Something random I posted on a forum

On this thread, Handling character death.

Hmm, anyway, real reason I’m posting: couple of years ago I was working on a game called Project Distraction that was going to do something really radical with this.

Essentially, the game was going to completely do away with the usual RPG response to a character getting wounded in battle. Each section of the game was going to have a little subscript that dealt with the different wounded character possibilities.

Say “Ado” and “Remy” are in a party together, for example, and Remy got injured in battle. Depending on the situation the characters were in, it would trigger a plot event and try to write the situation into the game. There was this one section where they were trying to find some bombs that had been set in a building, and in that case Ado would just tell her to try to make her own way out while he continued on – or in another section they’re both trapped and trying to get out of somewhere, and if one character got injured it would trigger a subquest where the injured character would lie against a wall somewhere while the other one looked for some medicine…

And so on. The game would also remember things that happened, and adjust specific scenes of the game respectively – like in the first case above, instead of a celebratory scene at the end, Remy would spend a while moping about how she just got in the way.

In certain scenes, getting injured in battle would mean that a character would die permanently. And then every so often for the rest of the game, the other characters would reminisce about them.

I hoped this approach would make the player feel like they’re playing a game where the ending hadn’t really been decided. Like anything could happen.

I guess it’s probably obvious enough why I never went ahead with this –
(1) It was way too much work. I worked out that it would involve at least tripling the amount of dialogue that I’d have to write.
(2) It became impossibly complicated when considering multiple characters.
(3) It would have meant that good players would see very little of the game’s interesting side – in fact, if the game was any good, it would mean that players would replay the game killing off random characters at certain points just to see what would happen, which wouldn’t have been a good thing.
(4) There was a real danger that the game *wouldn’t* have been any good, and that this mechanic would have turned the game from something entertaining into a complete chore.

Still. I wonder if it’s worthwhile making a minigame on this basis? An hour long RPG that did this might be a fun experiment… 🙂

[yeah, sorry, it’s a bit rushed – I’ll clean it up later]


3 Comments so far

  1. Josiah Tobin on May 15th, 2007

    Wow! That’s a really cool idea, though I can see what you mean with the flaws you mentioned… If there was some way to make it work, though, that’d be an amazing game to play.


  2. icecube on May 15th, 2007

    Might work really well for a miniature game, you’re right. At some level, I like the idea of a rpg where you’re not necessarily “rewarded” storywise for winning battles or for doing anything in particular (I grew up on god games, though…).

  3. Terry on May 15th, 2007

    I’ve been thinking about a short RPG where you play as the villains, and to win you have to kill off all your characters.

    …and I think I just spoiled the hook of the game. Hmm. Oh well 🙂

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