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The Great "Conventions Which Must Go" List (RPG)

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Just thought this would be a fun design post... I'm drawing up a big list of nonsensical conventions that we've come to take for granted as standard in our cRPGs. Any joiners? Here's a start "Excuse Me Whilst I Rob You Blind" The citizen's cry for help! You stride into town as the lone champion of justice. In fact, you're so heroic that when you talk to NPCs and enter their homes, they have no problem with you rifling through all their worldly possessions and pocketing whatever you care to take. This is the old "pick up everything" convention left over from adventure games. It's a poor excuse for exploring, and it must go. "There can be only one!" NPC Bob started a bar fight with me. Now Bob's a jerk, but he's not a cold blooded killer! But because most cRPG game system are based on hitpoints with zero or below being death, in order to defeat good citizen Bob, you have to kill good citizen Bob. How heroic is that? Gotta go! Replace it with knockouts if you can't think of alternate ways to solve a dispute! "Please Save Us From Total And Complete Extinction! Oh, and that'll be 39,995 gold pieces..." Talk about respect! Here's a convention that must go! Nothing kills immersion faster than when you risk your neck for the land or people or whatever, come back in with only about an ounce of blood left in your whole body, and they charge you for healing... or swords... or whatever. If you're saving someone, they should bust their pixelated hides to help you do whatever it takes!!! The red carpet, their best autocannon or gold sword, and their daughter's (or sons, not to be sexist ) hand in marriage should be the least of what they offer! Games that want the reward / feedback mechanism buying systems provide should keep it seperate from the main quests, or better yet substitute a more enjoyable, believable mechanism elsewhere in the game. "Fedex Knights! We Deliver For You!" Gotta be the lamest convention that must go! You are the friggin' hero, yet in order to try to further exploration (or maybe it's just pure laziness) designers will code a bunch of to do tasks that NPCs give to the player. Why in heck didn't those sorry NPCs do it themselves?!?!? You might as well pick up the laundry and press the good linen for them while you're at it (after you've wiped off the goblin blood, that is). If go fetch gameplay is the order of the day, the least that should be done is to dress it up in a variety of ways. And please... keep the round trips reasonably short, would ya? These armored shoes are hard on my bunyons! ... any more? -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership... Edited by - Wavinator on April 22, 2001 4:13:11 AM

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Oh man, I soooo agree about charging you when you are saving their hides. Now, I can see them charging you if you are some nobody. But if you are "THE ONE", then they shouldn''t be all, "You are the only one that can save our world from eternal hell! What? You have 1 hp and want free health? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Go away!"

I remember comming across that problem when playing Gauntlet Legends for the N64 was that this wizard dude was telling me that only I could stop the demon, yet if I had 2 hp left, he''d still make me pay for health.

Creative time people, I suggest we remove the entire "THE ONE" thing and make players start off as nobodies. I mean, in Ultima Online, you don''t question the npcs charging you money, thats because you are a nobody, not the person who has been selected to fight the Ancient Wyrm single handedly, who is destroying towns. Personally, if you can''t keep getting equipment a challenge without setting uber high prices, remove the shops all together, and make quests to get items.

-Blackstream

Will you, won''t you, will you, won''t you, won''t you take my virus?

-The Mad Hacker

Blackstream''s Webpage

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Great topic !!! I''ve seen some of these problems in RGB(0,0,0)&RGB(255,255,255). Hell, I''m supposed to be a *lightning* GOD *thunder*, and those little punks keep ordering me around like I was Pizza Delivery or something.

some more nonsensical conventions:

Good ALWAYS beats EVIL in the end
WROOONG !! EVIL always beats GOOD in the end ! EVIL is hardworking, gets into trouble alot, has to fight for everything, but in the end, wins because its more intelligent, more fit to survive !!! *grin*


We''re 2 EVIL guys, we make an alliance, 3 minutes after we stab each other in the back
WROOOOONG !! NOONE will ever break an alliance with true EVIL, lest they face the consequences ! Example, in the "Usual suspects" movie, Keiser Soze had the complete loyalty of his henchmen.

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love this thread already... ´bout time someone sat down and collected all the garbage we coughed up in the last months
I´ll try a few:


I am the rock, I fear none

Why is it that i don´t have to be afraid of any monster anymore? First, I can load at every time, second, most monsters are dumb and not really a problem (i can remember wading through a whole goblin army like moses). And if they´re tough they are because they have more hp and dish out more damage.
Let there be smart monsters. Let the difference in size, hp and strenght be no more than 50% between lowly goblin, hero and troll. If there´s no armor, everyone dies from a sword in the gut. Also, let the players run away some time. If there are 20 goblins rushing towards you it does not matter how tough your armor is or how long you sword is... they are just going to swarm you and then a butterknife or a rock will be enough to finish off mr knight. (and it´s easy to implement too... once you´re surrounded you´re done).


Healing: one fits all, 5$ a pop

maybe a lot of you are going to disagree, but i for one would like more realism on this one. Getting fixed up after a fight is less trouble than going to the gas station. And usually your knight fights just as well with 5% health than 100%! I want specific damage, I want effects (what sir? an orc broke your arm? no, i´m afraid a band aid is not going to cover that... and you´re not going to do much fighting with that arm either). I´m not saying that players should die from infected ghoul bites, I don´t want them hospitalized for a month either... just let them hobble around for a while.. or force them to use their off-arm for once.


Combat Magic: the ultimate solution

there´s been a lot of discussion about this already... I´ll sum it up by saying: put the magic back in magick. In most games the use of magic happens more thoughtlessly than sex in a hippie commune.... I want magic to be powerful and mysterious.. and dangerous. Not just as a better club.


I´m so nice, there are sunrays shining out of my ass

Diodor, this is yours. In almost every rpg i´ve played the "right" path was clearly set before me. All shiny and bright. Sometimes there are pretended possibilites of being evil, but usually youre punished severely for being nasty. IMO all paths that lead to the solution should be valued equally in terms of good and evil... sometimes it might pay to be nice to people, sometimes it pays to tighten the thumbscrews a bit... If the goddamn farmer who has the seventh stone of power wants to give it to me in return for finding his cat, fetching wood for his oven and finally going to town to rescue his only daughter from the clutches of the local pimp I WANT CHOICES! I want to be able to (not saying that i necessarily would) take him by the neck and punch him until he´s glad to give me the damn thing.


ok, that´s all for now... flame away


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Speaking of choices, don''t pretend to give the user choices either. I remember playing Zelda 64, the first one, and talking to Zelda like this. Whenever she gave you a choice in the conversation, it forced you to take one anyways. Like this

Zelda: Do you want to deliver my letter?

Link : No.

Zelda: Oh come on please? Do you want to deliever my letter?

Link : No.

Zelda: Oh come on please? Do you want to deliever my letter?

Link : No.

Zelda: Oh come on please? Do you want to deliever my letter?

Link : Yes.

Zelda: Thank you

Stuff like that just irks me.

-Blackstream

Will you, won''t you, will you, won''t you, won''t you take my virus?

-The Mad Hacker

Blackstream''s Webpage

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Guest Anonymous Poster
There is a small design concern about the Walking Wounded (or fighting wounded) implementation.

It makes sense that player performance decreases with injury, but this quickly becomes a slippery slope. Small injuries lead to performance loss which leads to more injuries which leads to more performance loss....

Any difference in combat strength get magnified tremendously.

The constant performance is used to make the mechanics easier to balance.

JSwing

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You needn''t take localising damage to the extent of damaging the player more with attempts of attack. You don''t have to add that element of realism (as if it''d be fun anyway). What you can do, however, is cause the use of an arm to become sluggish or impossible... if both arms are disabled there are obviously going to be problems for the player, but I am sure they can kick...

"Come Back! I''ll bite your legs off"

I am getting numerous reminders of Monty Python in my head

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - The future of RPGs
Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche

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The slippery slope of progressive damage is cured with one easy solution. Like in real life - if your screwed up and hurt, AVOID FIGHTS! If I have a cast on my arm and Bubba picks a fight with me in the bar, I am NOT gonna start a fight... (maybe hit him with the cast??)

Landsknecht

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Unless you can cast ''Fireball Level ''[(C) Dwarfsoft 2001] and turn him to toast.

Only when a player feels like there are no more options are they likely to give up a fight. The only way to push them in this direction (away from fights) is if you have trained them to be used to avoiding conflict in the game world.

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - The future of RPGs
Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche

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Avoiding fights when you''re damaged isn''t a solution if you''re damaged (and you will be) during a fight. The slippery slope holds true; you go into a fight with full health, get injured, get performance degradation, get injured, etc. Besides, what if you get jumped while you limp home? "Hey, wait, I don''t want to fight, I''m hurt!". Having to do battle with a slow and injured player is frustrating and annoying, that''s why most games, from shooters to RPG''s, avoid doing do.

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If there is to be a performance hit on injured players, you need to handle the death aspect with care... Killing a player because they weren''t able to run away fast enough is not a reasonable excuse...

Just as in all the others - death is only a last resort for really stupid players. It should be almost impossible to die.

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - The future of RPGs
Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche

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Heres an annoying trait i''ve noticed in a few games...

My body has the perfect alarm clock.

Regardless of what time of day it is or how tired I am my character will always rest for exactly seven hours and is quite willing to go to sleep at 3pm and get up at 10pm later that day. I''m sure it''s not too much to ask to allow PC''s to rest for a specified length of time, or if they go to sleep some time in the late evening to have them wake up the next day rather than exactly 7 hours later (which is invariably between 4 and 5am).

Also, if I have a party of characters, why do they all have to rest at the same time?


-Forxl

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About the resting, most people only need to take a 15 to 20 minute nap midday to feel refreshed. To tie this in with the $5 a pop for all healing mentioned earlier, maybe the time could be adjusted depending on what condition your character(s) is/are in. Obviously when they''re down to 1HP they would realistically need more rest. so:

15-20 minutes for Minor healing (1%-15%)
6-9 hours for Moderate healing (20%-60%)
24-30 hours for Serious healing (65%-80%)
5-8 days for Coming back from near death (85%-99%)
Special items/tasks/places for Raising the dead (%100)

I left gaps in for fidgeting. Perhaps not taking the next level leaves you with the difference in healing still needed (i.e. your samaged 17%, but only rest 20 minutes. Your character will still have 2% damage to heal.) Either that or the rest time could be scaled between divisions (such as 3 hours for that 17% damage.) This is where being able to heal characters seperately would be useful. Let''s say your Paladin takes one for them team, but the evil you''re persuing is getting away. You can take the Paladin to the local temple to heal for a week of game time while you catch up with the bady guy. Later (s)he can catch up with you since you left him instructions with the clerics.

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"Cast Fireball, heal magic, repeat until desred effect is achieved..."

I tire quickly of this. Most enemies in cRPG''s require simple repetetive strategies, if any to vanquish. Having to rotate between attacks is about as much variation as I can remember being applied to this formula, but then the same problem arises. I would love for more improvisation and thought to be invested into combat systems.

"These ''inns'' of which you speak seem to have almost unlimited powers."

Inns are by far the most powerful places in all of cRPG land. You can save your game, completely replenish your health, and spend several nights there without time progressing in the outside world. Not to mention that in most towns you get all this and more for the low, low price of only 10 gold pieces!

"You don''t think that prophecy could be talking about me , could it??"

For the last time, yes. Why must every prophecy in the game world ever, that anyone bothers to tell you about, somehow pertains to you? Some of the prophecies really suck too. "To unlock the Door of Secrets, legend says you must use the Key of Knowledge." Gee, you don''t think that could be this "Got the mysterious Key of Knowledge" thing, do you?

"This may sound strange, but do you believe in destiny?"

How could we not? Seems like no matter what we do, no matter who we screwed over, no matter what we did or didn''t do, no matter how many goblin villiages we decimated, no matter whether or not we tried to switch over to the dark side, we save the world. I think it should be a little more challenging than that. Saving the world is hard, damn hard, and games should treat it that way. What I would give for a little free will.

"I''m sorry, you can''t fit another feather in your inventory, but look, there''s room for 2 or 3 suits of armor in there!"

Crappy inventory system. Enough said.

"But with all the mazes, switches and pits, how does the Prince of Darkness get around in his castle?"

I have trouble with all the tricks and crap you have to go through to get to the guy you''re looking for. Do we honestly believe that anyone would organize a dungeon in such a manner. Of course with all these bloody heroes running around you can''t be too careful. But even then, why must they leave the instructions to the puzzle right in the room? I''d much rather fight in a dungeon and have the little puzzles somewhere else.

"Who the hell are you, and would you like to buy a sword?"

What the hell? All you have to do is show up in a town and people will send you anything you want, including deadly weapons. Now there''s a policy that''s sure to pay off.

It''s amazing how many of these you can think of.

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I played a goblin in an RPG once and I got attacked as soon as I entered a town despite my cires for mercy.

I think good guy goblins are a great idea - if only just to see adventurers charge at a goblin horde and hack them up before they realise they had a white flag and were trying to give them some vital information.

You can include friendly goblins but how do you stop players from killing them anyway?

-Forxl

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The reverse of Sandmans convention :

I''m a level 2 goblin with no armor, a dagger, and 5 golds, and I''m comming for your life, foolish level 40 human !!! DIE !!!

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Damn you Diodor, I read that post while drinking a glass of orange juice and I now have juice coming out of my nose.

"Look, I can cast fireball, lightning bolt, ice storm, meteor storm etc etc... "

What is the point of 50 different spells which, are essentially the same thing but doing different amounts of damage? (and having different pretty special effects)
I want to see some useful spells as well as purely offensive ones. Baldurs Gate tried to do this, but a lot of the 'useful'
spells proved to be a complete waste of time (any one bother with the 'know alignment' spell? Nah, didnt think so.)


"Hey, I'm rich, I know this because I have 689364 gold coins in my pocket"

How on earth can someone carry this amount of gold in their pocket? Even if gold coins were extremely light, and weighed only 0.1 gram, that is still nearly 70 kilos of metal they are lugging around. And that is in addition to the 9 suits of full plate armour, 6 two handed swords, 8 magical bows etc etc...
I wont even mention the fact that most characters in a fantasy setting probably couldn't count that high.... (Ok so maybe I will mention it ) And few people these days would bother counting out that much cash if they had to do it by hand.

"I am a 40th level paladin, an example of purity and light... please hold on a sec while I loot this goblin I just brutally murdered (for no reason at all)"

This is kind of related to lots of things - the "gold = dead monster poo" syndrome, and the "I am a priest of healing and mercy, but the only way I get to the next level is to murder 300 goblins" issue.


Edited by - Sandman on April 23, 2001 7:27:25 PM

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I''m sorry. Despite the fact that you have 69''999 pieces of gold, I won''t give you this weapon worth 70''000 gold. And, oh, by the way, someone else will probably buy it by the time you find that last piece of gold.
I don''t know how many times in Diablo II this has happened to me. I''m short by a little bit, have to go kill something to get enough money (and I''m not sure why that works), but doing so changes what items are available. Pretty dumb that the game has a "Gamble" option for buying unknown items, but no "haggle." At least it Might and Magic you could have a character learn "Merchant" skills to reduce price, but it was always an urealistic exact percentage. Plus, the longer an item goes without selling, the lower its price whould be.

Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening. Good night. Good morning...
Sometimes I wonder if the NPCs in town aren''t actually intelligent zombies. These guys just never seem to sleep.

"Quick! Go there to stop the bad guys!" "But where is that?" "Quick! Go there..."
Why is it no matter how many times you talk to certain characters, they won''t actually tell you where something is?

Well, we''re sorry, but we''re not going to let you climb up on a three foot high wall.
This has plagued nearly every genre I know. The only games that I''ve seen let you climb anything physically possible to are Price of Persia and Tomb Raider. Wow, wrong genre. The worst part is that the same characters can jump 20 feet straight up on to a roof in the pre-enacted scenes. Consistency, people!

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quote:
Original post by Diodor

The reverse of Sandmans convention :

I''m a level 2 goblin with no armor, a dagger, and 5 golds, and I''m comming for your life, foolish level 40 human !!! DIE !!!


LOL!!! Man, that is *so* true!!!

Picture this: You are an NPC. Armed with a combat knife and dressed in leather armor, you''re waylaying travelers out in the wasteland.

In strides a 7 foot tall suit of air conditioned battle armor. The wearer slings a plasma rifle and a rocket launcher. Your mates make a move, but their bullets do NO DAMAGE. The suit, in turn, fires a turbo plasma rifle and bisects them AT THE WAIST with 1(!) shot!!!!

What the heck would YOU do?!?!

Well, if you''re a Fallout 2 NPC, heck, you attack anyway!!!

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

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quote:
Original post by Wavinator



"Excuse Me Whilst I Rob You Blind"
...

"There can be only one!"
...

"Please Save Us From Total And Complete Extinction! Oh, and that'll be 39,995 gold pieces..."
...

"Fedex Knights! We Deliver For You!"
...



One thing about your original list, Wavinator: There have been some very good RPGs that defied these conventions and I'm sure you know which ones The Fallouts (especially the first one) solved all of these problems quite well.
If you stole from someone's house and they saw you do it, they'd attack you.
You CAN fight unarmed and knock an opponent out instead of killing them (although I'm not sure if there was much actual difference in most circumstances)
People who could afford to reward you did so. For the most part, people didn't know that you were 'saving the world' anyway. You were just some schmuck stranger. Why should they treat you different than any other stranger?
There we very few, if any, of the Fedex style quest. Unless you count retrieving a water chip

Anyway, just wanted to point out that some games have defied these conventions and (big surprise) they are some of the all time classic RPGs.

Edited by - jaxson on April 23, 2001 11:47:01 PM

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about the healing:

I´m so wounded my legs get tangled up in my guts hanging out, but a nice rest will surely fix it.

For extended realism you´d have to stretch out your healing periods a bit... no way are you going to cure 80%damage in 24 hours... i´d propose a mandatory visit to the healer for all damage above 40%


and about the dungeons:

is it possible to have a dungeon that actually serves a purpose and is still fun to hack through? probably yes, but most of the dungeons i have encountered so far have one purpose only... being an obstacle to the hero. If you´re interested in this read Ernest Adams "letter from a dungeon" on gamasutra.... where DO all those monsters sleep?

Goblins:
this has been discussed endlessly (end goblin genocide), but to whoever is doing an RPG out there: PLEASE LET ME PLAY THE ORC THE NEXT TIME! just to see how it is....

or, even better: start out like a "regular" RPG... hero, goblins and all... and just as you have completed your quest to defeat the evil goblin horde, there´s a switch to the orc, coming home from his hunt, finding his camp destroyed, friends and family slaughtered and all his posessions stolen... and then you´re out for revenge, trying to find the evil hero...

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Good point about the vengeful Orcs, why don't we see more heroes being hunted down by large mobs of Orcs who have lost family and friends at the hands of the so-called Hero!

If you kill the Orc Chieftan's wife and son while he's away - he's gonna be real mad and hunt you down with his entire army. That might make the PC's think twice about random slaughter of Orcs and Goblins.

-Forxl

Edited by - forxl on April 24, 2001 10:23:34 AM

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Hi, I am an assassin expert in stealth and backstabbing, do you mind if I join your party ?

Well ... I dunno you, but I am utterly tired of this kind of stupid nonsense. A thief, or any other illegal profession at least has some sort of "cover job". Peddler, Trader, Journeyman, etc ... a bit of imagination for f@#k sake !!!
-Hello, I am looking for a professional murderer
-Well, hello, you are in the assassin''s guild, what a coincidence, would you like me to help you ? I hope you are not a reprensant of the Law, are you ?
-No, of course, I am an adventurer trying to save the world, I just need a vicious, backstabbing killer.

Yeah, I like that.

I like to drink the blood of my victim after having disemboweled them, but because you are a Good Paladin and you need help, I''ll join your team
What can I say ... alignment problems, team members relationship...
The best fun I have in pen&paper RPGs is the relations between the characters/players. Oh the number of arguments I had both IN and OUT of character, especially when I had this dwarf character and two of the team members where elves
Or the time my team was made up of ghouls, with one being actually a vampire spy disguised as a spy, and another trying to discover which of us was the spy ... only him knowing there was a spy.

a crap, I''ll edit that later


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In Baldurs Gate, if you left a party with wildly different alignments alone for any length of time, they would fight and kill each other.

As for the orc army attacking the players, that would just encourage more orc killing...

Much better to have them attack the nearest village looking for the players, so when the player returns no one in that village likes them any more (since they caused the orcs to attack...)

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