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Tim Cain at Reboot Develop 2017 - Building a Better RPG: Seven Mistakes to Avoid

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O M G! I am speachless!  Did you see  what he said on todays Reboot Develop 2017  about 7 mistakes to avoid when building better RPG??! HE stated that Fallout 1  UI is TERRIBLE!  Why?  ITs too complicated!"Learning curve is too steep" ... IT SHOULD BE STEEP! (well ,for anyone with half brain thats not steep at all). I could not believe my ears! HE is infected with same virus  that is infected almost all  except Obsidian. Virus is called  LETS MAKE EVERYTHING SIMPLE ,shellow,waterdown,simplified,mainstreamed(LIKE FALLOUT 4) !   E tu BRUTE? E TU Obsidian? My  last hope for making  quality RPG games    is my personal hero, Josh Sawyer .

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I didn't watch the video yet. I just read the thread.

 

I can kinda see what Tim Cain is saying about Fallouts character generation. It did have main stats, traits, and skills, all thrown at you right from the start. But his solution seems like burning the house down because you saw a spider under a cupboard.

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After watching the video I'm really unsure what his solution for the first mistake was.

 

For doom and gloom guys: Simple rules don't always mean simple encounters. It took like 15 years for a computer to beat professional human in go after beating professional human in chess. Go has lot less rules than chess, but this also means there are much more legal moves in every situation, which made it lot harder for computers.

 

Still, I was totally underwhelmed by the triangles.


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Some disheartening things in there, but fun watch anyway. I don't understand his first point. They had clearly stated what skills did in the lower right corner, and I had no trouble understanding the SPECIAL stats either. Some of the skills were useless really, outdoorsman comes to mind, wich doesn't mean it's the stat sheet that is confusing, just that there are some useless skills.. It did take alot of time though to create a character the first time since you had to read through everything, wich is a huge nono in todays market when reading past the headlines of news articles is considered a bother.

 

Bundling physical stats together and mental stats together also would limit your character build options. His idea with this would make it impossible to say, have "yucky" strength and edurance, decent agility and have a big boost to mental stats instead. He does compare to the Hulk and Spiderman, but it wouldn't apply well to say Charles Xavier from Xmen.

 

I don't particularly like his view on player/character skill, even though I like his take on recoil and all that, but I really don't like an action RPG that plays like a straight up shooter. If you don't have a weapons trained character he shouldn't be able to make those hits no matter if you can or not. I'd rather they just skip First person and go for a top down view instead.

Edited by Azdeus
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Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary. - H.L. Mencken

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I think the thing that rubs me the wrong way in his presentation is his implying complex systems are mistakes. But in reality some people really love complex character generators and systems. My point is: It can't be a mistake if it is a matter of taste.

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If it ain't broke, don't fix it.. Please don't dumb down your games. The Cain/Boyarsky game is practically the only new game I've really had interest in, in hope that it provides the depth and replayability they're known for.

 

I don't particularly like his view on player/character skill, even though I like his take on recoil and all that, but I really don't like an action RPG that plays like a straight up shooter. If you don't have a weapons trained character he shouldn't be able to make those hits no matter if you can or not. I'd rather they just skip First person and go for a top down view instead.

Agree with your take except for this. He gave an example for the gunplay in Bloodlines, with character skill taking precedent over player skill. I remember being annoyed with how it worked when first playing but eventually got used to it since the other aspects of the game are so good. Instead of hit or miss, in an action RPG in first person no less, I'd rather it weigh more towards player skill with character skill determining the level of damage instead. It would take me far too much time to express how unsatisfying it is in games when the player is point blank missing an enemy despite being so close to actually stepping on them.

"I started to see people as little lonesome, water based, pink meat, life forms pushing air through themselves and making noises that the other little pieces of meat seemed to understand...I don't think I was 'mad', I was just confused."

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Instead of hit or miss, in an action RPG in first person no less, I'd rather it weigh more towards player skill with character skill determining the level of damage instead.

I'd have it the opposite way. With low skill I'd rather miss often and score high impact hits when I do, than dink those little bits off the enemy whilst always being pro with accuracy.

 

I don't think low skill gameplay needs be particularly satisfying or "feel good", and accuracy penalties (leaving the damage values intact) underlines the need for and feel of progression better than damage (in my view).

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Perkele, tiädäksää tuanoini!

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My issue is distance. Whether low or highly skilled, a point blank range shot should be hitting. A long range shot, I agree with you.


"I started to see people as little lonesome, water based, pink meat, life forms pushing air through themselves and making noises that the other little pieces of meat seemed to understand...I don't think I was 'mad', I was just confused."

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My issue is distance. Whether low or highly skilled, a point blank range shot should be hitting. A long range shot, I agree with you.

Sure. Although, I do think there should always be a possibility to fail. Think about a chance for the opponent (and why not the player as well should there be need) to shove the players gun aside if he goes toting it too close. And obviously try to dodge.


Perkele, tiädäksää tuanoini!

"It's easier to tolerate idiots if you do not consider them as stupid people, but exceptionally gifted monkeys."

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Always a possibility but I dislike over emphasizing every possibility for combat. There needs to be a line where the nonsensical doesn't become a common occurrence, i.e. a melee build missing a knocked out opponent. Same thing applies to guns in close quarters.

Edited by Blodhemn
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"I started to see people as little lonesome, water based, pink meat, life forms pushing air through themselves and making noises that the other little pieces of meat seemed to understand...I don't think I was 'mad', I was just confused."

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I think I need to clear up a misunderstanding. I never said in my talk that I disliked complex systems, just the presentation of such systems in the first few minutes of the game, i.e. character creation. I am all for complex rule systems, but I want to reduce the learning curve to understand them. If you already understand them, then you can jump right into them after character creation.

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Man, I hope this doesn't ruin the codex thread.


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Heh, just wanted to post that he never said he doesn't like complex systems... good that I've read the thread till the end.

 

PS: Gunplay in Bloodlines was a pain in the arse unless you dropped skillpoints into weapons skills as quickly as possible. Same for any other shooter game RPGs... At least let me hit at what I'm aiming my gun... Everything else can be influenced by character skills.


"only when you no-life you can exist forever, because what does not live cannot die."

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I think I need to clear up a misunderstanding. I never said in my talk that I disliked complex systems, just the presentation of such systems in the first few minutes of the game, i.e. character creation. I am all for complex rule systems, but I want to reduce the learning curve to understand them. If you already understand them, then you can jump right into them after character creation.

 

Hey Tim, I'm curious about the character creation idea with geometric figures you were talking about. What is your view on the point of locking physical and mental stats together, wich would leave one unable to create a purely physically or purely mentally focused character?


Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary. - H.L. Mencken

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I personally find visual customization of a character the most interesting and expressive part of creation.

 

I think 3.5 D&D and Pathfinder have some mechanics that are interesting, like flaws and traits and alternative class/race features, which are excessive if you're not familiar with the basic rules. If you have played it for some years with friends then maybe next time you want a ranger that isn't exactly like every other ranger you've seen.

 

More customization is just inherently more complex tho.

 

I did try out Arcanum recently and I did not find it too complicated but I was more perturbed about the sexist limitations in character creation, and subsequent sexist and sleazy limited quest options. I was an elf with the sickly childhood background and I bought a gun and a purple dress at the start and misfired everywhere while my henchmen all wore tuxedos and hit things with their fists.

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didn't see this thread when posted as we were enjoying midwestern hospitality for a couple o' weeks.  

 

...

 

pains Gromnir to admit this, but cain is correct 'bout a couple things.  in fact, the stuff people is raging 'bout at the hardcore gamer sites is some o' the cain points 'bout which we most agree.

 

yeah, the learning curves should be flattened even in highly complex crpgs.  there is no genuine advantage to be dumping the entirety o' a new rule system 'pon a game purchaser.  if you got levels in your game, to be demanding a player make the mostest important and numerous character development choices at level 1 is bass ackwards. is axiomatic that the point o' the game where we will know the least 'bout game mechanics is at the beginning.  life may be unfair, but gamess don't need be.  developers should make more significant character generation choices occur later in the game rather than early. sure, there is gonna be fundamental choices made during the intro portion o' a title which will have major impact 'pon future gameplay.  race o' your character is likely gonna be decided at the start o' the game, and such a choice will and should be meaningful.  is gonna be multiple fundamental choices made early.  fine.  is all the more reason to avoid demanding more than necessary o' the starting player.

 

am actual (kinda) liking tim's triangles as a starting point.  we want many character development choices, but we do not need all, most, or many such choices at the beginning o' the game.  is any number o' games Gromnir has played, games we liked, which had us restart after investing dozens o' hours into the title 'cause we discovered the character we believed we were building did not match expectations.  only way to fix fundamental flaws were to start over from the beginning.  the desire to restart and "get it right," is a common issue for us, and having read these boards for decades, we know we ain't alone.  is no reason the player cannot be confronted with more character generation/development choices after they gots a better understanding o' the game mechanics. have us make choices after we get comprehension o' how the game actual works makes far more sense than demanding the uninitiated and ignorant beginner decide the most important character development and generation choices w/i the first 20 minutes o' game experience.

 

on the other hand, we don't agree with tim's observation 'bout his numberless triangles.  is nothing inherent better 'bout labeling an attribute with a value o' "good" as 'posed to "7."  perhaps we can eventual reach "supecalifragilistic" or "10" ? the labels is not particular meaningful 'til Gromnir understands the mechanics o' the game.  hell, many games use both numbers and basic adjectives, no?  7 is good. 10 is supercalifrgilistic. so what? change the label don't magically confer genuine understanding o' how the attribute (or whatever) works with in the game mechanic framework.  maybe "good" is, in the mind o' the developers equivalent o'  three on a ten point scale?  what does "good" even mean w/o the numbers and mechanics? regardless, am agreeing with tim 'bout steep learning curves being a big mistake.  not gonna fix with "good" v. "swell" triangle points, but confronting the player with complex character development choices later in the game makes sense.

 

kinda amused.  as much as tim is annoyed by folks misunderstanding random, Gromnir is irked by the fraudulent use o' non-linear. have fought this battle so many times but game developers frequent misunderstand non-linear. throw a bunch o' optional and tangential side-quests into a game provides the illusion o' non-linearity as 'posed to actual non-linear gameplay.  offer multiple quest resolutions is also not making a game or story less linear in any genuine sense.  tim wants to avoid horrible storytelling?  good.  like it or not, and much to the consternation o' folks such as josh sawyer, good storytelling ain't gonna occur w/o linearity.  

 

ps:t gets applauded for storytelling, and much such acclaim is deserved. ps:t critical path story is linear. start in morgue. need find pharod. will eventual meet ravel in maze and then go plane-hoping.  etc. fact you can resolve major events with variation does not remove linearity. is an order.  the essential events is linear.  the ps:t companions folks so love is having character arcs which is linear. sure, even in a game such as ps:t the developer might allow for reordering o' a few plot points to increase the illusion o' player control, but is sleight o' hand rather than meaningful. the writer cannot write compelling, cannot avoid horrible, w/o linearity.   

 

wanna create a big sandbox game with no actual critical path story? good luck with such a game.  'course even with such a game, the individual quests which engage the player will necessarily be linear more than they is not... but having folks comprehend that their notions o' "non-linear" is as much a misconception as tim faced when explaining "random" is our sisyphean labor. 

 

not gonna herein review every one o' tim's seven big mistakes, but we agree with him regarding more than a couple o' those mistakes. color us surprised.  

 

HA! Good Fun!

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"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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O M G! I am speachless!  Did you see  what he said on todays Reboot Develop 2017  about 7 mistakes to avoid when building better RPG??! HE stated that Fallout 1  UI is TERRIBLE!  Why?  ITs too complicated!"Learning curve is too steep" ... IT SHOULD BE STEEP! (well ,for anyone with half brain thats not steep at all). I could not believe my ears! HE is infected with same virus  that is infected almost all  except Obsidian. Virus is called  LETS MAKE EVERYTHING SIMPLE ,shellow,waterdown,simplified,mainstreamed(LIKE FALLOUT 4) !   E tu BRUTE? E TU Obsidian? My  last hope for making  quality RPG games    is my personal hero, Josh Sawyer .

But but but... fallout's UI was horrible. It's clunky as hell, convoluted, managing inventory is a pain. They are not clear on what they do. Th game would only benefit from better UI design. It's not about "dumbing" down - it's about elegance and clarity.

 

Steep learning curve is rarely a good thing. It just means the design isn't good enough. Yeah, there are games where messing up, and figuring how the game works is the point "dark souls" but in most cases it just means the game doesn't explain itself well. Now I am not encouraging handholding, as it is boring, but a well implemented tutorial benefits a game.

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on the other hand, we don't agree with tim's observation 'bout his numberless triangles.  is nothing inherent better 'bout labeling an attribute with a value o' "good" as 'posed to "7."  perhaps we can eventual reach "supecalifragilistic" or "10" ? the labels is not particular meaningful 'til Gromnir understands the mechanics o' the game.  hell, many games use both numbers and basic adjectives, no?  7 is good. 10 is supercalifrgilistic. so what? change the label don't magically confer genuine understanding o' how the attribute (or whatever) works with in the game mechanic framework.  maybe "good" is, in the mind o' the developers equivalent o'  three on a ten point scale?  what does "good" even mean w/o the numbers and mechanics? regardless, am agreeing with tim 'bout steep learning curves being a big mistake.  not gonna fix with "good" v. "swell" triangle points, but confronting the player with complex character development choices later in the game makes sense.

 

I think the point is that the important thing to take away is that "good" is better than "ok" and "yucky" which would be an intuitive determination, not in trying to codify what "good" means in terms of the mechanics of the game or relative to a numerical scale. Realistically a descriptor based scale is just as arbitrary as a 3-18 scale but I'd agree (at least with what I understand is Tim's point) that great-good-ok-yucky would need less guidance to the player to understand than 18/73 in D&D. 

 

Then again, in playing RPGs, I've wondered if the necessary evil of numbers (taken from P&P games) is something that video games need to shed (I've for example thought often of a worst-worse-bad-average-good-better-best system). Since the computer would handle the mathematics there isn't an inherent need for the player to know how that system works provided that it allows their choice to work in a way that meets the expectation that, say, a character with the best strength should seem quantifiablly stronger than one with better strength.  The thought would be that perhaps the focus can be put back on the character being created and not in trying to ring every last dps out of the stats and mechanics of the game. 

 

Of course, YMMV.

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 but I'd agree (at least with what I understand is Tim's point) that great-good-ok-yucky would need less guidance to the player to understand than 18/73 in D&D. 

 

 

am disagreeing as to tim's point.  "great-good-ok-yucky" is offering no more meaningful guidance than would 1-2-3-4. use percentile strength from ad&d as an example for why adjectives is better than numbers is logic flawed... and just plain silly.  and again, in point o' fact, numbers is actual more intuitive for a game, 'cause even though crpgames ain't 'bout winning, people is having expectations o' keeping score or comparing stats.  

 

find a "nifty" sword in the game means what exactly? nifty is particular meaningless in a system devoid o' numbers.  add a "nifty" attribute to our "swell" weapon and am having no idea if is more useful than our "meritorious" battleaxe.  is actual far more elegant and simple to see the value o' +1 or +20% or something similar, no?  sure, is lacking poetry, but is clear, and in a game, clarity should be paramount.

 

in any event tim gots bass ackwards as we suspect that insofar as games is concerned, people find comfort and familiarity in the numbers.  compare hank aaron and babe ruth w/o numbers is not psychological satisfying but is in point o' fact, frustrating. we suspect in the absence o' numbers from developer tim, folks would nevertheless create such.  within weeks o' an imaginary tim cain numberless game being released, multiple folks would be creating game guides which ascribed actual numerical values to attributes, skills and feats so as to be making tim's psychological satisfying system more easy to understand, and more satisfying.  

 

tim cain is wrong 'bout numbers, and he sure as heck weren't limiting his perceived mistake to extreme absence o' clarity.  a general rule which only applies to obvious extremes is pointless. 

 

HA! Good Fun!

Edited by Gromnir
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"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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I'd argue (and I could be completely wrong about it) that seeing the numbers is only more intuitive than a well defined label system when the game forces you to understand the numbers to understand how those numbers apply to the game's systems.

 

To use D&D as an example, if you know that To Hit = THAC0 - AC then you can roll dice and resolve attacks. But if you're building a system in the computer, where the player doesn't roll dice, why is there a need for the player to know how the THAC0 is calculated?  Isn't the important part knowing, of your options, which one is most likely to succeed in relation to the character you've built?  And if so, why would you need to know the calculations (and therefore the numbers)?

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I'd argue (and I could be completely wrong about it) that seeing the numbers is only more intuitive than a well defined label system when the game forces you to understand the numbers to understand how those numbers apply to the game's systems.

 

To use D&D as an example, if you know that To Hit = THAC0 - AC then you can roll dice and resolve attacks. But if you're building a system in the computer, where the player doesn't roll dice, why is there a need for the player to know how the THAC0 is calculated?  Isn't the important part knowing, of your options, which one is most likely to succeed in relation to the character you've built?  And if so, why would you need to know the calculations (and therefore the numbers)?

keep using ad&d?  ad&d is not a crpg system.  obsidian and other developers understandable avoid the mistakes o' ad&d and yet is your example.  why?

 

in any event, we gave reason why numbers is useful when deciding if you hit or not.  got a good strength character with a swell sword. we keep missing when fighting the burly rock trolls.  would be better to have a character with excellent agility and a fine rapier attack the troll while the good strength character switches to goblins in crude armour?   only gonna figure out through trial and error, and if tim gets his way and we include genuine randomness, we might be learning wrong anyways.

 

numbers make more sense and is far more clear than is adjectives.

 

HA! Good Fun!


"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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keep using ad&d?  ad&d is not a crpg system.  obsidian and other developers understandable avoid the mistakes o' ad&d and yet is your example.  why?

 

Because I can remember how to calculate it off the top of my head without having to spend time researching the formulas used for a crpg so as to provide a numerical comparison that would come from a native computer game.

 

in any event, we gave reason why numbers is useful when deciding if you hit or not.  got a good strength character with a swell sword. we keep missing when fighting the burly rock trolls.  would be better to have a character with excellent agility and a fine rapier attack the troll while the good strength character switches to goblins in crude armour?   only gonna figure out through trial and error, and if tim gets his way and we include genuine randomness, we might be learning wrong anyways.

 

numbers make more sense and is far more clear than is adjectives.

 

HA! Good Fun!

 

Isn't this more an issue of feedback to the user rather than the superiority of the use of numbers?

 

If good STR character w/ good sword is given feedback when contemplating an attack on the troll and the feedback is yucky or -10 (or if not turn-based, other contextual evidence that the fight isn't pursuable) wouldn't the end result provide the information necessary for the player to know the character isn't ready to fight the troll?  The only difference is that the game wouldn't need to provide a context for -10 if it used a descriptor, since it was making understanding why the calculation moot.

 

Provided that the player gets appropriate feedback (told they need a magical flaming sword) to defeat a troll in the course of the game, so the player knows the Good STR character needs a magic sword of fire (of any good-bad quality), then I think (potentially) you're decreasing the need to explain your system to your player allowing the player to concentrate more on the character they want to play than on whether or not the +2 sword (2d6 damage) is better than the +4 dagger (1d4 damage)

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Using Fallout as an example, since it's been used already concerning it's "horrible UI", the numbers are laid out, plain to see and self explanatory, meanwhile perks can get clustered and out of hand, especially when they reach the point of massive proportions as in the latest iteration(that I've played), New Vegas. Can anybody really argue that looking through that pile of labels/pictures is more efficient than simply and quickly getting to the exact place you need in your SPECIAL or Skills menu? Not exactly an apples to apples comparison, but still..

 

Cain being a top notch designer is of course going to be looking at different ways to present systems, that's just being good at your job and having fun with creation. However, I don't see how some of his past games could be all that much inclined to benefit from a UI overhaul. It just doesn't much apply, but he did warn of his "7 Mistakes" being rather buzzfeedy.


"I started to see people as little lonesome, water based, pink meat, life forms pushing air through themselves and making noises that the other little pieces of meat seemed to understand...I don't think I was 'mad', I was just confused."

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