Hello all! I had an idea and wanted to post it here because I think it’s a neat concept. This past week I’ve been spending a lot of time (23 hours to be exact) playing through Squares new game, Kingdom Hearts III. Im sure most of you are familiar with the franchise, and if not, the studio, but it left me with many thoughts that I wanted to post here. First off, I want to start by saying I’m a longtime fan of the series. I played the original KH as a kid, and I would go as far to say that the connection I felt to the main characters, as well as the story is one that has definitely defined a lot of my motivation to pursue a path in video games. KH II was a great addition, but I feel like KH III really pushed the series into what I would consider an unforgettable journey.
That being said, I know that many people point towards flaws in both gameplay and story progression in this newest addition, but I would instead like to focus on some of the amazing elements that the series incorporates from the studios background in Japanese Role Play Games (JRPGs). For those who don’t know, Square Enix is the studio which produces the Final Fantasy series, perhaps one of the most famed examples of a JRPG. To (overly) simplify it in my own words: JRPGs generally incorporate simplified battle scenarios, meaning that you usually have a set combo which can be enacted using only a single button, sometimes pressed multiple times. They have a pretty simple leveling system where you may gain more health or mana from a level up, or maybe an additional item slot, but that’s basically it. They incorporate pretty simple armor tiers (if any) and generally not many stats to boost, and the game is centered around combat scenarios. Often times they are turn based, but more recently we have seen a turn towards free combat sequences often contained in a set space. “Quests” are generally linear without much room for deviation, but worlds are usually explorable and filled with side tasks which may yield experience or armor rewards. To top it all off, most JRPGs incorporate very unique boss battle sequences and heavy and complex story lines.
I’m a huge advocate for simplicity in video games. I think that a game that everyone can play and enjoy is one that will be successful. In addition to this, I think that allowing more skilled players opportunity to advance their “style” of play is also key. A great example I always use is Minecraft. In Minecraft, anyone can build a simple house and explore caves. But there’s also exponential room for players to scale their complexity of the game to levels which are unimaginable. Players can use the simple structure of the game to build complex computers, operational machines, and even weapons, all using the same materials that the newest of players are using to build 5×5 huts to survive the night. JRPGs take a simple scheme of combat, and do just the same, allowing more skilled players to play to their own level, utilizing selectable abilities, purchasable items, and built in mechanics which are not necessary to putting up a good fight.
So this leads me to my idea: taking the simple, story driven ideals of a JRPG, and applying these to our ideas of an MMORPG. Think World of Warcraft meets Pokémon. I love JRPG combat. And I love MMOs. Why not combine the two? Have a simplified combat scheme, built around classes and simple armor, and place players in a world where they compete against one another to, or alongside one another, to complete linear story lines, which perhaps would end in being brought to a server consisting of only players who have also completed the main story.
Place in dungeons and side quests to allow players to increase their own skill, but also stay true to the idea of simplicity in the facets of gear and abilities. Allow players to choose from multiple paths, perhaps pitting them against other paths at times, but all while competing for similar goals and rewards.
/*And before you say it, yes I have heard of Final Fantasy XIV, but this game very strongly resembled WoW in complexity, gameplay, style, and pretty much every other way possible, and had a much weaker semblance to any other Final Fantasy game we’ve seen.*/
This idea is obviously very primitive, but I will continue to update this post with my ideas and thoughts on the topic. But for now, as I must head to work, enjoy this photo from the endgame of KHIII, and enjoy your day!
Edit 2/9/19: Another huge feature of such a game would indefinitely be the “boss” battle sequences. JRPGs do a fantastic job of keeping every next boss battle unique, and increasingly challenging, which for me is a huge appeal. Now take these unique battles and apply them to an online oriented gaming environment, and we could expect the arising of many unique and interesting strategies for each individual boss battle. I think this would be a feature which would set the game itself apart from the meticulous and, quite honestly, boring boss battle sequences that we experience pretty universally in the MMORPG genre, and quite honestly most RPGs. Don’t get me wrong, I love every time I get the opportunity to strike down Alduin, but it does get a little boring and tedious at times. More thoughts to come as I expand on this idea.!