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Gaming mechanics and history vs graphics

rogerdv

Member
Dec 2, 2010
129
4
81
Hi all
Im working in a game prototype, a 3rd person RPG. Currently, Im researching what gamers value most in an RPG: good gaming mechanics and plot or high quality graphics. Obviously, being a gamer myself, I would say I prefer to have both. But being forced to choose, I prefer gameplay and good history above graphics (thats why I still play Fallout 2 some times).
Whats your opinion about this?
 

DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
40,730
670
126
For anything except a turn-based, squad level "tactics" game I favor story, including interactions with companions like in Bioware and Obsidian games. I'm less interested in a story if the party is made up of generic nobodies like in Icewind Dale.

In order: Story and setting, Interaction with NPCs, combat mechanics, graphics.
 

shortylickens

No Lifer
Jul 15, 2003
80,380
13,215
126
So what we're saying here is nobody has made anything better than Baldurs Gate 2, is that right?
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,548
345
126
Hi all
Im working in a game prototype, a 3rd person RPG. Currently, Im researching what gamers value most in an RPG: good gaming mechanics and plot or high quality graphics. Obviously, being a gamer myself, I would say I prefer to have both. But being forced to choose, I prefer gameplay and good history above graphics (thats why I still play Fallout 2 some times).
Whats your opinion about this?
Here's my view:

For centuries, pretty much our only storytelling was books/plays. Those are still strong, and RPG's still have an element of them - from less - "save the princess, she's pretty" - to more, like 'Sunless Sea'.

We had a period of text adventures that engaged the imagination and were good - that became 'commercially unviable' much as early entertainment forms of vaudeville, silent movies and radio dramas did as technology advanced.

So, one thing - I'd say don't ask players what they want more than a bit. They don't know. They know what they like more than what they want. No one asked for Myst or Command and Conquer before they were made, but they sure liked them.

And there's a long list of games that look good but disappoint, so that alone isn't enough.

So, I'd say find something good and different for the player. Fallout which you like offered a nice environment and game mechanisms with some style and humor.

And remember one idea doesn't last long - if it's some plot twist or something, it's good for a brief part of the game. It needs to last longer.

So what can you provide - lots of humor like Day of the Tentacle? Simulation? An intriguing environment or story? Interesting gameplay dynamics?

I've had some interest in a game that does better at simulating real-world personal politics.

Most games are childish about this. Show up at village, talk to leader, kill village enemy, claim reward.

How about a more sly system - pick who you ally with and do favors for them that might cost others and make enemies and see what you find.

When you ask gamers what they want, they'll tend to remember 'I liked playing Path of Exile' and describe that (or some other game). And then if you make a second rate Path of Exile - and what else could you or anyone make - they'll complain.

When I played Fallout, what I liked were the surprises that were intriguing and fun. What dark humor would they include? Was there some role in the game for the dog? Were there fun weapons, interesting perks to get and skill choices and character interactions? It needed to remain fun; not too hard, not too easy, not too repetitive.

But levels/quests/skills are amazing at justifying repetitiveness, which games needs - kill 100 of them is tedious, but kill 100 to get a good reward people find far less tedious.

Ask what you are going to provide in an experience for them to really like.
 

BSim500

Golden Member
Jun 5, 2013
1,480
214
106
I don't think there's any doubt mechanics and overall feel of an RPG trump sparkly bits every time. No-one cared about Divinity Original Sin / Torchlight / Shadowrun's "cartoonyness". NWN1 is loved by many of us due to the feel of "d20" 3e D&D ruleset vs THAC0 2e plus sheer Aurora Engine moddability (and size / persistence of community) alone despite being "solo + companion" vs party based. Diablo 2's 25fps frame-rate lock "sin" was ignored due to the sheer fluidity of gameplay. Morrowind is still heralded as a high point in Bethesda's career and comparisons to Oblivion / Skyrim are on everything else but graphics. DAO is still regarded by many of us as the best in the Dragon Age series for everything but graphics. Planescape Torment is still unto itself as to being just plain different for non graphical reasons. Even the most intentionally simple games like Spiderweb's Avadon / Avernum / Geneforge have a solid fan following.

In order: Story and setting, Interaction with NPCs, combat mechanics, graphics.
^ Pretty much this, except I'd also put overall UI, replayability, a Jeremy Soule / Inon Zur class of soundtrack and a mod-friendly engine ahead of graphics as well. As Elder Scolls games show, if you have the modding then you'll end up having better graphics anyway via community texture packs.

Edit: How big is your intended dev team if the prototype pans out OK? If you're a small studio or even a one-man outfit, maybe look at what games like Driftmoon did right. The key there is don't be too ambitious and try and stuff a wishlist of "everything every gamer wants" into the first game. Even major AAA studio's with hundreds of staff and millions to throw at them regularly have visions that exceed competence level to deliver for any given budget / time limit.
 
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Smoblikat

Diamond Member
Nov 19, 2011
5,184
107
106
Hi all
Im working in a game prototype, a 3rd person RPG. Currently, Im researching what gamers value most in an RPG: good gaming mechanics and plot or high quality graphics. Obviously, being a gamer myself, I would say I prefer to have both. But being forced to choose, I prefer gameplay and good history above graphics (thats why I still play Fallout 2 some times).
Whats your opinion about this?
First of all I prefer 1st person to 3rd person, there arent many third person games I play. But to answer your question, it all depends on the game, but a balance of all 3 is nice. For example, morrowind has terrible graphics and terrible mechanics, but the plot is so thick you could cut it with the disc it came on. Its a great game to me, it just had such a large landscape and lore that walking around with a stick up your *** swinging and a missing everything didnt matter. Skyrim however had really good graphics, solid mechanics, and no immersivness. I didnt really like skyrim, it was fun enough for me to put a couple hundred hrs into it, but it didnt have the same draw morrowind, or even oblivion did, and I dont really care to replay it again. To make a long story short, as long as its 3D with decent lighting and reflections, has a PC friendly UI, and actually gives me a reason to come back and replay it, its probobly a good game. One of the best rounded RPG's ive ever played was KOTOR/KOTOR2, that game was made 14 years ago and its still completely playable.
 

Gryz

Golden Member
Aug 28, 2010
1,551
203
106
If it doesn't look good, I won't play it. There are more than enough games to keep me busy all year. So if a game doesn't look attractive, I will just play something else. Worst case I'll replay a classic. Example: I still need to replay Thief-2 and System Shock-2 some day. So if my current best option is to play some new game with mediocre graphics, I will rather play those old classics first.


I got another aspect that I find important in an RPG. Can I play a fake character I am completely making up myself ? Or am I going to role-play a character that was made up by the game-developers ? I realized I hugely prefer to be able to create my own character. Example of RPGs where the developers make my character for me: The Witcher games (Geralt), GTA V (3 guys), Deus Ex (JC Denton, etc), Thief (Garrett), Dishonored (Corvo), Tombraider (Lara), etc. Games where you can create your own character: Elder Scrolls and Fallout games, World of Warcraft, Dark Souls games. I came to realize I really really like creating my own character, in stead of playing a famous dude from a book or from history or from a movie.

Related to this: I also like to play "just a dude" in RPGs. Or just a girl. Not a hero. Not a king. Not an emperor. Not even a regular, but famous, witcher. It's fine if my regular guy does something special in the end (like in the Thief games, or Dark Souls games). But I rather not have that either. Example: in Skyrim you are just a dude, nobody knows where you are from. And in the end you are the Dovahkiin. I rather had stayed a nobody. It's almost a reason to not finish the main quests in lots of RPGs. I rather walk or ride around the wilderness, from village to village or city to city. And have small adventures. As a nobody. Staying a nobody. I don't want to own palaces, command huge armies, take responsabilities, etc. Just let me fight dragons, and then let me sneak out without anyone noticing me.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,548
345
126
^ Pretty much this, except I'd also put overall UI, replayability, a Jeremy Soule / Inon Zur class of soundtrack and a mod-friendly engine ahead of graphics as well.
One of my two favorite soundtracks is Total Annhihilation, which made Jeremy famous - but I can't think of a soundtrack of the many he did after I like.

He keeps winning awards but they all seem like foofie orchestra fluff and not very listenable. I couldn't hum one.
 

DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
40,730
670
126
That's a good point about the sound design. The soundtrack for VTM:Bloodlines really sets the mood. And while the Source engine graphics quality is awful, the art design is so good that it doesn't matter.
 

Borealis7

Platinum Member
Oct 19, 2006
2,825
151
106
i'd vote for Mechanics. i always like to play a mix of Theif / Mage in fantasy settings and try to break the system in every way i can. pickpocket everybody, manipulate people using spells, submit quests and then killing the quest giver for extra loot, things like that...

take the strong points from the best games in the genre and mix them together:
Baldur's Gate
The Witcher
Divinity: Original Sin
Elder Scrolls
Dragon Age
KOTOR
Mass Effect
 

rogerdv

Member
Dec 2, 2010
129
4
81
Edit: How big is your intended dev team if the prototype pans out OK? If you're a small studio or even a one-man outfit, maybe look at what games like Driftmoon did right. The key there is don't be too ambitious and try and stuff a wishlist of "everything every gamer wants" into the first game. Even major AAA studio's with hundreds of staff and millions to throw at them regularly have visions that exceed competence level to deliver for any given budget / time limit.
Im thinking that will be no less than 10-15 people.
 

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