What mechanic or element would RPGs be better without?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Wavelength, Oct 31, 2017.

  1. jmike

    jmike Veteran Veteran

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    Disagree with you a bit there, though I'm not sure if I understood you completely. Feel free to clarify.

    Trophies/achievements for wrpgs or open world rpgs are what you just described. I don't have the platinum trophies for Mass Effect, Fallout or similar games because some of the achievements are given for following certain paths. If you want the platinum, you'll have to go through every path, try every build, and play with every possible build for a while just so you could get the achievements/trophies that ask you to cast enough magic and swing swords enough times in a game where it isn't logical for you to be building both in one playthrough. Or, as you said, force you to make all the best options and never fudge up a storyline choice just so you could get the good guy "best" ending achievement. Or worse, achievements for all the endings. Multiple save files exist, but it feels artificial to unlock multiple ending trophies/achievements in a 100 hour rpg through loading old saves. No real achievement in that.

    Given the more linear nature of jrpgs, their trophies/achievements are more of the true achievement nature. The gold trophies of the newer Final Fantasy games and the remasters were rewards for slaying the legendary superbosses. Bragging rights and proofs that you actually defeated the superbosses the casuals can only dream of reaching. Twenty years ago, your friend could say they beat Emerald Weapon and you'll never really know if they were lying or not. Not the case with trophies and achievements.

    In wrpgs, they do cheapen the experience, I agree with that. But in jrpgs, they're true achievements as they're testaments to your skill and/or dedication.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
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  2. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    I'm going to bash a lot on FFX, even though I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Honestly FFX probably did it the worst up to it's point (even it's sequel had a better multi-form final boss). It would be one thing if the final boss got incrementally harder, but you fight the insanely hard part right away, then about 5-8 trash mobs, then a boss so gimmicky that I can't even describe it. It doesn't make sense mechanically (it does narratively).
    I think Penance shows us exactly why HP sponges aren't actually what they want to be. Penance should be a long, difficult battle, or you can use the strategy of simply killing it in ten of Titus' turns (before anyone else takes an action). HP Sponge bosses aren't "slog through millions of HP" but "take advantage of everything so you win easily and quickly". At least it's an achievement when level 1 Cloud beats Ruby Weapon alone.
    It did come out of nowhere, but after watching the ending, I feel like it makes sense in an odd way. I'm not certain the ending could happen as it did without it.
    Honestly, after playing through again in the HD remake, it's the only Final Fantasy I've played that made me hate sidequests. Other than optional summons and a few legendary weapons, none of it is anywhere near worth it and it's an easy enough game that nothing is really gained from doing them.
    Faux-freedom is worse than being led along a story. I far prefer jrpgs because it's blatantly a story you are going along instead of the often wrpg "all paths lead one way".
    I'm honestly not sold on achievements. The biggest gripes I see about FFX is the lack of meaningful achievements. You don't need a trophy to know you beat a boss (and if your friends don't believe you, then that's an entirely unrelated problem of trust). And if you want to do something strange (low level challenge, beat final boss blind-folded, etc), streaming is so easy to do you can just record your achievements.
    I like achievements. But I don't know if they are necessary. Star Ocean 3 had a very simple pattern for every boss in the game; One achievement for not taking damage, one for beating it in under a minute. Those are fun to try to pull of (especially together), but it's not necessarily the way I want to play the game. Furthermore, I'd rather get a tangible reward for achievements (even something as silly as a costume change) than a fake one like a trophy.


    EDIT:
    I'm not saying all forms of grinding should go away whole scale, but grinding for the sake of hitting an unknown "correct" level is the dumbest idea I've ever seen. At least tell me the level I'm "supposed" to be to fight the upcoming boss so I can know if the grind is worth it and/or I want to make things easier on myself.
     
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  3. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    Yet again a thread in this section risks becoming a debate about one or more FF game rather then the actual topic at hand.

    Please guys, stay on topic.
     
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  4. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    @Kes My apologies, I wanted to point out that, even in a game I love, there are tons of things done terribly and Square should have learned by then to stop making those mistakes. As a simple example, the HP sponge in FF4 is hilarious because getting around his giant HP pool is the intention (he's not immune to his own Doom and has far too much HP to win by playing to his rules).

    Personal gripe; I've never seen an rpg done well that forces you to care about incremental/tiny bonuses. I don't think I ever want to play a game where you have to worry about the difference of 0.5% to dictate victory or failure. I've seen gamers get really into squeezing out a whole +5 to attack when your attack is in the 600's and telling me "Now I can kill this boss without trying!". I'm certain it's not a widely held opinion, but it just doesn't seem appealing.

    One strange thing I see sometimes is the "Wrong Genre Final Boss", where the boss is suddenly a different game altogether (such as if it's a SHMUP boss). I've never had this annoy me in a given game, but it sounds like it would be at it's worst in an rpg, where suddenly all your stats and everything you've been working for doesn't matter and the battle is hard for the wrong reasons. I guess this is sort of the Minigame issue taken to it's logical extreme...
     
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  5. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    Back read, I've seen so much hate towards leveling and grinding. I never have problem with those as one of my enjoyment of playing game is to able to reach high level. As long as the progress is quite natural. Like you're expected to reach certain level once you meet a boss if you (almost) never skip battles.

    What I hate from RPG usually some unnecessary mini game. Let it be a mini game to unlock / get a legendary item, or requirement to pass a certain stage. I'd rather to pass the legendary item, or open a walkthrough if it's a requirement to pass.

    I'm not fond of crafting generally, usually it because material grinding take time, and doesn't feel rewarding at all. I usually skip all crafting stuff all together. But exception can be made for Fallout 4. They did a good job bringing me to like crafting in RPG. One of the reason is i'm able to track important material while exploring the world
     
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  6. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @TheoAllen : Agreed. I've never had a problem with grinding either. It's a ROLE playing game, and you're supposed to be able to improve your role over time. In fact, if you remove any ability to improve your character at all, most people would no longer classify it as an RPG, but as an adventure game instead.

    Plus, any time I see someone try to cut all grinding from an RPG, the game flops, or is too easy as they are making it so that you can still win the game at your starting level. Remember, your perfectly set up system where everyone gets all the EXP they need naturally via the natural battles is someone else's it is leveling up too slow and someone else's it levels up too fast.

    Now, excessive grinding, that needs to go away. If I'm destroying all the regular enemies in a zone blindfolded by throwing rotten apples at them in 5.2 seconds, but I can't still defeat your boss, that is what I think needs to go away.
     
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  7. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    I just remembered one thing. Adding to that grinding and leveling system. Level cap needs to go away. Once i hits level cap in some games, I began to lost interest to the game. Like, why even I need to battle these enemies if I won't get reward (EXP) anyway? What did I do? I skipped all those battles, avoid all enemies as much as possible, rushed to the ending, never bother to replay the game again especially if I know I could hit the level cap quite easy.

    Yeah, you could say that overgrinding might bring you to be quite overpowered. But instead of throwing the leveling and grinding all together, why not come up with more challenging enemies? No, I don't mean by enemy level scaling, that sucks. But instead, stronger enemies began to appear as you progress your level.

    If an RPG does not have EXP and Leveling system, i'd rather to play battle arena action games like Unreal Tournament, or the one with stage based like Strike Suit Zero or something similar. But those games does not usually last long in my playthrough compared to RPG with leveling system.
     
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  8. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @TheoAllen : Limits on computers will force SOME sort of level cap, just due to limits on how large a number you can represent by bits. But I somehow think you're not talking about issues with hitting level 255 because the dev used 8 bits to represent their level...

    But I see what you mean. If you hit the level cap too early, there is no point to the battles. I tried to play a game that gave no EXP from battles, you just leveled at fixed points. And honestly, I didn't care for it. I saw zero point to doing the random battles anymore, so I just spammed escape every time I got one, as the reward for winning the battle did not exceed the cost to do the battle.
     
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  9. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    Though, my actual point is, how long u play, as long as it's long enough time to play and you haven't hit the cap, yet, finished the game, it's good to go :p
     
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  10. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    I've seen a few games where the "soft" level cap is somewhere around 80-95 (the highest level you are likely to get) and the hard cap of 255. 160 level difference is pretty hard to hit. I also played a game where the level cap was 255, but it was literally there just to make it so you couldn't overlevel the "superboss" (considering that playing through the game could be done easily with an end level of 150 and it wasn't hard to hit the cap if you continued the post game content to the superboss). Since that fight (and no other fight) was supposed to be cruelly difficult, things like level caps were put in only for it. I don't have a problem with leveling, and with optional grinding (such as Bravely Default, turning off EXP, and grinding jobs because I want certain abilities).
    However, this I hate. I don't have to grind to get better equipment, or to get jp, or to get difficult optional content (Super Paper Mario's 100 floors dungeon). Those are all choices for me to make. But if I'm going through a dungeon and get to the boss and I have to now grind to get to a certain level, that's just padding. And it's far worse if you don't tell me what level that is.

    But, that form of grinding just falls under padding. Don't pad your game. No one likes it.
     
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  11. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @kirbwarrior : That reminds me of the two Star Ocean games I played. In both, you were likely to hit somewhere between 70 - 80th level in the plot, but the level cap was 255. But, only players who did the optional dungeon which opened up at the end after you won the game would even come close to hitting that. And I don't recall hearing many complain about grinding in either of those games due to how it is set up.
     
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  12. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    Actually, it was Star Ocean 3 I was thinking of. And wow that games needs grinding. At least near the end; One boss basically requires you to be level 50 to beat, and yet the next boss two rooms away was suicide at level 60. I was fine with grinding my level one character up to my level (A friend told me how to get her without me knowing she existed because she knew I'd like her), but that was grinding I chose to do. I had a party already set up. But having to grind 15-20 levels in the span of two rooms? I wasn't the one to beat that game.
     
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  13. Mr.Chris

    Mr.Chris Veteran Veteran

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    My Biggest pet peeve is with vocabulary and story.

    I don't want to be told how important a person is or how they need to get this item or go to this place etc.

    I believe Rpg games could create much better engaging stories by SIMPLIFYING the story. And create engagement around the events rather than the plot.

    For example what's a more engaging premise?

    Example 1:

    The king of Tusao kidnapped your friend, Luss, because of an ancient evil curse. and you must figure out how to break the curse and get your friend back.

    (Sounds simple at first. But this premise actually opens way more questions than anything. Who is Tusao? Why is he the King? King of what exactly? Why am I friends with someone who's cursed? Why is he cursed? The curse is ancient? Why does the King want your cursed friend? Look at how many questions are raised just because of the confusing premise. Those questions do not add any mystery or intrigue to the game. This confusing premise simply acts as a barrier to people who otherwise MIGHT enjoy your game, turned off because the story doesn't make any sense.) if a story doesn't make sense, it does NOT make you want to find out more. It naturally makes you frustrated and makes you want to engage in a different game completely. A game where you can actually understand the characters and story. Most people will forever choose a simple yet understandable game over a complicated one they don't understand.

    Example 2:

    You and your sister go out hiking, she accidentally slips and slides down the mountain. She falls and hurts herself badly. You tell her to stay put and leave to get help. You come back and she's gone. Now it's up to you to find her. That's all you need to start a game.

    It's a very simple premise yet it's relatable. We can all relate to losing something or someone. We can also relate to hiking since most players have actually been on a mountain before. It's easy to relate to. Which is the key for hooking people into any kind of story. It must start simple and relatable. Otherwise it's just bad storytelling.

    Complicated stories have a tendency to be hard to emphasize with. And if you don't understand the story, it's impossible to care about it.

    I don't want to learn the name of your characters or your cities or ANYTHING until I am hooked into your story. Why should I bother to memorize how important Kalos Village or any other made up city name is when nothing interesting has happened there. Show me the town before you tell me the name of the town or anything about the town.

    I don't want to learn your world map or memorize vocab words until you've hooked me with the story. Unfortunately a lot of game designers think that giving you a lot of lore and background info is same as story. Sorry it's not. Learning background info on a character is not a story. It's not interesting. And it's not character development.

    It's so annoying when you boot up a Rpg game and they just start throwing all this vocab and lingo at you that has no context whatsoever. You are told about everything and the story doesn't even begin to make sense until a couple hours into the game.

    RPG games should show their story as much as possible as opposed to text telling their story. If a character is in a dangerous place, change the music, change the lighting, etc. show me what's happening. Show me the story! Do not tell me about it.

    And if you want to tell a really complicated game filled with lots of lore then sweet do it! But don't start the game off expecting me to care as much about the story as you the game designer. You need to start slow and simple. Look at Ocarina of Time. Yes it has a villain and princess and what not. But it starts in a small village just throwing rocks around. Start simple. And don't expect the player to start memorizing stuff right off the bat. Because they won't.

    In the beginning of a game all we need to know is how not to die and where to go next. Teach us simple mechanics. And let the game mechanics lead the story. And as we continue to play then start to slowly tell us new stuff about the places we've been to or the enemies we have been fighting. I will care a lot more about what you say about your made up village AFTER I have explored it as opposed to before. Let me meet and interact with an NPC before you tell me about them.

    Basically I just want RPG game developers to pay more attention to the head space of players. Don't expect me to learn all this stuff about your game when nothing in your game has happened. Hook me into the beginning of your story and I might start learning your world map... maybe.
     
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  14. trouble time

    trouble time Victorious Veteran

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    Honestly, I know you meant it to be rhetorical but...the second premise honestly sounds boring. The real question is why do I care, in the first one, I get set up to kill a king, that's a lot more fun than searching for some girl I don't care about (sure she's the character's sister but why do I care.)

    EDIT:BTW I got a mechanic that has GOT to go, and that in class based RPGs sections where you're practically forced to use a specific class. I'm not a huge fan of class systems because you have to generalize your challenges so that they can be faced by a wide variety of different class setups, but I do have fun making my own party, I hate being forced into a box in these games.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
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  15. Mr.Chris

    Mr.Chris Veteran Veteran

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    Saving your sister sounds boring? Really? Give me a break.

    Maybe your sister got captured by an evil King. Maybe the story gets a sheep load better and just starts out simple. Maybe you discover that your sister is actually believed to be a princess by a mad king and that's why she was kidnapped. You could go anywhere with that story. Just because a story starts simple doesn't make the story simple as a whole. In fact I think the best video games start with a simple premise and evolve into something much much deeper.
     
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  16. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    The reason it sounds boring is because it assumes the audience can immediately "identify" with the plot. "Oh no, my sister was kidnapped! Now I'm invested!" Frequently, this isn't how gaming works. As such, "game starts with someone you know being kidnapped" has become fairly cliché. Personally, I can't care about a character I only just met. Oh, my mother died. Well, maybe if I knew her longer than five minutes, I'd care. Maybe if the narrative had spent some time letting me get to know her, I'd care. How can a person care about a character they barely know? A character they've barely spent any time with?

    As such, storylines that start with, "I need to save X person" really annoy me and I kind of wish they'd go. I'm tired of saving the princess from the world-ending omnipotent evil badguy. Unless your twist is going to be that you're really the evil genocidal maniac who kidnapped your sister, but you can't remember 'cause you've got Split Personality Disorder... I'm going to be bored, no matter where you take such a story. You're essentially going to need an Expectation Shattering plotline to make any typical cliché plot interesting.

    See, Telltale does this kind of nonsense frequently and it annoys me. "Oh, you have to take care of Clem now, isn't she just so adorable? Don't you just love and care about her?" No. I don't. She's a cardboard cutout shaped like a child for the mentally weak to latch onto and care about, because they lack critical thinking skills and will latch onto anything vaguely resembling a precocious child. I found her to be an annoying Mary Sue that I kept wishing I could feed to zombies. This comes from a guy who doesn't have kids of his own, but loves kids anyway. I enjoy being an uncle, and a God Father to my friends' two kids. They're adorable and fun, and I love to spoil them and give them gifts. But Clem? I want her to die in a fire. We get other games in the Telltale series where we're meant to care about characters we're just introduced to. "Oh, these are your friends". Are they now? Why? They seem annoying as balls to me, why is my character friends with them?

    Dragon Age Origins has this same problem. "Oh, this is your sister". I... really don't care about her. Why can't I just tell her to shut up, do her job, and then I can rise through the ranks of the Dwarven Cartel? THAT sounds like fun! "This is your best friend, and they were cursed by an Eluvian". Yawn. Why can't I stab him? He's been nothing but dead weight the whole time. Why am I even friends with this guy? Just 'cause we're Elves?

    You know who I cared about in Dragon Age Origins? I actually cared about the woman I got to bed in the early game as a Human Noble. Her getting murdered at the door ACTUALLY made me angry. Of course, I had time to get to know her. I got to flirt with her, talk a bit, invite her back to my room. I got to know more of her personality when she woke up... and as I was starting to like her company... BAM, she's dead. That made me care.

    I tire of RPGs that use common clichés and the whole "This character exists to make you feel things" nonsense.

    I tire of "Someone close to you dies" as the impetus for an RPG. Or "Someone close to you goes missing/is kidnapped". If you want me to care, you know the easiest way to make me care? Have a badguy steal stuff from my inventory. I will care at that point. I'll want him dead for taking stuff from me. This even works in D&D. Can't get your players to go along with you on a story you want to tell? Steal something from them. Doesn't matter what. Steal 5 silver from someone. Now, it's on. Your players are now HEAVILY invested into what's going on, 'cause someone had the audacity to mess with them PERSONALLY.

    Which is, basically how I approached my own game. I knew I couldn't get a player to care about a best friend in game they'd only interacted with 2 minutes ago. I knew I couldn't get a player to care about a wife and children they'd only ever been told about up to this point. But, I knew that if I left the choice of which to murder up to the player... Well, it becomes very personal. Making the player an accomplice to tragedies and horrific crimes, makes the player care about what's going on.

    You make players care by getting them involved. Giving them stakes. Personal stakes. Not artificial stakes. Not, "Oh, this is your mom, protect her". Any player just introduced to their mom like this isn't going to care. They're going to be bored.

    If you want "your sister is hurt and then kidnapped!" to hold any weight for a player at all and not be boring, you need to tweak the situation, or let the player spend a lot of time getting to know the character and enjoying the character's presence, in order to care and be intrigued.

    For example. Make your sister the "Dedicated Healer" of the party. Spend a couple hours adventuring with her, having conversations, joking around, maybe making choices with her. Then, suddenly, she gets hurt. You go get help, 'cause her magic isn't working for some reason. You come back... She's gone. There's signs of a struggle. There's a dead guard wearing the armor of The Empire nearby. You find orders on the guard that tell them to follow you both and wait for an opening. Maybe, you even find evidence that the Guards are the one who set it up so you'd fall down the hill. The road was sabotaged! So, you know who has your sister... your Dedicated Healer... the only other character you've spent a lot of time interacting with and getting to know. And now... you want her back.

    That's how you make your "simplistic" example interesting to a player.

    If all a player needs to go adventuring is an excuse, then yeah, a paper thin cliché like, "your sister is kidnapped" will work just fine. But, for someone who wants a story... It's boring. You start with a simple premise and then layer stuff on top of it.
     
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  17. Frogboy

    Frogboy I'm not weak to fire Veteran

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    I'm going to speak up in defense of the poor and misunderstood trash mobs. If balanced properly, which is key for just about every aspect an RPG, trash mobs are there to drain your resources as you work your way through a "dungeon". The bad design decision that's been mentioned is giving the player too much healing which makes the trash mobs irrelevant. The needed fix isn't to remove the weak encounters but to balance the amount of healing available. Unless you're more powerful than you naturally should be at that point in the game, you should be starting to get worried before you reach the boss. If you are under leveled, you should be virtually tapped out by that time and praying for a miracle. Taking some wrong turns or facing some tougher encounters while going after loot also play into where your resources should be when you reach the end of a dungeon.
     
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  18. Mr.Chris

    Mr.Chris Veteran Veteran

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    I feel like you just explained in detail EXACTLY what my post was about. I don't find one thing to disagree with.

    I'm not saying the reason you care is simply because she is your sister. Nor did I say that you don't interact with her prior to her kidnapping. In fact I am saying the opposite, I'm saying that developers need to SHOW rather than tell. It doesn't have to be your sister it can be any character. I only mentioned "sister" to simply show it doesn't have to be a super duper ultra badass character like a princess, or wizard or whatever. You can have a bad ass story and cool characters even if it's just you and your sister on a mountain. It depends on the execution of the story more than anything else.

    Every story is a cliche. In fact look at movies. They are simply the re-telling of the same story over and over again. Like Avatar and Poccohantus it's the exact same sheep. Avatar didn't make billions by accident. It's one of the most cliche stories ever. and that's actually why it worked so well. Because people could understand the story and put the rest of their attention into the visuals. Cliche stories are not a problem by themselves. They just need to be modified in a way that they don't FEEL cliche.
     
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  19. trouble time

    trouble time Victorious Veteran

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    You didn't say ant of who captured the sister, my goal inst clear, she could just be dead and then there's an anti-climax, she wasn't given a name so meta-textually she seems like a plot device not a character, and the story started with a stupid decision to leave her. Its also no more simple than the other opening, its just smaller scale without a clear goal and the hook comes after a paragraph of stuff. I didn't say anything about a simple opening being bad, i just said the second one looks dry and boring, and if a story starts bad then it wont be good. There's no story I've ever encountered with a bad opening that got better.

    EDIT: To put it in perspective the first opening is perfectly simple but it also has an actual hook. Here's what I know from it, my friend was kidnapped and is cursed and I need to rescue them. I don't need to know what the curse is yet, just that it needs to be broken. I know that there's an evil king and i'm likely to come into contact with him. I've got an idea of the things I'm going to be doing. The second I know I have a sister and now she's gone. I've got no idea of what I'm going to be doing because there's no path ahead, and I had to start by making a terrible decision to leave a wounded person behind so I get the impression my character isn't actually all that capable. My second beef is that 90% of the questions you asked about the first opening are really reaching and irrelevant, the player doesn't need to know any of it at that stage.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
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  20. Mr.Chris

    Mr.Chris Veteran Veteran

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    It's not a story outline it's just the initial setup. I think you are focusing way too much on the "sister" part. It could be anyone. I just used that as an example. My point is the execution of the game.

    How is a fictional king any more interesting than your sister vanishing? How is one better than the other? I'm honestly curious why you think my first example is more interesting than the second. To me it depends on the actual execution that would make example 1 or example 2 better. I don't know how you could decide just based on that

    My initial point was that just because people use fancy titles like Kings and Lords and other vocab doesn't mean I have to care either. Like you were saying, just because the game says she's my family member doesn't mean I care or feel anything. I'm saying the same thing. that just because you say this place is important or this person is important and you need to find this item etc. whatever doesn't mean I care either. The game needs to actually make me feel it. Not just tell me about it. I feel like we are saying the same thing.
     
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