Obsidian: Traditional RPG design encourages ‘degenerate behaviour’

By Brenna Hillier, Monday, 22 August 2011 03:24 GMT

Obisidian project director J.E. Sawyer has said bad RPG design leads to “degenerate gameplay behaviour” – players cheating the system.

Speaking at GDC Europe 2011 as reported by Gamasutra, Sayer explained that mechanics like random results just lead players into repeatedly reloading until they get what they want.

“All it causes is this: ‘Yay! I’m gonna reload the game!'” he said.

“There’s nothing to prevent me from reloading. Any of these checks where there’s something important on the line… It just results in degenerate gameplay behaviour.”

Sawyer pointed out that players shouldn’t be punished randomly rather than when they do something wrong, highlighting Mass Effect 2’s greater emphasis on shooter skill rather than stat-based abilities as an example of a good transition.

The designer also took exception to another staple of the RPG genre – inconsequential statistics.

“What’s the chance that a 5 percent difference is going to make you take the enemy down in one fewer hit?” he said, calling on developers to make changes to character attributes more effective and visible to players.

Rounding off a grudge list, Sawyer also pointed the finger at RPGs which let you hamstring your own characters by building in the wrong strategic direction without the possibility of change.

Hit the link above for a pretty fascinating report on the entire presentation.

Obsidian is widely known as an RPG specialist studio. Its most recent games include Dungeon Siege III and Fallout: New Vegas.

Thanks, Blue.

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