What kind of filler in RPGs do you hate?

Tai_MT

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@Mythmaker19

Unfortunately, the purpose of a topic like this is to gather the opinions of others and see if you can get some kind of agreement or understanding. It is absolutely useless if it doesn't exist to see if an agreement/understanding can be made as to what is bad and what isn't and why.

Here's what's interesting about your reply to me:

You sort of prove my point without realizing it (which is what I was hoping you'd do).

You liked Gwent. Fair enough. It was a minigame done so well that it was actually released as a stand-alone game and people bought and played that. Here's the fun part, you might not have thought of yet:

How many RPG's have you played where you spent that much time with the mini-game? With that filler? How many RPG's have you seen other players do that with?

I can give you an estimate of my own stats on it if you like.

I've played nearly 4,000 games, about 500 of which are probably specifically RPG's. Of those RPG's, I enjoyed Blitzball in FFX, the Millenial Fair in Chrono Trigger (specifically just fighting Gato, the rest weren't that good), and.... that's all that comes to mind. Of games that weren't specifically RPG's, I enjoyed Poker in Farcry 3 (though not for the reasons people would think. I got a kick out of the crazy AI that would max bet alongside me who hadn't looked at my cards on the first draw and just went "all in" and so everyone would lose because I happened to just have "high card"), I enjoyed the "shooting range" in Dead Space 1, and darts in Grand Theft Auto 4 (only because the AI was garbage and it was super easy to win every single time).

So, that's what... 5 to 4,000? I've enjoyed 1 in every 800 minigames I've played? As in, played the minigame for more than 10 minutes and kept coming back to it? That's a staggering amount of games where minigames were a useless and pointless waste of time for me, as a player. Many of these games were even before I started being "amateur dev" and even looking at video games with a critical and analytical eye.

Now, let's assume I'm an outlier. Maybe I'm just more curmudgeony than most. Let's be pretty generous and say someone younger than me has played about half as many games as I have. 2,000 games. Let's be even more generous and say, "you know what, they enjoy more minigames too". Let's bump the amount of minigames they've played and enjoyed up to 50. That means, they've enjoyed 1 minigame in every 40 games they've played. Those are still some pretty long odds.

What if they enjoyed 1 in every 10 minigames they played? You know, just being insanely generous. I mean, that's pretty good!

But, then you come back to the realization that... 9 of those 10 games have minigames that are worthless. Dev time wasted. Even if we're conservative and say each of those games programmed was only 10 hours of dev time. That's 90 hours gone(most are programmed in a lot longer than that).

Okay, let's be even more generous.

Let's say there's a person out there who loved 1 in every 2 minigames they play. The odds of this person enjoying the minigame you spent time and effort and blood and sweat and tears programming... that you were so proud to program in and were so happy you finally got working... is a coin flip. May the odds be ever in your favor.

What if they don't like your minigame? Do you then feel compelled to fix your minigame? Spend more dev time trying to make it good? Do you engage in "sunk cost fallacy", or do you just admit to yourself that you wasted a lot of time and effort to make something that the person didn't like? What if it's not just one person who coin-flipped on whether or not they liked your minigame? What if it was an audience of 500,000? Half your audience of 500,000 did not like your minigame at all. Then what?

This is the problem with "Filler Content" of any kind.

Dev's add filler content most often under the assumption, "I liked that one experience that one time, so I'll put something similar in my game and most of my audience should like it too". That's not how any of this works. It's "I added it in for 'rule of cool'". There's not a lot of "bigger picture" thinking going on.

How many people like minigames?
What's the average time spent playing minigames?
How often are minigames obnoxious?
What purpose does adding in the minigame serve?
Why do I want the minigame in my game? Is it for me or for my players to enjoy?
What makes a minigame enjoyable?
What makes my minigame enjoyable?

You can apply these questions across any and every feature you add into a game (and you should be).

Just because you like something doesn't mean others will. Doesn't even mean you're in the majority. In fact, it's most likely that you're in the far minority.

I should know.

I love Random Encounters, but a lot of devs on here hate them. I'm in the minority. Extreme minority. So, does that mean I change the way I design my game? Absolutely. Do I do it by removing what I love? No, not necessarily. I do it by designing it with the thoughts in mind of all the reasons people hate it and construct a new version of it around avoiding the pitfalls. The solution isn't as simple as "oh, if I make it optional it's okay". It never is. Especially since there's rarely such a thing as "optional content" in a game (if you don't make it mandatory, some of your players will feel like it's mandatory anyway, fact of life. You have to content with Completionists as well, and they do tend to be a fairly large chunk of a playerbase. They get even worse if they actually really loved your game, which makes none of your content optional because they'll do everything in it just to get more of your game).

As devs, we can't just say, "Oh, I liked the feature in a handful of games, so I want to put it into my game". That's a very quick way to wreck our own games.

Devs need to do some research and answer all the questions I listed above before adding it into the game. Before spending dev hours on it. It will save you time and heartache later.

Regardless of what anyone says on these forums, nobody is "making a game for themselves". If we were, we wouldn't be on these forums at all. We'd just design whatever we wanted and nobody would play it except us.

We are devs. We are designing games for other people to enjoy. In fact, we're designing games that we hope most people will enjoy. We all hold the hope and delusion in our heads of, "I am making a wonderful game that everyone will love!". That's the curse of a creative. Whether or not something is "quality" isn't up to us. It's up to our audience. We have no say in it. The best we can do is increase our odds that an audience will enjoy it.

Filler, by and large, is a great way to lower those odds, even if you've played a handful of games that did it well. You have to look at the big picture.

Can filler be done well? Yeah. Almost any feature in a game can be done well.

Are you realistic in whether or not you can pull off that feature so that it's "done well" instead of "utter gutter trash"? As much game as I talk, I'm not that confident.

I am fairly certain my game will bomb once released. I'm fairly certain my demo will get a "hard pass" from most everyone. I'm fairly certain I'm going to muck it all up and need to spend time analyzing what people eventually say about it and trimming things that don't work.

So, let me ask those who enjoy filler and want to add it into their games:

Are you comfortable with having to do the same? With having to admit it might've been a waste of dev time and you eventually have to cut it? Are you confident your filler content will be as good as the best you've played? Are you comfortable having to refine that filler content to make your game more enjoyable? Or to remove it entirely if it's bringing down your entire game? Or, are you going to do as so many other Indie devs before on Steam have done and simply double-down on parts of your game that don't work and tell the players that they're wrong? The the players don't understand your vision?

I'm an amateur game dev. This is something I do as hobby. It isn't my job. I don't want it to be my job. The minute I turn something fun that I enjoy doing into a job, it ceases to be fun and starts being an obligation. I design games because I want to tell stories and "break the mold". I want to do things no other dev has done before just to see if they work. I want to buck convention at every opportunity because there's no adventure to be had in treading the same path everyone else has already well-worn. Failure will suck, but it will also be exciting. Because I have what is probably called "a detached interest" in being a game dev, it allows me to look at game design from the perspective of a player rather than the personal place of "I want to be a game dev everyone praises and who makes great games". Doing that allows me to do this:

"I didn't like X feature because of Y and Z reasons. Maybe it could've worked if they had done A, B, and C instead. Oh, or you know what I might've had a lot of fun with? If X Feature had D caveat instead!"

That mindset has allowed me to scrap about 3 dozen features in my current game because I just couldn't get them to elicit the response in an audience I wanted. It sucked to scrap and rebuild like that, but it was better than having a game my audience wouldn't enjoy. It was better than spinning my wheels on a feature I had convinced myself that I needed and wouldn't let go of, no matter what evidence was staring me in the face.

Even now, I have features I'm "on the fence" about. My "Revenge" system for example is one of those. I don't actually know if it will accomplish what I want it to. A proper playtest would require a near full-run of my game, and I don't have that much of my game designed. If it doesn't work, I have to remove it. If it can be tweaked in a minor way to make it give the proper response I'm looking for from my audience, I'll have to go back to all my Boss Monsters and make that tweak.

You have to go into Features and Content prepared to lose the ideas you had for them. Prepared to scrap them. This applies nowhere more prominently than "filler content".
 

RCXDan

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Okay this thread points out a lot of problems, but even so I can get through most of them IF and thats a big IF, they are JUSTIFABLE and told well!

I absoluteley detest stuff like, go get the magic sword and save the princess/ be a hero/ slay the demon lord... WHY!? Ah well you see, because a tree told me so, or a random npc that I know very little about told me I am the chosen one! (facepalm) and the worst thing about it is that they make you go and force you to watch those cutscenes where everyone tells you how amazing you are (even if you're like low level and haven't done jack nada) and even worse is that is usually the start of a long and arduous quest chain of bland (insert activities mentioned above) that by the time you get to meet interesting npc and cutscenes and amazing fights you are already spent out and feeling tired with the game.
I know it is hard to do slow beginnings (even mine aren't that very good), but I always try and do appreciate games that make you care about the tasks that you are doing, beyond the stuff like I need that gear or those levels to progress.
Good point but uh, this isn't a "general problems with RPGs" thread, this is a "filler you hate" thread, regardless of what people like Tai_MT or Heartless_angel are saying. I feel its largely irrelevant and just an excuse to bash the conventions of the genre in a place it's not necessary.

So unless your argument is how much padding the opening has then you've lost the plot.

On topic: I don't like fishing minigames no matter when they show up.
 
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bgillisp

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What you don't all want to read all of this in an intro?

In the year of blah the kingdom of blah was in a war with blah who was defeated by the blah with the power of blah, which has since been lost due to blah. Now it is the year blah and the evil blah is blahing again unless someone blahs it with the power of blah.
 

Tamina

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dark atmosphere

Edit: I also hate the branching ending,which what ending you got (good, neutral, bad ending) by choosing the choice.
Branching ending isn't bad if done well, it adds a bit of interaction to the story, and it makes the player feel like their decisions in game have weight.

Some games do have horrible design when it comes to branching endings. A bad example is Valkyrie Profile 1, the best ending is almost impossible to get without a guide, what's worse is that almost all the best part of the plot are in the best ending. So if you didn't get the best ending with a guide, you missed half of the important element of the plot

But branching endings in games like Deux Ex or Star Wars KOTOR makes a lot of sense. The ending reflects players personal beliefs in the game world. The game world in these games often change before player reach to the end based on player decisions. So having only 1 ending wouldn't make sense.

Another good example of branching story/ending is valkyrie profile covenant of the plume. You get different story path based on how many companions that you sacrificed. In different story path players get to experience the story from different sides. It adds a whole lot of depth to story telling this way. It also makes a lot of sense that different story path leads to a different end.
 
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Shikamon

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I remember one RPG, where the game ended with the hero travelling back in time to hopefully do better at saving the world this time. So, the game started again, same story and dialogue and everything (except the monster's stats were scaled up), until the very end, at which point some events were slightly changed (NPCs that didn't make it on the regular playthrough were saved etc.), but you still fought all the same bosses, except now, you had to defeat some twice in a row (because the cutscene showed you were defeated like in the regular playthrough, but then due to some magic you were revived and could now defeat the final boss properly).
OOT @Beregon : that makes me curious to play it, may I know the title or links?

Anyway, I don't mind any fillers as long it helps my game progress, and please no additional complex mechanic for fillers content. Fishing is fine with just a simple one but not with all type of fishing pole and baits, I mean you could make a new game from this. Or card game, but yeah kinda agree while it's interesting, as a developer you could use the time to create a good mechanic minigame to improve your core game mechanic.
Optional Side Quest always fine for me whether they related to the story or not as long make me too sidetracked ( I blame TES V for this ).
 

Tai_MT

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@RCXDan

I would just like to point you to the definition of "padding". It applies to each thing I've listed.


Padding
1. material, as cotton or straw, used to pad something.
2. something added unnecessarily or dishonestly, as verbiage to a speech or a false charge on an expense account.
3. the act of a person or thing that pads.

Please pay attention to definition 2 there.

Something. Added. Unnecessarily.

Does your game need 15 characters? No? Padding. Does your game need minigames? No. Padding. Etcetera. Etcetera.

I'm sorry you may not like that all those things are padding, but they are padding. If you're adding unnecessary features to your game or forcing the player to spend unnecessary time with it... You're padding your game. What I listed are ways in which I hate the way games are padded out and wish it would stop. It would make my gaming experiences far more enjoyable.
 

Beregon

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OOT @Beregon : that makes me curious to play it, may I know the title or links?

Anyway, I don't mind any fillers as long it helps my game progress, and please no additional complex mechanic for fillers content. Fishing is fine with just a simple one but not with all type of fishing pole and baits, I mean you could make a new game from this. Or card game, but yeah kinda agree while it's interesting, as a developer you could use the time to create a good mechanic minigame to improve your core game mechanic.
Optional Side Quest always fine for me whether they related to the story or not as long make me too sidetracked ( I blame TES V for this ).
It was a mobile RPG.

Zenonia 3: The Midgard Story. Zenonia 4 also had it.
 

Finnuval

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Anything and everything the moment it feels like filler to me.

And this can be literally anything... Due to bad implementation, bad execution, bad decision making by the dev, unbalanced gameplay, bad writing... The list is endless.

Any of these reasons and more can make any part of a game, be they padding or core to the mechanics or story feel like filler and when it does I hate it.

At the same time anything done right wont feel like filler (aka wont feel unnecessary) as it ads to my overall experience in a positive way.

And its not Just with games, it goes for all mediums.

Take books for instance:
Is there any story that really needs 1000 pages to tell it? Im gonna say no. However if written well and Balanced correctly any filler that is added enhances my experience and thus doesnt feel like filler and ill enjoy the read - anything that is badly written or unbalanced will feel like filler and will make the read a slog or simply bad.

Those are my two cents anyway, but as always, we are all wrong anyways xD (after all we are discussing opinions here, not unaminous facts).

EDIT: also, just to be clear. This is my personal opinion which i share cause the OP asked for it - this is not a debate or discussion to me so Im not gonna join in any of those xD
 

duty

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Got a few oddballs for you:

Redundant equipment slots. It's okay if there's a cosmetic aspect to it, but what's the point of equipping gloves, a hat, shoes, pants, etc. if they all do the same thing as armor, just to lesser degrees.

Large areas to explore, but nothing to interact with.

Random encounter battles.

Long attack or spell animations.
 

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