I just got this email from Brett (not all users use my forums, I have many that send me emails directly) but I asked his permission to post it here since there are some good ideas and I want to share them with everyone to do a sort of group brainstorming With Planet Stronghold this worked very well since was thanks to users suggestions if the game became so much better in term of gameplay/features/user interface.
Here is his email:
I definitely enjoyed Planet Stronghold and hope you make more games.
Couple of observations, including a couple from your own games:
Story Line start (from Spirited Hearts) - I LOVE this mechanism, both the initial selection of background and the questions you get asked to flesh out your choices growing up.
Absolutely fantastic and one you should keep for your future fantasy RPG.
Character Growth and Development -
One thing that I like is character statistics (Strength, Intellect, etc), but I see it frequently implemented badly.
If you do this -
-strongly recommend do not have "random stats"
-make it clear what the connection is between stats and game effects
-give people maybe 1 extra point per level to improve
-have every stat have a meaningful effect on the game, although some may be more valuable than others given a person's development path
You implemented this well in Planet, most of my comments here apply. Comment for Spirited Hearts - enjoyable game, but hurt by some bad choices - in particular random skill decreases (horrible mechanism) and being assigned a long term divine assignment that in no way correlates with your character developmental path.
Generally the distinction between Talents and Skills is, skills have a large range (0-200) where each point means very little, while talents have a small range (0-3) and have a much larger effect on game play. 1 talent point every level or other level is about right.
I like relationship development (obviously) and like that it can provide benefits. Not all of these benefits need to happen instantly. Some can be 1 time, some can provide long-term incremental benefit (e.g., the king grants you a title which provides a stipend of 10 gold/month).
One famous game (Might & Magic series) had the characters granted a piece of land to build a castle on and they then built the castle as the game developed.
Another clever long-term goal. Once built, the castle provided benefits and each stage provided some small benefits also.
Choices - In general try to stay away from choices that are binary (A or B), they are a bit too limiting. Also some choices should close out other paths.
Inventory & Equipment -
Another area people like to develop. Make/find/buy/given equipment.
Professions - Generally defined as ability to "create" equipment or items. Can be interesting if done right. Generally have to buy and/or find ingredients (e.g., herbs for potions).
Quests - good mechanism, Rewards can include EXP, special items, gold, special ability. Some quests may force choices (e.g., 2 quests can only do 1 due to time constraint, or helping person A means that person B will no longer talk to you making their quests unavailable (and vice-versa)).