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Decline Second-tier gameplay features in neo-RPGs

Which are least important to you in an RPG?

  • romances

  • player housing

  • mini games

  • cutscenes

  • voice acting

  • eye candy

  • over-the-top cosmetic character customization

  • crafting/itemization


Results are only viewable after voting.

luj1

You're all shills
Vatnik
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Let me start by what I consider primary features in a story-driven RPG, things which could always use more work,
  • developing or deepening the plot
  • core system design
  • writing standard (such as editing passes etc.)
  • improving core gameplay
  • quest design
  • adding more of everything (like Fallout 2 compared to one)
  • polish
  • etc.
Nowadays here's what most developers prefer to use as selling points,
  • romances
  • voice acting
  • eye candy (particle effects, physics)
  • mini-games and similar feature bloat
  • player housing and Sims crap
  • poorly thought-out crafting and customization
  • etc.
Clearly over the last 10 years a substantiate influx of numerous such sub-features has been observed. They are ranging from passable, across thoroughly unnecessary deviations, to pure decline.

Specifically, I'm targeting elements which never mattered much in this genre (such as voice acting), those which had arisen as a consequence of technology (eye candy, cutscenes) and those which accompany cultural and social decline (romanceable companions, virtual sex). In any case most of these have several things in common,
  • they compensate for traditional content
  • they are mostly inconsequential to gameplay
  • they detract from optimal game development
  • they encourage decline
  • they reduce product standard
  • they reduce consumer standard


I wrote some notes below outlining my position on this matter. I also included a poll with 1 to 4 responses.


Player housing

Why do you need a virtual residence? It does nothing for the story, except perhaps serving as some kind of a reward (Morrowind?). But then surely an item, weapon or stat increase (or even experience) would likely do that better. Don't like how often it was (ab)used as a stretch goal.


Voice acting

I don't hate voice acting. Voice acting is literally irrelevant to me. If I like a voice-acted RPG, it's usually for some other reason. There's no need to simulate everything, let my imagination work instead. What a terrible waste of time and resources.


Romances

Emotionally balanced people need not crave virtual relationships. Can it serve the story? Perhaps, sometimes. For example I saw nothing wrong in shagging Janette in VtM:B. It was a nice, hidden reward for completing an early quest arc. But it was on easter egg-level, far from a romanceable companion. Seriously get a girlfriend.


Physics

GTFO.


Eye-candy

Graphics generally don't matter to me. Optimally, there's no need to be uglier than Wiz6 (clearly a tech limitation) or prettier than D:OS/PoE. Why go beyond that level? Specifically in this instance I'm referring to things like particles, FX, volumetric fog, shaders, stuff like that. Decorating and beatifying the game superficially. When that goes beyond a certain point gameplay is neglected.


Kill cams

Don't even belong in this genre.


Character customization

Pick your portrait. Sure. Give your character a name. Absolutely. Briefly choose your general appearance. Check. Eyebrow thickness, nose width? Fuck no. Do I want to spend 30 minutes on cosmetics? No but we all do in the end. Why do these companies want to play into my OCD and make it worse? In my opinion this should stay a relatively brief process as to not detract too much from gameplay itself.


Notes on Crafting & Itemization

Some RPGs such as Arcanum and Underrail boast elaborate crafting systems. And it worked out very good for them, raising gameplay value. But unless it's done really well, it simply isn't worth it. Today everybody wants to do crafting and extensive itemization however it turns out neither good enough nor with any sense of measure. My belief is that non-ARPGs don't necessarily require over the top itemization. For example KotOR had fairly good, simple crafting. Whereas pimping out your weapons in HotU hugely affected looting potential.
 
Last edited:

Sigourn

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It's difficult to answer unless we answer based on "what is really happening" over "what could be happening". In which case, my answers are simple: I don't give a shit about poorly executed romances or stupid player houses, or bad minigames.

BUT if those two were done properly, they would add a lot to the experience. Like any other thing you mentioned, really.

- Proper voice acting adds a lot to a character. Caesar from New Vegas wouldn't be the same without his voice. Same with Annah from Planescape: Torment, or JC Denton from Deus Ex.
- Cutscenes can make a scene much more interesting than the basic "talk to NPC". It's what made the Fallout intro so memorable, really: it's one cutscene, however you like to name it.
- Eye candy, character customization, and crafting & itemization are always extremely welcome. If you do not care about character customization, you simply don't spend any time on it. If you do care about it, you want as many options as possible, including the underrated "boob type" option so I can select "torpedo".
 

luj1

You're all shills
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- Cutscenes can make a scene much more interesting than the basic "talk to NPC". It's what made the Fallout intro so memorable

Pretty sure that was a CGI sequence. I'm referring to in-engine cutscenes.
 

luj1

You're all shills
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Why include itemization there? It's not a bad thing.


True but extensive itemization isn't crucial so I decided to include it anyway, just like crafting. And most tend to go overboard with those nowadays. Perhaps I should've worded it better.
 
Last edited:

mogwaimon

Magister
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I picked romances, crafting/itemization, voice acting, and eye candy. Romances are generally boring, I hate crafting systems because I prefer to go out and find loot in the game world instead of playing amateur blacksmith (Not a knock against itemization, you just mixed the two together so that's what I picked), voice acting is convenient but ultimately limits dialogue to the VA budget, and eye candy is nice but not super important.

I'm a special snowflake so I actually like cosmetic character customization, I'm not fond of mini-games for shit like lockpicking/computer hacking but there's nothing wrong with actual mini-games like an arena or a shooting gallery of some kind in action RPGs, player housing is alright if the housing has quests to develop it or something meaningful besides just being a prop or a glorified interior decorator simulator, and I'm also a storyfag so a cutscene here or there is fine so long as it's not something stupid like losing a fight in a cutscene right after beating a fight in the actual game
 

v1rus

Arcane
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Messages
2,253
Most of those are useless uninteresting shite, but fucking romances take the cake. Hate those fucking things. Twitcher 3 being the only game that seems to have done that shit sorta right. PS:T was also okayish I guess, but only since FFG is such a fascinating character. The rest? Meh.
 

Jaesun

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The first romance in a cRPG, which was the Gold Box series, was actually done well.

But everything since has been designed terribly bad.

:M
 

ilitarist

Learned
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Messages
857
Never understood player housing. I understand the need for storage in some games but it doesn't require you to have a house. In most games town is your "house" as after you return from the raid you walk around traders/repairers/quest dispensers and so on.

And crafting... I think there's a clear place for mechanic itself. There are two ways to do it: either make everything craftable or only use it for upgrades and rare quest. 1st approach is kinda like new BioWare games: money are not that important because you mostly use legendary items forged with rare materials. Thus you are forced to explore and gather materials. The game also has lots of bad loot and some artifacts. In expansions they dropped most of the looted items, and I think it's the same in Mass Effect Andromeda. So you customize and create almost all of your equipment based on available designs and materials. Fine system, I say.

The other way is just allowing to use it for upgrades. Like inserting stuff into weapons a la Diablo 2 or Dragon Age Origins/2. A limited customization.

But most of the time it's done horrible. KotOR, Skyrim, Fallout New Vegas all give you an opportunity to create items. You have skills that help with that. And those items are useless. You spend more effort to create a useless steak than you'd spend just exploring killing stuff earning the money to make a steak. And if you're trying to play optimally you expect the best gear to come out of crafting because it's additional effort, but it doesn't work like that, it's always easier to find same items than to craft them. It's also not heroic. Heroes do not craft and don't have crafting skills, they pay people to do that.

Also I think Skyrim's system of using crafting skill to upgrade equipment is fine. The problem is you're supposed to create hundreds of daggers instead.
 
Self-Ejected

IncendiaryDevice

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Why is crafting lumped with itemisation?

Is it too hard to make another poll entry?

And, no, this doesn't explain it, this explains fuck all:

Why include itemization there? It's not a bad thing.


True but extensive itemization isn't crucial so I decided to include it anyway, just like crafting. And most tend to go overboard with those nowadays. Perhaps I should've worded it better.

It doesn't explain why they're the same entry. It doesn't say why or how itemisation can be a bad thing other than "most tend to go overboard nowadays" to which, no they don't and no they don't. What the fuck have you been playing?
 

oldmanpaco

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Crafting is cancer.

edit: As others have said Crafting and Itemization are totally separate topics. Poll is retarded OP is a fag.
edit2: Also poll is missing an option. Fucking 2016 newfags.
 

Sigourn

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- Cutscenes can make a scene much more interesting than the basic "talk to NPC". It's what made the Fallout intro so memorable

Pretty sure that was a CGI sequence. I'm referring to in-engine cutscenes.

It is a CGI sequence, it's true. Personally I think a cutscene adds a lot to a scene when done properly. It can be a great way to introduce a character.
 

fireoak

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Never understood player housing.
a87773e9910c35a3b70ed7572450c023.jpg
 
Unwanted

Janise

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  • developing or deepening the plot
and this is how you disqualify yourself from any discuss! with brians...
the dumbest people who believe themselves smart care about plots
stories are not about plots.............................................................
l2r
 

Falksi

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I've never been a big fan of crafting, but it actually hurts games now with how much it effects them. I think that Morrowind nailed it with enchanting - bonus abilities added to items, but said items are of a set level anyway.

Housing has mostly been done awfully. But it is an idea I'm not against in isolation. I just think that they need to be more creative when implementing it (e.g. have it affect your status in the communities, such as you playing an elf & a local elf-hater putting his hatred aside because you're now part of the local community. Or alternitively hating you more to the point where he attacks you because he wants you out his village etc).
 

daveyd

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Jun 10, 2013
Messages
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I voted for minigames and crafting. I cannot think of may minigames I actually enjoyed in RPGs, with the exception of Gwent. And I am just sick to death of crafting. Crafting IMO hurts itemization. For one thing you have to pick up a bunch of ingredients which can make inventory management a nightmare. And then, either you are able to craft equipment that is superior to the loot you find (which makes loot or shopping less exciting) or crafting is pointless. It's also rather silly that your adventurer can become a master smith / fletcher / jeweler in his spare time. I can see how crafting sometimes really fits the setting; like making weapons out of spare parts in a post-apocalyptic world (e.g., Dead State). But I could do w/o it in most RPGs, and prefer a fairly simple system in RPGs that must have it. And in fantasy RPGs, magic loot should be relatively rare with unique lore / bonuses for each items, rather than a crapload of random generic stuff w/ incremental differences (D:OS).

i think most of these other subfeatures could be considered "nice to have" if they were actually implemented well. Romances for instance could add to immersion but you have to have really well written characters first. I don't really need or want sex scenes but think something relatively minor & optional that affects the epilogue can be nice (e.g., Expeditions: Viking). Having a house just for looks is pointless, but I think a stronghold type thing could actually be interesting if the developers put a great deal of time and effort into it. Out of what I've played BG2 possibly came the closest to getting strongholds right. Probably well beyond the scope of most indie RPGs though. I like eye candy and good voice acting but they are by no means essential features. Cut scenes (when relatively short and infrequent) are fine, too.

Of course none of these things are nearly as important as story, rules / mechanics, C&C, RPG developers should obviously worry about having a challenging fun combat system, interesting NPCs, and dialogue with choices that actually matter, before worrying about any of the frills.
 

hogcranker

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Make the Codex Great Again! Pathfinder: Kingmaker
I went for cutscenes. I'd rather read through dialogue than sit through the tedious sub direct-to-DVD level mini-movies that games tend to have.
 
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buru5

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Romance - I can get bitches in real life, don't need to play a virgin simulator.

Cutscenes - Fuck cutscenes, anything that takes control away from the player is the antithesis to game design. Pressing a button to cycle through text is more interactive and fun than putting the controller down and watching some shitty 3D models or whatever talk about dumb shit.

Voice acting - Like has been pointed out, voice acting limits the amount of dialogue a game can have greatly due to the expensive nature of hiring and recording voice actors. Text only opens up way more opportunities.
 

Wysardry

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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
With the possible exception of voice acting, the features mentioned have been around for a lot longer than ten years.

Romance was in more than a few JRPGs on the Sega Megadrive/Genesis. When it was between NPCs, it sometimes added to the story and immersion, depending on how well it was done. Romance between the main PC and NPCs doesn't work as well, because most NPCs are too 2D.

Player housing has been around since at least 1996 (Daggerfall) and MM VII (1999) had a player stronghold. Both could be used to store items in, which is very handy for longer games.

Mini games have been around since at least 1999, as MM VII had the Archomage game you could play in each tavern, which was a nice diversion from killing stuff.

Cutscenes have been around since developers were able to do them. If done right, they can add to the storyline. I prefer those that use actual game graphics to pre-recorded FMV versions, as the latter don't show whatever gear the PCs are wearing, which breaks immersion somewhat.

I prefer games without voice acting, as it generally draws more attention to which NPCs are important (as they rarely give every character a voice). It also means that voiced characters cannot address you by name, no matter how well they know you.

Eye candy can help with immersion. The weather in Daggerfall is a good example of early use. Fog, snow and rain helped to add to the atmosphere of a game, as can smoke rising from fires. You'd have to go back a long way to find an RPG that didn't use some sort of particle effect when casting spells.

Major character appearance customisation is really only useful in multiplayer games, but it can add to the role-playing experience.

Crafting is another old feature that can add to the game if done well. Daggerfall allowed you to create new spells, enchant items and create potions from ingredients. Personally, I enjoyed taking a little time out from combat to create something. I don't remember finding ingredients in the wilderness though, which would have been an extra incentive to explore it. I'd like to see the feature improved upon, rather than removed.
 

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