What i want in ALL rpg games (probably)
As i may have mentioned in a previous post (or comment), right now i'm going through ALL OF THE RPGs. It's an unstoppable hunger that cannot be satiated so i keep on keepin' on. What this bit of hedonistic overconsumption has given me (among other things) is an ever firmer grip on what i want from RPGs.
Nothing special, but here's a short list of the staples (i'll add to it as i go along and as time permits -- also if i don't forget).
Live action. Turn-based is fine, and this opinion may change with time, but right now i want action -- real action, not "action turn-based".
- Responsive controls:
This is true for most games, but some devs seem to think that just because the word RPG is tacked on to the action part, controls can be sluggish, non-responsive or both.
- Detailed character creation:
No, i don't care about how you created this "awesome character" for your story. I want mine, the one i made and i don't want him/her to play second (third or fourth) fiddle to some other upstart "hero". He/she doesn't need to talk, but that doesn't mean the character will be a mute -- it's been done in other games and integration into cutscenes is easy peasy (relatively speaking). I don't want to spend too much time on this feature, but a character *I* created integrated into cutscenes is amazingly fun for me. I get more attached and immersion is even better.
I want.. nay, NEED jumping. If i can walk and run, i can jump. Again, remove this feature and my immersion takes a hit.
Nope, not realistic. I don't care. It's so fun. Come on, i can already jump and i'm in a fantasy world. Make it an unlockable skill if you have to.
If i can double-jump, surely i can climb? Thinks Assassin's Creed, Saboteur, Dragon's Dogma and many others. It's such a cool feature, i don't see why we should be denied the pleasure.
- Feely melee:
We've been through this before, it must be achieved -- if it has to be third person to work, so be it.
- Choice between 1st and 3rd:
Think the ES series and the Fallout games. I want that choice, one i'll make according to my needs/wants and the situation i'm in.
So that's the running list to date. Thoughts?
- The ability to save *anywhere* and *anytime*:
That's ANYWHERE.. annnnddd.... ANYTIME.
- Multiple saves:
I can't believe i even have to mention this, but.. yeah. I've got the space and i'll clear some out if i have to.
- No invisible walls:
Unless there's some true obstacle (wall, door, barrier), let me go there. The first Dragon Age was great, but had spots where you got stopped by an invisible wall even if it was a gentle slope you could navigate a few feet from wherever you were standing. It's just weird and frustrating.
- I can see my upgrades:
If i can't, what's the point? Oh sure, stats, damage etc so it's not a total loss, but i'd like to actually SEE what i'm getting ON my character -- something that's especially frustrating when you can look at some badass piece of equipment in your inventory and once on it looks like.. your original outfit, but "better".
- Not-so-random encounters:
Let me see what i'm getting myself into. Maybe i'll make a Leeroy of myself anyway, but give me the option. Is that a huge level 999 tentacle monster over there? [checks stats] Yyyeah, i think we'll go around him this time.
As Rathorial put it, "I don’t need Skyrim big, but I want levels that are non-linear, and encourage discovery for me as the player.".
Two things i'm leaving out of the list for now are "immersion" and "choice" because i think the other elements listed so far go along way in promoting both these concepts.
EDIT 3 (thanks PaddyStardust):
- Sensible Quest Logs:
It seems like such a simple thing, but even today some games don't put enough coherent information in the log about a quest's objectives and progress -- you stop playing for a while and when you come back you're completely lost. I've even had games where i couldn't even FIND the darned quest log (in one case it was actually hidden among the in-game tutorials).
- User markable/editable maps:
This one didn't even occur to me, but it's a splendid idea. CoffeeJezus mentioned that Dragon's Dogma ups the usual game a little by allowing up to three player-set markers on the map (which can help your progress immensely considering that most trips aren't made in a straight line). With the addition of notes and even custom minimap popups, we would never again found ourselves lost or looking for hours for a cool spot. I really want this one.
Btw if you're not clear on how all this map marking might work, here's a nifty visual aid in the form of Paddy's take on Maps in RPGs.
(Note: Edited out the part about Saint's Row the Third allowing map mods -- it would be nice, but alas it's not possible in this version or earlier ones. Maybe in Saint's Row the Fourth?)
- Coherent, logical quests/sidequests:
Meaning quests/sidequests that are relevant to the ongoing story or to the fleshing out of main and supporting characters or even of past and future events. I agree with this -- if you want to maintain immersion, don't make the player take actions that break the fourth wall (i.e. classic "game" actions). That said, i do think that there's space for these errands and fetch quests, but i'd do it like in Dragon's Dogma (or Dragon Age Origins) with the use of notice boards. If you don't want these quests, you can always refuse to take them on.
- Don't force quests on the player:
This is my little addition to this edit -- games should NEVER force a quest upon the player. I know not everyone cares about this, but i'm something of a completionist and when a quest finds it's way into my log i will feel compelled to bring it to a close. Basically what i'm saying here is that a simple conversation (hearing someone out) does not constitute acceptance.
- Weight limits:
This is a rather contentious subject among players where some state that it adds to the immersion/realism whereas others want it removed completely. Personally i think it should stay, but could be offered as an option -- say, the easy mode wouldn't feature it or it would be optional (Q: Do you want weigh limit? Yes or No). I've had my share of frustrations due to this concept, but in my opinion it's pertinence/inclusion should be judged on a case by case basis. Or, as spookyxelectric put it, it could be done the (not 100% exclusively) Japanese game way and trade a weight limit for an item count limit. I think both have their merits. Plus nothing's stopping devs from adding perks that up the weight limit/item count or remove it entirely later in the game.
- Fast travel:
This is a tough one when it comes to perfect execution, but almost all agree that it should be present -- me included. The question is: in which form? Should it be like, say, the Fallout/ES games where once a map marker is discovered you can return to it free of charge (with travel time passed) or do it the Dragon's Dogma way where it's limited to one permanent location, one movable marker (pre-NG+) and costs you a (relatively) expensive ferrystone? I honestly can't say right now. I think both concepts have their merits and downsides so it's imo another case by case situation. I think i'll end this one with the words of CoffeeJezus on Dragon's Dogma which i think hit the mark pretty much on the nail when it came to that game's very interesting take on fast travel:
"When you had to go somewhere way beyond on the map; you had to steel yourself for the walk, to ready now far you could get before darkness (and it’s enemies) hit, of when to set off and if you dare press on or try to veer off for a camp or shortcut. There was weight to the journey.
When the port crystal came in it gave you a point you could jump to, but that’s it – one. Where you place it, is important."
- Resettable skills:
It happens more often than we think, we see a skill that looks badass and it ends up being the one we use the least (or not at all -- points lost, skill gathering dust. It's refreshing to see that more and more games out there allow you to reset your skillset when needed (two disparate examples that come to mind are White Knight Chronicles and Borderlands 2). Naturally, all your skill points should be returned when this happens. Thanks Boolanger!