ARPG – A happy middle ground

Welcome to our first developer’s blog here at Tocino Games! My name is Steve, the project lead for our game that is currently in development. I am starting off with the topic about a “happy middle ground” because it was the initial driving reason for me to start working on the ideas for a new Action RPG (aka ARPG). As an avid gamer and having played all of the major ARPGs, I personally found two of the current and most popular titles leaning heavily to one side or the other in terms of various (but not equally and often opposite) points that includes ease of use, long-term replayability, diverse activities, general difficulty, and time investment. In some cases an individual point may even be a good thing by itself, but in certain combinations with the other items it can wear down a sub-set of player types. So this dev blog will be more about the areas of design philosophies that we intend to use during our development, rather than discussing a specific mechanic or system.

First off we have an easy item, we are striving to keep the ease of use of our game to a level that is typically found in most ARPGs while still providing expected and our own unique features. Too much complexity or needing to regularly reference wikis slows down the player from enjoying the action that makes an ARPG an ARPG.

As for diverse activities, meaning enough content and different features to minimize the boredom of the players. Without constantly creating new content, this is a more difficult point. And when certain features are added, at what point does it begin to move away from being an ARPG and more towards another genre (ie MMO/RTS/FPS)? By itself, added features are not necessarily bad, but in general I feel that the core mechanics of the ARPG genre are generally fine, so I do not want our game to stray too far away from being an ARPG at its core.

On the point of general difficulty, obviously you do not want a game to be too hard (so that you frustrate all but your top players) nor too easy (so that players become bored quickly and stop playing). At the same time, we want that the gamer feels progress and accomplishment by reaching a certain point or by taking out a certain difficult boss. This is largely a design issue that we will continually evaluate along the development of the product.

Then we have time investment … some players are able to play all day, while others have a job and/or family that gives them little time to enjoy their game time. We are conscious of the broad ends of that spectrum too and we have plans to eventually address both side once the time for those systems are ready to be added or updated.

Finally, there is long-term replayability. This is a very important topic for me and based on a couple external polls that I saw it is a large factor (if not the largest factor) for others too. For us this includes the ability to explore widely different character builds, have different play styles that fit or challenge your personality, and to be able to play in different or expanding “modes” within a game. All of this contributes to players staying with or coming back to the game. Here too with have both long and short-term plans that will be conveyed over time.

Currently we are a new and very small team that wants to bring you high quality entertainment and to provide you with that happy middle ground while still maintaining the best qualities of each area. We acknowledge that we cannot realistically add every planned feature that will provide a solution to all of these points on our first release. But we want our user base to know that we are constantly thinking and planning for all of these areas and more. And with your support, we will fill in those gaps.

Which of these are area(s) are most the important to you and why?

Discuss this topic on our Natural Balance Discord server in the devbits channel or via the Dev Bits flair on Reddit.

Best Regards

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