Secrets to an Amazing Role-Playing Game

Role-playing games are a very specialist and needs far greater attention to detail than other less immersive genres. As the computerized version of the genre took off, many money-hungry companies decided to storm into the genre without trying to understand the vital elements of a role-playing game. In some cases, these companies have dared to buy out smaller companies who did know the genre, and they destroyed long-held legacies of great traditional games.

Considering that this may impact the future of computerized role-playing games, I have felt it important to educate these gaming giants to help them understand the only thing that matters to them. It would help if you had an audience willing to buy the product to sell role-playing games. If a company consistently puts out dodgy shooters in the guise of apparent role-playing games, it’ll only destroy its reputation and go bankrupt. I know that the word bankrupt is a word that these money-hungry companies recognize, so I emphasize one point, try to sell dodgy shooters to role-playing fans, and you will go bankrupt!

I have been a role-playing gamer for about thirty years, and I fell in love with only two systems that I probably can’t name because of article writing guidelines. Very few game-producing companies have come even close to the pen-and-paper versions of the best role-playing games on the market, you know, the ones that people enjoy playing.

I will say that I rejoiced when role-playing games became computerized as it meant I could do my role-playing without the need to hunt for people with similar tastes, and even though some games have risen to become great role-playing games, they are sadly few and far between. On that note, of the styles of role-playing games that include pen and paper, computerized games, and online games, only one type can meet the fully immersive needs of a role-player, and I’ll reveal why later.

Okay, what are the elements of a great role-playing game, then? I’ll give you one at a time, but immersion is the most important advice to remember during this discussion. To be a truly great role-playing game, it has to grab the player’s attention and not deliver diversions that allow the player to slip back into the reality of the real world. The player must be kept in the fictional world if they have experienced a great role-playing game.



A believable yet gripping storyline is one of the most vital elements of immersion. A role player doesn’t want to load up the newest game and find to their dismay, that storyline consists of the flimsy idea that they have to kill heaps of things to get enough experience to kill the apparent bad guy. Who wants to play a game where the bad guy is designated the bad guy without good reason?

Have you played a game where you are part of one group of people, and you’ve been chosen to defeat the other group, but there’s no actual evidence showing why the other group is bad? The worst are the recent thug games where one criminal organization wants to defeat another, and you’re the hitman. Who is really that stupid to fall for such a terrible storyline? It’s certainly not for intelligent role-players.

A good storyline can’t be a shallow excuse for war, and it has to be something you’d want to be a part of. The storyline also has to be included in the gameplay itself and delivered in a way that doesn’t interrupt the reality of the gameplay either. There’s nothing worse than a big cut scene that drops into the middle of the game and makes you sit idle for more than a minute or two. For role-play gamers, the game’s immersion comes from being the character, not from watching the cut scenes as if you were watching television. What’re next… advertisements?

Another part of a great gameplay experience is being aware that you have been a part of the fictional world since birth. This is conveyed by knowing where things are in the world, who the current leaders are, and current events. This can be done cleverly by feeding snippets of information naturally during conversations with non-player characters. Some extremely vital information can be revealed in otherwise meaningless banter, just like in you’re immersed world.

One thing that will jolt a role player out of a game is a sudden unwanted conversation with a hastily introduced character who explains where the next local town is and that you must be careful because there’s a war on or some such thing. This is only done in games where the maps are updated as you discover places of interest. Making a major city that lies not ten miles from your current position something that you must learn is ridiculous at best and only suits scenarios where you’ve been teleported into a new reality or you’ve lost your memory. However, the latter should be used sparingly, as too many games already rely on the character having amnesia. Discovery can be implemented in far more subtle ways by having secret areas within well-known places, giving a role-player a sense of discovery.

Another immersion problem is introducing a love interest in a game without any participation on your part. You’re playing away, minding your own business. Then all of a sudden, one of the enchanted characters you never knew existed impacts gameplay because of a vital role they play in the group you’re a part of. At the least, they should allow a bit of flirting in the conversation paths before a love interest is thrust into the mix. For me, someone suddenly having that kind of interest is an immersion breaker because nothing at all prompted a relationship. If a love interest is possible in the game, it must be introduced believably and shouldn’t be out of the character’s control.

There was one game in which this happened, and the involvement of two love interests was the excuse for one of the non-player characters to do worse at being a support while the other became a great support. Sure, the idea was novel, but it was also very childish because it assumed that these two love interests were so enamored with the player that neither could do without him. It was worse than watching Baywatch or Desperate Housewives.

I will add one more element to the mix because I wouldn’t conclude if I allowed myself to point out every requirement of the best role-playing games. As I stated before, the important factor is immersion. A real deal-breaker for me is the inability to develop the type of character I want. I’ve often encountered this in games where you have no choice over the skills your character can develop. Of course, this is the worst scenario, and many games allow limited development, but only a handful of games allow a real sense of story.

A great role-playing game has to allow players to develop in any direction and compensate for this flexibility by incorporating multiple paths. There’s no point in creating a computerized role-playing game if the character does the same thing in every play-through. The most annoying of these issues is a game where you can have a spell-wielding character, but they develop the same spells simultaneously in every game run. It’s a little more forgivable for warrior types, but many games allow for dozens of different fighting styles, even in this case.