Linear or Open Worlds
Some more words about CRPG elements and the sequel.
Linear or Open Worlds
In Lord of Xulima, the world was open in essence. From the beginning, you could go wherever you wished. Of course, you could die very easily, adventuring yourself into too dangerous regions. However, we set some few specific barriers in several places mostly in the first part of the game.
There were two types of barriers, ones that were only powerful guardians like the army of the impious princes that protected certain regions. Those barriers weren't impossible to beat without triggering the events that removed them (killing the corresponding prince) if you had a very powerful party. The other barriers were fixed and impossible to beat until you got special items or did specific things. For example, the Ulnalum Guardian that prevented to enter in Varaskel or the Yul statue in Rasmura that protected the bridge access with a halo of darkness.
We set those barriers for two reasons. First the story, the story was more coherent if the main story dialog was played in its natural order. Second, it was to avoid the player from getting lost too soon. In LoX’s earliest version, we first tested with no barriers at all. The testers wasted a lot of time trying to figure out where to go, what areas they could explore or were too dangerous. Ultimately, they became frustrated very quickly. In contrast, with those few barriers the world continues to be very open with lots of things to do, the story flows better, and the player is not overwhelmed by so many options at the very beginning.
As with any design decision, this one was sometimes criticized by the most hardcore players and at the same time, the game was too obscure for other players that got lost as soon as they reached Velegarn (indeed, most of them died on the road to Sorrentia; do you remember that lovely ogre?).
As always, it is impossible to please all players, so we will be loyal to the essence of Lords of Xulima and its old-school spirit. For the sequel, we will continue with this philosophy but improve the world openness as much as the story allows us to. The world will again be vast and dangerous. We want the player to explore and experiment without adding artificial barriers. You will be free to roam wherever you wish or your survival sense allows you.
One very important mechanism of CRPGs are the random encounters. For LoX, we wanted to evolve it and make it more natural and realistic as we commented in this old post.
Generally, in most games, encounters are infinite and will periodically trigger. In LoX the encounters are finite in every region, so you can even clear full areas and wander freely without worries (except by the Cursed Hounds...). Also, the fewer encounters remaining the more time they need to trigger. Additionally, encounters did not trigger near the places where you defeated one of them recently. That’s the reason why you cannot cheat the system by walking in circles just in the zone entrance until you clear it and then explore it safely.We tried to make this mechanism natural and balanced and not so annoying as in many other games.
But we did not count on the many people who were willing to clear all the encounters to receive the reward for clearing every zone. So instead of avoiding the random encounter issues, we were encouraging players to wander desperately trying to trigger the encounters. Players asked the developers to have skills to trigger them, increase the frequency, or even that monsters respawn so you cannot run out of experience!!
So, yes, this is something we want to address for the sequel. Random encounters should be to keep the tension and sense of danger. We will remove the reward for clearing it unless it is because it is the goal of a mission. The encounters will be finite or not depending on what makes sense in the area. For example, you can clear a castle of soldiers, but perhaps from time to time some thieves or animals appear in the desolated castle, while in the wild you can diminish the encounters frequency but there will be always some of them wandering. So, we will mix different behaviors for the random encounters to adapt them for the zones and add variety, suspense, and surprise to the player. Also, encounters won't always be enemies to combat, but some special ones depending on the zones.
And of course, there will be much more dynamic and special elements. Do you remember the Cursed Hounds? Wait to see the Holy Servants of Alnaet in the sequel, you will miss your old friends...
Next post we will continue talking about CRPGs elements and the sequel. As always you are invited to leave comments here or give us you game feedback in the forum about the sequel.
Have a nice week!