So I have a semi-open world gameplay part...any tips or ideas?

astracat111

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So, after working on this game for a while I'm on a town part in where I have 'semi-open world gameplay'...


And for some reason now I'm drawing an absolute blank. I got on Skyrim for ideas and started walking around, and from what I understand you place a bunch of people that need help in one way or another from the player....What I'd like to open up a discussion on I guess is ideas, maybe what peoples experiences have been, what's good open world gameplay vs bad open world gameplay, etc...
 

wintyrbarnes

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Here's my take on it, based on ~50 hours of playing Skyrim.


Pros:


- Longer gameplay time, replay value (you can't get 100% with only one playthrough and one character).


- Lots of things that prevent it from becoming too monotonous.


- You don't have to stick to the main quest. 


- Character customization features.


- Good way to put a lot of lore in a game without having it be all in one place.


- Allows the development of complete sidestories.


- Having a lot of NPC noncombat quests offers a way to level faster without grinding. 


Cons:


- Can lack an overall objective if the game premise isn't well-founded.


- Sometimes the main quest is underdeveloped.


- Hard to keep people's interest (especially if there's a lot of lore and the first installment in a series).


- World depth can be shallow if the NPCs' quests are boring or the NPCs themselves are flat. 


- Gameplay time (player has to sink time into the game; also locks out speedrunning until a glitch is found to access the end zone from the starting zone, which still locks out 100% speedruns). 


- Fetch quest mechanics (get something from one end of the continent, go to the other end to turn it in, then have to go back to the other end of the continent to give it to someone else).


- Repetitive side quests (go to dungeon, kill some monsters, get some artifact, rinse and repeat). Skyrim is specifically guilty of doing this. 


- Gets super boring if you level too quickly and many of the areas you travel through have lower-level enemies. 


There's a lot more to it, too--Skyrim in particular. It's less prominent now, but in 2011 most everyone was talking about its graphics. The Elder Scrolls series also has a very deep background of lore, but you also don't have to know the lore to play Skyrim. 


I think coming up with a solid reason for players to try the game is an important first step. Even if you do that, though, you can still very easily fall into the trap where your players start asking "why am I spending so much time here? what am I doing?" All games can fall into that trap, but I think open world games are particularly susceptible because you can have stretches of time where your player isn't doing anything, not even quests or grinding. On the other hand, depending on how the game is balanced, grinding might start to eclipse the actual quests. If a player has to go somewhere for a quest, but they're too low-level, they could either quit because the reward isn't worth the effort or because they get frustrated trying to get around grinding. 


And you've also got to keep it all fresh, since the player can move from place to place as they like. If they come to City B last, and it's still using the by-the-numbers introduction as every other city, then it gets really boring. Cities also have to be diversified, extensively, so they don't just blur together and there are reasons your player may want to check them out. 
 

astracat111

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Here's my take on it, based on ~50 hours of playing Skyrim.


Pros:


- Longer gameplay time, replay value (you can't get 100% with only one playthrough and one character).


- Lots of things that prevent it from becoming too monotonous.


- You don't have to stick to the main quest. 


- Character customization features.


- Good way to put a lot of lore in a game without having it be all in one place.


- Allows the development of complete sidestories.


- Having a lot of NPC noncombat quests offers a way to level faster without grinding. 


Cons:


- Can lack an overall objective if the game premise isn't well-founded.


- Sometimes the main quest is underdeveloped.


- Hard to keep people's interest (especially if there's a lot of lore and the first installment in a series).


- World depth can be shallow if the NPCs' quests are boring or the NPCs themselves are flat. 


- Gameplay time (player has to sink time into the game; also locks out speedrunning until a glitch is found to access the end zone from the starting zone, which still locks out 100% speedruns). 


- Fetch quest mechanics (get something from one end of the continent, go to the other end to turn it in, then have to go back to the other end of the continent to give it to someone else).


- Repetitive side quests (go to dungeon, kill some monsters, get some artifact, rinse and repeat). Skyrim is specifically guilty of doing this. 


- Gets super boring if you level too quickly and many of the areas you travel through have lower-level enemies. 


There's a lot more to it, too--Skyrim in particular. It's less prominent now, but in 2011 most everyone was talking about its graphics. The Elder Scrolls series also has a very deep background of lore, but you also don't have to know the lore to play Skyrim. 


I think coming up with a solid reason for players to try the game is an important first step. Even if you do that, though, you can still very easily fall into the trap where your players start asking "why am I spending so much time here? what am I doing?" All games can fall into that trap, but I think open world games are particularly susceptible because you can have stretches of time where your player isn't doing anything, not even quests or grinding. On the other hand, depending on how the game is balanced, grinding might start to eclipse the actual quests. If a player has to go somewhere for a quest, but they're too low-level, they could either quit because the reward isn't worth the effort or because they get frustrated trying to get around grinding. 


And you've also got to keep it all fresh, since the player can move from place to place as they like. If they come to City B last, and it's still using the by-the-numbers introduction as every other city, then it gets really boring. Cities also have to be diversified, extensively, so they don't just blur together and there are reasons your player may want to check them out. 


So the general thought I'm getting is that you're talking about a ratio of grinding to quests, and to balance that. The cons and pros really helped out.


The trouble I'm having at the moment is I guess I lost momentum in the writing department since it was all programming and drawing for a while. Now I've gotta make npcs lives, and it's challenging me to know the lore of the world whereas in the main story a lot of that information could be left out. 


The thing that I saw Skyrim doing well is when you got close enough to an npcs region they would actually approach you, instead of you having to go and find them. The whole npc approaches you thing had to be one of the most well thought out parts of it all. Unfortunately, I haven't really played too many other open world games, as I prefer story driven rpgs. I think I'm trying to do more of an ff15 thing, in where it's 'semi-open world', a portion is free roaming for a while and there's a handful of things to do in the town, but I also don't want to just make it in where all of the npcs are like "hey, you there, help me find this item", which is one of the things that you mentioned. I hadn't heard of "fetch quest mechanics", that term, used before.
 

Kes

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@astracat111 


Please do not quote an entire post, it is not necessary and doing so makes it tedious to scroll down the page.  If you want to quote a short section to reply to specifically, that's fine.  If you want to make clear exactly who you are replying to, then the standard @username is sufficient. 


Thanks.
 

Niten Ichi Ryu

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ok, the question you really need to ask yourself first is: What are the goals of this section for the game and for the characters?


you see open world or even semi open world would not simply be: Lets creates lots of quests and let the player find his way here around. So what are your expectations of the semi open world section?
 

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