RM Skill: Masterful
RPGs have 3 phases, don't they? Role-playing, Battles and Exploration. By exploration phase, I refer to freely playing on the overworld, inside towns, and dungeon crawling. I'd like to see this phase enhanced and made more interesting. By that, I mean I as a player want to be rewarded for exploring your setting, and I want your setting to be creative and fun to explore. Satisfy my need to get loot and balance it with creative challenges and requirements.
*Abilities for Exploration
One of my favorite ideas for this comes from Zelda games where, over time, you gain new abilities that allow you to access previously inaccessible areas. This usually involves backtracking, which I've never minded when travel was convenient. Typically the reward is more and better items, but it can also be access to new quests, characters, shops, towns, dungeons, etc. In a traditional RPG, this could be learning new spells or finding "key items" that give you new abilities. How about a magic item that shows a mini-map and another magic item that can show secrets on the mini-map? How about a spell for interacting with magic objects such as levers and switches for secret doors?
Breath of Fire games handed this in a cool way by giving all the characters special field abilities. Ox could break down cracked walls, Karn could pick locks, Garr could push big heave obstacles out of the way, Ryu cuts things with his sword, Gobi breathed underwater, Mogu dug tunnels, Nina could fly and reach inaccessible places. Pokemon had HMs.
Another one of my favorite ideas is ff9's Choco Hot'n'Cold side quest. Scavenger Hunts rule. I have another idea for this to make it more practical. Remember the Itemfinder from Pokemon? We'll make it a key item called a Dousing Rod instead, and give the player another key item which we'll call a shovel. Instead of a dousing rod, how about one of those cute, talking animal companions who can sniff out buried loot?
Final Fantasy 5 and 6 had barrels and boxes all over the place and you could check them for items. FF6 had clocks that always had an Elixir in them. FF3 had all kinds of invisible loot. Breath of Fire put an item in every dresser drawer in the game! Lunar 1 had locked treasure chests you could go back and open after getting Kyle. If you managed to find all them and remember where they were, you got good loot for nothing!
FF9 also had that Exclamation Mark pop up whenever you were near invisible loot.
*Collecting Purposeless Stuff
I'm not a completionist, but I like collecting stuff. Ever play The Legend of Dragoon? Don't. But it had a sidequest that I thought was cool. Scattered all throughout the game, there was an item called Star Dust. Ordinarily, it was an invisible item. Maybe you saw a sparkle on the screen? You get something special whenever you bring 10 or 12 to some guy, and he gives you better and better rewards over time. There's a final goodie for bringing him the all the Star Dust. Instead of Star Dust, how about some other little bit of stuff, like Magic Dust. FF7 had that turtle paradise thing.
I played a lot of RE games, and I like a good fun-house and I like collecting sets of themed keys for themed doors and rooms with themed puzzles you had to solve. You can increase the size of a dungeon by putting in a need for some backtracking. There's nothing wrong with it. FF3 also made a gimmick out of secret passages to rooms full of loot. I remember a dungeon in Breath of Fire 3 which had a theme of a changing tide, so the rooms would flood with and empty at intervals, meaning you had rooms being opened and closed off to you every battle or two. This means the routes you could and could not take actively changed on you, and you could learn to force it.
If you could make a very creative environment to explore, such that it incorporated platforming and obstacles to cross or avoid, even alternate routes that might take you underground or over buildings, that would be pretty cool. Use a lot of ladders or ropes to get around. Finding secret rooms, passages, and tunnels is fun.
*Random Encounters vs. Planned Encounters
I really appreciate MarioRPG and Chrono Trigger for battles I can avoid and/or clear, permitting me periods of uninterrupted exploration! As time goes on, I have found that I tolerate random encounters a lot more than I enjoy them, and that should not be the case. If fact, I generally see them as an interruption, so I would develop a game with no random encounters. Although, depending on the type of world map, I still like being able to get into battles of the world map.
Please share some of your ideas. Why not? What makes a dungeon more interesting and satisfying for you?
This post has been edited by userjosh704: Apr 30 2013, 11:01 AM