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eXaX
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« Reply #30 on: April 28, 2008, 07:23:08 PM »

I have to comment on that World-Map argument some guys were talking about and I have to agree with the latter.

The point of having a world map is that sense of actually discovering new things, whether that be villages, caves, casinos or whatever, instead of just pushing a button and arriving at a new place.

When you've got a system like FFX or most rpgs tend to have right now, you just KNOW that at that particular place you will encounter enemies and most likely progress the story and that (for me atleast) destroys the fun and excitement. Basically that "uncertainty" has pretty much vanished with the removal of World-maps.

And seriously, it's a marker. I would much rather have a fifty foot high character running around rather then having a small blip like in SMT:Nocturne.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #31 on: April 28, 2008, 11:09:34 PM »

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The point of having a world map is that sense of actually discovering new things


Sure it is, but I can maybe think of 20 RPGs in total where having a world map actually meant you were discovering things.

Most worldmaps tend to steamroll you towards one specific location, or lock you in an area with a small number of towns/caves/whatever to go to. If you're headed towards a valley, you generally know there's going to be something at the end of that valley and the sense of uncertainty vanishes.

Also, console RPGs at least are notorious for not having a lot of side stuff. Side stuff -- stuff you can miss -- stuff you have to discover -- is essential for a feeling of discovery.
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« Reply #32 on: April 29, 2008, 12:38:06 AM »

Quote from: "MeshGearFox"
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The point of having a world map is that sense of actually discovering new things


Sure it is, but I can maybe think of 20 RPGs in total where having a world map actually meant you were discovering things.

Most worldmaps tend to steamroll you towards one specific location, or lock you in an area with a small number of towns/caves/whatever to go to. If you're headed towards a valley, you generally know there's going to be something at the end of that valley and the sense of uncertainty vanishes.

Also, console RPGs at least are notorious for not having a lot of side stuff. Side stuff -- stuff you can miss -- stuff you have to discover -- is essential for a feeling of discovery.


Well you can always play Wild Arms and use the sonar device to discover stuff, isn't that a wonderful alternative?

I'm a bit confused as to why you would say RPG's are notorious for not having side stuff.  I would say it's quite the opposite.
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Eusis
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« Reply #33 on: April 29, 2008, 12:50:32 AM »

He said console RPGs, and I think he's right. If you compare console RPGs to, say, God of War, there's usually at least a few sidequests and dungeons to find and do, though obviously games like GTA cream it with missions that're unnecessary to beating the game and loads of stuff to find and do around the map. Compared to computer RPGs though, those usually have a lot of little sidequests you can do, notably throughout the course of the game whereas JRPGs more often than not completely fail at, saving it all for the endgame. This is why overworlds are usually boring when they are there, there's no incentive to go look for an extra dungeon or unnecessary town to mess around at, if that stuff isn't required it's only visitable near the end.

Personally, I'll keep defending FFX's roads. No other game's used the general concept as well, it really felt like a journey to me when I played through FFX. The only game that really matches it is DQVIII, and that had a properly evolved overworld rather than a yellow brick road.
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Dice
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« Reply #34 on: April 29, 2008, 01:21:58 AM »

SaGa Frontier II- I thought it was awesome, nice story, great great graphics, excellent music, and a style that just made me say "how wonderful!".  No one else liked this game though.

Legend of Mana- why the hate?  I have no idea.  For a "not-secret-of-mana"-esque game, it sure better than all three World of Mana titles put together and works damn well as part of the series or on its own.

Chrono Cross- it was good and we can really agree to that.  But its another title that seems to suffer the "not-trigger-good" argument.  Well huff.  
The battle mechanics were different, but I think for the better.  It added depth to a system that would have been sacked at for lack of innovation today.  The story was deep and still maintained strong roots (and interesting back story) to the world of Chrono.
The only thing that did suck, IMHO, was the fucking artist's art.  I think Kid looks like a drug fiend (especially in comparison to her true identities' character).

Wild Arms 3- I don't know why everyone hates it.  I loved the puzzle solving, and the fact the battle system makes use of all those (in most cases) useless blue/grey magic spells that handicap enemies rather than kill it.  Some were integral to boss killing.  
Even though the world map was nothing to write home about, I thought it looked brilliant for the environments portrayal and placed the botanical goods in appropriate places.
It was nice to have a female lead, even though she was a bit too much of a  "daddy's girl" and never tried flirting with the good looking silver-headed-airplane-engine-name-inspired-male.

Star Ocean 3- I think the primary hate was the story.  But asking Tri-Ace to write an award winning story is like asking for 10 zippers or less in any of the latest Final Fantasy games.  AIN'T HAPPENING.  Personally, I liked how it tried to stretch the boundaries.  Just makes me wonder where SO4 can go from there...

Tales of Legendia- great characters, interesting story, glorious music, and good graphics (despite suffering teeny-weeny-ism).  Battle felt fluid enough for me to enjoy, despite the 2D plane (but hell, I still play old Tales of games, so this is something I'd just have to live with then, huh?).

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Stella Deus- music, story, environment won me over more than gameplay.  But I like!

Mario Kart Double Dash- I remember people sacking this game when it came out, but Mario Kart Wii made me realize how much I loved the co-op part of this game.

We need more co-op RPGs.
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eXaX
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« Reply #35 on: April 29, 2008, 08:20:11 AM »

Quote from: "MeshGearFox"

Sure it is, but I can maybe think of 20 RPGs in total where having a world map actually meant you were discovering things.

Most worldmaps tend to steamroll you towards one specific location, or lock you in an area with a small number of towns/caves/whatever to go to. If you're headed towards a valley, you generally know there's going to be something at the end of that valley and the sense of uncertainty vanishes.

Also, console RPGs at least are notorious for not having a lot of side stuff. Side stuff -- stuff you can miss -- stuff you have to discover -- is essential for a feeling of discovery.


It's true what you say, most world-maps give you the simple "illusion" of discovering new things but it also feels much grander doing so. Instead of just clicking a destination point and arriving there almost magically you need to actually travel over there. I don't know, I just like world-maps in general, they feel much more integrated into the world rather then this almost lazy method of achieving the same goal.

As for side quests, most JRPGs are much more linear then those who are made in the West. Obvious example of that is the average FF game compared to Oblivion. But the story telling is usual much greater with their linearity. I played Oblivion for quite some time and that "freedom" just made the game much more uninteresting. But this is completely off topic .
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #36 on: April 29, 2008, 11:38:38 AM »

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I just like world-maps in general, they feel much more integrated into the world rather then this almost lazy method of achieving the same goal.


Technically worldmaps are a lazy method of doing travel in an RPG, since the "ideal" method is a to-scale, worldmap-less methods, where you can go off and explore whatever you want.

FFX was also a kluge given that you didn't have a large, open world to explore but what amounted to small paths between towns. From a design standpoint, this amounts to several towns connected by dungeons -- albeit outdoors dungeons.

Compare to Dragon Quest VIII, where you can actually walk around towns.  

Quote
But the story telling is usual much greater with their linearity.


Not really. In both regards. JRPGs usually don't have particularly good storytelling -- seriously, the games people always bring up as an example of good storytelling from the JRPG side DO have good storytelling usually, but they're a very small percentage of the total number of JRPGs, and nobody brings up western RPGs in general because nobody here's really played anything outside of Diablo 2 and Oblivion, apparently -- and storytelling and linearity don't really affect eachother. Just because Oblivion had piss-poor writing and quest design doesn't mean it's the lack of linearty doing it. Bethesda is run by hacks and employs nothing but hacks, and that's always been the case and always will be the case.

Granted, I like Morrowind and Arena and continue to like them, and I think these were the rare times when Bethesda had some people around that weren't hacks, but the execution in Morrowind had some big flaws which I was fairly forgiving of because modder response was quick and thorough and it was the first time Bethesda tried doing a game with actual detail in it. When Oblivion came around and Bethesda really hadn't fixed any of Morrowind's problems, and essentially added a whole lot more... Well, honestly, the fact that Oblivion's only competition was WoW was probably the only reason it got such high praise.

I'm not saying it was overrated necessarily. I'm saying that if you don't feed someone for a few weeks and then if you give them a piece of like, dry bread made of salt and flour to eat, they'll think it's the best thing in the world.

And in regards to exploration and world maps and not having world maps, Oblivion failed here in the same way that Daggerfall did. Sure, it had stuff in the wilderness -- it had dungeons and little villages and those daedric waypoints that crashed your game if you tried to use them until a month later when the patch actually came out, by which time I'd stopped giving a damn -- but with Morrowind, great care was made to put little hidden caches and landforms and little easter eggs and everything else into the world. Oblivion's terrain was more or less conic and relatively featureless, and the dungeons were certainly large but not very interesting, and other than a few really well executed little towns, there just wasn't that much there. You could make the case that Morrowind's world was too obfuscated with mountains being put everywhere, but climbing a mountain or looking for routes through the terrain is a lot more interesting then just walking in a straight line to everywhere, which is what you could do in Oblivion.
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« Reply #37 on: April 29, 2008, 11:55:53 AM »

Wild Arms 3 and 5 are the only RPGs I can think of off hand that really made use of having a world map.

Most old school RPGs with world maps were linear, and if they weren't, you would die in a second if you went some where you weren't supposed to go.
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« Reply #38 on: April 29, 2008, 12:08:17 PM »

I think FFXII worked just fine. You had a vast world to explore (no corridors like FFX) with plenty of routes through each area and places you didn't have to visit to complete the story. Hell, the highlands (the place with those gigantic windmills) are one of the best locations in the game and you could complete it without knowing they even existed.

And it feels alive. You see hunters fighting monsters and you can join the fights or even fight them, you see monsters fight each other, this approach blows the traditional maps out of the water. They made sense in the pre-128 bit generations and God knows I loved them too, but FFXII showed how it should be done with modern technology.

When you had a bunch of pre-rendered locations and needed to tie them together, insert them in a bigger context with free character movement to enable the player to freely travel between them, those 3D world maps were the obvious choice. But now?

Someone used WA5 as an example but except for the towns, everything was presented in realistic scale, it wasn't that different from FFXII.
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« Reply #39 on: April 29, 2008, 02:01:54 PM »

True, I forgot about FF12...loved that game and the exploration aspect.
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eXaX
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« Reply #40 on: April 29, 2008, 02:28:35 PM »

I actually agree with almost everything you say. Especially the "ideal method" of creating the game world. Ofcourse there are difficulties with to-scale worldmap-less worlds like you describe if they aren't done ... well ... perfectly. If you take for example Oblivion, WoW, FFXII or any other game that features this you have to make the environment actually interesting and not littered with hundreds of enemies. (So that you are actually capable of walking 2 steps without aggroing 26+ enemies). I found myself constantly worried in XII when you were outside of towns not to aggro enemies that might be a higher level.

The "classical" World-map doesn't have this flaw but on the other hand has random enemy encounters to balance it up (if you think about the typical ff world maps). And since you mentioned DQ VIII, that was in my opinion a perfect to-scale world-map less world although covered with random enemy encounters.

Moving on to the difference between eastern and western rpgs. It is true like you say that fewer people (especially on console rpgs forums) have played western rpgs except for the most obvious "triple-A" titles. It's just that eastern and western rpgs focus on completely different things in general. If you simplify this situation you've got western rpgs who (for the most part) tend to focus more on equipment values, that you as the player has more effect on the overall storyline and/or non-linearity. Where as eastern rpgs focus more on character development/interactions, the overall pre-determined storyline and that's mainly driven by it's linearity. Ofcourse I'm simplifying this and there are exceptions (think Planescape Torment) but for the most part it's like this.
And as such, you've got two different types of buyers within the same market.

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-- and storytelling and linearity don't really affect eachother.

I have to  disagree with this though. It's extremely hard, almost impossible, to create a compelling, emotional or affecting, storyline in a non-linear game. If the player is on set course and goes through the storyline at the intended pace the overall effect of that storyline is so much more. I'm fairly certain that the greatest storylines you've experienced are for the most part linear in its design. Granted, I'm talking in general since there are beautiful exceptions now and then.

In the end, it seems to come down to preference (as is almost everything). Games that feature to-scale environments most often suffer from un-interesting locales and or way-to many enemies. World-maps suffer from the illusions of discovery and unrealistic in general (fifty-foot high characters running around) and point-and-click maps somehow feel disconnected from the rest of the world but to make up for that they feature somewhat detailed environments and perhaps a couple of more interesting locales but like you said they are, in it's essence, just outdoor dungeons.
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« Reply #41 on: April 29, 2008, 02:51:10 PM »

Ultima 7 has probably one of the best world maps, and it's almost to scale as well!

I think that JRPGs like FF have done so well in the mainstream because they do tell a story and are linear.

Non-linear western RPGs, mostly on the PC are more of a niche area that only PC gamers and RPG nerds seem to like. While I grew up playing mostly PC games, the emotional impact and awesomeness isn't near comparable to the JRPG, but they are still loads of fun.
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« Reply #42 on: April 29, 2008, 06:10:06 PM »

Well, to have "to-scale" world maps, you have to make one of a few concessions:

The entire map is not "the world"
In my opinion, this sorta takes the fun out of things. I like having a vast-expansive area with lots of varied locales. You can't do this as well if you're limited to an area the size of Vermont. For some games, like Zelda and Okami, they make it work, but then you must avoid HUGE locales like metropolitan cities. Even then, you MUST resort to #2:

The world is very very small
Individual objects are to scale, but not ecosystems and larger terrain features. This means walking across a 1/4 mile desert, to a 100 tree forest, and up a 1/8th mile snow field. And you're halfway across the map. It's probably the most notible in DQ8, since everything is to-scale. It's probably one of the better ways of introducing the world map. However, I've been surprised at how few RPGs actually use the DQ8 style. But even DQ8 has it's pitfalls: too high encounter rates for enjoying exploring large distances, and no land-based transit systems for being able to get around faster (ie: I miss my hovercrafts and airhips).

The problem is a balance between epic-grand scale, and realism. The fact is, in our world, by airplane, it takes something like 20 hours to fly halfway around the world. The world is a really really big place. Obviously, you can't have players taking 18 months of pushing the stick in one direction just to get halfway across the map. Reality sorta takes the fun out of it, because in reality, you can't walk across the world... which is why I'm playing a game in the first place!

Noone has yet to do it perfectly. But the three I think that do it best are FF9, DQ8, and Skies of Arcadia. FF9 has one of the best world maps, and offers varying modes of transit, but it is not to-scale. DQ8 has a to-scale map, but has virtually no alternative modes of transportation, so traveling can become a bit monotonous after a while. Skies of Arcadia has one of the most expansive maps, being very 3-dimensional in its travel, but there is no foot travel. It's also not to-scale, but feels like less on an issue.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #43 on: April 29, 2008, 06:17:15 PM »

Oh crap, gobs of replies.  and... wait, what the hell, I replied after a bunch of them? Goddamn finals week.

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Legend of Mana- why the hate? I have no idea. For a "not-secret-of-mana"-esque game, it sure better than all three World of Mana titles put together and works damn well as part of the series or on its own.


Don't bring up LoM :( I'm likely to defend it and say stupid stuff. Although as a massive fanboy of the game I will point out some completely valid flaws which were, strangely, the ones nobody seemed to care about.

1. Way too damn easy on normal mode. AI is still a bit dumb on the harder modes but things are generally a lot better. Of course, the normal modes aren't open at the beginning. Argh?

2. Stupid dungeon design. Why was secret of mana the only game in the entire series to do this right? SD1 had that stupid thing with the keys and doors re-locking, SD3's dungeons were more or less completely empty of everything in general, and LoM had vaguely identical looking mazes.

3. The keep-away tap. It's something you do with the spear, though technically I think all weapons can do it -- the spear is just best. It basically means you constantly do weak attacks on an enemy, paralyzing them. Extremely unbalancing.

4. Completely lack of decent documentation. What the hell !!!

CC Stuff:

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The battle mechanics were different, but I think for the better.


CC is to my knowledge the only RPG that basically recharges your magic completely after every battle, more or less. This gets away from the "Well, MP is so limitted that magic is basically useless" problem that a lot of RPGs (Phantasy Star 2, for instance, is stupid with this.) have*, but at the same time, you can only use a spell once per battle, and need to "charge up" the costlier ones, keeping it balanced.

I also think people tend to praise CT's battle system for sort of goofy reasons. The "fighting on the field" thing was mostly cosmetic and the combos in and of themselves, while nice, aren't really a huge thing. It's the combos combined with how ATB works in the game combines with HOLY CRAP EVERYONE'S ACTION MENU ON SCREEN AT ONCE!?!?!? combined with area-effect attacks that really makes it all work out. It's actually a really incredibly feat of balancing.

Also it has puzzle bosses that are actually, er, solvable.

Quote
The only thing that did suck, IMHO, was the fucking artist's art.


Iiiiiiiiiii sort of have to agree, yeah :/ I wouldn't say it's bad, but kind of suckitudinal. Especially since it's not really universally bad, and inconsistency is DEFINITELY the keystone of suckitudinality.

Quote
Star Ocean 3- I think the primary hate was the story.


For me, personally, it was the big, empty, maze-like dungeons and a bunch of other things I can't even remember but I can't play the game without getting panic attacks and vague nausea for some reason.

Quote
asking for 10 zippers or less in any of the latest Final Fantasy games.


'sit just me or is WEWY sort of hanging a lampshade on that?

As for FFXII, I really didn't like the battle system, which is my main issue. Also would've like other, eh.... metagame sidquestery thingums than just the hunters guild. Like, sky piracy or an Elite-esque stuff trading system to get money, or a Skies of Arcadia-ish discovery thing would've been perfect.

For organization's sake I'd like to make a seperate post talking about the worldmap comments since this one's getting long. I'll merge them down if the ops have a problem with it though.

* I thought this applied to CT at first too, partially 'cause MP restoratives are so costly, but I realized magic costs are cheapish, and that shelters are also cheap and there are plenty of save points. Thus, convserving magic's not that huge of an issue. In this sense, too, CC is definitely in the spirit of CT, especially considering that everyone was effectively a mage in CT, too.
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« Reply #44 on: April 29, 2008, 06:23:04 PM »

I'm pretty sure DQ8 had that tiger creature you could ride like a horse which made traversing vast expanses of land much quicker.

I personally think DQ8 handled the overworld map perfectly and definitely sets the bar for what all other RPGs should aspire to be. Hiding treasure, and not just treasure but *valuable* treasure, in little nooks and crannies encouraged more exploration.
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