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Forums - Gaming Discussion - Obnoxious Tacked-On Progression/Skill Tree elements?

Edit: I can't believe I have to clarify this but ... this thread is not just about RPGs, it's about games as a whole and progression mechanics.

So ... I just want to first start off by saying that I'm not trying to construct some ultimate critique of this trend in games. In fact, I feel that had I bought a few more triple A games as of late, I could make a much more rant-esq thread, but I haven't bought many so I won't. Instead I'll keep it simple. 

I'm playing God of War right now and I am overwhelmed by just how much unlocks and upgrades are possible. To the point where I am kind of turned off. Especially because I'm about 5 hours into the game and I still have to read text boxes about what each item does. If you don't like this example or disagree on this particular game, that's fine. But it's not a "God of War thing". It's a triple A game thing. 

It seems like whenever I play a triple A game there is so many elements, generally elements that are associated with the RPG genre, that just feel so cheap and tacked on. A million different perks, level ups, and different "branching" paths that aren't branching at all. When you have a game series where you can unlock every perk or every ability, a big part of what makes leveling systems in RPGs so interesting is already gone. But it's even worse when you realize that these leveling systems are just a way for developers to pad out what you can do at what parts of a game in the least interesting way possible without actually putting in effort to make progression in a game interesting. 

Leveling systems in games are always going to be, at best, a supplement for the progression you'd see in real life. The only games that are ever going to mirror true real life progression are competitive skill based games, like Arcade Shooters or Fighting titles, but that can be very linear and inconvenient for certain games. At the very least though, we should see some games try to build a more natural progression. Because even though I love upgrading trees in games like Dark Souls or Monster Hunter, not every game should have the same systems built into it over ... and over ... and over again. It doesn't even have to be a revolutionary upgrading system ... it can even be more story based. 

Unfortunately I am having trouble thinking of examples. Which perhaps makes this a less valid opinion. But I'm sure that as soon as I move onto the next game out there to feature this system, it will all come running back to me.  Like when you wonder why you hated Taco Bell for so long and then remember as soon as you buy it again. Ultimately, I just feel that developers really need to start using their noggin. I certainly do not have the best solutions, but I'm sure that some talented devs out there do ...

Last edited by AngryLittleAlchemist - on 21 April 2018

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"Leveling systems in games are always going to be, at best, a supplement for the progression you'd see in real life. The only games that are ever going to mirror true real life progression are competitive skill based games, like Arcade Shooters or Fighting titles, but that can be very linear and inconvenient for certain games. "

These are games.... why do they have to mirror real life?
I think alot of people enjoy the rpg elements, and being able to unlock skills that suit your playstyle (more choices is good right?).

"I'm playing God of War right now and I am overwhelmed by just how much unlocks and upgrades are possible. To the point where I am kind of turned off. Especially because I'm about 5 hours into the game and I still have to read text boxes about what each item does. If you don't like this example or disagree on this particular game, that's fine. But it's not a "God of War thing". It's a triple A game thing. "


Some people actually like that... How do you play Fallout? or is that another of these AAA games you dont like?





JRPGfan said:

"Leveling systems in games are always going to be, at best, a supplement for the progression you'd see in real life. The only games that are ever going to mirror true real life progression are competitive skill based games, like Arcade Shooters or Fighting titles, but that can be very linear and inconvenient for certain games. "

These are games.... why do they have to mirror real life? I think alot of people enjoy the rpg elements, and being able to unlock skills that suit your playstyle (more choices is good right?)

"I'm playing God of War right now and I am overwhelmed by just how much unlocks and upgrades are possible. To the point where I am kind of turned off. Especially because I'm about 5 hours into the game and I still have to read text boxes about what each item does. If you don't like this example or disagree on this particular game, that's fine. But it's not a "God of War thing". It's a triple A game thing. "


Some people actually like that... How do you play Fallout? or is that another of these AAA games you dont like?



The point wasn't that it had to mirror real life, in fact I even stated it in your very quote that focusing on literal skill progression would make games very linear and would basically just make every game a game about skill ceilings. I was merely saying that it because games are not real life the developers are always going to be put to task to try to make a progression system that feels natural, interesting, or a combination of the two. 

Fallout's problem is that the choices have become pretty meaningless ... it is a pretty good example of the problem with modern progression systems, although the difference in that case was it was an RPG series that adapted around the dumbed down progression systems in other games. But yes, something like Fallout New Vegas has a great unlock system. Too bad because of the way 99% of games work those kind of systems don't make sense and are usually pretty tacked on. 



Well that's what people asked for when they wanted more "depth" to the game mechanics so in we go with skill trees ?

I also don't think skill trees are exclusive to RPGs, there's many arcade and survival games along with some shooters who use it as well ...



fatslob-:O said:

Well that's what people asked for when they wanted more "depth" to the game mechanics so in we go with skill trees ?

I also don't think skill trees are exclusive to RPGs, there's many arcade and survival games along with some shooters who use it as well ...

Hence why I said "elements that are associated with the RPG genre". I also was very obviously talking about games from other genres that take elements associated with other genres, so not sure why you listed the last few genres since the entire point was that there's too much saturation of these kind of systems (I used the term "triple A game" but really it's a problem in gaming in general)

The issue isn't that games don't emulate RPGs close enough. It's just that the skill trees, or leveling systems, or whatever you want to call it, aren't very well implemented a lot of the time. 

Anyways if people think that adding a skill tree automatically creates depth in game mechanics than I would say that is pretty ridiculous ... I guess on a mechanical level it technically is an added layer to the game but it definitely doesn't translate to depth when in game. 



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AngryLittleAlchemist said:

Hence why I said "elements that are associated with the RPG genre". I also was very obviously talking about games from other genres that take elements associated with other genres, so not sure why you listed the last few genres since the entire point was that there's too much saturation of these kind of systems (I used the term "triple A game" but really it's a problem in gaming in general)

The issue isn't that games don't emulate RPGs close enough. It's just that the skill trees, or leveling systems, or whatever you want to call it, aren't very well implemented a lot of the time. 

Anyways if people think that adding a skill tree automatically creates depth in game mechanics than I would say that is pretty ridiculous ... I guess on a mechanical level it technically is an added layer to the game but it definitely doesn't translate to depth when in game. 

But then how developers be able to add unlockable game mechanics ? 

Do you think the Tomb Raider reboot and The Last of Us have "tacked on" closely RPG related mechanics since they have skill trees ? 

Honestly, skill trees sound a lot less offensive in terms of progression mechanics than having a leveling system for these types of games ... (since they aren't RPGs)



All I will say is that you are looking at systems like this wrong, especially with how its implemented in GOW.

You are not supposed to unlock or want to unlock eberything. You are supposed to have a particular play style and unlock the stuff that appeals to you that will suit that particular style.

And just leave the rest.

Thats why a lot of the unlocks in the skill tree is GOW are independent and only tied to weapon level and not tied to first activating some other thing first. Its why you can stack perks across different armor/weapon types.

A skill tree is adding depth though, especially in GOW. Why, because there are things I want and I dont want and I feel better picking them. I also really love how a number of special things are tied to certain exact button presses, so the input doesn't change but the move changes depending on what you select.....

Anyways.......



fatslob-:O said:
AngryLittleAlchemist said:

Hence why I said "elements that are associated with the RPG genre". I also was very obviously talking about games from other genres that take elements associated with other genres, so not sure why you listed the last few genres since the entire point was that there's too much saturation of these kind of systems (I used the term "triple A game" but really it's a problem in gaming in general)

The issue isn't that games don't emulate RPGs close enough. It's just that the skill trees, or leveling systems, or whatever you want to call it, aren't very well implemented a lot of the time. 

Anyways if people think that adding a skill tree automatically creates depth in game mechanics than I would say that is pretty ridiculous ... I guess on a mechanical level it technically is an added layer to the game but it definitely doesn't translate to depth when in game. 

But then how developers be able to add unlockable game mechanics ? 

Do you think the Tomb Raider reboot and The Last of Us have "tacked on" closely RPG related mechanics since they have skill trees ? 

Honestly, skill trees sound a lot less offensive in terms of progression mechanics than having a leveling system for these types of games ... (since they aren't RPGs)

Skill trees and leveling systems have become nearly synonymous. I know there's a difference, but in my mind they're about as obnoxious and tacked on. Granted, my point isn't that an entire leveling system should be added. And it's possible that if these games tried too hard to imitate games with detailed leveling mechanics, that it would be even more annoying. But skill trees still feel uneccessary in a lot of the video games they're in (in fact I'm pretty sure a lot of video games literally call skill trees "level up" systems, since you are really just gaining experience and applying it to a tree).. 

Skill trees might be inoffensive but they are offensively so. They have become so mild that their purpose has diluted. You can add progression in many ways, but as I said in the OP, I don't know all the answers. I'm not the one developing games, these designers might potentially have better ideas than me. Or they might like skill trees, who knows ... 

I think for narrative focused games making it so that players get upgrades or new elements through story progression is perhaps one of the best solutions. Of course, in many of these games, there are technically new mechanics and items that you do gain through story. But I feel like a lot of developers forget that doing a small amount of things and doing all of them particularly well can be way better than adding a progression system to make the gamer feel like they're making even more progress. In other words, well timed upgrades, new mechanics being introduced, or even skill based challenges in narrative games offer more than enough variety on average. But of course, I feel like there is some ... untapped ... not yet created ... progression system. And this is just but one example of an alternative. 



Intrinsic said:
All I will say is that you are looking at systems like this wrong, especially with how its implemented in GOW.

You are not supposed to unlock or want to unlock eberything. You are supposed to have a particular play style and unlock the stuff that appeals to you that will suit that particular style.

And just leave the rest.

Thats why a lot of the unlocks in the skill tree is GOW are independent and only tied to weapon level and not tied to first activating some other thing first. Its why you can stack perks across different armor/weapon types.

A skill tree is adding depth though, especially in GOW. Why, because there are things I want and I dont want and I feel better picking them. I also really love how a number of special things are tied to certain exact button presses, so the input doesn't change but the move changes depending on what you select.....

Anyways.......

Such an oddly specific comment that only focuses on one narrow part of my OP. It doesn't matter whether it's GOW or not(and I know you'll reply "well it's clearly a reply meant for other games as well" but it's clear why it's being written). 

To be frank, it's not just being able unlock everything. Although not being able to unlock everything is cool and adds more replay value along with actually choices for the player to make. Saying that these systems are made to adopt a specific style just seems wrong. In most Triple A games I've played with a tacked on progression system, they just let you upgrade every tree whether you've specialized in it or not. You can argue all day that "you're just supposed to upgrade one part, bro!" but many of these trees even split up multiple core tenets of a game that are equally important. I.E., they're clearly not made to "specialize" your character and are just there to give you the illusion of true progression because you're able to do more as you go on.... 

And if you want an example of a game that technically wants you to specialize in one game style but doesn't have nearly enough implementations of this idea to the point that the core idea of the game is ruined, I give you Dishonored.

I'll give you that God of War might not be an example of this, but that wasn't even the point of the example and I even stated it could possibly not be to the readers fancy ... 

Edit: Anyways, I'll leave this thread for a while so others can comment. If I replied and said everyone was wrong it wouldn't be a true discussion. Feel free to post ideas.



But RPG elements make games better. That's applicable to every single game in existence, why would you not want them to be better?



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