Fallout: New Vegas Dev: Recent RPG Advances "Undermine" the Genre

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Fallout: New Vegas Dev: Recent RPG Advances "Undermine" the Genre

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Do you think RPGs are too easy these days? Fallout 2, Planescape: Torment and Fallout: New Vegas developer Chris Avellone agrees.

He didn't mention the dreaded C-word during the interview with IndustryGamers, but Avellone made it quite clear that he thinks that design decisions made with player convenience in mind can often end up doing more harm than good.

In his words:

"I'll say the 'advances' have been more for player convenience, sometimes good, sometimes bad, in my opinion. Journals, quest compasses that point directly to the goal and show you the route, auto-maps, etc. are helpful; at the same time, I think it undermines the thrill of victory and discovery and a lot of what makes an RPG an RPG (exploration, notably).

His comments echo a popular sentiment amongst core-gamers. That in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience, games are abandoning any semblance of challenge and, quite frequently, treating players like brain-dead automatons.

Avellone is far more positive about other advances in the genre, however: "In terms of non-interface elements, I feel the idea of morally grey choices and more focus on actions and consequences has been great for RPGs across the board," he said.

Avellone was part of the team that made Planescape: Torment which, aside from being a strong contender for the best RPG ever made, was unique at the time in that it avoided the rather tired dichotomy of good-versus-evil, and instead offered more ethically challenging decisions.

"Lastly, fully voice-acted characters has been something to adapt to since Knights of the Old Republic 1, and the amount of localization, recording and audio work required is substantial, but I feel it's a net positive for the player," he continued.

He also had kind words for developers that mix-and-match their genres: "Developers are seeing the worth in customization, levelling, dialogue, choice and reactivity and other elements that would normally be considered RPG mechanics and introducing them into multiple titles."

Source: IndustryGamers

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I can't argue with MCA himself!

Elijah in the Dead Money DLC actually references hand holding in modern RPGs.

I sorta understand the quest compass and auto-map bit, but what's wrong with journals?
Some games are so massive you need to have maps already available to be able to find your way, but a compass is kinda hand holding (but yes I do like marking off quest routs)

If I played Skyrim and was told to get to a dungeon out in the middle of now where, without a map, I'd get SOOOO lost.

I kinda disagree with Avellone on voice-acting, I have always felt that it makes games more linear and short. After all it is much more costly to hire voice actor than write more lines.

But well I could be wrong of course.

I agree on every other point he makes however, not that it might change anything ever.

I don't mind casual games.

I play quite a few. They're fun. I don't need to think.

But sometimes I really like something that stretches my ability to think further than "Use Gun On Man".

If that's no longer "in vogue", then less and less money is being spent on creating these things - and more and more people who don't like those things are being brought in - while less and less people who like them are staying.

Hell, who would have thought a game about stacking cubes would be fun? (Minecraft) Or a "rescue the princess" platform game? (SMB) or a pet turn based strategy? (Pokemon)

There needs to be all sorts of games around, and with "Casuals" and "FPS" drawing millions upon billions out of the coffers, where's the money to create the new ideas?

Grey Carter:

Avellone was part of the team that made Planescape: Torment which, aside from being a strong contender for the best RPG ever made, was unique at the time in that it avoided the rather tired dichotomy of good-versus-evil, and instead offered more ethically challenging decisions.

I think you meant to type: "Avellone wrote practically every line of text in Planescape: Torment, and is therefore arguably the best writer in the entire gaming industry, and cannot be proven wrong, ever." :P

seraphy:
I kinda disagree with Avellone on voice-acting, I have always felt that it makes games more linear and short. After all it is much more costly to hire voice actor than write more lines.

But well I could be wrong of course.

I'd disagree. Both KOTOR games were fully voice acted, and they were both fairly long RPGs with heaps of non-linearity, multiple choices, etc. Or look at Skyrim. Huge open world, dozens of towns, cities and villages, the possibility to influence the way an entire civil war turns out, all of it voice acted. I know that Skyrim probably had a bigger budget than most games, but still. The fact that such a huge, detailed game also managed to contain so much spoken dialogue shows that developers of smaller games really don't have an excuse, unless money is really tight.

The whole issue with "journals, quest compasses that point directly to the goal and show you the route, auto-maps, etc" is literally non-existant. If I pay attention I don't need to use the journal or even auto map for that matter. If I don't pay attention I don't have to replay a segment of the game just to get a clue.

What seems more likely is that developers who can't program a game to be played in more than one way opts for the way that leaves most people satisfied. Even so we still have games with subtlety like La noire and Mass Effect. Given, it's not the same outlandish subtlety that Planescape showed; but the former two are also games that I've finished.

I agree to a point. I think it's all down to the bottom line though, so going back isn't an option as the current model is definitely and more profitable. What we could expect/hope for however, is some options in the matter.

Fallout: New Vegas' Hardcore mode is an excellent example of this, but it's just a tad too superficial (although if we look at it as a start, it's a fantastic one at that). It'd be nice to have stuff like the ability to turn off fast travel, quest markers and such. Of course, this also puts a little more pressure on developers - just throwing out fast travel is silly. If there is a sufficiently fast method of movement and "taxi" points where necessary however, it becomes an enjoyable choice as opposed to shooting yourself in the foot (or the balls, depending on the size of the game). Taking Skyrim as example, the carriages could fulfill the second requirement, while removing the sprint exhaustion from horses would've pretty much solved the first.

On quest markers, it'd mean making quests where the quest giver actually gives you directions. If you need to see how this is done, just go play Morrowind for a few hours, it shows exactly how good instructions can replace a pinpoint quest marker system. On one hand, one might argue this puts more money into the voice acting department, but honestly, it does more than just introduce a more hardcore option. It really trashed my immersion a few times, getting a quest from a quest giver who would give me 0 information on where to find what I'm looking for (and I have no methods of deducing the location myself) and I'd just have a map marker telling me pinpoint where I can find it. If it's really that much stress and not enough reward though (which I'd strongly argue against, but still), I'd be content with just getting instructions in text form.

Terminate421:
If I played Skyrim and was told to get to a dungeon out in the middle of now where, without a map, I'd get SOOOO lost.

You'd probably head over to the wiki, and pull out their map. So yea, might as well make it ingame.

But if I'm reading this right, then the problem isn't all the branching out and morphing the RPG is doing nowadays - the problem is that they're missing an RPG that smacks you if you so much as ask for directions. Sounds fair I guess. Might in some cases be as easy as a mod. Script detailed quest text for Skyrim, take out all markers, including the map markers for places you've only heard of, and you're set to go.

EDIT: Vrach pointed out something I didn't think of: you'd also have to add a substantial amount of voice acting.
I foresee a lot of "here, I wrote it down for you" in somebody's possible future.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Grey Carter:

Avellone was part of the team that made Planescape: Torment which, aside from being a strong contender for the best RPG ever made, was unique at the time in that it avoided the rather tired dichotomy of good-versus-evil, and instead offered more ethically challenging decisions.

I think you meant to type: "Avellone wrote practically every line of text in Planescape: Torment, and is therefore arguably the best writer in the entire gaming industry, and cannot be proven wrong, ever." :P

You're right, I think I did. The first woman you meet having left the mortuary has a backstory more compelling than the central plot of most games before and since. Guy is a genius.

ChupathingyX:
I can't argue with MCA himself!

Elijah in the Dead Money DLC actually references hand holding in modern RPGs.

Yeah I was going to mention that, damn ninjas.

But without my compass, dead moeny would have been an absolute bitch. Its already a maze, with toxic fog, traps and tough enemies. Oh and the bomb collers, but I didnt mind them becuase unlikemost I paid fucking attention, knew what the beeping was (fallout forums has threds asking what it was.)

Now I recently played PS:T... Still in th mouge.

Kargathia:

Terminate421:
If I played Skyrim and was told to get to a dungeon out in the middle of now where, without a map, I'd get SOOOO lost.

You'd probably head over to the wiki, and pull out their map. So yea, might as well make it ingame.

But if I'm reading this right, then the problem isn't all the branching out and morphing the RPG is doing nowadays - the problem is that they're missing an RPG that smacks you if you so much as ask for directions. Sounds fair I guess. Might in some cases be as easy as a mod. Script detailed quest text for Skyrim, take out all markers, including the map markers for places you've only heard of, and you're set to go.

Morrowind simply pointed you in a direction and said "it's somewhere thataway." I'm not sure I agree with that design, but I would like it kept as an option.

Fallout: New Vegas sure as hell was easy. thanks to the new repair mechanic.

You know how many caps I had in New Vegas going into Old World Blues? 100000+.

You gave me a way to make the game a cake walk.

I kinda miss the day where you had to level with the environment. It made the games challenging and it prevented you from beating the main story in a few hours, however I can also say I don't miss those days in the way of having to constantly quest in order to complete the next chapter of the main story or accidentally walking into a cave that was meant for someone of a higher level (also don't forget that back in the day there wasn't such a thing as an auto save so this made it extra frustrating) I would be nice if developers would put this in as an option before the game starts to add a little fun or challenge, which ever you would like to call it.

Grey Carter:
Morrowind simply pointed you in a direction and said "it's somewhere thataway." I'm not sure I agree with that design, but I would like it kept as an option.

I really wish there was some sort of middle ground between that. I don't want to be stumbling around searching every corner for hours on end, but I don't want an arrow on the compass leading me by the nose as well.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

I'd disagree. Both KOTOR games were fully voice acted, and they were both fairly long RPGs with heaps of non-linearity, multiple choices, etc. Or look at Skyrim. Huge open world, dozens of towns, cities and villages, the possibility to influence the way an entire civil war turns out, all of it voice acted. I know that Skyrim probably had a bigger budget than most games, but still. The fact that such a huge, detailed game also managed to contain so much spoken dialogue shows that developers of smaller games really don't have an excuse, unless money is really tight.

My point kinda was that these games could have been even more complex if money would not have been wasted to voice acting everything.

Then again if not having everything voice acted makes some people skip buying the game, then I understand why developers do that. I don't personally however exactly like it nor do I see it as necessary.

DVS BSTrD:
I sorta understand the quest compass and auto-map bit, but what's wrong with journals?
Some games are so massive you need to have maps already available to be able to find your way, but a compass is kinda hand holding (but yes I do like marking off quest routs)

I guess he meant the current form of journals. By no means are journals a bad idea - in fact for any medium to big RPG they're pretty much indispensable. Without in-game journals players would have to keep physical journals - as in paper.

Today's RPG journal however pretty much lays out the quest structure along with it's stages as a checklist - it's a TODO questing list not a journal.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

I'd disagree. Both KOTOR games were fully voice acted, and they were both fairly long RPGs with heaps of non-linearity, multiple choices, etc. Or look at Skyrim. Huge open world, dozens of towns, cities and villages, the possibility to influence the way an entire civil war turns out, all of it voice acted. I know that Skyrim probably had a bigger budget than most games, but still. The fact that such a huge, detailed game also managed to contain so much spoken dialogue shows that developers of smaller games really don't have an excuse, unless money is really tight.

Yeah, Skyrim is fully voiced. It's either quality or quantity and Bethesda went for quantity. The voice acting was as mundane and boring as the writing.

I was debugging a quest in Skyrim and had to open up the internals to see what's going on. Every speech fragment/response given by an NPC is a speech node and those have their internal names given by the developers. Players don't get to see them. I found them to be much more clever, funny and interesting than the actual dialogue the player gets to see.

But as for voice acting - while it's possible to voice act every single character you will have limited voice actors and a limited amount of accents those voice actors can do. With them having to read volumes of generic text the acting will be bland.

In short nothing like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptnSXhVrrbs&feature=related

seraphy:
I kinda disagree with Avellone on voice-acting, I have always felt that it makes games more linear and short. After all it is much more costly to hire voice actor than write more lines.

I agree. I saw the Geneforge series by Spiderweb Software on Steam a few weeks ago and decided to pick it up. While the first 3 installments didn't agree very well with my computer, I was sbsolutely floored by the sheer amount of story-based content that basically one man can produce. I spent 35 hours on just one of the games, completing just one of the 5+ different endings (which vary enormously compared to alternative endings in AAA titles, and impact the story way more than any so-called "choices" I've seen in any of those games in almost a decade), without even exploring large parts of the map.

It was so delightful to be talking to an NPC and have 3-5, or even 7+ different dialogue options, that didn't all just lead to the exact same outcome.

I could go on, but this is getting way off topic. Suffice to say, I think voice acting is a horrible thing for story-based games (unless you're doing a linear game with no player interaction with the story), due to all the limitations that come with voice acting.

Solution to hand-holding in video games: play Dark Souls.

Grey Carter:

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Grey Carter:

Avellone was part of the team that made Planescape: Torment which, aside from being a strong contender for the best RPG ever made, was unique at the time in that it avoided the rather tired dichotomy of good-versus-evil, and instead offered more ethically challenging decisions.

I think you meant to type: "Avellone wrote practically every line of text in Planescape: Torment, and is therefore arguably the best writer in the entire gaming industry, and cannot be proven wrong, ever." :P

You're right, I think I did. The first woman you meet having left the mortuary has a backstory more compelling than the central plot of most games before and since. Guy is a genius.

Ahh so true. Now I'm getting nostalgic.

And yes I played PS:T for the first time 1 year ago.

>_>

Yeah, seriously

archont:
But as for voice acting - while it's possible to voice act every single character you will have limited voice actors and a limited amount of accents those voice actors can do. With them having to read volumes of generic text the acting will be bland.

In short nothing like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptnSXhVrrbs&feature=related

Oh man, listening to that was almost like listening to a real person talking, like people talk when they talk to each other! Nothing like droning, monotonous, humm-ing and haa-ing that passes for voice acting in skyrim. It'd have taken them 8 times as long to say the same thing as that guy did, and they'd probably have done it without swearing.

Developers are welcome to make hard core games for hard core players. You want something dense and nearly impenetrable? It's probably out there. You want AAA production values with it? That might be asking too much.

Developers simply found that by adjusting the game difficulties and complexities by a fairly small amount gave them a vastly larger audience, and so they've run with it. If you want these games to be harder, sometimes you've got to make your own objectives, and the better games allow you to have more freedom in that regard.

In Fallout New Vegas, after going through it with my typical well-balanced shooter close combat guy, I made Carl the Alcoholic Cannibal, and he had to eat everyone he could and drink all the booze he found. Amusingly enough, there's a hidden perk for consuming the bodies of the faction heads (Meat of Champions) and you've pretty much got to plan the whole game around doing that. Fun stuff like that should be in more games, where you can challenge yourself.

Also, my opinion is a bit heretical in that while I recognize the greatness of Planescape Torment (and I own the original, a re-release and the GOG version), I was a bigger fan of the Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale games (ditto on those versions, too).

Grey Carter:
Fallout: New Vegas Dev: Recent RPG Advances "Undermine" the Genre

It's hard to fight this, though.

Make your world bigger, and people are going to have a hard time getting around. Additionally, it's usually accepted that your character "grew up around here," or is at least familiar with a few basics. The map system simulates that familiarity, but the fast-travel system usually only works once you've actually been there.

Now, within a "dungeon," sometimes they do spell things out pretty clearly with an arrow... but how is that any worse than:

a) A game that doesn't tell you what you're looking for, and expects you to randomly fumble around until you find it?
b) A game that requires you to stop playing and read clues upon clues before finally going to look... and still end up fumbling around until you find it?
c) Most games, in which the dungeon is designed to clearly guide you down an almost entirely linear path, to a quest item that is huge and glowing with fire?

I prefer a game that puts an arrow on your major quest goal, but then gives you reasons to explore all of the other areas of the dungeon without guidance. Sure, I know where to go get the Midget Helmet, or whatever, and I'll get to that -- but first, there's a bunch of rooms over here...

Basically, I think there are a few places that tend to have too much guidance (like any "investigation" type quest, in which you just move from marker to marker), but overall it's an unfair and narrow criticism of a mechanic that can be used effectively if the rest of the game's context supports it.

This is why these developers need to start including OPTIONS. Yes, leave in all the stuff that can make things easier for new players, and simply have an option to disable them if you want. Some of this falls on the player though, too. Don't want a map? Don't open up and look at the map, then.

Some people want to fumble around with zero guidance and find everything on their own. Give them the options to do that. Some people want a map and a marker telling them where on the map they need to get to. Have that in there for those that want to use it. Force one or the other, and people aren't going to be happy. Include options, and while you can never please everyone, you'll be able to please a lot more people.

Grey Carter:

Kargathia:

Terminate421:
If I played Skyrim and was told to get to a dungeon out in the middle of now where, without a map, I'd get SOOOO lost.

You'd probably head over to the wiki, and pull out their map. So yea, might as well make it ingame.

But if I'm reading this right, then the problem isn't all the branching out and morphing the RPG is doing nowadays - the problem is that they're missing an RPG that smacks you if you so much as ask for directions. Sounds fair I guess. Might in some cases be as easy as a mod. Script detailed quest text for Skyrim, take out all markers, including the map markers for places you've only heard of, and you're set to go.

Morrowind simply pointed you in a direction and said "it's somewhere thataway." I'm not sure I agree with that design, but I would like it kept as an option.

Which seems to be the general preference around here. I also think we can safely say that it financially makes very little sense to make a game that doesn't do any hand-holding at all. The ones who want to just have fun won't play it, while the ones that do like it will play a game even if it tells you where to go.
Also can still remember Morrowind, including the bit where I stopped playing because I lost all sense of what the hell I was doing. Long live quest markers.

But well, more interesting (or at least to me) question is: should this be something provided by developers, or left to the modders?

Emergent System:

archont:
But as for voice acting - while it's possible to voice act every single character you will have limited voice actors and a limited amount of accents those voice actors can do. With them having to read volumes of generic text the acting will be bland.

In short nothing like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptnSXhVrrbs&feature=related

Oh man, listening to that was almost like listening to a real person talking, like people talk when they talk to each other! Nothing like droning, monotonous, humm-ing and haa-ing that passes for voice acting in skyrim. It'd have taken them 8 times as long to say the same thing as that guy did, and they'd probably have done it without swearing.

Indeed.

Voice acting has it's place. Many games had excellent voice acting and not just tiny fragments like the one here. The Legacy of Kain series for example.

I'm assuming people read books. Not in Skyrim but in real life. I'm assuming the people who play games and the people who read books aren't two mutually exclusive groups. The imagination is what makes fiction pleasant to read. My rule of thumb is that voice acting, graphics or any other medium should be used where using the more direct medium conveys the message better and/or is generally better than what you can expect the viewer to imagine.

In the case of Skyrim 90% of the dialogue could be cut from the game and the game would be better off for it. Better to have text and let people give it a voice based on the graphics alone than to suffer the horrible voice acting as it is.

Thanks to this article, I can now add 'core gamers' to my list of insulting terms along with 'hardcore gamers'.

If games like Planescape: Torment sold half as well as CoD then I'm sure he wouldn't be upset. Too bad for him.

EDIT: Oh wait, the words, 'brain-dead automatons' come from an Escapist author, never mind. I fell into that trap again.

So sorry us regular folk like to play a game and be able to get far in it before rage quiting. You may call that dumbing down, or hand holding or whatever, but I enjoy games that have been in the last five years as apposed to those made way back when.

Morrowind was ass because of no map/checkpoint features. Being able to set options for both is the future.

Dastardly:

Now, within a "dungeon," sometimes they do spell things out pretty clearly with an arrow... but how is that any worse than:

a) A game that doesn't tell you what you're looking for, and expects you to randomly fumble around until you find it?
b) A game that requires you to stop playing and read clues upon clues before finally going to look... and still end up fumbling around until you find it?
c) Most games, in which the dungeon is designed to clearly guide you down an almost entirely linear path, to a quest item that is huge and glowing with fire?

I prefer a game that puts an arrow on your major quest goal, but then gives you reasons to explore all of the other areas of the dungeon without guidance. Sure, I know where to go get the Midget Helmet, or whatever, and I'll get to that -- but first, there's a bunch of rooms over here...

a) Bad design

b) Bad design or you haven't been paying attention

c) Game is probably meant as an aid for patients recovering from lobotomy or brain stroke

I can imagine why you wouldn't want a game without quest markers. If current-gen games had quest markers removed without a major redesign they'd be pretty unplayable. The truth is they're designed around those quest markers. There's no need to have clear or interesting dialogue, no need to have comprehensive journal entries. Quest markers allow developers to get away with lazy writing because at the end of the day the player follows waypoints not unlike a bot follows pathing nodes.

Removing quest markers is certainly possible but it would require more work in other areas. For one it would require writing that isn't absolutely horrible, as is the case with Bethesda games.

I know I'm just gonna come off as old balls, but my feelings can best be summed up with an anecdote.

Around the time I was 20 years old, my family and I ended up at my uncle and aunt's house for Christmas. Their son would have been about 12 at the time, and he was telling me about the newest games he had been playing on his fancy new Gamecube. He showed me the newest Zelda offering (Majora's Mask I think) and mentioned that he had finished the game already. Apparently, he had finished it in about 5 days.

I was blown away. I knew adults that had taken months to get through the game. I was starting to think I was in the presence of a wunderkin. That's when I found out that his parents bought him a official hintbook with every new game. He would then literally open up the book on page one and follow it word for word.

What I'm trying to say is that there is a generation of gamers that aren't interested in a challenge while they play only winning. They aren't looking to push themselves or fight through repeated failures. Because, to fail would mean that they aren't perfect and special like they'd been told.

seraphy:

My point kinda was that these games could have been even more complex if money would not have been wasted to voice acting everything.

Then again if not having everything voice acted makes some people skip buying the game, then I understand why developers do that. I don't personally however exactly like it nor do I see it as necessary.

Personally, I'm not entirely sure why you'd want Skyrim to be more complex. I've played for around 15 hours, and have yet to complete a full questline yet. There's easily as much on offer here as in Morrowind or Oblivion, and Bethesda managed to marry that with stronger game mechanics and better voice acting than either of those two games. Get the game playing correctly on the PS3, and this would easily be the best installment of the Elder Scrolls series.

In short, I guess, there's no need for a game like Skyrim to get more complex, unless you simply want to punish the player with needless stat crunching and number calculations.

archont:

Yeah, Skyrim is fully voiced. It's either quality or quantity and Bethesda went for quantity. The voice acting was as mundane and boring as the writing.

I was debugging a quest in Skyrim and had to open up the internals to see what's going on. Every speech fragment/response given by an NPC is a speech node and those have their internal names given by the developers. Players don't get to see them. I found them to be much more clever, funny and interesting than the actual dialogue the player gets to see.

But as for voice acting - while it's possible to voice act every single character you will have limited voice actors and a limited amount of accents those voice actors can do. With them having to read volumes of generic text the acting will be bland.

In short nothing like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptnSXhVrrbs&feature=related

Different tokes for different folks. I for one found the voice acting vastly improved over Oblivion, and the writing was leagues better. Characters spoke as if they actually fitted in with their surroundings, and were actually part of a cohesive culture.

Sure, not every NPC spoke with great drama and excitement in their voice, but here's the thing: most people you chat with on a day-to-day basis in real life have rather dull voices. People don't tend to talk about their daily activities while heavily emoting or hamming it up. That's the sense I got in Skyrim- the important characters spoke with all the gravitas, dignity and relevant emotion that their roles demanded, and the everyday characters speak to you in everyday voices. I couldn't stand an open-world RPG where every single character is trying to out-ham the other.

And yes, before you ask, I much prefer to hear characters speak to me. Text worked well for older RPGs, but nowadays, if I see a character, I should be able to hear him. Hearing is no lesser a sense than sight. And I find all talk of 'text allowing for more choice' to be redundant. If that's so, imagine how much more choice would be available to the player if developers decided to ignore visuals too, and relayed all vital information through on-screen text.

If you want limitless freedom in your roleplaying, I suggest you play Dungeons and Dragons, or another pen-and-paper RPG. Any videogame, no matter how grandiose, is going to be constricting in comparison. You can either keep cutting out certain elements, such as voice acting, to try and lessen the gap, or you can try and offer a polished game that offers as much freedom and choice as possible while still providing realistic input for your ears as well as your eyes.

This is why every RPG needs a 'Hardcore Mode' or maybe a selection of how 'Hardcore' you want it to be.

Imagine a tick box screen at the beginning of a game (which would be completely optional to even open) which lets you select; whether everything you carry counts as weight on your person, or a reticle for your gun/ sword, or a compass, or a need for food or sleep or even going for a piss.

'Hardcore' RPG players would rejoice in the fact that their game has been made incredibly difficult, and 'Casual' RPG players would still be happy because they don't want to get lost for 3 hours, every 8 hours of play time.

And how much time would be needed to implement this?

CardinalPiggles:
This is why every RPG needs a 'Hardcore Mode' or maybe a selection of how 'Hardcore' you want it to be.

Imagine a tick box screen at the beginning of a game (which would be completely optional to even open) which lets you select; whether everything you carry counts as weight on your person, or a reticle for your gun/ sword, or a compass, or a need for food or sleep or even going for a piss.

'Hardcore' RPG players would rejoice in the fact that their game has been made incredibly difficult, and 'Casual' RPG players would still be happy because they don't want to get lost for 3 hours, every 8 hours of play time.

And how time would be needed to implement this?

You need to differentiate gameplay features that add needless burden to those that add difficulty/depth. The necessity to eat from time to time is realistic but unless the game is designed around that element it will just be a minor inconvenience as in F:NV.

The problem with a hardcore mode is that since it's such a significant gameplay change you have to design your game around it. Or make it an insignificant gameplay feature.

Eating and food in general is a major gameplay element in tycoon/management/strategy games. Or in games like Oregon Trail. If food was an on/off option it would affect the whole game immensely. You'd have to have two variations of the game, in fact.

Journals are a welcome sight. I do not enjoy having to write down by hand/textpad what I'm supposed to do. Yeah, I might be a lazy gamer... and a LOT of people used Strategy Guides before these recent "advancements", which is pretty much the same thing. Or FAQs. Again, same thing. How many of you "core" gamers out there made your own Demon's Souls build having no foreknowledge on how the game worked? Maybe a handful, the rest of you are lying if you say yes.
I like the current gen of RPGs, and I like the developments. It also introduces a less niche game to a wider audience, thus expanding the base.

are you really telling me that journals are a bad thing, unless you really really hate the player and expect them to take notes themselves, notes they will eventually loose half way through the game and be screwed over by them (IM NOT BITTER ADVENTURE GAMES).

I dont see how journals are a bad thing, or do you really want us to believe that the character im playing as is so incompetent that they wont take a note of this huge list of directions to get to someplace half way across the world, in favor of thinking "i know i have this supper awesome memory ill just remember these directions for later in my awesome head of awesomeness, no i dont need to write this down, writings for weaklings and i wont have it."

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