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What have been the bad elements of past CRPGs?


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#1 Ranger Meldon   Members   -  Reputation: 198

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 09:50 AM

This question was originally spawned from this thread about using numbers in CRPGs. Since a lot of the time, a good game can be 80% defined by what it doesn't do wrong, then "what things have all of you experienced (role-players and min-maxers alike) in the various RPGs and FPS RPGs that you disagreed with, didn't like, or outright hated?" I ask this question as it applies in general, but also especially as it relates to numbers. I ask this in the hope that this might be a better starting point for understanding how to make a better CRPG. [Edited by - Ranger Meldon on June 29, 2005 5:59:01 PM]

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#2 Ranger Meldon   Members   -  Reputation: 198

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 09:51 AM

I'll start this question off with some answers of my own. I don't like:

1) Having walking/running consume stamina. That just gets to be a pain in the ass, like having to go pee every two minutes. Just take it out of the game entirely.

2) Massive hit points for anything (unless it's physically big, like a dragon or something). If you still want to have the equivalent of massive HP, have smaller HP and a separate, massive "fighting stamina" or "maneuvering stamina" (MS) tank.

3) Games that don't allow your character to regenerate slowly over time by default. If HP in most games (that don't explicitly have MS) is actually supposed to represent mostly MS, then you would become rested again over time while not fighting (or running?). If you still want to have a regeneration power, then make it effective even while fighting and running, make it regenerate MS more quickly, or make it regenerate HP instead of MS. Maybe have a higher form of regen that does both HP and MS when applicable.

4) Games that base encumberance on volume of storage space consumed. Ok fine, I understand that there's only so much room in a backpack. So make the game tell the player, perhaps in the character's own voice, "There's no more room in my backpack for that!"
Have a separate weight-based encumberance that makes the voice say "That's too heavy!" or "I'm already carrying too much!" etc. Realism should allow for both space and weight constraints, not just one or the other, and certainly not one acting as the other.

5) How games that use weight-based carrying limits don't offer any recourse to physically wimpy mages. There needs to be some kind of "magic bag of holding" or something, that only mages (or characters beyond a certain level of magic skill) can make and equip that allows them to carry somewhere near the same amount of stuff a warrior can. I also think a packmule and/or wagon are good ideas too.

6) Games where magic items are ridiculously prolific. I also don't like games where so few magic items exist as to almost not be a part of the game.

7) How most games don't have many varieties of weapons. Even the ones that do, don't give each weapon type special consideration when used in certain situations, like how a spear can be used nicely against a group of enemies at once, or when surrounded.

8) How uncustomizable the weapons are in practically every game I've ever played, especially if it's an FPS RPG. I want to be able to forge my own custom sword that has a large chance of looking unique even in an MMORPG setting. This would just be an issue of mixing and matching different weapon subparts, i.e. hafts, handles, blades, blade tips, edges, guards, pommels, runes, effects like glowing or flaming, etc. This would be so extremely cool, and if you coded it right, it wouldn't have to be that much more complex.

9) How few special abilities, and particularly fighting moves and abilities, that most games have. Special abilities, along with skills, should define a character far more obviously than stats ever could.

10) How set-in-stone that most model animations are. Sometimes they need to be predetermined, but especially in fights, why not incorporate more "ragdoll physics" type interactions, where the character can feint, can mess up and trip, or get out of step, off-balance, etc? Also, why not merge this concept with skill level, such that a character looks cooler, smoother, and less varied in doing a certain thing the more they do it (based on how much they've skilled up in it). Also, I don't like how totally unrealistic running up and down stairs looks. Each foot should land squarely on each step, and appear to be propelling the character upward and forward by virtue of the interaction of their feet with the steps. It should not appear as if their feet are running in place while their body is translating in a straight line at an upward angle.

11) How in almost all FPS RPGs, you can't look down and see your character's lower body and feet. Even in those few games where you can, your feet look like they're running in place when you move your character's body even a little bit forward or backward. Cheesy.

12) How most (if not all) games that give you a limited lungful of air while swimming underwater don't allow you to skill up in swimming such that you can eventually swim for longer.

13) Game engines that handle reputation stupidly. Say you kill some monster that's harassing some village, completely by yourself out in the middle of nowhere, and by the time you can make it to the nearest town, everybody somehow magically knows that you killed the monster, as if they were watching it on TV or something. Right.

14) How no game has ever allowed a person to skill up in dancing. That would be so cool, to watch a good dancer character. (And it might allow you to get yourself into situations more easily as a secret agent or assassin.)

15) Games (such as Diablo 2) when they give numbers (especially percentages) for an item that don't really tell you any more than you knew to begin with. Example: What does 10% faster hit recovery even mean? 10% faster than what? and is that based on my character class? does the monster I'm fighting affect that percentage at all? If I have multiple pluses to hit recovery, do they stack? or does each one figure in after the previous one has been figured in? Annoyingly vague.

16) How in games like Diablo 2, your skills give you less and less additional benefit each time you put a new level into them. After a while, it's almost like, what's the point? Especially since the monsters don't seem to gain skills in such a diminishing fashion.

17) Games that make finding uber-powerful or epic magic items a matter of pure luck. Ok fine, so some of them might make those items only drop from certain bosses, but it's still a matter of extreme luck. I might kill some boss a hundred times and never get a really cool drop, whereas my friend might kill the boss once and get two such items. That just sucks. I know they do this so that people will be encouraged to play the game for days on end, but come on. There's got to be a better way. The developers are cheapening their own game in doing this, and a player's eventual revulsion is the proof.

18) When games make a boss or some random mini-boss suddenly much tougher than previous bosses or mini-bosses. You can be cruising along, dealing death left and right, getting lulled into a sense of false security, and then all of a sudden, you die in one or two hits, sometimes without even knowing who killed you. This would be either because the badass was hidden amongst a bunch of identical-looking minions, or because he had some kind of lightning or flame aura that did 4 to 5 times the damage for that aura than you've seen in other bosses before or after that part in the game. Many times, after you resurrect and go back to confront him again (more prepared this time), he's no longer there. It's like, where the hell did he go? I certainly didn't kill him. It's annoying and disheartening, and it makes you feel like the game was designed so that every so often it's just going to kill you, whether you like it or not, and no matter how prepared you try to be.

19) Shallow role-playing opportunities in RPGs. The game offers these scenarios that any character class can effectively solve, and after a while, it makes you feel like you might as well not even have a specific character class. I realize that it is cool part of the time to see how you can get your class through the different obstacles, but it feels like templated railroading after a while. I think the problem is that these games need to offer more class-specific content, that can only be accessed directly when playing as a member of that class. (i.e. druid-only quests, paladin-only quests, etc)

20) Bad inventory design. This includes inventories that:
- Don't allow you to click one item down on top of another and have the game swap the items.
- Cannot be sorted, or cannot be set by the player to sort items according to criteria, i.e. put all my potions at the top, etc.
- Cannot shuffle items around to consolidate free space, especially in such a way as to accomodate the specific size and shape of the item you are trying to put in it.

21) Potions that can be accidentally imbibed even when the player doesn't need any of what the potion provides (i.e. their health is already full, etc).

22) When potions get used up in one drink when the player needed far less health etc than what the potion could optimally provide. Each potion bottle should "remember" how much liquid has already been consumed from it. Preferably, bottles should be able to be mixed, such that one partially-filled bottle can "top off" another partially filled bottle of the same type of potion.

23) Games that have item durability that don't allow characters to skill up in repairing their own items. For that matter, games that don't allow characters to do anything that NPCs can mundanely do (like fix things, brew and mix potions, forge weapons and armor, enchant items, identify magic items, etc)

~Ranger Meldon~ M.M. .:

#3 Namire   Members   -  Reputation: 140

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 10:03 AM

Nice list, gives me alot to think about. My main concerns were most of yours too. Here's my others:

1. Spell Variety and Random Spells, I hate it how alot of rpg or mmorpg seem to have alot of spells that do the same exact thing. How there aren't spells to levitate, move objects with mind power and all that stuff. And what about spells that you find randomly that are completly unique. I heard that WoW does a little of that.

2. Quests: I hate having to run across the whole world twenty times. In all reality when someone goes on a quest they don't leave from britain, go to Japan, go back to britain, go back to japan then go to south america somewhere. I don't like running everywhere, why can't you just make more obstacles.

Like I said, I agree with alot of what you said.

#4 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1825

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 01:35 PM

Quote:
Original post by Ranger Meldon
I'll start this question off with some answers of my own. I don't like:


Out of curiosity: To what degree, if any, has this list impacted your game buying decisions?

--------------------Just waiting for the mothership...

#5 Trapper Zoid   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1370

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 02:03 PM

Gosh, Ranger Meldon, that's a lot of RPG gripes! (I do agree with most of them.)

Off the top of my head, here's my shortlist of most annoying elements of CRPGs.

1. Bad combat systems. Since most CRPGs use combat as the bread-and-butter of their gameplay, it pains me how bad they can be. This seems to summarise a lot of your list. Usual characteristics are:
a. bad to non-existant combat AI
b. hack-and-hack-again (not even advanced to have slash) no-brainer combat
c. tough guys being tough purely by increased damage and health, not skill (ties into a again).

2. Bad role-playing. This should be the core of these games, but most of these games have the same failings:
a. linear plotlines
b. lack of interaction with the environment and NPCs. If my character is a burly guy with a sledgehammer and is faced with a locked wooden door, there is an obvious solution that is not "find the key"! This goes double if my character is a mage armed with the "armageddon fireball" spell!
c. inappropriate NPC reactions. For example, if I'm an armoured knight with a massive broadsword crackling with lightning-based magic, and the NPC is a thug dressed in rags armed with a stick, the NPC is going to have second thoughts before trying to attack me!

3. Inventory madness. Summarises a lot of points you made, but for me it all boils down to this: I don't want to spend most of the game shifting stuff around in my inventory, agonising over what to keep and what to drop and so on.



#6 wildhalcyon   Members   -  Reputation: 149

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 05:34 PM

No disagreement here with any of the gripes mentioned so far. I think Trapper Zoid made some great points about combat and AI. Im REALLY tired of seeing RPGs with the latest graphics and nifty "realism" features like encumberance that can't even hack it in the combat AI category. Some RPGs that have been lauded with praise for great storylines don't HAVE great storylines at all. They may have terrific graphics that are the result of being made by a professional game development company, but they lack the creative writing of a junior in college.

Here are two examples:

Chrono Cross - an old game for the PSX. Considering the technology, the graphics were great, but most of the combat boiled down to half an hour of choosing the right spells for the boss fight you were about to face. There are little character development, even for MAIN characters. Yet the game was produced by world-renowned Square-Enix, which, should be willing to shell out an extra $32K for a better writer.

Dungeon Siege - The fact that the game is now available for $9.99 should say it all. Almost all the gripes I've seen listed here are present in this game. 'Nough said.

Current Bigtime Gripes:

1. Combat
- AI
- Spell/Skill variety; typically its a numbers game with weakness to element
and a damage number. Occassionally ice spells will freeze/numb, flame will
cause some kind of burning, but that's about it.
- HUGE lack of variety with melee equipment

2. Storyline
- Character Development
- Quest motivation/development

3. Interface Design
- lack of sorting, or poorly done equipment interfaces
- Poor menu design, and combat information access

#7 Trapper Zoid   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1370

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 06:01 PM

Quote:
Original post by wildhalcyon
- Spell/Skill variety; typically its a numbers game with weakness to element
and a damage number. Occassionally ice spells will freeze/numb, flame will
cause some kind of burning, but that's about it.


Oh yes, this reminds me of another gripe; the lack of non-combat orientated spells. Magic usually seems totally gear around either damaging monsters, combat protection, or healing. Sometimes you get a few extras, like identifying spells, but combat is what it's all about. Where are the spells to do other useful things, like make it rain, or forecasting the future? The only few examples I can think of are things like Morrowind which had door opening spells and levitate (levitate was really all I ever use), and one of my favourite series of all time, the Quest for Glory games, where even the combat spells like Flame Dart and Force Bolt had non-combat uses (like lighting torches and knocking things over).


#8 Kaze   Members   -  Reputation: 948

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 06:39 PM

Quote:
Original post by Ranger Meldon
2) Massive hit points for anything (unless it's physically big, like a dragon or something). If you still want to have the equivalent of massive HP, have smaller HP and a separate, massive "fighting stamina" or "maneuvering stamina" (MS) tank.

Or at lest make a modular oponent or some way that a monster with 5,000,000 HP slightly weaker when it only has 1 HP left

Quote:
Original post by Ranger Meldon
5) How games that use weight-based carrying limits don't offer any recourse to physically wimpy mages. There needs to be some kind of "magic bag of holding" or something, that only mages (or characters beyond a certain level of magic skill) can make and equip that allows them to carry somewhere near the same amount of stuff a warrior can. I also think a packmule and/or wagon are good ideas too.

or at lest no penetys for weight, i dont care aout realism here, dont make me crawl back to town at 25% speed just becouse im at 75% max weight

#9 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 07:27 PM

Forget about lack of ability to carry weight, the stereotype that mages are all frail, weak nerds that sit around all day reading books and going to the hospital over stubbed toes needs to be dispelled (is that a pun?). Clerics being devoted to a god or deity is also another thing I don't like very much. Spellcasters, by large, have been forced into the back of the group. Warriors, by contrast, have upwards of 2-3 times as many hps as mages. It makes it difficult to scale upwards. I'd rather every human start with 50 hps and then scale upwards at their different rates, than everyone starting at a rate that makes 2nd level 2x as powerful as first level. Magic systems should be independant of their prospective users.

#10 Ranger Meldon   Members   -  Reputation: 198

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Posted 30 June 2005 - 03:35 AM

Quote:
Original question by Wavinator
Out of curiosity: To what degree, if any, has this list impacted your game buying decisions?
This is a good question, and difficult to answer. But then, that doesn't surprise me based on some of your other posted questions; you seem very much about the bottom line, and I suppose I can't help but respect that. Hrmmm... well, in some ways, it's impossible for my list of irritants to affect my game purchasing decisions, because sometimes you just can't tell what a pile of refuse you've bought until you install and play it. I guess I would say in general that I tend to avoid a developer once they've proven themselves to produce a shoddy game. I also keep up with who buys out who, so a team can't just rename themselves and expect me to fall for it. I try to stay open-minded. If I hear that a development group has really undergone a revamp, and they have an awesome new game to prove it, I might consider trying them out again. I also try to burn into my mind a graphical "scar" of the look and feel of a worthless game, so that any other game that looks the same, or looks like it would act the same, I don't buy.

However, all that having been said, I mostly posted this list as a resource for us programmers to know what to avoid in our own games. I didn't really design this list to reflect observations that would influence my buying decisions. I just know a crappy game when I play one, and not usually before then. Like most things in life, it's a lot easier to identify what you don't want than what you do want, and even then only in retrospect.

~Ranger Meldon~ M.M. .:

#11 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1825

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Posted 30 June 2005 - 09:25 PM

Quote:
Original post by Ranger Meldon
Quote:
Original question by Wavinator
Out of curiosity: To what degree, if any, has this list impacted your game buying decisions?
This is a good question, and difficult to answer. But then, that doesn't surprise me based on some of your other posted questions; you seem very much about the bottom line, and I suppose I can't help but respect that.


I asked not to criticize, but more to understand. The list of irritants you posted, on average, speak to a strong interest in very complicated or intensive solutions. Reputation, rag doll physics and customization are difficult challenges for any game, expensive and time consuming. So when I see them come up as complaints, I think, "Hmmm... how many feel this way? Of those that feel this way, how many are willing to stop buying a game because of it? Okay, now how many are willing to pay extra for a game or lose other features to support it?"

What I find hard to understand now is if someone tells me that they want something just because they want it, no matter how difficult it is to get (like "I want a Star Trek holodeck NOW!") If the desire is unconnected from reality, then I'm interested in how to educate the customer (heh, or avoid the customer, since some cost you more than they're ever willing to contribute).

Quote:

I also try to burn into my mind a graphical "scar" of the look and feel of a worthless game, so that any other game that looks the same, or looks like it would act the same, I don't buy.


:) Reminds me of trying to detect from the screenshots when games had hand painted animation vs. an animation you could really interact with. I agree with you about not getting suckered, which is 2x as tough because of the return policies most stores have.

Quote:

However, all that having been said, I mostly posted this list as a resource for us programmers to know what to avoid in our own games. I didn't really design this list to reflect observations that would influence my buying decisions. I just know a crappy game when I play one, and not usually before then. Like most things in life, it's a lot easier to identify what you don't want than what you do want, and even then only in retrospect.


But do you REALLY think a game is crappy if it doesn't give you a $50,000.00 ragdoll physics system complete with feinting and tripping as a result? That seems a bit extreme.

--------------------Just waiting for the mothership...

#12 sergeant_x   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 30 June 2005 - 09:47 PM

CRPG complaint #1, for me, is the ubiquitous focus on leveling and powerups as the point of play. This isn't anything unique about CRPGs as it merely carries over a principle feature of most pnpRPGs. (thanks Gary Gygax)

Isn't it time we moved the RPG hobby past adolescent power fantasies?

#13 nefthy   Members   -  Reputation: 184

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Posted 01 July 2005 - 02:02 AM

Quote:
Original post by sergeant_x
CRPG complaint #1, for me, is the ubiquitous focus on leveling and powerups as the point of play. This isn't anything unique about CRPGs as it merely carries over a principle feature of most pnpRPGs. (thanks Gary Gygax)

Isn't it time we moved the RPG hobby past adolescent power fantasies?


I completely agree with this.

#14 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 01 July 2005 - 02:40 AM

... so I'll start drawing up the plans for average power people who, over the course of the game, only gain marginal power differential? ... and done. Really though, what alternatives do you suggest?

#15 EasyRaider   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 01 July 2005 - 03:29 AM

The (obvious) alternative is to add more actual roleplaying. Really, you don't need skill/stat/perk advancement at all to make a great RPG.

I really wish level-ups and classes would just go away. There are better and more flexible ways to handle character advancement. Classes do make balancing easier, though.

#16 Ranger Meldon   Members   -  Reputation: 198

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Posted 01 July 2005 - 03:41 AM

Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
I asked not to criticize, but more to understand.
Ok, I want you to know one good thing right now: I did not think that you asked in order to criticize. I completely understand and share your urge to be more aware. I don't even know you (I mean, how could I?) and I still already like your posting style. You don't ask stupid questions or post trivial comments. You may focus more on the bottom line than I do, but that doesn't make your focus bad. It just makes it different from mine, and that might even be because yours is borne more of experience than mine. At any rate, let there not be a misunderstanding between us. You ask whatever you feel like, and I will do my best to answer. Sometimes I just have an aggressive typing tone that comes off sounding defensive or annoyed when it's not.

Now for the actual reply part:
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
The list of irritants you posted, on average, speak to a strong interest in very complicated or intensive solutions. Reputation, rag doll physics and customization are difficult challenges for any game, expensive and time consuming.
I feel compelled to defend myself. :) I will agree with you if you revise the first part of that statement to read "a strong interest in merely more complicated or intensive solutions." Don't get me wrong, I know people aren't going to keep buying your game if your graphics are beautiful and your gameplay sucks. However (comma), we are quickly reaching an era in computer gaming where all the basic child's play programming techniques have been done literally hundreds of times over. The average consumer is getting sick of it, and wants to see something new (what a shocker) or at least something more. If that means a reputation system that works or a "rag-doll" physics subsystem, then so be it. I don't see why it would be a bad thing to realistically explore these possibilites. Let's face it, as Maddox says, "rag-doll" is basically just a BS hype name for an engine that supports basic Newtonian physics. Sure, if you happened to buy such a technology from someone else, you might pay 50 grand. But if you open a physics textbook and start using some imagination, you can write your own. Time intensive? Hell yes, especially at first. But at least you now own the source code, and are beholden to no one. I'm not big on reinventing the wheel, but some wheels need to be made by a man's own hands in order for him to better understand his world and control his own destiny.

Besides, once you start figuring out how to do it yourself, it'll probably seem a lot less intimidating. After all, the fact that a commercial subsystem already exists proves that it can be done; somebody had to sit down and write that code themselves for the first time. So can we. "As man has done, man can do." Anything's easy when you know how to do it. Reputation might actually be a little tougher, because it's not already based on well-understood laws. However, if you can conceive of it, you can do it, if you'll try. Customization is not that big of a deal. You just break up your models into smaller parts, and allow the player to mix them together, limited only by certain rules, like you can't attach a blade to the tip of another blade, etc. When they're all done, you can even simplify your physics a little bit by merging the submodels into one bigger model that looks the same but has a unified skeleton. Of course, you'd want to keep track in an array of what subparts the weapon is comprised. That way, the player can recustomize the weapon in the future without you having to keep track of the specific details of all those submodel vertices, or how to break apart the merged model.

Anything's hard if you decide ahead of time that it's going to be hard. Some of the most profound things in the Universe are exceedingly simple. A lot of the suggestions I make seem like a really big deal mostly because people haven't bothered themselves yet with making games that include all these ideas simultaneously. Bump mapping and per-pixel lighting were big, impressive deals when they first came out. Now you see them in a lot of games, and nobody thinks anything of it, except that they look cooler than games that don't have them.

It's not a matter of, "will people not buy my game if I don't do this?" but instead a matter of "how many more people will LOVE my game because I do this?" "How much farther might I raise the bar on the genre if I do this?" "How much less will I feel like I'm churning out yet another cookie-cutter abomination of a game, and feel more like I'm making a labor of love?" After all, if your heart's not into the prospect of devoting your very life to creating a labor of love, why in the world are you creating game software in the first place? Go program e-commerce or bank software. Those are both about as artful as a club to the head. And I say these things not just to you, Wavinator, but to any other programmer reading this, as a warning: you shouldn't be programming games if you don't love what you do, and want to make it better every day. The industry is becoming more flooded all the time with passionless (or worse yet, impassioned but bereft of tenacity or talent) idiots with CS degrees who should be monkey-coding or mopping floors, not making art.

Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
If the desire is unconnected from reality[....]
These desires are completely connected to reality; they originate from the creative urge to implement the laws of reality into a virtual setting. People who are writing first-person perspective 3D games should be trying their best to make a realistic 3D world, for the sake of immersiveness. I don't need a holodeck, I just need something realistic that doesn't look like crap. I'll work on beautiful later. Yes, that's how I would rank them: Gameplay, then realism, then beauty.

Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
But do you REALLY think a game is crappy if it doesn't give you a $50,000.00 ragdoll physics system complete with feinting and tripping as a result? That seems a bit extreme.
Perhaps it's time for a little extremeness to shake up the perceptions in programmers' minds that it's ok to make a game that is less than your best. Or perhaps to shake up those perceptions in the minds of the corporate money-mongering beaurocrats who give us unrealistic deadlines and pay substandard wages for the hours we work. All this for an endeavor the heart of which they will never understand. Bottom line: If you conceive of something, and know it's possible to do both in terms of implementation and current hardware limitations, but decide not to because "it would be too hard", or because you're not willing to invest the development time, to me that's just plain lazy and reprehensible. That is, at least if you hold yourself to the standard of trying to be a true programming artist, as I do.

I realize that the art of programming is all about balancing competing desires. However, some things should never be compromised. Quality over quantity is one of them. And if this means taking more development time, figuring out Newtonian physics for yourself, and/or making customizable items, then so be it. I know I would love spending three or four years developing a game that players forget about after only a year or so. I would feel like I just wasted the past 4 years of my life, even if I was gainfully employed at it the whole time. Bottom line: Yes, I do think much less highly of a 3D FP RPG game that doesn't have realistic physics, reputation system (if applicable), and/or features like customization. Yes, if I see one more Quake 3 engine clone converted into an RPG, I might scream. Yes, I would probably not buy a game any more that doesn't start getting things right.

~Ranger Meldon~ M.M. .:

Edit: Before you think I'm saying any of this in anger, please remember that I don't think you're stupid and I like your questions a lot. This is just me, on some topics.

[Edited by - Ranger Meldon on July 1, 2005 10:41:05 AM]

#17 Wysardry   Members   -  Reputation: 239

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Posted 01 July 2005 - 03:55 AM

I fail to see how a list of likes/dislikes is going to be of any use if it applies to more than one type of game and those adding items are not representative of the target audience.

Action RPGs and "pure" CRPGs have different features and appeal to different players. Removing or adding the same features in both would not make sense.

Even if you limited the list to one game type, only some of the members of this community are likely to be the type of player you intend to make the game for, as we have very different tastes. The only thing we have in common is that we're all interested in some aspect of game development.

You also have to stop to consider why each feature has been included in the past, and the possible effect(s) of removing it. For example, allowing magic users to carry as much as fighters may well destroy the balance of the system, as the restriction should be there for a reason.

CRPG systems are all about balancing advantages with disadvantages, and are basically just a more complex version of the "paper, rock, scissors" game. Arbitrarily deciding that the paper should no longer wrap the rock would just lead to every player choosing the rock.

#18 sergeant_x   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 01 July 2005 - 03:59 AM

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Original post by Anonymous Poster
... so I'll start drawing up the plans for average power people who, over the course of the game, only gain marginal power differential? ... and done. Really though, what alternatives do you suggest?
The classic pnp sci-fi RPG, Traveller, had no experience system, no levels, and no built in mechanic for character 'advancement'. It was by far my favorite RPG and provided years of great play. When I look back, one the biggest reasons the play was so worthwhile was because of the different tone and attitude of the players when 'hero-building' wasn't the point of the game. Players took pride in the accomplishments and experiences of their characters. They had successes, failures, and took an active part in the story.

I'm not saying these things can't happen in modern games, but the focus on advancement does get in the way. In subsequent years, as the hobby has grown and the players matured, I've expected to see real roleplaying come into it's own. It hasn't happened. There are isolated groups that take care to find some story in their games, but the games themselves have uniformly catered to the 'steady-climb-to-godhood' as the central, game-supported, mode of play.

We can talk about alternatives, I suppose, but it's really as simple as just not having the power-ups and character advancement as part of the game. It will disappoint people who've come to define RPG's in terms of levels and powers, but we also might find new converts to the hobby with something to add besides clever min/maxing strategies.

#19 EasyRaider   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 01 July 2005 - 04:28 AM

Here's another bad element which applies to games in general: grave, obvious mismatches between story/scripting and gameplay. In scripted sequences, people may get killed from getting their throats slit, yet during gameplay, it's more often than not impossible to kill with a single cut, even if the opponent is unconscious. I can understand that single hit kills are often avoided for gameplay concerns, but when they occur anyway at specific, predetermined points, I really feel cheated. In KotOR, it gets downright ridiculous. Thermal detonators are talked about like they are mini-nukes, capable of obliterating anyone within a sizeable area. But later on, you can have them explode right at your feet for only 15% HP damage. Another example (not RPG) is Red Alert: You get to see some really cool, somewhat realistic video clips, but actual gameplay is totally different. I would have liked the game better if it didn't have those action clips to remind me of just how limited and unrealistic the game is.

#20 Jaywalk   Members   -  Reputation: 250

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Posted 01 July 2005 - 04:37 AM

Some good points. Makes me think of how some games really got it right.

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Original post by Ranger Meldon
9) How few special abilities, and particularly fighting moves and abilities, that most games have. Special abilities, along with skills, should define a character far more obviously than stats ever could.

Chrono Trigger got this perfect. Characters have stats, but you mostly ignore them. Instead, you focus on the character's unique skills. Characters gain skills very slowly, so each one is important, but you find ways to combine the abilities of different characters. For example, in the mountains, you are ambushed by a group of goblins. One character tries a whirlwind attack with his kendo sword, but the goblins have huge wooden hammers that are hard to attack past. Another character can throw napalm to destroy a hammer, but instead she throws it at the sword character, who slashes it and sprays napalm all around, disarming the goblins.

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Original post by Ranger Meldon
11) How in almost all FPS RPGs, you can't look down and see your character's lower body and feet. Even in those few games where you can, your feet look like they're running in place when you move your character's body even a little bit forward or backward. Cheesy.

Man, this has been bugging me for years too. I don't like feeling disembodied. I was so glad when Thief: Deadly Shadows put some good feet on.

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Original post by Ranger Meldon
13) Game engines that handle reputation stupidly. Say you kill some monster that's harassing some village, completely by yourself out in the middle of nowhere, and by the time you can make it to the nearest town, everybody somehow magically knows that you killed the monster, as if they were watching it on TV or something. Right.

Play Fallout 2.

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Original post by Ranger Meldon
14) How no game has ever allowed a person to skill up in dancing. That would be so cool, to watch a good dancer character. (And it might allow you to get yourself into situations more easily as a secret agent or assassin.)

Interesting that no-one's ever done this, especially with game like Breath Of Fire and Final Fantasy that have dancer-fighters as character classes.

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Original post by Ranger Meldon
17) Games that make finding uber-powerful or epic magic items a matter of pure luck. Ok fine, so some of them might make those items only drop from certain bosses, but it's still a matter of extreme luck. I might kill some boss a hundred times and never get a really cool drop, whereas my friend might kill the boss once and get two such items. That just sucks. I know they do this so that people will be encouraged to play the game for days on end, but come on. There's got to be a better way. The developers are cheapening their own game in doing this, and a player's eventual revulsion is the proof.

You're right. You shouldn't find powerful items by accident. Instead, you may learn about them by accident, but have to deliberately set out to find them. Ultima 8 did this.

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Original post by Ranger Meldon
18) When games make a boss or some random mini-boss suddenly much tougher than previous bosses or mini-bosses. You can be cruising along, dealing death left and right, getting lulled into a sense of false security, and then all of a sudden, you die in one or two hits, sometimes without even knowing who killed you. This would be either because the badass was hidden amongst a bunch of identical-looking minions, or because he had some kind of lightning or flame aura that did 4 to 5 times the damage for that aura than you've seen in other bosses before or after that part in the game. Many times, after you resurrect and go back to confront him again (more prepared this time), he's no longer there. It's like, where the hell did he go? I certainly didn't kill him. It's annoying and disheartening, and it makes you feel like the game was designed so that every so often it's just going to kill you, whether you like it or not, and no matter how prepared you try to be.

Again, Chrono Trigger did this nicely. In most games, your character gets more and more powerful, and enemies get more and more powerful as well. It all cancels out in my mind. They might as well not have any character advancement at all. Boring. I'm grateful for Chrono-Trigger's lack of monoteny.

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Original post by Ranger Meldon
19) Shallow role-playing opportunities in RPGs. The game offers these scenarios that any character class can effectively solve, and after a while, it makes you feel like you might as well not even have a specific character class. I realize that it is cool part of the time to see how you can get your class through the different obstacles, but it feels like templated railroading after a while. I think the problem is that these games need to offer more class-specific content, that can only be accessed directly when playing as a member of that class. (i.e. druid-only quests, paladin-only quests, etc)

Quest for Glory all the way!

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Original post by Ranger Meldon
22) When potions get used up in one drink when the player needed far less health etc than what the potion could optimally provide. Each potion bottle should "remember" how much liquid has already been consumed from it. Preferably, bottles should be able to be mixed, such that one partially-filled bottle can "top off" another partially filled bottle of the same type of potion.

In shadowcaster, you get a couple of magical fruit at one stage. They can replenish mana or health, but if you need only a little you need only nibble on the fruit.

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Original post by Ranger Meldon
23) Games that have item durability that don't allow characters to skill up in repairing their own items. For that matter, games that don't allow characters to do anything that NPCs can mundanely do (like fix things, brew and mix potions, forge weapons and armor, enchant items, identify magic items, etc)

Ultima underworld did this. It made the tinkerer class a tempting option.
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Original post by Ranger Meldon
10) How set-in-stone that most model animations are. Sometimes they need to be predetermined, but especially in fights, why not incorporate more "ragdoll physics" type interactions, where the character can feint, can mess up and trip, or get out of step, off-balance, etc? Also, why not merge this concept with skill level, such that a character looks cooler, smoother, and less varied in doing a certain thing the more they do it (based on how much they've skilled up in it). Also, I don't like how totally unrealistic running up and down stairs looks. Each foot should land squarely on each step, and appear to be propelling the character upward and forward by virtue of the interaction of their feet with the steps. It should not appear as if their feet are running in place while their body is translating in a straight line at an upward angle.

The amazing quality of animation made the original Prince of Persia stand out for well over a decade. Even now, it's extremely rare to find something which can compare.




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