Usability in RPGs.

I finished an editorial on this for RPGamer:
Anyone interested in weighing in?

I think that Elder Scrolls: Oblivion is the perfect game according to this (except it is not pausable during cut scenes, but they rarely happen). They implement a “fast travel” system that allows you to go to places that you have already been provided that there are no enemies surrounding you at the moment (some people don’t like this feature, because it’s “cheating” and the Elder Scrolls series is about exploration; these people don’t have to use this feature). You can save anywhere you want (at least in the PC version), pause any time you want, allows you to skip scenes and the splash screens, et cetera. The thing is, that PC type games (even if they’re also on consoles) have always given most of these features, and I’m guessing that you’re talking about more standard RPGs.

I agree completely with all points given, in this case. I’d play FFVII a second time if I could skip the damned opening scene and all the others and just PLAY, for instance. And I know that they space apart the save points the way that they do because they wish for it to be a “challenge,” but with some games it just gets ridiculous.

Now, something that does bug me: save points that fully restore your hit points and magic points, especially when they’re frequent (read: FFX, FFX-2). So I can walk around and find random battles around the save point, and when I hit critical I can go to the save point, rinse, and repeat? That’s probably a little off topic, though, so I won’t go more in depth.

That’s why I mentioned the “quick delete save” - those save points don’t affect the game challenge in the least. They’re just a way to stop and start again.

I actually had no problems with those save points; it’s no different than fighting around a town with an inn or stocking up on Tents to use in FF6 save points. It just saves time. It also makes it easier to just brawl in those fights rather than having to continually scrimp and save MP. 8p It’s a different type of gameplay, but it’s not necessarily bad.

The teleporting point is key. A game like Suikoden III, which could be perfectly decent, is rendered AWFUL by having to run through the same areas over and over again. Pausing always helps, and quick save points would be a godsend.

All good points. I remember in my last foray into RM2K, I kept adding things like teleporters, etc. just to make it more convenient. You could also save anywhere until right before the final battle (which you were warned about). I also kept the cutscenes reasonably short, I think. Not much you could do beyond that, though.

All bow down to the mighty Cid! :thud:

Anyway, a group project in one of my past informatics classes included doing a usability study on Open Office versus Microsoft Office, so I’m familiar with the topic. It interests me how you apply usability theories into video games.

As for specifics, you hit it directly on the head about being able to save anywhere, even if it’s just a temporary save. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to choose between going out or finishing a specific dungeon or story sequence. I’ve always been like, “Two more minutes! I have to save or the last two hours of playing are meaningless!” This holds through if I finally get some item after so many battles because of its rarity. I also like the idea of being able to skip story sequences, whether they’re either text based or video based. \

Great job Cid!