Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Earthbound Dungeon Design

Earthbound, the quirky little SNES RPG everybody knows and loves.  As an RPG, it obviously has a few dungeons, so let's talk about those, shall we?
You'll find that Earthbound likes to point out general tropes about other RPGs.  For dungeon design, we get Brickroad, the budding dungeon designer.  So, what does he say about dungeons, and how does Earthbound follow those guidelines?

"Items that are easy to get are usually disappointing."

You've surely been on the recieving end of this tactic.  Your walking along a hallway in a dungeon, and up ahead, just a few steps off the main path, is a glorious treasure chest.  Excited at your discovery, you rush over to recieve your bounty.  What do you find?  The much sought after Rock of Does Nothing.
It's a pretty all pervasive thing in games.  If you found it easily, it's a piece of crap.
Now, that chest behind the spike traps, across the bottomless pit, surrounded by a lake of lava?  You definitely want that one.

"Congratulations, you finally made it!
There's a sign upstairs that says that."

RPG dungeons tend to go on forever.  Just when you think you've reached the light at the end, the door's locked, or you need to go find an old lady's cat.  Whenever you go into a dungeon, expect to be in it for the long haul.  If you're lucky, there might even be save points.  But probably not.
Earthbound is full of little nods to RPG design of the time.  Keep an eye out for the the next time you play.

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