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A Matter of Preference Amongst Genres.


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#1 Anastas   Members   -  Reputation: 247

Posted 14 December 2012 - 05:34 PM

So the other day I was chattin' with some guys over Skype. One of 'em's livestreaming Skyrim and it gets to this part where he's lookin' over some items; this is early on in the game, so they're all leather and useless and junk. So I say, "Man, this shit pisses me off." And of course, this vague statement gets a rise out of 'em, so I elaborate that I'm talkin' about all the throw away items in your standard RPG.

I'm not into the whole deal of obtaining better and better loot and leveling up your character; I prefer a game designed around me developing my own skills, not a character's. Hand in hand, ya got this system of giving the player weaker equipment at the beginning of the game and the loot keeps getting better. But, like, this sucks 'cause yer just gonna end up with a bunch of junk over time; the stuff's literally designed to be thrown away. It ends up all unbalanced, you're gonna end up with a certain set of equipment in the end, and all the other items just get left in the dust. It all just ends up boiling down to the raw numbers 'cause the system is just flawed at its core by setting a concrete numerical value to a player's skill.

See, I like a game where the items all have their uses and remain useful over the course of the game. There could still be a lot of 'em, but having all that and keeping it balanced? It'd be a heck of a game, that's for sure. And a player should grow with the game as well, not just sit back and watch the character do all the development. Like, the leveling system made sense back in the days of tabletop RPGs, 'cause you've got a system based around telling the story of an adventure, and ya gotta find some way to set consistent values to all this fighting that's going on, otherwise thing's 'd just devolve inta chaos and get kinda boring. 'Cause what's the fun when you're just godmode blastin' through shit just by flappin' your gums?
But vidjagames are a far more interactive medium, y'know? You can grow with the character. Sure, your impact on what happens is still represented by numbers off somewhere in the data, but the ability you have for manipulating these numbers changes over time (hopefully for the better; if the game is designed well it should come naturally).


"Yeah, well... That's just, like, uh, your opinion, man."


So these couple of guys I'm talkin' to are just like, "Whatever, dude." See, they're down with all that junk that's grindin' my gears. They're more content to just sit back and let things paint by the numbers.
"What's so bad with that?"
"Man, I didn't say it was bad, I just said it pisses me off."
"So we have to share your opinion?"
"I didn't say that shit either! I mean, feel free to join me, but I ain't gonna pull yer leg."
"So what are you complaining about?"
"I'm just fuckin' tired of seeing it!"

See, the issue weren't that we gotta abolish the RPG standard. Now, I don't think I'd bat an eyelash; it's a boring system of menu flicking and I've only really valued RPGs for the story, something that could only be improved in my eyes by being part of a game with a more engaging form of play. But hey, if other people like it, I see no reason they shouldn’t get to have their fun.
But I don’t exactly feel like I’m getting my fun either. It feels like you either gotta like Shooters or RPGs now, or you’re just S.O.L. And amongst RPGs, they always seem to fall into the same traps of bloated inventories and bestiaries where the only difference between things is their numerical value.


So the guys I’m talkin’ to are kinda into game design themselves and they’s just lookin’ at me like I’m some kinda alien. They believe that hardly anyone thinks the way I do and the stuff I like is just niche and wouldn’t make any money. They said that when making games you should target the largest audience possible.
But see, I don’t think action is as niche as they say it is. Even if it was, it’d be pretty foolish to only make games in the popular genre ‘cause then it’d get flooded with competition and you’re not gonna make any money unless you’re just the best there is.

So, y’know, not us.


So am I right? Wrong? Right about some things and wrong about others? Am I really so underrepresented? Is action a dying breed or are there a buttload of games that I’m just unaware of? Is it futile to appeal to a niche audience? Is it futile to make games for a saturated audience? Is it futile to continue living? Is American actually a decent type of cheese?

I don’t know.

Sponsor:

#2 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 5055

Posted 14 December 2012 - 06:02 PM

Well, I agree with the idea that if you don't like RPGs or shooters there isn't anywhere near as much selection in other genres. There are like 2 decent animal or plant breeding sims published per year, it's dismal. But on the other hand, I don't think a player actually develops a lot during a game. I mean, sure, you get used to the controls and better at getting what you want out of them, but that doesn't take very long. And then for each new kind of attack or tool you get you might have to practice using it a bit. But again, that doesn't take very long. These two together don't create enough content for even 30 hours of play, unless they are all spaced out with puzzles or something. And, with games that are heavily skill based, different people's are going to be better or worse at them, so the game is going to feel too easy to someone and too hard to someone else. Kingdom Hearts, Okami, and Zelda: Twilight Princess are three examples of RPG-ish games where fighting is largely skill-based button mashing and there are few equipment upgrades in the game where you just get a more powerful version of the same thing. They all have combat which IMO is boring because it's too easy. Also, if your avatar character doesn't improve from the work you put into them over the course of the game it feels like they are not growing and maturing as a person, which can make their personal story seem shallow and episodic instead of meaningful.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#3 Code Fox   Members   -  Reputation: 1804

Posted 15 December 2012 - 05:08 AM

I have been noticing that story lines in modern RPGs have gotten very lazy ( your a good guy - go kill evil ). The last good one I have played was from PlaneScape Torment.

As far as weapons go - the better the weapon, the better it will preform, and like real life, most of the good weapons are owned by those that are harder to kill.

Who do you think has a better sword - a lowly pirate, or a pirate captain, or a pirate king ? Who do you think is harder to kill ?

If you think your ideals will make a good game, go download RPG Maker, and produce a prototype to see how players react to it.

Edited by Shippou, 15 December 2012 - 05:10 AM.

Does Anyone Actually Read This ?
 


#4 kuramayoko10   Members   -  Reputation: 386

Posted 15 December 2012 - 07:11 AM

I agree with you that the common RPG system of useless items is stupid. It realy spoils the pleasure of acquiring a new item.
I also agree that RPG are good because of the story they have and the story your character is building.

However, from the gamers I know (even those that aspire the game industry), they don't give a sh** about the story and they don't get irritated much with the useless items.
But note this, the day someone comes up with an RPG with great story where transitions between items is really rewarding, all of those people will still love it.
Programming is an art. Game programming is a masterpiece!

#5 Bacterius   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 9262

Posted 15 December 2012 - 10:05 AM

Well the problem with Skyrim, and most "modern" mainstream RPG's in general, is that while you get excited over some cool items in the first couple hours of playing ("oh, a steel sword", "ah, a +20% block elven shield"), eventually you can't help but notice that the selection of relevant items is actually quite small, and the game quickly devolves in a simple cost/weight calculation and hauling your loot to a merchant who still buys everything, even though you've probably sold enough gear to equip an entire army by now. It gives a sense of artificiality and lifelessness to the game which isn't very welcome, at least to me.

All the useless items such as shiny iron tankards, vegetables (yeah, they give back stamina, but it takes more time to actually open up the inventory to consume them than to just wait and regen) and other misc objects, are really just noise. In Skyrim, it's even worse in that only the "chest" containers actually contain loot and it's painfully obvious after opening a barrel for the fifth time and finding yet more lettuce in it.

Really, the gear level system is pretty dumb and doesn't make for very interesting gameplay. Instead of "steel sword/shield/helmet/chestpiece/etc..", I would like to see more special, rare items with custom and unique on-activation effects, which can be kept for a long time before becoming obsolete. One of the most tedious parts of these systems, to me, is constantly micromanaging my equipment and knowing that anything I equip now will probably need to be replaced very soon. This in turn detaches me from the piece of equipment itself and I end up just focusing on the stats, which isn't fun.

In Skyrim, I just pick a steel sword, then slay a bunch of bandits and mudcrabs before looting a daedric sword (or whatever, I forgot what the next tier is) and then I just discard my old sword to some merchant like the stick of a used-up lollipop. Instead, what I'd like to see is earning my sword after defeating some particularly nasty enemy, and keeping it for several hundred kills, possibly improving it (sharpening, enchanting) via skills as time goes on to keep the damage on par. Then, when the time comes that I just need to get rid of it because it's too obsolete, I actually have trouble doing so, and might keep it as a collection item instead (as a side note, having a loosely player-generated journal feature in the game might be worthwhile if the game lends itself well to it).

Another thing I'd like to see go is gear optimisation. It just pains me, but having cookie-cutter builds just sucks (and god knows how much MMORPG's suffer because of that - I swear, try doing some PvP on WoW, everyone has the exact same gear/talent combination and the person with the lowest latency wins, at least last time I checked a year ago that's how it was). What would be interesting is getting rid of numerical stats (I can already hear people crying heresy) and instead opting for a much more organic gameplay mechanic where player skills (real-life skills, not virtual) would be rewarded or punished accordingly. The most obvious examples being using a bow without crosshair (distance estimation) or trying to kill a bear with a dagger (being plain stupid). Damage would be somewhat randomized, as well as various resistances, and you'd have to use common sense to choose the correct weapon and approach.

This is also interesting because if you try and avoid just using stats, and use instead more realistic metrics such as weight, balance, strength of a weapon, you actually need to practice with the weapon before being effective. Various bows would have different projectile force and range, arrows would have different weights, and you'd need to actually try them on a target of some sort (such as an archery range) to get comfortable with them.

A similar approach can be used to make the character evolve throughout the game. Instead of a rigid "level up! you gain +2 agility" you could make it so that "you can now use heavier swords" or "you do not lose your balance as much when struck with a blunt weapon". Perhaps a specialized skill mechanic like EVE Online's (again, without actual stats) could work, but it is a lot of work to balance this. Obviously, stats are easier to balance, but they are correspondingly duller.

Of course, too much realism can also be quite harmful and may bore the player out of his mind, but I feel it's important to experiment rather than just stay on the same old system (I mean, the strength/intelligence combo has been around for decades and it's getting old). And, of course, some of the ideas I just threw up there are for the most part difficult or impossible to implement currently (for instance, bow aiming works pretty well with a mouse, but sword/axe wielding? you'd need something like a wiimote or kinect to make that work).

Now, this would address item management and combat dynamics, but not the content issue as SunAndShadow brought up. There is a reason lots of high-level stuff such as dungeons and enemy distribution is procedurally generated these days: it takes time to produce interesting content. And until that is fixed, you can have the most amazing combat dynamics ever, but nobody will play your game for more than a few hours because there'll be very little to do. I mean, look at recent RPG's, let's take Skyrim as our scapegoat. You can almost see one end of the map from another. The map is tiny. I easily travel twice the diagonal of the entire Skyrim world when I walk to town. That's just not good enough to feel involved in any way. The map needs to be considerably bigger (1000km^2 would be a minimum), but it also needs to be populated with content, and that's sadly very time-consuming for developers and artists. A better understanding of procedural content generation could help, but they could also get beta testers to help them locate areas in the world which the players expect to contain something (e.g. a dungeon hidden behind a waterfall). A few dozen people could quickly sweep over the entire map.

This post is asking for a lot, and that's on purpose. I enjoy playing current games (at least.. at the beginning..) but the genre needs to move forward. It's been idling too long in some sort of graphics orgy and gameplay/content has stagnated as a result. I don't know about you but I am getting tired of playing an nth variation of the same mechanic, with a different story and environment. In my opinion player-centric story and quests aren't even that important in an RPG, I primarily want to feel involved and part of the world. That is, the world itself needs a story, of course (though it could be somewhat mysterious, if it fits the theme of the game) but the player shouldn't have a set purpose in my opinion and would need to find his own through interacting with the world and not just with a "main questline" given to him at the start of the game, although that might fit the description of "sandbox RPG" better.

The slowsort algorithm is a perfect illustration of the multiply and surrender paradigm, which is perhaps the single most important paradigm in the development of reluctant algorithms. The basic multiply and surrender strategy consists in replacing the problem at hand by two or more subproblems, each slightly simpler than the original, and continue multiplying subproblems and subsubproblems recursively in this fashion as long as possible. At some point the subproblems will all become so simple that their solution can no longer be postponed, and we will have to surrender. Experience shows that, in most cases, by the time this point is reached the total work will be substantially higher than what could have been wasted by a more direct approach.

 

- Pessimal Algorithms and Simplexity Analysis


#6 Anastas   Members   -  Reputation: 247

Posted 15 December 2012 - 02:32 PM

...On the other hand, I don't think a player actually develops a lot during a game. I mean, sure, you get used to the controls and better at getting what you want out of them, but that doesn't take very long. And then for each new kind of attack or tool you get you might have to practice using it a bit. But again, that doesn't take very long. These two together don't create enough content for even 30 hours of play, unless they are all spaced out with puzzles or something. And, with games that are heavily skill based, different people's are going to be better or worse at them, so the game is going to feel too easy to someone and too hard to someone else.

It all depends on how the game is designed, honestly. If managed well, the game should be able to walk you through things to where you're constantly either learning or honing your abilities and things seem challenging but not 'too hard.'
And who said the game had to be at least 30 hours?

Also, if your avatar character doesn't improve from the work you put into them over the course of the game it feels like they are not growing and maturing as a person, which can make their personal story seem shallow and episodic instead of meaningful.

If you as a player are improving then that improvement will show in your avatar.

...From the gamers I know (even those that aspire the game industry), they don't give a sh** about the story and they don't get irritated much with the useless items.

Yeah, one thing I do suspect I'm in the minority of is being particularly bothered by it. Though usually I can ignore it if the rest of the game is enjoyable enough.

Well the problem with Skyrim, and most "modern" mainstream RPG's in general, is that while you get excited over some cool items in the first couple hours of playing ("oh, a steel sword", "ah, a +20% block elven shield"), eventually you can't help but notice that the selection of relevant items is actually quite small, and the game quickly devolves in a simple cost/weight calculation and hauling your loot to a merchant who still buys everything, even though you've probably sold enough gear to equip an entire army by now. It gives a sense of artificiality and lifelessness to the game which isn't very welcome, at least to me.

All the useless items such as shiny iron tankards, vegetables (yeah, they give back stamina, but it takes more time to actually open up the inventory to consume them than to just wait and regen) and other misc objects, are really just noise. In Skyrim, it's even worse in that only the "chest" containers actually contain loot and it's painfully obvious after opening a barrel for the fifth time and finding yet more lettuce in it.

Really, the gear level system is pretty dumb and doesn't make for very interesting gameplay. Instead of "steel sword/shield/helmet/chestpiece/etc..", I would like to see more special, rare items with custom and unique on-activation effects, which can be kept for a long time before becoming obsolete. One of the most tedious parts of these systems, to me, is constantly micromanaging my equipment and knowing that anything I equip now will probably need to be replaced very soon. This in turn detaches me from the piece of equipment itself and I end up just focusing on the stats, which isn't fun.

In Skyrim, I just pick a steel sword, then slay a bunch of bandits and mudcrabs before looting a daedric sword (or whatever, I forgot what the next tier is) and then I just discard my old sword to some merchant like the stick of a used-up lollipop. Instead, what I'd like to see is earning my sword after defeating some particularly nasty enemy, and keeping it for several hundred kills, possibly improving it (sharpening, enchanting) via skills as time goes on to keep the damage on par. Then, when the time comes that I just need to get rid of it because it's too obsolete, I actually have trouble doing so, and might keep it as a collection item instead (as a side note, having a loosely player-generated journal feature in the game might be worthwhile if the game lends itself well to it).

Another thing I'd like to see go is gear optimisation. It just pains me, but having cookie-cutter builds just sucks (and god knows how much MMORPG's suffer because of that - I swear, try doing some PvP on WoW, everyone has the exact same gear/talent combination and the person with the lowest latency wins, at least last time I checked a year ago that's how it was). What would be interesting is getting rid of numerical stats (I can already hear people crying heresy) and instead opting for a much more organic gameplay mechanic where player skills (real-life skills, not virtual) would be rewarded or punished accordingly. The most obvious examples being using a bow without crosshair (distance estimation) or trying to kill a bear with a dagger (being plain stupid). Damage would be somewhat randomized, as well as various resistances, and you'd have to use common sense to choose the correct weapon and approach.

This is also interesting because if you try and avoid just using stats, and use instead more realistic metrics such as weight, balance, strength of a weapon, you actually need to practice with the weapon before being effective. Various bows would have different projectile force and range, arrows would have different weights, and you'd need to actually try them on a target of some sort (such as an archery range) to get comfortable with them.

A similar approach can be used to make the character evolve throughout the game. Instead of a rigid "level up! you gain +2 agility" you could make it so that "you can now use heavier swords" or "you do not lose your balance as much when struck with a blunt weapon". Perhaps a specialized skill mechanic like EVE Online's (again, without actual stats) could work, but it is a lot of work to balance this. Obviously, stats are easier to balance, but they are correspondingly duller.

Of course, too much realism can also be quite harmful and may bore the player out of his mind, but I feel it's important to experiment rather than just stay on the same old system (I mean, the strength/intelligence combo has been around for decades and it's getting old). And, of course, some of the ideas I just threw up there are for the most part difficult or impossible to implement currently (for instance, bow aiming works pretty well with a mouse, but sword/axe wielding? you'd need something like a wiimote or kinect to make that work).

Now, this would address item management and combat dynamics, but not the content issue as SunAndShadow brought up. There is a reason lots of high-level stuff such as dungeons and enemy distribution is procedurally generated these days: it takes time to produce interesting content. And until that is fixed, you can have the most amazing combat dynamics ever, but nobody will play your game for more than a few hours because there'll be very little to do. I mean, look at recent RPG's, let's take Skyrim as our scapegoat. You can almost see one end of the map from another. The map is tiny. I easily travel twice the diagonal of the entire Skyrim world when I walk to town. That's just not good enough to feel involved in any way. The map needs to be considerably bigger (1000km^2 would be a minimum), but it also needs to be populated with content, and that's sadly very time-consuming for developers and artists. A better understanding of procedural content generation could help, but they could also get beta testers to help them locate areas in the world which the players expect to contain something (e.g. a dungeon hidden behind a waterfall). A few dozen people could quickly sweep over the entire map.

This post is asking for a lot, and that's on purpose. I enjoy playing current games (at least.. at the beginning..) but the genre needs to move forward. It's been idling too long in some sort of graphics orgy and gameplay/content has stagnated as a result. I don't know about you but I am getting tired of playing an nth variation of the same mechanic, with a different story and environment. In my opinion player-centric story and quests aren't even that important in an RPG, I primarily want to feel involved and part of the world. That is, the world itself needs a story, of course (though it could be somewhat mysterious, if it fits the theme of the game) but the player shouldn't have a set purpose in my opinion and would need to find his own through interacting with the world and not just with a "main questline" given to him at the start of the game, although that might fit the description of "sandbox RPG" better.

Man, this makes me wish upvoting were allowed in the Lounge.

On the subject of sword/axe wielding, I'd think that all of the metrics you described would still be able to apply even if your attack is assigned to a button press.

As for content, I think multiplayer could be a solution. I've played single-player games where the combat was so sweet that it made me wish there was multiplayer so I could pit my skills against others. Of course, as is always the case, the multiplayer aspect would need to be considered as much as single-player and not jus' tacked on.

And dude, ask for however much you want. I see no other way things are ever gonna move forward.

#7 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 5055

Posted 15 December 2012 - 03:07 PM


Also, if your avatar character doesn't improve from the work you put into them over the course of the game it feels like they are not growing and maturing as a person, which can make their personal story seem shallow and episodic instead of meaningful.

If you as a player are improving then that improvement will show in your avatar.

How and why? Here's an example, I play a skill-based online game which involves riding a horse - you have to jump over obstacles and avoid bumping into barrels and cones or crashing into the wall, and do all that as fast as possible. It's all dexterity. If you get better as a player you go up in the PvP rankings, but that's it. Neither the appearance nor the behavior of the horse and rider change in reaction to the player's skill.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#8 Code Fox   Members   -  Reputation: 1804

Posted 15 December 2012 - 03:34 PM

The "skill system" mentioned above is starting to sound like RuneScape .... though I disagree about the weapons - in real life your going to find much of the low level weapons on low level "people".
IE - if your going to kill a pirate ( pre 1800's time period ) chances are, your going to fins a rusty cutlas and some daggers on every single crew member. There may be a few exceptions, but for the most part there will be a lot of useless weapons found.
The captain ( who is much harder to kill ) will probably have much better loot than his crew, but be harder to kill.

Does Anyone Actually Read This ?
 


#9 Anastas   Members   -  Reputation: 247

Posted 15 December 2012 - 05:05 PM

How and why? Here's an example, I play a skill-based online game which involves riding a horse - you have to jump over obstacles and avoid bumping into barrels and cones or crashing into the wall, and do all that as fast as possible. It's all dexterity. If you get better as a player you go up in the PvP rankings, but that's it. Neither the appearance nor the behavior of the horse and rider change in reaction to the player's skill.

Sorry, I didn't realize that one's growth, maturity, and experiences were all tied to their exterior appearance.
As for behavior, it does change as they act according to what you command them to do. This might not be the case with cutscenes and dialogue, but that doesn't change via stats and equipment either.
At least, not that I've encountered. A game that did so would be interesting to say the least.

The "skill system" mentioned above is starting to sound like RuneScape .... though I disagree about the weapons - in real life your going to find much of the low level weapons on low level "people".
IE - if your going to kill a pirate ( pre 1800's time period ) chances are, your going to fins a rusty cutlas and some daggers on every single crew member. There may be a few exceptions, but for the most part there will be a lot of useless weapons found.
The captain ( who is much harder to kill ) will probably have much better loot than his crew, but be harder to kill.

I've played RuneScape and I recall the combat being automatic. If this has changed, sweet, but if not, then I think there's a bit of a misunderstanding here...

And sure, I'm not gonna get the best of items from low level opponents, but why do I need to get items from every opponent? Why would I want some useless rusty knife to clog up my inventory? And if I'm going to throw it away so soon, why'd I even pick it up in the first place?
Why does a game even need to be based around loot? If one doesn't like loot then there's really no reason for it to be in their game, you could have a game where all the items are meaningful and not meant to be tossed out the second you come across the next shiny toy you find. You could upgrade your old weapons into something better instead of replacing them. Heck maybe all you'd even need is one weapon and you adapt to the growing difficulty not by obtaining a new ridiculously large sword, but by growing as a player.

#10 Rakilonn   Members   -  Reputation: 421

Posted 16 December 2012 - 04:50 AM

I think your perfect game should be a Devil May Cry (or any beat'em all like this) with a very nice story and crucial choices. I don't know if we can call it a niche but it's definitely something interesting. :)




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