Most Frustrating Things in RPGs?

bgillisp

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@Tai_MT : YES! Having both EXP from fights dropping as you level up and raising the EXP you need to level up shows me one thing about you as a dev, and that is you are bad at math. There is no need to have two moving targets to design a system.

BTW, ff8 did it where every level was 1000 EXP to level up, and fights gave less EXP as you leveled up. I thought that one wasn't too bad either.
 

TheoAllen

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EXP scaling is not quite a good design, but low tier enemy stops giving EXP is worse for me. I prefer to deal with the EXP curve than the enemy stops giving EXP. Speaking of EXP and level, here is the less frustrating but still on my list.

Level cap

Unless your game has no level already, capping level means I have no reason to continue the game. I love grinding, I love to see my stat goes up, and eventually steamroll everything. I love that I get rewarded for every action I take. When the reward stops, the fun stop. There's some RPG that I ended up avoiding conflict altogether because I know I won't get anything out of it and I was far from the finish.
 

CraneSoft

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Some recent ones I personally encountered :

1. Bosses that abuses healing skills whenever they please and restores their health faster than I can damage them with my best MP skills.

2. Crucial/Important skills locked behind levels, this is pretty much the laziest way imaginable to force grinding, especially when there are no alternatives other than "Get to this level minimum and use that brand new skill to cheese the brick wall that has been cockblocking you the past 5 attempts". I like low-level challenges, but not when I'm not provided the options to do so.

3. Damage Sponge enemies in normal encounters, they are not fun after the first time and becomes extremely tedious when you are required to grind them.

4. Any and all RNG-related battle mechanics. This is the last thing I want to see in a turn-based game where I'm supposed to plan and strategize. It may be excusable if you only include them in the strongest optional superboss, but that still makes it no less frustrating.

5. No fast travel system on games with visible world maps. This is 2019 now, no excuses accepted, I don't have the patience to walk 5 minutes to travel to a place I have already been to for the 12th time anymore.

6. Taking more than 5 battles for a single level up in an area that's suited for your current level.

7. Escape command that can fail and giving the enemy a free turn. Just seal the escape command so I won't waste my time trying my luck with RNGoddess.

8. Permanently missable items/content with no clear warning given or even an indicator that they even exists. Guide Dang It.

9. Extremely cryptic / Moon Logic puzzles that defies common sense and taking more time to solve than necessary.

10. Getting lost in massive mazes. With or without a time limit. No way to teleport outside. No map is available. No way to tell where you came from. (Holy cow... The Great Crystal in FFXII.)
 

Neka Music

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1. No fast travel
2. Random encounter (Gladly most modern games don't have this)
3. Consecutive boss battles without healing / save point.
4. Selling junk for money (I prefer getting money from defeating enemies, this mechanic is realistic, but absolutely a waste of time).
5. Puzzles with no clear hints.
 

bgillisp

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6. Taking more than 5 battles for a single level up in an area that's suited for your current level.
Hate to say it but 5 battles? At that point levels should just be handed to you on a silver platter. Granted, I'm from an era where you had to EARN level ups, and at 5 fights you aren't earning them at all, the game is more like you get a level up, you get a level up, you get a level up. At that point, I think you should drop levels completely as it is just a meaningless stat and design the game differently.

As it is, I remember way back in grad school reading an article that studied this and they find what players found ideal was quicker level ups at the start of the game, then it slows down as you advance. So maybe a few quick ones at the beginning, then it slows down so you have to start earning them.

Edit: I will add though, if you are taking battles that take a long time, then I see your point. If fights are taking me 10 - 15 minutes each, a level up every 5 might be ideal or even too long a gap between them (unless there are few levels like the old D and D games). But if you are talking the length of an average FF random battle (which are often very short), then I will disagree.
 
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Countyoungblood

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Hate to say it but 5 battles? At that point levels should just be handed to you on a silver platter. Granted, I'm from an era where you had to EARN level ups, and at 5 fights you aren't earning them at all, the game is more like you get a level up, you get a level up, you get a level up. At that point, I think you should drop levels completely as it is just a meaningless stat and design the game differently.

As it is, I remember way back in grad school reading an article that studied this and they find what players found ideal was quicker level ups at the start of the game, then it slows down as you advance. So maybe a few quick ones at the beginning, then it slows down so you have to start earning them.

Edit: I will add though, if you are taking battles that take a long time, then I see your point. If fights are taking me 10 - 15 minutes each, a level up every 5 might be ideal or even too long a gap between them (unless there are few levels like the old D and D games). But if you are talking the length of an average FF random battle (which are often very short), then I will disagree.

If you look at training an actual skill in reality and compare it to what you're describing.. you might find that you improve in small ways quickly like the difference between level 1 to level 10 similarly someone who is already an expert would take more to have noticeable improvements..

quick and dirty models of reality are close enough for a video game its a fantasy simulation after all not the matrix.
 

CraneSoft

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Granted, I'm from an era where you had to EARN level ups, and at 5 fights you aren't earning them at all, the game is more like you get a level up, you get a level up, you get a level up. At that point, I think you should drop levels completely as it is just a meaningless stat and design the game differently.
You seem to imply increasing number of fights = levels are well-earned, which doesn't make any sense from a player's standpoint. I'm from the same era, and I actually liked grinding, but hates inefficiency with a passion. If an area takes more than 10 or so battles to level up, I will think I have picked the wrong place to grind or are simply overlevelled, and will attempt to earn my levels in another more efficient spot instead of trying to "earn" them in an area I no longer deem worth my time.
 

bgillisp

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Not necessarily, but 5 fights of say FF level random mobs = you didn't earn them. Those are usually meant to just wear you down and fall fast. At least most FF games I ever played.

Maybe you can balance it with some work, but most games I play 5 fights would be handing them on a silver platter to you. and the old D and D games would never work that way, as they only go from level 1 to 6 or 5 to 11 or 11 to 15. So it does depend some on how you do things, but Disgaea is the only game I've seen level ups go that quick, and it works there just because you only get EXP if you KO the enemy.

Though, what I found works better is do it by # of enemies. So maybe you mean a # of enemies, as # of fights can mean 5 groups of 1 slime or 5 groups of 8 Malboros. Big difference.
 
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Cythera

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I'd like to throw in my two cents on the number of battles to level up debate here. If a game establishes it takes roughly 5 battles for one level if you are at the appropriate level for that area, then 5 battles is fine with me. So is 2. So is 20! Provided it fits your game. I love full heals on level up, which seem to be gaining in popularity, and are super useful in harder games. In that setting, less battles between levels is nice for a player. In an easier game, quick level ups are like a trophy you didn't earn - an empty victory. Not very satisfying, especially if you receive larger power boosts on level up.
Ultimately, it's a very hard thing to put a number on. Some games benefit a lower number, while some should have a higher number.
Getting back on track of the thread, my main annoyances include: HP sponges (they're annoying, not hard...), puzzles or plot goals with no direction/hints at all, super slooooow movement either in game or cut scenes, and poor villains. I want to feel threatened by a game's antagonist!
As a side note, I don't hate the crafting systems that seem to have a bad rep. Again, if they fit the game. If they add value. Don't add a feature for the sake of adding a feature; add it to enhance your game. I suppose that makes another point - overloading a game with systems that don't need to be there.
 

Tai_MT

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I think the number of combats necessary to level up should largely depend on how much power you're actually granted each level.

For example:

The Outer Worlds grants the same amount of power with each level up. You get 10 skillpoints to distribute however you want... and every couple levels you get a Perk that isn't really "game changing" at all. So... minimal amounts of power, and it's always the same amount of power.

Such a system would benefit from a "fixed amount of combats". As it currently stands, it takes a lot of XP in the game to get higher and higher levels for the same amounts of power. This leads the player to needing to run faster and faster on the treadmill just to "stay in place" with the difficulty curve.

Meanwhile, you have games like Final Fantasy which often "curve" your stats upwards each level, granting larger and larger boosts to your stats as you level up. Such a system should require more and more fights to help you fall in line with that actual curve. In this way, the player is running the same speed on their treadmill the whole game in order to "stay in place" with the difficulty curve.

And then you've got a game like mine... Where a Level Up grants you only indirect power. No stats awarded. Map features and quests are unlocked. So, the first level gained requires 45 battles to ensure the player essentially "completes the tutorials" before they are given the first story quest. My system works a bit backwards in that the first few levels take a while to gain, but subsequent levels take less combat to gain (at least, so long as you are just pushing the main story. You'll likely be gaining 2 levels per Main Story Quest and probably 0.5 to 1 level per any other Quest in the game).

Amount of levels per combat does really depend on what you're trying to accomplish with the level up system as well as how much actual power your player is attaining at each level.
 

Milennin

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These topics are always a joy, because I get to rant, and ranting about stuff is fun. Most of my list will be aimed at my experience with RPG Maker games, but I guess there'll be a few generic points in there too. I'm also going to skip over some of the most noob things I sometimes see...

Handholding and tutorials. Perhaps even more frustrating than the dreaded text scroll of exposition at the start of a game. I don't need every little thing explained to me in cutscenes and stuff. Your systems should be intuitive enough to be explained in a line of text or 2 and then let me figure out the rest. Let players play around with the systems instead of forcing them to do exactly as you want them to do.

Vague skill descriptions, and skills that just do damage. I hate it when skill descriptions don't really describe what the skill does in a meaningful way to me as player. Things like "attack with a bolt of lightning!!" means nothing to me. It sounds like a regular attack with element damage attached to it, and a regular attack with element damage is not fun to me. I want skills to do more than just do damage. And I want skills that do more than just do damage to be properly explained to me in their description box.

When the equipment store has like a billion items. There's no need to put every item in your database available in the beginner town's store... Just put in there what the player is going to need at that point in the story. Also when the game has like twenty different weapon types that are all give-or-take the same thing, apart from tiiiiny, minuscule differences. Just keep it simple. More items don't make your game better, but it makes your item list more of a pain to scroll through.

When open world is used as an excuse to put high level encounters near the starting area. It's not funny.

People join the party for no or weak reasons. Sometimes, I feel like characters join the MC's party for the most random reasons, and I'm like WTH? Why are these people willing to give up everything they have to join my party and put their lives on the line for my quest?
Also, when there is a strong contrast in tone between the characters' dialogue and the actual story. Either scale down your story so it doesn't revolve around something sealing the demon gate that threatens to destroy all life on the planet, or make your guys take the thing serious because it is.
 

Countyoungblood

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When the equipment store has like a billion items.
this, in so many ways. Negligible differences between items..spells..characters..elements.. if there isn't a mechanical shift in some way all of these things can be redundant garbage that clouds comprehension of how to affect combat. developers seem to add things because they feel they should rather than because the game could benefit.
 

Dr_Bonehead

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These are such good ideas. Keep 'em coming, guys, I think me and a lot of others will find these extremely helpful!
 

RetailDrone7576

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those "stealth" sections arbitrarily shoehorned into the game even though it is extremely out of pace, its infuriating especially when getting caught automatically resets you to the beginning. If you must have this type of area for whatever reason, at least give the player the option to fight whatever caught them.
 

Zreine

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-To many random encounters. I like to take my time to explore everything, but having to fight every two seconds in order to do so, takes the fun away and makes me want to rush through the level just to get it over with.
-Random encounters in puzzle room. Again I like puzzles, but being interrupted by random encounters while I'm trying to use my brain is just frustrating, especially if the puzzle requires me to walk around a lot.
-Over-complicated Mazes. Wasting hours walking around because you are lost in a dungeon is not fun...especially if the first point I mentioned is present in the game.
-Being stuck somewhere and not being allowed to leave. So I enter a dungeon, realize the monsters are too strong for me, I want to leave so I can level up a bit, but the game won't let me. At least give me a warning so I can save before entering just in case I'm not strong enough.
 

Spookybun

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  • Grumpy "Cloud/Squall" protagonists. Please just don't.
Could you go into further explanation about the "grumpy" protagonist? Because I'm actually making a protagonist in one of my games that's grumpy, but she's got very good reason for it (won't go into details) but are you talking about characters who got a general "life sucks" attitude and you don't even know why you're supposed to be sympathetic for them? Or is it just an overall negativity that you find unnecessary to have in a main character? Both of those are valid, if you ask me.

I'd like to say that tropes are not a bad thing to have. Everything has tropes, "tropeless tales" don't/cannot exist, and eventually down the road, any new innovative idea will eventually become a trope when many others apply it to their own thing. But there's nothing wrong with tropes, so long as they're done well. Relating back to what you said, sometimes there are no better alternatives to them. Not everyone is going to like the tropes you implement into your game, OP, but do further research into what works for you.

But aside from reply to others:
Personally the thing I find the most frustrating in games (rpg or not) is unnecessary romance in plots. I'm not here for MC to discover his/her crush on the second lead-role character, I'm here to fight. Have them already be in a relationship. Have them take down the bad guy as a date. Sub-plot, or main-plot, doesn't matter. I'm personally pushed away by plot-points being centered around the idea of love and romance. If you want romance, what's more romantic than heading into a dungeon to grind for some matching badass armor with your beau? Or another funky-fresh idea to love-based plots is anything other than romance? There's always the unconditional, familial love. Or even unrequitted love? Sometimes you don't always have happy endings?

Also not sure if I'm allowed to bring up the sexuality of the characters, because while I don't want to have a controversial statement here, I'd like to see more than just opposite-sex pairings. I even have the MC go around with her girlfriend in one of my projects.
 

Aesica

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Could you go into further explanation about the "grumpy" protagonist? Because I'm actually making a protagonist in one of my games that's grumpy, but she's got very good reason for it (won't go into details) but are you talking about characters who got a general "life sucks" attitude and you don't even know why you're supposed to be sympathetic for them? Or is it just an overall negativity that you find unnecessary to have in a main character? Both of those are valid, if you ask me.
Sure. It's basically the Cloud/Squall attitude, where they're just generally grumpy and mad at the world for whatever reason. If the story really warrants it and the character isn't a complete a-hole because of it, then it's maybe okay. Hopefully you can pull it off, but so far, I haven't seen it done all that well in both major games (FF series) and indie games. Good luck though. :)
 

Spookybun

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@Aesica
That's exactly what I thought. I don't like the broody types of characters, so I'll be sure it make it well-done! Thank you for responding to me!
 

bgillisp

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@Spookybun : You might like my game then, as it starts with the main character and his girlfriend on their one year anniversary date.
 

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