Most Frustrating Things in RPGs?

Wavelength

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@Wavelength mentioned these params as "pain-in-a*s"

How about this:
- Bosses shows realy rarely and if they already shown their behaviours are strictly "programmed" depending of scenario plots
- Mandatory Puzzles, but quick to solve
- Absolutely no random encounters! Except in places where they can do actually something good. Like ambush in thick forest.
- Protagonists that act really stupid, well if he/she was that designed to be stupid?
- Instead skipping (wich still I don't know how to make it in RMMV) give player option whetter he/she wants to watch cinematic or not.
- RNG only for passive skills and no extra eventing with that.

Sounds a fair compromise?
Hmmm... I don't think most of those are good solutions, largely because they don't address the underlying cause behind the frustrations. Two of them are just agreeing with me saying that you think they should be avoided because they are frustrating. My "frustrating things" in Orange; your proposed solutions in Green - followed by my analysis.

"HP Sponge" Boss Battles (bosses that don't do anything interesting and aren't threatening, but take forever)
Bosses shows realy rarely and if they already shown their behaviours are strictly "programmed" depending of scenario plots
This doesn't solve the issue, which is that HP Sponge boss battles tend to be decided early on, and simply require the player to spend a lot of time doing nothing interesting. "Strictly programmed" behaviors don't fix this.

Mandatory Puzzles
Mandatory Puzzles, but quick to solve
They may be quick to solve for you as the designer, but if a player doesn't "get" it, they will never be able to solve them - and they won't be able to keep playing your RPG if this "quick" puzzle was mandatory. Just keep mandatory puzzles out of your RPG.

High Random Encounter Rates
Absolutely no random encounters! Except in places where they can do actually something good. Like ambush in thick forest.
Right, one way to get rid of high RE rates is to get rid of REs entirely.

Protagonists that Act Really Stupid
Protagonists that act really stupid, well if he/she was that designed to be stupid?
That's probably not a sympathetic protagonist, nor one that I (or most other people) would feel good about taking the role of.

Long, Unskippable Cutscenes (as well as long, unskippable battle animations)
Instead skipping (wich still I don't know how to make it in RMMV) give player option whetter he/she wants to watch cinematic or not.
That is literally the definition of skipping the cutscene.

Heavy RNG Influence in battle mechanics (especially for Instant KOs)
RNG only for passive skills and no extra eventing with that.
It's still unwanted RNG Influence in most cases, unless you get very clever with RNG of "input" (e.g. the types of skills you can use) rather than "output" (e.g. what happens once you choose a skill). Having RNG on Passive Effects can actually be especially bad because the player can't "opt into it" by choosing a skill with heavy RNG - the passive effect is always there, so the player is always being affected by the RNG.


Sometimes, the best approach to dealing with a problematic game element is to remove it entirely and rethink how your game works in light of its removal, rather than to try and add or change the element in order to shoehorn it into a game that doesn't need it.
 

Soulrender

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@Wavelength
- Boss fights, then I would be appreciated if you show me a battle with boss that would be most optimal
- Puzzles... Well I'm not a fan of puzzles, but some should be placed in game.
- If the passive skill input can be altered via actor param or variable that also can be altered via some event in scenario, or anything else would do the trick, but it's my opinion. :)
 

Darkanine

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That kind of moment in only the best RPGs where you're to weak to progress in the story, but the enemies give to little EXP to effectively grind. It ruined a great deal of Pokemon fan-games for me. In the inverse, I hate when just progressing in the story makes you to overpowered to face any challenges.
The earlier Digimon Story games had this problem where you could get ungodly (literally) overpowered to the point where the final boss couldn't hurt you, whereas the later games doubled down in the opposite direction and made it where even if your entire party was Lv. 99, the bosses could kick your butt. No kidding.
And bosses with only one weakness that isn't really telegraphed to the player at all. Persona 3 was really bad with this and after awhile I just looked up the boss on Gamefaqs so I didn't lose hours of progress.
 

bgillisp

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@Darkanine : Persona is based on the idea of find out the weakness via trial and error, which is not for some. But since once you do know it you can cost them turns and stun lock them forever, it would be OP to have it telegraphed either

Though last time I played Persona3 no bosses had a weakness (at least none I ever found) after floor 15 of Tarturus either. Probably didn't want them losing turns or something.
 

Darkanine

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@Darkanine : Persona is based on the idea of find out the weakness via trial and error, which is not for some. But since once you do know it you can cost them turns and stun lock them forever, it would be OP to have it telegraphed either

Though last time I played Persona3 no bosses had a weakness (at least none I ever found) after floor 15 of Tarturus either. Probably didn't want them losing turns or something.
Yeah, I'm totally aware. I just felt that SMT IV and Persona 4 and 5 did it better. Maybe it's because 3 had way more bosses than them, so it felt more like a constant hindrance, rather than an occasional fun battle?

My sense of chronology is always been whack but I think I recall a few in the later stages of Tartarus that did, but I also remember a few bosses that had weaknesses but didn't enter stunlocks. They weren't terribly memorable though (typically just bigger versions of typical encounters).
 

Aesica

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The things I find most frustrating about RPGs:
  • Lack of transparency regarding damage types. So you have fire, ice, lightning, etc and some creatures are weak to them while others are strong. Okay great, but you need to be clear on which abilities deal what damage as well as ways to inform me about which enemies are weak to what. Most people aren't going to play guessing games.
  • Limited currency/encounters. I've seen a few games try to do this, and it's pretty loathesome for a number of reasons.
  • Gold starvation in general.
  • Random encounters, especially if they're really high, the battles take awhile, and there's no reasonable way to avoid them. I'm looking at you, Breath of Fire 2.
  • Artificial difficulty through RNG + limited player options. For example, if your boss has a really brutal aoe attack that my healing can't overcome, and RNG has him use it either multiple times per turn or every turn until I die, and there's no player action that can mitigate or counter it somehow, I'm going to be annoyed.
  • Necessary grinding. It's okay if I find a certain area a bit too difficult and have to gain a level or two outside because I want things easier, but if I go into the next area and get massacred because my party is only level 1 but the area was tuned for level 5...no thanks. Hard pass actually. This is 2019.
  • Grumpy "Cloud/Squall" protagonists. Please just don't.
  • Crafting. Yeah unless there's something I really want, I pretty much just ignore crafting systems in every game, from humble indie RPGs to giant mega-MMOs like WoW. Crafting sucks.
 

doriantoki

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It's interesting reading through this thread as well as the "what to avoid" thread, as many complaints were once common-place due to technology (or programming experience, perhaps?) limitations.

There really is no reason to not be able to save anywhere nowadays. Memory is no longer a constraint.

Things like quest logs and location markers relieve a lot of the tedium of stumbling around trying to find where to go next. This is great, so long as it's not used as a crutch for poor story telling. As well, the way we play games today, it may be that there's a long period of absence from the game, which markers serve to give helpful reminders of where to go next.

Damage types being showcased in real time, alleviates the tedium of memorizing enemy weakness or having a guide handy. I think the SMT/Persona series does this very well. If you've got 8+ damage types, I am not going to remember which monster was weak against what. And If I've already struck that weakness, nor should I have to. Again, I think this being so common in past JRPGs (and games in general) was probably more a technology constraint.
 

Aesica

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There really is no reason to not be able to save anywhere nowadays. Memory is no longer a constraint.
Actually yeah. If the goal is to create tension in dungeons, that tension is pretty much lost if you can save anywhere since a player can just save scum their way through a really hard dungeon to get a few treasure boxes, or they can save after every battle so if they run into the Demonic Spiders (warning, TV tropes) they won't lose much in terms of progress.
 

doriantoki

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Actually yeah. If the goal is to create tension in dungeons, that tension is pretty much lost if you can save anywhere since a player can just save scum their way through a really hard dungeon to get a few treasure boxes, or they can save after every battle so if they run into the Demonic Spiders (warning, TV tropes) they won't lose much in terms of progress.
My point is that originally it was due to memory constraints, that this became the norm.

There are other ways to create tension, and as has been noted in this thread, a modern gamer is going to favor being able to save anywhere versus a perceived "tension". Besides, this "tension" largely only exists the first time you play through any given game, and it comes more from the uncertainty of the situation than anything.

As well, some games with an identity crisis do both for largely arbitrary reasons (see: Suikoden IV). I suppose in the end, it depends largely on your target audience and/or platform, but overall, I think this mechanic is still largely considered dated. While your point is a good one, most games have save points "because that's what RPGs do", without consideration to things like tension or game progression.
 

Aesica

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It's a fair compromise to allow a "quicksave" that can be done anywhere. Using it saves the game in that location and drops immediately back to the title screen. Upon loading it, the save is deleted. This allows the convenience of quitting whenever while making it harder to save scum through content.
 

MetalHunter13

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One thing that really bugs me is when your character's position in the gameworld and actual abilities don't match up. The most egregious example I can think of off hand is Atom RPG, which is otherwise a good (if MADDENING) fallout 1 & 2 clone.
I won't give a rundown of the backstory, but your character is basically Spetznaz. You know, a member of the elite Russian special forces. But you start at level 1. At level 1 in this game, even with a combat focused character, anything tougher than one of the spiders in the starting town is going to be a really, really tough fight. Your character could, theoretically, fire at the ground at their feet and miss. Which begs the question, HOW in the heck did they pass whatever training they undoubtedly had to go through? Why did they let this guy out into this super-secret important mission that the fate of the nation depends on? I mean, you start with nothing, and this is adequately established - you were ambushed by a bunch of bandits who took your gear. This is fine. But why am I level 1, if I'm an elite covert operative? Why couldn't I start at level 3 or 4 or something? Or, maybe they could have learned another lesson from Fallout 1 - IIRC, you could join the elite, power armored Brotherhood of Steel (or at least work with them and get cool stuff) but this was late game, when your character should be high level. You start out at level 1, but you're just some random schmoe thrown out of your sheltered Vault existence into the harsh, dangerous wasteland. You gotta work your way up to being the hero.

And then there's the opposite end of the spectrum - Final Fantasy 7. Cloud, at the start of the game, is (supposedly) an ex-SOLDIER, the super elite special forces unit. He starts at level 7, with a cool sword and some materia, and mops the floor with the enemies in the beginning.

So, in other words, if your character's the chosen one, give 'em at least some skills to match. They shouldn't struggle to defeat a bum armed with a broken bottle. If your character starts as a nobody, don't tell 'em they're the chosen one at the start of the game. Let them get some experience, clear a dungeon or two, maybe kill a really tough boss and gain some levels and good equipment, and THEN tell them that they might be the chosen one.

I've been thinking about this for weeks, I hope it made sense.
 

bgillisp

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That does make sense. In my game that I released, the MC actually starts at Level 7, and he is a military solider. One of the other party members who joins is level 6, and is a bodyguard with some matching skills as well. And the one he is assigned to protect? Level 3.

None of my characters are level 1 newbs in my game usually. For Shipwrecked I'm making an exception and one party member is Level 1 as she is untrained, but she goes to Level 3 after 1 battle so she catches up fast.

But yes, always starting at level 1 where a housecat can kill you gets old after a while. Why are we sending such wimps to save the world when we got high level guards here?
 

MechScapeZH

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That does make sense. In my game that I released, the MC actually starts at Level 7, and he is a military solider. One of the other party members who joins is level 6, and is a bodyguard with some matching skills as well. And the one he is assigned to protect? Level 3.

None of my characters are level 1 newbs in my game usually. For Shipwrecked I'm making an exception and one party member is Level 1 as she is untrained, but she goes to Level 3 after 1 battle so she catches up fast.

But yes, always starting at level 1 where a housecat can kill you gets old after a while. Why are we sending such wimps to save the world when we got high level guards here?
I second this big-time. This is my problem with a lot of games: if the hero is the "chosen one" or what-have-you, their skills & stats should reflect that.
 

Aesica

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What if the characters all start out as mostly noncombatants? In my game, the hero starts out as lazy bum who wastes his days fishing, and his two friends are a magey scientist and a priesty research assistant. Not a lot of combat experience there, so starting at level 1 makes sense for all 3 of them. The 4th character (a warrior) is encountered fairly early and does have combat experience, so she starts at the party's average level rather than 1.
 

somenick

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One thing that really annoys me (I'm probably in the minority here) are those RPGs that have too many black, bottomless pits / chasms. For the most part (in my brain at least) these pits look totally out of place in an otherwise nice map. Even weirder when they are present in large open areas with plenty of light. Worse than that is when my characters are walking around and suddenly a pit opens underneath them just like that, often without any animation or warning. Does something to my brain or something, lol. Not epylepsy or anything, but, don't know... Lufia games did this quite a bit, and so did early Breath of Fire games.
 

Dr_Bonehead

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Wow, these are all super good thoughts! Thank everyone, I'll be sure to incorporate all of this into my projects.
 

bgillisp

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@Dr_Bonehead : Use your judgement. Some things that people 'hate' here actually are well liked among the masses. I have a few things in my game that some here would hate, but it has sold well so far compared to those games that try to avoid them.

Basically do your research. Some of the tropes exist for a reason as they work better than any alternative people have found so far.
 

EthanFox

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@Dr_Bonehead : Use your judgement. Some things that people 'hate' here actually are well liked among the masses. I have a few things in my game that some here would hate, but it has sold well so far compared to those games that try to avoid them.
This is most definitely true.

Some people love an infodump, or a "the story so far" prologue at the beginning of their RPGs - whereas if I boot up an RPG and the first thing I get is text saying "IN THE CENTURIES BEFORE RAGNAROK, THEIR EXISTED THE KINGDOM OF FANELIA..." I'm really put off. I really need my games to start in medias res, and if they don't, they're off to an immediate shaky start.

But I wouldn't say that this is objectively the best way to do it, because enough people like the infodump. At the end of the day, both of these methods can be done well, or done badly.
 
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What I dislike in games, that frustrates me the most is when you have to grind for levels.

I play RPG's for the story and the characters and the adventure. I like to be able to get through each dungeon as it comes up with the min of battles and reach the end of the game, defeat the enemy and sit back and say "That was a job well done me!". What I hate (and I detest that the final fantasy series falls prey to this so much! because I love them so much!), is when I can get through the whole game, enjoying myself, and then suddenly BAM final boss one strike killed me and I then have to grind for levels for hours before I can finish the game.

It's the main reason I have never actually finished a final fantasy, star ocean, or any other similar game. And I havent sped through the game and run away from every battle, I've played every dungeon, every quest, every sidequest, got every character, including the hidden ones, I should be able to take down this bad guy, and yet they vastly overpower me.

It frustrates me more than anything because just once I would like to play a game all the way to the end without having to spend hours levelling in some forest fighting dinosaurs with an XP egg equipeed for triple XP gain etc, and just beat the bad guy and see the end. I don't need an epic, 10 hour battle where the bad guy is so powerful he one shots me down, I just want to walk in, battle, win, and walk out and see the ending cutscene at long last!

So yeah... that annoys me.

Also - a "funny" side character that everyone laughs at and makes fun of. It's a big thing in games, tv, movies etc, where one character is constanty being put down and laughed at, usually these characters tend to be the smartest or strongest in whatever they're in, and yes they do stupid stuff, but so does everyone else... Sorry, just a pet peeve, I just hate that sort of things in something I'm trying to enjoy.
 

Tai_MT

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Scaling XP
Seriously, I hate most games that do this. There is a single exception, and it is because it is the only one I've played that is designed well.

Paper Mario. It takes 100 XP to gain a level in Paper Mario. If you're Level 1 or Level 29, it's still 100 XP. Weak monsters drop less and less XP until it's zero, while stronger monsters can drop as many as 10 (hard upper limit). This makes sense and is a lot of fun. Move on when the enemies stop giving you XP to gain levels. If new monsters are too powerful for you, you can quickly gain the necessary levels from defeating them.

Here's why "scaling XP" is absolutely terrible:

It is pretty much universally partnered with "XP Needed Curve". That is to say, the Level 3 rats don't just start dropping less XP as you reach Level 5, but you also need 350 more XP to get to Level 6 than you needed to get to Level 5.

The curve becomes insanely exponential.

It's bad game design. No, there's no way you can actually justify this sort of design. It's terrible.

You need to either make XP gains static or make XP Required static. Do not make BOTH OF THEM values that shift.

If you do, I guarantee you that I will break the ever-loving crap out of your game by keeping my level as low as possible, getting to all your good gear (where most of my stats will come from anyway) and then gain a crapload of super easy levels and break the difficulty of your game.

There's an art to doing it, and I've had to do it so much that I am practically an expert at doing so.

So, no. Don't scale your XP. Not unless the XP needed per level never scales up alongside it.

Scaling Encounters
Please don't. There's no easier way to break your game than to purposely run from every single fight, open every single chest, and curb-stomp the low tier bosses.

Scaling encounters does not "preserve difficulty". It does the opposite. It makes the game even easier. Especially since the player is the one setting the target level they need to be instead of the dev.

AAA devs can't even get this right.

Every Dead End Has a Chest
Stop. Seriously. If it's a dead-end, just let me see it is and move on. Don't put a chest at every dead end. You're bloating your economy and making your game easier than you projected by doing so.

Few, if any, devs, balance their game around their economy. Most don't even realize their game has an economy.

The sum of a player's power is:

1. How much money they can spend at any given point.
2. How many consumables they can use at any given point.
3. How much damage they can mitigate from a hit at any given point.
4. How much damage they can deal at any given point.
5. What buffs they have (passive or active) at any given point.
6. What debuffs they can apply (passive or active) to enemies at any given point.

Most devs balance for number 3 and number 4 and not for 1, 2, 5, or 6 at all. Most don't even realize that "Currency=Effective HP".

How does Currency equal effective HP? If I have 50,000 Currency and can buy 200 Potions that heal 400 HP each... Yep, I've got 80,000 more HP than you anticipated I would have, just because I've got that Currency. Or, if my Currency can reduce damage I take from 500 down to 200, I've now got more "Effective HP" because it will take a lot more hits before I even have to heal.

Anyway, back to the Dead-End thing.

Look, you don't need huge mazes. You don't need a ton of Dead-Ends. Put a few in each dungeon, put something interesting at each one (do not always make this an item! You can make this Lore or a monster to fight or something!), and move along with your day.

I'm tired of every single Dead-End I go down having 1 to 3 chests in it. It just means that I'm going to get a reward for exploring the whole dungeon and there's absolutely no part of this dungeon I can actually skip.

You can reward me in other ways for exploring! You don't have to make your game insanely easy just to reward me for the thing I was going to do anyway!

Flashy Animations
This one is simple. I will be bored of your flashy animation by about the 30th time I've casted it. I'll be desensitized. Once I am, I am annoyed it exists because it eats up time in combat to display. 7 Seconds is the general rule for how long a player will put up with an animation. Even then, that's pushing it. Especially if you're casting this skill frequently.

Let's keep battle simple. 3 seconds of animation is plenty. It doesn't have to be really flashy. I'm more impressed by the numbers that roll out of enemies when I hit them than I am by how colorful and flashy the animation is.

Moral Choice Systems
The problem with most moral choice systems is that they just boil down to "baby eating" or "poops rainbows, sunshine, and happiness" as who your character is. No room for nuance.

That's not as bad as what the player does with such systems.

The player, almost universally, will pick the "good guy" option if it is a choice. There may be a few who want to play "evil", but by and large... the game rewards players for being "the good guy". Even if they don't do it with in-game loot... the game does it because people in the game love them, they get fame, adoration, respect. They can roleplay the paragon of benevolence they want to be in real life.

So, everyone roleplays a good guy. Picks the good guy option.

It's boring.

Now, if you want to include a type of "moral choice" system... I suggest you do something new with it. For example:

You are given 4 choices, all four choices are a good guy option. But, they do drastically different things in terms of the story. There's no punishment for picking any choice over another. They are just flavors of the story for the individual to tell. "Hey man, did you buy the orphanage to run it properly, or did you find parents for all the kids so you could shut down the orphanage?"

Do something interesting with it.

I'm a "good guy" in every game I play and there are no interesting or "tough" choices to make with such a system.
 

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