Youngest possible age for an RPG

Stefanos

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I was thinking of making an RPG for my young cousin who just turned 4. His interests right now primarily revolve around firefighters and firetrucks, and I was thinking of designing a very simple RPG based on this. Then I got around to thinking that he cannot read, yet. Once he learns to read, what other skills are needed to play an RPG of the simplest kind and at what age are such skills acquired?

Anyone responding to this thread is also free to suggest ideas to incorporate into such an RPG!
 

HopeFragment

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I think basic arithmetic isn't a requirement, but it would make the game easier, such as being able to tell when a healing spell would be needed based on how much damage the opponent deals relative to your HP. (My first RPG by the way was Pokemon Yellow at 7 years old)
 

bgillisp

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Well...I have vague memories of trying to play some RPG's on my Atari when I was around 7 or 8, never got far but managed to have fun nevertheless. Don't remember the names of any of them though.
 

Kes

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Maybe numbers wouldn't be as important as having e.g. enemy HP bars. Even a child without numeracy will be able to appreciate bars getting shorter and changing colours.

Because all the cliches will be sparklingly new, you could include some 'collectable' quests - find this, find that. You could even introduce simple numbers - find 2 of this, and 3 of that. Most children of 4 would have no difficulty with something like that. Pushing boulders would be great - as long as you design it carefully. No single activity should take too long at first.
 

AMGLime

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I started playing Final Fantasy VI on the SNES when I was around 4, but I didn't beat it until I was 6 or 7. I put a whole lot of hours into that game, and I love it even today, a lot of the fun for me when I was 4 though was I just kind of roamed around the towns looking at stuff. I find the younger kids really like visually appealing stuff, not so much like top of the line graphics, but I myself loved the FF6 style on the SNES, looked nice, was easy to see what everything was, my Niece is 7 and much the same way with the newer Pokemon games.
 

mlogan

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I think it would be possible to make an RPG a non-reading 4 year old could play. Keep it simple, use graphics like maybe flashing arrows to point out things, voice acting in place of written text, etc.

HP bars would be great, they can understand that. Yeah, I think it's doable.
 

ChampX

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I had a professor many years ago who told me her son taught himself how to read at young age so he could play the original zelda on NES. He got tired of having to call his mom over every time he got to a point that displayed text as he would have to wait awhile. Despite not being able to read, he had fun with the game so an RPG can be very engaging for young children.

Just use as many visuals as possible and where text must be used, keep it to simple text and possibly have the game read the text aloud as well.

If you are gonna use numbers for things like combat, try balancing with low numbers. A four year old will understand 15 hp far better than 200 hp as they may not even be able to count that high yet.

Young children generally respond better with the mouse over a keyboard so try having him use the mouse, though you may want to have a lower game resolution so the tiles and characters have a bigger hit box when you fullscreen the game (unless you wish to write code to expand the hit boxes).
 

Stefanos

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Thank you all for such great suggestions! I was surprised by how many I got just overnight! Some of you already know that I am not the most sophisticated developer, yet, but I can see the better part of these suggestions as easily workable!
 

10kk

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Keyword: Simple!
- Make battles extremely basic and easy where he only needs to press X to win. It's a spectacle and can be great fun to watch nice animations go off, as well as various monsters. The key is keeping it captivating and rewarding by constantly changing up monsters and anims.
- Any kind of puzzle would have to be extremely simple. Like pushing a red square onto a red square outline. . It does not have to look good, just readable.
- The world can, and should, be aggressively simple, relatively small, and very little decoration if any(outside of what defines a zone in itself). More focus on music, sound, and areas.
- Objectives are what keep the game moving along. Dialogue is too much since 4 year olds can barely read if they're lucky. Mlogan made a good point of arrows being a primary director.
- A game this simple may not even need saving.
 

AmazingKazuki

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Don't make an typical RPG at all. With battling, loot, or fantasy enemies.

Make it have life lessons as a theme, like things that are positive that you'd like your cousin to learn early. it'd be like making a children's book. Use a firefighter main character do his job, or have allies that are from other professions (like a cop or something). Have them save the day. You can, if you want to incorporate numbers, have puzzles to have the character fulfill their duty (or duties) using puzzles of all kinds. Language problems, math problems, and science problems.

Done right, it could end up being a nice learning game for more than just your cousin.
 

Lonewulf123

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Don't make an typical RPG at all. With battling, loot, or fantasy enemies.

Make it have life lessons as a theme, like things that are positive that you'd like your cousin to learn early. it'd be like making a children's book. Use a firefighter main character do his job, or have allies that are from other professions (like a cop or something). Have them save the day. You can, if you want to incorporate numbers, have puzzles to have the character fulfill their duty (or duties) using puzzles of all kinds. Language problems, math problems, and science problems.

Done right, it could end up being a nice learning game for more than just your cousin.

I really like this idea. Plus if you keep it simple and accessible, they could learn to play easily.
 

Stefanos

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Thank you for your continued suggestions and support! I am working at a snail's pace on a product that a more sophisticated developer could probably make in a day or so.

How does one add mouse functionality to something like this (as ChampX mentioned)? None of the few games I have played created here have entailed mouse functionality, though I have seen voice acting included, even though I do not yet know how to include those, either.

Health and water supply (in place of magic) bars come with the engine, but is it possible to hide the numbers?

I am thinking of having the protagonist's boss issue missions to put out fires that arise in designated buildings that should ideally appear from the outside as well to be on fire. If all the fires are extinguished inside, the outside should correspondingly revert to its original state and the boss should be ready to hand out our next mission. Also, I want a warehouse manager to give us a dictionary (that allows us to recruit another party member) only if the fires in his warehouse are put out. How do I make such events dependent on the induced absence of field enemies?

Speaking of "extinguished events", how does one prevent them from respawning once we re-enter a house? This is especially important when it comes to recruiting party members whose mysterious double appears upon re-entering. So far I have only got the events to disappear after finishing, which is the only command I see in the event command menu that relates to this issue.

With each mission, perhaps each rescued resident could provide a fire prevention tip. AmazingKazuki gave me the great idea of including a police officer, whom I have situated in a separate city, for now at least.

It may also be worth noting that I am using the LITE version.
 

Stefanos

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It also just occurred to me that warehouse puzzles might be a nice touch! For that, though, we would most probably need movable field objects.

If our one boss can issue multiple missions, does this all count as one map event? With enough "if" statements and what-not, it should, right?

There is also another issue that I have not mentioned thus far: I am making this game in Finnish (since that is what my cousin speaks). I am able to change some of the menu and script texts into Finnish, but not all of them, such as "Palo emerged", "Palo A took damage", "Kaj took no damage", "Missed!", "Juho was victorious!", "Sanakirja was found", "EXP received", and there might be others as well.
 
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Seacliff

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Consider taking tips from RPGs aimed at younger players, like Paper Mario.
-Very low numbers, making it easier to understand and calculate. IE: I have 10 HP and the enemy's attack does 1 HP, so I can survive for 10 attacks.
-Consistent numbers. There was always 100 EXP needed to level up. This was balanced by having enemies give less EXP based on your level.
-Consistent growth and well-rounded growth. The player's HP or MP always goes up by 5 every level.
-And of course, easy to understand icons. Boots meant jump, Hammer meant... hammer. Etc.
 

Stefanos

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Consider taking tips from RPGs aimed at younger players, like Paper Mario.
-Very low numbers, making it easier to understand and calculate. IE: I have 10 HP and the enemy's attack does 1 HP, so I can survive for 10 attacks.
-Consistent numbers. There was always 100 EXP needed to level up. This was balanced by having enemies give less EXP based on your level.
-Consistent growth and well-rounded growth. The player's HP or MP always goes up by 5 every level.
-And of course, easy to understand icons. Boots meant jump, Hammer meant... hammer. Etc.

Indeed I would like to be able to use such numbers. What I do not understand is how to micromanage that part. I see in the database under "Classes" some general settings involving curves and such. I love math, so you would think I should understand it, but I do not understand how they are formed in this case and how this is the best way to manage such stats. The experience curve seems to more or less make sense (though I don't understand the minimum values greater than zero), but more important are the personal parameters, for which I see only histograms that I can only control through the level input.
 
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Rukiri

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I'm going to say 6-8, the reason is quite simple as strategy, reading, and thought are involved.
In the US you probably are not reading until the 1st grade, and not proficiently anyway.
 

fizzly

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Personally I think he is too young for a games/RPGs/computer even. Wait for year or two... :)
 

mauvebutterfly

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@Stefanos If you want an even parameter curve you can set it up to automatically fill in all the levels.

For example, if you start with 100 max HP and want to gain 5 HP every level, you take 5 x 98 = 490. That gives you the amount of HP that you would gain after leveling up to level 99. Then, add your level 1 value (100 in this case) to get 590 as your value for level 99.

Under the parameter setup, set level 1 to 100, level 99 to 590, and growth type to normal. This will result in every level being an increase of 5 HP.

You can easily change the starting values as well, so if level 1 is 20 for example, level 99 would be 510.

Even if the max level in your game isn't 99, the system still requires the level 99 value to generate the curve.
 

ChampX

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How does one add mouse functionality to something like this (as ChampX mentioned)? None of the few games I have played created here have entailed mouse functionality, though I have seen voice acting included, even though I do not yet know how to include those, either.

I did not see by your profile that you are using VX Ace. I assumed you were using MV which has mouse support built in. Upon googling, this is what I found for a mouse system in VX Ace, though I never used VX Ace so I personally can't tell you how well this (or any other) mouse script does. http://www.rpgmakercentral.com/topic/3464-basic-mouse-system-addons/

Sorry about that!
 

slimmmeiske2

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It may also be worth noting that I am using the LITE version.
You won't be able to add Mouse support then. What ChampX posted above only works in the full version of Ace, not in Lite.
As for your reappearing events, selfswitches are the answer. I suggest you take a look through this.
 

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