P&C RPGs - Chapter 6, "What Did You Say ?"

P&C RPGs - Chapter 6, "What Did You Say ?"

A Chapter by dw817
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When developing your own RPG or RPG Maker, please consider the absolute importance of being able to recall what it is you are supposed to be doing and where it is you need to be doing it.

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PROSE & COMMS OF RPGS
Chapter 6: "What Did You Say ?"

Some details, ideas, and musings I've had experiencing effective RPGs and RPG Makers

© April Written by David Wicker
Please do not reprint without permission


It's time now to focus on the most important aspect of any game with any kind of plot.

That is, messages.

No adventure game would be complete without some degree of messages to relay to the player. Whereas it could a lowly serf from a village or the high and mighty King of the castle himself.

Nothing whets the appetite of a player more than a well-thought out story and plot.

And that's fine. But what did early adventure games do and say when you came back to them later - and you forgot what they said to begin with ?

"Why are you back here ?"
"Go and do what I told you to !"
"There's nothing further for you here !"

The list goes on and on. And suffice it to say, those statements above are not very helpful.

No, when developing your own RPG or RPG Maker, please consider the absolute importance of being able to recall what it is you are supposed to be doing and where it is you need to be doing it.



Some games, like Arabian Nights for the SNES use a diary to keep you appraised of what you've done and haven't.

This is better than not at all but - wouldn't it make more sense to actually recall word-for-word what was spoken ?

That means even unimportant text would be recorded.

So you might talk to the King for the first time and he says, "Hail and well met, Warrior ! I have a task for you and your reward will be great ! Go now to the Tower Of Mist and slay the wyveryn there. Bring me back his ruby-red jeweled eyes as proof."

If you talk to him again he could say, "What ? Why are you here ! Go now and do as I have told you !"

Fortunately most modern adventure games and RPGs no longer do this. But they may repeat what they said. And, that's good. But still not as good as total recall of every word spoken to you. You could bring up a menu option called, "Recall." Not just helpful to the player but a Worldbuilder building an adventure in your RPGMaker - and the following might appear.

. . .

0036min ago ... [*] "Hail and well met, Warrior ! I have a task for you and your reward will be great ! Go now to the Tower Of Mist and slay the wyveryn there. Bring me back his ruby-red jeweled eyes as proof."

0031min ago ... [*] "What ? Why are you still here ! Go now and do as I have told you !"

0002min ago ... [*] "Congratulations, warrior, you have indeed felled the guardian wyveryn ! Take this gold key and the contents of my treasure are yours !"

. . .

Where the "[*]" could represent the icon of the person speaking, like in this case, the King.

This method of recall would not just be useful for main quests but sub-quests as well. Those quests you go on that are not actually part of completing the game but can build - if you'll pardon the word, character in your character.

It is suggested that the player go on many sub-quests to strengthen themselves, to find new and rare weapons and armor, and possibly meet new companions along the way.



What better way to recall where you need to go and what to do than "Total Recall."

Now another method of letting the player remember what they need to be doing is to paraphrase. That is, someone will speak to the player once and give them the "long" edition. If you speak to them again later, they merely give you the short edition. Like this:

[Jester] Oh ho ! Ah ha ! I have a secret, yes I do ! Search behind the King's throne for a real treat !

The next time you talk to the Jester, you would get this.

[Jester] Search behind the King's throne for a real treat !

This can be accomplished by using a numeric flag for every possible person that speaks. The number could represent the sentence number that they speak the NEXT time you talk to them. So they do not just spout the exact same thing the first time you talk to them.

Instead it would skip a few sentences, and get to the meat, what the player may have forgotten and needs to be reminded of. S2 does this, for instance.
. . .

Alright. Let's focus on another problem seen in both old and new RPGs alike. Let's say that you needed to collect a talisman from a particular dungeon.

Well, thorough fellow that you are you have searched all 8-levels of it, unlocked every door, cleaned out every treasure, defeated every monster, and set off every switch - there is absolutely nothing left in the dungeon.

Except that it is still there. It is possible a forgetful player days later may absent-mindedly enter that same dungeon later, thinking maybe they forgot something. But how can you tell ?



Odyssey The Compleat Apventure for the Apple ][ had a clever way of dealing with this. Once you had discovered a tomb, temple, crypt, dungeon, or tower, you would search it completely - right then, and afterwards leave. You would then get the message:

The entrance SEALS BEHIND YOU as you leave.

The advantage of this ? If you come across it later, it will say the entrance has been sealed - letting the player know that they had indeed searched everything in there and nothing remains. A good method of Odyssey.

I suspect however the main reason for this particular game was limited RAM and programming space. As you could only search a structure once and when you were done, it locked it up. There was no way to partially search one structure, then go to another. You either didn't enter or you searched thoroughly, where the entrance always sealed behind you afterwards.

To my knowledge only Odyssey for the Apple ][ did this. No other adventure or RPG I have seen had this behavior - which is a shame as there are a great many wonderful RPGs out there for all platforms that allowed the player to enter and search a structure long after every treasure was taken and all the monsters defeated ...

No, in all of these games it would be up to the player to not re-enter the same structure again, that is, if they were convinced there was nothing more to be found.

. . .

Back on the line of messages, let's talk for a moment about foreign languages. You obviously reach a greater target audience if your game is bilingual or even knows three or more languages.

A simple way to handle this would be to have a large text file labeled "language.txt" for instance.

In it, you have multiple languages for interface messages for instance. The initial could be in English and the remainder defined by 2-characters to show which language it is in.

For instance. Let's take a simple phrase, "Gold pieces." In the language.txt file, it could appear in this text file as data:

ID: GP
EN: "Gold pieces"
ES: "piezas de oro"
FR: "pièces d'or"

Where ID represents a 2-character identification mark of the word or phrase you are giving the languages for. "EN" for English, "ES" for Spanish, and "FR" for French, the phrase or word delimited by quotes.

. . .

That's all for today ! Next week the chapter will be called, "Atmospheric Ambience" and will focus on how to make not just your dungeons but castles, towns, forests, really anywhere - have more atmosphere to them. To put the player right there, using a series of audio and video signals to add to the ambience of the area.

Until then, bye for now ...






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