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Just wanted to say I love the show Matt. The oldschool CRPG are the best. Wanted to hear your opinion on how much customization is to much customization when it comes to charactercreation.
Have a nice one.
That's a great question. It is possible to get too carried away the character creation process, because most people don't want to put so much investment into something before they've had a chance to play the actual game. So I advise having some pre-made characters already built as an option, or at least some templates to simplify it for people who don't care. However, I also like having the options there to really dig deep into the stats and such if that's your game; it's not something I love, but there are plenty of others who do.
I prefer character customization as an ongoing process. I particularly like the idea that you start off with basic choices, such as magic-user or fighter. Then as you develop the character you can select a special class like healer or AOE for the mage and archer or martial artist for the fighter, etc.
On a side note, I've been thinking a lot about how one thing we all love is learning cool stuff, and we especially like "hands on learning." A lot of games (Oblivion, etc.) have tried to have you learn skills by practicing them, but it's never been perfected IMO. I also am getting tired of all the branching tree systems out there for leveling and skills these days.
What I'd like instead is a system that closely follows your play styles and gives out a big stream of small bonuses and perks for particular applications or techniques. Since this wouldn't be something the player would control directly, you could really go to town with thousands upon thousands of them. For instance, if you cast magic missile enough times on kobolds, you could get a point for that particular skill and do extra damage next time. Or if you wear enough different kinds of chain mail, you could get a perk for appraising chain mail. These wouldn't be huge factors, mind you; just a constant little stream of perks and awards that would encourage players to both try new things with old skills or keep working on the diminishing returns, or perhaps you'd eventually max them out and then discover a new technique or set of techniques. So coming back to the kobolds; perhaps after awhile you'd discover exactly how much magic you need to use to kill one with a magic missile, thus conserving your mana.
One thing that also bothered me about lots of CRPGs is that you find a new weapon and it's automatically better for you. That doesn't seem realistic to me, because IRL if you use a particular sword enough, you'll really become familiar with its eccentricities (weight, balance, etc.) and be more proficient than you would another blade regardless of some objective quality factor. I've talked to hunters and soldiers, for instance, who would never consider trading their favorite firearm because they've learned that particular weapon and know what it's capable of.
I know that games try to use the loot system to change the gameplay, but really it's a mirage anyway. I still think people would enjoy getting real loot, but it should mostly be currency or valuables to be sold or perhaps used to decorate one's home. That's an avenue that's just starting to open up in games like Mass Effect, where you can find little things to decorate your ship. I could see that system exploding, though, so you suddenly have lots and lots of ways to use the money you collect while raiding and looting. I particularly love the idea of helping out your town or city, building a library to educate the citizens, for instance, or a fountain to make them healthier. You could have a separate sort of experience point system for your town, as well, so that you're not just building up your character or party, but that party's home base.
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