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The RPG Scrollbars: New Years Res-- Commandments

Backed by the Space Pope

Yes, it's that time again... give or take a week. 2017's looking like a fantastic year for RPGs already, thanks to the second big wave of Kickstarters due to hit, and bringing sequels and brand new adventures with it. But, let's not get complacent. Since I sadly cannot, and would not be so arrogant as to lay down resolutions for the industry without its will, instead there will be Commandments that are Law.

Which is a bit like lore, only harder to skip by hammering the ESC key.

Thou Shalt Better Explain Thy ****ing Rules

And so it was that the Humbled Creative did stand before the LORD and ask, but LORD, wilt mine audience not read the fucking manual? And the LORD did laugh a mighty laugh and declare nay, and that is not the point, for what manual hath grace to hint at which of those stats are actually going to be important ten hours later, or to what measure be Dexterity versus Strength the true mark of stabbing fools with a sword. Nay, thy shalt recommend commence by highlighting the stats that are important, and then continue to explain, for to demand the player consult a wiki for this basic shit shall be a crime. And this goeth double for thee, online games, that chooseth to hand out garbage to the Unwary and render them Loser in the eyes of Man.

The LORD has spoken. So shall it be. (So shall it be.)

Thou Shalt Allow Mid-Game Difficulty Changes

But I have explained myself fully as thou demanded, wept the Arrogant Designer. Would you demand I remove all challenge from mine adventure? Hast thou not considered the moral virtue of making one's decisions and learning from them? Yes, countered the LORD, however I am a busy LORD and sometimes belatedly discover to my cost that either I have discovered a stumbling block hidden from my omnicognisance, or it turns out that your love of exceptionally boring random encounters or boss balancing or similar is not to my choosing. Either why, thou shalt permit this easing of mine burden as I choose, not as ye demand. Perhaps later I shall return, and as Zeus laid waste to the Titans, indeed render your hard mode my bitch. Either way, I have paid mine money, so stop whining. Also, I want in-game re-rolling. And a pony.

The LORD has spoken. So shall it be. (So shall it be.)

Thou Shalt Learn The Difference Between 'Rogue' and 'Dick'

Yes, warned the LORD. For there is a difference, and it is a mighty one. To be subject to the whims of a random, unpredictable universe is a fine thing. To be surprised and challenged, and slowly to conquer that challenge, is a most satisfying quest. To deal with bullshit instadeath traps, mandatory grinding through impossible odds to reach a point where mere survival be a possibility, and unexplained mechanics that again call for a wiki is Unacceptable, and the penalty for the Unacceptability shall be fire and brimstone and a red thorned rose up the hooter.

The LORD has spoken. So shall it be. (So shall it be.)

Thou Shalt Get The **** On With It

Thou art one to talk, whispered the Irritated Reader. The LORD did graciously let it pass, as wind before a family gathering at Christmas. Instead, summoned he an Illustrative Example, that all might understand their instruction.

Cover image for YouTube video

FIVE MINUTES LONG, thundered the LORD. FIVE MINUTES THAT WILL NEVER BE RETURNED. For there is a time and a place for such ponderous blather, and its place is not in an introduction that none need know up front. For there art so many ways to convey lore, from in-game museums to ambient conversations, and not once is it as remotely as interesting as its creators consider. Nay, let this accursed waste of mortality be naught but an example of how not to live or write or generate excitement for a game. I smite it and give it its True Name, which is Bollocks.

The LORD has spoken. So shall it be. (So shall it be.)

Thou Shalt Stop Trying To Force People To Play Your Way

It was then that the designer who was the designer of World of Warcraft did step forwards, quivering. And the LORD did sigh. We have been through this before, he declared. Thou listened. In Warlords of Draenor, finally, thou accepted that there are players who be not of social stock, who return to your world not to quest alongside barely literate warriors, but for the fantasy of it. Yet what is this? In Legion, you return to enforcing dungeon play upon thy flock. Thou vexing Arse. Dost thou make thy raiders first engage in boring PvP? No thou dost not! Cease this at once! Use thy instancing and thy brain to allow unsocial play.

But LORD, whimpered the Remorseful Designer, our stats show that-

THY STATS ARE IRRELEVANT, declared the LORD. If thy players wished to play, thou would not need to force it, or tell them to wait until the next expansion when the difficulty shalt be rendered more suitable for solo play, as it could be right now!

Yes, LORD. But what of Final Fantasy XIV, which also demands such play?

Ah, said the LORD. First, naughty-naughty, trying to drop another game unto the Cack. However, thou hast a point. Yonder difference is that the Final Fantasy which numbers Fourteen at least sets its cards on the table early, while it is your game that lures the socially awkward into feeling they have a place before demanding they find a place, which is Shameful, and which commits the Sin of Inconsistency when it treats them as Great Heroes before deciding that actually, no they are not. For has it not been said many times, what is this Shit? How am I in my oft-repeated Greatness possibly enough not to clear a Brewery full of Cartoon Rabbits? Or some schmuck wizard?

Don't do it next time, it was added.

The LORD has spoken. So shall it be. (So shall it be.)

Thou Shalt Never Be Minecraft So Get Over It

But- began the Hopeful Producer. The LORD did lay a sympathetic hand upon her shoulder. No, said the LORD, not without a measure of understanding. No.

The LORD has spoken. So shall it be. (So shall it be.)

Thou Shalt Spend Proper Time On Thy Clothing Options

Oh, LORD, is it bikini armour of which you speak, whispered the Blushing Artist. For has that gong not being sufficiently banged and most now agreed that it is indeed a bit crap. The LORD didst staple his fingers and mutter Ouch and then unstaple and this time merely steeple them. Indeed, declared the LORD. That was a most vexing perversion and my Word remains. However, in my infinite wisdom, it was the range and novelty of those available that came to mind, for there is nothing inherently wrong with such styles, should they be chosen by They Who Are The Player rather than enforced by The Producer Who Shouldst Get Out More.

No. I speak of Choice and of Interest and of Taking The Time to craft armour sets and items that permit interesting looks, and a world in which every hero is unique and not Doomed To Plate for survival. In particular, added the LORD, let us see some of the cool transmogrification stuff done by MMOs in regular games, so that they who must wear traditional armour may continue to be Boring, yet they with souls might be Fabulous. In whatever form they do declare fitting.

The LORD has spoken. So shall it be. (So shall it be.)

Thou Shalt Not Wuss Out With Thy Sex Stuff

Oh, yes, added the LORD, and while we art on the subject, none shall be permitted the Naughtiness of brothels and hookers and other such tawdry fare unless they have both Stomach and Creativity. For if thou considers a simple fade to black or some fully-clothed fumbling to be suitable response for any action taken wherein, then thou hast committed the sin of Tackiness and worse, the sin of Boredom. For there is nothing wrong with a romance that is merely sweet, and a world of dragons and magic is a world that will not one iota be made more realistic by the addition of Hookers. However, shouldst though opt to implement such things and thy faces be cherry red and thy sex scenes written to be neither erotic nor speak to the characters involved, then thou shalt be Shamed on grounds of Cowardice and of charges of frankly Being Fucking Boring. For we have gone from the age of Dragon Age now unto a world of The Witcher, where tits and bums are no longer shocking and willies will no doubt join as soon as everyone stops Fainting and acknowledges that actually it mattereth not.

The LORD has spoken. So shall it be. (So shall it be.)

Thou Shalt Read More And Draw From More Settings

Seriously, yawned The LORD. Just check out Brewer's Myths and Legends some time. Loads of cool monsters. Use them, because the LORD grows weary of killing the Shit which is the Same on such a regular basis.

The LORD has spoken. So shall it be. (So shall it be.)

Thou Shalt Not Mistake Pissing About In An Open World For A Campaign

Any argument? demanded the LORD. There was silence. Good.

The LORD has spoken. So shall it be. (So shall it be.)

Thou Shalt Explain The Gaping Hole In Every Other Bloody Story

The cowering masses looked up for a moment, confused. But LORD, what plot hole do you speak of? The LORD shook his head. THE plot-hole, he thundered. The one that a six year old would spot instantly. I speak for instance of why, in a situation where the villain seeks the three parts of a weapon, the heroes dost not simply acquire the first and then destroy it, allowing their foe to spend their days upon a Quest Most Fruitless.

The people looked to each other. But LORD, they whimpered, such quests are the bedrock of the genre. Can you not simply tolerate it as a... quirk, perhaps? NO! Thundered the LORD. And do you know why not? Because when Paper Mario 2: The Thousand Year Door dost take two minutes out of its busy schedule to explain, there is no excuse for any game that follows! For that game postulates a great evil behind a door that the enemies wish to free in exchange for power, and asked is it of the hero Mario why not just leave it locked up? Aha, says the game, because the evil grows in power, and shouldst it escape on its own instead of with the help of yonder McGuffins, it will be much too powerful. Therefore, the quest. Do you see? Do you see?

And if Paper Mario can do it, so can everyone. I have spoken.

The LORD has spoken. So shall it be. (So shall it be.)

Thou Shalt Explore Shorter Forms Of Experience

At this, the nations of the world did blink as one, and the sound of their blink was SLURRRRRRRP. But LORD, it was whispered, everyone knows that an RPG must be at least 50 hours long, even if that means it has more padding than the brassiere of a professional Tomb Raider cosplayer?

The LORD didst wave a hand with disinterest. The LORD has a life, the people were informed. There is no reason the good stuff cannot merely be compressed into a shorter experience, free of pointlessly refighting the same three guys a hundred times in a cavern, proving nothing, but offer greater experiences. The unpredictability of the roguelike. The intriguing survival typically only seen in Elder Scrolls mods and their kin. The ability to revisit a world multiple times from different angles, rather than all carrots being dangled for immediate consumption. For is there anything wrong with the likes of Way of the Samurai 4, and its incredible replayability? Yes, the matter of it being a bit crap and having a character called Melinda Megamelons. BUT! the LORD added, grasping once again the most holy of high moral grounds, such things should still be of inspiration, for an idea not done to its full is an idea that may one day flourish.

The LORD has spoken. So shall it be. (So shall it be.)

Thou Shalt Not Give The Boss Any More Special Rights Than Necessary

And another thing, sayeth the LORD, after Divinity: Original Sin, there shalt be no more situations where the Death Spell Of Instant Death gets no-sold by the boss, just because-

A nervous hand rose from the crowd. YES? barkethed the LORD. The finger emerged from the ground, along with the Trembling Person to which it was attached. LORD, he whispered, your people grow bored of this, and are out of ways to say what an annoying gimmick it has become. With the greatest possible respect, you've been going for over 2000 words now. Could you save some of your whining for another day?

And the LORD considered it. And the LORD spoke. And the LORD spaketh:

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Richard Cobbett