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Article - 'Monsters - They are People Too' by Guest

An item about Game Design posted on Aug 12, 2003


A great look at creating innovative and new monsters


Monsters – They’re People Too

Oh wait, no they’re not.
Oh well, it’s the Drunken Zombie again! (Where!?!) This is yet another article that I felt like writing, due mostly to boredom. Anyway, the reason I came up with this article is because my name is ‘Zombie’, which kind of slipped my mind.

Anyway, I have realized many amateur game makers that want to make the ‘epic-RPG’ tend to spend weeks or even months on character and story design. While this concept isn’t nearly as important as those two, it does deserve some amount of recognition.
(Please note, ‘none’ is not an acceptable amount of recognition.)

Let me ask you this. What would an RPG be without battling? An adventure game. (Dum dum tiish.) No, seriously, it probably would be pretty boring. The battling of enemies and monsters in an RPG is essential to the game. This article may help you improve your, as people in my class may say, “Mad Skillz, Dawg!”

Creative monster invention is an often-overlooked part of creating an RPG. Though, as I mentioned above, it’s not as necessary as the characters, inventive monsters can sometimes make the difference between ‘same old tired RPG’ and ‘BRAND NEW CAR!!!! RPG.’ Well, it probably won’t get you a new car. Anyway, check out some of the helpful tips I’ve happily provided you with.

First, some snazzy graphics really would spice things up. Most people download a bunch of monster graphics from their favorite Gaming site, such as GW, and then invent their monsters based upon the graphics. Sure, this is all well and good, but try something new. Such as, go to a search engine and search, say, “Dragon Pictures”. Go to a website, find a picture, and save it. Erase the background with a paint program and voila! You have yourself an almost original dragon monster. At least it’s probably never been used in a game.

Another idea would be to create a short list of monster ideas and jot them down. I mean, about 50 would be good. Just quick notes from things you may see around your environment. Then, develop ‘personalities’ for these monster ideas, and assign them graphics that you found/created/ripped off.

Also, a good idea for some monster inspiration might be to visit your local zoo. You can observe the animals there, getting ideas for mutated versions or what have you. Try to avoid the cliché of the weak little slime. This should be easy if you go to the zoo to get ideas, because ‘Slime’ isn’t an animal. (Just yet…)

Once you have some ideas, try to figure out where their natural habitat is, be it grasslands, mountain trails, or what have you. Then, assign them skills that may be used in that type of environment. Such as, a huge Sand Golem may live on the mountain peaks and use “Rock Tumbler” to scare away enemies. Which brings me to my next point.
Most of the time, there is no explanation in a game as to why monsters are plaguing the land and its’ people. Therefore, the player has to assume. Often, I figure the monsters are just regular animals specific to your world, and they only attack when they feel they are threatened. Of course, more intelligent enemies such as, say, the giant boss guy, may have a deeper reason to fight.

One other thing I can think of, is this: If it doesn’t hurt your game’s atmosphere at all or anything, try to include at least one large library or several smaller libraries in your game where the player can examine books. This would be an ideal place to add information about the local monsters, such as strengths, weaknesses, etc. to help the player feel more informed and in-tune with their deadly foes.

Now it’s time for my Final Thought.

Monster design is an easy way to boost the game play of any RPG. As I’ve mentioned countless times, (well, two), it’s not the most important thing. However, maybe one day take a break from your tedious map design and spend a few hours or even days just working out monster information.
Your public may be pleasantly surprised.

This is the Drunken Zombie saying, “the Eagle has Landed” for some reason.