Friday, March 16, 2012

Strategy-based RPG or RPG-based Strategy?

I'm dreaming of a game that captures the best elements of the fantasy CRPGs I cherished in my youth and then frames those elements in a persistent strategic context. I grant that there may be as many definitions of "best elements" as there are gamers, but here are those which I recall most fondly...

1) Turn-based combat
2) Persistent consequences (Wasteland, Sword of Fargoal and later roguelikes)
3) Customizable party (Phantasie, Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior/Quest 3)

Since I'm dreaming, this game needs a few more features:

4) Customizable gear
5) Procedurally generated environs
6) Persistent adversaries

OK... so there's the RPG... in my dream game all of the above would be enmeshed within a broader context:

1) Escalating, yet player-influenced, difficulty
2) Ongoing progression of player resources
3) Impending game conclusion

And that's the Strategy.

In an effort to make this dream a reality, I've been working on Legacy of the Last Refuge. It's a tile-based, party-of-4 CRPG with randomly generated levels - Here's what I have so far...

The player's party may consist of any combination of the 8 starting classes. Each class has varying base attributes and a set rate of increase for each of those attributes (these attributes' values will determine the expense of training the character in particular skills). Classes impose no other restrictions on equipment use or skill acquisition.

The player is based in the Last Refuge of his people. There are 4 gates from the Refuge to the Barrier - a foe-infested dimension represented by procedurally generated dungeon levels. The player's party may enter the Barrier through each gate only once. When the party is wiped out within the Barrier or has entered the Barrier through each of the 4 gates (and subsequently retires), the player will create a new party from the classes previously available and any new classes that have become available.

The nature of the Barrier is such that any life force (Vis) lost within it is stored in a (nexus-like) pocket dimension. This pocket dimension is called the Last Refuge by those it harbors -- the remnants of the player's people.

The Vis-absorbing properties of the Refuge have attracted the attention of a being of immense power. It is coming. If it is not repelled, it will consume all Vis within the Refuge - that of the lost and the living. The objective of this game is to prepare for (and hopefully claim victory in) the final conflict between the player's party and this being.