The Long and Short of RPGs

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SilentScope001:
Well, while I think RPGs do in fact need to be shorter, it would be far easier if the Games just allowed us to cheat.

I mean think about it. Would the NPCs start shunning you because you got a better advantage? Would the King of the Nation start condemning you for not earning your share? You're saving the world, for crying out loud, you need all the advantages you can get. You aren't harming anyone when you are cheating, after all.

If we can cheat then, there would be no need for some sort of Short Mode, altough I would vastly prefer Short Mode anyway, just in case people hate the idea of cheating. (I'm fine with cheating in SP, not cheating in MP)

No cheating! Can't stand cheating, except in those situations where the game is working against you. Case in point, a crippling bug in Drakan--if you sent your dragon ahead of you at a certain point in the game, you could never get him back again, and you needed him to finish. I only had one save file (my own stupid fault, I know), so I put in a invincibility code and started over. When I got back to where I'd gotten stuck, I turned off invincibility and carried on. I felt that was fair.

Execudork:
The "talk" feature also sounds great. But I'd prefer it was skipable, just like the cutscenes. Cutscenes should ALWAYS be skipable, not just in short mode.

It's totally unintrusive. It sits at the bottom of your menu and never comes up unless you ask for it. Imagine a version of Navi that only speaks when spoken to.

I remember the thing from Pokemon now. I didn't play Diamond/Pearl much, but I can see how that would've been useful if I had gotten deep into it. Thinking it over I suppose the informational sidekicks in more recent Zelda games have served a similar function, also quest logs in MMORPGS. Now that I think about it some RPGs let you replay previous cutscenes, which if the writing is any good should have the same effect.

The basic point is that if I leave a game for an extended period because of that little thing called real life there should be something waiting to give me a reality check if I come back. I think this would benefit the publisher and developer in terms of sales because a gamer is more likely to buy a sequel to a game they've actually finished as opposed to one they gave up on.

I don't enjoy a game as much if I use cheats to get through it. I'm also not a big fan of strategy guides for the same reason. I think if you're changing the rules and getting outside help too much you take the spontaneity out of the game. (If you need to do these things on a regular basis to progress, it's probably because the game is badly designed or over your head)

Wow....I never realized there were so many people with this same affliction. FF's I own = 4,6,7,8,9,10,12,tactics.....FF's I've beaten = 10.

I don't know about having a shorter version of them, it feels like that would take away much of the scale intended by the games creators, dumbing down the sense of accomplishment. Granted it would be optional, but I don't see it appealing to the majority of rpg-ers.

What I'd like to see is less grinding, a different overall objective than saving the world/universe (c'mon! somebody's gotta be able to write one!), and more unique battle systems (Grandia 2 was so far my favorite).

Actually, I'd like to see more put emphasis put into the everyday battles in general. I mean, you get this group of individuals, often who have no initial battle experience at all, and yet they wander through the wilds slaughtering all manner of creatures with no remorse (sometimes a disturbing amount of enjoyment). It would add a lot more involvement to those general adventuring/grinding segments.

McDayman, you speak my language.

I agree whole heartedly with anti-grinding. What exactly does it prove that I can defeat the same monster 6,000 times such that I earn a new level?

The lady has a point. Grinding through all the boring fetch-quests and inevitable sewer levels are only good for lengthening the playtime, they have absolutely no meaning other than making you miserable. I used to be the same, opening every box, looking into every crack on the map, gathering useless stuff for the sake of "it will surely come in handy someday". But then I realized, that all the good stuff are usually on the boss characters and in the main quests anyway, so why do I have to wade through all that junk? I want a game, where there are no rusty daggers, cracked bucklers and damaged armors, where I don't have to fight through hordes of imps (that die from one hit anyway) to get to the good part.

Also, I want grateful people in RPGs. Most of the RPGs feature NPCs that give you awful fetch-quests and boring "go here, kill this" quests, but that in itself is no the problem. The real problem is that when you finish the quest they only go "here, have a few coins, on your way you go then". The shopkeepers, despite I'm being a hero and all, still mock me with disgusting profit margins (buying half-price, selling for double), even when I do save their asses. In a game, when I, ALONE, struggle for days to save THEIR world from certain doom, fighting through the hordes of hell one measly goblin at a time, and when I emerge victorious covered in blood and bits of demon, what do I get? A pat on the back. Maybe some worthless trinket. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth in almost every RPG, saving the world for these thankless bastards. Makes me wanna join the forces of evil and whoop their asses proper, earning eternal damnation, which is the negative equivalent of the glory I SUPPOSED to get on the other side...but at least I get SOMETHING, right?

Same here.

The worst part of my RPG OCD is when sequels are involved. Granted that most sequels are relatively self-contained or even removed from the previous game(s), such as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest but for some unexplaneable reason I MUST finish the previous game before going for the next. There are a few exceptions for this rule, of course, such as some of the Final Fantasy's games, but consider for example Digital Devil Saga 1 and 2. There are a few items in DDS 2 that you can only get by beating certains bosses in DDS 1 and then carrying over the save file. But because my "will" to play and finish DDS 1 is so very low, despite the fact that I'm standing in the middle(?) of the final dungeon of the bloody thing of a game, I cannot bear myself to pick up and play DDS 2. And yet I shelled out 60€ for it and the box remains to be opened to the day. I wonder if I ever will pick it up...

In regards to the article though, I really must contest the idea of a Short Version of a game. Consider games like Oblivion getting a short version (which is a game, by the way, that I really hate, despite the fact that when TES 5 comes around I'll probably begin to LOVE it, as it was the same with Morrowind).
The amount of content one would have to remove or made innacessible just to play the main quest would only destroy the game, and would make the very process of creating the game a tricky one (to say the least), as both version would have to be produced and it's not just a matter of blocking/erasing content but making the game feel "organic" while doing so. And that is just the tip of the iceberg, me thinks.

Maybe episodic content is the key here (as for example, Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness).

And cheating? Don't get me started on that particular topic. I hate cheating and cheaters as a rule, although in this statement given by Susan:

Susan Arendt:
No cheating! Can't stand cheating, except in those situations where the game is working against you. Case in point, a crippling bug in Drakan--if you sent your dragon ahead of you at a certain point in the game, you could never get him back again, and you needed him to finish. I only had one save file (my own stupid fault, I know), so I put in a invincibility code and started over. When I got back to where I'd gotten stuck, I turned off invincibility and carried on. I felt that was fair.

I totally agree.

In the case of Oblivion, I think you could remove an entire city very easily without impacting the main game. You'd have to do one less quest for the mage's guild, a few less for the fighter's guild, and close one less Oblivion gate. Some cities are, naturally, more important than others -- you couldn't do without the Imperial city, obviously -- but Skingrad, or maybe Bruma? Yeah, I think you could drop them pretty easily.

Of course, in the case of Oblivion, each city has its own distinctive feel and flavor, and on that level, removing any of them would be a shame. Still, that's what the Long version is for.

Susan Arendt:

TheWickerPopstar:

One additional point, any maybe others have experienced this as well: I play RPGs not only for the gameplay itself, but for what is usually an engaging experience in terms of all aspects of storytelling. So, if I try to come back to an epic, complex story, such as Final Fantasy XII, I certainly can't just continue where I left off months ago! Surely I would be forgetting some nuance in the story that legitimates my return to the game! In that case, I'd better start a new file (but keep the old one of course--just in case). Apparently, I keep forgetting that starting a new file is probably futile, considering I didn't finish the old one...oh well.

Oh, god, I do that, too. That is one reason why I started getting strategy guides, so that I could refresh my memory as to what's going on if and when I ever pick up the game again. Except that's unsatisfying, so I decide to start over from scratch, and...yeah, I think you all see where this is going.

So...support group meeting at my house next week?

My current job situation keeps me away from my home based consoles sometimes for weeks at a time (which is why I am REALLY enjoying my Nintendo DS right now). I used to not use strategy guides, but it is impossible to remember where you are in some RPG's (STAR OCEAN comes to mind) when you play the game on an on/off basis. Doing this, it took me four years to beat FFVIII (I actually beat 9 before 8), and seven years to beat Star Ocean: the Second Story.

-I don't necessarily believe that you need a "shortened version" of an RPG to have fun in this time, but there are things that are essential to help speed the game up and make the most use of your time:

DISCLAIMER: I usually fight using the fastest ATB on whatever game I am playing.

1) A RUN button on the world map/dungeon screens: Anybody who has had to reload because a monster caught them at the entrance to the cave (as they are running out to heal and save) and killed them knows what I am talking about. I don't use it very much (I like to be meticulous in my world exploration), but it does come in handy.

2) A MEMORY option for the game cursor: This was brought in during FFVI for Super Nintendo (it positions the cursor to the last action you made with that particular character). This is essential for characters who do not use their regular physical attacks. It also saves you the time you waste during battle trying to sort through your inventory (for thrown weapons)/items/magic screens. Trust me: it is a pain in the ass to spend time rearranging your inventory screen because you can't instantly find a level 4 healing spell.

3) An AUTO BATTLE feature that allows the computer to fight using a default battle strategy. I love this feature (especially on remakes), because nothing sucks more than wasting your time doing the same thing over and over again (especially if the current dungeon you are in has a special type of enemy).

ADDENDUM: COMPUTER CONTROLLED DRONES DO NOT COUNT FOR EITHER #2 OR #3. Sorry it's in all caps I just wanted to clarify that point.

Susan Arendt:
In the case of Oblivion, I think you could remove an entire city very easily without impacting the main game. You'd have to do one less quest for the mage's guild, a few less for the fighter's guild, and close one less Oblivion gate. Some cities are, naturally, more important than others -- you couldn't do without the Imperial city, obviously -- but Skingrad, or maybe Bruma? Yeah, I think you could drop them pretty easily.

Of course, in the case of Oblivion, each city has its own distinctive feel and flavor, and on that level, removing any of them would be a shame. Still, that's what the Long version is for.

True. Considering that response however futher proves, at least to me, that the proper response for this Long Version / Short version deal would be episodic gaming and/or mod tools. You CAN remove entire cities from Oblivion and not impacting the game in such a damaging way as I previously stated, of course, but to what extent would that be "fair" to the actual game? We, as gamers, are naturally biased due to the fact that we played the game: one can consider Bruma integral to the game and someone else could say "no, it isn't" and they would be at odds the entire way.

Not that I actually consider Bruma an important city but I could say city, quest, item, enemy type, etc.

An in-development game, prototype game or maybe a in-theory game would better suit our examples here, considering that we gamers have never "seen" it we cannot say what is more important to it (the paradox, though, is amazing). The Short version would probably cancel something out that even a "short version player" might not want to miss out while still wanting to actually PLAY a Short version. Tricky subject, at least from where I'm standing...

Trace2010:
[...]
3) An AUTO BATTLE feature that allows the computer to fight using a default battle strategy. I love this feature (especially on remakes), because nothing sucks more than wasting your time doing the same thing over and over again (especially if the current dungeon you are in has a special type of enemy).

I really liked what they did in Earthbound (the SNES RPG): if you're strong enough to deal with a particular enemy over and over again, after a while the game calculates an immediate win for you everytime you meet that particular foe/group and simply gives you the XP and Cash for the battle while removing the loading screens and the somewhat tiresome task of pressing commands against such weak foes (the XP and Cash are at a reduced rate, I think, I'm stating this out of memory).

-I actually preferred playing FFX-2 to FFX because they took out the ATB system on FFX. One of the many times a great story has saved a BAD gameplay decision.

Stuff that I hated in RPG's:

1) The Draw system in FFVIII (I agree with the general concensus- that was ridiculous)

2) All Ability Learning Systems- these include:


-Okay, I got the Dresssphere system for X-2, but could you have taken a little bit more time and called it something else?

-The Espers- I understand this for METEOR and ULTIMA, but having to fight 100 battles to learn a LEVEL 1 SPELL near the beginning of the game- assinine.

-FF IX- Ability system- I understood the concept to learn abilities (especially new spells), but if you are supporting Ability Systems for Realism, why does it take 50 battles to learn the ability "BUG-KILLER"?

-"You have to complete 100% of tasks in the RPG to see the whole story."-
No thanks, I'll just watch it on YOUTUBE. I am seriously going to see how fast an English ending to FFXIII gets posted on youtube.

-I looked at the LUNAR game for the DS because I enjoyed LUNAR on the Playstation-I found I had to choose between earning experience points and earning materials for their "delivery boy missions". Yeah, I sold that game the next day. "Mandatory Delivery Boy missions to earn money to buy a Longsword?" Complete waste of time.

-Card games/Sphere break: complete waste of time unless integrated into the story (FFIX and X-2 did a great job with this). No, the ability to refine cards into items for weapons (WTF: how the hell do you get a steel pipe to magically transform from a standard playing card?) does not count- that's you FFVIII.

-Mission Settings: I didn't mind having to buy the strategy guide for X-2 because I wanted to see the whole story....but making a strategy guide a MANDATORY necessity for a game leaves the gameplay issues moot.

-The Materia System: this is here only for one question- did anybody ever actually pay attention to the bonuses and deductions in stats due to the use of Materia? I would have liked to see the Materia system have greater positive/negative impact on their characters stats.

-Did anybody really ever develop/use the ENEMY SKILL systems? The only time I used them was when QUISTIS did a limit break (which, considering the amount of time I used her, was practically nil).

-I do prefer the Limit Break system of FFVIII to FFVII- more of a Final Attack system than:

"Let's just walk around and get hit by enemies enough times so we can unleash on the boss fight."

Some fanboy tried to tell me: "Well the Ability Points system creates REALISM".
I looked at him and said: "Last time I checked, the game is called Final FANTASY".....

Vengefully:

Trace2010:
[...]
3) An AUTO BATTLE feature that allows the computer to fight using a default battle strategy. I love this feature (especially on remakes), because nothing sucks more than wasting your time doing the same thing over and over again (especially if the current dungeon you are in has a special type of enemy).

I really liked what they did in Earthbound (the SNES RPG): if you're strong enough to deal with a particular enemy over and over again, after a while the game calculates an immediate win for you everytime you meet that particular foe/group and simply gives you the XP and Cash for the battle while removing the loading screens and the somewhat tiresome task of pressing commands against such weak foes (the XP and Cash are at a reduced rate, I think, I'm stating this out of memory).

I will have to look into that game (is it ported onto WII yet?): by the time you get powerful enough to slug foes like that, you will gladly trade the extra money for the extra time anyway. I have actually run away from weak battles just to save time.

While I am interested in this subject I just couldnt get through the three page wall of text.

Could you please post a brief synopsis of your article?

Regarding anti-grinding: I remember playing a game, long ago (like 10 years ago) that had an inherent anti-grinding mechanism, though I don't know if that was the game designer's intent. It was a fantasy RPG, with the usual experience-points type system to gain levels.

The first time you beat a particular monster type, you gained a large amount of experience. The next time you defeated that same monster type, you gained almost nothing. The logic was that the first time you face an orc, say, you're going to learn a lot about fighting orcs, and a fair amount about fighting in general. The next time you meet an orc, there isn't as much you can learn - you already know he's got big sharp nasty teeth, and he'd sell his own mother for some barbecued rat-on-a-stick. Face a goblin, though, and you can learn something. And so on.

This forced you to explore widely in the game, if only to increase the odds of meeting new and interesting monsters (and killing them). There were some problems with implementation, like that grinding was still more-or-less required, since there were only so many new monsters that you could actually defeat with some reliability each character level. Wander too far in search of novelty, and some big nasty you won't be able to go up against for 3 or 4 levels squished you.

The original Diablo had a weak anti-grinding mechanism, too - once you were a certain character level, low-level monsters gave you zero experience for killing them. In Diablo you could restart the game with an existing character, and go through the low level dungeons very quickly. This was a useful feature if you'd cleared out all the stuff you could defeat, and were faced only with monsters that consistently handed you your own ass. The minimum-monster level feature helped tone down this strategy.

Joto:
While I am interested in this subject I just couldnt get through the three page wall of text.

Could you please post a brief synopsis of your article?

Oh, just try it. Reading is good exercise for the mind, and I have a hunch you might actually like it.

Execudork:
The original Diablo had a weak anti-grinding mechanism, too - once you were a certain character level, low-level monsters gave you zero experience for killing them. In Diablo you could restart the game with an existing character, and go through the low level dungeons very quickly. This was a useful feature if you'd cleared out all the stuff you could defeat, and were faced only with monsters that consistently handed you your own ass. The minimum-monster level feature helped tone down this strategy.

Well, Diablo is a roguelike which basically means it is grind incarnate. First you grind for XP until you can use the max level equipment. Then you farm for items to complete the other facet of your character.

XP dropoff for small enemies isn't an anti-grind measure, its a way to make you want to grind the next set of pallet swapped enemies. Taking the grind out of Diablo is like dividing by zero: only Chuck Norris can do it and I'm not sure why anyone would want to.

I've noticed this OCD tendency in myself as well but I can usually muster the will to go back and finish them. I'm tentatively against artificially shortening them because it takes resources away from building the game in the first place. A couple of simple, easy to implement crutches like the missed loot showing up in the next shop, or an earned XP multiplier to cut down on the grind in JRPGs would be welcome as long as they were optional. I know that WOW is much more fun with double XP and quadruple drops from my brief times on a pirate server.

Old Iblis wonders whether Ms Arendt has just been playing bad games? He hesitates before even placing some of the games referenced in the article within the 'RPG' bracket. Perhaps 'time-sinks with cut-scenes' might be a better generic term?

Still, his review stands and wonders whether Ms Arendt has played any RPGs other than those originating in the JRPG tradition?

I've been a big fan of RPG's, most of them of the Japanese type. And while I mustered up enough patience to beat all of the ones I tried, the ones I did not find boring 5 minutes in, there are some lapses of boredom. I've had this with Persona 3, no matter how great that game was. I have no qualms about length. IMO a longer game is better because it staves off my next game purchase for a couple of months.

However, if the shortening of the game is a must , I'd say take the FFX path.

In FFX, you were forced down the linear story path for 90% of the game. By the time you reach the end dungeon, that's the only time when the game opened up and gave you all the sidequests and monsters to beat. This way, you won't miss out on any important items since the game itself makes it clear that you are going through a story sequence.

However, to keep the challenge. The final dungeon and final boss (and the final dungeon only) adjusts difficulty depending on how much time you spent grinding before the final showdown with the big bad.

In this set-up, you can enjoy the story more easily (one of the main reasons I play RPG's). Once you're done with the linear path, you won't have to backtrack a lot, since you're near the end anyway.

And yeah, skippable dialogues should have been a standard since 2002.

This is the reason I haven't finished an rpg since FF7 and stopped playing them altogether about three or four years back. I have replayed Shining Force 1 & 2 last year though.

I've been thinking of getting back into Strategy RPG's with Disgea 3 but really don't dare anymore. Maybe if I can get it from a bargain bin.

ladyparvati:
Really? rpg = long and the story can't be shortened? I haven't met an rpg where you couldn't slice out huge sections. FF5 could even skip an entire planet and I love that game (don't get me started on Phantasy Star 2). Some of my fave rpg's are doable within ten hours if you know where to go (Fallout & Baldur's Gate).

@Susan:

Isn't there a little error of logic in your thoughts? I mean there is already this division in main quests and side quests. If you only do main quests (and skip the sidequests) you do get through the game faster. Now you call for an autoskip feature, that does skip the sidequests for you. But: If you really just can't skip anything inside the game, and always feel like you're missing something... how could you possibly choose a "shortened version setting" at the character creation screen. If you do... wouldn't you just feel like missing something as well?

If you can't skip the side quests during the game, how could you skip them at character creation time?

But, there is a solution to this Problem, that has been invented by one very famous game, and then been copied by almost every other game of the same specific subgenre of RPGs.
I am talking Diablo here, i am talking Normal, Nightmare and Hell.
You can easily get through Diablo II's normal mode in a single weekend, without playing all too much. You've seen all the Story, all the Quests, all the Towns, all the NPCs, all weapons, all armors. You can stop there.

Or you can go on, play on nightmare and finally on hell, and you will find new (and better) versions of all the Weapons and Armors you know already, you'll find tougher Monsters and quite some more Mini-Bosses with nastier resistancies or immunities.

No you'll say "But Diablo had no side quests at all, won't the players be loosing something."
We'll i'd agree on that, if side quests would like deliver interesting tidbits about the gameworld, additional information on NPC with some sort of depth of personality. But hell they don't. It's just some other generic 08/15 townsfolk telling you to kill 15 X or collect 20 Y... There's nothing about these quests you could loose. You actually win, you win the time that otherwise would be wasted on these Quests.

So where do these Quests come from anyways?
Ever read the back of a game box? It's says something like "about 40-50 hours of playtime" on there. So you have to have 40-50 hours of gameplay, since everybody does, and people won't buy your game if you don't. But your storyline an main quests only account for less than half of that. So you somehow stretch and lengthen your game, and of course it becomes thinner and all holey. So you do use generic filler side quests, to stuff the holes. And what happens? People love it! People buy it.

Now just imagine someone came up with the idea of creating a game that has absolutely no main quests at all. Everthing is a generic side quest, like collect 20 X or kill 30 Y, and there is no real story whatsoever. And then imagine they would even try to stretch and lengthen this sort of gameplay. And to stuff the holes appearing in that process, you enforce the player to farm for gold to be able to buy his skills, his mount, and pay his armor repair fees. And then stretch it even more and as a filler use senseless crafting where you can create cool items, that sell for less money than you payed for the ingredients, without ever giving you something back, except the good feeling to have your crafting skills at max. And then stretch even more once again. And this time as a filler use inhuman travel times. Force the player to fly/ride/run for half an hour, before he gets anywhere.

Holy shit. That would have to be the must successfull game ever!

Wait...

It is!

Let's face the facts: People have too much time. Games are meant to waste time. And people pay good money to have their time wasted real good.
The industry just responds to that demand, by making games more waste of time than ever before.

Iblis:
Old Iblis wonders whether Ms Arendt has just been playing bad games? He hesitates before even placing some of the games referenced in the article within the 'RPG' bracket. Perhaps 'time-sinks with cut-scenes' might be a better generic term?

Still, his review stands and wonders whether Ms Arendt has played any RPGs other than those originating in the JRPG tradition?

I can't help but wonder why you're referring to yourself in the third person.

And yes, I've played many non-JRPGs, though those are the ones that tend to lend themselves more to my problem than Western RPGs, as they tend to focus more on grinding and fetch quests and the like.

Susan Arendt:

I can't help but wonder why you're referring to yourself in the third person.

And yes, I've played many non-JRPGs, though those are the ones that tend to lend themselves more to my problem than Western RPGs, as they tend to focus more on grinding and fetch quests and the like.

Iblis has problems with the concept of the 'great I am'. The third person is the right route to escape such self-indulgent trends. Old Iblis desires neither fame nor acknowledgement when posting on matters of the heart.

If you know that jrpgs are the epitomy of everything you despise within the genre (and Old Iblis is fully in agreement with you over them), then why no differentiation between this tiny sub-genre and rpgs in general? Iblis presumes that you are a gamer of some experience and some talent who seeks challenges - why then decry a whole genre because your readers have only experience of one sub-genre? Surely it would be better to point them to games such as Fallout or Bloodlines as counter-examples to the tired jrpg 'grind til the cut-scene' model?

Given that you've written at least one other post in first person, the switch to third still strikes me as curious. But whatever blows your skirt up.

I'm not decrying any genre -- I love RPGs of every color and stripe. The whole point of my column is not that there is anything wrong with the games, but rather with me, and if games can make allowances for skill levels, why not patience levels, too? It was just an idea as to how more people could be allowed to play and enjoy RPGs all the way to their conclusions.

Let me re-emphasize the point I made in my post that I genuinely enjoy the time I spend playing these games, whether I make it to the end or not. I don't "despise" any of them--or, more to the point, I'm not wishing there was a way to make it to the end of games I don't enjoy. I simply put them aside and never think about them again. My column was about those games that I did enjoy, whose stories intrigued me, whose characters and settings entertained me.

Do I think that there's a lot of padding in most RPGs, Western or Japanese? Oh, heck, yeah. I don't consider that a flaw, per se, I just think it means that you can -- if you wanted to -- skip a lot of the content and still get the gist of the core of the game. Again, that's not the way the game was intended, or the "true" experience. It's rather a lot like watching the movie versus reading the book: Both might be entertaining, but the book is the real version.

@hooby:
The article was about her being afflicted with OCD (Obsessive Completionist Disorder). Basically, she can't exercise the necessary amount of self-control to NOT do a sidequest, and that's what's keeping her from holding her interest in a game. She even said that she absolutely must get everything, leaving no stone unturned.

Susan Arendt:
It's rather a lot like watching the movie versus reading the book: Both might be entertaining, but the book is the real version.

But what about 2001: A Space Odyssey? The movie and book were written at the same time, and Arthur C. Clarke did co-write the script to the movie. Which, then, would be the "real" version?

Syntax Error:
@hooby:
The article was about her being afflicted with OCD (Obsessive Completionist Disorder). Basically, she can't exercise the necessary amount of self-control to NOT do a sidequest, and that's what's keeping her from holding her interest in a game. She even said that she absolutely must get everything, leaving no stone unturned.

Exactly my point.

"everything" = full version of the game.
shortened version of the game = NOT everything.

Syntax Error:
she absolutely must get everything

So she MUST get the full version of the game. Even if there was the possibility to play a "gamers digest"/shortened version of a game (choosable at game start), she just couldn't do it, since that would mean a whole lot of unturned stones.

Having the possibility to play the shortened version of the game is the same thing as having the possibility to skip side-quests. You just skip all side-quests at once rather, then one after the other. But if you are not able to skip one single, tiny side-quest, how could you possibly be able to skip them all at once?

Susan Arendt:
Again, that's not the way the game was intended, or the "true" experience. It's rather a lot like watching the movie versus reading the book: Both might be entertaining, but the book is the real version.

Exactly. Your suggested "shortened game" version wouldn't be the "true" expierence nor the real version either, would it?
(It's not that i think it is a bad idea, or that it shouldn't be tried or anything. It's that i think in this special case, it wouldn't help your problem at all.)

But about this "true" experience... you talk about "padding". This is done to lengthen the game, and in most cases will be something that has been decided by the companies management, by the publisher ("there must be at least X hours of gameplay.."), oder some sort of market research department. If these things were planned by the games inventor from the very beginning, as a part of the game itself (which you refer to as "core game"), it wouldn't be a "padding".

I don't think that a side quest can be "padding" (which per definition is something additional) AND part of the "true" experience at the same time.

So you can't skip side-quest since you would be missing a part of the "true" experience, but then you complain, that all these sidequests you don't skip, are NOT a part of the "true" experience.

Well either these sidequests are a part of the true experience, than you can't skip them. Neither during the game, nor at the start of the game.
Or this sidequests are extraneous padding that can be skipped without missing the "real version", then it doesn't matter when and how you skip them.

I still believe a shortened Version wouldn't change anything.

Susan Arendt:
Given that you've written at least one other post in first person, the switch to third still strikes me as curious. But whatever blows your skirt up.

Iblis is currently 2:1 in third person vs first. Ego is a terrible thing.

I'm not decrying any genre -- I love RPGs of every color and stripe. The whole point of my column is not that there is anything wrong with the games, but rather with me, and if games can make allowances for skill levels, why not patience levels, too? It was just an idea as to how more people could be allowed to play and enjoy RPGs all the way to their conclusions.

A button in the options menu so you can just jump to the end credits?

Let me re-emphasize the point I made in my post that I genuinely enjoy the time I spend playing these games, whether I make it to the end or not. I don't "despise" any of them--or, more to the point, I'm not wishing there was a way to make it to the end of games I don't enjoy. I simply put them aside and never think about them again. My column was about those games that I did enjoy, whose stories intrigued me, whose characters and settings entertained me.

There's nothing wrong with absolutely despising Final Fantasy, either... But aren't you just describing the feeling you get after playing a mediocre game of any description?

Do I think that there's a lot of padding in most RPGs, Western or Japanese? Oh, heck, yeah. I don't consider that a flaw, per se, I just think it means that you can -- if you wanted to -- skip a lot of the content and still get the gist of the core of the game. Again, that's not the way the game was intended, or the "true" experience. It's rather a lot like watching the movie versus reading the book: Both might be entertaining, but the book is the real version.

Again, is it padding if you like it? Surely again you are just describing mediocre games - much as one reads a mediocre book once or sees a mediocre film once. Disposable media. Whereas the true classics which worked for you, you return to time and time again.

Oh man, I stopped playing Disgaea ages after IO got to the final level, the grinding is just a pain in the ass. I agree with you, I'd like to see a shorter type of 'prep-Quest' too.

I suggest to anyone reading this who enjoy action RPGs to try digging up Nox:

Its a bird's eye action RPG but plays like an FPS in overarching game design.
* There is a level progression.
* You cannot backtrack.
* There are 3 classes.
* The game is short (~10 hours) but each class has entire levels modified beyond recognition or simply replaced with new ones.

But heres the big catch: * Everything is finite.

Monsters, gold, expereince, inventory. Thus, the game doesn't need to worry about grinding exp or scaling monster difficulty anywhere.

You cannot buy every killer item and you know it. Secrets are found via puzzles not stupid deadends, and usually those are located in regularly visited locales like town.

The big-problem from "finite enemy" RPGs, namely tracking down every last monster like they're secret items for the EXP gain is removed. Experience scales based on how many of that monster type you've killed. A rat gives the same experience as a demon. Second one you kill gives like half that. 10 more later you get dick.

And yet the game rarely feels overtly linear. Yeah the OCD factor does come into play in the last stage (but what if theres a second boss beyond the boss?) but by that point, you've been spared it for what, 90% of the game?

Seriously an underrated game for basic RPG mechanics.

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