2.2. FROM JAPANESE 2D CRPGs TO 3D CRPGs... THE EVOLUTION
IntroIn this chapter we'll see the differences of old school 2D CRPGs and actual 3D CRPGs using the variables seen in the last chapter, and also we'll outline why they are "the same" in their core. In the way, well see (again) what are the "core" of CRPGs, and in next lessons we'll concentrate on them.
The Evolution - Battle viewOkay let's see these three screenshots: One is from Final Fantasy I, other is from Final Fantasy VI, and the other one is from Final Fantasy X.
Seems totally different, right?. They are. But they have somethings in common. Let's review them...
PC Presence: The PC MUST have an image. This image can be a sprite or a 3D model, but it's a way for representing the PC.
PC Movements: Maybe 2D sprites have less expressivity than 3D models (in moving, in attacking...) but both of then CAN move, CAN attack, CAN defense themselves.
NPCs Presence and Movements: The same can be said about NPCs
World: Yes, it's very difficult to call world to a little row of trees (see FF-I Image). But IT IS a world. Has its physics (very standard, just move a PC or NPC in the same row), its shape (the trees), and PCs and NPCs can be in any place (well, limited to three columns). The FF-X world is ver complex, rich and complicated to make... but it's ONLY a world.
Menus: Only text, or a very advanced, visual-rich GUI... but in the heart both models want the same: Give you the control of your PCs, give you the possibility of manage your PCs actions.
Laws: When a PC hits a NPC, or when a NPC hits a PC... in the three systems there must be laws about what happens with the entities of your world. If they are damaged, if they are poisoned... below the graphics, all these laws exists.
AI: The NPCs have "brain", they can choose what are they going to do. In all systems (2D or 3D)
The Evolution - Normal viewThree Screenshots - Again. But this time from the Breath of Fire saga.
This time we have even more variety: BoF2 is a 2D CRPG, BoF4 is an isometric (using 3D engine) CRPG, and BoF5 is a 3D CRPG. The three games "share" one hero - Ryu. But they share more things:
PCs. The same as in battle: PCs (and NPCs) have a presence, has movements, ... but does not matter if it's 2D or if it's 3D: all games have these things.
World: Also the three has a world. More detailed - less detailed, with more real physics - with less real physics... but it's only a world.
Interaction: In the three games there's interaction between the people and between you and the world (i.e. you can fish in BoF4 in the same map you're walking, but in BoF2 you must access to a new map). More detailed or less detailed, but "only" interaction.
Menus & Laws: The same said for battles applies here.
The Evolution - Some conclusionsWell, from this chapter seems that the only difference between 2D CRPG's and 3D CRPGs are the graphics. Well, yes and no. 3D CRPGs are more new. They can use more potency from our machines. And these potency is used not only in graphics, but also improve AI, improve GUI systems, ...
But the most important thing: The design. Professionals have more experience in creating CRPGs, so they can make things better, or more interesting (at least they try to). They change how weapons are used, how magic is adquired, how you can explore your world, how you can use your PCs (One example: The grid system in FF-X. It's a way for levelling up, giving the user the power of choosing how he wants to level up his avatars)... all of this with a goal in mind: To give the user a more enjoyable experience.
The Evolution - A little Add-OnIf you're going to do a new CRPG and have some ideas in mind, you can test them in 2D or in 3D games (well, if your ideas needs from a 3D world you need to simplify :-P). This leads us to something important relating the making of CRPG's. Do you think that the BoF5 team tested some of the features of the game with the engine at 100%?. I suppose no. Maybe they test some things in a less detailed, less real world. For example, think in Metal Gear, the VR missions.
Now, put some graphics. Put some history. Put some nice camera viewpoints, put some cutscenes, put some gameplay. What do you have?
Final Lesson: When you're going to do a game, don't add everything at the same time. Make "The core" of your game (as you saw in this lesson there is a "core") and start adding things. Start testing, start including more AI, more techniques. And maintain your "core" for testing new features. You'll not regret it.