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I have been planning all of the features for my game idea. It is an RPG fantasy free roam game, in which the main focus of the game is on combat and adventure, though I also want to add in the ability to be a carpenter, shop keeper, brick mason, and/or cook.

Though this is all well thought out, another thought has cane to mind: Why would anyone actually follow through with the average life-style or even begin to think of living a normal life? I thought of how an experienced adventurer might "retire" and go into business for themselves, but what could be some other things that might make a player go for the worker's lifestyle?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, people bought the hearthfire DLC for skyrim, so there's a market for house building in RPGs \$\endgroup\$ – Bálint Nov 9 '17 at 14:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking for a narrative reason why the player-character would do this or for a gameplay reason why the player would do this? \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Nov 9 '17 at 14:57
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Why not both?

Not all adventurers have to be nomads. Going out for adventures and coming home again is a good cycle of excitement and newness with comfort and familiarity. Of course this is difficult if the economics of the craft are such that you have to do it full time or not at all, but that's something you as the designer can decide. Furthermore, adventuring can feed into homesteading and vice versa. You can go out on an adventure to collect rare materials (ores, animal pieces, plants, dyes etc.) to make cool things out of in your home workshop (or to sell) and you can make equipment for yourself with some crafting skills or earn money to buy it with others.

Completionism

Some people just like to have done everything a game offers and don't want to miss anything. If there's a house to be built, they'll put on all add-ons there can be, if there's a brick-laying skill they'll max it. This is one of the situations where the job of the designer is to either make it fun/engaging or not include it at all, because some of us will grind it out no matter how much we hate it and curse you all the way.

It's fun!

Games based on a peaceful activity can be fun in and of themselves. There are games about shop keeping in fantasy worlds like Recettear, Holy Potatoes A Weapon Shop! or... Shop Heroes it may have been called? There are also several cooking games. Now, obviously you don't want to spend the development time to make a whole game for each and every job you offer, but minigames that are simple can still be engaging as long as they have good rhythm of play, a decent reward and engagement curve and a cute presentation. Just look at how much time people spend in Euro Truck Simulator or Elite: Dangerous just hauling goods from place to place - an activity usually described as boring, but it's peaceful and if you do it for fun it's engaging in a relaxing way. Or look at the play stats of incremental games. Of course you can also tie quests into your job activities.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Recettear is actually a pretty interesting example for how to link two very different game modes (the action-oriented dungeon crawling mode and the peaceful shop management mode) into one game. \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Nov 9 '17 at 15:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, my plan was to fuse the two, but I wanted to make sure it would make sense to do so. \$\endgroup\$ – The Mattbat999 Nov 9 '17 at 19:38
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One of the options is to kind of make it a second game. If you make the "normal job" aspect as complex, complete and balanced as your "adventurer" part (so that it is fun), it will appeal to players. Have a leveling system, upgrade the buildings, buy more land, buy the competitors, make deals with the Crown or with other towns, go shady and kill the competitors without being noticed, start advertisement campaigns!

Another option is to keep them poor during their "adventurer" life: make the adventurer money faucets and money sinks nearly equivalent. And show them that there is a bit more money to be made by having a "normal job": have the shop-keeper, bartender, blacksmith, etc. introduce them to their trade!

You could accompany that with the body ability to fight battles decaying over time, making the adventurer life less and less appealing. You could even throw a "Fountain of youth potion" that costs a lot and could only be obtained through a "normal job" if they want to continue that life.

This second option may not please every player because it could feel like they'll always be running to get money, reducing the fun they'll get out of the game.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I feel like the necessity to work in order to adventure will make it feel like a frustrating grind rather than when it's player's own choice. The "second game" choice sounds more appealing. \$\endgroup\$ – altskop Nov 9 '17 at 14:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @altskop Thanks for your comment, I have improved my answer. (Made the "second" the "first" and added a note.) \$\endgroup\$ – Vaillancourt Nov 9 '17 at 14:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ If there’s going to be no interplay between the two parts of the game, why not just make them actually separate games? \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan1729 Nov 9 '17 at 16:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ryan1729 Oh I did not imply that there would be no interplay :) The player could meet new masters and trainers during their adventure, discover new patterns, recipes and such as loot. \$\endgroup\$ – Vaillancourt Nov 9 '17 at 16:11
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Consider this: most players play videogames to escape reality and experience the thrill of adventure. That said, it's safe to assume many, if not most of your players would opt for combat over normal life because that's what they came for: an adventure.

Think of it this way: the "normal lifestyle" in your game should be as exciting as combat to capture the interest of your players. Adding quest lines specific to the chosen line of work and character interactions will both assist greatly in that. Besides, nobody said that a person living a normal life should forget using their weapons and combat skills: you may include situations in your quests which may require use of some, like stealing, or fist fights.

So really, your main problem to solve is how to make the player experience as interesting when they retire as it was during their adventures.

EDIT: Someone has mentioned Skyrim: Hearthfire DLC as an example. While it indeed contains some additional building and crafting gameplay elements, it doesn't offer a choice to fully retire. However, it does serve as a good example of how to make a potentially boring gaming experience a thrilling one. I.e. in the following scenario, a player can build a house and populate it with their adopted children, spouse and other NPCs. Even though the player may grow attached to their own home, they also grow bored since there is no other thing to do with it. This changes when the game generates an event in which a band of vampires raids the house, adding some excitement and entertaining the player.

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Don't think players will neglect building aspects in favor of combat. Wealth building and customization can actually be a super fun game mechanic, and if balanced right, you could get just as many players willing to focus on it as you would have players focused on combat. Some good examples of this are Rune Factory and Stardew Valley. A couple things I noticed these games do that might help:

  1. Each focus gives an advantage to the other. Sure, you might be able to neglect your farm and just storm through the dungeons, but it would be really hard. Also, if you ignore the combat and just work on your farm, some resources are going to be hard to find, limiting what you can actually do. The combat loot gives you materials for building your farm (or in you case, whatever you do at home), and the things you build at home give you a fighting edge in the dungeons, such as weapons or potions.

  2. Each focus has its own story and mysteries. A story motivates us to press through a dungeon, since we want to discover what it contains and possibly trigger some new cut-scene. The dungeons, though, aren't the only things that can have story. You can create the same motivation by revealing more to players as they befriend townsfolk or successfully craft rare items.

Since the two focuses are interdependent, most players will choose to do a little of both unless the game is multiplayer. If it is, they would be able to focus more on one part, since they can trade with other players. If this is the route you want players to take, it may be wise to add skill levels. Then, it may be more advantageous for players to specialize, become the best at a particular skill, and then trade for the other things they may need.

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