Question for Everyone:What do you look for in an RPG Maker Game?

What's most important to you while playing an RPG Maker Game?


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    44

TheoAllen

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Funny, as I've never felt that I need to know exactly who attacks which bat in a group of 7 in any battle system. Al I care about is the overall result at the end of the turn once I've input my commands, which is honestly all that matters. Do you really need to know that bat A did 2 damage and bat B did 6 damage when you can't do anything about it until your next turn anyways? I've never felt the need.
Well, except having to fight 7 bats at once sounds like a poor battle. I mean, it really is. You can either just put all attack, or use all the skill and watch as the battle goes. Sure, you don't need to know the flow. Because all are bats. They're either in early turn because they have high agi or very end because they have a poor agi. They deal the same/similar damage, probably they also just a spam attack.

Having more strategic battle requires to know the flow. Imagine there're different enemies of ABCD (actually, 4 enemies already look like a lot in my opinion). One of them unleashes a deadly attack that deals huge damage and knocked out an actor. With the fast-paced battle, I could miss who give that threat or what just happened in the battle. Sideview animation slows this down for you to know what happened. Except, maybe if the frontview battle system has a battle log, probably I'd be okay with it.
 

bgillisp

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@TheoAllen : You've never fought the bats in Wizardry 7. Those can KO a high level party. :)

I think we're not talking a turn based system here, which is where I feel front view is better. You need to know the flow when you can take your turn at various times like say a ATB or CTB system. If it is select your turn, they select their turn, then watch the results, knowing that an actor is KO'd mid turn doesn't do me much good as what can I do about it in the middle of the turn? Sure maybe I can start to plan a response, but I still got to wait until the entire turn is over to actually respond.
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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Sure maybe I can start to plan a response, but I still got to wait until the entire turn is over to actually respond.
That's exactly why, so you can plan your next turn accordingly.

Lets say one of the enemies dealt enough damage to kill one actor but because the battle flow was fast you didnt notice which enemy that is. Next turn, instead of focusing your attack into that enemy to hopefully kill it before it kills you, since you didnt know that one enemy has high damage, you didn't focus on it. And so next turn begins and he kills another actor and so on.

Knowing the flow of what happened practically can determine the difference between winning and losing, even on the default turn system.

Ofc unless the enemies or troops in the game are so similar in stats that strategies doesn't really matter.
 

kirbwarrior

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Lets say one of the enemies dealt enough damage to kill one actor but because the battle flow was fast you didnt notice which enemy that is. Next turn, instead of focusing your attack into that enemy to hopefully kill it before it kills you, since you didnt know that one enemy has high damage, you didn't focus on it. And so next turn begins and he kills another actor and so on.
I had a very simple game that I made largely to show some of my friends things to learn both as players and game makers. One thing it had was an over-simplified example of target importance. One enemy takes two attacks to die and does X damage. Another enemy takes one hit to die and does X*3 damage. It's very clear who you should kill first, but you wouldn't know that if you aren't paying attention or the details are obfuscated.

I actually do like front view, but not how MV does it. Something about it makes it hard to focus both on the field and the words at the same time. I think this falls into my gripes with "graphics" is that I'd rather have an ugly game make it clear what is happening than a pretty game not make it clear.
 

bgillisp

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@Engr. Adiktuzmiko : That is a valid point there I will admit, though I have to say if a battle system is resorting to enemies that are constantly one hit KO-ing me at full health (either via skill or instant kill attacks) and I'm at proper level with proper equipment I'm going to call that cheap...in ANY battle system. Look up all of the comments on Persona 3's monsters (and even one boss) that spams Mudo/Mamudo/Hama/Mahama and how many felt that was cheap, you'll see I'm not alone in this either.

@kirbwarrior : Yeah, the default is not that great I will admit as you can miss the messages. I like the pop-ups that most scripters/plug-in writers have put in which really moves the flow along without you having to worry about missing a key message.

BTW, I should clarify that I'm talking about turn based/front view in the perspective of the old Wizardry games here. One of the reasons you didn't need to know all that is going on is because in Wizardry 6/7 you can't target individual enemies, only groups (unless the enemy appeared in groups of one, which is rare except for powerful bosses, and then there was no question what you should target). So the example of heavy damage by one enemy wouldn't apply here, it would be entire group. And all you had to do was watch for 1 - 2 turns to figure out who was the powerful one, then you can omit the little details.

Of course, these games also didn't think twice about giving you 4 stacks of 99 berserkers for your party of 6 to take down. I assume someone knows which exact game I'm talking about that did this.

Still, I just find it interesting some of the assumptions people have on front view systems (though I imagine there are just as many on side view too). But maybe that needs to be another thread too.
 
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Wavelength

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I look for the same things in an RPG Maker game that I look for in any other RPG:
  • The game offers a concept that intrigues me - essentially, it's inviting to do something that I'd like to do.
  • The game's tone is appealing to me. Personally, I love bright and optimistic games, though serious games that are mature and classy can pique my interest too; I personally hate overblown violence, horror, or obvious fanservice.
  • The game offers gameplay that looks intuitive and exciting - of the 4 things in your poll, gameplay is indeed most important to me. For an RPG, I truly feel that gameplay is made up of more than just combat.
  • The game's writing is good - not just the plot, but the actual writing. Writing should be clear but clever; it should have nuance, and characters should sound like they are unique people, not mouthpieces for the game or the author. Purple prose and bad translations are huge turn-offs for me.
  • The game seems fairly priced in comparison to its reviews, length, and production values.
I can usually take a leap of faith if one of these is missing (except Concept which is absolutely crucial), but if it looks like it's going to fall flat on more than one of these five things, I skip it.


---

I had a very simple game that I made largely to show some of my friends things to learn both as players and game makers. One thing it had was an over-simplified example of target importance. One enemy takes two attacks to die and does X damage. Another enemy takes one hit to die and does X*3 damage. It's very clear who you should kill first, but you wouldn't know that if you aren't paying attention or the details are obfuscated.
This is a good point (and troops that encourage prioritization is actually something that many RPGs fail to provide), and it's why I tend to like giving as much information as feasible to the player upfront.

In one of the games I'm making now, I show enemy stats onscreen during target selection, so you can form a good idea of what its threat will be if you don't take it down before it can attack - and you can do so even on Turn 1 when you're figuring out your overall battle strategy.
 
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CountofArath

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When I started playing RPG maker Ace games (I'd played RPG maker before that but didn't go out of my way to find them) it was maps that didn't look too blocky. After actually playing a fair few I ended up appreciating games that had successfully executed simple stories, competent combat systems were also an attraction. I'm not really the greatest fan of breaking the forth wall.
 

Venima

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False. I have actually had some really memorable battles without seeing how much damage I do to every little item with every little character. In fact, that same Wizardry game has given me many memorable battles, and I still read books between turns as I wait for it to resolve.

I think it comes down to what you want to see. I've just never cared to see every little thing in a battle. I look at it as more of a mastermind overseeing the action, where you want to see overall results and adjust from there, not every little paper cut every solider takes. But maybe I'm just different here.
I played Wizardry 8 donkeys ago. I still remember parts of that game. The difficulty curve suddenly took a leap though and I got lost for how to progress.

As for my answer to OP, I'm a stickler for resource puzzles. Anything that involves figuring out what items are useful in a given situation, but I don't like games that focus only on that. I don't want hide and seek, but I want to be able to go 'I wonder if I can light this fireplace with the lantern I'm holding' sort of thing.
 
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woootbm

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Yeah, front view sucks. Sorry.

Anyway, this is a hard question to answer. I have to look at this as if I'm a regular gamer looking to make a purchase. Because as an RPGM dev my reasons all have to do with research; seeing what people are able to do with the tool. And I say purchase because, well... the idea of fishing for downloads on free sites is such a strange beast that usually just boils down to how many downloads said game already has.

But it's also a hard question to answer because it's the end goal. It's kinda everything. If you have a big budget, though, the answer is easy: advertising. :hswt:

You gotta have that je ne sais quoi that makes people get excited when they look at your game. Pretty screenshots, an intriguing title, a succinct game description that leaves players wanting to find out. You gotta put your best foot forward and reel people in. If any of us knew for sure how to do this, we'd be millionaires, heh.

I'll chime in with the turn-offs like others have. DO NOT WANT:

- gameplay hours over ~15. The second I see an RPGM game that says it has like "40 hours" of gameplay? I know that's all gonna be griiiiindiiing.
- broken English. Sorry if it's not your first language. Get a native speaker to scrub your store page and game, please
- overly cutesy or punny characters/dialogue. Honestly this is as bad as oversexualization; it exists as a replacement for substance.
- "inspired by Chrono Trigger/other JRPG's." This is a scummy tactic. You can't just compare yourself to a classic. Imagine if a movie came out that was like, "inspired by Citizen Kane." $^%! you.
- it looks like a lazy, hastily crapped out RPGM game. Derp.
- default character portraits! Use the character creator! What the heck, man!
 

VitaliaDi

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@woootbm I totally prefer shorter games too. My attention span is not as long as it used to be and if it's longer than like 5 hours I don't know if I can handle it so I just skip over lol
But I know some people love long games like that where they can level so I see why people make them
 

woootbm

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@VitaliaDi Well, I'd say my attention span is the same... there's just so much more competing for it now. When I was a kid I adored long games because I only got like 2 games a year, so I would squeeze every bit of gameplay out of them. Now that I'm an adult with a disposable income, a full-time job, a car, a GF, lots of commitments? It's both harder to find the time and to give it. Like, why play this over Bloodstained? (or some other game that might be coming out soon). If the game is only like, 5 hours I can squeeze that in, sure.

The other problem is that I know that no RPGM game is gonna make those long hours worthwhile. They don't have enough content, story, features, or a strong enough gameplay loop to make that long of a game worthwhile. It's just gonna be really big maps and really bad encounter rates and required XP/materials grind.
 

SolonWise

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Above all things, when I play a RPG Maker game, I want to have fun.
 

bgillisp

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@woootbm : That's a very interesting assumption. I hope you hold all games to that, and not just RM else you have just done this:

Elder Scrolls VI announced: We will have 100 hours of playtime *everyone cheers, says this game will be awesome*
Aveyond V announced: We will have 100 hours of playtime *everyone boos, says this game will stink*

Incidentally Aveyond is an RPGMaker series that is known for long playtimes which is actually good. And the word on the street is Laxius Force is good too, and it is known for being long as well. So you can't always assume.

But...I can understand limited play time. I've got many AAA games even that I haven't gotten to as I just don't have the time. Persona 5 took forever to finish, and that was a little over 90 hours per my last save.

PS: You must be talking about the MV generator, as no one will (usually) pay for a game made with the ACE generator as it was terrible. In fact it was so bad we had a contest around it and the nightmares it created.
 
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woootbm

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That's a very interesting assumption. I hope you hold all games to that, and not just RM else you have just done this:

Elder Scrolls VI announced: We will have 100 hours of playtime *everyone cheers, says this game will be awesome*
Aveyond V announced: We will have 100 hours of playtime *everyone boos, says this game will stink*
Well, I am at that point where even AAA games will make me wary if it promises an insane amount of time, yes. Even in Witcher 3 I found myself abandoning question mark hunting because I was just... done with that.

Regardless, the problem is certainly worse with RPGM games. Something like Elder Scrolls would be made by 100+ people. The team that makes ONE thing in that game is larger and has more resources/experience/know how than an entire RPGM project would. And the amount of time turning each component into something robust would be greater as well. ES6 might be up to 8 years of development now, a lot of RM games are made in mere months.

The problem is one of scale. How can a game with a team of <10 people and <1 year dev cycle deliver a 100+ hour game? I've played RM games that were 10 hours long that had too much grinding :hswt2:
 

TheoAllen

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Speaking of AAA games, I don't recall one being advertised as "100 hours of gameplay", only RM devs do that. Or maybe because I stopped looking more into AAA games or maybe I was looking at the different corner.
 

Aesica

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@VitaliaDi and @woootbm you both make really good points about duration and attention span. I find I'm less inclined to spend 40 hours on a game now than back when my only responsibilities were homework--20 hours is my sweet spot these days. Still, the point about increased competition is spot-on. Back in the day, we'd get a game like FF4 (FF2) and like...that's it until the next RPG appeared months later, so it was okay to spend hours on those games and even replay them a ton. I don't even want to know how many hours total I've logged on either FF4 or FF6.

But in this day and age? Well my "unplayed" list is pretty huge, so I really don't want to spend 40+ hours on a game which, no offense to everyone, is unlikely to measure up to the classics.

- - -

In general, a few other big no-nos I find are these:
  • Open world: I'm not opposed to open-world designs, but so far, every RM game I've played that tried this generally fails at it. If the enemies all scaled with level (like SaGa Frontier) it'd be one thing, but instead it's always "you went into the wrong place, enjoy your instant game over."
  • Starts out hard: So I just started your game, saw some story, and then went out to fight my first slime. The slime attacks and..oh crap one of my guys got killed? Really? Let me get my feet wet first instead of just throwing me into the cold water in the deep end.
  • Useless/lame abilities. Single target buffs with short durations that only boost a single stat, weak damage spells with high costs, single target single stat ailments with low chances of success, and highly-specific ailment removals (especially if I'm consistently hit with every ailment BUT the one this ability removes!) are among the worst offenders.
 

bgillisp

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@woootbm : Fair enough assessment there. Just be careful though, some RM games are made in years too so you can't assume. Of course, made over a long period of time means little too. Remember Duke Nukem Forever? I think that was made in what...13 years?

Well see how long they really get to make Elder Scrolls VI though. Anthem was in pre-development so long that the real time making the game was about 8 months in the end (don't know if you saw the article on that). So even AAA games can and are rushed from time to time too. And I'd rather a rushed project by 1 than 100 as have you ever tried to get 100 people to agree on anything? Especially when they are in a hurry? It's a nightmare!

@TheoAllen : It's usually in the press releases and hype announcements they make. I don't think they usually post it on the store page though.

Back to topic:

Some immediate turn-offs:
-Level scaling of any sorts. And yes, even for open world games (sorry @Aesica but I disagree with you here). The best open world game I played was Gothic 2 and it did *not* level scale. You can try to take on that Shadowbeast at level 5, if you wish, but you should probably just run away or leave it along. And on this note, the reason I never finished Skyrim was I was bored to tears due to the level scaling. It is pointless for me to be able to go anywhere and do anything if nothing I do matters and I never feel like I'm getting better as everything else leveled up with me.

That being said, if you were to do an open world game with no level scaling, you need to do it right, like maybe warnings when you get to a dangerous area or an area you are not powerful enough to handle.

-Bad mapping. If those screenshots are the best your game has to offer and I can spot many errors in them right away, I'll be concerned that the others are even worse.

Items I do like to see:
-A demo. If you have one that I can try out, that helps.
-A decent first game, or at least promise of improvement down the line. I don't expect your first game to be great, regardless of how you distribute it. But if your first game is awful *and* you show no signs of improving as a developer or learning from it, then I will move on. And yes, I do that with AAA games, this is why I still haven't played Dragon Age 2 or Pillars of Eternity 2, due to bad experiences with the 1st game that turned me off to the series.
-Interesting idea. I've played some games just because I wanted to see what you did with an idea or story. In fact, I think that is what drew me to my first Persona game (Persona 3) as I wanted to see how they handled an idea, and the rest was history.
 

Heirukichi

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@Aesica @bgillisp the "level scale" is one of the problems of this century. Wherever you go you find people who agree/disagree with that. In general, I dislike having scaling enemies. This does not apply just to RM games but to each game in the world. I honestly cannot see how going back to a certain zone can be fun if you have to fight tons of enemies you already fought and they are tougher just because you leveled up. Not to mention it makes no sense narrative-wise.

Player: "Oh great! I got some experience, now I can finally annihilate goblins!"
Goblin: "Oh, finally that dumb player leveled up. Now I can stop fighting like an idiot just to give him/her some exp and show a bit more of my real strength."

Why should an enemy be weaker when the player level is low? Is the enemy not fighting with its full strength for the sole purpose of nurturing the player? What is the point of doing that? If that is not the reason, are enemies learning how to fight properly by fighting more? That makes even less sense. The enemies who fought are dead, there is no way they could accumulate experience and increase their battle tactics.

On the other hand, however, I can see how fighting very weak enemies can be annoying if you are looking for a challenge, or fighting strong enemies because you entered the wrong zone might be frustrating. This is why I agree with @bgillisp when he says that you have to do non-scaling open world properly. Take the player and tell him/her (one way or another): "Hey, can you see that zone over there? That is freaking dangerous; do not step in that zone before being stronger or you will die". Putting a dangerous zone without any warning can be very annoying for the average player.

And on this note, the reason I never finished Skyrim was I was bored to tears due to the level scaling.
Even if you decide to implement level scaling...please never do it like Skyrim. Have you ever played Legendary difficulty? Enemies reaches a point where they have so much health that it makes absolutely no sense at all. Even basic enemies have way too much health. Do not be misled, it does not increase the difficulty, it only makes fights more annoying. I can see how one-shotting an ancient dragon at Hardest with a dagger can be not exactly the most realistic thing in the world, but making enemies scale so much that you have to hit them multiple times with a daedric warhammer fully enhanced with the alchemy/enchanting/smithing loop really makes no sense at all. From a game-play standpoint it makes things annoying, narrative-wise makes no sense...is there even a good thing in doing so?

Making a weak enemy stronger based on how strong you become does not make that enemy more challenging. Unless it scales faster than the player (which is basically a way to tell the player to not level up at all) if it did not pose a threat before, why would it pose a threat once you level up? The only result is that it takes more time to beat it, do you honestly find that fun? To me it appears just like a way to increase the playable time by underhanded means.

In another post I said how playing a game with a good story is very hard if game-play is bad. This does not mean that you can cut corners when it comes to the setting. Scaling enemies have no reason to be in the setting at all (sometimes they do, but there must be a twist in the plot to justify that). On top of it, the necessity of having scaling enemies to add variety to your game-play should be a red light to tell you that something is wrong with your design. You can add variety creating more contents, more zones, not forcing the player to walk the same path over and over again just to increase the game timer; there are plenty of ways to add variety. If you already have enough of everything else and you still want to add scaling enemies to let the game continue, you might want to consider pitting an end to the game and start making a sequel instead, it has much more sense.

@Aesica useless abilities are usually bad, but sometimes there might be a reason for them being there (even though I generally dislike them when they have no purpose at all).
 

Aesica

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@Heirukichi and @bgillisp yeah overall, I agree that scaling enemies generally isn't a very pleasant thing, and unless your game is specifically meant to be open world, you should probably leave it out. And even then, I'm not a huge fan of it unless it's done well (it often isn't)

One series I've mentioned a few times here before, Epic Battle Fantasy 5, uses enemies that scale with the player's level because the developer likes to make stuff challenging. Despite the game's overall positive reception, one criticism I've seen probably the most about it is the fact that the enemies scale, even though the game itself is mostly linear, and I agree with that criticism. It makes leveling feel like more of a punishment than a reward, especially if the enemies scale in such a way that a level 1 slime feels easier to beat with level 1 players than a level 50 slime vs level 50 players.

Meanwhile, I think SaGa Frontier's scaling (which is actually enemy tier increases instead of true enemy scaling) works because it means you can go (almost) anywhere, anytime in the game world and not suddenly find yourself up against something like Death Bears that cleave-kill your low-level party in a single round.

Also, regarding useless skills, I'm referring mainly to the ones that seem like they were added without any special thought--the "this should've been cut, but wasn't" type. Like, I remember playing an RPGMaker game where the mage character did more damage with basic attack than with any of his spells. While I can see the appeal of the red herring approach, I'm not at all a fan of it myself because I dislike spellbook clutter. I'd rather give players a set of tools, all of which are intended to be useful in some way, and let them figure out the best ones to use for a particular foe. Against a different foe, those same tools might be far less useful, encouraging them to try out even more skills.
 

Heirukichi

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I'd rather give players a set of tools, all of which are intended to be useful in some way
I definitely agree. Red herrings are something I dislike as well. However, apparently useless mechanics that can be mind blowing if used correctly are something I really love to see in games, even more in turn based games like most RM games.

A scaling system similar to the one you mentioned is certainly not frustrating, it was used in Morrowind, where you could not encounter golden saints before reaching a certain level. Even so, if an evil master is polluting the land and monsters grow stronger as time passes by because of its influence, then we have a narrative reason for that. But that also means that enemies should grow stronger regardless of the player level. That would give the player one more reason to level up and beat the evil master.

If enemies strength scales with player level then what you said happens: leveling up becomes a punishment. Pick Final Fantasy VIII as an example: why would I fight Omega Weapon with a party of level 100 characters and put death in my status defense junction when I can do it with level 97 ones that are immune to death (97 is a prime number)? That enemy does not scale in the original version of the game, but the fact that death hits you harder if you reach level 100 really makes leveling up to 100 a punishment rather than a reward.

In the new remastered version things are even worse. As enemies scale with your level starting from level 7 (there is no level 1 in the game, 7 is the bare minimum), you can kill the boss even faster. Just enhance your damage with decent junctions, keep your health low, make your main character invulnerable and start limit-breaking him for the whole effect duration. Why leveling up only to have longer fights?

In general, regardless of the game you are playing, the lower your level, the bigger the impact your equipment has on the game-play. What happens (too often in my opinion) is that you can increase your stats several times by equipping the right gear. That is normally fine, but if you are level 100 with 200 ATK and equip a sword that gives you +50 ATK, that sword is effectively giving you +25% ATK. The same sword, in the hands of a level 5 character with 10 ATK, grants a whole +500% ATK bonus.

In such a situation, if enemies scale with your level, you kill them 5 times faster by staying at level 5 instead of leveling up. I know this does not apply to every game, but even AAA games have troubles with this, imagine what can happen to RM games (I am not saying RM games are inferior, but having a lower budget brings consequences, no matter what).

Now, even if you go the right way, it still makes your game kinda weird (not bad, just weird). It can be good or bad, that depends on the player perception, but at least it is not bad in an absololute sense. The other way, on the other hand, is mostly bad, no matter what.
 

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