Escaping the RPG Trap

Now that the snow has melted, I’ve no excuse not to be looking for work, and I’ve decided that so long as I’m unemployed on a weekday I’ll instead spend that time self-employed learning how to make games. No forums, no TV, no gaming — at least during work hours.  That seems to have broken the procrastination lock.

Suddenly, I’ve a massive void of time to fill while waiting for callbacks.  Consequently, I’m happy to report that I’ve returned to my BYOND work.  First thing on the menu?  Ditching this irrational fixation to make a roleplaying game.

Forced to sit in with the current game I was making, I realized had painted myself in a corner with my latest Project Xenoverse concept.  It was shaping to be a claustrophobic underground exploration game where the players, as lone protagonists, attempt to take back a facility room-by-room from hostile influences.  The main reason why I went with this approach was because I thought I wanted to make a roleplaying game, and this was a fairly novel approach.

Now, it seems to me that I don’t want to make a roleplaying game after all.  After all, I’ve been panning roleplaying games pretty heavily lately, and I think my building dislike from them accumulated into the realization that instructing a computer to play an RPG for me is more entertaining than wading through the simple decisions that go into one.

This is because the level of decision making given to the players in the average RPG is quite limited: attack, quaff potion, activate spell, cast spell – blah, simple stuff.  At best, a roleplaying game is a storytelling mechanism.  I could soup of the depth a whole lot, but it comes off as a conflict of interest — the more depth you put into the mechanic of an RPG, the less it feels like an RPG.

So today it hit me: if playing RPGs sucks so much, what’s with this silly fixation to keep trying to develop one? If it’s about escapism, any well-made game can provide that to a reasonable degree – no leotards required. Lets step out of the RPG trap and develop something more interesting.

What I’m working on right now looks like it’ll be a open-endedly dynamic multi-player tower defense game in BYOND.  Here’s hoping I’ll see this one to fruition.  It’s actually a pretty simple concept that can be expanded upon.  Much of the difficult coding behind it was already finished and can be ripped it out and retooled Project Xenoverse.  I suspect I might have a playable game inside a week.

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