RPG Mistakes to Avoid

A discussion area for general design issues that staff would like detailed feedback on.

Moderator: Staff

User avatar
Roots
Dictator
Posts: 8660
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 6:07 pm
Location: Austin TX
Contact:

RPG Mistakes to Avoid

Postby Roots » Sun May 17, 2009 4:33 pm

I thought we had a thread like this already but I couldn't find it. If someone does find it we can merge the two.

It would be a good idea for us to take note of design mistakes that other RPGs have made so that we do not repeat them here. I'll start us off with one that has always annoyed the hell out of me.


1. Battles where the player is supposed to lose
These can be done right, but often times they are not. What you want to do is to have it play out as a normal battle that finishes at a point -before- all the enemies are defeated. If the only way for the battle to finish is for the enemy party to be defeated (which is impossible since the enemy party is given infinite health) or for the player's party to be defeated (all allies have to 0HP), that's annoying. Its annoying because the player doesn't know that they are supposed to lose and think they are just fighting some insanely strong boss character. They end up wasting a lot of items and mana/MP trying desperately to win an un-winnable battle. Then when they think that its game over, instead the game continues and they realize that they just wasted a lot of effort and inventory and got stressed over nothing. It drives me insane when this happens to me in RPGs :bang:

Like I said, the way to do it is to have it play as a normal battle. Maybe the end of the battle happens when you reduce the boss'es HP to below 20% of its max or something. After achieving the end criteria, the game takes over and the player's party is defeated, or a cut scene occurs outside of battle, without allowing the player a chance to retaliate. If the player's party is defeated before the end criteria is met, then the game really does end and the player has to try again. This way the player's effort is not in vain nor do those resources used in battle become wasted, since the player has to fight to achieve the end criteria. It makes so much sense to do it this way, I don't know why game designers insist on doing it the wrong way. :axe:
Image
Winter Knight
Contributor
Posts: 304
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 12:35 pm
Contact:

Re: RPG Mistakes to Avoid

Postby Winter Knight » Sun May 17, 2009 8:36 pm

That sounds reasonable to me. I also hate it when I waste a bunch of items because I thought I was playing "for real."

On a similar note, I was playing Fall of Imiryn some time ago, and there is a point where you have to outrun a bunch of space pirates. You control your ship with the mouse, and their ships move from the bottom to the top of the screen, and if they touch you, you die. It's a simple mini-game. The last pirate, I think it had an X, or a skull, or was just a different color, behaved differently, and kept moving towards me, and never left the screen. I circled it for about a minute and half before I decided to just give up and ram it. Of course, I was "supposed to" get hit. In this case, the devs could have solved the problem by making the boss pirate ship accelerate, so that it would be impossible to circle it for more than a few seconds.

You might have been looking for this thread, which is a long list of shopping related cliches:
viewtopic.php?t=1717
User avatar
Roots
Dictator
Posts: 8660
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 6:07 pm
Location: Austin TX
Contact:

Re: RPG Mistakes to Avoid

Postby Roots » Mon May 18, 2009 11:19 pm

2. TMA - Too Much (of) Anything
I hate games where you have hundreds of items in your inventory, most of which don't do anything useful for you. Right now I'm playing Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World and I have so much crap inventory I don't even care what I have anymore. In a typical battle I get 2-4 items, most of which are just things to synthesize other items with that I otherwise have no use for. You can make pacts with monsters to join your party to fight alongside of you, and they gain new skills, abilities, and can evolve to different classes. I have about 40 monsters in my party and I don't care for any of them. I consistently get messages about them leveling up or learning a new skill (which you have to equip for them to actually use) after battles and I just ignore it. I have to, otherwise after every battle I'd spend a minute in the menu trying to figure out what items I got, what my new abilities do, equip all the new skills, etc. It's ridiculous.

Even item synthesis, which sounds like a cool feature, was done poorly in this game. When you go to synsthesize, you're presented with a huge list of the base items for synthesis and only after selecting it can you find out what other items you need to perform the synthesis and what you can create. But it doesn't let you determine if the synthesis target is something actually useful for you or not, and it doesn't make it clear what syntheses you can perform given your current inventory. Its a mess, and its not fun. They even have a bunch of side-quests in the game which are so boring and useless (the rewards are hardly anything special) that I skip them all now.

There's just way too much to try and keep track of with this game. More of a good thing does not make the good thing better. It often makes it much worse. To sum it up: don't overdo things and have a ton of different items or other things that you overwhelm the player.


3. 2M2S - Too Much Too Soon
This goes along the lines of the previous mention. When the player is first getting warmed up to the game, don't overwhelm them with a bunch of new items/skills/party members/etc. The beginning of the game should have a small, basic working set of things that the game slowly builds upon as the player gets further into the game and is better ready to incorporate new information.
Image
User avatar
Brian
Writer
Posts: 133
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 10:31 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: RPG Mistakes to Avoid

Postby Brian » Tue May 26, 2009 10:31 pm

The Grand List Of Console Role Playing Game Clichés

#1. Sleepyhead Rule
The teenaged male lead will begin the first day of the game by oversleeping, being woken up by his mother, and being reminded that he's slept in so late he missed meeting his girlfriend.
#2. "No! My beloved peasant village!"
The hero's home town, city, slum, or planet will usually be annihilated in a spectacular fashion before the end of the game, and often before the end of the opening scene.
#3. Thinking With The Wrong Head (Hiro Rule)
No matter what she's accused of doing or how mysterious her origins are, the hero will always be ready to fight to the death for any girl he met three seconds ago.
#4. Cubic Zirconium Corollary
The aforementioned mysterious girl will be wearing a pendant that will ultimately prove to be the key to either saving the world or destroying it.
#5. Logan's Run Rule

Etc...

http://project-apollo.net/text/rpg.html
A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.
User avatar
Roots
Dictator
Posts: 8660
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 6:07 pm
Location: Austin TX
Contact:

Re: RPG Mistakes to Avoid

Postby Roots » Wed May 27, 2009 6:20 pm

Hah, I remember finding that list when we were first starting out and we did try to avoid some of the cliches listed there. Right now I think Allacrost has "violated": #2, #19, ....okay there are too many items on this webpage and I'm not going to spend all afternoon going through this list. :heh:

I'd like to really see us avoid #14 (walk into any random strangers house). Maybe instead we could have them knock on the doors. The options we could place after the knock could include: 1) no one home, 2) someone answers the door, talks to the party, but doesn't invite them inside, 3) someone answers the door and invites them inside. I think it would be a nice change of pace from other RPGs who just allow you to walk in whenever.

I'm proud that our game design manages to avoid #25. :)
Image
Winter Knight
Contributor
Posts: 304
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 12:35 pm
Contact:

Re: RPG Mistakes to Avoid

Postby Winter Knight » Wed May 27, 2009 11:00 pm

#14 reminds of me of a fake Hyrulian newspaper article I read. It was about Link being a disturbed individual, who had a personal vendetta against chickens and pots. Citizens were advised, that if Link came to their house and started breaking all of their pots and planting bombs, that they should just stand there and smile, and if Link says anything to them, they should just repeat a simple phrase. There was a thenoobcomic strip where some PKers were looting a home while a family ate dinner, and the kids were terrified, and the father was saying something like, "just smile and wave".

We might be avoiding #27 too, depending on how our "Claudius is the Hero?" thread goes. I like #189. It doesn't really seem like it would work, but it's worth a shot.

Keep in mind that we don't have to avoid all of the cliches. There are only about 40 stories in the history of the world, and less in RPGs, so some overlap between our story and past stories is normal.
User avatar
Jetryl
Artist
Posts: 1485
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2005 7:35 am
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA

Re: RPG Mistakes to Avoid

Postby Jetryl » Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:39 am

Roots wrote:1. Battles where the player is supposed to lose
Its annoying because the player doesn't know that they are supposed to lose and think they are just fighting some insanely strong boss character. They end up wasting a lot of items and mana/MP trying desperately to win an un-winnable battle. Then when they think that its game over, instead the game continues and they realize that they just wasted a lot of effort and inventory and got stressed over nothing. It drives me insane when this happens to me in RPGs :bang:


Yeah, that really is annoying.

TBH, I would love it if there's some way to "do the impossible". There are a number of classic examples in games where there's supposed to be some tragic incident you can't avoid, but I have had times (when they didn't cheat and give the monster infinite health) when I actually have managed to kill bosses that for storyline purposes were supposed to be 'unkillable'; it's very irritating when you actually manage to pull something like that off, and then have the scripted "boss kicking your ass" thing follow right after it. If someone was intending to do non-linear plots, this would be precisely where you'd insert a hook to start the level path to the really nice ending.

My thought on non-linear game design is to 'make every ending a winning ending', but allow for better endings if the player is insanely skilled, and manages to pull them off. If you're really ridiculously good, it's fun to be rewarded with being able to actually overturn the normal 'bittersweet' ending (where the world is saved, but at a great sacrifice to do so). For example, imagine in starcraft 1, if you could (by an incredible act of badassery) have saved kerrigan from getting captured, and if there was a completely different branch of the storyline that occurred after you did that. It doesn't work well for games that are supposed to have a plotline that carries through multiple sequels, but there are a lot of great games (such as the entire final fantasy series) that all had self-contained plots.

Cave Story actually did a rather anemic version of exactly this.

Roots wrote:Like I said, the way to do it is to have it play as a normal battle. Maybe the end of the battle happens when you reduce the boss'es HP to below 20% of its max or something. After achieving the end criteria, the game takes over and the player's party is defeated, or a cut scene occurs outside of battle, without allowing the player a chance to retaliate.


This is a good solution.
Image
User avatar
Jetryl
Artist
Posts: 1485
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2005 7:35 am
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA

Re: RPG Mistakes to Avoid

Postby Jetryl » Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:52 pm

Image
User avatar
Roots
Dictator
Posts: 8660
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 6:07 pm
Location: Austin TX
Contact:

Re: RPG Mistakes to Avoid

Postby Roots » Mon Jun 01, 2009 4:46 pm

#29 Indestructible Weapon Rule

This is one cliche I think that we actually need to keep. Dealing with this would be really annoying for the players, who would have to keep a backup weapon/armor for everyone and constantly visit a shop to repair broken equipment. That's not fun, and the purpose of games (especially this one) are to be fun, not to be 100% realistic. Maybe instead of breaking, the stats of weapons/armor could wear down with battles and have to be repaired to bring them back to their original stats. But again, this just seems like it would be annoying and doesn't really add anything to the game.
Image
User avatar
Jetryl
Artist
Posts: 1485
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2005 7:35 am
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA

Re: RPG Mistakes to Avoid

Postby Jetryl » Fri Jun 05, 2009 1:04 am

Roots wrote:#29 Indestructible Weapon Rule

This is one cliche I think that we actually need to keep. Dealing with this would be really annoying for the players, who would have to keep a backup weapon/armor for everyone and constantly visit a shop to repair broken equipment. That's not fun, and the purpose of games (especially this one) are to be fun, not to be 100% realistic. Maybe instead of breaking, the stats of weapons/armor could wear down with battles and have to be repaired to bring them back to their original stats. But again, this just seems like it would be annoying and doesn't really add anything to the game.


Q.E.D. Diablo 2. They tried it, and all it was was useless busywork. The only interesting element of choice it offered was in "ethereal" weapons. These usually got a nice (20%?) bonus over regular weapons, but would wear out until they finally broke, and then they were gone.

I'm still kinda :shrug: on diablo's system of having tons of those randomly-generated weapons.


I do have to say, though, diablo's system of randomly-generated maps was awesome. :bow: :bow: :bow:
Image
User avatar
prophile
Senior Member
Posts: 324
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2006 7:18 pm
Location: Chaldon, Surrey, UK
Contact:

Re: RPG Mistakes to Avoid

Postby prophile » Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:58 am

Are you considering procedural content generation for Allacrost?
Alastair Lynn / Resident Whinger / Allacrost
User avatar
Roots
Dictator
Posts: 8660
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 6:07 pm
Location: Austin TX
Contact:

Re: RPG Mistakes to Avoid

Postby Roots » Sun Jun 14, 2009 12:11 pm

prophile wrote:Are you considering procedural content generation for Allacrost?


Not even remotely. Its way too much work and isn't worth the effort it would take in my opinion.
Image

Return to “Design”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests