What is the feature in RPG that instantly makes you interested in trying?

fish

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When looking at a RPG game, what is that one single feature that immediately makes you interested in trying it out?

(or, what do you look for as a hint of good design when looking for a rpg game to play?)

To me, it's branching dialogue with multiple consequences. imo, this is a very good way of capturing the essence of role-play. 
 
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jonthefox

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I feel like you're asking two different questions, re: "grabs your attention" vs. "makes you interested in trying it out."  

What makes me want to try out a game is if it fits into the style/theme/genre that I find personally enjoyable.  This would either be D&D style, Diablo style, medieval realism, etc..   Not into modern stuff, futuristic stuff, super high fantasy stuff, cartoonish/anime stuff, etc..  It's just my personal aesthetic.

 I also prefer games that are innovative and different (without being overly complex) in their approach to combat and gameplay.  In other words:  I don't want "grind the slimes in the forest to get higher level" or "find enough potions or gold to buy potions before the boss fight" to be the essential game strategies and gameplay experiences.   Don't make me fight the same enemies over and over, and don't make the battles just a series of spamming attack or just one or two abilities.  Make battles less frequent but make them challenging and force me to consider my strategic options.  After I am victorious, give me a breather and continue with the really engaging story and dialogue before my next challenge occurs.

The more games do this, the more I  want to keep playing them.  Of course, a game with a really good story, dialogue, music, and eventing will keep me engaged despite anything else.  Perfect example of this is Soul Sunder - I found the combat fairly oppressive, but the game captivated me so much that I didn't care and just wanted to keep going.   
 

fish

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I feel like you're asking two different questions, re: "grabs your attention" vs. "makes you interested in trying it out."  
Noted, just edited the title.

and from what you were saying, you value the story more than anything else?
 
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jonthefox

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Hmm I don't know if I'd phrase it like that; I could love a game even with no story if the gameplay was really great.  On the other hand, even if I didn't like the gameplay, a perfect storm of good story/characters/dialogue/music could compel me to overlook other things about the game (like the gameplay) that I don't like.

Since you changed your topic specifically to "trying a game out" I'd say the game fitting into my aesthetic is the biggest thing.  If the screenshots and characters look to me like something from a D&D or Medieval Dark Ages type of world, that's what gets me interested. I also like when the game looks simple, functional, and intutiive, rather than having to learn a complex magic/skill system based on complicated lore.   
 

Mellye

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Since we're talking specifically about RPGs: having a tactically interesting combat.

Nothing kills my desire to play a RPG quicker than seeing that it has uninteresting combat or combat in which success is determined by grind instead of tactics. The game would need to be completely outstanding in pretty much every other aspect to compensate for that.
 
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Accendor

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To me, it's branching dialogue with multiple consequences. imo, this is a very good way of capturing the essence of role-play. 
Same here. And I mean REAL consequences, not BS the walking dead or life is strange consequences.

Also I really dislike some forms of combat system (e.g.the Valkyrie Profile: Lennth one, Star Ocean or the newer Final Fantasy Ones). So if a game has such a combat system it must find another way to persuade me.
 

Matseb2611

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I'm exactly the same. Choice and consequence often piques my interest, but it is also something that's hard to execute well, and I think there are more games out there that have done it badly than those that have done it well. Still, if the game promises on that and there aren't any features that instantly turn me off, then the game gets wishlisted (on Steam) almost instantly.

I am also a sucker for sci-fi, particularly cyberpunk subgenre, so a game being of that theme instantly gets my attention too (even though this is not mechanics related).
 

NichG

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For me, when I'm looking at a new game and deciding if I want to find out more, I try to find a screenshot of the UI. To me, I can get a lot of feeling for what the gameplay experience is going to be like based on what the developer decides should be shown to the player at all (or almost all) times. I can quickly survey whether there might be interesting game mechanics (elements whose use I can't immediately identify with other games I've played), what kinds of choices the player will be making and what kinds of things the player will be doing, etc.

Ironically, it seems like there's a big trend towards hiding the UI in screenshots in advertising material.

Anyhow, things like 'story' or 'branching choices' and the like are really hard to show during a 15 second glance at a couple of screenshots. So while they're important, they usually can't really catch my attention in the first place. Strong, consistent theme can be shown though - if everything looks spooky and shadowy, or alien and weird, or surreal and reality-bending, that can come across in screenshots if done well. And that can provide a big hook for my attention if its a theme I'm interested in.
 

Mellye

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Ironically, it seems like there's a big trend towards hiding the UI in screenshots in advertising material.
I noticed that too, and I find it really perplexing.

Taking a tangent here away from RPG games, this is something I first noticed the most in Total War games. Their official marketing screenshots are almost all of battle close ups with hidden UI. For one of the TW games I couldn't find a single screenshot of their Campaign Map UI in their official store page (and that's the whole point of those games, for me).
 

fish

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Ironically, it seems like there's a big trend towards hiding the UI in screenshots in advertising material.
I think a reason for that is partly because UI tends to look intrusive as advertising material. It just looks like something that doesn't belong to the game world itself and somewhat immersion breaking. When I share my ss of my rpg adventure with my friends for example, I'd turn off the UI if that option is available. 

However, I agree that it IS a crucial element of the game. Poorly designed UI can indeed ruin an otherwise awesome experience, so typically when I look at advertising screenshots for a game, I prefer to see a mix of both: ones that look cinematic as well as the ones taking from an actual screen that the player would see when playing.
 

Numieth

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If we're talking about RPGs in general and not just Maker games, and if you're only asking for the one feature to make me try a game, then it's definitely perspective.

I can't play games in first person due to motion sickness setting in, so anything that allows me to switch to third person view or is otherwise not in first person to begin with, I'm 100% more inclined to play. :'D

But if I can add more (which I will now anyway), then it's interesting characters and stories. I'm not very inclined to play games with anime tropes as heroes and stories I've basically played who knows how many times before. But if the characters look interesting in the screenshots and sound good in the description (as well as the plot of course), I want to find out more about these people and what their deal is. Basically for me story tops gameplay. ^^" 

She said, while recently creating a totally plain main char. orz B-but it's for story reasons, so that's totally okay, right? ...yeah I'll throw those tomatoes on myself now.
 
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lolshtar

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The protagonist needs to be very interesting, else I'll quickly lose interest unless the gameplay is really good.
 

The Stranger

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I'm very interested in choice and consequence games with multiple playstyles and routes through levels. The genre doesn't matter to me, so long as those three things are present.
 
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To me, it's branching dialogue with multiple consequences. imo, this is a very good way of capturing the essence of role-play. 
Same thing here. It takes a lot of dedication and effort to actually create something like this and if you ever tried to make it, you know how easy is to miss something and go off rails.

Another thing is seeing character arcs and watching them develop themselves either on their own (through the course of the main game) or with your help (as in side-quests).

Gameplay wise having lots of choices and making every character useful on their own accord in battles is always great.

I like to see balance and that you have to actually use good strategy to win, especially during boss fights.
 

Nirwanda

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I'm really attracted to character customization, I like systems that let me meaningfully tinker with characters skills and stats in one way or another. Promises of a sense of discovery also lure me in (it could be anything: numerous loot, freedom and choices or a particularly well crafted world, for example)
 

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A couple of the things that are very likely to make me want to play/buy an RPG are:

  • A combat system highly steeped in skill and/or strategy, especially Action Battle Systems
  • Slice-of-life segments and mechanics
  • Multiple paths through the game
 

trouble time

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For me, I actually don't like that much customization in my games, it tends to mean the game's challenges have to be made "general" rather than specific. If there is customization I like to choose a class at the begininng of the game and I'm actually not too fond of being able to change it.

I'm also really fond of characters and settings. For story, I tend to read a synopsis before playing anyway to see if it's worth my time.
 

Milennin

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For RPG Maker games there isn't a single feature I could think of that would make it a must-play for me.

One of my main draws however is when the game shows it has put time and effort into the combat system, and that the developer shows that he knows what he's doing. By that I don't mean that it needs to look completely different and unique, it just needs to have something more than just copy over the RTP skills and enemies. For combat I prefer a simple, but at the same time still having a good layer of depth, turn-based system. I want access to a variety of skills that allow me to play different styles in combat, but without a single style being overly superior over the others. I want my turns and skill choices to matter in combat, not grind away HP big bars and auto-attack regular enemies. This also ties in with the game's difficulty. I don't like games that try too hard to be extremely difficult, but at the same time they shouldn't be so easy that they're practically impossible to lose either. A decent challenge with a good degree of forgiveness, but still avoiding hand-holding.

Unfortunately, it's generally hard to judge a game's combat system and difficulty by just looking at its screenshots or reading a short description in a project thread.
 

TheGamedawg

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When a game has multiple characters that you can mix-and-match in your team.  Good examples being Pokemon, Lisa, Ni No Kuni, Eternal Eyes, and the Dragon Warrior Monsters games.  These games encourage creativity and have a great amount of replay value by design.
 

Tai_MT

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Me?  Personally?  Two things.  Unique story (as in, new take on old themes, strange premise, etcetera) and character customization.  If I'm going to be spending 20 hours in your RPG or more, I like to be able to customize my characters to my particular needs and wants.  I don't mind a general character and a general playstyle, but I like the option to tweak those things a bit.  I like tweaking my equipment if at all possible as well (so long as there's plenty of variety for tweaking, instead of just a linear progression of tweaking.  I prefer choosing what element my sword is over making my sword do 2 more damage in terms of tweaking).  I like tweaking my Skills/Spells if possible as well.  I also generally LOVE skill trees with EXCLUSIVE options (as in, if you pick this, you can't have this).  Well, I prefer skill webs of that nature, but trees are fine too.

As for the "unique story".  I just like to try to experience something new and interesting.  It's how I decide what movies to watch, what TV series to watch, what books to read, what anime to watch, what board games to play, what video games to play, and sometimes even what food to eat.  I like new experiences, or new takes on old experiences.  "You play the villain" isn't enough for me.  "You have been given $10,000,000 and can't spend it on yourself, but are given a phone that lets you buy goods or services immediately or later on down the line, with the expressed intent that you must spend that money to make the world a better place, how you see fit...  But, you have competition, and someone has to win the game, so whomever doesn't actually succeed dies...  Oh, and one of the competition is actually someone who takes care of people breaking the rules or causing mayhem, but you don't get to know who..."  That...  That I would play.  In fact, it's an anime I've watched.

I like stories that break molds and defy cliches and tropes.  I'd like a story like "You Are Not The Hero".  It's a game I'd play if not for the "mini-game" like gameplay the game exudes.  I'm not a fan of mini-games in RPGs (to the point that I wish they didn't exist), but the story of that game seems pretty fun and probably even interesting and entertaining to me.

First, I look for games that defy the ordinary in terms of story and plot.  Then, I look to see what I can customize (if it even matters to me at that point... which if the premise is interesting enough, it might not).  That's when you've sold me.  If all your game consists of is "save the world from the big bad", then I'm just not going to be interested, unfortunately.  If the game is "Who actually IS the big bad that we need to save the world from?".  Well, that might be interesting enough for me to take a look.
 

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