Aaaaanyway, today I'll be talking about Paradise Blue, an indie RPG made by Ocean's Dream which Maryfourdee covered a few posts earlier. So, the game was made by a normal guy on his PC at home and not in a colossal game studio. And it's free, so play it. But I digress.
There are a lot of indie developers these days, but very few actually any recognition outside of the Internet. (And sometimes not even on the Internet itself) PB was (or is?) quite popular, despite not looking like FF13 or having tons of boobs. And it can actually teach us a lot about game design? What exactly? I'll show you!
- You can save everywhere. I can't tell you enough how much I and millions of other people appreciate this. Even if your game is supposed to be ultra-challenging, at least a quicksave option should be there, since we are people who might have business to attend while we're in the middle of a dungeon.
- There is customisation and flexibility. You get four characters whose jobs you can change at any given time after defeating the first boss, and you can combine abilities of different jobs to create more-rounded or plain gamebreaker classes. Games with job systems usually restrict you to the abilities of a certain job that vanish once you chose a new one.
- Experience is limited. This might sound terrible at first, but it actually prevents you from overleveling and breezing through the game, taking all the potential battle strategies away.
- Tying in with the above, bosses have gimmicks/require special tactics to defeat. How many games have you spamming your strongest attacks and spells on an enemy until it's defeated? Too many. Some bosses here sorround you, some others have a phase where attacking them directly is not a good idea and so on. Definitely adds some colour to the boss battles.
- Another tie-in with the above, bosses give no EXP. So if one of your characters remains dead throughout the battle, they won't miss out any super-high experience boosts!
- There are no random encounters. If you don't feel like battling or can't hold yourself up anymore, just avoid them! They won't chase you either. No more frustration with lousy escape rates!
- There's a quest log. Haven't played your favourite game in a long time? No idea where to go? No one there to point you in the right direction? Yes, we all know and hate it. PB nicely avoids this nasty problem with a handy quest log that keeps you up to date with your main goal and subquests!
- Characters are blank sheets, yet there is a plot. Yeah. You create four characters yourself and they have no dialog whatsoever. Yet the creator managed to write a pretty nice plot around them, as they are mercenaries hired to guard the two actual main characters. Using the "the princess was kidnapped, go save her plot" is unexcuseable now.
- The graphics are simple, yet beautiful. They resemble an 8-bit RPG, yet the visuals (especially the battle backgrounds) are absolutely gorgeous! There are tons of games using the premade RTP graphics, so it's better to stand out with graphics of your own. Even if they're simple, they work. A good example would be Earthbound, a SNES game which had barely any shading, yet looked really cool
- The music is custom. While not mandatory, a game with its own soundtrack feels much better than playing twenty games with the Kingdom Hearts soundtrack.