Dec 202013
 

I need to go back and change some of Nia’s dialogue.  It was originally my intention to make her more of a “blank-slate” character whose primary purpose is to serve as the player’s avatar.  As I’ve been writing, she has developed more of her own personality, so now I need to make sure all the dialogue options are consistent.

I think it’s better to narrow down the choices to things that are “in-character” for her, rather than try to guess what the player would want to do or say.  Honestly, it’s more fun to write this way, and I think it will be more fun to play too.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this story turns out!

Jan 182013
 

Lately I’ve been thinking about how to handle defeat.  Traditionally in RPGs, a lost battle means everybody dies and it’s game over.  You can either load a save or start over from the beginning.

My thought was that it might be cool to make losing part of the gameplay as well.  For example, if you lose a battle, you might still have a chance to talk your way out of being killed.  I don’t think I’d do this for every battle though, since it would take too much time to add dialogue for so many scenes that players won’t even see most of the time.

Unscripted defeats would probably be best limited to boss fights or other especially difficult encounters.  I have some ideas for how the story could continue after an unscripted defeat, or at least offer a chance to retreat and try again.

What do you think of this idea? If you lost a battle but were able to continue playing (with consequences), would you reload your last save, or keep moving forward?

Oct 072012
 

One of the things many people find disturbing about some video games is the amount of violence and how it is represented.  Nia’s Journey takes place in world where violence is an every day fact of life.  Nearly everyone carries a weapon of some kind and knows how to use it.  Nonetheless, I’d like Nia’s Journey to handle violence a differently than is the norm in videogames.

I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on the random encounters question, and based on those suggestions I’ve decided to use visible encounters instead.  As a result, I’ve been thinking about how to represent violence, and the after-effects of violence.  One of the things I’ve found problematic in many games is the way that human enemies are treated merely as fungible obstacles to be killed by the protagonist without a second thought.

As with other NPCs, I would like to humanize sentient enemies as much as possible.  One way of doing that is by including unique dialogue and behavior for human enemies, just as I would for friendly NPCs in town.  When threatened, they will do their best to preserve their lives whether by escape, negotiation, or a shift in combat tactics.

The second difference is how Nia’s Journey handles death.  In many games, enemies who are killed will reappear after a set of amount of time only to be killed again.  The implication is that their deaths are meaningless.  In Nia’s Journey, human enemies (unlike animals and non-sentient creatures) will remain dead if they are killed.

Lastly, I want acts of violence to have a long-term effect on Nia and her friends.  Nia may spend a lot of time in places with little or no law enforcement, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences.  Each party member will react to violence (and non-violence) differently, both in the short and long term.  I’m still thinking about the implementation, but my goal is to allow the consequences of violence to be felt.

Aug 122012
 

Nia, with a mischievous expression.

Nia’s Journey wouldn’t be the same without its “star” Nia.  I can’t tell you too much about her yet — her story is still being written.  Her journey begins when a simple errand takes an unexpected turn.  She will soon find that sometimes a single decision can change everything.

As with many RPGs, making choices will be an important aspect of how you play the game.  However, in Nia’s Journey, it won’t be only your own choices that matter.  Nia’s actions also have the potential to influence others, who in turn can influence one another.  There will be many times when Nia has to anticipate or respond to the consequences of her friends’ choices as well.  Does that sound interesting to you?  Let me know in the comments section below!

Apr 252012
 

I’ve been thinking lately about random encounters.  I might be dating myself here, but I remember when they used to be a pretty common “feature” of RPGs.  In case you’re not familiar with the concept, the way random encounters worked was that whenever you were walking around outside of town, every time you took a step there was a chance that enemies would attack, initiating a battle scene.  These battles would just be a collection of random enemies, often completely irrelevant to the context of the story.  It was just as annoying as it sounds.

In general, these encounters interrupt the flow of exploration and story to provide players with the “opportunity” to earn some gold, items, and experience by winning a battle.  Most recent RPGs no longer include random encounters, in favor of clearly visible enemies that can be avoided.  For Nia’s Journey, I’ve been thinking it would be great to bring back random encounters.  Why would I do that?  Well, there are several reasons:

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