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I’ve had an idea for a new post series; we’re going to be taking a look at the essential elements of specific genres. There’s a difference between designing a game that has those elements vs. an actual game of the genre. For our first discussion, we’re going to dive into the RPG genre and find out what makes it tick.

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One of the oldest design issues that have plagued RPG-based design has been the “hoarder syndrome,” where players will refuse to use life saving items and instead hoard them for some time in the future. At its worst, hoarder syndrome can make a game worse to play due to the player not using every option open to them.

However, the simple solution of giving the player more may be counter-intuitive to the design or cumbersome depending on the implementation. There is a solution to this problem, but it requires some advanced thinking.

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This week on the cast, we sat down with Martin and Andrej of Poetic Studio to talk about RPG design and how they’re planning on developing their title Sacred Fire if it meets its Kickstarter goal.

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Today’s Critical Thought focuses on downtime in video games and how it can cause problems with player retention. Downtime can be either from grinding, to UI issues, and even just loading. A good game designer can find and figure out how to reduce downtime, but it can easily sink a good game if not handled correctly.

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