[GAME MECHANISMS] Recruitment
Expanding on THIS POST from late last April, I wanted to dig further into what I noticed about the various ways of recruiting members to you RPG Party and the games that use them. As I have my FIRST-EVER Game Jam coming up with this mechanic in mind, I hope to inspire other devs to see what they can do with it for their own games. So without further ado, LET”S GET STARTED!
Here’s my breakdown of the various recruiting methods with examples from popular (and NOT SO popular) games. I’ll be using categories with (hopefully) memorable titles to help.
Spoils of war!
Gaining party Members through COMBAT
"Gosh darnit, Neil Diamond! You have bested me!"
As I mentioned in the last post, gaining a follower by force is the most commonly seen way of gaining new party members nowadays. The player has to LITERALLY beat the enemy into submission for them to join the party. This is found most recently one, now defunct Pokemon competitor, Yokai Watch!
You will also have noticed this with the Dragon Warrior/Quest(Monsters) and Shin Megami Tensei Franchise. This is more for the older gamer crowd, though.
A HARD decision. Get it?
Pokemon handles this approach a bit differently in having the player weaken the enemy jjuuuust enough to attempt a catch with the multitude of pokeballs. And even then, if you run out of pokeballs, or the enemy is too fast/strong, you lose the chance to get them! In some cases, this can be PERMANENT!
"Somebody SSAAAAAAVVE Me!"
Still staying in the vicinity of the getting followers by force approach, is where you have to rescue an innocent bystander the player meets along the way of the game’s narrative. I recently saw this done several times with the most recent iteration of the Persona Franchise, Persona 5! The best example was when you help out Ryuji in the beginning of the game. After you escape the first dungeon, he joins you and later gets his own persona (Capt Kidd). You can also see this in Slime Kingdom, where you gain Nectar after you help her in Murky Swamp (spoilers).
Thanks for the save!
"911. What's your emergency?"
Another way of adding a new party member, is to have them assist in battle. The best example of this is the aeon/esper/summon system in the Final Fantasy Franchise. Although these characters will not stay in the party after the battle, they can be a HUGE asset during it. Names like Bahamut, Shiva, Ifrit or Knights of the Round, etc are household names for FF fans the world over. This can be seen as more of a spell than anything else, but I felt it was something to add to the discussion.
ESPERS from Final Fantasy 12
And now for something DIFFERENT!
(stepping away for the battlefield)
"Cuz you know I'd walk a 1000 miles if I could just see you..."
Like the lyric says, you, the player will have to go through a bit of work to gain these particular followers. This type will only join you if you complete certain criteria. Many times, you may have to kill a certain number of enemies, fight a certain boss, or most likely, complete a fetch quest. This is something you can see in some MMORPGs like WoW. RPG/Adventure devs use this to add more favor to the game’s narrative, thereby enhancing it. My all-time favorite game that uses this is, Magic of Scheherazade, a criminally unknown gem for the NES.
Another great title where you find this is Suikoden II. In fact you have a whole 108 different characters to recruit and the lion’s share of them are gained without being engaged in battle.
Personally, I think the dev(s) made a brilliant decision to do this, as it expanded the replayability factor of the game and helped expanded on the story. I fact, from what I’ve read from Suikosource, a great deal of these games used this same mechanic. It’s a shame these games didn’t get a lot more press for this, but that’s just my opinion.
Well if you’re still reading this, I want to thank you. I wrote this trying to give people a look at how I see certain ways game handle this deceptively complex idea. I hope I’ve done my part to help inspire my fellow game devs to make something AMAZING! Have a great day/afternoon/night!