After doing some intense research over the past few days at the sacrifice of sleep and food, I think I've come up with the formula for the perfect role playing game.
From my research most epics seem to follow this general guideline. Though, how they do it differs from game to game. My research is not complete yet. My theory still feels like it's missing a few things before itís complete, but here's what I've got thus far.
Input is welcomed and almost requested.
The Theory for the perfect RPG is based around the game following the following outline of events.
1) The false plot.
The false plot is the device the game designers use to draw you, the player, into their story. This usually introduces not only the main character(s) but also gives the player their first taste of the systems battle mechanics along with other sub systems (like mini-games; if any apply). The false plot usually has the main character go to a fairly pointless task such as; going to a fair, kidnapping or finding someone of political importance, or joining up with a mercenary team on a rather routine mission. The false plot is usually easily accomplished, and once the plot points are resolved the player(s) are faced with a bigger problem that they must deal with. This is either out of moral obligation, and or they just get hijacked into it by the plot wagon.*
2) The first story arch- False Bad Guy
The problem presented to the player(s) is typically dealt by some meglo-meniacle bad guy hell bent on accomplishing some mission or task. The plot presents this person to be like the be all - end all of evil bad butts around. Though, quite the contrary is found once the fight with them begins. This bad guy/person usually has one if not more goons or henchmen that the player(s) must defeat before they can even conceive of facing him. The player(s) usually also have to adventure through some sub-plots that will be of importance later on for either plot purposes and or extra items of uber power that are optional to quest for. This may or may not have to be done linier to facing the bad guy. Finally, the plot delivers the player(s) and their much leveled up characters on the front doorstep of the evil bad guy's place of power. -They always have a place of power. The player(s) fight and win. The big bad guy that the players thought was the be all- end all of evil turns out to either be; 1) a puppet of a much larger threat that we'll refer to as the Big Nasty*, or 2) a character going about things the "wrong way" to prevent the Big Nasty from gaining or coming into power, and thus joins the group as an uneasy alliance/ anti-hero who's motivations may be questionable.
3) The Build-up or False Fight:
The Big Nasty will either run or be inaccessible to the player(s) at this point in time, so they will need to chase/find him/her/it. This gives the players plenty of time to do optional side quests, level up, and find rare items needed later on for sadistically hard plot driven points that may not be necessary for the games completion. Once the players find the Big Nasty's lair (Like forms, the Big Nasty always has at least 2 of these to spare) they usually have to battle some mini-boss dedicated to the service of its master. Then they face the Big Nasty him/her/itself. The Big Nasty in a plot driven fight, usually hands the player(s) their rears for sake of the game designers demonstrating how powerful and to be feared this person is. The Big Nasty runs off again and leaves the player(s) broken and bleeding. The player(s) discover its secret weakness and how it can be defeated. (Never an easy task in itself.) And must now set out to find the item that can be used to exploit the weakness of the Big Nasty. Note: The players discovering the Big Nasty's weakness may in-itself be its own sub-plot.
4) Third Story Arch: Evil Offensive
The Big Nasty will now have a strong choke hold on the world and his/her/its evil plans will be in full swing. The player(s) will need to stop the plans from going off or continuing before they can have a hope of defeating the Big Nasty. More time for leveling, finding rare items, and doing mini-games or side quests. To stop the Big Nasty's plans the player(s) usually have to defeat their second in command. The second may or may not be a huge wimp, but will usually be joined by a few loyal associates that are most certainly a large threat to your character(s) safety. With them defeated and the plans stopped, the plot continues to the final fight.
5) Fourth and Final Arch: The Final Fight
After the defeat of the second in command the player(s) typically find that the Big Nasty is in another castle. (Strong hold) and they must adventure to find it. Final call for sub-quests, rare items, weapons, and levels. Once the Big Nasty's fortress is discovered, the player(s) can bet it will not be a walk through the park. This level is always one of the most insidiously designed labyrinths of the game. The monsters are always insanely powerful, and this doesn't go for saying how much harder the Big Nasty will be. Once faced, the Big Nasty will have at least 2 different forms, and the fight will be one of epic levels. Defeat the Big Nasty, and you win the game.
While this theory covers what I believe to be the formula for the "Perfect RPG game" there are a few other side notes I'd like to mention.
Most good RPG's will at some point throw the following at you:
1) A graveyard scene of some sorts.
2) A betrayal of a close friend/supporting character
3) A death of a close character if not the main character or the main character's (possible) love interest.
4) A hidden fight with a monster so hideously over powered you'd have to be on crack to even consider the possibility of fighting it.
5) The hideously over powered monster you'd have to be on crack to consider fighting it's younger brother thatís service is employed by one of the bigger baddies in the game. In other words- a forced fight.
6) A chase scene.
7) Good music or soundtrack.
I hope you've enjoyed this post. And if you have any input please, leave it.
*Plot Wagon: A term coined by the "Gamer Chick" to refer to the device used by the game master to wrangle control of the story back from the players and continue with the plot. Also see- Getting run over by the plot wagon, hijacking the plot wagon, and having the plot wagon parked on top of yourself.
*Big Nasty: A term coined by the "Gamer Chick" to refer to the ultimate bad guy and end boss of the game. The main antagonist.