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Author Topic: Response to Final Final Dungeon editorial ***SPOILERS***  (Read 19334 times)
MeshGearFox
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« Reply #30 on: March 10, 2009, 02:15:49 PM »

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The problem is that I can't spend hours and hours trekking through a final dungeon and grinding towards victory.

Okay, so why not just make all dungeons a little shorter, punchier, and well designed (You know. No mazes, no "switch-flipping hell," no endless, double-backing corridors), get rid of grinding completely, and either switch to a save-anywhere system or let the player make quick saves? That way you take care of the tedious final dungeon problem and a whole hell of a lot of other problems at once. And if you HAVE save points, increase the number of them.

The goal of the game is to be challenging. The goal of the game is NOT to be abusive.

At that I'd also advocate adding something like in Dragon Quest where, if you die, you lose gold but keep items and XP.

And I'm starting to get the impression that 'bad final dungeons' is just a symptom of a greater underlying problem with the genre, now.

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Also, I feel strongly that final dungeons should have relevance to the plot and maybe even be an integral part of it. Does it really hurt to have cutscenes in a dungeon?

Why stop at a cutscene? Get rid of the cutscene there, and take a cue from SHMUPS and use other visual elements to convey story. The most basic example, maybe, is to have something like cave paintings on the walls revealing important information, but it could be done really elaborately.

See the problem with cutscenes in a dungeon is that they're often non-skippable and by definition non interactive. So, you die, repeat the dungeon, and you have to do the thing again.

Then again, if you have a savepoint after every cutscene, DO make them skippable, and uh... yeah. Then it's not as much of a problem.

Finally, no dungeons should EVER be a point of no return. Points of no return are almost always atrocious game design.

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Give me puzzles,

OH, right! Another good point. FFXII didn't have a lot of puzzles from what I remember -- very non-interactive. Comparing DDS to Nocturne, I also felt those games had few puzzles or interactive bits -- especially the second -- than Nocturne.

Although I think it's fair to say that dungeon design is the most neglected aspect of RPG making. I think you could argue in the past that dungeons in most games were intended to do nothing but take up time. I personally think they should be more like playgrounds where you kill things.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2009, 02:17:36 PM by MeshGearFox » Logged

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Gen Eric Gui
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« Reply #31 on: March 10, 2009, 02:57:56 PM »

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Why stop at a cutscene? Get rid of the cutscene there, and take a cue from SHMUPS and use other visual elements to convey story. The most basic example, maybe, is to have something like cave paintings on the walls revealing important information, but it could be done really elaborately.

I have been waiting for an RPG to do this for so long, you don't even know.  The day when devs figure out that you don't have to use WORDSWORDSWORDS to convey a story in a VISUAL format is the day I can die a happy man.
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« Reply #32 on: March 10, 2009, 03:32:28 PM »

Feel free to address me by name.

As for how a JRPG should end, perhaps you should reread my editorial. I think it's clear.

And no, I'm not advocating absolute final dungeoncide. I don't mind a few, especially in the classic series, if they're done correctly.
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Aeolus
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« Reply #33 on: March 10, 2009, 07:15:01 PM »

At this point I feel I should bring up FF VIII since I hated the way that game ended. While you can leave the final dungeon the fact that you crossed over to disk four means that everything save for a bonus dungeon or two (and the final dungeon of course) has been completely shutdown and can never be opened or accessed again (in that file). What grinds my gears here is the fact that all the side quests you were putting off because you didn't want to break the flow of the game's story or pacing have just become lost to you (especially any card games that you were playing that was actually more fun than the game itself). Not just that though but upon entering the final dungeon itself all your hard earned skills and abilities are sealed until you leave or you unlock them (which requires you beat at least a dozen more bosses before the final fourformer boss). The only consolation is a couple of well placed save points and the knowledge to never cross a certain point until you have done everything imaginable up to that point should you ever play this game again.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #34 on: March 10, 2009, 08:05:54 PM »

Oh, you're right. The last boss being harder than anything else in the game by far didn't really help things either.
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« Reply #35 on: March 10, 2009, 08:11:18 PM »

FF8 is an example of an endgame sequence done poorly.  The final dungeon felt completely tacked on, arbitrary, and was annoying to traverse.  And don't get me started on that nonsensical ending that, while beautiful, was completely wacky.  Fienal in Star Ocean 2 was another needlessly tedious final dungeon, and the bad music didn't help either.  Then again, the entirety of disc 2 in that game was rather boring.  I liked disc 1.

On the other hand, games like Chrono Trigger, Eternal Eden, Anachronox, and others did endgame sequences quite well.  A game I recently played, 3 Stars of Destiny, has a lengthy endgame sequence, but the design made it fun to play. 

Basically, I'll +1 anyone who said anything about good dungeon design.  Anachronox had a long final dungeon, but it was so well designed that I had fun going through it.  I think the only reason we complain about final dungeons is that we've seen so many endgame sequences designed poorly.  That's a result of us having played insane amounts of RPGs. 

I think I'll finalize myself to the stance that I'll neither advocate yay or nay to final dungeons, but rather that I'll advocate good dungeon and game design. 
« Last Edit: March 10, 2009, 08:16:57 PM by Dincrest » Logged

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Aeolus
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« Reply #36 on: March 10, 2009, 08:59:35 PM »

Oh, you're right. The last boss being harder than anything else in the game by far didn't really help things either.

I forgot that! I was pissed when found out that GFs were completely worthless in that fight and you had to abuse the everloving crap out of limitbreaks (GFs on the whole were largely pointless except as a plot device and the only real way to level up your characters). Worst Final Boss EVAR!!!
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« Reply #37 on: March 10, 2009, 10:59:36 PM »

I think the underlying problem is that many RPGs are too long.  Take Persona 3 for example.  Loved the game for the most part, but when the big plot twist came, I was ready for it to be over.  Instead, I had to sit through weeks more of life sim stuff waiting for the final date, then do plenty of dungeon crawling & boss fighting to get to the final boss, then fight the longest final boss in the history of final bosses (not so much difficult as it was long and cheap), proceed to lose to a random status effect, then spend a few hours grinding to get anti status-immune accessories for my party, then go back and fight the longest final boss in the history of final bosses again, finally winning the game.  Needless to say, by the end of all this, I was sick and tired of the game.

Compare that to Persona 4, where I beat the game at about the same point that I was starting to lose interest.  I remember the final part of the game being at about the right level of difficulty as well; harder than the earlier parts of the game, but not the huge spike in difficulty that is far too common.

Or take Digital Devil Saga.  I've heard people complain about the length of the final dungeon, but I scarcely noticed.  Why?  The game as a whole was pretty short so I hadn't grown tired of the game by the time I reached the end.
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magusgs
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« Reply #38 on: March 10, 2009, 11:05:36 PM »

I'm a fan of optional bonus dungeons myself, which can serve the "test the player's mettle" aspect of the final dungeon.  The downside there is that if they contained core story elements, making them optional might detract from the storyline.  Thus bonus dungeons often don't have much story content to them.

But really, I can't recall a JRPG in recent memory where the final dungeon annoyed me.  Last bosses maybe (Persona 3...), but not the dungeons themselves.  It seems to me like ridiculously hard and grindy final dungeons are more a relic of the old traditional turn-based RPG's.

The length of Persona 3 was a problem for me as well.  I also liked it for about the first half.  At that point my hatred of randomly generated dungeons flared up and wouldn't die down again.  Ironically I was also playing a Japanese game at the time (Mine Fukaki Se ni Tayutau Uta) that did the randomly generated dungeon thing better, IMO.  Still need to finish that game...
« Last Edit: March 10, 2009, 11:30:09 PM by magusgs » Logged

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Daggerstrike
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« Reply #39 on: March 10, 2009, 11:40:55 PM »

WAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH


And on another note. Some final dungeons are good. Others have been executed poorly. It happens. Get over it. You disagreed, super. Other people agreed, awesome.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #40 on: March 11, 2009, 02:18:39 AM »

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(GFs on the whole were largely pointless except as a plot device and the only real way to level up your characters).

I actually beat most of the fights up to that point by spamming GFs. There were... something like three boss fights, other than the final boss, where that didn't work.

FFVIII is a nice reminder that RPGs are in fact very system-heavy things where the numbers matter.

As I've said like a million times though, I don't play games to finish them, so length and final dungeons aren't really issues to me. In the sense that it's mostly gameplay mechanics or some sort of atmosphere that drive me to play a game and I can generally get my fill of any particular game's gameplay mechanics or atmosphere by playing said game for maybe like three hours a year.
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« Reply #41 on: March 11, 2009, 02:35:45 AM »

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Linear games allow you to concentrate on story and character development.

Yeah but videogames always have bad stories so why bother :(

So, you never played Vagrant Story, Silent Hill 2 or Final Fantasy Tactics?

And on another note. Some final dungeons are good. Others have been executed poorly. It happens. Get over it. You disagreed, super. Other people agreed, awesome.

/thread
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« Reply #42 on: March 11, 2009, 06:01:09 AM »

Wow... surprised that there is so much hate for the final dungeon in FF8. That's actually one of my few examples of a final dungeon done right. Honestly, I hate every final dungeon in the Final Fantasy series, except for FF4, FF6 and FF8. My reasoning is that, at least in the case of FF6 and FF8, the dungeons are very non-linear and very puzzle-heavy, which I REALLY appreciate in a final dungeon. FF8s, in particular, added some fresh new gameplay elements that we hadn't seen throughout the rest of the game. Combine that with an eerie, Escher-esque motif, and you have a really killer final dungeon. I really have very little bad to say about FF8s ending sequence at all. Yes, the fact that Disc 4 is locked out from the rest of the game is a shame and a mistake, but it was unfortunately a biproduct of some dated technology, and wasn't originally the designers' intentions. I can't really see any better way of doing it at the time.

What I dislike are final dungeons that fall into two categories: 1) linear, boring final dungeons (FF7, FF9, as well as a host of other games I can't recall), and 2) Dungeons that appear out of the middle of nowhere with little explanation. I don't so much mind longer final dungeons if they are done right (again, less battles, more puzzles and unique atmosphere), but don't make them appear out of the middle of nowhere with no explanation. Tales games are famous for this. Skies of Arcadia, as great as it was, did this. A lot of really killer games do this, "One more time!" thing that just makes me cringe. ***EARTHQUAKE*** HUGE TOWER RISES UP FROM OUT OF THE EARTH. God... it's been done so many times, you'd think they would come up with something different. FF12 managed to do this about 2 times BEFORE the final dungeon... great show guys. Thankfully their actual final dungeon wasn't too bad (though not very fun).

Just, give me some puzzles, maybe some split-team stuff, but don't make me grind for eternity (or have the EXP gain rate very high), and I'm fine.
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« Reply #43 on: March 11, 2009, 06:08:13 AM »

Mileage varies. I do think there's such a thing as downright awful dungeon design. Xenogears had a pretty bad one, repetitious as all hell and rather ugly to boot. Wild ARMs 2 was pretty godawful as well, but then most of its dungeons suffered in general.

As to pacing -- this is largely a matter of investment with a medium. I know a ton of people who can't read Lord of the Rings because it's too slow for them. I'm in agreement with C.S. Lewis who put forward that people who complain about pacing are not really readers at all. They are not invested in literature and use it solely as a kind of popular entertainment. They use, rather than receive. Of course, all that goes into a section of literary theory and debate that'll probably just weigh all this down further.

Not to say anything against you Robert, I do agree that Persona 3 got rather tiresome, but that was in my mind because of a rather sparse and tired plot. The gun-to-the-head gimmick was already a tip off. Controversial aesthetics are often implemented to make up for a rather lackluster product. By comparison, Persona 4 was approached rather methodically. I would in fact call its pacing rather slower than Persona 3's, but its story more compelling and well executed.
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« Reply #44 on: March 11, 2009, 02:16:55 PM »

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As to pacing -- this is largely a matter of investment with a medium. I know a ton of people who can't read Lord of the Rings because it's too slow for them. I'm in agreement with C.S. Lewis who put forward that people who complain about pacing are not really readers at all. They are not invested in literature and use it solely as a kind of popular entertainment. They use, rather than receive. Of course, all that goes into a section of literary theory and debate that'll probably just weigh all this down further.

I like this. Well said.

And I wish I could remember what FF8's final dungeon was like. It's getting so much attention.
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