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Game Mechanics: Distrubing Trends


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I'm not just going to blanket bash all new ideas. I've seen a plenty of new stuff I like. But, there are some that are so incredibly misguided that I think whoever invented them, should be ashamed of themselves. So, let's talk about them here, mechanics you love to hate.

 

Back in the day, there was exactly one "Press Something" message that we saw in just about every game, that being "Press Any Key to Continue". Well, some backwards thinking fool decided to take that to a whole new level of WTF?! and set the whole world ablaze with an idea seemingly tailor-made to create repetitive motion injury.

 

"Press L Repeatedly, Now (0.8 sec) Press E!" - And, just when we've started to fight tunnel-carpal with keyboard and controller designs, someone introduces a whole new future filled with completely unnecessary (as narrative) button presses. Can you imagine Half-Life 2 with this mechanic? If every valve, crank and lever in the game game with "press x,x,x,x,x press e!"? What if every use of the gravity gun had a key pressing pump-up mechanic complete with power meter to send something flying within the game? A horror to be sure.

 

 

(Breaks out into a terrible rendition of Sarah McLachlan's "I will remember you.") Oh yes... I'm going to call this one:

 

Mission: Remind players that they are too stupid to understand choices, consequences and branching narratives.

 

Thank you Telltale for popularizing this particular brand of "dumbing down". No really, it is catering to simpletons. I don't care what justification anyone has. This is a feature born and bred on play testers that just didn't get the idea that video game plots are not static like those of a novel. I personally find nothing more thought-interrupting than seeing the words "x will remember that" appear on my screen. Each and every iteration of this terrible, terrible idea throws itself as a monkey-wrench into the business of contemplation.

 

Can you imagine the horror of these words: Deekins will remember what you say! Imagine many of your favorites with this, from Knights of the Old Republic to PS: Torment. What a terrible idea.

 

Telltale, to their credit, put in a feature that allows the player to turn these messages off. But, even with that I can distinctly recall a video interview with the designers that explained that they had to go back and put "placebo" messages in the game so that it isn't so obvious to the player where major lines of consequences were rooted. I am also glad to see that some studios are fighting the good fight and have decided against to such nonsense. Sadly, some studios need to be reminded that the thoughtless adaptation of popular trends isn't always a good idea.

 

So, what newfangled mechanics may you display bad-smell-kitty-face??

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Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt. - Julius Caesar

 

:facepalm: #define TRUE (!FALSE)

I ran across an article where the above statement was found in a release tarball. LOL! Who does something like this? Predictably, this oddity was found when the article's author tried to build said tarball and the compiler promptly went into cardiac arrest. If you're not a developer, imagine telling someone the literal meaning of up is "not down". Such nonsense makes computers, and developers... angry.

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Orogun disapproves -100

 

Well then maybe you can get your wish and pillars of eternity can be loaded with completely linear dialogue options that constantly remind you that your choices mean something and you can click PPPP over and over when picking locks. Because, that's what the stuff I am talking about is, if it were replicated in an RPG setting.

 

:p

Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt. - Julius Caesar

 

:facepalm: #define TRUE (!FALSE)

I ran across an article where the above statement was found in a release tarball. LOL! Who does something like this? Predictably, this oddity was found when the article's author tried to build said tarball and the compiler promptly went into cardiac arrest. If you're not a developer, imagine telling someone the literal meaning of up is "not down". Such nonsense makes computers, and developers... angry.

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Orogun disapproves -100

 

Well then maybe you can get your wish and pillars of eternity can be loaded with completely linear dialogue options that constantly remind you that your choices mean something and you can click PPPP over and over when picking locks. Because, that's what the stuff I am talking about is, if it were replicated in an RPG setting.

 

:p

 

People tend to look at a mechanic and say that its bad just because it was poorly used. They will rail against said mechanic without any thought to how it could be applied better and worse they might ignore games that successfully use it just because it is present. I very much liked Shenmue but if I tell someone that it is the game that defined QTE they might become biased against it. Its art therefore rules can be broken as long as the final result is pleasant or aesthetic, rambling against mechanics seems pointless since I can't possibly think of bad mechanics just mechanics that are badly used.

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I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

village_idiot.gif

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The only mechanics which bother me are the ones I don't like.

 

...of which there are likely many, but most of the time I can't remember specifics very well, if I wanted to put them in a list, since I usually don't play (or think about) games that have them, for very long. So I just end up with "I didn't like that game." Yeah...I'm that simple. :lol:

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts
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i was playing Arkham origins a few days ago. just like the previous arkham games, when you want to remove the lid of a vent, you need to press AAAAAAAAAAA. it serves no purpose, since 99% or the time this action is performed in areas where there are no enemies. it does not give a sense of urgency like "press it to open the vent faster before you are seen"

this and QTE are simply a cheap way to give the illusion of interaction in scripted sequences, when no actual game mechanics apply

The words freedom and liberty, are diminishing the true meaning of the abstract concept they try to explain. The true nature of freedom is such, that the human mind is unable to comprehend it, so we make a cage and name it freedom in order to give a tangible meaning to what we dont understand, just as our ancestors made gods like Thor or Zeus to explain thunder.

 

-Teknoman2-

What? You thought it was a quote from some well known wise guy from the past?

 

Stupidity leads to willful ignorance - willful ignorance leads to hope - hope leads to sex - and that is how a new generation of fools is born!


We are hardcore role players... When we go to bed with a girl, we roll a D20 to see if we hit the target and a D6 to see how much penetration damage we did.

 

Modern democracy is: the sheep voting for which dog will be the shepherd's right hand.

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Orogun disapproves -100

 

Well then maybe you can get your wish and pillars of eternity can be loaded with completely linear dialogue options that constantly remind you that your choices mean something and you can click PPPP over and over when picking locks. Because, that's what the stuff I am talking about is, if it were replicated in an RPG setting.

 

:p

 

People tend to look at a mechanic and say that its bad just because it was poorly used. They will rail against said mechanic without any thought to how it could be applied better and worse they might ignore games that successfully use it just because it is present. I very much liked Shenmue but if I tell someone that it is the game that defined QTE they might become biased against it. Its art therefore rules can be broken as long as the final result is pleasant or aesthetic, rambling against mechanics seems pointless since I can't possibly think of bad mechanics just mechanics that are badly used.

 

 

Okay, I bite on the first point... The pressing buttons bit could be alright in the right context. Like back, back, high punch launching the spear from Scorpion in Mortal Kombat.

 

The second point, "remember that", isn't so much a mechanic as a deliberate display of metadata behind player input. The only place I've seen that done well is in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, where every once in a while the balance shifted message came up. I didn't mind that because it was a reminder that your collective actions to that moment resulted in a major shift of the game. However, I cannot see a reason to ever display to the player each and every moment they do something that changes something later. No room for discovery there. Denying the player discovery is, at it's heart, an assumption that they're too stupid to "get it".

 

The only mechanics which bother me are the ones I don't like.

 

...of which there are likely many, but most of the time I can't remember specifics very well, if I wanted to put them in a list, since I usually don't play (or think about) games that have them, for very long. So I just end up with "I didn't like that game." Yeah...I'm that simple. :lol:

 

Mechanics I do like occasionally bother me, because sometimes I wonder if there was a better way, or if it's making something too easy.

Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt. - Julius Caesar

 

:facepalm: #define TRUE (!FALSE)

I ran across an article where the above statement was found in a release tarball. LOL! Who does something like this? Predictably, this oddity was found when the article's author tried to build said tarball and the compiler promptly went into cardiac arrest. If you're not a developer, imagine telling someone the literal meaning of up is "not down". Such nonsense makes computers, and developers... angry.

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...Literally buying people's approval with gifts. There is not a single RPG mechanic I hate more than that.

 

Weirdly enough, it was first used in The Witcher, not a Bioware game.

Actually I quite like it on the Witcher, you didn't have to buy hundreds of gift and as soon as you gift someone they reward you with sex instead of somewhere along the line after your complete their sidequest.

I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

village_idiot.gif

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as soon as you gift someone they reward you with sex

 

...Yeah, I'm not sure it's an especially strong argument in favor of how Witcher's done things.

 

Don't get me wrong, I love that game, but... damn.

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"Lulz is not the highest aspiration of art and mankind, no matter what the Encyclopedia Dramatica says."

 

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Quest markers as a whole seem to be breeding a generation of gamers that expect the answer to any situation to be given to them, i've watched quite a few let's plays where the player does not improvise, explore or adapt his playstyle, simply butts his head against the problem in the exact same manner and complains that the game is unfair. The alternate route or solution is quite plain, in sight and logically obvious and yet they do not even think to look around or deviate from what they have done before.

 

For instance you see an interesting geographical location, for me and most probably you, the urge is to explore and see what lies around and whether there is anything of interest to see or do here. However there's a certain playstyle informed by quest markers that has the player simply look at his mini map to see that there's no glowing marks there, and move on without interest. I can't help but think of an enviromental artist or a level designer quietly sobbing at such an occurence. It's up there with skipping through text in my opinion.

 

Edit: Gift giving has been used in gaming to garner approval since almost its inception, I gave Sherry the mouse a piece of cheese to gain her aid.

Edited by Nonek
  • Like 1

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Implementation.

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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No, I thought giving the cheese to Sherry was quite sensible, a few other instances stand out as well.

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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No, I thought giving the cheese to Sherry was quite sensible, a few other instances stand out as well.

 

I find it telling, though, that the first instance jumping to your mind is from a game that was published 17 years ago.

"Lulz is not the highest aspiration of art and mankind, no matter what the Encyclopedia Dramatica says."

 

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If it's any help I also thought that the return of Toruviels lute from the Valley of Flowers to Jaskier was also well done, and most of the personal detailed items in Dragon Age: Origins. I just thought that the unspecific gifts were poorly implemented, clumsy and slightly hinting of blackmail.

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Share on other sites

 

as soon as you gift someone they reward you with sex

 

...Yeah, I'm not sure it's an especially strong argument in favor of how Witcher's done things.

 

Don't get me wrong, I love that game, but... damn.

 

Works with the targets anyway, whores or some really loose women (rather funny in Act 4). Wasn't as much of a chore in DA. But nothing really wrong with that, it is how things can work in real life sort of - gifts raise opinion of you, etc.

 

As for the C&C messages, it is a bit eye-roll inducing but I suppose some players need that. It's not too intrusive and is worth a laugh sometimes - Dreamfall Chapters had that.

Edited by Malcador

Why has elegance found so little following? Elegance has the disadvantage that hard work is needed to achieve it and a good education to appreciate it. - Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

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Works with the targets anyway, whores or some really loose women (rather funny in Act 4). Wasn't as much of a chore in DA. But nothing really wrong with that, it is how things can work in real life sort of - gifts raise opinion of you, etc.

 

 

Maybe. My opinion on this practice is strongly colored by the fact that I absolutely dread receiving gifts ("you haven't given me a gift, you've given me an obligation" indeed), so the very idea of gifts raising one's opinion is about as alien to me as the lovely geometries of the streets of R'lyeh.

Edited by aluminiumtrioxid

"Lulz is not the highest aspiration of art and mankind, no matter what the Encyclopedia Dramatica says."

 

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I'm not just going to blanket bash all new ideas. I've seen a plenty of new stuff I like. But, there are some that are so incredibly misguided that I think whoever invented them, should be ashamed of themselves. So, let's talk about them here, mechanics you love to hate.

 

Back in the day, there was exactly one "Press Something" message that we saw in just about every game, that being "Press Any Key to Continue". Well, some backwards thinking fool decided to take that to a whole new level of WTF?! and set the whole world ablaze with an idea seemingly tailor-made to create repetitive motion injury.

 

"Press L Repeatedly, Now (0.8 sec) Press E!" - And, just when we've started to fight tunnel-carpal with keyboard and controller designs, someone introduces a whole new future filled with completely unnecessary (as narrative) button presses. Can you imagine Half-Life 2 with this mechanic? If every valve, crank and lever in the game game with "press x,x,x,x,x press e!"? What if every use of the gravity gun had a key pressing pump-up mechanic complete with power meter to send something flying within the game? A horror to be sure.

 

 

(Breaks out into a terrible rendition of Sarah McLachlan's "I will remember you.") Oh yes... I'm going to call this one:

 

Mission: Remind players that they are too stupid to understand choices, consequences and branching narratives.

 

Thank you Telltale for popularizing this particular brand of "dumbing down". No really, it is catering to simpletons. I don't care what justification anyone has. This is a feature born and bred on play testers that just didn't get the idea that video game plots are not static like those of a novel. I personally find nothing more thought-interrupting than seeing the words "x will remember that" appear on my screen. Each and every iteration of this terrible, terrible idea throws itself as a monkey-wrench into the business of contemplation.

 

Can you imagine the horror of these words: Deekins will remember what you say! Imagine many of your favorites with this, from Knights of the Old Republic to PS: Torment. What a terrible idea.

 

Telltale, to their credit, put in a feature that allows the player to turn these messages off. But, even with that I can distinctly recall a video interview with the designers that explained that they had to go back and put "placebo" messages in the game so that it isn't so obvious to the player where major lines of consequences were rooted. I am also glad to see that some studios are fighting the good fight and have decided against to such nonsense. Sadly, some studios need to be reminded that the thoughtless adaptation of popular trends isn't always a good idea.

 

So, what newfangled mechanics may you display bad-smell-kitty-face??

Um....

 

That was the point of the Telltale Games system.

 

So.... just don't play it?

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as soon as you gift someone they reward you with sex

 

...Yeah, I'm not sure it's an especially strong argument in favor of how Witcher's done things.

 

Don't get me wrong, I love that game, but... damn.

 

Works with the targets anyway, whores or some really loose women (rather funny in Act 4). Wasn't as much of a chore in DA. But nothing really wrong with that, it is how things can work in real life sort of - gifts raise opinion of you, etc.

 

As for the C&C messages, it is a bit eye-roll inducing but I suppose some players need that. It's not too intrusive and is worth a laugh sometimes - Dreamfall Chapters had that.

 

Better than DA:I where you have to do a pointless miniquest.

I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

village_idiot.gif

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I'm not just going to blanket bash all new ideas. I've seen a plenty of new stuff I like. But, there are some that are so incredibly misguided that I think whoever invented them, should be ashamed of themselves. So, let's talk about them here, mechanics you love to hate.

 

Back in the day, there was exactly one "Press Something" message that we saw in just about every game, that being "Press Any Key to Continue". Well, some backwards thinking fool decided to take that to a whole new level of WTF?! and set the whole world ablaze with an idea seemingly tailor-made to create repetitive motion injury.

 

"Press L Repeatedly, Now (0.8 sec) Press E!" - And, just when we've started to fight tunnel-carpal with keyboard and controller designs, someone introduces a whole new future filled with completely unnecessary (as narrative) button presses. Can you imagine Half-Life 2 with this mechanic? If every valve, crank and lever in the game game with "press x,x,x,x,x press e!"? What if every use of the gravity gun had a key pressing pump-up mechanic complete with power meter to send something flying within the game? A horror to be sure.

 

 

(Breaks out into a terrible rendition of Sarah McLachlan's "I will remember you.") Oh yes... I'm going to call this one:

 

Mission: Remind players that they are too stupid to understand choices, consequences and branching narratives.

 

Thank you Telltale for popularizing this particular brand of "dumbing down". No really, it is catering to simpletons. I don't care what justification anyone has. This is a feature born and bred on play testers that just didn't get the idea that video game plots are not static like those of a novel. I personally find nothing more thought-interrupting than seeing the words "x will remember that" appear on my screen. Each and every iteration of this terrible, terrible idea throws itself as a monkey-wrench into the business of contemplation.

 

Can you imagine the horror of these words: Deekins will remember what you say! Imagine many of your favorites with this, from Knights of the Old Republic to PS: Torment. What a terrible idea.

 

Telltale, to their credit, put in a feature that allows the player to turn these messages off. But, even with that I can distinctly recall a video interview with the designers that explained that they had to go back and put "placebo" messages in the game so that it isn't so obvious to the player where major lines of consequences were rooted. I am also glad to see that some studios are fighting the good fight and have decided against to such nonsense. Sadly, some studios need to be reminded that the thoughtless adaptation of popular trends isn't always a good idea.

 

So, what newfangled mechanics may you display bad-smell-kitty-face??

Um....

 

That was the point of the Telltale Games system.

 

So.... just don't play it?

 

 

Yea, I didn't realize that when I bought the first one.

 

Likewise the point of all these FTP games is to gouge the player at their weakest point for cash. I don't play those either. I won't deny it's a functional business model. I won't deny that it makes money. But, I will argue that it is a negative business model, kind of like fracking oil. (Though games are obviously not an environmental concern.) When we go to the pump, we of course prefer lower prices, but lower prices are largely due to these new destructive methods. (F2P works because of gouge-player-under-duress.) If the consumer were given a more positive option all the way around, they might take one. But, they're not and, just like fracked oil, once the least risky model for multiplayer game becomes established as F2P, the consumer will not have another option to choose.

Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt. - Julius Caesar

 

:facepalm: #define TRUE (!FALSE)

I ran across an article where the above statement was found in a release tarball. LOL! Who does something like this? Predictably, this oddity was found when the article's author tried to build said tarball and the compiler promptly went into cardiac arrest. If you're not a developer, imagine telling someone the literal meaning of up is "not down". Such nonsense makes computers, and developers... angry.

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- When a game tells you to play however you want yet rewards you more for playing one way over another. For example Deus Ex: HR. You get more xp for non-lethal takedowns over lethal.

 

- Oveabundance of HUD prompts and reminders. Far Cry 3 regularly reminding you what the main mission is. Games regularly reminding you how to perform simple actions, especially when the prompts themselves are unsubtle.

 

- Meaningless collectibles and achievements that are nothing more than time wasting grinding tasks.

 

- Standardised open world design aka climb 50 towers and clear 50 template designed camps and do this across all our games (*cough* Ubisoft).

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- When a game tells you to play however you want yet rewards you more for playing one way over another. For example Deus Ex: HR. You get more xp for non-lethal takedowns over lethal.

 

 

On the other hand, oh the outcry when a game doesn't reward you more for playing one way over another! The combat xp debacle immediately jumps to mind.

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"Lulz is not the highest aspiration of art and mankind, no matter what the Encyclopedia Dramatica says."

 

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