Gameplay Premises Part 5 – RPG Staples

xkcd Tabletop Roleplaying

Tabletop Roleplaying games (image from xkcd)

Wizards’ Duel draws heavily from the RPG genre, but I want to keep the design tightly focused on the main mechanics and thus eschew or reduce several aspects that today are more or less a given for CRPG and major roguelikes. This is the approach that I want to follow in their regards:

  1. Character Generation and Stats. In the original Rogue and other, newer, games like Brogue you do not select stats, attributes or whatnot at character creation, every game will begin in the same way and the character will evolve organically from your choices.
  2. Character Advancement. You will not gain experience from killing-monsters-and-taking-their-stuff, your character will advance by acquiring more spirits thus giving them more firepower and more options.
  3. Inventory. WD will also eschew the taking-their-stuff part: there will be no grinding for equipment or random loot.

Now, the last one is a big departure from the genre and I believe it deserves a more detailed explanation. In the original Rogue and derivates equipment had the specific function of specializing your character and give her options on how to deal with the game world. Since the drops (items left behind after the death of a monster) were fully randomized and there were no classes or stats the equipment shaped your game in infinite new ways and modified the way you approached every challenge, even more so than the random levels and monsters.

Equipment management then evolved into grinding: the repetitive habit of killing hordes of enemies just to see if they will drop a powerful object to add to your ever increasing horde of more or less useless items. This is a powerful mechanic that appeals to the most primitive part of our brains: on one hand you get to collect items and fortunes, on the other there is the thrill of discovery (will the next drop be a powerful artifact or just another +5 sword?). As a plus it is also a great way to artificially stretch the length of the game. These techniques were codified in games such Diablo and World of Warcraft and are now almost endemic of the role playing genre.

I believe that grinding is inherently dishonest game-design, not only because it leverage an instinct and thus it is almost an hoax, but because it is uninteresting. There is however merit in the way equipment is handed in Rogue and Brogue, it gives you new options with every piece and shapes your play-trough in new and interesting ways. We already have this though, using the spells and effects and the way that you are not guaranteed to get all of them in a single (or multiple) run.

Daniele, however, thought about an exception that I think fits quite nicely with the theme and makes for a great addition: rings of power! Hidden in the levels there will be special rings that offer you a limited number of use of effects that you do not possess. This will help you out if the situation becomes dire and will give a way to experiment a bit before choosing what area to tackle next.

This will be the last gameplay post for a while, I hope to have given enough information on what to expect from the game and to have sparked your interest.

Are there some other questions that you want answered?

Thanks for reading.

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