Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Rant on CRPG Game Design: More About Engineering Than You Think (Mech Piloting)

Game Designers that make RPGs think they're making these:

When they're really making these:

I've talked at length about how wrong Mech Piloting is in tabletop RPGs; I won't belabor that point here. Instead, I'm going to talk specifically to the videogame designers, where Mech Piloting is the only option (so it's not worth whining about).

Stop resisting this. You're a mech designer. Embrace this and prosper.

What controls will your user employ to move the mech? What perspective will your user have to pilot the mech? What subsystems will your mech possess, and how much control over them will the user have? Sounds a lot like how you talk usually when making your game, right? That's because it's the same thing.

If you're making a game with Classes (by whatever name), then you're making different models of Mechs- no different than making different models of aircraft or warships. The exact same process applies: you decide what they can do, how they can do it, how the user pilots them, and so on.

This is the most important part of your game design process. If this user experience sucks harder than a black hole, then none of the rest matters; users will rightly shit all over your game, uninstall, demand refunds, and turn your brand (and name) into a byword for "Do Not Touch". Just ask CliffyB; he and his team failed to grok this when making Lawbreakers.

This is another aspect of learning how to deal with what actually is, and not what you want it to be. Reality is objective, folks; no amount of perception management changes the fact that gravity is a real law, and failure to adjust to what is real results in you going splat just as surely as failing to respect gravity when going skydiving.

So stop lying to yourselves. You're making robots, robots that your customers pilot, when you're making RPGs as videogames. Grok this and most of your common problems disappear overnight; this is most pertinent to those making MMORPGs, MOBAs, and other massively multiplayer games with user-control virtual robots- by whatever name: "Character", "Champion", "Hero", "Survivor"- all of them are just virtual robots, and might as well be Mobile Suits.

Thus endeth the rant.

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