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What makes old-school 2D RPGs like FFVI stand out as great?


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Just remembered something...

No modern day references. This is one thing that bugged me about Working Designs. In the middle of their games like Lunar, you get references to modern day people or happenings. Nothing breaks an RPG game's fantasy atmosphere like having a reference to real-world events in some sad attempt to be funny.

Leave them out, don't even think off adding them, and forget that such immersion-breaking "humor" exists. Your game will be better for it.

Exception:

Secret of Mana. But it was a form of warning about misusing natural resources...

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Just remembered something...

No modern day references. This is one thing that bugged me about Working Designs. In the middle of their games like Lunar, you get references to modern day people or happenings. Nothing breaks an RPG game's fantasy atmosphere like having a reference to real-world events in some sad attempt to be funny.

Leave them out, don't even think off adding them, and forget that such immersion-breaking "humor" exists. Your game will be better for it.

I think the problem with real life references is that it's an uncomfortable way to 'break the 4th wall'. It is talking to the players rather than the character, and that breaks the mood of the entire game for a split second. Hey, sometimes it works (the consistant use of 'Biggs and Wedge' in the FF games is pretty neat - even though it's a reference to the Star Wars franchise), but generally it breaks the mood the game tries so hard to set up.

Personally, though, I'd like to play a game that intentionally breaks the 4th wall and really integrates the break into the story effectively. It'd be pretty insane (Eternal Darkness did it to some extent, but that was integrated into the mechanics, not the story), but would certainly mess with the players mind.

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Look at FFVI, now. The characters push the story perfectly...

I know this thread is using FFVI as a "template" of sorts, but, not to be a killjoy, I thought the idea of having SO MANY playable characters spread everything way too thin, and made many of their stories and their depth of character somewhat shallow. (All I've really read about the many characters in FFVI was that it was a good thing. I was always surprised that I seemed to be the odd man out.) For your RPG, avoid tons and tons of playable characters, and stick to maybe six or so. Quality over quantity.

Everything needs to be working in harmony with everything else

I think this statement sums a lot up very nicely. :smile: Also, I may be interested in helping as well, like Gario said. I was thinking of doing one on my own, as I said before, but I'd rather not spend THAT much time. However, a collaborative effort sounds more feasible. Anyway, let us know...

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I know this thread is using FFVI as a "template" of sorts, but, not to be a killjoy, I thought the idea of having SO MANY playable characters spread everything way too thin, and made many of their stories and their depth of character somewhat shallow. (All I've really read about the many characters in FFVI was that it was a good thing. I was always surprised that I seemed to be the odd man out.) For your RPG, avoid tons and tons of playable characters, and stick to maybe six or so. Quality over quantity.

But VARY THEIR ABILITIES!

Its never fun to have Warrior with a sword, Warrior with an axe, bad warrior with daggers nd light armor and Mage 1 Mage 2.

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I know this thread is using FFVI as a "template" of sorts, but, not to be a killjoy, I thought the idea of having SO MANY playable characters spread everything way too thin, and made many of their stories and their depth of character somewhat shallow.

You know, I sort of agree. They're pretty well developed, for how many there are, though. I think Chrono Cross is an even better example of the 'quantity over quality' theme. Yes, too many can hurt more than help, keeping it down to 6 - 8 isn't a bad idea.

Rule of thumb - Every 4 hours of game play can afford another character. That's enough time to develop each of them.

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Just remembered something...

No modern day references. This is one thing that bugged me about Working Designs. In the middle of their games like Lunar, you get references to modern day people or happenings. Nothing breaks an RPG game's fantasy atmosphere like having a reference to real-world events in some sad attempt to be funny.

Leave them out, don't even think off adding them, and forget that such immersion-breaking "humor" exists. Your game will be better for it.

I liked those jokes, personally.

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Its never fun to have Warrior with a sword, Warrior with an axe, bad warrior with daggers nd light armor and Mage 1 Mage 2.

Though this is true, at the same time, having at least a little overlap isn't a terrible thing. I recall FFIX, where three of the four party slots were basically required (Zidane was literally required, Dagger was the only white mage for most of the game [and by the time you get Eiko she's not worth levelling up to Dagger's standards], Vivi is the only black mage in the game), which means that there's relatively little in the way of strategy as far as deciding who to use goes.

I'm going to go ahead and say that that's the ONLY flaw that game has.

Concur'd. Shrink the number of PCs down to a reasonable level (as in, less than 10) and give the remainder a bunch of double/triple tech skills, and that game would have been damn near perfect. (Cue "zomg but it wasn't Chrono Trigger 2!")

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I don't know, I thought Disgaea's brand of humor was awesome (the first time around, anyway). Games that don't take themselves seriously are sometimes the most fun.

Disgaea has the benefit of being more modern and sci-fi in its setting (despite all appearances). Lunar doesn't have that same benefit, so I can understand the idea that it breaks immersion. I still laughed, though.

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Quote:

Originally Posted by LuketheXjesse viewpost.gif

I'm going to go ahead and say that that's the ONLY flaw that game has.

Concur'd. Shrink the number of PCs down to a reasonable level (as in, less than 10) and give the remainder a bunch of double/triple tech skills, and that game would have been damn near perfect. (Cue "zomg but it wasn't Chrono Trigger 2!")

What can I say; that pretty much sums up Chrono Cross right there... :)
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I don't think 2-D RPG's really need to be separated out from RPG's in general. The things that make RPG's will always make RPG's good. An interesting setting, good characters and story, and a fun system with a satisfying feeling of progression.

I personally find "old" RPG's pretty laughable as far as characters and story go. FF6 is about the oldest RPG I can think of with decent characters with something approaching real-world emotional issues. I mean, FF4 and Chrono Trigger had great stories when I was 10-11. But after reading a lot of books the story is mostly a yawn-fest in those old games. I go back and play those games for nostalgia, quality battle systems, and music really. Of course, I'm a big book snob, so I think the only games with stories approaching "quality" is The World Ends with You and Final Fantasy Tactics.

My current favorite RPG (and video game) is The World Ends with You, a 2-D RPG from last year by Square. It has a good story (with a real-world moral), amazing battle system, and while a little low on stats, really customizable so the game can be as hard or easy as you want. But none of those qualities are the exclusive territory of 2-D RPG's. Unlike some game genres, RPG's are fairly graphics agnostic.

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Funny, it looks like we've meandered around this forum without addressing the original question that well... What makes old-school 2d RPGs like FFVI stand out as great?

I don't think 2-D RPG's really need to be separated out from RPG's in general.
I agree with your point, dude, so I'm trying to address both 2-D and 3-D games equally, here (give them 3-D games some love), but at the same time, address 2-D games, as well.

There are a few factors that can help older games stand out...

1. Are there nostalgic forces that drive us to play them again?

Sometimes, it has nothing to do with how great the game is (or was). I mean, a guilty pleasure of mine is to whip out the ol' Nintendo and play Amagon... Believe me, if you want a frustrating and terrible game, that is it. However, there is a guilty pleasure playing and imagining how frustrated my older brothers would get playing that thing. It's a sweet, cherished memory of mine that gives me enjoyment that has nothing to do with the games greatness. Seriously, this is a factor to consider. If you like something for it's nostalgic value, then disregard it when trying to approach the question objectively...

2. How well did they use their resources for their time? Were they innovative, or simply using the older resources to the best of their abilities?

Think about it. It's obviously not fair to compare FFVII to the original FF, simply because they both used different platforms with different capabilities. Both are, from a technical point of view, astounding pieces of work due to the breakthroughs they caused during their time. The original FF was the most extensive RPG on the NES console at the time and allowed for a customization level unheard of (naming all four of your characters and choosing who they are? WOW!!). FFVII was one of the first jumps into the 3d RPG era, so it was mind boggling when you first played it (especially their FMV's - which are terrible by todays standard, but great for the time).

On the other hand, there are games like FFVI, where it may not have technically done anything new, but did take the older ideas to their farthest limits, creating a very polished game in the end.

3. How well did everything integrate and make a cohesive experience?

I mentioned this before, and I'll mention it again. Everything must be at the same level of mastery. If the music and the music, graphics and gameplay are awesome, but the story is terrible, it'll bring the entire game down (Think Legend of Mana, here - who would dare say that it did the series justice? Wonderful music, graphics and gameplay, but the lack of a cohesive story was unforgivable...). If every element is mediocre, the game will be mediocre. If most of the elements are great, but one element is terrible, the entire game will feel pretty terrible, overall. So many games suffer from this affliction, and move on into obscurity...

4. How timeless is the experience?

Granted, this may be subject to opinion, but seriously, how many people will ever forget when Aerith died in FFVII? That moment in that game is unforgettable, and is, in fact one of the great moments of video game history. Would moments in a game affect the youth in the future the same way it affected us in the past? If so, then you've probably got a classic in you hands :)

As you want to make something on RPG maker, all of these ideas apply to old 2-D RPGs and newer 3-D RPGs equally, so take what you need from this.

I hope this gives pretty clear insight on the older RPG tradition and why people still play some of them today (and is quite a bit of overkill to your first post, but probably answers what I look for in a game quite comprehensively :))

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I've thought about this before (and it doesn't just apply to RPGs) - but what makes a lot of the Snes games great?

I think it has to do with their limitations. While new games are great, they're great for different reasons...probably for what they -can- do. Older games are often great (and remain with our consciousness) because of what they lack, and subsequently what gaps we have to fill in with our imaginations. Do you ever notice how our conceptions of classic game characters often differ from promotional game-art etc? I think a level of gamer subjectivity exists with old games that lacks in newer games.

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The standard turn-based, menu-based gameplay in both oldschool RPGs and current RPGs is pretty lame. But I still find the older games playable because they're short enough that the lameness of the gameplay doesn't become overwhelming, as it does in the modern bloated 50+ hour vaguely interactive anime episodes we've been getting.

I had always imagined that JRPGs would take advantage of new technology to expand their gameplay beyond being nothing but a "battle system." That's just one small part of what makes a real RPG, not the single defining feature. But instead, all they've really done is take the same old games we've been playing since forever, made them a bit flashier, and stretched their already thin gameplay even thinner...

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Well, I'd just have to say that with 2D you're limited in what you see, and when you're limited with what you see you're more willing to fill in the gaps with your mind. With games that are trying to look like reality you lose that imagination part of the experience... you see everything that is in this virtual world. I mean, I know the older games I've played that were really limited have better experiences than games that SHOULD be better because they're newer and 3D and look impressive visually.

Sure core game mechanics are important.

But really... maybe it's all just nostalgia. Playing a game that is REALLY good when compared to things in its time makes it REALLY stand out at that one single point in time. And that stays with us.

I don't want to say it's all nostalgia, because a lot of good games are inherently good, but ... I have to assume that maybe in a few of us that's how it works, and is why we feel that way about our favorite games.

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All these replies are great. One thing that really seems to be going well in this thread is that almost everyone's ideas agree with each other. Your replies really make me want to see this thing through. After the story gets flesh out, it's gonna become much easier to progress. I'm gonna try and keep all of your ideas in mind while keeping my own creativity intact. I can't wait for the day I can present a demo to all of you. ^_^_^_^

I may be interested in helping as well, like Gario said. I was thinking of doing one on my own, as I said before, but I'd rather not spend THAT much time. However, a collaborative effort sounds more feasible. Anyway, let us know...

While I'm not interested in getting a whole team together (because I'm afraid things might fall apart) I could use help on one aspect at a time and since right now I'm trying to get the story completely ironed out before anything else, I'd love some help with just that. I have some crazy ideas about the atmosphere I'm trying to create, so I'd want any help that got recruited to keep my ideas intact. Anyone who's interested PM me.

I don't think 2-D RPG's really need to be separated out from RPG's in general.

I mostly agree. But I wanted to see if I can find the answer to why we would play an old school 2D game in an era where something like Xenosaga has already come out.

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I think the best RPGs are the ones that adopt very strong settings or involve the player's skills as a thinker. Take a look at the list below.

Super Mario RPG

Terranigma

Earthbound

Alundra

Lufia II

Valkyrie Profile

Final Fantasy VI

Secret of Mana

Chrono Trigger

Star Ocean

Tales of Phantasia

Link to the Past

Metal Saga

Harvest Moon

Star Trek: 25th Anniversary

Every single one had a distinct atmosphere, due to their music, stories, and visuals that make them leave an impression on the player. Getting the player's attention is key, and this is done by making the world noticeable - this is one of the reasons why Earthbound and other RPGs have non-party NPCs to talk to, so that the player starts thinking about the game's setting. Puzzles in Zelda and Lufia serve to cause the "Just one more minute" syndrome. Battles, at least with a good combat system, also do the same thing, as done in Paper Mario 2. In short, you want to present many small 'crumbs' of entertainment to a player, then finish off with a finale to a chapter. This would allow the player a time to rest, to absorb the ideas and settings of a game into his or her world-view. This would someday fuel nostalgia, and word of mouth. Basically the common Dungeon--->Boss formula found in most games.

In any case, if I were to personally choose a combat system for an RPG, I think Paper Mario 2, Lufia II, and Final Fantasy VI are all very good candidates if you are looking for something traditional but progressive. PM2 is great in how it gives the player many abilities and choices about how to handle combat. Usually, I don't touch items at all and tend to be very conservative about my special abilities, but PM2 makes me use everything in my arsenal. This is because battle is balanced in a way that makes it difficult to 'snooze' through battles. The combination of Timed Actions and that Mario's abilities do not skyrocket has the effect of making most enemies somewhat challenging. However, bosses are often not that strong or lengthy, sometimes regular enemies are actually tougher than the local boss. I recommend giving the game a spin, just to see how that balance works out.

Lufia II is pretty ordinary in combat, with the exception of Item Properties on equipment. In essence, all of the characters can equip items that have special properties, both Passive and Active by nature. For example, an early item in the game is called Bug Cutter. It causes extra damage to bugs, which is simple enough. However, every time the character wielding the item is hurt, gains IP points. Once the bar has enough energy, the Bug Cutter's active ability can be used: To attack 3 times. This makes the Bug Cutter very useful. However, since all items have their own abilities, that means your equipment setup and what you want to get out of your IP bar is a determining factor of how you carry out combat. Lufia II also had Capsule Monsters before Pokemon was released, to straighten the record.

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