Hello, my name is Raul.
LITTLE LITTLE ESSAY ON RPGs
Morrowind, Skyrim, Gothic II, Dark Souls 2, Fallout 3, Daggerfall, Baldur's Gate 2, Vampire the Masquerade:Bloodlines, Planescape Torment, Deus Ex and many more...(please tell me your favorite one and I will add it to the list).
All of them are fantastic games, some of them masterpieces.
What makes these games great games?
I believe that the great games and in particular masterpieces have the power to go inside our mind changing us forever, not just as individuals, but us all.
My thoughts are just ideas freely written (I'm sorry if they are repeated, it's because I need to explain them again and better or with different nuances). Some thoughts are also poorly written, but try to grasp the core of the idea and develop it from here.
1) A beautiful and original story can go inside us much more then great graphic or gameplay mechanics.
2) The sound and music can give life to the game and enhance the experience to higher levels, put a lot of thoughts an efforts in this part;
there are still a lot of developers that don't understand the importance of sound.
3) A face that speaks but does not show emotions it does not work, is better in this case don't show the animated face at all.
4) If the acting voice is inconsistent, is far more better just use the written dialog.
5) A less detailed world in terms of graphic allows to make it much more bigger.
6) More realism does not mean more immersion, I actually think that is less interesting.
7) A game is not a book, so I think that the dialogs and written words should be kept at a minimum.
8) A realistic sky is beautiful, but not interesting. Is far more better to give some character to the sky with original clouds shapes.
9) Bidimensional sprites sometime can have more character then 3d models, why not for example, animate a face with a sprite animation on a 3D model or use full characters sprites even in modern games?
10) A world with a interesting architecture is far more memorable.
11) Sometimes low quality sample sounds can have more charm then high quality samples.
12) I suggest to developers to simplify the world so to be able and dedicated resources to make it more interesting.
13) I suggest to developers to use an old engine for concentrating on gameplay, story and characters.
14) A memorable character will never be forgotten.
15) Even the most sophisticated AI will repeat itself, so use simple scripted technology to create unexpected situation and behavior.
16) Surprise the player is one of the most important thing in a Game.
17) Scripting is time consuming but worthy as just the fantasy of a person can create beautiful unrepeatable things, events, stories, characters; this is why simplify the world can be a smart thing to do. Developers now have huge resources that can dedicate over this task instead of realistic graphics or realistic physics.
18) I think multiple choices are a non-sense, or at least not powerful. The feeling of fake options dispels the sense of immersion; the feeling is that someone wants to tell me where I'm going.
19) Steer away from realism, it drains a lot of energy and does not serve the purpose to immerse the player in something magical.
20) The world is always in the mind of the player not inside the monitor, leave the space to his imagination, in this way it is more powerful.
21) Mods are fantastic and one of the biggest reality of gaming, congratulation to all the modders that put their love in this new reality;
all modders can use freely my music, just contact me if you like it and want to use it.
22) Instead of using expensive full orchestra music, hire few different unknown composers/players that can produce a lot of different music, or even more simple use very old music out of copyright and then transform it by changing the pitch, instruments, speed, scale or isolating just few parts and repeat them; few notes from Bach repeated over and over can be surprisingly wonderful.
23) The faces of NPCs are very important, give them a lot of charisma, make them memorable.
24) It is not necessary put the voice to all the dialogs, just few memorable voiced sentence are enough to give the presence to a character.
25) Usually developers make something happen in every location, I think is a mistake; I prefer to have plenty of places where nothing happen and then when I found a place with some kind of event, it will be far more enjoyable.
26) Use a voice or writing that sometimes describes and add details to the scene, a character a place, a situation: this is a powerful tool for immersion; for example we cannot have smells or odors in a games, so the developers can add this perceptions with a txt or voice descriptions.
27) Stanley Kubrick used the enviroment, the architecture of a building, the layout of a room, objects as a way to communicate; it is really a powerful way to express emotions, thought, feelings with shapes, colours and objects.
28) The presence of an NPC is much more important then his/her animation, there is no need of lip-sink or fancy movements because just the appearance can give strong feelings.
29) What an NPC says is very important, he/she has to say something that will be remembered, so use little txt or voice, but it has to be always memorable.
30) A realistic sky is beautiful, but not interesting. Is far more better to give some character to the sky with original clouds shapes.
31) Pointing the direction to find someone or something with an arrow or highlighting it in the map is a non-sense and shatters the feeling of free exploration; the players are not babies and if the developers are using these tricks to help the player in finding the way, is an utterly failure and they do not understand the concept of free world.
32) Real time maps are not good, the pleasure to use a virtual paper map is much greater.
33) A beautiful and engaging combat mechanic gives a strong satisfaction, but is a short taste, what remains in the player's mind is the feeling of the place, the story, the NPC characters.
34) Everything and everyone the player will see during the game, has to be special, everything and everyone has to remain in the memory of the player, otherwise there is no point.
35) The game will succeed if the player will be not able to understand what comes next, not even a bit; it has to be a journey of surprises.
36) A masterpiece needs inside multiple layers of meanings.
37) Draw mountains with a structure that suggests meanings, emotions.
38) When the player approaches an enemy or NPC, it has to be a fresh encounter every time; AI will never (for the moment) be able to recreate the imagination of a real person. AI even if sophisticated, will recreate the same patterns that will bore the player; at the opposite, scripting the behavior will always create something new and fresh; scripting is an old but simple technology and it is also time consuming but the resources of the developers could be diverted in this direction, instead of complicated graphics or AI; an old engine like for example the ones used in Morrowind or Daggerfall are very simple and fast to use by nowadays standard, all the resources could be diverted to create unique behaviors;
I imagine the developers of Skyrim, using the engine of Daggerfall to create a more deep gameplay...10 people could create the whole graphic world and the other 90 dedicated their effort scripting unique behaviors; in Skyrim the combat is very funny and effective but after a while it is repetitive, the monsters behave always with same patterns....I imagine a programmer dedicating 1 day of work just to create a monster and his behavior, now imagine 90 programmers doing the same the same for 1 whole year....they will create a world full of original and unique NPCs.
39) What is important is the feeling of something is happening and it has to happen just in our mind, this is the secret of a masterpiece.
40) Stories in games are rather basic but there is no reason why they couldn't reach deeper levels; the same is for the characters, the NPCs; I exhort the modders to concentrate their attention on a single NPC trying to give it exceptional deepness, to show what can be achieved in a game; a very deep NPC could bring life to the whole game.
41) Voice-acted technology does not work, even if the acting voices are well done (which is very rare) there is always the feeling that are detached from the NPCs;
I prefer much more just the writings and simple unique sounds to give presence and to the NPCs; for example, an hostile NPC could have aggressive sounds, while a friendly NPC could have some relaxing sounds; I would like to suggest to give at least one unique sound for every NPC that suggest its personality; voice-acted technology is about realism but reality is an false friend of games.
42) Most of the NPCs usually communicate informations that the player usually does not want to hear, is better silence then boring informations; keep them at a minimum and convey emotions instead of informations.
43) Older RPGs have usually more mystery and have a more immersive quality, because they were relying less on realism and more on the feeling of the story, on the deepness of the characters; don't let the technology drives and wins over the art of imaginations which is much more powerful.
44) A world with simple graphics like using sprites or very basic 3D models with maybe just few important texture can be much more complex in therms of characters, story and gameplay; I suggest to modders to use an older engine to create a more immersive world; what about Bethesda using an old engine to create a new game, I'm sure it will be a very unique experience and will challenge the team.
45) I think a game should let you create the story and characters in your mind, it has to push you to imagine.
46) I think that receiving and completing missions or quests from an NPC is a rigid way to be immersed in a game and it feels like the open world game suddenly become like a narrow experience.
47) Simple and non realistic graphics have a charm that for me is more powerful, for example, Gothic 2 has a great atmosphere that other more recent games have not.
48) Sometime the best games in terms of complexity, graphics, sounds, budget, are actually not working to create a sense of immersion and other games, more simple, less complicated, with a lower technology succeed instead to create a believable and immersive world.
49) A masterpiece is a game that constantly surprises the player with new locations, new NPCs, enemies, behaviors, stories and; I think that the more the game is simple, the more it can be deep and engaging.
50) Instead of working on creating a very detailed world, is better having a varied world; for example for the sound, instead of having hundreds of sounds inside a village, I think is more effective having just few sounds typical for each different place; I much more prefer having sounds that characterize uniquely different places instead of having the same hundreds of sounds in every village, for example.
51) If you need to use voice-acted technology, instead of using hundreds of actors, just hire a really talented single one that does all the readings;
a powerful warm voice is much more engaging and emotional effective.
52) An sprite enemy NPC with a great sound has a bigger presence then a super sophisticated 3D model with a week sound.