sidequests with their own arcs and these sidequests not only give them development but unlock certain attacks and perks to the army too. Even the antagonists on the other side may have their own sidequests with perks to your army too.

Even though I do know someone who pointed out how some people would choose to handicap themselves than try the character sidequests and how even if there's features like shared EXP and split parties, it may still discourage people from taking the features seriously.

I am aware this kind of topic seems to be very divisive. Some people don't mind it or even like it from a gameplay perspective while others only view it in a strictly story perspective and there's those who try to have an even view on the matter.
 
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Eviticous

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To answer the title. I would not. I would first ask my self why do I need all these people? How do they all fit into the story? Then I would start by flushing out one at a time, working them methodically into the story. For example in the beginning of my game there are three people, the main character, the boyfriend and the friend. This makes sense to have three people, they all know each other.

Later on theirs two brothers, they do not become apart of the main party, but they form their own party, you also have a boy from a church, two other characters that you also meet.

So instead of throwing 7 or 8 people together, understand their motivations and their reasons for being. If it doesn't make sense for Bob to be in the party with Jane, maybe he has his own "side story." Much like some of the characters in my game.

Something to think about.

Also:

Chrono Cross approach(No benefits but there for gameplay variety)

This is wrong. They all played a part in the main story, in helping to move it forward.
 

Black Pagan

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Personally, I am a fan of the Swap Battle System for anything more than 3 Characters at a time. It encourages situational gameplay and it also means, You can make the game extremely challenging and letting the knocked out characters rest for a while, While you swap out others.

My ideal party comprises of 2 or 3 Characters in Battle - A Tank, A Damage & Support. I have found that this works best for me. Anything more and it starts to get complicated, You would have to give the Characters weaker version of skills to make up for more characters present in Battle. So yea, I would totally go for a Battle system which would let me Swap Characters in Battle anytime. Its really fun if you make it the right way, But it can also be really hard to balance.
 

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