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May 11th, 2015, 18:06
In an editorial at RPS, Richard Cobbet looks through what he calls the 25 worst RPG moments. Here's a quote about bandits:


It's one thing to try and mug a passing would-be hero on their way to becoming someone. That's your job. But when you see a team of battle-hardened knights in full-plate, archmages humming with power, clerics bearing the very mantel of your world's deity and a druid still yet to wipe the blood off their lips from their last shapeshift… and your response is to genuinely think you can take them? No. Stay out of the way, and don't waste the time it takes to click on you and turn you into giblets.
Here's a quote about Vampire: The Masquerade:


However! If the world is one where resurrection is easily available, and every store sells magic health potions, this really needs to be factored in. Vampire: The Masquerade: Redemption (otherwise known as "The Crap One") still stands out as a triumphant failure here, with the intro showing hero Christof being slowly brought to health, only to find a potion seller a quick stroll from his sickbed. There are always ways to justify why a particular death counts for real, from soul-destroying weapons, to not being able to take the body to a convenient temple, to ‘death' in combat actually being a knockout. Handwaving is fine, but don't defuse the drama with the obvious question "Wait, why can't I cast my Resurrection spell here?"
And a quote about Skyrim:


I still think Skyrim's guards should arrest players for indecent exposure. I miss when RPGs would routinely factor in at least a couple of snarky comments for if you wandered around in your underwear. It was a good test of how responsive the rest of the game was going to be, if the designers had bothered.
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May 11th, 2015, 18:06
I was reading RPS for a while but stopped since the site has become little more than poor attempts at sort of gaming related comedy and is a poor site for any real game info, often having authors writing about games they admit they've never played and/or know nothing about, which itself, yes, is a joke, so I guess that fits their wannabe comedy schtick these days.
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May 11th, 2015, 18:17
No reason to single out Vampire: The Masquerade here. The trope of the hero nursed back to life also appeared in Divine Divinity and certainly other games I can't remember off the top of my head. And magic healing failing inexplicably ushered in the most boring part of the main quest in Lands of Lore.

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May 11th, 2015, 18:20
Several valid points for sure.

The Skyrim thing reminded me of the original Realms of Arkania series. There you actually get random events if you run around without pants.

I think most of the things which bother me the most are around the character development as I am have a minmaxer mindset. But at the same time it's also horrible for new/inexperienced players as they don't see the full picture and might gimp the party up to unplayability.

Bad Explanation of the Skill System: As explained in the article, when the game just doesn't tell you what the skills or attributes are good for

Random Elements in Skill System: If the game makes you roll for initial attributes, or skill increases. Realms of Arkania is a good example. In the old DSA-System you rolled all your character attributes, and on level up you had "tries" to increase your skills, your hitpoint increase was rolled. So initially you take hours to create a "good" character, and then you enter save/load sessions when leveling and are never quite happy about the result. Or you just accept that your party becomes gimped, mage getting more hipoints than your fighter due to bad luck.

Uncertainty in Skill System: Some games add trainers or books which allow additional skill increases which you can also do on level ups. So if you know that there are 5 "Sword fighting +1" books it would be a waste if you increased your skill to 100 before you found them. So if you know that these option might exist, you keep your skill at a certain degree just that you don't waste any potential. In the end there might not even a book for that particular skill in the game. This was actually the case with Eschalon, where you should look into a wiki /forum postings beforehand.

Missing retroactivity: What I absolutely hate in Character Systems is missing retro-activity. Something like "For each point of constitution you get 1 hitpoint at level up".
Now if you start a character at 10 constitution and then at a later point realize "oh, he just dies to fast", you are out of luck. Putting points into constitution won't help you anymore as you don't get the hitpoints you missed out on the previous levels. So a character which starts with 15 STR and 10 CON and then increases Con each level, ending up with 15 STR and 15 CON might have just have 15 hitpoints less than someone who started with 10 STR and 15 CON and increased STR instead.
An especially bad case of this can be found within Wasteland 2. You decide to increase Int later on, it has no use at all. This was in combination with another problem of WL2: Breakpoints.

Breakpoints: Some character systems work with very small numbers. So small numbers that not even all increases have an effect. So for example that your Strength increases your damage by 0.5 points. But the damage is always rounded down. So effectively odd numbers are useless. You need to study the character system beforehand to know where these break points are. An exceptionally bad case can be found in Wasteland 2, which had these Breakpoints with Intelligence, which then increased your Skillpoints per level, and with the Action points you have for combat. And due to the AP for shooting the action points themselve had break points as well. So lets say you can shoot once with 4 AP. And depending on your attributes you can have 5-10 AP, how many AP would you want to take? Exactly: It's 8. Having 7 AP is useless and having 9 AP is useless as well. So you have this AP breakpoint and need to match it with the Attribute breakpoints. Combined with missing restroactivity the WL2 character system became a total mess.

Excessive XP value by having limited XP in the game: There are multiple scenarios how the XP system can be really bad. The most extreme is that you don't have a level cap in the game, and not even a significant softcap, but at the same time the XP you can get in the game are limited. This makes you do things for the XP which are just absurd. E.g. if a combat solution gives you more XP than a peaceful solution you take the combat. If there are items which give you additional % of XP, you stack these. And if sacrificing items to a Dark God you actually want to defeat, you do that as well, like Lords of Xulima, which is a very good example on how to not do it. Lords of Xulima further added on that by also making the Gold supply limited. (well in fact they were unlimited, but to get unlimited money/XP you had to spend hundreds of hours to get a minimum increase).

Now of course there are even worse scenarios, like in Oblivion. But Oblivions System was so horribly bad that it's hard to actually make a rule out of it.
Oblivion has the worst Character System of all the games I know by making the choice which seems to be the most intuitive one, the worst one you can take. For those who don't know it:
-You select primary skills at character creation.
-All skills are tied to attributes
-You increase skills via learning by doing
-once you accumulated enough primary skill gains, you increase a level
-when you gain a level you get attribute gains depending on the skill gains you did since last level
-enemies scale to your level

So normally you'd think "I am a fighter, I make swordfight my primary skill!". Worst choice in the game. If you fight a lot, you gain points in your primary skill and level up. And you do so very fast, having almost no time to build up attribute gains. So the only attribute rising might be the one tied to sword fighting.
Now on level 2 you have a sword fighting skill which is better than on level 1, and your strength is better, but that's it. All enemies leveled up as well, and they probably are now stronger to you in comparison because they did a better level up.
What you need to do instead is using primary skills which you can rise on demand. Like jumping. Then you just play normally. If you want to max out your possibilities you note down every skillgain on paper. So that you know what attribute gains you get. If you maxed out the potential, you start jumping around. You get your primary skillgain, your level up, and with that tons of attributes gain. The enemies skill up as well, but you gain the edge as you leveled more effectively.

I guess my post became extremely specific about the character system now and again became a wall of text. Anyways, will leave it there as it is now.
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May 11th, 2015, 20:02
Originally Posted by Voqar View Post
I was reading RPS for a while but stopped since the site has become little more than poor attempts at sort of gaming related comedy and is a poor site for any real game info, often having authors writing about games they admit they've never played and/or know nothing about, which itself, yes, is a joke, so I guess that fits their wannabe comedy schtick these days.
I'm not sure if that's actually worse than being known for contrarian, troll-baiting articles.
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May 11th, 2015, 20:04
Originally Posted by Voqar View Post
I was reading RPS for a while but stopped since the site has become little more than poor attempts at sort of gaming related comedy and is a poor site for any real game info, often having authors writing about games they admit they've never played and/or know nothing about, which itself, yes, is a joke, so I guess that fits their wannabe comedy schtick these days.
That and their constant crying about everything being sexist or bigoted.
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May 11th, 2015, 20:42
Originally Posted by Humanity has risen! View Post
That and their constant crying about everything being sexist or bigoted.
I read it pretty regularly, enjoy their reviews and find that they write about games that they play. Of course, I'm glad to see that human kind is ascending to a point where sexist and bigoted material no longer gets a free pass.
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May 11th, 2015, 21:26
Originally Posted by Alaric View Post
I read it pretty regularly, enjoy their reviews and find that they write about games that they play. Of course, I'm glad to see that human kind is ascending to a point where sexist and bigoted material no longer gets a free pass.
Except it's just rubbing an obnoxious and authoritarian politically correct agenda in the face of people who just want to play and enjoy innocent videogames, and continously painting such people in the worst possible light, often with gratuitous character assassination and bile. It is not as if it was legitimate in the first place, RPS is constantly getting outraged over the silliest possible non-issues. There is a reason why their advertising revenue has plummeted so much they have to beg for money, because they have repelled their own audience.
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May 11th, 2015, 22:09
Let's keep these opinions to the P&R forum and skip it in the news comments forums to get back to the subject at hand. The topic is not RPS.
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May 11th, 2015, 23:02
Level scaling is probably the worst form of punishment an rpg can inflict. If oblivion just removed that I would have probably been able to enjoy it more. It was such a pain to babysit your character every step of the way, keeping score of skill increases that it robbed the game of the little fun that was on offer. Never again will I punish myself like that.
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May 11th, 2015, 23:42
The article contains a good number of points I agree with. But he catastrophically uses the horribly overused word, 'tropes' not just in the first paragraph, but the first sentence even. So for that, -10 points. For compelling me to use that tired word in order to complain about it, -10 more.
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May 12th, 2015, 04:42
Originally Posted by Voqar View Post
I was reading RPS for a while but stopped since the site has become little more than poor attempts at sort of gaming related comedy and is a poor site for any real game info, often having authors writing about games they admit they've never played and/or know nothing about, which itself, yes, is a joke, so I guess that fits their wannabe comedy schtick these days.
I do prefer it over newsy standard reviews filled with cliches and stock phrases. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph…erStockPhrases
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May 12th, 2015, 05:05
So 'tropes' is a trope??

Stop Trying To Replace The DPS/Tank/Healer Trinity In MMOs
NO!! The Trinity must die! I found that tactic to be pretty stupid when it first showed up and still is stupid today. You want to set somebody up with strong defenses, fine. You want to plug a corridor up with some burly guys in strong armor, fine. You want to hang raw meat on the armor to convince stupid animals to attack the strong defenses, fine. But this 'draw agro' business is just stupid. Any enemy of any intelligence isn't going to go after the big metal man while the puny guy in robes is spitting fire at them.

Actually, Pillars of Eternity did a pretty good job with this, IMHO. I wonder if it's why so many people are having trouble with it? They expect to stick a fighter or two out there and have all the enemies act like idiots and attack them, leaving the rest of the party free to do anything they want.

Replace that 'bad cliché' (since we can't say trope now) with…

End the False Urgency
The Evil So & So's have captured Nice Person! You must hurry to their lair and kill them all before they kill Nice Person! Yeah, right. I think I'll go rest at the inn, do a couple more adventures that will pay better, rest again, then wander over to the Cave of the So & So's. Sure enough, they've waited patiently for days. I manage to rescue Nice Person "just in time."

I hate it when RPGs do this. It can be covered by changing the story a bit to take away the sense of urgency but what I really want is for the quest to FAIL. The completionists will scream but that's fine - maybe some primal scream therapy will help them and their condition.
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May 12th, 2015, 05:27
Personally one of my issues with the list was combining single player RPGs with MMORPGs given both tend to utilize a lot of different things, and many of the MMO things were online specific.
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May 12th, 2015, 05:30
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
NO!! The Trinity must die! I found that tactic to be pretty stupid when it first showed up and still is stupid today. You want to set somebody up with strong defenses, fine. You want to plug a corridor up with some burly guys in strong armor, fine. You want to hang raw meat on the armor to convince stupid animals to attack the strong defenses, fine. But this 'draw agro' business is just stupid. Any enemy of any intelligence isn't going to go after the big metal man while the puny guy in robes is spitting fire at them.

Actually, Pillars of Eternity did a pretty good job with this, IMHO. I wonder if it's why so many people are having trouble with it? They expect to stick a fighter or two out there and have all the enemies act like idiots and attack them, leaving the rest of the party free to do anything they want.
Well, didn't he say don't kill Trinity in MMO? I'm actually in favour of trinity system in MMOs. It's what made the game enjoyable for me especially playing with other players, until the community went toxic (WoW). The necessity of having tank/heal/dps really made people civil in earlier days of WoW. It's not the trinity system that drove people crazy, I think it's more game becoming so casual, you don't really need tank/heal/dps in game that uses trinity system. By the time I got so sick of WoW and eventually quit, I had tanks with 2H swords, what they call themselves DPS tanks. Hell, I saw a warlock tanking in clothes. Ofcourse, if you can do the job effectively, everyone is happy, no matter that spec/gear you are wearing. Problem is, a lot of times they didn't do the job well, making everyone waste their time. Not to mention other stupid systems that were introduced like "LFG/LFR" and kick-timers etc. They were initially introduced to make our lives easy, but then became a tool people use to annoy the crap out of normal players.
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May 12th, 2015, 06:15
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
So 'tropes' is a trope??
YES. And it is the ultimate trope of all… bah now I wrote it again. -10.
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May 12th, 2015, 09:49
Kordanor you are right, that Oblivion system killed the game for me.
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May 12th, 2015, 14:05
I prefer to actually roleplay rather than worrying about min/maxing. Having to jump around in Morrowind/Oblivion to level up Acrobatics was just crazy.

Saying that, having a system where you're skills increase on use is a worthwhile approach to try and they have seemed to gotten to a sensible version with Skyrim.
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May 12th, 2015, 14:33
Originally Posted by VarleyD View Post
I prefer to actually roleplay rather than worrying about min/maxing. Having to jump around in Morrowind/Oblivion to level up Acrobatics was just crazy.
Ideally you have a system which actually supports roleplay. Which lets you chose a background/race without gimping your character, which doesn't encourage playing a fighter with an IQ of 60. And at the same time gives you long term goals to develop your character.
But at the same time you also need a game which supports it's system. In pillars there were a couple of possibilities that the group member which doesn't have a certain athletics skill gets injured when the whole group needed to climb, In Fallout 1/2 very low intelligence modified your dialogues and made you literally play an idiot. There should be more games which don't just reward high values but also punish extremely low values outside of combat.

Saying that, having a system where you're skills increase on use is a worthwhile approach to try and they have seemed to gotten to a sensible version with Skyrim.
While the system is much better than in Oblivion, which isn't a hard thing to do, it's almost as simple as it can get, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The bad thing about Skyrim is the balancing. As the game expects you to learn only one of the trade skills, while allowing you to learn all of them, which then increases your power exponentially, breaking the game.
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May 12th, 2015, 15:55
Originally Posted by Kordanor View Post
Ideally you have a system which actually supports roleplay. Which lets you chose a background/race without gimping your character, which doesn't encourage playing a fighter with an IQ of 60. And at the same time gives you long term goals to develop your character.
But at the same time you also need a game which supports it's system. In pillars there were a couple of possibilities that the group member which doesn't have a certain athletics skill gets injured when the whole group needed to climb, In Fallout 1/2 very low intelligence modified your dialogues and made you literally play an idiot. There should be more games which don't just reward high values but also punish extremely low values outside of combat.


While the system is much better than in Oblivion, which isn't a hard thing to do, it's almost as simple as it can get, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The bad thing about Skyrim is the balancing. As the game expects you to learn only one of the trade skills, while allowing you to learn all of them, which then increases your power exponentially, breaking the game.
Asymmetry of balance is absolutely key.

I'd argue that executing balance outside a small role set is too expensive and can't be done by most studios. Ranged, scout, melee is a cooperative set point with really strong connections between its role playing theme (fantasy, Sci Fi, apocalypse) and decades long balanced asymmetry of fundamental game mechanics undergirding game combat. Any effort to undermine the cliche also undermines that balance.

That's why Elder Scrolls is weakly balanced. It gives the player excellent choice, but has no hope of executing good balance with a remote chance of ever shipping. They realize the limitations of their system and, while nibbling at the edges of balance, sell the game's strong point which is "live another life, in another world" kitchen sink design.

If you want to come up with something that finally gets around the squad combat cliche, it has to be from the ground up, ripping apart all assumptions about hit points, range, and combat turn execution and *then* convince the hidebound audience that you really have something unique and worthwhile. It won't attract a lot of investment funding though. Too unknown, too much risk, too little upside to make a decent return.
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