I love chiptunes. I have met few other people who love chiptunes as much as me. Hell, I have met few other people who can even sit down and listen to chiptunes without getting annoyed. It is arguable that my love for chiptunes comes from nostalgia. It is true that some of my favorite games are old enough that their soundtracks are chiptunes (and I do listen to them recreationally). But I would argue that my love of the genre is more than just a fond looking back at simpler times.
Pokemon X/Y comes out tomorrow. So today I am going to talk about my favorite monster collecting game. No, it’s not Pokemon. In fact, my favorite game in the “collect, raise, and battle” genre is a spinoff of the well-known series Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest. The game is Dragon Warrior Monsters (DWM), and while I have not played it through as many times as I have the original Pokemon, I have loved it a great deal more, and spent more energy on it. It is rare for me to actually write stuff down in a notebook for a game, but for DWM I found myself recording my findings in a notebook for future use. This is due to its unique take on how you collect and battle your little monster minions, even if you raise them just like most other RPGs (yay grinding!)
The story for the first game (yes! There are more than one!) begins with your sister getting kidnapped by a strange monster. Immediately after another monster shows up and offers to help you get your sister back. He takes you to another world and introduces you to a king. Apparently there is a tournament soon, and the prize for winning is a wish. Before you can participate you must train up and qualify, and so begins your journey (which includes other stories as well). I am honestly terrible at plot-synopses because I don’t like to give anything at all away (I believe part of the joy of a story is going into it completely blind). So as per usual I am going to focus my reviews on mechanics.
Reading the title you may be thinking that I am going to talk about how characters evolve in a narrative in roleplaying games, but if you remember last week’s article you may note the subtle queue in my use of RPG instead of “roleplaying game.” That’s right; today I am going to talk about different styles of stat/ability progression in RPGs along with minor discussion on the role of progression in narrative.
I have written a few reviews for digital roleplaying games (RPGs), but in many cases I find the label is completely inappropriate. When I think of a “roleplaying” game, I think of a game in which I take control and can make important narrative choices. But most digital RPGs don’t let you make narrative choices at all. For that reason I would say that the label of RPG has come to be associated with a mechanic which is common to most RPGs, but isn’t the attribute that makes them RPGs. The mechanic in question is that of leveling up, and I hate it*.
Today we are going to play pretend. We will pretend to be in the process of developing a game with the goal of being worth a particular price tag. Since we are ambitious, we want to be just like the AAAs and charge a hefty $60 for our game. But we are also familiar with the hours-to-dollars assessment people use to judge if the game provided enough entertainment to be worth the pricetag. If we use the price of a new DVD as a measuring stick we can guess that our players will want their entertainment on a 10:1 ratio ($20 = 2 hours of entertainment), so for our $60 price we’ll need to provide six hours of game time. That can be a lofty task for a single player game, so today’s article will be delving into the wonderful world of design mechanics/strategies to extend game time (for better or for worse).