New Town...

byronclaude

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The project I am working on, is essentially an old-school vintage style RPG, very similar to Dragon Warrior, or Final Fantasy...   ...with the quality level of Final Fantasy 6.  The idea is to retain the same vintage style with 2 exceptions, -the depth of the world...  (the player has a lot more side action, and exploration available to them in addition to a main quest)...   And...   -Randoms (while not effecting the main quest much, I am inserting many random-chance scenerios, making the game a different experience each time a quest is played...   which I have found even captivates myself during test play.)

With that in mind, I am targeting answers from those who take interest in such vintage style RPGs.

MY QUESTION -

     When approaching a new town / settlement for the first time...  what excites you (the player)?  Like what is it about reaching a new town that is most hoped for?  I am looking for ideas to make towns/settlements more interesting and unique.  Ideas can be for all towns in general, or maybe for only one town within a game.  All answers appreciated.  Thanks!  :) Jasparra1.png
 

Shades

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Thinking back to my Dragon Warrior days, I remember two things: First, I looked forward to seeing what new weapons and armor would be available so I could upgrade. Second, I looked forward to finding the inn because by the time I got to the next town I was likely to need healing up. To a lesser degree, almost every town had its own little side quest, and it was interesting to see which dungeon I'd need to crawl for whoever wanted it in that town.
 
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mlogan

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My thoughts are very similar to Shades, except that I would say *usually* finding an inn to recover from the battles of getting there is first priority, then wanting to see what new equipment is available.  I also always anticipate what the town is going to look like, so exploring a new region is fun for that reason?
 

byronclaude

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Thank you.  Good answers.  Fine-tuning the weapons/armor is definitely a task that I still need to look into harder.  As for mapping and looks, I am working hard to ensure that each town has its own mood/personality.

Are there any features when encountering a new town that can be perceived as negative?  Or as a turn-off?
 

Zane

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Generic buildings. I think buildings require a little variety at least. A good example is the default RTP buildings while a few little shack looking buildings is ok. The whole town should not be made up of 4 X 3 buildings. :)
 

Tai_MT

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Gear, most definitely.  Unless the player just came from a really dangerous area.  Then, the local inn or the resurrection house.  Mostly though, gear.  Everything else in a town just offers random exposition or hints and so many players either gloss over it, or know it will be there when they have to do the quests.  Really though, it's new gear that a player looks forward to when they enter a town.

Unless you play Pokémon.  Then it's the possibility of a new Gym and some free loot.  But, the execution of that game is different (in which you capture your "loot" in the game out in the wild instead of buying it in the shop) from standard RPGs.
 

byronclaude

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This is wonderful feedback.  I like :::Josh:::'s tip about interesting buildings.  As I glance over a few of my completed towns, I realize that I may have moved quickly while shaping them...   it seems I focused more on what was around the buildings, than the buildings themselves.

Thanks :::Josh::: !

Regarding gear, I am trying to give each character some option.  All too often in an RPG, when arriving at a new town, it seems the weapon shop has, the next great weapon for the fighter (one option), and the next great weapon for the wizard (one option), and for the archer (one option) etc..   and the same with armor.

I am attempting to provide some more options to allow cooler character customization...   but without drowning the player in too extensive of a gear list.
 

Tai_MT

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Extensive gear lists aren't a problem as long as they are covering playstyles of characters or players.  I don't mind 5 new sets of armor I can equip for the Fighter, as long as the kind of armor I'm looking for is within that list.  Perhaps I value speed over defense and so I equip something that gets rid of a bit of defense for the sake of adding speed.  Maybe the armor I can equip has an immunity to Paralyze at the cost of defense points.  A dev can have a lot of gear if they want, but it needs to all be useful to some extent.  There's nothing wrong with offering a few options each time you enter a town instead of just the one new piece of equipment per class.  Just make sure that it's all "equal" in some way and caters to different character builds or player strategies.
 

Shades

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Thank you.  Good answers.  Fine-tuning the weapons/armor is definitely a task that I still need to look into harder.  As for mapping and looks, I am working hard to ensure that each town has its own mood/personality.

Are there any features when encountering a new town that can be perceived as negative?  Or as a turn-off?
Yes. Again recalling Dragon Warrior, I distinctly recall being blocked out or in places by NPCs roaming the town. It was rather annoying having to wait for them to wander elsewhere before I could go where I needed to be.
 

byronclaude

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I DESPISE npc's that get in my way.  (Even as a 7 year old kid playing this game, I remember shouting profanity at the npc's more than once).  

I plan to ensure that NPC's aren't brain-dead in this area as much as possible.  Thanks for the great post Shades (and the awful Dragon Warrior npc memories LOL).

Good feedback Tai_MT.  I will definitely go extensive before I go bare.  I also like and agree with your take on different / equal gear and like such options as well.  In fact, I tend to use such modifications in games to build unusual characters (would add strength to my magic users, magic to my warriors etc.)

Wonderful feedback happening here!  Thanks all!
 

Dark Messiah

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When I get to a new town, I usually try to explore as much as I can first, to pick up any free stuff/get sidequests/learn useful info. Then, I hit the shops for any items I may need to stock up on and any new equipment that might be available. I don't think I've ever used an Inn in a game, but I've never played an RPG older than Final Fantasy 7 so that could explain it
 

Makio-Kuta

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I'm gonna echo everyone else in the fact that new equipment is the first thing I look for.

After that I like looking around the town itself, talking to the NPCs for any info or world building or hints they can provide, or rooting around seeing what person I can steal a potion from their closest or what bookshelf might have 2 coins shoved behind a book. I just like looking at the town, screaming about the archetecture, wondering what the houses I can't get to are for... Scoffing at the NPCs pestering the animals in the town.

Yeah. interesting towns are fun.
 

byronclaude

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ShelveHs1.png

ShelveHs2.png

Thank you Dark Messiah and Makio-Kuta.  You guys remind me of me as a player. I explore nearly every facet of a town especially for secrets and tucked-away side-quests.  Regarding Inns, Dark Messiah, I can tell you that in the earlier RPG's they were nearly unavoidable.  (Of course, I always spent way too much time character building, so that I could blaze through dungeons without a second thought).  I hope to keep Inns more interesting.  One of the randoms I have implemented - depending on strictly random variables, there are chances of meeting key players (mostly npc), unusual merchants, and other travelers having useful world info - that may be at the Inn when you stay there.  I also am making the Innkeeper him/herself change dialogue from one visit to the next to keep it interesting (at least for a bit).

I love that you mentioned book-shelves Makio-Kuta.  I have one shelf already built with more than 2 coins hidden :)   (though typically, shelving is a place to gain worldly info, and in-game tutorial knowledge). I am hiding easy stuff as well as hard-to-find irregular stuff. 

To some degree I am incorporating random chance in secrets as well (what may be a potion hidden in a closet the first time you play, could be an antidote the second time...  all lateral of course).
 

Tai_MT

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I feel like that hallway is kind of empty right there...  Just a huge swath of empty space...  Not that it needs cluttered...  But... Maybe it could use something in there?  Table with a vase on it or something?  Just seems like a huge waste of space to me.  Feels like it wouldn't exist in a real house.  I dunno, I'm weird like that.
 

Chiara

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Like mostly everyone else, I'm most interested in the INN, the shops and the hidden free stuff. Yet, it doesn't excite me as a player as these are things I kind of expect of a new town.

What excites me most on the other hand are backstory and meaningful side quests.

Anyone played Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning? Every area had its own little backstory that was revealed to the player by talking to NPCs, completing side quests and just exploring. This was what kept me playing until I beat the game. If I know I'm playing a game with lots of backstory, this is what gets me excited about arriving at a new town. This is what makes a town memorable in my opinion (well, and if it doesn't look exactly like every town before, of course ;) ). Especially if its a linear game. Doesn't even have to be a deep backstory; if the game's focussed on gameplay, I'm content with "this is a mining town and everything looks and feels like I expect a mining town in a game to be" with the additional expectation that I get the coolest gear in a mining town, of course.

Another thing: I love it when the player character/s know/s someone in a town/vice versa. Doesn't work for every kind of story, but I like it when it happens ("Player character! I know you! Your father owes me money!").

What I don't like in arriving at a new town, on the other hand...

  • The "Welcome to [...] Town!"-NPC
  • irritatingly complicated city layouts (having to search for the INN and shops)
  • being able to walk into an NPC's house and not finding anything useful in it/the NPC in question not having anything meaningful to say
  • unneccessarily big towns/cities if their only use in the game is for the player to stop, rest and get new gear
  • annoying BGM
  • lots of buildings that are mandatory to visit when everytime you want to enter, the door animation fully plays
  • towns with dashing disabled/slow actor move speed

Oops, didn't intend to write such a long post, but I started remembering games... D:

Regarding your screenshots: A secret entrance behind a bookshelf! Want to explore, want to explore! *forgets everything she said until now* - I'm simple like this sometimes, I admit.
 

deaddrift

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great thread!!

a very good aspect to discuss-

When i was a kid i also made a beeline in a new town to see what new weapons and armor were available, that is pretty common i guess-

But in dragon warrior games in particular, it seemed every town had a secret somewhere, be it a hidden treasure box, hiiden stairs, etc etc

Your hidden passage behind a dresser is a perfect way to make people enjoy the game more!  Great idea!

Maybe you could have a few secret places/things only discoverable if you talk to the right NPC and say the right things in a conditional branching dialogue tree..

-

Almost forgot!  I also like jsut going to a new town to see how the town looks, i like it when each town has a disntictly diffent design, so it really feels like a unique place...

i look forward to reading more of peopel post here about this topic, sometimes its the little things most people dont ask that can make a big difference!
 

byronclaude

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These posts are amazing!  I had no idea I would receive such incredible feedback with this thread!

Tai_MT - regarding the "empty hallway" (and I have to acknowledge this, because I am certain I have other similar buildings hehe)...  it seems to be a tricky balance between love for movement, versus love for detail.  I too like to fill a place up, but have seen so much negative feedback in other posts regarding "claustrophobic maps" that I opted to leave a little emptiness amidst the scenes simply for freedom of movement.  On a personal note though, I totally agree with you (and my real life house could stand as evidence hehe).

Chiara - I adore this feedback, especially your list of dislikes.  I was worried about the door thing at first.  The door system I am using in this project is rather complex (using 3 different events per door - exhausting) - but the end result has been very satisfying...  the transitions are smooth, sound good, and mechanically consistant...   But I see a great point...   Will definitely avoid main-line quest requirements that push the player through the same doors too much (or too many doors).

Also, the "Welcome to !$%*%$ !" npc...   you are right 100%, and I have several of them now about to randomly go away.  LOL

In truth Chiara, your extensive views on towns are quite good!  One of my own dislikes is the completely linear town - this place has exactly: one inn, a weapons shop, and armor shop, and item shop, and a single building dedicated to a main quest cutscene - and nothing else.       I despise such places in games.    Am I to believe that every npc's existence is strictly to cater to my quest???   That makes for boring npc's.  Subsequently, I've added more buildings, and places to explore...  with secrets to find, etc.  But you offered a great way to ensure such places remain interesting by providing side-stories and cool side-npc interactions (even small cut scenes) for players who like to dabble in their towns before moving on.  Thanks Chiara!!!

deaddrift, thank's for liking my shelf haha (I had to stop the project to create its animation, because my own desire would not let me leave that house until I had a moving shelf...   sometimes I am my own obstactle LOL)...

...since some players are more linear, [ they want to get what is needed and press on...  no time to waist! ]  and others are [ leave no stone unturned! ],  I have attempted a system for planting secrets that caters to both types.  So there are easy, medium, and hard secrets.  (Hard secrets reveal items that are not essential, but are awesome in some way...   but that may involve taking something from one npc, to another, to get info, about a person, who has an item, that reveals an item, and a new passageway etc.)             The [ press-on ] type player needn't bother with such things, and can accomplish the quest just the same.  Some hard-secrets my reveal a simple group of life-potions (basic nice item), but the sense of victory for uncovering it remains.

Thank you all for these incredible posts!
 

Matseb2611

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To me the towns serve several purposes: 1) they are a break from action, 2) they are there to give some more immersion into the game's world, and 3) they can perhaps have something that could develop the main story further.

One of the things I'd definitely say is I like it when each town is different and unique. Make them eye candy, put something funny or intriguing into them, maybe a scene of some kind, or a clever interaction with the environment, or a couple of sidequests. One of the things I dislike in RPGs is when I have to do the same thing in every single town - talk to npcs, buy gear, rest at the inn, and move on to the next dungeon. That gets repetitive fast.

Basically, visiting a new town is a chance for the player to take a break from action, so I think it should be a relaxing activity to walk through the city. Everything plays a role here - catchy background music, pretty visuals, some humour in places, and of course as mentioned by a few people earlier an easy layout so that it's easy to navigate through the city without getting lost. For example the shops. Why have 3-4 different shops? Let the player do all the shopping in one place. Or at the very least, if you do want to make more than one shop for story/setting purposes, it'd be at least nice to put them right next to each other. I played some games where shops were too far apart, so I had to walk backwards and forwards between them whilst deciding what to buy. 

Just my two cents. Good discussion btw.   
 

byronclaude

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I definitely use multiple shops (in some towns only)... but I never considered the distance between them, especially in regards to decision making as you described.  Excellent tip!  I had not thought of this.  Thank you Matseb2611!

I agree with every town having the same purpose eventually gets boring.  This one I thought of, and have decided that some towns will have a key role in the main quest including cut-scenes...   some, while on the route of the main quest, are basically little more then pit-stops, and still some are completely out of the way, and serve strictly as locations for side-quests/mini-games.

Graphics and sound remain different from one town to the next.  The sound I am being very picky about, especially depending on the size of the town, and the length of time the player will be required to visit the place.

I love the feedback from this thread, and I am glad I posted it before getting too far into the project.  Additional feedback definitely welcomed!

What makes 'the next town' in a Dragon Warrior / Final Fantasy style game interesting?  What makes them cool?  What makes them suck?
 

aozgolo

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I think in classic RPGs my biggest excitement was basically finding out what free stuff was there... I know it seems strange but I would go around to every house, every chest, barrel, crate, and bag I would rummage through, and even if all I got was a measly 5 gold I was rather excited by the prospect of finding something new. Of course the new layout and architecture was also nice (especially if it really looked different from other towns) and of course the shop selection.

I'm reminded a lot of the stark differences between Secret of Mana and Secret of Evermore, both had very  similar combat systems with radial menus but the towns in Secret of Mana were awful, most only had about 4 buildings, the item selection was minimal so you didn't even have a difference in inns or shops, and many of the towns all looked identical in architecture and design. Secret of Evermore though, while still only having a handful of items, had an alchemy system which lent each town to having new alchemy merchants and people who would teach you new formulas, plus every single town looked radically different from each other, Prehistoric villages, Gothic Castles, Ancient Romanesque Marketplaces, A Pirate Shanty Town, a Futuristic Mall...

Definitely variation is important. Don't just make visiting a new town standard of upgrade equipment, move on, make each one feel unique in terms of looks and content.
 

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