Essentials for building an RPG game

So many genres of games cross into RPG territory. It would be doing a disservice to not have a compendium of information covering all essentials that should be considered when creating this game type. Refer to this when drafting up your game structure. This contains great points to consider as you plan out your project.

Note that this guide applies to ARPG’s, Hack and Slash, Top Down RPG’s, 1st and 3rd Person RPGS. Almost every variation of Role Playing Games you can imagine have most of these base elements in common that we will be discussing.

Information Found On This Page

We will help you with the following for building your game.

  • Questing systems
  • Tools to build your game with out programming knowledge
  • Dialogue templates
  • Items and inventory management
  • More icons than you can handle
  • Skills and talent trees
  • Data management
  • GUI’s
  • Visual FX
  • Multiplayer
  • Music and Sound FX

Inventory Management, Item Icons, Portraits

Half the fun in these kinds of RPG’s is the loot. Endless amounts of items, gear, and gold. So we will be delving into multiple templates to bring it all together in one cohesive inventory/item management system.

Inventory System

The bones of the system you will use to manage your in game items. As with all of our asset recommendations, we steer towards very thoroughly used and documented assets that have plenty of support. Which leads us to the obvious choice of Rucksack – Ultimate Inventory System. This incredible asset does the following and more.

  • Multiple inventories
  • Advanced currency system
  • Controller support
  • Full mobile support
  • Extremely optimized
  • Crafting

This new inventory system has been built from the ground up to not become outdated with any version of Unity. As well as adding multiplayer compatible.

Rucksack – Ultimate Inventory System

Item Icons

It would be sage advice to consider that most RPG games have done away with dropping most 3d items on the ground. You’ll notice this in most modern games. This saves a lot of time on 3d object creation, computing power, and development time. Therefore most items are represented by the icon (and data) alone. So you will have far more icons than anything else in your game.

A large and uniform collection of icons will be key to having an appealing inventory and loot system for players. Luckily for us developers, there are a ton of talented artists making every type of icon you can imagine. Let’s start off with some weapons and armor.

Armor Icon Pack, Weapon and Armor Icon Pack, and RPG Weapon Icons

As you continue your game development, and you’re players increase in finding power gear and equipment, you might find yourself wanting something a little more epic. There are some awesome icons representing fairly epic looking gear. Perhaps legendary drops from bosses and end game content. This icons have some of the best epic gear artwork we have ever seen.

RPG Game Icons Vol.2

Quest Items and Loot Icons

Most RPG games have a ton of one off items. Deliver this scroll to the next town. Retrieve this unique basilisk eye. This opal contains an ancient elf soul. You get the idea. It really makes the game more immersive to have proper represented quest icons and random loot icons. Take a look at these sets!

Loot Icons Pack Vol.1, Vol.2, and Vol.3

You might even have some of these icons inspire quest ideas you hadn’t even thought of until now. So it’s great to have such an immense library of potentials for your game project. Here’s three more volumes released by the same publisher

Loot Icons Pack Vol.4, Vol.5, and Vol.3

Crafting, Profession, and Consumable Icons

delving deeper into specific icon types, if you’re considering adding professions, skills and items need to be properly represented as well. Things like crafting, engineering, magic items, etc. Here are some great icon sets for those categories.

Crafting, Engineering, and Magic Item Icons

Somewhat on the crafting side, also leaning towards consumable goods, we have our next items. Depending on how much crafting and alchemy you want in your game, it’s a good idea to consider the following item types as you flesh out your game idea or work towards making a more complete project. Here are some great consumable item type icons.

Food, Herbal, and Potion Icons

Character and Enemy Portrait Icons

Every game is different when it comes to portraying character portraits. Some use a still image of the actual 3D model of the character or enemy mobs face. (Like World of Warcraft.) Some use an artistic hand drawn version of that character. (Like Baldur’s Gate.) There really is no worng or right way. Since we don’t know the specifics of how you plan to present your players this, we will suggest the artistically drawn version in case that so happens to be your style of game creation.

Character, Monsters, and Mobs Avatars

While we’re on this train of thought for character game design concepts. Let’s take a look at a couple more valuable choices.

This incredible pack by Poneti has quite the selection. Including over 100 portraits, it has everything. Humans, heroes, creatures, even animal portraits.

100+ Avatar Icons

While still on the topic of NPC portraits, we should share these last three sets. All with a similar style despite actually being created from three different publishers. Just to help make you aware of some options out there for even more character avatar diversity for your game.

Fantasy-RPG Character Avatar Icons, Character Avatar – Fantasy, Character Avatar Icons – Fantasy

Skill Icons

One talented publisher that always catches our attention on the asset store is Rexard. They always release high quality and artistic content. We absolutely have to mention their Skill Icon Pack for developers looking to make your skills on your skill bar look sharp and have a matching art style.

Skill Icon Pack

There are other high quality spell icons for game development that exist outside of what Rexard has made. Some of these other high quality packs should not be over looked. Especially if your planning to add multiple classes, or spell caster type characters in your game.

150+ Fantasy Spells Icon Pack,

Achievement, Faction, or Class Icons

Depending on how in depth you get into your game, lots of fantasy games have unlock-able achievements. Or belong to a specific faction. Perhaps to represent race or class. This particular pack is extremely detailed. The icons have much more meaning to them than simple item icons. There fore we have classified them as such. Consider this pack when requiring important artwork to represent more major parts of your game.

Badges Mega Pack

Have a look through the screenshots for this one. You’ll see what we mean.

If you’re looking to purchase a lot of these in large pack, lucky for most the item icons mentioned previously made by Rexard, has an all-in-one Mega Pack. If you’re serious about your game, you should highly consider this pack.

Fantasy Icons Mega Pack

Don’t let the price tag scare you away. These are hand painted and more than one artist could make in a few months. Well worth the price.

Systems and Templates

Time to get into the meat and potatoes of development and what really helps make a game great. All of these types of systems used to be painstakingly created from scratch for each game. These templates will save you hundreds of hours.

Questing

A great way to transition from epic gear and loot is on to the quests that reward them. An obvious reward mechanic that also quite often helps progress the games story line.


Since we typically present non-programmer based solutions, there is no better than this questing asset that requires no scripting. Welcome to the powerful asset Quest Machine.

Quest Machine

With benefits to numerous to list here, we’ll rattle off some major selling points.

  • Procedural-generated quests
  • Very flexible UI system
  • Add your own hand-written quests
  • Supports multiplayer games
  • Persist data across scene changes
  • Works seamlessly with many other packages across the asset store

The amount of tools featured in this quest template system is very impressive to say the least. If you want to read all of the benefits, click onto the package and check out the description.

Dialogue

Tying in perfectly with our next topic after questing comes dialogue. In almost any game involving a questing system, it will have a fair amount of text dialogue. It goes much further than a simple text box behind the scenes. You need a system that ties in key quests and characters together. Proper times for one NPC to mention certain things after a quest has been completed or other specific dialogue has happened. The system can become nauseating and confusing with enough characters involved.


The solution to this is simple. A dialogue template that not only keeps track of all of these checks behind the scenes, easy to implement, and ties into Quest Machine. Which is exactly what Dialogue System for Unity does.

Dialogue System for Unity

Health and Mana Bar

Usually represented in some visual cue of red and blue filled graphic meter. The human brain is better at taking a visual cue of such an important stat in games in the midst of action. Not just limited to health and magic globes though. Sometimes a rage meter. Amount of a protective magic shield. Stamina meter. Energy. Even a level up bar. This list could go on forever.


So we might as well start off with recommending a very visually appealing health globe. Named Resource Bubble. Since it’s made to be used for a variety of different things. This particular asset gives you control over the colors and even has a split version. Runs efficiently using a shader for the graphics.

Resource Bubble

If you’re looking for an actual bar, or perhaps some other wild shapes, there’s a great asset for that as well. This asset is packed with every theme and shape you could imagine for health, mana, and other resources.

16 Health bar high quality

Leveling and Experience

A core mechanic that all RPG’s have in common is a leveling system. Kill enemies to gain strength and experience to be stronger to kill more enemies. It’s a viscous and enjoyable cycle. Many developers try to implement their own system from scratch. Which tends to be very time consuming. XP Manager takes all the work out of it. Allowing you to scale leveling, stats, what ever you like, in a proper gradient fashion. Save yourself the headache!

XP Manager

Skill Trees and Talents

Most RPG’s have a skill tree. A visual lay out of each skill you can work your way towards unlocking. Sometimes requiring you to unlock the lesser skill before moving on to the more enhanced versions. Other times simply requiring a certain level or amount of stats. Talentus Pro is the tool you are looking for to achieve any and all of this.

Usually in the RPG format of game play, skills and talents are represented in a ‘tree’. This helps you lay the ground work for the type of character and abilities they prefer to use in combat. As always, these things are possible to build from scratch. But we highly recommend finding a tool that takes care of the heavy lifting for you. Talentus Pro takes care of a large range of lay outs for a talent tree.

Talentus Pro

It might be recommended to wait for this particular asset to go on sale. Still worth it even at it’s high price tag. But possibly a bit much for the average developer to swallow. Depends on how much you value you development time.

Most of everything up till now has been more so the fun parts. You will have to implement multiple systems behind the scenes for some obvious reasons as you continue your development journey.

User Interface

From the launching of your game, to the many character windows, you will have a considerable amount of UI. There are several very well put together UI systems. Fantasy GUI Package was specifically made to be used in RPG’s. Very responsive, customizable, and the exact right look. Makes it much easier to tailor the game you want to build instead of tinkering around in the back end.

Fantasy GUI Package

There’s a plethora of UI’s on the Asset Store. Which is great news for us developers. These are the UI’s we suggested in the 1st and 3rd person RPG guide. But it doesn’t hurt to mention them here again. Developers are better off with more options to suit their project.

Burnblade UI, Demonic UI 8k, and Emerald Treasure GUI

Work Flow and Game Creation

Everything you will be creating in game, from level progression, to enemy item drop chances, to unlocking new areas, has to be set up and saved somewhere. A visual editor is an elegant solution.

Create a Game With No Programming Knowledge


As with almost any of these systems, this can be hard coded. But without having some in depth knowledge on this topic, you’re going to want an easier solution. Playmaker is the ultimate solution to this. With over 3000 five star reviews, it;s obvious they have an absolutely dynamite tool for developers.

Playmaker

Here’s food for thought. Blizzard used Playmaker in Unity to develop Hearthstone. If an experienced dev team with an immense budget is using a tool like Playmaker, that should really make a programmer stop and think. Can this really enhance my workflow? The answer is yes. Absolutely.

Save Game

The amount of features packed into this is absolutely incredible. Also with Playmaker integration, which is extremely important. The best method sometimes is the simplest.

Save Game Pro – Gold Update

Item Data

If you’re planning to have an extensive enemy, NPC, and item list. Having certain spawn and/or drop rates, ranges, etc. You’re going to need a tool that handles that for you. Something that’s easy to input into behind the scenes. Game Data Editor is that tool. Great for a rewards system i.e. determining random drops for chests, mobs, boss fights. Think of it as your smart spreadsheets behind the scenes.

Game Data Editor

Controls and Controller Input

Every developer starts game controls with a mouse and keyboard. It’s only natural while creating your RPG build on a PC. Keep in mind RPG’s typically pair quite well with a hand held console controller. Rewired is an simple asset for controller input set up. Save yourself the painstaking process of making something yourself.

Rewired

Visual Effects

Chances are you’ll be adding a decent amount of visual cues and effects. A character hit with a fireball spell will probably be darker and have glowing embers surround them. Frozen or blue effects. Etc.

Shaders

What you need is a shader that takes care of all of this. With out knowing your exact needs, we have a great suggestion that absolutely excels at everything you’ll need to apply visual fx to in your RPG.

Amplify Shader Editor

Particle Effects

You can manually add particle effects in Unity. But to speed up the process, there’s a great asset that exist that not enough developers know about. It’s called Mesh Effects. If you are looking to add particle effects to weapons, armor, or other gear. Like an icy aura. Hot glow. Dripping green poison particles. Holy light glow. Mesh Effects is the asset you need to achieve this effect. It’s optimized and easy to add to your weapons mesh.

Mesh Effects

While on the topic of visual effects in RPG’s, we should give this one a shout out as well. If you need the upwards light beam and particle explosion that happens around your player as they level up, someone has built it. Level Up FX achieves that look perfectly. Except a light blue teal isn’t really our first pick of color. Luckily the sprite sheet is included and very easy to change the color to match your game.

Level Up FX

On the topic of specific effects, lets not forget that often times RPG’s have portals. From a scroll, spell, end of a dungeon for a free one way return trip to town. Portals come up pretty often. As well as portals, some rare, epic, and legendary item drops have a colored beam above them. To help indicate the importance or rarity of gear drops. It’s polish and shine like this in your game that can set you apart from the rest! Action RPG FX has both portal and item effects. as well as others!

Action RPG FX

Music and Sound FX

We have used music pretty extensively in our development history. You could make your own. But without a lot of experience in this industry, it’s better to go with established creators who have been doing this for years and have the best sound quality.


We always choose royalty free options for numerous reasons. When you game takes off and sells a large amount of units, you don’t owe a huge royalty unexpectedly. It’s also just far easier to deal with royalty free. One and done and forget it. Plus as you build your sound library, you can use some music and sound FX in multiple projects.

Soundtracks

This particular set of sound tracks is great for music in an RPG. We suggesting listening to this and looking in the recommended tab for more fantasy style soundtracks for your game.

Colossal Game Music Collection

Or you can check out this particular category with a ton of great sound tracks for your RPG.

Unity>Audio>Music>Fantasy

Sound Effects

From hack and slash sounds, spells, and the howling threats and death noises of the creatures you put in the game, you’re going to have to input a lot of sound FX. Some Medieval Combat Sounds is a great place to start for generic attacks and combat noise. To cover your spells, RPG Magic SFX pack is an excellent addition. A little known gem, and very hard to find on the asset store, Monster Sound FX has an excellent array of grunts, death cries, creature sounds, and monster sounds.

Medieval Combat Sounds, RPG Magic SFX Pack, Monster Sound Fx Pack 1

One thing we learn project after project, is there is a lot of tiny sound FX we take for granted in games. Almost everything you click on or select should have some sort of reactive sound. Even moving items from slot to slot usually sound like their base material. Fantasy Interface Sounds is perfectly suited to RPG games.

Fantasy Interface Sounds

All the previously mentioned should cover most of the sound effects and music in your RPG. But for the few gaps you might need to fill, we have been purchasing sounds from this company for over a decade. They have an extensive library of single sound FX at affordable prices. And some great game music sound tracks. All royalty free as well.

https://www.soundrangers.com/index.cfm/category/593/creature-and-monster-sounds.cfm

Multiplayer

Inputting multiplayer is one of those fickle things. Honestly, this could be an entire wall of text type guide. And we might do our very own some day for specifics of each part of implementing networking.

Multiplayer Service

Aside from the many different thoughts that come with choosing to implement multiplayer. Balancing, item sharing and trading, chat and voice options, etc. The main thing to decide is which service to use for multiplayer. Our research and experience lead us to Photon. We’ve been using their service for over three years as our multiplayer solution. So far they have been great service.

Photon PUN+ Classic


Wrapping Up

Thank you for taking the time to read our guide. We hope that at the very least we’ve helped you outline your overall game plan and design. Remember to bookmark this page to consult as you continue to build your game.

As always, we will continuously update these guides with more information to help you make your dream game. Thanks for reading and happy developing.