Your breaking point in a game

10kk

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I'm curious what your 'last straws' are that make you quit a game, and if there's any general advice that any game designer should take into account for solving these unforseen pitfalls.

For example. When I am bombarded with way too many story characters in a short timeframe, my brain shuts off and I don't want to deal with trying to memorize all the faces and lore. My advice is consolidating two characters into one, making them more special and less numerous.
 

Matseb2611

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Yeah, I can certainly list some of my breaking points:

- Overly steep learning curve, particularly when too many game mechanics are being introduced at once rather than gradually.
- Difficult and un-intuitive control scheme (though this shouldn't be a problem for RM games as they mostly only use a few keys to play)
- No action and no conflict happening in the first 10-15 min to set the plot going. I need to know what's at stake and why I should care.
- Too much grinding and sharp difficulty spikes.
- The plot is too cliche and typical of most RPGs, e.g. you're some underdog living in a small village, fighting rats or slimes, then you have to find some magical crystal to save the world from an evil overlord, yada yada. I can tolerate some cliches, but if the entire plot is similar to 500 other RPGs I've played, then it just bores me.
- Main character being an extreme jerk or exhibiting some very unlikeable character traits that make me unable to relate to them and hence break the immersion.
- Too much empty dialogue that doesn't further the plot or character development and rather just characters wasting time repeating themselves.
- Too many backstory dumps in the early stages.
- Unfriendly UI, especially if there's too much text on the screen.
- Too open and unfocused from the get go. I can enjoy exploring the world on my own and having a tonne of sidequests to do, but only if that happens in latter stages of the game, once I'm already invested in the game's world, story, and characters. Doing this right at the start is too overwhelming and I lose interest, because I've not yet become emotionally invested in the game.
- Too many bugs, crashes, or other serious issues.
- Lack of direction and not being given enough clues as to where to go next and what to do. I don't enjoy having to resort to a walkthrough every 5 minutes.
 

S.E.L.E.C.T.

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I would say a common breaking point for people in games would be if the challenge in the game is to difficult since their are more players that like easy methods of doing things. Personally I love very difficult games that are often depressing but games that don't have many things to fetch and gather can also be a 'breaking' point since players would be getting the same items most of the time.
 

DragonRunner

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Well, I'm the worst person to answer this, but here goes!

One of my friends (actually, a lot of them!) got annoyed when a dungeon went on far too long for what seemed to be very little reward. [Context: 100-floor dungeon-experiment for... nothing.]

So, my advice would be this: When you're making a dungeon, take into account what the payoff for completing the dungeon would be.
If it's a simple item for a side-quest, only go a few floors at most.
But if it's a legendary story item, then it's easier to justify more floors.
And if you're thinking of post-game... limits suddenly become less blurred...

... *cough* Anyway, yeah. Take the balance between length and payoff into account with dungeon design.
 

mlogan

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One that makes it hard for me to push through is long cutscenes at the beginning. I want control of the character within the first couple of minutes of the game. Let me explore the world a bit and get my bearings before going into 10 minutes of backstory.
 

Verdelite

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You must love ASoIaF/Game of Thrones ^^;;
I agree with you, though. I feel like in many games the devs seem to stuff in characters just for the sake of it and it's a big turnoff for me too because it feels like they didn't put much thought into it. However, I don't mind too many characters if they actually serve a purpose (like in ASOIAF/GOT).

I think my breaking point is somewhat similar to yours but mostly restricted to the beginning of the game. I really dislike being bombarded with tons of information on lore/setting at the beginning of the game because I don't really care at that point and just want to get into the story. Since RPGs are most often of the Fantasy genre, the setting is often very detailed and thought out. I understand that the dev would like to share this really cool world with the player as soon as possible but if I have to wade through the history of the world before I've even really decided that I want to get invested in this world and that I probably won't remember anyway, I'm not going to want to play it. Just let the player slowly learn about the lore during the game; it's much more fun that way!

This kind of infodumping can also work though, as it does f.e. in Tales of Symphonia. In that case it worked imo because it later turns out that
what is considered to be the world's lore isn't actually true, so they had to introduce the "fake lore" to the player as quickly as possible in order to hint that the "true lore" is different.
 

cabfe

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- Unbalanced combat and/or too many of them.
- Save points, especially if they are scarce.
- Too many spelling errors. I'm a reader, so if the texts make my eyes bleed, I cannot continue.
- Very bad mapping, but I'm tolerant to a few bad made maps here and there. However, consistent errors often come together with a generally badly designed game, so there's almost no chance I'm losing much by quitting early.
 

Arisa

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When it becomes overly stoopid and the characters become bland. :p
 

bgillisp

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I usually can make it to the end, but there are a few things that will cause me to quit and/or lower the difficulty to the easiest possible just to see the ending because I don't care anymore:

-When the game constantly cheats the system. Hard I don't mind but at least play by some rules that the player can understand. Sports games are bad at this, though RPG's can do this as well. For example I recently played a dungeon crawler that had a skill called kick, which interrupts the enemies skill that they are trying to cast. However, after the 2nd boss, it never worked on any skill that I'd care about interrupting. Lighting whirlwind of Doom? Kick...what do you mean you can't interrupt this skill?

-Too big a difficulty spike between the random encounters and the boss of the same zone. I feel that if I can beat your random encounters in no time at all just mashing attack (or not even trying) I should be able to beat your boss. However, WAY too many games fail at this. Example: Tales of Xilla 2. I was level 27 in a zone and all random fights were over in 20 seconds or less...on autobattle. But, I go to fight the boss...nope, we didn't even have a chance. As it is I had to grind 5 levels to win that battle. Sure, I know you want your bosses to feel epic and dangerous, but make sure the player has been trained for them first? Otherwise, you just forced them to either grind to ridiculous levels, or read your mind to figure out how to beat them (I'm looking at you, Yunalesca boss designer for FFX)

-When the game feels like someone just put all the ideas they had into a blender and hit blend, and did what came out, which can result in the most random game ever. Now, admittedly, when I was 12 I made a game (on DOS) that was kinda like that. But...I was 12, and I knew it stunk (and then aliens invaded!). These devs have no excuse.
 

Caitlin

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Hmm, for me, the last straw is usually when I am really upset and I pretty much quit. Otherwise, under normally situations I don't do that, but let me tell you when it did happen. 1. Tales of Vesperia - I loved the characters, loved the system, but when a certain path started to develop that I wasn't too thrilled about. Yuri joined a guild, instead of giving some sort of choice. First of all, I didn't like the GUILDS, didn't want him to join and I think there were other things that I wasn't so thrilled about, only can't remember. I QUIT.

2. Final Fantasy XIII - I love Final Fantasy, still do, but the current Final Fantasy games are pretty boring, merely retelling the same stories over and over with different characters. I quit, Final Fantasy XIII and re-examined each Final Fantasy (what I liked and disliked, because of Final Fantasy XIII, only to discover that previous games that I thought I liked I really didn't like). Why did I quit? First of all, I never left the tutorial, long hallway passages, the same cutscene over and over, characters I hated (I really wanted to curb kick Vanille something fierce) and words that made NO sense even when you considered "JAPANESE".. The Battle system (Commander guy battle system, it wasn't very immersive at all) You kept jumping around from character to character, and as I said, I didn't get out of the tutorial. (._.') Wow! I just don't dislike Final Fantasy XIII, but I absolutely LOATHE it!

Anyway, those are the two games that had the last straw, actually the last straw for Final Fantasy XIII is when I kept falling asleep while trying to play it. My brain, this is so boring that I think you're in bed getting ready to go to sleep.
 

Tai_MT

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Breaking point in games? Eh... This is probably going to vary between genres.

MMOs
*If I have to spend time grinding to obtain something in your game. And I mean, an unreasonable amount of time. If the drop rate for this piece of endgame gear is like 5% and I need to gather a group together to do a 40 minute battle to get a chance at rolling for it? Blankity Blank you, your game isn't that fun to begin with, I'm not grinding for this nonsense. I'm just going to cancel my subscription and move on to a game that RESPECTS MY TIME.
*Having to run my skillbar. I'm sorry, but if your skills are so needlessly pointless that I've got several dozen of them on a cooldown skillbar timer thing that requires a macro to use... I'm done with your game. Each skill should be unique and TACTICAL. Skills should not just be, "the normal course of combat". Each skill should have a unique ability that is useful in some way, in some situation, and it should be up to me to decide when to use them, and not to decide to program a macro for optimal use of running every single skill on the bar in the most optimal fashion. I prefer tighter and more skill based combat mechanics. Not braindead moron mechanics.
*Quests that ask me to kill lots of an enemy for a drop... or just in general. This is lazy. If you can't be bothered to produce content for your game, I can't be bothered to play your game.
*DLC that cuts me off from playing with my friends. Not a lot of PC MMOs do this, but a couple that I've played on console (Destiny, I'm looking at you!) do and it is frustrating. I should always be able to play with my friends, even if they do not have the same DLC I do. Make them get a compatibility patch and lets move on with our day. Seriously. There's no reason to cut me off from access to playing with my friends except as a means to be greedy jerks.
*Worthless crafting recipes. Okay, I get it that everyone is going to want to craft. As such, all the early to mid-game stuff is going to flood the marketplace. But, why not provide incentive to players to buy this gear? Maybe as a means of powering up the better gear by consuming the low level gear? You should have some kind of method of making early gear in the game worthwhile to players, especially if they'll be crafting a crapload of it. This means, you need to have a way to make your beginner gear... valuable in some capacity. Lots of ways to do this, but no MMO has done it to my knowledge.

FPS
*Online without dedicated servers. I'm sorry, but I'm tired of being one-shot killed because it took a moment for my PC or my Console to catch up to what the game said the enemy did to me. This feels very unfair and doesn't make me want to play your game.
*Bullet Magnetism. I realize this is a necessary evil and it exists across all platforms (yep, even on PC), but it needs to be dialed back as much as possible. Getting shot around corners and through objects when bullet penetration does not exist is extremely frustrating and outright stupid. It's also massively unfair.
*Bullet Sponge enemies/bosses. I'm sorry, but enemies should die in a reasonable amount of gunfire. Even on the hardest of difficulties. Difficulty shouldn't give enemies more health/more damage. It should make them SMARTER. Or... MORE NUMEROUS. In any case, emptying 2 clips into any enemy in unacceptable. Unless it's a heavily armored boss or something reasonable... Like a Tank or Helicopter while I have an Assault Rifle. But, it should still be within reason. Emptying two clips of assault rifle ammo into an enemy and FINALLY getting the kill isn't fun. It makes me hate your game.
*AI that's too accurate. I'm sorry, but if your AI has 100% perfect accuracy... or even 90% accuracy... This is unfair. Why? Because they've got better awareness than any player and they've got better sightlines/cover than you do most of the time. If I take two or three hits every single time I poke out of cover, you're doing it wrong. If they're so accurate to pin me down like that, then you should have also programmed in enemies to flank me while I'm pinned down. Otherwise, it's a reverse shooting gallery and it's NOT FUN.

RTS/TBS
*AI that has to cheat to be a challenge. I'm sorry, but if you have to have your AI programmed with advantages (yes, I know, you have to program AI with limitations as its default is just to cheat in any game, ever, since it knows everything) to be a challenge... Then you're doing it wrong (looking at you, StarCraft 2 and Civ 4!). AI should be teaching me things I didn't know about the game, not steamrolling me with the same noob tactics I'm using just because it started with a larger advantage than I did.
*Timed missions. I'm sorry, but if you have to put a timer on your RTS/TBS system... You're doing it wrong. If I have to be smart and strategic, it shouldn't rely on me also being quick. I can make quick and rash decisions to find the right solution, or you can give me enough time to figure out what's going on and react accordingly. Do not try to do both. You will frustrate me.

RPG
*Boring story. Cliché story. If I've seen your story before, and you're doing nothing new with it... I have no interest in playing it. Big bad is going to blow up the world! Seen it. Done it. Sold the T-Shirts at a Garage Sale. For the love of God, if you're going to make an RPG, do something INTERESTING with it.
*Minigames. I'm sorry, but why are you programming a game within a game? Are you telling me that your original game is so boring and annoying that you want me to play this other game you designed within it... instead? Yep, looking at every Final Fantasy game ever created. If you want to make minigames, just make minigames and don't make RPGs. Mario Party does this well, and I don't see many following that trend. I have no use for Chocobo Racing while I'm trying to save the world from Sin. Seriously.
*Crafting. This is either too limiting or too extensive with too much grinding involved. If your game REQUIRES I do crafting just to stay "on the bleeding edge of advantage", then I'm done. I don't want to grind monsters. I don't want to experiment with limited supplies of items. I don't want to play around with a half-baked idea that someone included just because "it's cool". You want a good crafting system? Fallout New Vegas. That's how you make one. End of story. Everything you craft is useful and optional. If you want me to craft my own weapons or whatever, then you need to give me access to all crafting materials at the start of the game and NOT GATE MY PROGRESSION. Otherwise, I'll craft only at the end of the game when I've got useful materials/blueprints and ignore your system for the entire rest of the game. Seriously, crafting systems are just bad design 99% of the time when implemented. They make me not want to play an RPG they're in.
*Grind. I don't like enforced grind. If you let me grind myself, I'll do it myself for something I want. If you're going to force me to grind to beat an enemy, a boss, or just to complete a quest by getting enough Rat Tails... I'm done. Grind isn't fun. Grind is something players engage in to obtain an advantage. It's about efficiency. Efficiency isn't fun. Never has been. Never will be.
*Combat systems where the most effective thing to do in combat is just to mash "Attack". I find it boring. May as well put a setting in the options menu that says, "Auto-Win". I'll enable it and move through your game in the same fashion. I prefer challenge... or at the very least some tactics, if you're going to include combat in an RPG.
*Useless Skills/States. Oh, you gave me a state that inflicts Death? Too bad it doesn't work on anything except minions I can kill in one shot without it. Thanks for adding pointless crap to your RPG. Oh, I learned Fira when I had Fire? Why not just upgrade my Fire spell to Fira and cut down on slots I'm using? I'm only ever going to use Fire when I'm out of MP to use Fira. Why? Because Fira kills everything in one hit. Fire sometimes kills in one hit. Why would I waste time casting a low level skill when the high level skill is more effective?

All Games
*Bad tutorials. I'm sorry, but if you've got things that require precise timing or work under limited circumstances... Put that in your tutorial. I don't need a tutorial to tell me my right joystick looks around and my left one moves me. I don't need to know that clicking my left mouse button shoots my gun. I don't need to know that pressing Enter opens my inventory. I do need to know how to freakin' dodge, parry, chain my magic, use your hacking system, use your persuasion system, how to craft, etcetera. A tutorial on controls is silly, unless you've got a LOT of controls (like Dwarf Fortress). Give me a tutorial on how your systems work, so long as they're not able for me to be figured out in about 5 minutes. Teach me the nuances. Not the basics. Unless your basics are so convoluted that nobody would ever figure them out on their own. Then, teach me your basics. Also, stop judging my "recommended difficulty" based on how I did in your tutorial. Your tutorial should provide enough information to me that I should be able to "Ace" it and be able to play on the highest difficulty right out of the gate. If it doesn't provide enough information to let me play on the highest difficulty the game has on my first playthrough... it's a crap tutorial and you're a crap dev. If I run your tutorial and it stomps me and then says, "oh, you need to be playing on Super Noobie Beginner", then I'm done with your game. Your tutorial should at least be able to get me to the "Playing on Normal" difficulty. It should include everything that would help me on "The Hardest Difficulty" as well, so that I could manage the recommendation if I kept at it. The "noobie" difficulty should be reserved only for people who have never touched any video game in their lives before.
 

gstv87

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Discovering that the enemies/environment is set to parameters as a factor of the player's strength.
As you progress through the game, the enemies are always [your strength] + X..... so, there's no point on improving yourself, at all.
That is probably the laziest design fail ever.

Suffered that in NFS Undercover
I had the same car as the police, with the same speed, and the same improvements, plus, extra customizations.
The police outran me at every turn.... every race was a run for anyone's money.
Several times, I busted my tires.... the police, who had absolutely no trouble, or limitation, to encircle me three times over, they kept *chasing me* as they were programmed to do.
They were never programmed to *catch*, only to *chase*..... slowly.... behind my busted car..... which couldn't make 60kph..... against top-gear police cars capable of 300kph..... :/
 

Milennin

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I'm going to keep this limited to RPG Maker games for things that'll make me quit the game right away:

-When the intro of the game consists of a slow text scroll going over the history of the world and all sorts of things I stop reading about, followed by seemingly never-ending cutscenes before I finally get to play.
-When it takes like 30 minutes to finally get to the meat of the game, because everything before that is an interactive introduction to all the story and characters.
-When the protagonist's actions make no sense in the situation they're in or to the kind of character they're presented as, and nothing they do gets explained.
-When auto-dash is disabled for whatever reason and all the maps are the size of a continent.
-Maze maps that put no rewards in dead-ends. Also, maze maps that have zero points of recognition and are just the same walls and floor tiles over the entire area.
-When the dialogue is drier than the 10-year old paint on my walls.
-On the other hand, it's also grating when everything is treated like a joke, and it's especially bad if there are constantly jokes that break the 4th wall. Learn some inbetweening.
-When the humour in the game is reliant on referencing stuff from pop culture or internet memes.
-When the game has an overly long tutorial, introducing way too much at once and expects me to remember everything from the start. Or when the game introduces all sorts of features in an early tutorial, but then they aren't relevant to me until much later into the game.
-When I open the status screen, and all I see are the default heroes with default stats and default equipment.
-When I go into my first battle, and my character's skill list is either empty or has the default skills.
-When I get into battle against 3+ enemies with my one guy, and I can only attack one at a time, and they take multiple hits to kill, and these are the regular encounters in an area in which they pop up every few steps.
-When there's a "difficult" boss fight I fail on in a game that doesn't let me save anywhere, and puts their checkpoints really far away.
-When the game is difficult only because it hides important information from me as player, and I'm supposed to find out what things do by trying out stuff and hoping that it somehow works out.
-When the game expects me to trial-and-error weakness exploits on monsters just to find a way to effectively kill them, simultaneously draining my resources and wasting my time.
-When the game expects me to grind monsters for exp or gold just to be able to keep up.
-When there's a puzzle to be solved, but random battle encounters keep interrupting me.
-When there's an instant fail/death scenario that you magically had to know about to not run into.
 
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Sharm

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  • Those long boring intros. They were never a good choice and by now everyone should know better.
  • A mini game that's only in one spot, requiring real world skills I shouldn't need to have to play an RPG, and needs to be done to progress in the game. Example: a bullet hell shooter boss when every other battle is a simple attack to win.
  • When the plot requires you to do something stupid and harmful and helping the villain to move forward. Especially when it's a whole series of stupid choices and you see the problem right away.
  • Leveling up levels all the monsters/bosses too. If I want to grind a bit to easily curb stomp a boss, let me. Otherwise don't have levels!
  • Out of the blue rating shift.
 

10kk

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  • Those long boring intros. They were never a good choice and by now everyone should know better.
  • A mini game that's only in one spot, requiring real world skills I shouldn't need to have to play an RPG, and needs to be done to progress in the game. Example: a bullet hell shooter boss when every other battle is a simple attack to win.
  • When the plot requires you to do something stupid and harmful and helping the villain to move forward. Especially when it's a whole series of stupid choices and you see the problem right away.
  • Leveling up levels all the monsters/bosses too. If I want to grind a bit to easily curb stomp a boss, let me. Otherwise don't have levels!
  • Out of the blue rating shift.
I've never experienced a game that has a sudden rating shift, that would be pretty.. shocking and appalling based on what the content is.

Also, very cool insight everyone =)
 

Caitlin

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Actually, I just thought of one that will probably make me quit pretty quickly now, but it hasn't yet. As it has only happened once, so it will cause a future last straw moment. TOO MANY MAIN CHARACTERS, with a bunch of boring characters, but you need to have a wide variety in order to be sure to be able to beat the last boss, because of a strange battle mechanic. Chrono Cross I think if I saw a game like that again, I would probably quit pretty quick or if I was warned, NOT buy it at all.
 

bgillisp

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  • When the plot requires you to do something stupid and harmful and helping the villain to move forward. Especially when it's a whole series of stupid choices and you see the problem right away.
Oh, yes. I've gotten tired of those kind of moments now where it feels like if they had used a single brain cell they wouldn't have done this. Now, if they are charmed, or the villain is blackmailing them, then I can stand it. But if they do something that has been drilled into them to not do for 50+ hours *cough* White Knight Chronicles 2 *cough* then I can't stand it.

And @Sharm your post reminded me of one other

-If the game forces you to change mechanics or play a different type of game to proceed. For example, being forced to play a battle as an archer when you've been a fighter all game (Two Worlds II did this with their final battle. Don't EVER make me have to man a ballista in a game. There's a reason I don't play archers in a game, and it's I have bad depth perception). Another example of this though is forcing me to play a mini-game that is not RPG related in an RPG, and I have to beat it to proceed. I don't care how cute your card game is, or your FPS sequence, or your racing game, if I want to play those I'll go play a card game, a racing game, or an FPS game, not an RPG like I signed up for when I loaded your game.

As it is, Sierra did this with their adventure games in the late 80's/early 90's (Example: Space Quest I: Dodge Boulders on a hovercraft to get to the next town. It was so hated by some that they put an option to cheat past it in the remake). And no one liked it then. So why do we keep trying to do it now?
 
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Tai_MT

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(Two Worlds II did this with their final battle. Don't EVER make me have to man a ballista in a game. There's a reason I don't play archers in a game, and it's I have bad depth perception)
I find it interesting that you mention this. I have a lazy eye that is always looking far to the right. It means I have no depth perception either. But, lining up shots with projectiles in games is far easier for me than doing it outside of a game... or asking me to catch things thrown at me in real life. You give me a rocket launcher, I can snipe with it. Give me a grenade launcher and I'll pick helicopters out of the sky (pretty much all of my clips in Battlefield Hardline were amazing long-range shots I made against vehicles and helicopters with a grenade launcher). Give me a bow and I'll snipe people across 90% of the map with it.

Throw a baseball underhanded at me in real life though? Yeah, there ain't any way I'm going to be able to catch that.

That being said, the sudden "shift" forced on characters annoys me as well. Like when you're playing a full blown shooter and suddenly there's a stealth section. Or, you've been stealthing all game and suddenly there's an entire level dedicated to running and gunning. Games should not force you to play against the type you chose for your character and they should also not force you to do something completely opposite to what the rest of the game has taught them to do. Some games really have this problem where what you chose at the beginning is so underpowered and craptastic, that you may as well have not chosen it. I think it falls under the same type of thing. Yep, I'm talking about Ultima 9 and picking a Mage as your starting class... when you can't cast magic for like 60% of the game due to the lore of the world.

Shifting the gameplay or the player's archetype are not good game design at all.
 

trouble time

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1. When the games combat's main difficulty revolves around waiting. I don't really mind enemies going into a defensive stance or something, but when there's little else to it than to wait it really annoies me. I CAN push through this if it only happens once or twice, but I can only do it for so long.

2. When I look at a games page and the character designs are bland.

3. When I start to feel I'll never like the games character personalities or the party has no chemistry. I especially don't like it when characters NEVER interact with anyone but the main character.
 

bgillisp

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@Tai_MT : Funny you bring that up, as I can do fair in shooter games if the weapon I'm using has a decent fire rate, or if it has a cursor showing you where the shot is going to hit. But if I have to lead a target into my shot, its fire and pray for me.
 

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Wasting so much time trying to get a sprite behavior to work. I feel like banging my head against a wall.
Well... it’s been a real pain in the IRS today. :/
My kitty still young (3-4 months), I think I could teach her some funny tricks... like: "Play dead-ly good music for my games"
Here's a quality DPS class idea: The Beekeeper, who uses the "Bees!!" skill to attack and poison enemies.
Please don't create long, boring cutscenes in which characters do nothing but stand around talking.

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