Spreadsheet of Character Advancement
Maybe because I haven’t gone through the whole process yet, of creating a Spreadsheet of Character Advancement and then applying it across a whole game, that I have trouble understanding what exactly goes wrong when a big studio, who should have plenty enough people to process the information, fails to make one work.
I’ve tested my spreadsheet at level one. I haven’t tested it at higher levels, though the numbers don’t vary much from one level to the next. I have to wonder, if I can do this by myself, why don’t big studios make this kind of stuff work well? Maybe I’m asking the wrong question – what exactly do I think isn’t working?
Let’s pick a game. Let’s say it’s a Final Fantasy game. I want to say that the numbers don’t work across the game, but I don’t think that’s really true. My argument with the Final Fantasy series is more that combat feels superfluous (and the writing sucks). Even if I picked the Diablo series, I can’t say that the numbers don’t work for a while.
Except, if we’re talking about Diablo, I can say for certainty that having the monsters sprouting resistances and immunities to my spell effects when I have nothing to fall back on (more the game’s fault than my build, in the case of Diablo 2) does make things rather frustrating. In the case of Diablo, it’s the tactics that are boring.
If I chose Dungeons & Dragons, I could argue that in Third Edition they never had a proper spreadsheet that worked on any kind of consistent basic – and Fourth Edition took a while to adjust to its own. The Essentials update, and character themes were needed to patch the system – which was still only a rules patch at best.
I think Borderlands did a pretty decent job of making enemies and guns work across levels. It worked far better across multiple levels than Diablo did. More engaging action and less, um, dying. You didn’t have to run back to town quite as much as you did in Diablo, except to sell stuff and unburden your inventory.
Maybe the problems that *I* have aren’t so much problems with the spreadsheets they’re using as the unimaginative tactics that accompany them. The “run and gun” is only so much fun when you’re killing the same five baddies through the whole game (Borderlands), and it’s never fun to find your powers suddenly useless (Diablo).
Persona is another series that uses the spreadsheet pretty well, and I think Persona 3 in particular has just the right balance – and it would be perfect if not for the incredibly steep learning curve for beginners. If you don’t intuit the fusion process, you will quickly (and repeatedly) get stomped by bosses and regular monsters alike.
Really, what is it that bothers me about the games? What do I actually enjoy?