Jump to content

Nonek

Recommended Posts

Playing recently through several very well designed games and observing forum discussion I am increasingly becoming aware that streamlining when implemented correctly can have very favourable results:

 

Fallout for instance is a tight, coherent and very well designed game, with just enough content to make an interesting and viable world, but without the unnecessary flab that its successor has in my opinion a little too much of.

KotOR 1&2 both have enormously dull and pedestrian opening segments in Telos and Taris, however the first game quickly opens up and provides a rollicking roller coaster ride similar to the original movie, while the Sith Lords gets a little too bogged down in crashing again and again in different areas. I personally was not invested after Peragus until facing Atris, except of course for my conversations with Kreia, which are an undisputable highlight of the game.

Compare the original campaign of Neverwinter Nights 2, which had some remarkable potential hidden by so much pointless meandering and slaughter, to the tight, dense, reactive and unique setting of mask of the Betrayer.

 

It seems that there is a trade off to be found here, trimming the repitive flab that weighs down a game in order to present far more highly detailed and replayable areas, that add to the experience rather than force one to endure them. Normally I champion the improvement of mechanics, the addition of content and features, because we have seen games scope shrink over the years, but here I think is one point where streamlining may be attractive and beneficial.

 

To take NWN2 as an example, consider what might have been if the companions had been fewer, but far more detailed, reactive and integral to ones struggle. The areas we travelled through had been fewer, but held far more content, reacted far more to the players actions and were viable to visit in the late game, rather than being abandoned after a single trip through them. Perhaps if we have interesting, multilayered and reactive locales, then the constant usual demands are not needed to occupy our time. Instead of a dozen combats along a linear corridor, open up alternate paths, informative NPC's, and give us many means to solve situations according to our character.

 

What is your view, is this a degenerate opinion that will lead to more features being stripped and less content, or will it focus on the exciting at the expanse of pointless grinding, or will it rob players of their urge to roam, meander and explore which is a very viable gaming experience?

Edited by Nonek
  • Like 3

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!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Indeed it's most amusing, I judge a lot of combat to be needless busywork and thrive on as much detail as is possible, while relishing the few combats that challenge and frustrate me, and present me an opportunity to improve my grasp of gameplay and tactics. Opinions...

  • 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!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps if we have interesting, multilayered and reactive locales, then the constant usual demands are not needed to occupy our time. Instead of a dozen combats along a linear corridor, open up alternate paths, informative NPC's, and give us many means to solve situations according to our character.

 

What is your view, is this a degenerate opinion that will lead to more features being stripped and less content, or will it focus on the exciting at the expanse of pointless grinding, or will it rob players of their urge to roam, meander and explore which is a very viable gaming experience?

 

Well, you can totally allow players to roam, meander and explore without forcing them to deal with boring, repetitive and badly-designed filler combats, so I'm fully in the "streamlining is good" camp.

 

Or rather, "mechanics in roleplaying games should always work to enforce a game's core themes", which does not always equal streamlining, but the two tend to heavily coincide with the current industry standards being what they are.

  • Like 1

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

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Combat should be optional, just like cutscenes should.

 

Depends on the game; I can totally imagine cutscenes as a crucial part of the experience in, say, an anime-inspired, high-energy game that emphasises spectacle and the main characters looking cool while doing their thing. (I also don't think this approach would be antithetical to the RPG genre; see also: Wushu :p).

Edited by aluminiumtrioxid
  • Like 2

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

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree on combat and cutscenes being optional, well the latter at least skippable, but one suspects that those occasional forays into slaughter are very cheap to produce and easy to make, replacing them with other content will be costly, and no developer has infinite resources. Plus I enjoy well orchestrated combat, ones that stretch my abilities to the max. So is the answer more depth but less breadth, fifty locations that heave with life, challenge and reactivity, rather than two hundred which are mere unreactive backdrops and obstacles, because unfortunately that may well impinge on folks who simply want to roam and experience a large play area.

 

Edit: I suppose the perfect example of the above problem is BG1 and BG2, there are still many whom advocate rightly enough for BG1's free roaming world as superior to BG2's hubs of activity.

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!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the other hand, not having that filler content would potentially encourage more repeat playthroughs of a given title. A big issue with properly branching paths is the tedium of having to go through all the filler again - content which by definition has little scope to vary between playthroughs - just to experience the 'new' (to the player) material. Cutting out the filler thus increases the development value of the other content which might otherwise be seen by the average player once if at all.

 

Right now the best path for a player wanting to do that would be to turn on cheat mode and enable insta-killing of all the repetitive mooks that are in the way.

  • Like 5

L I E S T R O N G
L I V E W R O N G

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nonek, you just explained my main motto as a creator. It's from French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, writer of the Little Prince.

 

"Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte non quand il n'y a plus rien à ajouter, mais quand il n'y a plus rien à retrancher." (Ch. III: L'Avion, p. 60)

 

"Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away."

 

Streamlining isn't a blasphemous word for me. It can improve a game immensely, or it can ruin it. I consider going from Master of Orion 1 to 2 an example of the former, and going from MoO 2 to 3 an example of the latter.

 

Anachronox is a game where I constantly wished there was a "skip combat" button. The world, characters, the so-called world skills like Yammer and Throw Coin, the stories, the visuals, the humor, everything was great except the combat which was easy (even on the hardest difficulty) and boring and sloooow because of needlessly flashy and long animations. And it had a lot of combat.

Edited by Endrosz
  • Like 1

The Seven Blunders/Roots of Violence: Wealth without work. Pleasure without conscience. Knowledge without character. Commerce without morality. Science without humanity. Worship without sacrifice. Politics without principle. (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi)

 

Let's Play the Pools Saga (SSI Gold Box Classics)

Pillows of Enamored Warfare -- The Zen of Nodding

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm but rather than a skip combat button wouldn't the more appealing option be to make the combat interesting and challenging?

 

A skip combat button gives me a little shiver of doubt, it firstly excuses a developer from making a good combat system, and secondly is one step on a dangerous (to me at least) path, one where everything can be skipped.

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!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Best way to do streamlining is do it via options as much as one can, barring boring filler combat sometimes they cleave a bit of depth to the game or even the joy some people get out of the tedious tasks (I guess this is 'immersion'). Though I would get a laugh of a checkbox of "Enable fighting through tunnels".

  • Like 2

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I get that, and yes, probably a perfect version of Anachronox would be one with good combat. But it had enough "stuff" outside of combat (which you can't say about a lot of RPGs!) that if they were out of dev time and had to ship the game and couldn't rework/improve combat, then they should've at least reduced its frequency. Know your strengths and all that.

 

I have played Anachronox only once for the exact same reason Humanoid explained. The mere thought of trudging through dozens of hours (not kidding) of bad combat...

  • Like 1

The Seven Blunders/Roots of Violence: Wealth without work. Pleasure without conscience. Knowledge without character. Commerce without morality. Science without humanity. Worship without sacrifice. Politics without principle. (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi)

 

Let's Play the Pools Saga (SSI Gold Box Classics)

Pillows of Enamored Warfare -- The Zen of Nodding

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now that I would be totally in favour of, in general a lessening of combat as a means of filler content does seem to be on the cards, especially in games where one has been portraying some kind of moral struggle. Making those combats have ramifications and interesting mechanics, as well as being skippable might also be an answer.

 

Then again as Malcador rightly states some players are drawn to combat heavy scenarios, though I suppose that is where clear definition and reporting of a games strengths and features is a priority. Know ones role I suppose is the appropriate saying.

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!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well in an ideal world you'd want both, naturally. But since this is mostly about RPGs (as opposed to the aforementioned MoO2, or say, XCOM), the relative value of each is somewhat skewed. An RPG with terrible but skippable combat still delivers pretty much all I need out of an RPG, the opposite wouldn't hold interest for long. (And even if it varied enough over the course of a game to be consistently interesting over a single playthrough, odds are against it remaining fresh on any subsequent playthroughs)

 

Furthermore, being freed from the obligation of having to create a combat system at all is not necessarily a hindrance. Unrest had a system so rudimentary it may as well have not been there (given that the opportunity to even engage in combat was barely there, there are a couple of fights total in the game and in an average playthrough odds are you don't even see either of them), but what it did mean is that essentially all of the game's content was down to the writer (and if not the same person, the scripter), who would have freedom of generating content without being constrained by what the other teams could do.

 

I don't mind the potential to skip all content either. I was disappointed to learn that in New Vegas the ability to leave the Mojave and return to California (via the Mojave Outpost) was scrapped before release. It's not like it'd have been expensive content to produce, and it'd hardly be a trap to new players either. On another note, while I have almost nothing to say about Far Cry 4, the "hidden" ending where you effectively skip everything was a wonderful concept. It was called an "easter egg" ending when news of its existence broke, but honestly, it shouldn't have been: it's one as core and logical as any other outcome.

 

 

P.S. It's past 2am here so I'm going to go pass out now before I lose my last traces of coherence.

  • Like 4

L I E S T R O N G
L I V E W R O N G

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for the reminder i've had Unrest on my GOG shelf since release now, I really have to get around to playing it, after Fallout 2 and Poe. I've personally got no problems with a game that has very little or no combat, so long as it has some kind of gameplay, but if it does have a significant amount of combat then i'd prefer that it be fit for purpose and enjoyable, as combat is an important part of an RPG to me.

 

The option to skip all content to me is not the same as a voluntary termination of the game, such as leaving the Mojave for California or deciding not to become a Grey Warden say, I think those would have been legitimate options though obviously more joke content as they render the game pointless and devalue ones purchase. What i'd object to is a choice to skip every instance of interaction with the game, and proceed directly to an ending, without any actual gameplay or learning of its systems. In my opinion it would lessen a game, one may as well watch a film or read a book, and in all honesty for those of us who would choose to play I fear for the quality of the content that remains when everything can be skipped.

 

I appreciate the Far Cry 4 waiting around ending, but ask myself why I couldn't proceed on with the game as an ally of Mr Min, exterminating the Path. It seems to be a perfectly legitimate continuation.

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!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...