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Kest

Top 5 worst design elements of RPGs

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This is all based on opinion. Feel free to argue points or add more. I've omitted a few things that have been discussed in detail here, such as how unfun most battle gameplay is, and how terribly reliant most games are on save/reload. 1. Everything is a quest Everything is assigned, chopped into numbered steps, described in detail, and typed into a quest log. There's very little room for free thinking. Imagine toppling a primary enemy own your own to dramatically change the plot, without ever being assigned the task to do so. Steps could be taken to subtly help players find their way without directly giving them instructions. It would be especially important to hide the fact that you're helping them from them. Discovering things on your own is immeasurably rewarding. If they realize you're stringing them along, it will be ruined. 2. Assuming the player is suicidally helpful NPCs should almost always assume the player is just like every other asshole in the game world, and not some insane hero schmoe they can send on a life threatening mission for an insignificant objective for minimal reward. It mostly depends on how well the NPC knows the player character. If the NPC knows the player character is crazy and suicidally helpful from past quests, then it's not so bad for them to ask for crazy favors. 3. Chore quests One or two to introduce the game is okay, but keep them out of the primary gameplay. Weeding gardens, delivering messages or packages, escorting a person, passing dialog between NPCs, etc. Some of these types of objectives may be okay under certain circumstances, such as delivering an important package through a warzone where constant battle is expected. But don't just make the player run across the map for no good reason. 4. Generic looting Normal items shouldn't be worth looting. Items that are worth looting should be heavily quantifiable (pop caps, coins), weightless (diamonds), and/or rare (enchanted weapon). Everything that is lootable should be rare and valuable, or very effortless (via interface) to pick up in large quantity. There are some realistic approaches to this that would allow looting generic items up to a point. Such as making the shop-keeper industry become less interested in most normal items after owning so many of them, to the point where they no longer buy them at all. 5. Climbing to the top This one is probably the most personal, and there may be more players who will disagree than agree. In an RPG, I'm often a soldier. A grunt. A spectacular grunt, maybe, but still a grunt. I don't want to be arch mage of the wizard guild, or president of hippy town, or emperor of Jewel Kingdom. Regardless of the terrific things I've done for the game world, I want to remain a grunt, wandering the wasteland, saving random humanity. If it makes sense to crown the player for achieving something spectacular, then at least give them a choice. Don't just assume they would want that power and recognition. There are at least a few that don't. EDIT: spelling and typos [Edited by - Kest on April 20, 2008 4:33:20 PM]

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Bad design elements like that are a tiny problem compared with a lack of something good at the core. The culture of Morrowind or the emotional power of FFX easily overshadow their vast and quite frankly dreadful gameplay issues.

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worst design element of RPGs is that everyone(most anyway) associates RPG with leveling and spell casting.

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Quote:
Original post by Kest
4. Generic looting

Normal items shouldn't be worth looting. Items that are worth looting should be heavily quantifiable (pop caps, coins), weightless (diamonds), and/or rare (enchanted weapon). Everything that is lootable should be rare and valuable, or very effortless (via interface) to pick up in large quantity.

I'd prefer if the game tried to avoid items that served no purpose except selling all together.

No matter how little sense it makes I'd rather have the giant spider drop money instead of spending a hour bickering with a shop keeper over the price for a stack of 12 spider livers.

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Original post by Kaze
No matter how little sense it makes I'd rather have the giant spider drop money instead of spending a hour bickering with a shop keeper over the price for a stack of 12 spider livers.

I don't mind items that are intended to sell, but I definitely don't enjoy looting the corpse of every critter I kill. It's okay (for me) to loot special or rarely encountered enemies, but not the general type.

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I agree with 1, 3 and 4, but don't really see the other ones as problems per say, but more personal taste. The problems I see with RPGs are the following:

1. Emphasis on story, but the story sucks. RPG story-lines are often badly written, badly acted, and poorly paced with emphasis on mystical objects instead of characters.

Example: Star Ocean 3 - horrible voice acting and the characters have no "character."

Counter Example: Mass Effect - Great voice acting, cool plot (if kinda short) and characters that develop (if only a little).

2. Too much text. RPGs should follow the saying "Show don't tell," meaning, keep the dialog in short bursts in order to allow the player to quickly read it and get back to controlling his/her character.

Example: Planescape: Torment - This game had WALLS of text. Great game but the amount of reading you had to do was ludicrous.

Counter Example: Mass Effect - Comes the closest to being a counter example.

3. Too many long cut scenes. You can make a story oriented game without taking the player completely out of the equation. JRPGs are the most notorious for this, though the worst offender, Metal Gear Solid (1, 2 and 3) isn't an RPG.

4. Non-Interactive world. Most RPGs these days only allow the player to Run around, fight, open chests and start dialog. This list hasn't changed since the first few RPGs.

5. Linear and repetitive scenario design. I'm talking about the design and layout of dungeons, the inclusion of puzzles, mini-games...etc.

Example: Mass Effect - Not alot of variation in scenarios. Heck, all the side missions are fought in the same building with the same layout.

Counter Example: Suikoden - Two different battle systems, interesting puzzles in the dungeons, and a castle that you build.

I can probably think of more, but thats all for now.

Peace.

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MangaFox, your list seems to basically be a list of personal dislikes or simply bad implementation, rather than an objective assesment of high level game design.

Quote:
Original post by MangaFox
I agree with 1, 3 and 4, but don't really see the other ones as problems per say, but more personal taste. The problems I see with RPGs are the following:

1. Emphasis on story, but the story sucks. RPG story-lines are often badly written, badly acted, and poorly paced with emphasis on mystical objects instead of characters.

Example: Star Ocean 3 - horrible voice acting and the characters have no "character."

Counter Example: Mass Effect - Great voice acting, cool plot (if kinda short) and characters that develop (if only a little).


That's not a design element problem, that's an implementation problem - the story sucking.

Quote:
2. Too much text. RPGs should follow the saying "Show don't tell," meaning, keep the dialog in short bursts in order to allow the player to quickly read it and get back to controlling his/her character.

Example: Planescape: Torment - This game had WALLS of text. Great game but the amount of reading you had to do was ludicrous.

Counter Example: Mass Effect - Comes the closest to being a counter example.


I disagree. Oblivion's lack of text and stuff made me sad compared with Morrowind's verbosity.

Quote:
3. Too many long cut scenes. You can make a story oriented game without taking the player completely out of the equation. JRPGs are the most notorious for this, though the worst offender, Metal Gear Solid (1, 2 and 3) isn't an RPG.


That's a personal opinion. Looking at it objectively, you'll see that lots of players enjoy and like that (there's a reason why the FF series is one of the top RPG serieses - because people like them).

Quote:
4. Non-Interactive world. Most RPGs these days only allow the player to Run around, fight, open chests and start dialog. This list hasn't changed since the first few RPGs.


How is this a problem? The world being interactive isn't the focus.

Quote:
5. Linear and repetitive scenario design. I'm talking about the design and layout of dungeons, the inclusion of puzzles, mini-games...etc.

Example: Mass Effect - Not alot of variation in scenarios. Heck, all the side missions are fought in the same building with the same layout.

Counter Example: Suikoden - Two different battle systems, interesting puzzles in the dungeons, and a castle that you build.


'Linear' and 'repetitive' are not the same thing, and lumping them together is just silly. Linear I have no problem with, and nor do you seemingly with your examples.

Repetitive is obviously something to avoid, but that's obvious.

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1. Load screens when entering a dungeon/house/whatever. I'm sorry, but is there a bigger immersion breaker?
2. Darn, my level 1 elven archer is 3500 years old, and he still shoots like a girl. You'd think he had some time to practice with his bow.
3. Weapons and equipment at ridiculous scales. Just how do you wield this ten ton warhammer?
4. Everything is exactly at the opposite side of the world. No matter what you need and when you need it, whether it's something for crafting, or something for a quest, it just happens to be NOT HERE.
5. You are the only one capable of saving the world. However, each of the 20 guards standing at every city gate will kill you blindfolded and with one arm tied to their backs.

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i feel like the reason these are cliches is that at some point, some game did one or more of these things extremely well. Therefore rather than completely disregarding one of these, a designer should just be careful about using them due to their popularity.

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