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  Mechanic #137 - Stylish Loot Game
Posted: 12/12/11

An RPG-like game without any of the RPG-like aspects that don't involve wearing nifty looking clothes.

  Stylish Loot Game

RPGs are unique in the gaming world in that they represent multiple separate, but connected gameplay systems. For instance, combat is its own game, but it is affected by the leveling up thing, which is its own game, and the loot system, which is its own game. The loot game can be affected by crafting, which is its own game, and the exploration thing, which is its own game.

Each one of these things is almost entirely self contained. You can make a combat game without levels or loot. You can make a leveling up game without exploration or combat (see: Burrito Bison). You can have crafting without any of that other stuff, or at least a minimal amount of it, such as Minecraft.

So I thought, I'd make a game out of just part of an RPG - namely, inventory. In this game, you find things, make room in your inventory, equip items, and sell them. There's no exploration, no combat, no levels, no crafting, and no story. And yet, it will identifiably be an RPG.

Think of this entry as a thought experiment rather than a legitimate game concept.

  Exploring, Sort Of



Fig 137.1 - Walk the line.


The basic gameplay involves walking back and forth, picking up items and equipment until you are strong enough to open a lock. The game is played on a straight line, with a variety of points on the line that do things, like shops, treasure chests, or dungeons. The line occasionally branches off briefly, representing the occasional special treasure, but it is usually behind several locks.



Fig 137.2 - You found a leather jerkin.


As you walk in each area (line segment between two nodes), you will randomly find items and equipment based on that area's stats. So areas further to the right will yield better items and equipment than areas towards the beginning on the left. In addition to items, you may also find events, usually negative. For instance, you might find a "thief" event, which has one of your non-equipped items stolen. Or you might find a "scared" event, which will automatically cause your hero to walk left until he finds a shop. Treasure chest icons represent a one time special item finding event, and they will respawn occasionally after time.

You character has a fatigue stat which will slowly drain as you walk. Returning to a shop node will restore fatigue to full. If you completely run out of fatigue before making it back, you "pass out". You return to the nearest shop, losing a percentage of your money and items. Some line segments may have special stats, like increasing your fatigue drain or having more good/bad type events happen more frequently.

  You Are What You Equip

Because there are no levels in the game, the only way to change your character's stats is through equipment. For instance, the only way to increase the number of fatigue points your hero has is by equipping fatigue improving items. There are also special abilities, like finding more/better items, or reducing the effects of certain bad events.



Fig 137.3 - It's cute, but not too trendy.


The main goal of this game is to equip the right equipment on your character to unlock the locked nodes. Since this is a game without combat, all the equipment has values for style: cuteness, trendiness, dapperness, sexiness, and so on. And of course, there will be sets that improve the more you have from them, and the equipment will be visible on the character (why make a game about looting equipment without a paper dolls?).



Fig 137.4 - Only the cute shall pass.


Each block requires a set amount of certain stats to be unlocked, along with a set amount of fatigue that will be drained. For example, here the player needs 35 points in the cute attribute to pass. If he does not enough enough equipment to have at least that many cute points, he can not unlock the door. He must continue walking back and forth, collecting items. If he can not find the right equipment, he can buy some that may barely get him past at the shop.

In addition to requiring 35 cuteness, it will also drain a little bit of his fatigue. He must make sure that he has at least enough fatigue to open the door and then return to the town. If he is really min-maxing, he may have enough fatigue to make it all the way to the treasure chest and possibly even through the next lock before having to turn back.

This is a game about resource management, with your resources being your inventory/equipment. It's about making choices between equipment that will increase your cuteness and trendiness a little, or increase your sexiness greatly at the cost dapperness. It's about finding the right equipment to get you past obstacles and survive random negative events. It's an RPG. It's just an RPG about dressing up.



Copyright 2007-2014 Sean Howard. All rights reserved.