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Default Things I'm glad we (almost) never see in modern RPGs

August 24th, 2018, 20:32
So I've been playing a bunch of RPGs this year, some old, some new, and there's a bunch of things that seem to be somewhat common in older RPGs that I'm glad we almost never see anymore.

Illusory Walls (and similar)
So many older RPGs hide important items behind walls that look like just any other wall. The only way to know that there's something behind it is to just rub yourself against every wall you see, and hope that it will let you through. I'm somewhat fine with this when it comes to purely optional things (although I still don't like them), but for things you have to find to progress, they're just so annoying. Sorry, but I don't like rubbing myself against walls constantly, it's not fun gameplay, it's not challenging, it's just wasting my time.

Tiny (almost) hidden buttons
Similar to Illusory walls, we have tiny buttons that you need to find in order to progress, which just forces you to slowly scan your surrounding to find that button, checking every wall for anything that might look just a little bit out of place. Or buttons hidden underneath a lot of other junk. They're just obnoxious.

Spinners
Spinners make you spin. It's that simple. They were (probably) introduced to mess with you when you make your own maps, by disorienting you. That's obnoxious, and just wastes your time. In some games you've got an automap, but they still keep the spinners in, and here they really serve no purpose. They just spin you around. That's it. Worse yet are random spinners, which will make you face a random direction every time you step on them. I hate spinners. They're not fun, they never were fun, and I don't get how anyone thoughts they were a good idea.

Level drain
So you just got hit by a wight? Sorry, but now you just lost a level. Better reload, because if you accept every level drain that happens to you, you'll soon be level 1! Strahd's Possession is really obnoxious when it comes to level drain, but many other games have it as well (in particular D&D-based ones)

Roller-coaster rides of difficulty levels
So this area had red dragons, plenty of them, and now in the next area I'm fighting wolves? While difficulty needs its highs and lows, you can't just have all highs (or it will get tiring), going from one area with massively powerful enemies, and in the next area facing early-game enemies just feels silly. And fighting those wolves just feels like a waste of time.

Everything has to be a maze
While the overly linear level design of a lot of modern games can be really boring, the opposite extreme, everything being an illogical maze, is also boring, and often feels just as unrealistic. There's a middle ground, where you make a logical level that looked like it could have been used for whatever the area was used for, and where you force the player to explore to find keys, buttons, clues on how to solve the puzzle and so on. There's a place for mazes, don't get me wrong, but not everything should be one.

Instant death or instant "you're out of the fight" spells/abilities purely based on luck
Ever had your character just die because they failed a resistance roll? Or have someone be incapacitated for 5 min? Yeah, this is not fun. If you've got instant death abilities, make them avoidable through skill, not just by adding +2 to resistance against death.

Lack of information on equipment
So what deals more damage, a long sword, a broadsword or a bastard sword? Some games wont' tell you, you're just supposed to figure it out on your own. Sometimes that information is in the manual, sometimes it's not.

Clutter of mundane items to find the magic item
Some games just throw loads of mundane items at you, with a few magic items thrown in for good measure, but it does not tell you which item is magic, and which is not, you just have to go through every item, on its own, trying to identify it. If a game is not doing something clever with it, like the paladin sword in Icewind Dale, this is just obnoxious.


These are just some of the things that have been driving me nuts in some of the older games I've been playing recently.
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August 24th, 2018, 20:48
I don't remember ever experiencing "spinners", do you have a game example?
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August 24th, 2018, 21:13
Originally Posted by azarhal View Post
I don't remember ever experiencing "spinners", do you have a game example?
The Bard's Tale games. I don't think they're the only games that had them, but they're the ones that come to mind.
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August 24th, 2018, 21:14
Originally Posted by azarhal View Post
I don't remember ever experiencing "spinners", do you have a game example?
Most recent game I played with them was Strahd's Possession, but Lands of Lore & Eye of the Beholder also has them.
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August 24th, 2018, 23:49
Dungeon Master had those too.
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August 25th, 2018, 00:29
All the Eye of the Beholder games had spinners, but they were easy to spot and you had to map them manually so it was not too much of a time drain to resolve them.

Hidden buttons though, good grief the amount of hours I've spent trying to find hidden buttons which often were not even there……….
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August 25th, 2018, 14:43
Great post.

Originally Posted by Fnord View Post
Illusory Walls (and similar)
So true. I like searching for and finding secrets, but if it comes down to humping every single wall in a game… nah. Not into it.
Originally Posted by Fnord View Post
Instant death or instant "you're out of the fight" spells/abilities purely based on luck
Made me think of a certain demi-lich in Baldurs Gate 2. Annoying. On the other hand, it was only that one optional fight.
Originally Posted by Fnord View Post
Lack of information on equipment
I found that very annoying in many cases, but especially in borderlands. It is such a great idea to hide the statistics of items behind some funny red text… because players love to alt-tab to a browser whenever they find something new.

I mean, I'd love to test stuff that I find, but not if it's hundreds or thousands of items.

By the way, in some games, this extends to skills and stats as well. Which is worse. Especially when some skills do not even work as intended. Van Helsing being an example.

Actually, lack of information is something I see much too frequently, even in modern RPGs.
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August 25th, 2018, 14:56
I never minded instant death scenarios if you did something incredibly risky or downright stupid during your gameplay. Now, death for simply deaths sake, that I'm not a big fan of. I also don't mind a little luck in the mix, but it needs to work both ways to function properly, in my opinion.
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August 25th, 2018, 17:39
Originally Posted by kborom View Post
All the Eye of the Beholder games had spinners, but they were easy to spot and you had to map them manually so it was not too much of a time drain to resolve them.
I would not say that spinners is a deal breaker for a game, but I've never seen the point of them. They're an annoyance, and outside of very niche situations, they don't really add anything positive to the experience, just a bit of frustration.


Originally Posted by Cacheperl View Post
Actually, lack of information is something I see much too frequently, even in modern RPGs.
It has taken a slightly different form these days, but yes, it's still bad. In the olden days, it was not uncommon to just get the item name. It's a short sword, but you don't know any of its stats, while in modern day games we tend to get the effect, but many games leave out information needed to really be able to make an informed decision. "With this skill you have a chance of attacking twice with one attack" really means very little. Yes, we know that you get to attack twice, but what's the chance for this to trigger?
There's a time and place for obscuring information, it's just that so many games don't do it right…


Oh, and on a related note, useless skills. This is less common, but there are games out there that has skills that never gets used. The three Realms of Arkania games are really bad when it comes to useless skills, with some skills only seeing use in one of the games, and some skills seeing no use. This is beyond just poor balance (some skills being better than others), which is another common issue.

Originally Posted by Carnifex View Post
I never minded instant death scenarios if you did something incredibly risky or downright stupid during your gameplay.
Sure, if you're doing something very risky, a chance of death is fine, but having say an enemy standing in your path that you need to defeat, that can cast Power Word Kill on you is no fun. Cacheperl mentioned a demi-lich in BG2, but there's also a beholder that you have to get past, that cast an instant death spell. This spell can be resisted, but it's still up to a die roll to see if your party member dies or not. Worse yet, it's permanent death, you can't revive the party member.
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August 25th, 2018, 18:55
Thanks all. Going by the answers, spinners are a blobber thing which isn't a genre I played much.


BG2 has a few awesome "instant death" spells. Like maze insta-killing your character instead of just banishing it for a few rounds like it does with there rest of the companions (happened to me on a trapped chest no less). Also, finger of death, disintegration, etc but if you had the cloak of mirroring (original version), lol.
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August 25th, 2018, 23:57
I don't mind hidden buttons as long as they are used sparingly and for optional stuff only. The old practice of having to go through and push on all the walls, though… ugh. Well, mostly ugh. Overwatch is basically a Descent remake and I found it kinda fun to do some wall pushing for old time's sake.

It was strange that, at least in the old versions of AD&D, it was actually much easier to recover from death than it was from a level drain!

A special "don't miss it" is save points. PC Games didn't do that but, when we started getting console ports, we suddenly got that tradition thrust into our realm. While plenty of games use auto-saves now at certain points in the game, those points are quite a bit more frequent. Old console games could often go a half hour between save points!

I don't miss having to map levels out myself but I don't think I really had to do that all that often (except when playing pen & paper AD&D).

Probably the biggest things I don't miss are the prices. Correct for inflation and those early games were over $100 each. An online game in the early 90's could easly cost $6 per HOUR!

Oh, and I don't miss the "you get what you get, no patches" of the earliest game. I'm sure the publishers would have loved to have patched them but, even in the BBS age, getting patches out to the masses was really difficult.
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August 26th, 2018, 23:35
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
A special "don't miss it" is save points. PC Games didn't do that but, when we started getting console ports, we suddenly got that tradition thrust into our realm. While plenty of games use auto-saves now at certain points in the game, those points are quite a bit more frequent. Old console games could often go a half hour between save points!
Don't remind me. Several boss fights in a row without save points. It was driving me crazy.

Level draines are also something I don't miss at all. I have terrible memories of vampires wiping out several of my party members on Baldur's Gate II. Of course I reloaded every time, but that's something I never want to see again.

And those instant death spells, that have been mentioned before, are also something I hate. They're so unfair, because they never workon the more powerful enemies, but always on my party. Those things were created to trigger pure rage in the player.

Also, there is one thing I really, really hate about Realms of Arkania. I love those games, as they got me into the genre in the first place, but this, I just can't forgive. There were several puzzles that could kill you, if you didn't know the solution. Too bad that the knowledge needed for that was given to you in random encounters, which were limited to certain areas.
So you've missed that riding woman in that tiny forest? Too bad, now you can't tell the kobold the answer to his riddle. Better hope you're not teleported to that room without an exit.
You haven't been warned not to touch the treasure in that certain dungeon before you discovered it, and now the curse won't let you leave? Well, I hope you saved right before you put all that stuff in your pockets, or you're doomed.
You don't have a torch with you because your wizard's staff emits light? Too bad, you need one here. Let's hope the dwarfs outside these mines aren't mad at you for some silly reason, like you spending too much time in their mines or something, or you might have a bigger problem getting out alive. Oh, and they'll probably never let you in their town again if you upset them. So you better reload and get a torch before you come down here. Come on, it's just a few hours to replay.
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August 27th, 2018, 00:00
Inventory management. Unfortunately not completely true as it is still here, depending on your definition of modern and rpg. I have to admit I did not play the really old classical RPGs like eye of the beholder. Our amiga could not run it.

Lets turn it around: Things I'm glad we (almost) never see in old RPGs
Loot.

Obviously, the two are connected
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August 28th, 2018, 00:06
Wishing I could say "blobbers", but that isn't the case. At least inXile took up the challenge of making them more tactically interesting.

Wizardry 1: teleporting into solid rock after reaching the final level: nooooo…..

Wizardry 2 & 3, where you had to finish Wizardry 1 before you could play it.
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August 28th, 2018, 11:00
I'm glad I no longer have to imagine so much of the content. Probably the greatest gift of modern games, for me, is that they're capable of showing what was originally mostly imagined.
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August 28th, 2018, 11:31
Oddly I liked many of those things you listed as I think they are part of the gaming experience - certainly from your list I think these should be included in rpg where relevant. In fact the only two on your list that i really dislike are:
instant death ('cept detectable traps)
lack of information ('cept unidentified objects - ok for rare living magical weapons)
-
Now that doesn't mean I think every rpg should have them but many of them are lacking simply because many modern games have been significantly simplified - or rather have replace the effort on creativity and game design with effort spent on graphics.
-
Mind you i don't expect to see level drain in a game like shadow run but i do expect to see it in ones with liches and vampires (dnd version). Anyway I'm trying to think of a recent rpg that had fantasy setting with these features and I have to go back to nwn2 (I think); can't think of anything newer - most of the newer games settings havent' really been traditional fantasy.
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August 29th, 2018, 15:22
Nice thread! It's easy to remember the good stuff about older games, but it's not often anyone mentions the bad stuff.

For example: Games are now often criticized for needing patching after release, but at least we actually get patches. Remember when patches weren't a thing at all, or had to be delivered via floppy disks?

Also: Having to go through a quiz every time certain games were opened as an anti-pirate thing.
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August 30th, 2018, 03:39
Though it sure has been a long time since I got to do a Towers of Hanoi puzzle… <sniff ;>
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August 30th, 2018, 09:48
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
Nice thread! It's easy to remember the good stuff about older games, but it's not often anyone mentions the bad stuff.

For example: Games are now often criticized for needing patching after release, but at least we actually get patches. Remember when patches weren't a thing at all, or had to be delivered via floppy disks?

Also: Having to go through a quiz every time certain games were opened as an anti-pirate thing.
About patches, that's very true.

But it also seems developers had a little more discipline about stability and features for this very reason.

Not saying games weren't broken in the past, because we all know that's not true - but you certainly had a better feeling of something being "complete" after release.

This is especially the case when you compare modern console games to console games of the 90s - because it was unheard of to release broken games - or games needing a lot of patches on a console, back in the day.

Of course, there were exceptions to that rule - but they were few and far between.

These days, if you buy a game for a console - you still need to wait hours for it to download patches - and there's no guarentee it's not going to crash.

That used to be one of the very few but very significant upsides of playing on a console.
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August 30th, 2018, 10:25
Originally Posted by Darth Tagnan View Post
About patches, that's very true.

But it also seems developers had a little more discipline about stability and features for this very reason.

Not saying games weren't broken in the past, because we all know that's not true - but you certainly had a better feeling of something being "complete" after release.

This is especially the case when you compare modern console games to console games of the 90s - because it was unheard of to release broken games - or games needing a lot of patches on a console, back in the day.

Of course, there were exceptions to that rule - but they were few and far between.

These days, if you buy a game for a console - you still need to wait hours for it to download patches - and there's no guarentee it's not going to crash.

That used to be one of the very few but very significant upsides of playing on a console.
Oh, absolutely. The ease with which things can get patched has certainly dropped the state of games at release, but I still find that preferable to no patching at all.

Even a highly polished game like Warcraft 2 could have used a patch or two to fix a lot of compatibility issues. That's the sort of thing that would get fixed today, but it was simply not an option back then, so the alternative was hours of tweaking until it finally said: "Your soundcard works perfectly."

There's a reason that line is still remembered today, and it's not because it always worked on the first try, hehe, and Warcraft 2 was overall a top notch game.

Edit: In fact, spending hours just to get games working is one thing I definitely don't miss.
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