What I'd Like to See in an "Old School" CRPG

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Matt Barton's picture

Shaker: Like a Polaroid picture.Shaker: Like a Polaroid picture.By now, I'm sure everyone has heard about how Brathwaithe and Hall pulled the plug on their Shaker RPG Kickstarter. I had pledged $100 to this one, mostly because the rewards were great and I have a lot of respect for everyone involved in this project (though I've yet to interview either). The gist of it all is that they went into this with a plan to do something "old school," but didn't get into enough specifics about what their game would actually be like. Sure, we all remember how great the old days of Wizardry, Ultima, Pool of Radiance, and Bard's Tale were...but after whipping up everyone into a gonad frenzy, they ran out of the room before anybody got to cuddle.

They've promised to come back with a stronger pitch. I doubt that any of them give a rat's squeal what yours truly would like to see in that pitch, but what the hell. I know they (amongst others) have the talent and experience to make me a very happy gamer, so here's what I would like to see in the next big Kickstarter classic CRPG pitch.

A huge gameworld bristling with infinitely nerdy possibilities. One of my fondest memories of both Pool of Radiance was the expansiveness of the gameworld. It wasn't just that it was big; it was diverse and full of surprises. You *wanted* to go out and explore it, not because of a silly ass achievement--we didn't need that childish crap back then--but because the writers and artists put some real effort into making these places look and feel interesting. Do you remember Sokal Keep in Pool of Radiance? How about Koto's Well? The fact that we can remember these places after nearly 25 years ought to tell you something. I also liked the surprises you had, for instance, when you entered the Great Library and fought a specter. That little nasty was located in the midst of the slums, where you'd been battling a bunch of low level stuff. Whoops!

I wish that every gameworld designer would read Image of the City by Kevin Lynch. The stuff he says about the architecture and layout of cities absolutely applies when making a fun gameworld. I think Lynch really hits on the reasons why I can still remember the layout of Stormwind but have little to no recollection of any of the cities in Dragon Age. Part of this deals with the horizons, landmarks, etc.; you need to be able to easily picture the city's layout in your head without having to look constantly at a map.

I also liked the attention to detail in Might and Magic 6, and how it rewarded you so much for taking copious notes. Yes, taking notes is fun! Oh, so the chainmail expert trainer is in this village...The master disarm traps trainer is here...This lady pays top dollar for bat guano. You get the idea. If I'm not sharpening a pencil after 20 minutes of gameplay, I'm disappointed.

If you want my dough: let me bakeIf you want my dough: let me bakeBasically, when I start a new CRPG and take my first steps into the gameworld, I want to feel like a cat exploring his new house for the first time, not a tourist tethered to a boring old tour guide. When talking about a new CRPG, the developer should begin by talking about the gameworld. If he or she can't make that sound interesting and a place I'd pay money to explore, forget about it!

Take a lesson from Ultima VII. You put a cow in there, I'd better be able to milk it, churn it into butter, bake a cupcake, and er, plant it in the ground and come back a year later and it's a unicorn.

Welcome to Matteria, a Land of Rats and Wonder...

Answer me this: "So, where is this game set? What can you say that'd make me want to spend six months there?"

Turn-based, tactical, spreadsheet-inducing combat. The new X-Com game is the closest I've felt in a long time to the same delights I got back in the day playing the gold box series. True, it wasn't quite as complex as I'd like, but at least I could kick back and really think about where to place troops, whether to attack or guard, and when to use abilities. A game that lets you create and outfit a party of five or even seven adventurers could really hit the spot here, especially if they give us tons of different classes and options for leveling up. I know some idiots claim this gets boring, but that's only because the designer hasn't done due diligence polishing the interface. I shouldn't have to do anything but hit enter or click once to repeat or perform a common action. I shouldn't be in a menu unless I'm doing something special; something only done once or twice per battle, such as a hurling a fireball or throwing down caltrops. A battle that doesn't last at least 20 minutes and a cup of coffee isn't worth putting in.

Switching from a bardiche to a glaive ought to make a real difference. Somehow. I don't know how. But that's your job, designer!

Answer me this: "What have you done to make me love your combat engine so much I have a separate Excel spreadsheet for each member of my party?"

Smart economics. It's always important to tie this into the economics of the game. I don't want loot dropping out of every corpse like cigarette ashes from the frayed old hag at the casino. I want to be in a town trying to figure out if I'd rather spend the ten coins to level up, buy a new helmet, teach my mage a new spell, or have my rogue join the thieves' guild. I also like convenience purchases, such as bags of holding, an ox to help carry my loot, horses to ride on, etc. And for God's sake, DO NOT insult me with stupid ass vanity shite. I don't need a "skin" for my character.

Shopping: So hard to find sabatons to match this cape.Shopping: So hard to find sabatons to match this cape.Crafting should never be about going out and gathering stuff, grinding, etc. It should be about increasing the value of the stuff you find. The "skinning" skill from WOW is a good example of this (as opposed to their mining/herbalism crap). So I've just killed a bunch of wolves. Let's skin them and sell them back at town. Oh, look, that kobold had a gold tooth. Ka-ching! This kind of crafting just makes killing stuff more rewarding, not something that diverts you away from it. Why not have a skill for dissecting corpses and learning how to brew better poisons or get more crits? Some type of collectible skill so you recognize that the "worthless bauble" that kobold was dangling from its lobe is actually worth a mint?

Answer me this: "What have you done to satisfy my need to exploit the hell out of this environment for personal satisfaction?"

Delayed gratification. "But I want it now!!!" Of course you do. And the more you want it, and the harder you have to work for it, the more you're going to ENJOY it when you get your grubby little hands on it. There's a tendency in newer RPGs to hit you with a new level or ability every five minutes. It's that ADHD-inspired crap that I *hate*. Don't give me five new abilities before I've had a chance to master the first one. It's a good feeling in a CRPG when you've finally gotten so good with your techniques that you're handily dispatching monsters that gave you hell before. Give us a chance to savor that before upping the ante again. I want to be in leather and rags killing rats and spiders with blunt objects for at least 12 hours before I've moved up to orcs. And for God's sake, if you have my level 1 heroes killing a dragon, I'm going to wipe my butt with your cloth map. Well, maybe my friend's cloth map.

I'm not an hyperactive brat who needs a juicebox and a kiss from mommy every fifteen seconds. "DING! You're level 4.2, congratulations!!!!" I'm a grown man who wants to hit a rat on the head with a dull, rusty axe for two weeks.

Answer me this: "Have you paced this game so that I have time to recharge between orgasms?'

Enough with the cloth maps. Been there, done that. It was cool back in the day because Lord British wowed us with something new and unexpected. Sorry, folks, you can't just copy him and expect to produce a similar effect. Instead of being lazy and copying British, think up something ON YOUR OWN to make me open that box and go "wow!" What would I rather have than a cloth map? How about something that actually relates to your game, like Infocom liked to do? Or, why not just make the box itself a collectible. It doesn't have to be a plastic helmet. Just look at Infocom's awesome Suspended box. Now that would look awesome on any shelf.

Cloth Map: Oh, so (yawn) original.Cloth Map: Oh, so (yawn) original.There are really only three things I'd like in a REAL collector's edition: Kick-ass box, well-produced and DETAILED manuals, and a little card that says "Thank you" signed by the team.

Answer me this: "How much thought have you put into the package and the pack-ins?"

Rats. I think I've mentioned this a few times already, but a game without rats is not a CRPG, folks. You can tell a lot about how much passion a designer has by the rats in a game. If the developer is any good, when the rats show up, it's party time. Rats are the original party animal. You want to break the ice at a dull gathering? Toss in a rat or two and see what happens!

If you can't have the player fighting a pack of rats and make it fun, there's no point in continuing.

Answer me this: "Rats? Tell me more."

Save the heavy dialog/story for the novelization. I know some games have pulled this off, but frankly, I'm bored with it. Nobody ever played Pool of Radiance or Wizardry or Ultima for the awesome storyline. Just toss in a bunch of stock characters doing predictable things so we don't have to bother reading any stupid text. I don't want MY characters to say anything! *I*, repeat *I* will do the talking for them in my head! The only dialog options I should have are (a) hostile (b) friendly (c) meek (d) pitiful etc., then roll the scores on charisma/str/int or however you want to set it up. If I want my characters to fall in love, I'll buy golden rings for them and marry them at that chapel I noted on page 32 of my notebook. I want to be the story, not have it told to me!

Seriously, if you just cannot resist the urge to write a novel, then write one!!! Have it printed and include it in the kickass box.

Answer me this: "Where are my reading glasses? Up your arse!"

Pipes and ale. There are two things that every CRPG needs: a way to smoke, and a way to drink. No "adventurer" performs well without his pints and puffs. Try to imagine a good fantasy story that doesn't start in a tavern. See, you can't do it, can you? Yet how many lame ass games only penalize you for drinking and smoking a good ol' pipe. And no, I don't care that tobacco wasn't in Europe until the New World. This is fantasy. To fight a strong beastie, you must drink a strong ale. Remember that.

Answer me this: "I'm sorry, were you talking instead of drinking?"

Stores with fun stuff to buy. Picture yourself at a Ren Fair. How many times have you said to yourself, "Hm, I've got plenty of money, but there's nothing here that I'd like to buy"? Uhm, how about NEVER? Now consider that people actually have to MAKE that mead, battle axe, leather cape, mandolin, dulcimer, or codpiece. All a game developer has to do is render the model and stick it in there. Shops that have nothing interesting in them don't last long. So why not put at least a few really INTERESTING things in the various shops of your gameworld? I ought to be looking at the selection and saying, "Hm, what the heck is that weird ass thing over there for 500 gold pieces?" It seems like all the MMOs I've played have failed hugely in this regard, turning their shops into mere exchanges for "junk" items, which, by the way, there should be zilch.

Answer me this: "Are the shops in your game more fun than a Wal-Mart? No? Then allow me to exchange this @#$@ game for a jug of Sam's Cola!"

A Proper Rat: fr. Tales of IllyriaA Proper Rat: fr. Tales of IllyriaRealistic graphics. I'm not saying the graphics have be detailed into 5 million polygons or whatever. I'm talking more about the style. I don't want to play a goofy looking cartoon or a game that doesn't appear to take itself seriously. I don't want to see a spiky-haired kid with eyes the size of watermelons lugging around a sword as big as a telephone pole. That said, neither do I want "gritty realism." I am tired of gritty realism. I am sick of gritty realism. The art is there to stimulate my imagination, not substitute for it.

Answer me this: "Does your art inspire the same longings to enter a fantasy realm that the good ol' TSR books did back in the day?"

So you see, there's not a lot that you need, really, to make a great "old school" CRPG. The main thing is to be nerdy enough to have created sixteen different dances for the Northeastern Forest Elves in your game, each with its own set of bonuses for different phases of the ten moons, but not so nerdy that you frighten me.


BydoEmpire (not verified)
Best quote ever...

"The art is there to stimulate my imagination, not substitute for it."

I couldn't agree more with that whole paragraph.

I mostly want a good, tactical, turn-based combat system like the Gold Box games. Let me take my time planning my moves.

It would nice to have a bit stronger need for non-combat spells like "Charm Person." So few (classic) RPGs took advantage of those, but in a real game of D&D that stuff can really be the crux of a game.

I also like a gentle ramp up in difficulty. Don't make me restart the game five times because I get a character killed in the first Kobold encounter. Give me a chance.

Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Joined: 01/16/2006
Agreed. I was just thinking

Agreed. I was just thinking difficulty. In a BAD game, that's handled by a "difficulty selector." In a GOOD game, that's handled by how quickly you decide to advance to a tougher area. If you want max difficulty, you take your party into a high level area where every roll of the dice is a kill or be killed situation. A GREAT game rewards you having that kind of audacity by giving you access to tougher areas and letting you benefit from the better quality loot (but *not* xp, which would defeat the point).

I look at this as risk management. You make less money, but play it safer, if you invest in low-risk bonds. In a game, this would amount to spending more time in the low level areas until you're leveled up more. Still, I think you should always get some exp from killing anything, even if you're a level 10 warrior fighting a level 1 rat. I also want to reward players who explore, getting a big bonus for killing a type of creature for the first time and stuff like that. As far as I'm concerned, really exploring and getting to know an area is just as valuable (if not more so) to a real adventurer than the fact that he's killed hundreds of kobolds. That's one of the many things I liked about Grimrock; you really had to pay attention to the environment.

Rowdy Rob
Rowdy Rob's picture
Joined: 09/04/2006
I Destroyed the CRPG Genre! Sorry about that!

I’m the reason you all aren’t playing the latest, deepest, greatest turn-based CRPG. I’m the reason the game developers aren’t catering to you. I’m the guy who, in your eyes, destroyed the CRPG genre. And I’m being semi-serious here.

You see, I like epic stories, linear plots, action, and shorter-length games. I like to feel like there is a goal, a purpose, or an epic journey that I must pursue. And I like to feel like I’m progressing towards that goal at a decent pace, and not just meandering around or spending a whole night on one battle. I want to move along.

I like amazing graphics and cool audio, and I like voice acting in my CRPG’s. I hate reading page after page of text when we have the modern tech to have actors playing the parts of the characters. Therefore, I like cool cut-scenes and cinemas that move the story along. And I did say “amazing graphics,” as in I like shiny things being waved in my face. Did you see those dragons in “Skyrim?” Awesome!

I don’t like micro-tweaking combat strategies, “spreadsheeting” my way through battles (although if the game is intriguing enough, I can work with just about any battle system). I don’t like wasting time trudging back-and-forth back-and-forth from the dungeon to the healer time after time. I don’t like searching every nook and cranny of every spot on the map for a possible trinket, especially if the fate of the world is at stake. And I’m impatient; I don’t like the idea that it will take me a year of continuous play to finally beat the game. If it is going to take me months to play the game, I at least like some sort of linearity, in that I can gauge how far I am in the game, and how much further I must go until I “beat” the game.

And I don’t care about “feelies” in the game box. They’re cool, don’t get me wrong, but after the initial “wow” factor after opening the box, it’s unlikely that I’m going to be thinking of the feelies as I spend the next few weeks/months/years playing the actual game. I’m not even a heavy CRPG’er, and I have at least a few cloth maps in my collection, which added nothing to my game experience. Unless the “feelie" is integral to the game itself, it doesn’t mean anything to me. But it’s unlikely that a game company will design the game to make the feelie integral, because then they must always include the feelie when they sell the game.

So, there you are.... I’m the “bad guy.” I’m the reason that, in your eyes, modern CRPG’s suck. I like story-based CRPG’s, I like great audio-visuals, I like an easy-to-learn battle system, and I don’t really care about getting bogged down in minutiae or “feelies.” I’m not brainy or nerdy enough to seek out “hardcore” CRPG gaming. “Dwarf Fortress” scares the #%&@ out of me!

So, am I right? Are you guys wrong? Is my way the “correct” way to game, and you’re all doing it wrong? Not at all.

But there are a LOT more people like me than there are like you. That means there’s more money to be made catering to ME than there is catering to YOU. People like me have generally rejected the harder-core gaming, and so game designers must dumb their games down to get my money.

And I’m sorry that’s the case, because despite what I like, I would like everyone to get the gaming experience they crave. You deserve to have those deep battle systems, the lore, the crafting, and the myriad of skills and characters. You’re being deprived because I want your fantasy CRPG’ing, but I don’t want all the hassle and minutiae that “old school” requires. There’s not enough of you hardcore players to counteract my simpler demands. I’m where the money is.

My bad.

Joined: 02/07/2012
Just out of interest, do you

Just out of interest, do you like the latest XCOM game? and what do you think about diablo?

I dont mind the majority of games being aimed at your type of gamer but I am miffed that there were basically none aimed at my type until quite recently.

Joined: 02/07/2012

"I want to be in leather and rags killing rats and spiders with blunt objects for at least 12 hours before I've moved up to orcs. "

i lolled

Joined: 01/21/2009
Rob i agree with you, but I

Rob i agree with you, but I also love the old stuff. I look at it like this.. Nowadays i don't have 100's of hours for single games (well i do but i split it between games). SO i gravitate towards the games you are talking about. Certain games do make me put the hours in. I know not everybody likes um but Fallout 3 and Vegas both show 100+ hours played on my steam account.. and I haven't 'won" either, I have all but the final quests done, but I have so many other things to do i keep doing them and leaving the "game winner" quest for later. And yes even today I still fire them up once and awhile and play a full evening of them.

I love turn based strategy, Anybody remember the WARLORDS games.. Ultima like tile graphics but many races, many strategies, and single game times in excess of 100 hours.. The Panzer general games.. (and all the knock off's) fantasy Empires? But nowadays I would MUCH rather play something like Elven Legacy- turn based, animated and almost as much depth as the old games but most of its hidden. If you want to spreadsheet battle you can (all stats are there to work with). But the game rewards you keeping troops alive with RPG like levels. it keeps it fair by letting you field only so many units and the difficulty ramps at a fairly even pace. Where its weak- generic world, generic overused fantasy characters... and yes, almost to long game play times.. its broke up into missions which help, but to play a full "game" is still many many hours.

I love my old school, but I really do wonder if there is a large enough player base. Most who want the old games are us older people. And I know i have far more time then ANY of my friends who used to game with me.. none of them could commit even remotely enough time to play a 100+ hour game. In the end they may buy it.. but I doubt any would win it. I sat and thought about it.. I have about 12 friends who where at one time Huge AD&D or CRPG players.. of that 12 (including me) 3 still play actively but I play far more then all of them combined the second most active averages about 16 hours a month on his 360 (he is a HUGE FF nut) he is playing the last FF .. I feel sorry for him.. the game is almost a basic tutorial for over 30 hours before the game starts to challenge the player at all.. then there is at least 100+ more hours for the FF nut.. (about 60 more hours for the average player).. he wont finish it for 7-8 years.. of course his kids will be older, maybe he will get more time.. but I doubt it.. they will be older, more basketball (or other sports) more time for him to devote.. watching his kids play..

I just don't see the 100+ hours market being large enough for anybody but kickstarter to do.. as phone and social games grow it shows people want quick, short and simpler games..

I know its not so much in the "what i want".. for me.. Grimrock was close.. I would like a cross between Wizardry 7 and Might & magic 3 all turn based tile, but animated and open world with dungeons. Wizardry's deeper story and factions, M&M awesome interface and excellent art (not necessarily cartoon like.. Grimrock has about the kind of graphics i like, but it would be nice to see some outside and more color)

As a huge Elder scroll fan.. Skyrim was what i wanted.. I am 95% happy with it.. I would like to see something like the VATS from Fallout 3 for melee weapons in Skyrim.. but no idea how that would work, if it could work at all (probably not).. maybe it could switch to a top down isometric view and go to turn based combat when you have hostile encounters.. of course that opens the whole.. " i want to be bad and kill everybody" issue..

its hard for me to judge what i want, i know i see the old games with far to much love.. revisiting most shows me how much i like newer interfaces, and streamlined game mechanics. They where great for there day, but show some age, and even updating them wouldn't fix them. Take Wizardry 3.. if you took out the hand mapping.. you just shaved about half the hours off the total gameplay.. its not in the box, its not "required' but its part of the game, making it auto map would shorten its game play time down considerably. And for me.. sending me some graph paper and making me do it again.. is not an option. While I enjoyed it once, i wont do it nowadays. otherwise.. what could you do? better graphics, animation, maybe beef up the combat with more options.. but then its not that old game anymore, its not "oldschool"

In the end I don't know what I want. I know what I loved 30 years ago.. and I know what i like now, they are not the same. I must admit Grimrock proved some game mechanics work well updated. maybe others would too.. X-Com (new one) proves that a Hardcore Strat game can work.. but I know some who would argue its not Hardcore (and in the strictest terms its not).. very interesting topic.. not one i can answer quite so easily.

Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Joined: 01/16/2006
Good to see ya back, Rob!

Good to see ya back, Rob! I've missed you!

Regarding your tongue-in-cheek post, I actually don't think it's a case of either or here. It's not like every CRPG has to be a Skyrim or Diablo III (thank GOD). What Kickstarter has opened up is the possibility for more niche games.

Here's a book I strongly recommend:

His basic argument is that we're going to shift away from best-sellers and big hits and move towards lots of smaller sales that add up even bigger profits. This is mainly possible because of shifts in production and distribution. You don't need to rely on Michael Jackson-level superstars to keep your music company afloat. In many ways, you're better off with thousands of smaller stars than one or two juggernauts--and it doesn't help that today's biggest stars are blips on the radar compared to the big stars of the 80s or earlier. THIS is because there is so much variety nowadays.

Plus, you have the 80/20 rule working for you. 20% of your fanbase is responsible for 80% of your sales. Thus, what you REALLY want to do is build up lots of very loyal niches where the fans will pay big money to support you.

We CLEARLY see this with the Project Eternity and Wasteland 2 Kickstarters. 80% of CRPG fans do not and will not ever give a rat's ass about either of these projects. However, the 20% who DO are willing to pledge, taking a big risk with their money. That REALLY hits it home for me.

On the flip side, I bet 80% of CRPG fans are like Rob and Clok, quite happy to play Skyrim or Diablo III or whatever the big sellers are (they're big sellers for a reason, obviously). But success when you're making a $60 million game means you MUST appease that 80%, not just the 20%. Fortunately, if you can lower production costs by going with off-the-shelf or free tools, cut out the most expensive assets, etc., you can still end up with a great product that will meet the expectations of the 20% and possibly lure some of the rest.

It's really a win-win. I personally don't see the big games like skyrim, COD, Halo, going away anytime soon. What I do see is a huge spike in niche games that will rush in to fill the cracks and meet the demands of gamers like ME. I don't care if the game I'm playing is popular with Joe 6-Pack or not. I just want to play something that's fun for me.

Rowdy Rob
Rowdy Rob's picture
Joined: 09/04/2006
Thoughts and Gripes on CRPGs

(Oops, I thought I posted this message last week. Oh well, I guess I’ll post it again right now, even though I cover some of the same stuff in another thread. Better late than never.)

I think part of the “disconnect” between “hardcore” CRPG enthusiasts and mainstream “Skyrim” players is what is considered “role playing.” Games like “Skyrim” give you role-playing via real-time immersion, while older-school games like “Pool of Radiance” give it to you via abstraction and turn-based strategy. Games like “Baldur’s Gate” and “Might and Magic VI” give you various compromises between the two role-playing “systems.”

I haven’t played “Skyrim,” but I did play “Oblivion,” and I liked it for the most part. I liked the “you are there” immersion. I liked exploring the scenery, crawling and battling through dungeons, and being able to interact with this lush, living fantasy world. I liked feeling like I was really fighting off the monster in real-time, thinking on my feet.

I liked “Baldur’s Gate,” opting to pause the combat to plan my party’s attack. I liked strategizing to overcome fearsome opponents, using the deep weapons and magic systems, taking into account the various strengths and weaknesses of my party members. I could imagine the expressions and banter of my party members as they fought battles and camped in the woods together.

The problem is that the “real-time” system is easier, in general, to learn than the “abstract” system. Since turn-based games generally don’t have tutorials in-game, the game mechanics are intimidating and off-putting to the “noob.” I was actually surprised at how deep the battle system was in BG, which was addictive once I understood it, but it sure wasn’t immediately obvious.


It sounds like what Matt (and the rest of you) wants is a solo “World of Warcraft,” but with deep turn-based battles, harder leveling, and perhaps less cartoonish graphics. If so, then that sounds cool; I can deal with that. But here are some of MY thoughts on CRPG’s. See if they gel with yours.

1. Unlike Matt, I think a story is of PRIMARY importance in a solo CRPG! Fantasy, as a genre, seems to require an epic story arc. Great heroes, powerful villains, spectacular magic, amazing creatures, and awe-inspiring locales have little impact if there isn’t a great destiny that the protagonist (you) must fulfill. Otherwise, all these things are just “there,” and your purpose doesn’t really matter. I think a powerful conclusion to an epic story that YOU brought about is much more satisfying than just acquiring the most loot and the most powerful skills. A great story keeps the player motivated to keep playing the game!

2. I want in-game tutorials. How do I play the game? This goes for games of any genre, but most CRPG’s I’ve played seem to dump you into the game with no tutorial. I know, “read the manual,” but many games don’t come with paper/book manuals (like CRPG’s on GoG), so you have to page-switch between the game and the PDF manual, often times causing the game to crash. Even with a real manual, I prefer in-game learning to reading from a book, although maybe reading a PDF manual on an e-reader might be cool.

3. Reading in-game text...... I am totally with Matt on this one, but it kind of contradicts my point #1. Reading in a game is boring, unless you’re playing a text adventure. But something must move the plot forward. Spoken dialog, mixed with (short) cinemas seems to work well. The very things many of you hate. But it works. I think “cinemas” work particularly well as a “chapter marker,” letting you know you’re beginning or ending a particular “chapter point,” providing a quick treat as well as providing more motivation to continue.

4. I like NPC’s, but I wish there were some way to know beforehand if an NPC has anything interesting to say before I try to speak to them. I hate having to talk to twenty NPCs before I find one that says something I need to know. It’s especially aggravating when several NPCs tell you bits and pieces of what you need to know, meaning you have to seek out and converse with all of them before you can proceed.

5. I do like exploration, side quests, and “sandboxy” stuff, actually. Although I usually want to rush to the end and beat the game, I understand the appeal of the “world immersion” stuff. Most CRPG game engines seem to be able to cater to both explorers and linear players, so the real barrier is the amount of time the game designers can devote to filling up the game world. I like lots of options. I don’t need to milk cows, though.....

6. Lore.... since most CRPG’s are D&D/Tolkien-based, there’s not a lot of need for backstory or “lore.” You don’t care, because it’s already been rehashed in a bazillion other games, and you already innately know the “lore.” Elves, dwarves, orcs, dragons, etc. etc..... just point me to the bad guy already. Which brings me to....

7. No matter how great the next CRPG is, it will never top your favorite CRPG’s of the past. Why? Because you’ve already played the “new” CRPG a bazillion times already, since they’re all based on the same fantasy world: D&D. (I cover this in detail in the other thread.) You’ve already played it, and now what else can they do to change it up? Add pandas and lingerie-clad bunny girls, apparently. But since you’ve already played many CRPGs over the years, the new game(s) will never match the special experience of your first CRPG(s). It will be disappointing on some level(s), no matter if they get the battle system right or not, because it’s not “special” in the way your first experiences in the genre were. You’re older and more jaded.

8. My number #1 biggest gripe about CRPG’s is TRAVELLING! I’m talking about walking from point A to point B, with nothing happening in-between, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, ad nauseum. All this backtracking is boring, and takes up valuable gaming time where nothing interesting is happening. Walking around to explore, collect herbs, and seek combat is something I can understand and enjoy, but going deep into a dungeon, getting your butt kicked, then walking all the way back out of the dungeon, across the landscape, into town, down the street, around the corner, into the sanctuary, up the stairs, two doors to the right to finally get to the shop to buy a healing potion, then going all the way back.... it gets OLD OLD OLD! This is the number one killer of my interest in many CRPG’s. Games like "Baldurs Gate" allowed you to skip over the parts of the map you've already explored, but I gave up on "The Witcher" and "M&M6" because of all the backtracking.

Okay, I’ve rambled on long enough. Hope there’s some food for thought in all of this.

Joined: 01/21/2009
Excellent point about 80/20 I

Excellent point about 80/20 I tend to look at stuff to much from a business standpoint as I have ran 2 of my own in the past (yes even successfully, but neither where what i wanted to do long term) The least risk.. and I think the big guys do too.. but the indy guys probably don't.. I know for sure some just are happy to break even and get there dream project out.. Kickstarter proves it.. Now it just remains to be seen if those big guys doing small budget can come out with something worth all the fuss. I know the 2 and 4 Million budgets seem huge. but as i posted before, I think i read the average game budget is 13 Million something.. Most of these well know kickstarters are the BIG BOYS doing um.. the guys used to big budgets.. are they going to be able to work this way (we all know they can, anything can be done, but will they?)

dang off track again.. Eternity does interest me.. I played the BG and ID games.. but a recent restart of ID from GoG.. i don't remember much of this game at all.. as that type of game was hot then.. (top down isometric) they all start to blend a bit. I also cant remember if i did any of the add on packs. So my interest in replaying it is peaked too. If X-Com wasn't pissing me off so bad right now.. I ran into a mission that keeps dumping crys and civvies on a terror mission.. jut get overrun even when i try funnel um and use grenades.. man i hate the zombies.

Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Joined: 01/16/2006
Most of these guys are from

Most of these guys are from an era--at least when they were making THEIR best games--when the budgets were a helluva lot lower. $2 million in 1990 is probably $4-6 million today, though. In any case, it was nowhere near $60 and (IMO) doesn't have to be. There's definitely a point where adding an extra ten million onto a project isn't going to result in a better game; perhaps it might result in better cut scenes, bigger named actors doing the voice work, more popular licensed tracks, etc. But you don't get a better game just by pumping money into it.


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