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Useful RPG Option Choices


SoleGoose
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A lot of options are determined by gameplay, but on the whole, which gameplay options do you find to be preferred when playing a game? Which make the experience more enjoyable, and which are rarely touched? Here are some SNES examples that might help refresh the old memory, but feel free to draw from more current gameplay experiences. My experiences are Square biased, so help me out if I'm overlooking something. I'm specifically looking for things that can be done on the NES or SNES, and things that would make sense in a 2D pixel world, so an option like turning off voice acting or camera rotation are kind of outside of the topic. Thanks!

 

OptionStudy1a.PNG

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Member · Posted

When available for the 3D JRPGs, I always liked to have a fixed battle perspective, rather than dramatic camera sweeps.  Given an option to "pause" the game when a menu  is up in battle, yeah, I cut that on.  I also love reskinning the menus when that option is there.  Whether it's tweaking a color pallet or selecting "vines", riveted metal or wood paneling, I've always appreciated that touch and change the setting when they are there.

In fact, this is a great topic because every single time I start an RPG, AS SOON as I get player control, the first thing I do is bring up the menu and fiddle with the settings.  If something can be customized, I will.  If I can speed up messages, I'll do that too. Just about everything else I'll play around with until I "get it right".

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Homebrew Team · Posted

If your are talking about an options screen, I prefer something like the second row in your examples.  It is not a high-end design, it is really just a simple list, but it very easy to understand.  

The ones that use diagrams or symbols may become okay when you get used to it's logic overtime, however they are difficult in the begining.

Don't use circular menus like Secret of Mana.

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Homebrew Team · Posted
6 minutes ago, SoleGoose said:

 

Oh no! Why is that?

 

And I did mean more in terms of content, but any comments about layout and formatting are welcome as well.

 

I think it would depend on how it was implemented.  If we are talking straight about Secret of Mana, I can offer some feedback.  It was multiple tiers of circles organized by category with icons for each subcategory.  On its surface it sounds intuitive.  However for me, I fumbled around it.  I think it was the lack of text with a combination of the icons they used.  If there was text that listed the category somewhere in the tier.  Maybe off to the side or in the middle, that would help.  So I can understand quickly I am in the wearables tier.  Also more descriptive icons, especially in the options tier.  I always go in to the wrong one when trying to see the characters stats.    

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I know you likely meant menu options, but something that's always stuck by my brother and I since our father first stumbled upon it is seemingly useless skills combined with seemingly useless items which can yield surprising results.

The example of this in my mind is the "Toaster Repair" skill from Wasteland.  You would occasionally find these broken toasters in random loot bags around the map, after encounters that would drop loot, etc., and would either only be able to get $1 or so for selling them or just have to trash them when you ran out of inventory space.  Late in the game, a particular library offers the learnable skill "Toaster Repair," allowing a character to be able to actually fix all of those broken toasters.  An appropriate workbench is required (I think there's only one in the whole game), so this seems like it's really unlikely to amount to much.  The funny thing is, when you fix them, they're always "jammed" with something relatively useful--an ammo magazine, a small melee weapon, a grenade (yes, seriously), etc.  However, if you keep using the skill (or spend points) to level it up, the level of items that you can pop out of a toaster increases, up to the point where my father would roll over a new game (reset the map & inventories but keep the same characters), run to a handful of places that he knew always had broken toasters, then immediately pop out end-game tier armor, weapons, etc.  Watching him pop a "meson cannon" (basically a laser gatling gun) out of a toaster had to be the single most hilarious thing my brother and I ever witnessed out of a game, to the point where it still sticks in our memories today.

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Going to go with what I've been playing, Mystic Quest has a very easy to use menu, super player friendly, well organized with colorful nicely detailed clear images of itemsa s well as their name. Yeah, I know you're talking about options, I'll get to that. And to keep the game flowing at a good pace you can easily change weapons anytime using the shoulder buttons, and you can also change the secondary character from auto to manual and back anytime during combat, love both of these options (hey, they could have made you have to use the menus every time to do these so this is a massive plus). And the battle menus, just as easy to use as going into any of the other menus and option screen. What I love about this game is the neatness of it all, sure it's lacking in options (see 7th image) : type of health display (bar or numbers), control (auto or manual), message speed, and window color, that's it. It could perhaps use more, like customizing controller button layout (for those that would like to change it), but still, one of the cleanest menus there is, everything. As for the standard usual options I usually don't mess with any of it because the default is usually okay, though once upon a time I was always impatient when playing RPGs so I would set message speed at the fastest, and would quickly press through most dialogue thus find myself wandering aimlessly, clueless for a time. The least useful to me is the window color, I have fiddled with it a few times in some games, but mostly just stuck with the default.

1504182473_MysticQuestLegend(France)-options1.png.2373ab054e0beffa378bffd2336e8fff.png1915240881_MysticQuestLegend(France)-options2.png.567c78f78348e05c14b069e150f3881a.png509127589_MysticQuestLegend(France)-options3.png.fea27bf0fbf44d67eb28b768bf38fed6.png1476661589_MysticQuestLegend(France)-options4.png.46b41704a32c993ee3bd7415973786bb.png

201989502_MysticQuestLegend(France)-options5.png.ac14c09848dbfc201f25be5bff3c4437.png797309272_MysticQuestLegend(France)-options6.png.7ca6c32703bb715199fc2839dbf07f4b.png774658915_MysticQuestLegend(France)-options7.png.fc6ccd18ed6f884b1c88cc92839e0ac3.png1935076668_MysticQuestLegend(France)-options8.png.bf82c74c4104bfdcbddc309859707e71.png

Hate ones like Secret of Mana, with the circular ring, as with any game that tries to makes things overly fancy which tend to make understanding and navigating it more difficult than it should be.

They can ruin what could be a perfectly wonderful game experience when there's crap in a game that actually makes it less enjoyable or frustrating when it shouldn't be. Menus and items should be easy to use and navigate, options should give you a good amount of control of what you want or don't want to see during certain parts of the gameplay. Moving around and using menus or other options shouldn't be a learning curve nor awkward.

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Homebrew Team · Posted

It really depends on the mechanics of the game for me, and what are the frequency of needing various functions. I look to the evolution of the Dragon Warrior/Quest games for reference. The “stairs” option was hilariously tedious, and “take” was duplicative when “open” did the job just as well for treasure chests that you had to stand on. Which brings me to another point, some functions are so common that a menu option is excessive: being able to talk or open a chest by walking up to the person/treasure and hitting A made more sense than opening the menu to talk or open. Dragon Warrior I also had a door function, and Dragon Warrior II made you use the specific key to open a type of door, whereas I believe future games just made opening the door automatic if you had the means to open the door.

The same applies in planning a menu: figure out every action that can be performed, figure out how some can be collapsed into one another, and identify which actions are so common that it shouldn’t necessitate menu access in the first place.

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I think stereo and text speed needn't be options anymore. I think the game should be in stereo if the music is famitracker and the option for surround sound if midi. I don't know who would want the text to display slow as molasses. What I don't like is when there's autotext that appears on the screen for only a couple of seconds. I'm a slow reader, and stuff like that is hard to catch. I think that the dialogue text speed shouldn't affect the time the autotext is up, if you decide to put autotext in a game. I like @Br81zad's suggestion of allowing you to scroll through the dialogue.

I think simple animations (like FF4/FF6) is fine and adds aesthetic to the game, but long, drawn out animations every time you do something gets old. At the same time, I feel like something is missing if you turn it off altogether. If it's possible, maybe have the animation for the first instance and then a shorter version for multiple instances. That would still keep it fresh for each battle but not waste as much time, and then there wouldn't be a need for an option to turn it on/off.

I like the active battle mode, personally. It keeps you on your toes. One option would be to allow the player to press select to pause the game at any time. That could help them with battles if needed. I don't think Chrono Trigger gives you the option to wait, but I might be misremembering.

I actually liked the wheel menu in SoM and SoE, because I'm a visual person and loved being able to see what I was equipping/casting/using. In a regular Final Fantasy type of menu, I would suggest having a description of what the item does at the bottom of the battle screen. I recall some games having descriptions in the Main Menu, but I don't remember if the descriptions are there during battle. I know Crystalis and a bunch of other games have a more visual menu for equipping and using items (and Mystic Quest above, I see. Forgot about that). I really enjoyed the visual options in Shining Force (the nodding and shaking head comes to mind immediately), which is also used in the Golden Sun series. Phantasy Star III also uses this visual menu in battle.

I also like in the Final Fantasies (at least 1 and 4) there's a small icon next to each item that tells you what category it is. That is immensely helpful. One alternative to the SoM wheel: I was also thinking what if you had the battle options (fight, magic, item, etc.) at the bottom of the screen and popped up an image of the weapons that can be used, item options in a window thatappears above the menu, or use the shoulder buttons to scroll through them. I don't know if I'm explaining it well. I'll draw you an example and message you. I never understood why it would take a turn for you to equip something from your inventory in FF4. You should just be able to use it right away.

A visual control config menu is also a good thing to have as a menu item.

Edited by ookii_risu
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2 minutes ago, ookii_risu said:

I think stereo and text speed needn't be options anymore. I think the game should be in stereo if the music is famitracker and the option for surround sound if midi. I don't know who would want the text to display slow as molasses. What I don't like is when there's autotext that appears on the screen for only a couple of seconds. I'm a slow reader, and stuff like that is hard to catch. I think that the dialogue text speed shouldn't affect the time the autotext is up, if you decide to put autotext in a game. I like @Br81zad's suggestion of allowing you to scroll through the dialogue.

 

Same here, slow reader. I can't stand text in games that goes automatically and doesn't allow me to pause. When I was playing games on the 360 I was only downloading games that had a french language option, some are very reader friendly but most are not and have that auto text where they keep on talking no matter what and if you can't keep up, well too bad miss slowpoke reader, and this goes for games I've played in english too, I just can't take it all in that fast. Now if I chose to fast forward or skip it that's fine, my choice, but I really would have loved to be able to catch all that dialogue in some of these. Or there are those that when you do try to pause it puts a big ass "PAUSE" or something in place of the text, or some other screen completely, as if they don't want you seeing what you are supposed to and need to see, like someone stepping in your way while you are trying to read a sign or something, or they blur it out so much that you can't see it well. What is the big issue here? You want me to read this or not? This message will self destruct in 5 seconds. Timers are a pain sometimes in playing through some games, but it's part of the challenge, but text, should not be timed, I'm not getting points for being able to read it all and don't lose a life or get a game over if I can't keep up, I just miss out on what is said. I loved State of Decay because when I pressed to pause it the dialogue subtitles stayed right where I could see and read them at my pace and type them all out too in notepad, while ones like Just Cause 2 or Beyond Good and Evil I can't pause as still see it, thus miss a lot. And this has been the same for every gaming generation, some allow you to read and you press the button when you are ready to read more, others take you for a fast reader or believe you are paying attention and ready at every moment (Me : "Ugh, hold that thought, be right back, I really have to pee", Game : "Don't you walk away from me when I'm talking to you!", keeps on talking, blah-blah-blah...), it's not combat, nor real life, though unlike real life I can't always ask text to repeat itself, or I can't go back to that narrative because that would mean starting over or going back to a previous save or something, and narratives are almost always auto scrolling.

Don't care about so much the sound type, so long as it sounds and like its supposed to, and let the tv dictate whether you want it mono ou stereo or surround, whatever.

5 hours ago, Br81zad said:

I'd like to see an option to scroll through the entire text of a given scene rather than the text appear in separate blocks that you cycle through (if that makes sense)

Makes it feel more like a book, than: read a block, click button, read a block, click button, and so on.

Yes, this! reminds me of online job applications, most have one screen after another, a little bit on this screen, press next, a little more on this screen, next, something stupid and useless on this screen, yep, next. Very rarely there have been ones that have the whole application in its entirety on one convenient page. Same thing with the games, give me more freedom to read it as I chose, be able to read at my own pace and scroll simply by pressing and holding down or up or something easy that don't require pressing an action button every few words. I got the Scroll Option...

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4 minutes ago, MeganJoanne said:

Same here, slow reader. I can't stand text in games that goes automatically and doesn't allow me to pause. When I was playing games on the 360 I was only downloading games that had a french language option, some are very reader friendly but most are not and have that auto text where they keep on talking no matter what and if you can't keep up, well too bad miss slowpoke reader, and this goes for games I've played in english too, I just can't take it all in that fast. Now if I chose to fast forward or skip it that's fine, my choice, but I really would have loved to be able to catch all that dialogue in some of these. Or there are those that when you do try to pause it puts a big ass "PAUSE" or something in place of the text, or some other screen completely, as if they don't want you seeing what you are supposed to and need to see, like someone stepping in your way while you are trying to read a sign or something, or they blur it out so much that you can't see it well. What is the big issue here? You want me to read this or not? This message will self destruct in 5 seconds. Timers are a pain sometimes in playing through some games, but it's part of the challenge, but text, should not be timed, I'm not getting points for being able to read it all and don't lose a life or get a game over if I can't keep up, I just miss out on what is said. I loved State of Decay because when I pressed to pause it the dialogue subtitles stayed right where I could see and read them at my pace and type them all out too in notepad, while ones like Just Cause 2 or Beyond Good and Evil I can't pause as still see it, thus miss a lot. And this has been the same for every gaming generation, some allow you to read and you press the button when you are ready to read more, others take you for a fast reader or believe you are paying attention and ready at every moment (Me : "Ugh, hold that thought, be right back, I really have to pee", Game : "Don't you walk away from me when I'm talking to you!", keeps on talking, blah-blah-blah...), it's not combat, nor real life, though unlike real life I can't always ask text to repeat itself, or I can't go back to that narrative because that would mean starting over or going back to a previous save or something, and narratives are almost always auto scrolling.

Don't care about so much the sound type, so long as it sounds and like its supposed to, and let the tv dictate whether you want it mono ou stereo or surround, whatever.

Yes, this! reminds me of online job applications, most have one screen after another, a little bit on this screen, press next, a little more on this screen, next, something stupid and useless on this screen, yep, next. Very rarely there have been ones that have the whole application in its entirety on one convenient page. Same thing with the games, give me more freedom to read it as I chose, be able to read at my own pace and scroll simply by pressing and holding down or up or something easy that don't require pressing an action button every few words. I got the Scroll Option...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels strongly about this. I hesitated to post it because I thought it would seem nit-picky. lol

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9 hours ago, Scrobins said:

It really depends on the mechanics of the game for me, and what are the frequency of needing various functions. I look to the evolution of the Dragon Warrior/Quest games for reference. The “stairs” option was hilariously tedious, and “take” was duplicative when “open” did the job just as well for treasure chests that you had to stand on. Which brings me to another point, some functions are so common that a menu option is excessive: being able to talk or open a chest by walking up to the person/treasure and hitting A made more sense than opening the menu to talk or open. Dragon Warrior I also had a door function, and Dragon Warrior II made you use the specific key to open a type of door, whereas I believe future games just made opening the door automatic if you had the means to open the door.

The same applies in planning a menu: figure out every action that can be performed, figure out how some can be collapsed into one another, and identify which actions are so common that it shouldn’t necessitate menu access in the first place.

I remember when I first ever played Dragon Warrior it was a learning curve to remember to select that option to use the stairs, instead of simply moving to it and automatically going up or down, glad they fixed that with later games. I could understand if it were a text adventure, or something with a cursor like Shadowgate, but not a game where you were able to move your character around freely, so it wasn't intuitive having to use a menu to use stairs or open chests or doors when it could have been done automatically or with a simple press of an action button. Still like the game though, even if there are those few unnecessary extra steps needed for simple common tasks.

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