Stolen Pixels #41: Pick a Perk

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

Stolen Pixels #41: Pick a Perk

Life would be so much better if it came with perks - but only if they were better than the lame perks of Fallout 3.

Permalink

Shamus Young:
Why do developers continually assume that console gamers are drooling spastic killbots with atrophied brains and a contempt for literacy? Aren't these the people that play Final Fantasy, a game that is only slightly less complex than piloting the space shuttle?

Moot point. Story line (especially for those like FF n) has nothing to do with the complexity of gameplay or mathematical ability. The ability to understand the social intricacies of JRPGs are not the same as the ability to comprehend large amounts of mathematical data.

However, I do agree with your sentiment.

POKEMON!

To be fair, there are a lot of us out there which are drooling killbots with atrophied brains and a contempt for literacy!

And I am happy.
Grab a beer and play mario karts with us!

Shamus Young:
Don't forget the Ron Perlman one. I've begun imagining I have this perk active in my day-to-day routine, and it has done wonders for my quality of life.

Is that anything like Freemanic Paracusia?

Im gonna start doing the Ron Pearlman one, it sounds awesome.

Shamus, I salute you! I've been wondering the same thing for a long time.

I'd pick the Ron Perlman perk right away, but it would be even more awesome if he teamed up with Jeremy Irons

I, for one, am happy to be sold short. The less time I spend on tedious min-maxing, or slowly realizing (like in Fallout 1) how awful my starting stats were, the more time I have to play the fun bits of the game.

I would totally tune in to the Ron Perlman radio station. Galaxy News Radio's playlist is too short anyway. :-P

Jackpot:

Shamus Young:
Why do developers continually assume that console gamers are drooling spastic killbots with atrophied brains and a contempt for literacy? Aren't these the people that play Final Fantasy, a game that is only slightly less complex than piloting the space shuttle?

Moot point. Story line (especially for those like FF n) has nothing to do with the complexity of gameplay or mathematical ability. The ability to understand the social intricacies of JRPGs are not the same as the ability to comprehend large amounts of mathematical data.

However, I do agree with your sentiment.

I believe he was referring to the mechanics of the Final Fantasy games, and not their story. I inferred this from the fact that he referenced junctioning materia, and not figuring out whether Squall was secretly an imaginary water rugby player sent back in time to save the world from a vicious cycle of death and rebirth centered around crystals.

The game mechanics can get sort of complex; I remember I had a spreadsheet trying to figure out the best way to handle all the aspects of raising and breeding chocobos in VII back in the day.

Also, fun fact: Did you know "moot point" is a saying that means, literally, the reverse of what most people think it is? Its first definition is," A subject open to debate or discussion; a disputed point". The second definition being an outgrowth of the first," Deprived of practical significance; rendered abstract or purely academic." I can only assume this was an artifact of hostile reaction to intellectualism, as if the act of discussing something took it out of the realm of the real in the eyes of the workingday man.

You can't junction materia in FFVIII. : ) At least, it isn't called materia.

I wonder who coined the term "Consoletard"

Tis a bit of a shame really. I loved the stat alterations the perks allowed, and it helped add a little individuality. Fallout was prominent in doing this (atleast of the games I played,) and I also enjoyed the system used in Arcanum.

you know... it COULD be people dont WANT to play a spreadsheet. i know, thats crazy-talk, everyone knows spreadsheets are great fun. thats why excel is the best-selling pc game ever... but stick with me for a minute here... see, lots of people, they play those awesome spreadsheet games all day long (and get paid for it! amazing, isnt it?) so sometimes when they get home, maybe they want to give the spreadsheet a rest... maybe they just want to have some idle fun.

now, i know, these people are total retards. theres not even a need for an IQ test. since they dont want what you want, and since you are obviously a genius, then it follows that they are clearly retarded, or at the very least got dropped on their head as a child.

but, retard or not, at least now they have something to play. before, when theyre were only spreadsheets to play, these retards mostly ignored the mathalicious awesomeness of those games, in favor of keeping their money in their pockets. then one day, a bunch of retards made a game FOR retards, you know, a spreadsheet-lite. and holy shit, it sold a fuckton! who knew there were so many retards out there waiting to give up their cash?? i mean, everyone knows the hardcore spreadsheeters are the only gamers that matter, right?

but dont worry, hardcore! im sure just ANY day now, developers are going to wake up and realize they dont care about all those retards that outnumber the smart people 4 to 1, and they CERTAINLY dont care for all that retard money, and theyll go back to making those delicious spreadsheets for you. shout it with me, fuck those retards! fuck their money!

If I wanted to play a spreadsheet, I'd be playing EVE Online or some fantasy sport manager game, or maybe I'd be grinding to level up an MBA and chase P/Es.

I wanted to play a post-apocalyptic role-playing game, and got to do so in Fallout 3. There was enough flexibility in there to roleplay, some interesting synergies between perks and skills and gear, and even some interesting strategy; but more important was a big stretch of wasteland to explore and a horde of baddies to kill. (And locks to pick and computers to hack, both of which do involve player skill as much as stat-bar skill.)

Thanks for the great comic; I laughed, much as I do with the Zero Punctuations. However, like in many of the ZPs, I disagree with the point.

-- Steve

radio_babylon:
you know... it COULD be people dont WANT to play a spreadsheet. i know, thats crazy-talk, everyone knows spreadsheets are great fun. thats why excel is the best-selling pc game ever... but stick with me for a minute here... see, lots of people, they play those awesome spreadsheet games all day long (and get paid for it! amazing, isnt it?) so sometimes when they get home, maybe they want to give the spreadsheet a rest... maybe they just want to have some idle fun.

now, i know, these people are total retards. theres not even a need for an IQ test. since they dont want what you want, and since you are obviously a genius, then it follows that they are clearly retarded, or at the very least got dropped on their head as a child.

but, retard or not, at least now they have something to play. before, when theyre were only spreadsheets to play, these retards mostly ignored the mathalicious awesomeness of those games, in favor of keeping their money in their pockets. then one day, a bunch of retards made a game FOR retards, you know, a spreadsheet-lite. and holy shit, it sold a fuckton! who knew there were so many retards out there waiting to give up their cash?? i mean, everyone knows the hardcore spreadsheeters are the only gamers that matter, right?

but dont worry, hardcore! im sure just ANY day now, developers are going to wake up and realize they dont care about all those retards that outnumber the smart people 4 to 1, and they CERTAINLY dont care for all that retard money, and theyll go back to making those delicious spreadsheets for you. shout it with me, fuck those retards! fuck their money!

Goodness golly. To summarize for the studio audience.

"Most people don't like games with depth. My proof for this is games with depth were made in the days when market penetration for video games was not very large; so video games with depth didn't sell much. I am equating units sold with quality, as well as stating that people buy things that are only exactly what they want, and not because its merely the best option (even if that option still sucks). I also think that by trying to attribute ridiculous statements to the other side in a debate, I make myself sound better!"

Oh, and fuck retards.

I'm not _entirely_ convinced its a console thing; games seem to be getting dumbed-down over time. And radio_babylon, while raving somewhat, has a point; simpler games have a wider audience, and can sell more copies. The trick though, is in how you define "simpler"; leaving story aside as not what the comics about, the gameplay in Fallout 3 may take a lot less _thought_ than Fallout, but it requires a lot more hand-eye coordination. I'm not necessarily saying it takes much - haven't played it yet - but as a FPS I'm assuming it takes _some_, and the original required no more than the necessary to eventually click a button with a mouse in your own time...

As someone who habitually hops around FPSs like a deranged ferret on speed, blowing myself up with my own grenades, I expect to find Fallout 3 harder than Fallout. But the difficulty level isn't what Shamus was remarking on; he was commenting on the uselessness of the perks. Now if all you want to do is click things til they die, I don't think he'd have a problem with that; just leave the perks _out_ (all right, and don't call it Fallout. Happy Shamus?) But if you leave them in then its presumably because you're looking to create a game where the characters are customisable, and might even approach problems in different ways depending on the path they've chosen. If you're into that kind of fun then its relatively important that the character customisation _matters_, or the people who find that sort of thing fun will quickly catch on that it doesn't and they're wasting their time. Perks that don't have any relevant impact in the game is like allowing you to change your hair colour and calling it character customisation. Doesn't make it a bad game as such, but makes it a pretty lame excuse for the type of game we've learned to call an RPG.

Shamus Young:
Let me ask you something: Why is it that PC games always get watered down and simplified when they are adapted for a console audience? Why do developers continually assume that console gamers are drooling spastic killbots with atrophied brains and a contempt for literacy?

Historical perspective. PC games had tons of text due to the higher resolution; consoles only had the TV resolution, and even that was blurred, so you couldn't dump as much text on screen.

Since then people have found that reading tons of text in a game is boring, and we aren't hit with walls of text on pc games anymore either..

Well, I believe the perks were watered down to accommodate the fact that you get one every level instead of every other level, as they had originally planned. Plenty of the higher level perks are extremely useful and have major impacts on your gameplay.

Saying the skills don't matter or show no return in Fallout 3 is also false. The 1-100 scale means every point matters and you get an immediate return on each point spent. In Fallout 1/2 the 1-300 scale made it difficult to judge where to spend points and impossible to see what benefits you were getting from skills spent. The only skills worth increasing in those games over 100 were weapon skills. Who can tell me the difference between 80 Science skill and 120 science? 40 First aid and 60? 90 Outdoorsman and 110? There was no practical difference and it was very easy to waste points. Face it, Fallout's skill system was in dire need of an overhaul and blaming it on 'consolization' is just a lazy scapegoat.

But Shamus Young has never let pesky things like facts get in the way of his little rants.

Eh, I played Fallout 2, and I really think they needed to -- and did -- simplify the skill system. There were too many skills for anyone to do anything but specialize, and I can't particularly think of any cut out that were actually needed. Outdoorsman doesn't make sense in a 3d free-roamer, Gambling was stupid to begin with, Doctor was unnecessary, and the merge of Traps and Throwing does mean that some throwing weapons are thrown out, but that's it.

And what exactly do you mean by diet leveling? I seriously do not understand.

Ron Perlman's is spot on. I'd love to see that implemented.

Think0028:
Eh, I played Fallout 2, and I really think they needed to -- and did -- simplify the skill system. There were too many skills for anyone to do anything but specialize, and I can't particularly think of any cut out that were actually needed. Outdoorsman doesn't make sense in a 3d free-roamer, Gambling was stupid to begin with, Doctor was unnecessary, and the merge of Traps and Throwing does mean that some throwing weapons are thrown out, but that's it.

And what exactly do you mean by diet leveling? I seriously do not understand.

I actually agree with the things you bring up, but I still think it's been too simplified. That's not what bothers me the most though. I really, really want the "Better Dialog"-perk : (

Don't forget that console gamers are also the ones that can follow the Metal Gear Solid story!

Grampy_bone:
Saying the skills don't matter or show no return in Fallout 3 is also false.

Well, the weapon skills are fairly useless if you don't use VATS. The increase in damage is so marginal it's not worth it. Of course you can say "Hey, if you want your RPG-Stats to reflect in the game, play it RPG-Style" - however Deus Ex already showed us ages ago how stats can be linked with third person gameplay.

Medicine is not worth one point considering you'll have enough drugs early on in the game to supply big hospitals with it, especially since stims don't have any side effect or limitation whatsoever.

Science and Lockpicking is completly unrelated to the skills. You just need a meet the n*25 steps to play the minigame, every point off is factually wasted. Same with speech and while the exact numbers aren't shown I suspect them to be be the same.

While it's true the Fallout 2 skill tree was cluttered and needed a clean up, I never had too much skill points in them contrary to F3, where the only skills actually useful are already maxed out early on. The stats however are even worse. Considering you start with a balanced build, you have to take the stat perk 4 times and find the stupid bobble head to max it, yet the gain is practically nonexistent.

Frankly, you probably won't find that many old Fallout players complaining about the perks side (even if they're a tad useless). Ripping out Traits would make some scream bloody murder, but what finally does it is the braindead story and gameplay with about as much immersion as Oblivion, complete with cardboard NPC's and a world that reacts to your actions as if it were cast out of lead.

pseudoidiot:

Shamus Young:
Don't forget the Ron Perlman one. I've begun imagining I have this perk active in my day-to-day routine, and it has done wonders for my quality of life.

Is that anything like Freemanic Paracusia?

Haha I read that a couple weeks ago and then did it, makes Atlas Shrugged more interesting (still good book though).

Grampy_bone:
Face it, Fallout's skill system was in dire need of an overhaul and blaming it on 'consolization' is just a lazy scapegoat.

But Shamus Young has never let pesky things like facts get in the way of his little rants.

You have mis-stated my side of the debate, missed the point, and then... it looks like... insulted me?

Boo.

Robyrt:
Galaxy News Radio's DJ is really fucking annoying...*howl*

The difference between 40 and 60 first aid is how much time you waste failing at first aid. The difference between 90 and 110 outdoorsman is the inevitable rape at the hands of an Enclave patrol or Deathclaw family or avoiding them completely. The difference between 80 and 120 science is whether Skynet gets an abnormal brain or a cybernetic brain.

By the way, first aid and doctor are vastly different skills, one is stabilizing someone and stopping the bleeding, the other is fixing them up. Just because they're represented badly in a game doesn't mean they're useless, it just means the game needs some minor touch ups.

Compare this with the useless medicine skill in FO3 when you can just use one of your millions of stimpacks to reattach a limb that was blown 4500 metres away.

If you look at a lot of people today, they've either got a mediocre amount of skill in many things or a great amount of skill in a single thing. That you're unable to hack the computer in an abandoned supply depot because you've specialized in being able to pick locks means you should find another way around.

On the dialogue perk: I don't think it's a shot worth taking. Fallout 3 dialogue was pretty decent, imo. All voice acted and there were quite a few fitting/funny lines to choose from in every conversation. A major step up from Oblivion to be honest.

I do agree on the stats taking a backseat, but personally, I could not have done it better, while maintaining real time FPS combat. It is hard to mix the two and I think it turned out ok.

Anniko:
The difference between 40 and 60 first aid is how much time you waste failing at first aid. The difference between 90 and 110 outdoorsman is the inevitable rape at the hands of an Enclave patrol or Deathclaw family or avoiding them completely. The difference between 80 and 120 science is whether Skynet gets an abnormal brain or a cybernetic brain.

By the way, first aid and doctor are vastly different skills, one is stabilizing someone and stopping the bleeding, the other is fixing them up. Just because they're represented badly in a game doesn't mean they're useless, it just means the game needs some minor touch ups.

Compare this with the useless medicine skill in FO3 when you can just use one of your millions of stimpacks to reattach a limb that was blown 4500 metres away.

If you look at a lot of people today, they've either got a mediocre amount of skill in many things or a great amount of skill in a single thing. That you're unable to hack the computer in an abandoned supply depot because you've specialized in being able to pick locks means you should find another way around.

I think another thing that was left out, is that with the 100-300% you can get the most out of your TAGGED skills - it's pointless tagging skills in Fallout 3, you can specialize in anything and everything, and they don't even level faster when you use skill points on them. If in Fallout 1 or 2, I could tag speech, steal, traps, and then maybe use the Tag perk on a combat skill if I absolutely need it, and I can get through the game with just that. Speech for...speech, Steal for stealing and planting traps, and traps so that my explosives don't botch the assassination and do the damage they SHOULD do (I mean, trying to blow up AHS-9 for the Shi is tough without a decent traps skill).

If it wasn't for the 1-300% stats then the whole "Role Playing" aspect is taken out, and so is the replay value. You could grind to 300% on everything, but I think only someone who has registered at NMA.com has done something that ridiculous.

Heck, even gambling was useful, especially if you had good luck, because money wasn't as easy to come by in Fallout 1 and 2 as it is in 3.

I also don't get the extremism. OMG I DONT WANT A SPREADSHEET! I WANT AN RPG! - what bullshit, Fallout wasn't a 'spreadsheet' in the first place, where is this argument coming from?

EDIT: Oh hey, I fell for it. I DO have the flamewar perk. Thanks for drawing my ire you angry angry people!

This is basically what happens when people use ZP as a crutch for their argument without fully understanding it : )

In an effort to encourage people to have a nice friendly discussion without a lot of rancor between the console types and PC types, let me just re-state the assertion for people who pulled out their flamethrowers before posting an answer:

1) Native console games aren't any simpler than PC games. Most jRPGs are quite deep, numbers-wise. They are at LEAST as dense as their western RPG counterparts on the PC.

2) But something happens when a western developer takes a western RPG for the PC and moves to consoles with it. BioShock was FAR simpler than the System Shock games. Deus Ex 2 was much shallower than Deus Ex. And Fallout 3 is more lightweight than the previous Fallout games.

The question I'm asking, is why complex PC games are getting watered down in their move to consoles, when clearly console gamers like a little depth as much as anyone?

DO be nice to each other. (And me, while you're at it.)

Quistnix:
I'd pick the Ron Perlman perk right away, but it would be even more awesome if he teamed up with Jeremy Irons

*Sigh* yes. God yes. :)

Also, Bill Nighy, Patrick Stewart, and Christopher Lee.

Spacelord:

Quistnix:
I'd pick the Ron Perlman perk right away, but it would be even more awesome if he teamed up with Jeremy Irons

*Sigh* yes. God yes. :)

Also, Bill Nighy, Patrick Stewart, and Christopher Lee.

If Christopher Lee was narrating my life, I would have to act like an evil bastard. I mean, it would be impossible NOT to.

Shamus Young:

Spacelord:

Quistnix:
I'd pick the Ron Perlman perk right away, but it would be even more awesome if he teamed up with Jeremy Irons

*Sigh* yes. God yes. :)

Also, Bill Nighy, Patrick Stewart, and Christopher Lee.

If Christopher Lee was narrating my life, I would have to act like an evil bastard. I mean, it would be impossible NOT to.

Malcolm McDowell too

I don't know that the broader issue is a matter of sheer numerical complexity as it is a matter of complex presentation. Porting the engine of a PC RPG to consoles is and should be approached with the mindset "Take out everything that's too tedious; anything that takes the player away from the game's core strengths for a long time is bad." They'll get a bit overzealous with it, of course, but I think it's a sound decision.

The reverse of this question would be why it seems to be so rare, especially on PC, to represent meaningful strategic depth in a lightweight manner? There's more to depth than formula-filled spreadsheets and meticulously simulated inventory limits. I always felt it to be a cardinal game-development sin to overwhelm a new player with options, especially if these options can make the game unwinnable, and double especially if this unwinnable circumstance occurs hours down the line.

PC games focus on making sure the player has plenty of options; console games focus on making sure every option has meaningful and immediately comprehensible consequences. It's a lot easier to remove the most arcane fraction of choices than it is to shoehorn a significant game-changing effect into each entry in an encyclopedia of choices. The former option preserves the mechanical essence of the game while changing its appearance; the latter preserves its appearance but by necessity alters its basic nature.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Registered for a free account here