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Default Things I miss about modern RPGs

August 8th, 2018, 14:24
Don't get me wrong. I love modern RPGs. The stories, the quests, the plot twists, there's so much to love. But there are also things I actually find myself missing, though they used to drive me nuts in old RPGs.

-Difficult dungeons
It was maddening. Where is that stupid hidden button to open that (secret) door? Is there any illusionary wall I can go through? Wait, that was a hidden teleporter. Where am I now?
Let's be honest. Dungeons in the old days of RPGs were mean. But that was part of the fun. Today, many dungeons seem so much shorter and hardly hold any surprises. You go in, kill everything, pick up the loot, and leave. There aren't even many forking paths leading to dead ends. It's mostly all straight ahead from the entrance to the exit. Yawn.

-Resource management in times of trouble
I remember the days when inventories were very limited, while you had quite a way to go between locations. You had to buy potions carefully. Too few, and you would get into trouble. Too many, and you could hardly even fight, walk, or carry any found treasure.
Today I sometimes miss the feeling I had when I finally returned to civilization from a trip into a dungeon. Low on health, mana, potions, and probably even food. Reaching the next settlement was such a relieve. You could sell your loot, buy new potions and other supplies and relax a little. Now it's often so easy, being in a town just means getting new quests. Yes, you still sell loot, but your party doesn't need to recover anymore. That feeling of finally being back to safety is gone, because the wilderness and the dungeons aren't as dangerous anymore. In times where your wizards don't even have mana anymore, or their mana is regenerating permanently, there's no need to be careful about the spells you cast. When your characters' health regenerates, too, and a five minute nap is all it takes to refill everything, why even bother to carry any healing potions? Or why worry about finding a save place to rest? It takes away the feeling of danger and adventure for me.

So, what about you guys? Is there anything you miss from the old days? RPGs have come a long way, and they're great, but sure there's something that's no longer part of the gameplay, that you miss, too.
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August 8th, 2018, 15:15
Originally Posted by Dragonfly View Post
sure there's something that's no longer part of the gameplay, that you miss, too.
Gameplay? What's that?

I miss only developers' determination to move away from outdated designs. Repetitiveness, meaninglessness, godlike trashmobs, checkpoints, QTE and QTE2.0 - all those things need to die already.
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August 8th, 2018, 15:33
Dungeons as puzzle is certainly something I miss (Durlags Keep) as well as intelligent encounter design and logical pacing of both story and level design etc. ie they should work in harmony.

I certainly feel your complaint on dungeons Dragonfly. It sounds like you are describing the typical modern Bethesda dungeon which loops back to the entrance once you get to the end but mostly goes in a straight line. Give me a cool hand crafted secret passage, that isn't copy-pasted everywhere, any day of the week.

Diablo style loot is boring to me. But more than that give me a +1 weapon with a meaningful effect rather than some % marginally more damage and I'm sold on your loot design. These weapons should be challenging to acquire but meaningfull having done so.

I would rather reload on death than have my characters stand up after battle has finished none the worse for wear. It maybe "convenient" but it completely destroys a sense of place and danger in the world.
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August 8th, 2018, 15:40
The thing I miss the most from the early days was my excitement opening doors. Each door was like a Christmas present, I had no idea what was going to be inside! That was my young age, really though, not design What I miss that HAS really changed, are the physical props you used to get… maps, spellbooks, lore books. I know a few games recently have offered these as backer goodies, but they used to be in every game.
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August 8th, 2018, 16:06
I actually miss the manuals. I’d read them to play and then read later to remember the play
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August 8th, 2018, 16:37
I do miss the inherent difficulty. I don't mean cranking up hit points/abilities, I'm talking about secrets and puzzles that were simply maddening to figure out, but the reward matched the effort. That idea, those concepts seem to be sadly missing from most offerings today.
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August 8th, 2018, 16:47
Originally Posted by Dragonfly View Post
Don't get me wrong. I love modern RPGs. The stories, the quests, the plot twists, there's so much to love. But there are also things I actually find myself missing, though they used to drive me nuts in old RPGs.

-Difficult dungeons
It was maddening. Where is that stupid hidden button to open that (secret) door? Is there any illusionary wall I can go through? Wait, that was a hidden teleporter. Where am I now?
Let's be honest. Dungeons in the old days of RPGs were mean. But that was part of the fun. Today, many dungeons seem so much shorter and hardly hold any surprises. You go in, kill everything, pick up the loot, and leave. There aren't even many forking paths leading to dead ends. It's mostly all straight ahead from the entrance to the exit. Yawn.
I partially agree. But I despise teleportation type puzzles; they just involve a lot of trial and error, and very elaborate dungeon mazes that require making maps on grid paper. Just not for me and it gets tedious fast.

In the poisonous hedge maze at the end of Pools of Radiance, I think I always ended up charging through a row of hedges to get the end. Yeah, it kills the party member in the lead of the group.. He will be missed But we'll generate a new party member in Curse of Azure Bonds (now I can recruit a Ranger or Paladin!)

But I love secrets and surprises and that certainly seems to lacking in many modern RPGs. Secret doors and clever puzzles (those that aren't just trial & error) which yield special rewards are great. Some dead ends are OK, but I prefer alternative paths. This goes for quest design, too.

Also here's one of mine:

Character builds that matter (e.g., distinctive classes)

The trend in modern RPGs seems to be "classless" system, so you can, in theory make a jack of all trades character. Of course, if XP / skill points are appropriately limited, your characters won't be good if they spread their points too thin, so you'll want to specialize to some extent… But I think I still prefer something a bit more rigid like a class system (as long as there's still a good deal flexibility / choices for how to build each class). Dual-classing / multi-classing are potentially fine as long as there's clear pros & cons to them as opposed to pure classes.

And of course open world action RPGs tend to let you grind to become awesome at everything… But those don't really appeal to me anyway. In party based RPGs, there's no need for that.. I like the idea of a cohesive party where every member has a role. Think of the classic fantasy party of tank / fighter, mage, cleric / druid, thief / ranger….

I'm just saying a party of six Stealthy Battlemages is pretty boring.

Another is Challenging Combat

Seems that often even when you have multiple difficulty settings, combat is much easier on the highest setting than the default difficulty of classic CRPGs. My own personal preference is for relatively infrequent, yet challenging combat encounters that are meaningful or relevant to the plot. Random encounters should be infrequent or avoidable through diplomacy, bribes, stealth, deception, etc.
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Last edited by daveyd; August 8th, 2018 at 17:00.
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August 8th, 2018, 17:13
What I miss the most is not being allowed to lose my way. The excitement of not knowing where you are exactly was a big part of what made exploration great in those big worlds.
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August 8th, 2018, 17:23
The one thing I miss the most isn't so much a result of modern CRPGs, but the result of the rise of the Internet.

I miss not knowing ANYTHING about a game before it's released - and I miss the personal discovery that you get when you sit down with a game that no one else has ever talked about - and in which features exist that you have absolutely no idea will be a part of the game.

The mystery of a game is definitely what I miss the most, and which I consider one of the biggest losses in modern gaming.

Beyond that, I miss developers catering to passionate fans before they cater to the mainstream.

Meaning, developers who made their mechanics very intricate because they knew that's what the fans liked - and where you had to invest in both mechanics and gameplay to be able to succeed. A truly challenging game is something of a rarity these days - and the games that have challenge tend to cater to a smaller audience, because the mainstream won't accept it.

We do get some of that with indie games, true - but even the indie games tend to appeal wide when they can.

Also, I really miss the days when "AAA" developers had the balls to take more chances.

That said, I don't begrudge anyone any of this. This is just the natural result of the market becoming so large - and publishers having to please whatever amount of shareholders and what not.
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August 8th, 2018, 17:35
Daveyd has just reminded me of something else that I miss:

-Getting stronger when leveling up
Now you'll say that the characters are still getting stronger. And you're right. The problem is, so are the foes. There's no returning to that mean giant spider that feasts on failed wannabe heroes a few levels later just to sweep the floor with that nasty thing. Instead, the spider levels with my character, robbing me of that sweet taste of revenge. But I don't want that wolf to almost eat my level 50 fighter like it almost ate my level 1 fighter. I want to make a rug of that wolf without any effort.

@Darth Tagnan:
Do what I do. When I'm sure a game is right for me, I stop reading any previews. This way, I have a few surprises left when the game is finally released.
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August 8th, 2018, 17:38
I miss Jon Van Caneghem.
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August 8th, 2018, 18:08
Originally Posted by Dragonfly View Post
@Darth Tagnan:
Do what I do. When I'm sure a game is right for me, I stop reading any previews. This way, I have a few surprises left when the game is finally released.
Oh, I do try to avoid as much as I can, believe me.

Well, in most cases - but it's so hard. Since I enjoy reading about games and opinions about games - it's almost impossible not to come across little bits and pieces of information.

Also, they've gotten so good at marketing and selling the "feature-list" that you know half the game before you realise it's a title you should be keeping an eye out for.

But, even more so, I think it's just a simple matter of having so much experience with games. I really don't need more than a paragraph and a few screenshots, and I can tell what the game is going to be and how it's going to play.

Obviously, that's not always true - but it's very often the case.

It doesn't help that the vast majority of developers out there are falling over each other to emulate the success of others.

The creative well has been rather dry when it comes to true gaming evolution for a very long time.

The only games that are really unpredictable tend to be the crazy weird-for-the-sake-of-weird stuff that just doesn't appeal to me.

I mean, when was the last time a TRULY original CRPG was released? I'm not sure I remember.
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August 8th, 2018, 18:36
Good post, Dragonfly. Got me nostalgic just thinking about it.

I have to fully concur on dungeons. I miss deep, immersing dungeons which are memorable and challenging to traverse, easy to get lost in, full of curious details and concise flavor text which gave that feeling of a Dungeon Master describing your surroundings. Nowadays, graphics are meant to generally say most of this instead, whereas those moments of text would often capture my imagination which would more often than not make the experience more vivid.
Great examples of this for me is the Unterbrae and Cyanis' tower in Lucencia from Bard's Tale III.

I also agree on your points on resource management and the sense of attrition from exposure to danger, especially in party-based games where you're nervous about how far you can explore without dying or that slow limp back to civilisation with no spell points or healing, praying you don't encounter something that's going to send you over the edge. I do miss that tension in dungeon crawling especially and this was most significantly lost in Pillars of Eternity 2 due to its changed rest system.

A couple more:

Novel, unusual set pieces (Giant worm and Black Beast from Arx Fatalis, trapped dragon from Stonekeep.) I would tie this in loosely with memorable encounters and fights as well.

I think Dart's point on the internet phenemonon is also a good one. It has spoiled gamers when it comes to the immediacy of solutions to puzzles quite a bit. I remember finishing Lands of Lore in around '96 and checking the bulletin board hints and tips for one of its tough dungeons from a shareware cd text file! (I think it was the white tower section…)

The AD&D Gold Box experience. This hasn't been fully replicated yet in a modern way and I truly miss that spirit of adventuring which these games had. Making new parties, reading journal entries, planning for those bigger epic fights.
Some games ocassionally come close to filling the void (Infinity Engine, ToEE, PoE, Knights of the Chalice) but without a pure no nonsense turn-based combat system it's not quite the same. AD&D modules and settings are such a rich resource for stories and devious dungeon design; we need more that in modern traditional role-playing games.
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August 8th, 2018, 18:39
Speaking of great Dungeons.

If we're talking about the good old days here, then what's your overall favorite dungeon?

I'm looking to play a few old-school dungeon crawlers, and while I've played the vast majority of them - I haven't finished them all.

I could use some opinions about great dungeon design.
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August 8th, 2018, 19:54
What I miss mostly is this : NO QUEST MARKERS

And the ability to progress aka explore areas without instant dying.
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August 8th, 2018, 20:57
Character building is another perk I truly miss from the more venerable games. The fancy graphics and silly sounds that get attention now pale in comparison to some of the more established projects of yesteryear.
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August 8th, 2018, 22:50
Well, really depends on definitions again. What is a modern RPG? Dragon Age Inquisition as well as Avernum 3 are fairly recent RPGs. So are modern RPGs just AAA productions?

Anyways. from what was mentioned I don't miss too much.
I do not miss searching for hidden switches, basically scanning every wall by the cursor and trying to walk through it.
I also do not miss drawing my own maps. I think it's a nice experience if you have to do it for a single level, but I wouldn't want to do it through the whole game.
Further I do not miss resource management in terms of using every potion extremely efficiently so that you have enough left. I think I had my experience there with Eye of the Beholder 2 in the dungeon where you couldn't rest and had to drink potions.
I think that scarred me for life. Never using any potions or grenades when not absolutely necessary, and then finishing the game with leaving basically all of them unused.
Difficulty itself is also something I do not miss. Old games often got their difficulty by somewhat arbitrary riddles. Put X coins into a scale so that a door opens (I think it was some ishar or Realms of Arkania 2), find a serial number and give it to a snail? (that was Wizardry 6). Or even Stonekeep with it's "Drop a flower to the ground, then run around a pillar clockwise 2 times". If the hints are somewhat apparent and you also know where to apply them, I am fine with thinking about what they actually mean. But often you just felt like victim of pure randomness. Not missing that.
And the tactical depth of the games I remember from back them was not as deep as they are in some games now.
I also do not miss chracter building. Character building in Eye of the Beholder, Stonekeep and many other games were as shallow as it could get. And then there is Realms of Arkania where tons of the skills were just useless. Not missing that. Modern games like Divinity Original Sin 2 are doing a much better job there. Also don't miss having a party of custom 08/15 characters and prefer to have characters with some story embedded into the game.

What I miss most is the feeling of playing these games back then. But I'd say this is mostly because of age and experience and not because of the games.
And I think young players might have tons of fun with games we see as "stupid" now, while in fact "our" games back then were just as stupid. So let's not ruin their fun (which is also something I am probably doing too much myself).

So yeah…for me lots of these aspects are not valid. And of course you can argue that tons of things were better in a Ultima 7 than they were in a Dragon Age Inquisition.
But on the other hand, a modern Divinity Original Sin 2 is doing a lot of things better than a Dark Sun 2.
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August 9th, 2018, 03:58
Confusing title - I thought Dragonfly had been playing a ton of retro games and was missing the modern conveniences!

Originally Posted by Darth Tagnan View Post
Also, I really miss the days when "AAA" developers had the balls to take more chances.
That's because they weren't AAA. Even correcting for inflation, the companies of yester-year had nothing remotely like the big money games of today. Many of the games back in the late 80's had half a dozen folks listed in the "credits"! I don't think the big money showed up until the smaller groups were able to prove that they could make good money consistently.
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August 9th, 2018, 11:17
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
That's because they weren't AAA. Even correcting for inflation, the companies of yester-year had nothing remotely like the big money games of today. Many of the games back in the late 80's had half a dozen folks listed in the "credits"! I don't think the big money showed up until the smaller groups were able to prove that they could make good money consistently.
I put those quotation marks there for a reason

But I can give you my personal guarentee that we considered games like Wing Commander 3 an AAA game back in '94 - though we might not have used that label for it.

Obviously, the budgets were smaller - but so was the audience. These things go together, and - as such - the chances taken with bigger budgets weren't insignificant.

But, as I said, I put in the quotation marks because I'm aware of the differences in budget.

It doesn't change that technology was only "so far" ahead back in the 90s - and that we had more publishers willing to take real risks with a narrow audience.

Companies like Origin really made some amazing strides - and you won't find any company in the modern industry like that.

As I also mentioned in my post - I don't begrudge anyone any of that. I understand that there's more money involved.

But I would still love to see more evolution within the AAA segment - where innovative technology can be afforded.

Thankfully, I have Star Citizen - which is doing more now than anyone ever did - with a much bigger budget.

The irony is that there are so many gamers bitching that someone is finally taking a real chance at real evolution - because they refuse to educate themselves about the game.

Fortunately, Chris Roberts is not a guy to take his vision lightly - or who is willing to compromise for the ignorant masses. I'm very, very happy with that. In fact, I would never have thought it possible.
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August 10th, 2018, 16:34
Originally Posted by Dragonfly View Post
-Difficult dungeons
It was maddening. Where is that stupid hidden button to open that (secret) door? Is there any illusionary wall I can go through? Wait, that was a hidden teleporter. Where am I now?
Let's be honest. Dungeons in the old days of RPGs were mean. But that was part of the fun. Today, many dungeons seem so much shorter and hardly hold any surprises. You go in, kill everything, pick up the loot, and leave. There aren't even many forking paths leading to dead ends. It's mostly all straight ahead from the entrance to the exit. Yawn.
I get what you mean here, but I don't miss the things you used as examples I like secrets and puzzles, but I hate untelegraphed secrets, in particular the ones that you "need" to find in order to progress. Pressing up against a wall until it lets me through is not something I enjoy at all. And I never liked things that were just there to disorient you, like spinners in a first person dungeon crawler that you have to map out by hand.

The big thing that I would like to see dropped from modern games are quest markers. With good level design, and proper quest descriptions, you don't need quest markers. But so many games seem to just say "Go and kill X and bring me Y", it does not describe how to find the thing. To me being given a quest, with a proper description is a big part of the immersion.
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