Old school vs modern RPGs


In the image above, my cat Orfeo (italian for Orpheus) on the bed.

Today I want to talk about some differences between “old school” and “modern” RPGs, since I’m working right now on Loren Amazon Princess that is what I would define a “old school” RPG for some aspect, while “modern” for others.

Below a gallery with some preview images, showing several aspects of the game:

Damageprediction Levelupscreen Newactions Postbattle

One of the main differences between oldschool and modern RPGs is the turn-based / real-time mechanics. Most modern RPG use real-time. Unfortunately, I was kind of forced to use turn-based because making a real-time game needs lots more animation/art, and in general is harder to make.

I still have a battle movement order though, which is dynamic. If you see the column on the right, shows the movement order, and as you hover the mouse on the possible actions, it gives you a “preview” of how your decision will change the order. So beside the power/effects of a skill, you’ll also have to ponder the delay that the same skill gives. Sometimes for example, is better to use a skill that does less damage but lets you kill two goblin thieves already injured, than “waste” a skill that does more damage but pushes you back on the movement order list.

Another difference is auto-mapping. In my game I don’t have dungeons with map, so there will be just a main map of the world, with easily accessible places. But I remember some oldschool RPGs that didn’t have an automap, and you had to write down on paper the map of the dungeon. Seems crazy thinking about this now !

The user interface is also something that was greatly improved over old RPGs. Last year I bought Temple Of Elemental Evil, and was shocked by the clumsy interface: no mouse over, so simple button to change view/move object between players, and so on. Most modern RPGs use a “shared inventory”, that means all player have immediate access to all item owned by the party. If someone has an item equipped you usually need to unequip it to put in the pool, but before every item (even unequipped ones) was carried by a specific player, so the user had to do a much bigger amount of clicking.

The vendor / items comparison wasn’t automatic like now. In most new games, you have a way to immediately see if an item you just looted is more or less powerful than the one you’re carrying. Before instead you had to look at all the statistics and decide for yourself! It was crazy, right? 🙂

Also, with a RPG featuring only one character is quite easy, but if you have a party things starts to get complex: what if there are two warriors in the party? you need to tell the player if the new longsword you just found is better or worse than the weapons equipped by both warriors. This is the problem we’re facing right now with the loot and the vendor in Loren Amazon Princess game!

The difficulty level is also something that changed radically over time. Most old RPGs were very hard, while modern ones offers at least several different difficulty levels, so people that just want to have easy combat and progress in the story, will be able too. In Loren there are three different difficulty levels, and they have a big impact on gameplay rules. At easy level, enemies are easy and the elemental resistances have a marginal impact on battle. At hard level, enemies are tougher and the elemental resistances have a key role: hitting an enemy vulnerable to fire with a fire-based skill will have a much bigger impact.

Lastly, the level progression was completely different. Even if I have to say that JRPG were always different from western RPGs, but in general leveling up after the first early levels was a big achievement. In AD&D games, already getting from level 5 to level 6 could take a LOONG time! Recently, beside the already mentioned JRPG, even in modern MMORPG like Everquest or WoW, you’re going to see the levelup screen much more often.

In Loren, I have decided to use this system: each character has a main class (Warrior, Thief or Mage) and a specialization (unique) class. Each class has 5 different skills, and each one has 3 levels of power. So as you see, each character has 30 different skills that can learn. So I have decided (though this might change during testing of course!) to have a level cap of 60, and give a skill point every 2 levels. This way, at level 20 you could have learned all the skills for every character, but at the basic level of power: so will add some more strategy since the player will need to think which skill to raise up to the maximum power level?

Every level up instead you get 3 attribute points, to spend on Strength, Skill or Will attributes. Will write about those three attributes next friday since the explanation is long and beside… by that time I might be about to announce the open beta preorders! (crossing fingers)

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2 Responses to Old school vs modern RPGs

  1. Zerix says:

    I’m actually curious as to your reasoning behind allowing every character to obtain the full power of every skill by max level. Some RPGs do this, but other RPGs go the route of having more skills/upgrades of said skills than you can obtain by the end. I could go either way, but I feel like the latter is better for varied styles of play and strategy.

    • admin says:

      I think I explained badly: the level cap of 60 is just “the limit”, I don’t expect players to reach that amount. I have to see during testing/beta stage, but probably the maximum reachable level will be around 30 so definitely you won’t be able to get all the skills maxed while playing through the story 🙂

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