RM Hack’n Slash – Developing Concept, Part 1

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Hello, I’ve done some more work on my first original RPG Maker project. I’ve setup a couple of project pages where I’ve put the below information for future reference (future steps will of course be recorded there as well). To remind you of what this is, here it is in a nutshell:

The game is a short hack’n slash RPG about a group of mercenaries sent to reclaim a haunted town. Gameplay will be typical of most turn-based JRPG & RPG Maker games. As they explore the town, they will have to survive random encounters with spirits & the odd special encounter.

Following the development framework I assembled, the most immediate process will go like this:

  • Develop Concept
    1. User stories & requirements
    2. Tasks & analysis
    3. Design theme
    4. Dialogue Diagrams
  • Physical Prototype

It is easy to put something together in RPG Maker & skip the physical prototype entirely, but I think it’s worth going through the process & getting some practise. I’ll explain each of these steps, & any new future ones, as I go.

Let’s start with user stories. A user story goes something like this – “as a role, I want to be able to do stuff so that reasons happen.”

For better examples of what they are, here’s my list of user stories:

As a developer, I want…

  • To focus on the four classic fantasy classes (warrior, mage, thief, healer) to keep the design simple & familiar.

As a player, I want…

  • Combat to rely on tactics & learning about enemies (instead of leveling & grinding) so that combat remains tense & interesting throughout the game.
  • To face a variety of unique enemies in various combinations so combat isn’t predictable.
  • To be able to customize my character’s equipment to make the characters better suit my own play style.
  • To be able to save at any time, so I’m not forced to lose progress for making a mistake.
  • There to be lost items, secrets & minor optional missions so that exploring the town feels more rewarding.
  • To learn about the town I’m mercenaring in so I can be more immersed in the game world.
  • A safe zone where I can heal my characters & exchange items.

I even went a step further & applied it to the player classes:

As a warrior, I want…

  • To deal good consistent damage to our enemies so we can defeat them easily.
  • To have good armour so that I can stay alive on the front lines.
  • To protect other members of the party so they stay alive.

As a mage, I want…

  • To use powerful spells so that I can turn the battle in our favour in a single action.
  • To enchant allies & enemies with various effects to keep combat under control.

As a thief, I want…

  • To perform sneak attacks to put our enemies at a disadvantage.
  • To steal items off of enemies to deprive them of something they could use against us.
  • To boost my agility to dodge enemy attacks.

As a healer, I want…

    • To heal & resurrect the other members so that we can continue the game.
    • To cure the other members of negative effects so we don’t have to stay penalized throughout the game.
    • To buff the other members so that they can perform their own roles better.

According to my polytech notes, the rule of thumb for how many user stories to have is 4-10 per iteration. Although I have about 19 stories here, I feel like I’ve left something out. Oh well, I can always return to this later.

If we break these down, the requirements become:

  • 4 player characters & classes
    • Warrior abilities focus on: dealing damage & protection
    • Mage abilities focus on: powerful spells & enchantments that keeps combat under control
    • Thief abilities focus on: deprivation & agility
    • Healer abilities focus on: restoration & buffing
  • Tactical combat
  • Items & equipment
  • Save feature (already implemented as part of RPG Maker)
  • Several different enemies & 1+ boss(es)
  • 1+ Areas where enemies can be encountered
  • 1+ Safe areas (player camps?)

In the next post I’ll break these requirements down into tasks & analyse them.

Even though I have a plan, a framework, & a design book, I still feel like I’m stumbling through the dark. I can only assume this is natural since I don’t have anyone to hold my hand through this. I can only trust that the resources I have will lead towards me creating a decent game.

Farewell.

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3 thoughts on “RM Hack’n Slash – Developing Concept, Part 1

  1. I like the part about tactics & learning instead of grinding, just keep in mind you will need to alot of play testing to validate that the tactics are sound. Also, you will probably want someone who is an expert in tactics of similar games to playtest your game.

    I think you are on a good path to making a great game, especially since you are doing alot of pre-planning before you actually start coding. Just remember that any good game requires several cycles of iteration to refine things, and your documents are only a starting point.

    Try to let the game evolve into something thats even more fun that you originally planned (:

    • Unfortunately I don’t really have any play-testers, so I’ll have to see what I can do on my own (far from ideal but its something). For me this project is about learning the process of making an RPG more than anything else so I don’t mind if I end up with something a bit lacklustre; I can always do better with future ideas.

      I fully agree on the importance of iteration. The book I have recommends you create & iterate on a physical prototype before creating & iterating on a software prototype. It’s only after all of this that you actually begin production. The idea is that by the time you reach the production stage you should have a solid game instead of just a concept you hope is good.

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