I want sand in every genre

I prefer a TBS game (Final Fantasy Tactics-like games) that lets me build my party from scratch over one that gives me pre-made party members. This post is not about any one specific game, just some random thoughts.

Creating the entire party yourself has a lot of benefits. You don’t have to follow the ‘holy trinity’ model, and instead can come up with whatever crazy combination of classes that will work. Or not work, which can be half the fun to try and get a really sub-optimal group to succeed.

I can see how giving the players pre-made characters is the ‘safe’ design choice, as you eliminate the chance that the player will do something that does not work and get stuck. Safe limits the options in this case though.

The ‘nameless’ party members also don’t have pre-defined personalities. This means that if you want your knight to be good or evil, he can be. A pre-defined character is hard-locked into one or the other. This is especially true if the game lets you select which character performs certain actions. For example, you have to select who executes a prisoner, and whoever you select, they start down the ‘evil’ killer path. The guy who you selected to save the orphan is heading down the ‘good’ path. If the party members are pre-made, usually you don’t have a choice when it comes to who kills and who saves.

This concept can be pushed further, and based on party choice and composition, the general story can branch as well. Too many ‘evil’ guys, and you go down path A. Too many ‘good’ guys, down path B you go. Or Path A vs Path B is determined by the magic-to-melee ratio of your party, or the number of females vs males. Maybe the difference is simply how one particular battle plays out, or in what order, or just who shows up to face you in said battle. Point being, the more open-ended you leave things, the more control you can offer to the player in determining how things go.

From a story perspective, you can have a pretty basic “save the world” theme, and instead of sneaky pre-made plot twists, what keeps things interesting is the fact that the game reacts to your character/party choices. When YOU are the reason something happens, rather than something happening because you reach that specific point in the storyline, you tend to feel more connected.

Basically, I want a more sandbox-ish TBS game than the hard on-rails experience most TBS games turn out to be.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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5 Responses to I want sand in every genre

  1. Rebecca says:

    This post excites me almost as much as your discussion of a PVE Sandbox MMO did. I couldn’t count the number of months I spent wailing away at FFT and Vandal Hearts. Looking further back, of all the Sega Genesis games I played, the ones that I still hold most dear belong to the Shining Force line.

    To be entirely honest, I’d never quite thought of the idea of a sandbox TBS game. Oddly enough, as a primarily tabletop gamer, the idea now that I start trying to think about it just makes me think of a very combat oriented dungeons and dragons game. But good combat oriented, not the kind of hack ‘n’ slash crapfests we got out of the console Baldur’s Gate games.

    With the computing power the average system has today, and the low graphics requirements posed by a TBS, the idea of infinitely branching story arcs has legs. A simple refinement and adaptation of some of the Mount and Blade systems could actually provide a nice base for the out of combat systems.

    I will very likely be elaborating on this through my own gaming blog in the not too distant future. The idea is fantastic.

  2. a thought says:

    Tried Disgaea?

  3. Sam says:

    I guess its because developers know the probably majority of gamers just want to jump into the game without too much work needed. We are a lazy generation, after all.

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