While it was originally announced a little over a year ago, Restricted-RPS has only recently become publicly playable on a regular basis, and even that requires some server juggling on your part. With the logistics still being worked out, creator Ryan Jake Lambourn is looking to get more people interested in playing Restricted-RPS so that its technical side and designs can be tested and feedback acquired.
Siliconera spoke to him to find out more about the game. What’s most interesting about this gambling take on Rock, Paper, Scissors is t hat it borrows heavily from the manga and anime Kaiji. In fact, Lambourn tells Siliconera how exactly he translated the game played in Kaiji to an online multiplayer game of bluffing, teamwork, betrayal, leading and persuasion.
To get us going, could you introduce yourself and explain what it is that occupies most of your time?
Ryan Jake Lambourn, designer: I’m Ryan Jake Lambourn, lead developer of Restricted-RPS. My time working on it involves a lot of raw game design problem solving, thinking hard about all the ways in which people will use the game mechanics I give them, and lots of work on art and animation and sound design. Also getting that art and animation and sound to seem organic and purposeful in the game. There’s also way too much excruciating work spent on getting the GUI to both look good and function properly. Basically, I do everything client-side. I’m helped out by @homph (creator of Quicksand Coastline) who takes my game design and implements it on the server-side and has acted as host for our beta events.
Restricted-RPS seems similar to the manga and anime Kaiji. Have you read / watched it? Are you a fan? Did you set out to make a game like it and, if so, why?
I absolutely adore Kaiji and any Nobuyuki Fukumoto manga that doesn’t involve copious amounts of Mahjong. Restricted-RPS is quite obviously based on the first game used in the Kaiji series which as far as I’m concerned is the most interesting and complex game in the entirety of the Kaiji series and the one most perfectly thematically tied to its story and characters. Unlike most games in the Kaiji series that are based around one character having an excess of power in the game, either through design or cheating, the Restricted-RPS arc is designed to have a completely fair game that mimics an economy, the idea being if they can make it in this fake economy they’re worth having back out in the real world.
In the context of that story, the rules Fukumoto designed are perfect, but the context of that story is that the majority of those players will only play the game once and that they’re playing with their lives on the line. With wanting to take that experience and translate it to an online-multiplayer game where it will be played repeatedly by players aware of the games rules with nothing on the line besides maybe pride, the original game design becomes not so complex or perfect. For me, Fukumoto’s design becomes a simple well-designed core that I add on to to make the game more complex for my intended audience.
So some things had to change, money was the least important resource in the translation of the game so it was dropped as a concept along with debt, the game no longer has a global time limit (the game in Kaiji lasted 4 hours) nor the auctioning of Stars that came with that time limit, and money and debt. These aspects were changed to simpler goal motivators; do better than other players by getting more stars, having more wins. That’s an obvious change to make for the medium, but then there are less obvious changes, like how to deal with the game moving out of a physical space. This was done by making the information players gather facilitated through NPCs, by having “places” players have to be to do certain things to allow observing players to get a better understanding of what those players are doing, including strict control of when and where players can communicate with one another.
Of course, as these sorts of changes get made they present their own design problems that need to be solved. One that emerged from the removal of a global time limit and incrementing debt saw a huge benefit in a wait-and-see approach where a player wants the best information possible before being willing to enter a Restricted-RPS match. So I solve that by having a turn system that requires players to be available to play a match regularly and flip the standard mentality of “both players need to want to play for a match to happen” to “both players need to want to not play for a match to not happen,” which only happened once in Kaiji, duringKaiji’s final match against Funai, where Funai having been trapped by the time limit andKaiji had no choice but to play with bad terms. A lot of the matches in Kaiji are preceded with Kaiji having to convince someone into playing against him, this in reality isn’t very fun and gets exponentially harder to pull off as people better understand the games rules so it made sense to move control to the player who wants to play.
And to further expand the strategies possible, Restricted-RPS adds more gameplay concepts that run through the core of the gameplay. To this end, we have doubles tokens, a way to increase the stars in the game with a double-or-nothing chip, full information purchasing which decreases the stars in the game by allowing players to pay the Manager Suit NPC to learn EVERYTHING about an opponent, and the recently added Slavery mechanics which allows players to buy and trade other players. Future plans involve a real world banking system inspired mechanic of loaning and debt trading where players would be able to use IOUs instead of actual resources in trades, which are then automatically paid off to the IOU holder when the debtor wins stars in a match.
You mention that you want to bring the “meta” gameplay of competitive games to a non-action game. Why? And how are you trying to achieve this?
When you hear fighting and first-person shooter gamers talking about the meta in their games it’s easy to understand it conceptually and to be interested in it. It’s also easy to feel that you would be good at that sort of game where you predict players actions based on their viewpoint and psychology, but then, in actual practice, you need to actually have good reactions and a lot of playtime in those games to ever even get to that point. It could be said that the “meta” of these games are just the traditional strategic gameplay being hidden behind reaction times. For example, having good reaction times is not something you really need to play chess or experience its same concepts of “meta” gameplay.
Oddly, online multiplayer games seem to be mostly reaction-based types of gameplay…. made even odder by the fact that playing games online is a huge detriment to twitch gaming where even just a little lag can ruin things. With Restricted-RPS I’m trying to get the best out of all these types of gameplay: a strategic game that anyone can play like chess with lots of people involved like an FPS and little ping-dependence so that you aren’t moaning at your connection like an online FPS or fighting game.
So is it right that this is a multiplayer-only game, then? Or is there a single player option too?
I do have plans to hopefully have a minor single player campaign to basically act as a set of tutorial puzzles to teach players all the rules of the game without force feeding them a wiki. But this isn’t high on my list of priorities and Restricted-RPS is definitely a multiplayer-centric game.
In the trailer it seems you’ve created a world around the gambling concept. How do players experience this world? And can they role-play as a character inside it, perhaps?
To provide some characterization to a game that basically boils down to menus and text and moving resources around I’ve tried to make the characters and players and the setting they’re in as interesting as possible without getting in the way. When a player starts a game on a server they’re first asked to give the server a name, players can pick any name they want and a character is procedurally designed for them based off of the name they chose. Functionally, this is just to make sure that players can always tell two players apart in-game, even if they intentionally choose visually identical names. But it certainly provides something in terms of characterization and role-play and I can only hope that many players will wish to role-play as bastards because that is what will truly make the game great for everyone. Every Kaiji needs an Andou.
Regarding this feature you recently added that lets players hire other players to work for them, how does this work?
“Hire” is one way to put it and is how it’s referred to in game. But the informal terminology is “slavery.” You pay the Manager Suit to enslave a player at the cost of how many Stars that player has, meaning you can only enslave those poorer than you. While a player is enslaved any Stars profit they win from playing a match goes to the slave owner. On top of that the master has the ability to push their slaves into matches, use their ownership as resources in trades and can send as many messages as they want to their slaves allowing them to bark orders. The only way a slave can gain stars while enslaved is by being given them in a trade or by winning them in a match against their master. In practice, it’s a way to make players create their own boss fights where multiple lesser-off players NEED to band together like in the story of Kaiji to overcome the power gap.
It seems that you’re looking for people to host servers for Restricted-RPS. How vital is this to the game’s functionality? Will it work without some hosts, for instance?
Well we’ve opened up the game as a public beta allowing players to purchase the server-side and be hosts. Prior to this the game has only been played very occasionally when a beta event would be announced and hosted by us developers. The client-side is still free so that hosts wont have too hard of a time getting players. Restricted-RPS is a game that requires quite a few concurrent players to be enjoyable. The game is very low on ping-dependence so just about any host on any connection should be able to have as many players as they can drum up connecting from just about anywhere on earth without issue.
How much are these servers selling for? And what are the benefits of purchasing one for the buyer?
The servers are currently selling for 5 USD from https://googumproduce.itch.io/rrps and purchasing one will entitle you to all future updates of the server and client including whenever we switch over to selling the client-side and to ownership on other platforms such as a Steam release (if we can ever get through Greenlight, sheesh).
What’s the current release plan for Restricted-RPS. It’s currently in beta but what comes after that and do you know when?
Despite being fully playable, Rippus still has quite a bit to go before it’s out of beta. There’s still more gameplay mechanics to implement, more art, animation and sound design I gotta do. That doesn’t include translation to other languages, the single player tutorial puzzles I mentioned earlier, and most of all we need people playing the game regularly to provide us with the real world feedback needed to make the gameplay better.