Friday, August 14, 2009

Pet hates

At the moment, my pet hate is the fact that all the people I work with, who have spent the past 6 months dithering over whether they want me to do something, now all decide en masse they must have their projects done at the same time... so much for the summer lull.

But what are people's pet hates in modules? We often talk about what people like, but what about the flipside -little things that become big turn-offs? Feel free to mention burning horse companions that can't navigate the walkmesh, poor area design, unfinished campaign series... ;) . I guess for something to be a pet hate it has to be common enough amongst different modules to become a grind. Mine is probably lip-flappers on PC responses -perhaps because I read fairly quickly, but I find it slows the flow down too much, especially as 1) you've read the PC options already before deciding on which to pick, and 2) there's no PC voice-over anyway...


Azenn said...

Oh, you must mean pet peeve. Silly Brits.

And you must have been playing that new module Serene. I was thinking the exact same thing.

Starwars said...

Overuse of conversation cutscenes. I think there *can* be a good place for them, even in a mod with no voiceovers. Sometimes it can add to the drama a bit.

But it tends to piss me off if there are too many because it just... interrupts the visual flow of the game, and for no good reason. And yeah, lipflappers tend to make them even more annoying.

Also, overuse of combat. This pretty much goes for the entire gaming industry, but I'm so tired of the mentality that we just have to have something to fight all the damn time. Design encounters carefully, or not at all.

I find that to be one of the biggest "auto-pilot RPG design" issues there are. Games like the KOTORs are some of the worst offenders in this regard, the combat is just so mindnumbingly boring and easy... and yet you have to go through a *million* of these encounters.

That's not to say I don't enjoy combat-heavy games. I can most certainly enjoy them, providing they're designed in a certain way.

I mean, I was reading a preview about one of the Dragon Age origins... What's one of our first missions? To kill giant rats. Yeah, that's really exciting... Argh.

/rant :p

Wyrin said...

@Azenn - heh yeah I use peeve/hate interchangeably. And yep was from serene. Looks a fun mod but reckon I'll have to take the lip flappers out of the hak myself

@starwars - I find cutscenes easier to read for lots of text tho I do know what you mean. But treating combat as something to pander to the lowest common denominator in CRPG players is annoying too. Hadn't heard that about DA... disappointing...

Jclef said...

1. Poor Area Design
2. Bad Writing
3. Combat "Fodder" that could kill Chuck Norris

E.C.Patterson said...

A couple of hamster-size pet peeves:

-companions who come equipped with weapons that don't match their weapon specialization feats.

-Interiors lit with default white point lights.

BTW, thank god for flaming magical swords that burn underwater! Neat area.

Wyrin said...

Good point on matching weapon feats with equipment! Especially a problem I've seen with ranger companions as the default packages give both combat style feats

Anonymous said...

-companions with ranks in conversation skills that are never used in game

-a huge dungeon of multiple areas filled with orcs

-tedious backtracking all the way out of the dungeon mentioned above

-the obvious spy of most modules with a betrayal scene and the silly pc responses

These are on the top of my head.

Amraphael said...

1. My favorite pet hates (had to look that phrase up) is often my party member's pets :) I really hate to play with people (or companions) that always call on their familiars when not needed!!! They attack when not supposed to. They turn on ME. They are standing in doorways and passages blocking my line of sight AND they have those awful sounds! In NWN or in PnP I always try to kill them off whenever their master looks away. *evil grin*

Next on the NWN2 list is:
2. Bad area design. It's such turn off. My party members use to say "But it's a good story..." But no, no, no! No good story can make up for bad looks. Good looking areas can improve a poor story a bit, but not the other way around, in my world.

3. Too long conversations or pompous monologues. A good story is told efficient and easily. Can't hide a less good with higher number of words but easily destroy a fair one.

4. Cutscenes without a cause. I want the standard NWN conversations as default and the use of Cutscenes only in special situations where that kind of attention is needed. I played a module recently that cutscenes were used for climbing down a hole and for entering a portal.

Thanks Wyrin for posting this. My blood pressure rose to a really high level :) That's better and funnier than exercising. And that damn burning horse ... Well it probably ends up at point 101 at my list.

Lance Botelle (Bard of Althéa) said...

Woh! I read some of those "pet hates" and gulped a bit: My area designs suck! They just about pass as OK, but I am more of the school of a good story and gameplay over looks. And if I wasn't, I would have probably given up by now. ;)

That said, I was also relieved at some others, like cutscenes and lip-flappers, as the take time and it appears people can live without them. :)

Anyway, comparisons aside, my own peeves are (in no particular order):

1) Long rambling areas with nothing to do.

2) Long desciptions that don't appear to add much or serve much purpose.

3) Love interests - I prefer an action story to a love story.

4) Too little combat. Combat adds pace and excitement when used properly, athough I agree that poorly placed encounters is a bad idea.

5) The same old thing! (Actually this is my biggest pet hate, as I really do like a game that has new elements of its own that changes the experience for the player.)


Wyrin said...

Interesting on the area design too. But then is that area degin as in layout or area esign as in texturing.. - both I'm guessing. I see Area texturing and shaping stil las an 'art' - so poor area design can just be due to lack of articstic flair i nthat department - not a conscious design choice (such as poorly scaled combat)

Jclef said...

To be more specific: As far as area design pet peeve goes, my biggest would be Floating Assets! Texturing isn't a deal breaker, but seeing floating buildings and trees usually takes some of the fun out. ;)

Remi said...

Unfinished campaigns would have to be near the top of my list. But those only matter when the campaign is otherwise *really* good, such as Rick Burton's Paladin campaign, or another recent one in NWN2 that shall remain unmentioned....

Really bad grammar, spelling and punctuation has to come immediately after. There were a couple mods recently where I refrained from lowering my vote due to these, but by gods, they are distracting. It's something I usually prefer not to comment about because either I'll make a glaring faux-pas in the comment or the author will turn out to be a working in his/her non-native language. Either way, if language is not a mod builders strong point, a proof-reader is a must. I believe the toolset has a plugin that allows export and import of the text in an xml file for easy proofing/correcting?

I'm of two minds with regards to the lip flappers. On the one hand, after having played several mods with them in place, when I switch to a mod with no lip flapping, cut scenes look much less polished. Although, this could just as easily be fixed by removing cut scenes for mundane conversation. However, lip flappers either move faster than I read forcing me to pause to keep up with the conversation, or they hold up long conversations you need to wait through painfully. Has no one found a way to make lip flapped conversations that you can click through at your own pace?

And lastly, forcing a specific personality on the player's character. I realize that this is somewhat inevitable in any good story driven mod, and indeed, two recent mods (Danaan and Serene) which I thought were regardless very good entertainment take this to an extreme. I understand that with only one story path, you aren't creating conversations options that have much real in-game impact, then why worry? But especially with respect to Serene, as an example, having the choice to simplify the overwrought conversations (and for that matter, being a little less 'ghetto') would have been big plus.

I'll get off my soapbox here :) Thanks for reading, if you made it this far.

Wyrin said...

Hi Remi, thanks for the comments

I know what you mean sometimes about not being sure how to vote on something (i'm having that issue with Serene). I'm guilty on dodgy spelling, but I'm also blind to it - i do not see it when reading other peoples work, so its rarely an issue!
Yes, I do find it irritating when a builder has written dialogue assuming the PC is a set character type (often their favorite PC). Humour is something i find difficult in modules too - all to often its not funnny and doesn;t add to the experience, but then i feel a miserable git for bringing it up!

Liso said...

I'll comment as a player, since I can barely build a tower with my 4yo's blocks :D

1) Lack of cohesiveness in the story.

2) lack of choices be it responses or comments. I feel it helps the player mold their character to the personality they desire. i.e. good, chaotic, evil etc... I'm not hung up on alignments. I just feel the direction and options should be open for the player. I realize this takes a lot more work. I really only expect this in major budget games! lol

3) weird path finding. I click to go a few steps, and walk around an entire building. urg! that is annoying. Mainly if you are in battle.

4)Battles for no reason. It has been mentioned already. I'll take the big nasty H&S IF! there is a suitable reason. Not just to fill an empty area. If you have nothing for a big huge area, get rid of it :P

5) Someone mentioned romance options and not liking them. Well... This is a double edged sword for me. Not many can write a believable romance that does not seem cheesy or forced. So, I like them if they are good. I hate them if they are as stated above.

6) To many loading screens! This drives me bonkers. Having the player going in and out of every nook and cranny, dealing with an absurd amount of loading screens is just cruel.

7) I'll have to go with bad area design as well. Not to say imperfect textures are the issue. It is mostly the continuity of flow. Poorly constructed towns and or cities with confusing flow to them is a huge peeve of mine.

8) loading screens that make no sense! I have all but preached this on the podcast. Please please.. take the time to at least take a few screen shots and use them as loading screens for the area. I've played some modules that go into beautiful fields, and I see a loading screen for the KoS fortress "blinks"

9) The evil doer that tells you of all their dastardly plans before they threaten to end your life. "rolls eyes" It makes no sense. What evil doer would even bother? They want you dead. Move on, nothing to see here. Find out about all the plans via the story. Not some insane speech given by the bad guy at the end.

10)Multiple path choices with only one ending. What is the point of having choices through out a story, if they are all going to end the same way....

O'kay. done for now :)


Anonymous said...

As a player, my pet peeves are:

1. Bad or minimalistic writing. I'm not saying a mod should read like a book, but some description and interesting dialogue are important IMO.

2. Bad or minimalistic romances. Ties in with the above. If the romances are going to consist of a few short convos followed by a declaration of undying love, the author shouldn't have bothered. I've actually played some modules where good companion interaction that only hints at possible attraction is preferable to some "full romances."

3. Bad villains. A bad guy should be a catalyst in a story, along with the PC. And they should be somewhat logical; I once played a mod, that will remain nameless, that had the villain flailing about and being so inconsistent there was never any doubt that he'd lose.

4. Bad PC characterization. Pretty self-explanatory; I can indeed enjoy playing with a certain NPC "type," but I like at least a couple choices in dialogue and in quests.

5. Unfinished campaigns.

6. Hordes of things to kill. I get bored very quickly if all I'm doing is running around and whacking things. Especially when "weak" monsters like wolves and gnolls take 20 hits from my +6 sword to get rid of.

7. Stereotypical, bland, or "super special look at me I'm the author's dream boy/girl" companions.

*Looks over list.* Heh, I don't ask for much . . . But seriously, I do prefer mods with less of the above and more substance. :)