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February 20th, 2021, 00:46
Originally Posted by Silver View Post
Interesting following the discussion. Okay here is my 2 cents on complexity in RPGs back in say the 90s compared to now in terms of non-combat systems. Combat systems could go on for pages.

- No quest compass, find your destination via talking to people and reading a map. So this feature requires more from the developers in terms of crafting conversations and quests to make them discoverable. I would call the quest compass streamlining and less fun. Most players find themselves looking at this little circle map during the course of their playthrough, rather than the world that developers spent ages on, as they travel to the quest. The rule of unintended consequences strikes again.
-Quest design varied greatly by developer. Some were simple fetch quests others were more involved and interesting. This doesn't seem to have changed much overall but I feel that (outside of Bethesda) quest design has been improving somewhat by allowing multiple outcomes, and involves more variables (Witcher 3). One would not say this if one was comparing Deus Ex to games today but games like that are an exception, even in the 90s.
- Factions and guilds were unique and you could only join ones not in opposition. In Bethesda games today you can join all factions and little (if any?) relevant skill requirements are necessary. This makes each playthrough far less unique than before. I'm not sure about other open world developers but Piranha Bytes seems to have kept unique faction systems going and Obisidian keeps track of lots of variables for its faction systems. That is not to say that Obisidians factions in Pillars of Eternity felt relevant or reactive through, so there are some deeper issues to say the least.
- The journal that keeps track of your progress wasn't a stable of RPGs until late 90s and a welcome improvement.
- Map notes were a thing in some RPGs in the 90s and largely unheard of today. I miss map notes.
- Day/Night systems were a thing as far back as Quest for Glory. They make the world seem far more alive and showcase how different places can feel at night. This translated into different monsters appearing at night and different quests being available at different times of day. A missed feature for my part.
Good points I think.

- No quest compass - I completely agree this is a negative in games. I do understand why devs have started using this, but I think it's one of those things that have made it into games because some devs built amazingly large worlds but writers who don't know how to give directions.

- Factions and guilds were unique - I think these are heavily dependent on the game. Most games I played in the past didn't even have joinable factions. When they did, they rarely had a major impact on the game. I may be very wrong of course, but that's been my experience

- Map notes - I completely agree with this one. Especially since it should be so simple to implement nowadays.

- Day/Night systems - I agree, although I do understand people who dislike this too. I think someone here on the Watch once said they play a game for fun, not to look for an NPC that travels around the world depending on time of day for a specific quest. I personally find it great though to have well implemented day/night systems.

However, again, I think you and a few others focusing on a few in the past that had it, and thinking that somehow translates to the majority of games having these systems.

Did the majority of games in the past really have all of these ? I very much doubt it.
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February 20th, 2021, 00:53
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
Did the majority of games in the past really have all of these ? I very much doubt it.
Your right, some games had these features and many didn't. Its hard to compare era's so people tend to focus on the most prominent examples. In terms of discussion the also rans aren't very relevant although sometimes they had innovations of their own.
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February 20th, 2021, 01:09
The majority did have more stats/skills/classes, etc, back then because that's what developers were making. Some of the sub-genres that are so popular today didn't even exist then. That's a simple fact.

We didn't have the glut of action-RPGs then that we have now. If you look at what represents the RPG market today, there are more hack & slash Diablo-type games than anything else. After that, it's divided between old-school types like D:OS, Pathfinder, etc and the more mainstream first/third person action-RPGs like TES, Mass Effect, The Witcher, etc.

Imagine a pie chart that showed what percentage of RPGs the last few years (and upcoming releases) fell into each of those catagories. I'd be willing to bet that Diablo clones and looter shooters would take up the majority of that pie by far.
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February 20th, 2021, 01:12
Have been playing Division 2 with a friend lately. This is kind of a game I would never play alone, but that game has a good idea that is relevant to the discussion above. Namely, they show the "quest compass" straight in the main HUD. In other words, you follow a line, which leads you where you are supposed to go. Dumbed down stuff, but at least you look at the world the devs used ages to make. I found that better than the minimap/quest compass, which partly spoiled AC:Valhalla and CP2077 for me. Of course, the old way would be the best.
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February 20th, 2021, 01:20
Originally Posted by Silver View Post
Day/Night systems were a thing as far back as Quest for Glory. They make the world seem far more alive and showcase how different places can feel at night. This translated into different monsters appearing at night and different quests being available at different times of day. A missed feature for my part.
There are many new/current games that have this feature, of course, but have you noticed how the devs have shortened down the night time in Red Dead Redemption 2? That bothered me. As if they were giving excuses for implementing the system. I love nights (in games and in real life).
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February 20th, 2021, 01:32
Originally Posted by largh View Post
Have been playing Division 2 with a friend lately. This is kind of a game I would never play alone, but that game has a good idea that is relevant to the discussion above. Namely, they show the "quest compass" straight in the main HUD. In other words, you follow a line, which leads you where you are supposed to go. Dumbed down stuff, but at least you look at the world the devs used ages to make. I found that better than the minimap/quest compass, which partly spoiled AC:Valhalla and CP2077 for me. Of course, the old way would be the best.
Piranha Bytes still has the best implementation of in-game navigation that I've ever seen in an RPG. In the Gothic and Risen games, you have to actually find or purchase in-game maps in order to see the surrounding areas, and they're actual hand-drawn maps which your character pulls out and looks at each time.

They didn't go that route in Elex, but I guess we can rationalize that Jax didn't need maps because of the tech he had.

I'm a big fan of minimalistic HUDs as well. The Dead Space games probably have the best non-HUD system I've seen. Those aren't RPGs of course, but I'd like to see something similar implemented in one.
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February 20th, 2021, 02:52
Originally Posted by largh View Post
There are many new/current games that have this feature, of course, but have you noticed how the devs have shortened down the night time in Red Dead Redemption 2? That bothered me. As if they were giving excuses for implementing the system. I love nights (in games and in real life).
I like day/night cycles in some games (that would certainly be one of them), but I like being able to see what I'm doing more. I think shortening it is the right move.
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February 20th, 2021, 11:21
I have the impression crafting has increased in games, often adding an optional complexity to players who want to optimize the gameplay with the best armour, potions and weapons.

Some old games had it, but now it's a common feature.

A feature that seems to stale, however, is a living and convincing world. NPCs that go about their life, and who don't sell potions at any hour of the day or night for our heroes. Now and then, a game would try, but usually NPCs go back and forth at best, 24/7, and don't even appear to have any place to sleep or eat.

The same could be said of AI, which hasn't progressed much. Of course, this could require a lot of processing power, but I don't see much effort done in that department.

So I think there's a set of potential/existing features, each of which has a varying demand in time. Some, like AI, were never in big demand, others like non-linear quests, have always been appreciated. Big-budget games will make sure to select those that are in strong demand, and indie will risk other features because they can't compete with big companies and need to stand out by other means.

I also think the demand vary in time. Have you never been surprised to see the differences between generations, how people approached the media, the communication between themselves, what they like to do when hanging out? My father's uni books were mostly descriptive, because back then they could read more than one paragraph before being exhausted, and they needn't images all over the place to manage their focus. Today, those courses are on video with fancy animations, and probably regular ads to avoid strain

I don't think system are less complex, they just move on to a different complexity. Each feature is probably shallower, but there are more of them, interacting with one another. People don't want to focus on one particular feature for too long, they need constant change and switching between features.
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February 20th, 2021, 16:15
Originally Posted by JFarrell71 View Post
They didn't. Here's a copy of the Bard's Tale I manual. Compare this to Pillars of Eternity or D:OS or many other modern era RPGs. In no shape or form are there more "classes, spells and abilities" in these older games.

https://www.mocagh.org/ea/bt1aus-manual.pdf
Pillars of Eternity and Kingmaker are some of my very favorite modern RPGs and definitely fall into the retro category. They are very close to pen and paper rpgs, making use of things like skill checks, giving a variety of classes, and also have complex faction systems. But, in general, they are the exceptions these days, and we are beholden to Kickstarter that there was a small devoted crowd who helped fund them and bring them into existence.
Compare the open world of Might and Magic 3 with that of the Witcher 3 or Skyrim, to games by the way I really enjoyed. MM3 can't compare in terms of story or characters, but reaching the end of the main quest is much more complicated and you have no way to know how to go about that through much of the game. You have to explore your way through it.
My point with the Bard's Tale by the way was that you had things like illusionary walls, areas unreachable except by using a passwall spell and you actually wanted to know when you were getting close to a staircase. Now of days, exploration in dungeouns doesn't work like that anymore. In terms of classes and class complexity, POE and most D&D games have more.
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February 20th, 2021, 17:10
Originally Posted by forgottenlor View Post
areas unreachable except by using a passwall spell
I can understand why video games don't want to implement passwall, it must be very difficult to handle well graphically, or it would put severe constraints on the maps (for example a squared-cell system such as Minecraft could more easily implement that but it would be ugly). Then it would completely break any puzzle the designers are trying to achieve.

Or they'd have to limit where it can be used, but that wouldn't be fun.

Maybe a challenge for graphics engines. Some of them supported destructible maps, that could be a part of the solution. But I wouldn't be the one implementing the quest and puzzle logic

So it seems that sometimes, a simpler representation like 2D map or uglier graphics allow for more freedom and more game complexity.
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February 20th, 2021, 19:48
Originally Posted by Redglyph View Post
I can understand why video games don't want to implement passwall, it must be very difficult to handle well graphically, or it would put severe constraints on the maps (for example a squared-cell system such as Minecraft could more easily implement that but it would be ugly). Then it would completely break any puzzle the designers are trying to achieve.

Or they'd have to limit where it can be used, but that wouldn't be fun.

Maybe a challenge for graphics engines. Some of them supported destructible maps, that could be a part of the solution. But I wouldn't be the one implementing the quest and puzzle logic

So it seems that sometimes, a simpler representation like 2D map or uglier graphics allow for more freedom and more game complexity.
But passwall is fun in the Bard's Tale, of course it is a pretty high level spell, so you get it late in the game and it costs a high amount of spell points, so you don't want to use it without careful thought. It does change how you playthrough some dungeons, though, and that is pretty cool.
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February 20th, 2021, 20:17
Originally Posted by forgottenlor View Post
But passwall is fun in the Bard's Tale, of course it is a pretty high level spell, so you get it late in the game and it costs a high amount of spell points, so you don't want to use it without careful thought. It does change how you playthrough some dungeons, though, and that is pretty cool.
I can imagine! I haven't played it but it does sound fun.
That's the first time I hear about this spell, had to look it up
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February 21st, 2021, 00:29
It was also my favourite spell in Arena, but was dropped from Daggerfall!!
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February 21st, 2021, 09:06
Originally Posted by largh View Post
There are many new/current games that have this feature, of course, but have you noticed how the devs have shortened down the night time in Red Dead Redemption 2? That bothered me. As if they were giving excuses for implementing the system. I love nights (in games and in real life).
I haven't actually played that game. It would be fun to explore the old west at night, play some cards at a saloon and see some dancers etc.
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February 21st, 2021, 09:29
Originally Posted by Silver View Post
I haven't actually played that game. It would be fun to explore the old west at night, play some cards at a saloon and see some dancers etc.
Yes, try it if you crave some western time and hanging in the wilderness It's a great game. Not an RPG, of course, but can be played like a type Witcher RPG with a predefined protagonist.
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February 21st, 2021, 13:53
So when is this new patch coming out?

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February 21st, 2021, 14:38
Originally Posted by Silver View Post
Interesting following the discussion. Okay here is my 2 cents on complexity in RPGs back in say the 90s compared to now in terms of non-combat systems. Combat systems could go on for pages.

- Map notes were a thing in some RPGs in the 90s and largely unheard of today. I miss map notes.
This is one of features that I most liked in Ultima Underworld, and I'm mentioning a game from 1992. And then, 30 years later this feature kinda vanished from games???
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Last edited by henriquejr; February 21st, 2021 at 20:26. Reason: Corrected the word "vanished" (it was typed as "vaninshed")
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February 21st, 2021, 18:59
Originally Posted by henriquejr View Post
This is one of features that I most liked in Ultima Underworld, and I'm mentioning a game from 1992. And then, 30 years later this feature kinda vaninshed from games???
Yeah, and the ironic thing is that some of the open-world games today could really benefit from from that. I also can't imagine that it's very difficult to implement.
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February 21st, 2021, 19:06
I quite agree, Henriquejr. That was a solid addition to games back then, and I don't understand why it just vanished. I mean, I've seen it in mmo's but for single player games these days, it's practically non-existent. It doesn't seem like it would be hard to put in but then again I'm a player, not a creator.
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February 22nd, 2021, 10:01
I'm glad to hear I wasn't the only one to use map notes. Were you also using journal notes? I used to put extra information because sometimes the generated notes were a bit succinct, for ex. in NWN. Or just for out-of-quest to-do things.

Now I'm using paper, ironically.

I wish they put those journal notes in Pathfinder games, it would be perfect since their journal is well summarized. Then they could put a difficulty option to remove the world map pointers
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