What is an RPG? (Part 1)

I have been working for a very long time on the basics of a framework within Unity to support RPGs.  It really only covers the bare essentials and isn’t too specific right now.  It is mostly the nuts and bolts of stuff needed to get anything else done.  Think of it as building the operating system needed to actually write an application and you will get an idea of what I am talking about.

Anyway, I have recently been researching what an RPG actually is, trying to define what it is that I want to build as an “application” on top of my “operating system”.  I discovered that wikipedia has a great CRPG entry that really covers it all.

I would like the AOS to be unique, but accessible, and very straightforward to play.  I want it to be very simple and not have too many numbers to decipher or too many decision points to deal with.  Traditional RPGs have way to many stats, abilities, spells etc. that take far to long to understand – flipping through manuals trying to decide what to spend your experience points on just destroys a game that is trying to deliver an experience.

I have always envisioned something that is rich in story and characters.  The central character is predefined, but has optional aspects defined at the beginning and throughout the game by the player.  This central character, the ways in which it is customized, and the primary combat mechanics are all intertwined with the story.  What the character can do and how they grow must reinforce the story.

The central character in AOS is going to be part of the enforcement arm of a governing council of mages.  Specifically a revered member of an elite and often feared caste of warrior magi who use enchanted weapons and armor, combined with all manner of offensive and defensive magic.  Essentially the player is starting out where in most RPGs they end.  Being a member of this caste, how they fight, and how they are feared and despised because of this power is going to be a central aspect of the story.

I have intended AOS to be real-time, but not action oriented, meaning there will be combat like an action RPG, but it isn’t going to be the central theme.  For the most part the character is already very powerful at the beginning of the story and this will show in the combat.  There will be variation and advancement, but it won’t be like traditional RPGs.  The player after all is supposed to be a hero on a world saving mission, right?  Why do I want to run around killing rats to learn how to swing my sword better?  I am already an expert swordsmen and my finesse and strength would instead limit the number of zombies i can cut in half in one move.  Which fits an epic story about a hero better?

The construction of the world is another important area.  I intend to construct AOS out of small areas which become visible on the world map as the story progresses.  These are influenced by the path taken in the story and choices made and must make the world seem much bigger than it is.  Further enhancing this, everything must be very organic and richly described.  All the areas and elements in them will have detailed descriptions and the things described must be of sufficient art quality to support that.  Supporting this, the game will be from a third person perspective set far enough away from the character so it is not possible to view anything closely such that the graphics maintain a rich detailed quality. 

These aspects are very important because if they are not done properly they will easily break the illusion that is hopefully created by the art and textual aspects combined.

In the next post, I want to further elaborate on where AOS fits into the gamut of RPGs.

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