Over the last few years I’ve been thinking about revamping my ill-fated Unreal Engine FPS-RPG project, but I figured it would be better to start again with all of the new knowledge and inspiration I had gained from working in the software industry since then.
I still wanted to create a similar project – a fantasy RPG from a first person perspective, playable solo or with friends.
A game for the RPG enthusiast.
A game for people who don’t care about min-maxing or how good their build is or how to get the best DPS possible.
A game for people who crave an adventure, not just end-game content.
Firstly, let’s lay down the inspirations I have for such a game and how I want to tie them into my game:
- Master Sword Continued – for its core gameplay; it’s a fantasy world you play in first person with your friends, fighting monsters, collecting loot, leveling weapon and magic skills.
- World of Warcraft Classic – for the sense of journey rather than destination, class identity, epic quests and teamwork aspects.
- Gothic and Gothic 2 – for the sense of guild/class identity, character progression, learning points system and handcrafted worlds, not huge worlds.
- Borderlands series – for its multiplayer structure; characters are stored on your computer, fun to co-op but not entirely necessary.
- The Elder Scrolls series – for its core gameplay; combat, RPG stats and leveling and fantasy setting.
- Neverwinter Nights – for its RPG systems and focus on RPG elements rather than boring, overly balanced gameplay.
Next, let’s discuss some specifics of the overall game design and what I want to achieve:
- Designed with co-op multiplayer in mind, but majority of content solo-able.
- Player characters are stored on the player’s own computer, but I want to have the option of having some kind of official servers in the future with characters stored on a central server to stop cheating, etc.
- If a player loads up their character in their own game/server, the game will load up the last map they were in and start them off at a safe spawn point. For a new character this will always be in a starting area.
- Large maps with few transitions to other maps – probably one central world with separate smaller maps where appropriate.
- Leveling system where players gain learning points upon leveling up and must find an appropriate trainer to spend them on stats or skills or raw health/mana.
- Primary stats of Strength, Dexterity and Intelligence which govern secondary skills.
- All players have health and mana.
- New characters are a fresh canvas – no predetermined class. Likely only human race option.
- A damage-type system split up in to physical melee damage, physical ranged damage and magic damage (which will likely be split up in to separate elemental damages).
- An equipment system with around 6 equipment slots plus weapon.
- An offhand system to equip shields and torches when using 1-handed weapons (but no dual wielding).
- Players can join a guild/faction after a certain level to train towards becoming a specific class.
- Less focus on player balance and more focus on delivering great RPG elements, even at the cost of balance.
- Very little instant gratification, but also must be careful not to have not too much repetitive grinding.
- Quest system – quests will be a mix of your traditional ‘kill X amount of Y’ and story-driven quests with the occasional choice of how you deal with the quest. I also want to have much longer epic quests for big rewards.
- Class/guild quests to build player identity.
- Solo players can recruit an NPC companion or two for tougher areas, though I can’t see myself pouring a ton of time into developing decent AI, so they would probably be useful but pretty dumb.
- Access to certain skills and spells will depend on what guild the player joins and how far they have progressed into the ranks of that guild.
- A spell system where any player can use limited-use magical devices or one-time-use scrolls with enough required intellect, but need to be the right class/guild and spend learning points to learn to cast spells without the help of items.
These are some areas that I am undecided on:
- Will there be energy/stamina or some other resource for non-magic skills? Or will pure melee players use mana for skills? Or will there be no melee/ranged skills but rather magical attacks that enhance the melee/ranged weapon and therefor use mana? Or no melee/ranged skills at all?
- How do we handle players dying? If this game was singleplayer only, we would have them reload a save. Should it respawn them at the nearest spawnpoint on the map? What should the penalties be?
- Do I want to implement professions? If so, I would want to tie this into the learning points system so a player would have to spend their learning points on being able to craft items or perform their profession services – how do I balance this successfully?
These are the guilds and classes I have in mind, a player will only be able to choose their guild once per character, but will probably be able to change classes within the guild after that:
- Church/Order: Priest and Paladin classes
- Mercenaries: Warrior and Protector classes
- Thieves: Rogue and Bandit/Pirate classes
- Druids/Hunters: Druid and Ranger classes
- Cult/Covern: Necromancer and Demonologist classes
- Mages: Pyromancer, Hydromancer and Aeromancer classes