[GENERAL DESIGN] WHAT IS THE WORST IMPLEMENTED/THOUGHT OUT SYSTEM YOU'VE ENCOUNTERED?

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A bit of a broad topic, but to be specific, what system in a game (whether the game itself is good or not) was so poorly thought out or implemented that it dragged the rest of the game down? It can be a small part of a system that just wasn't thought out well, or a major system entirely that made the game unplayable. I always figure it is best to discuss terrible design as well as good design in these discussions.

When I thought of this topic, I immediately thought of Magna Carta and specifically, its magic system. In Magna Carta, each spell has an elemental affinity, and casting that spell takes some of that resource from the battlefield. Pretty much every ability in the game is done like this, including basic healing and most attack abilities. Using an element increases the amount of the opposite element available, but not as much as a full spell. In practice, this means that all the elements you actually use in the battlefield are gone after a few rounds, and they won't recover fast enough to be useful. This is further burdened by not getting to pick your party very much, and a lot of duplicate character designs. One part has you getting stuck with two water magic/healers, and one tank. You quickly run out of any water magic.

The second example I thought of are most 'use it to improve it' systems. While there are good examples (Elder Scrolls games), the terrible examples are far more common. It isn't a bad system or idea per say, but they tend to make players act in completely silly ways in order to get through the game. Final Fantasy II for example ended up encouraging players to fight weak enemies...then brain their own party members to get more HP. Rime Berta, while a bit better of a game, still encourages you to go to the first map and just whack each other with skills you want to level up to get to higher classes, rather than have the randomness of actual fights.

The last one, while even more general, is a personal pet peeve of mine, and that is any 'Kill only XP' system. Disgaea 1, while a game I love, has this system, where only the killing character gets any xp from an enemy. This effectively nerfs healer XP gain, unless you give them weapons instead of something that improves healing. It also makes you do the whole 'cherry tap until killable' thing so your lower level guys can get XP. They do have XP gains from map rewards, but they're much less common. Many other strategy games implement this in an even worse way...come on people, at least give XP for damaging them too!
Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
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Quest 64 had a pretty terrible way of leveling. You had four elemental attributes that all had different types of spells that you'd learn. Fire would eventually give you a melee boost spell (in a game centered around magic), and water would give you some healing spells. I can't be assed to remember what wind and earth did, but that's more a fault of the system than anything. If it were designed intelligently, the game wouldn't be the unplayable and forgettable mess it's known as today.

But it wasn't.

Every time you level up, you get a point that you can put into whatever elemental affinity you want and each time you level, the experience you need to reach the next level increases (the game functions in percentages instead of straight numbers). It should be obvious why this doesn't work already, but if you're not sure, I'll run it down.

No matter what you level, the experience goes up. You could be sitting at 1 water magic and 13 fire magic and it would still cost lvl 14 exp to get up to 2 water magic. And because the game is designed that some enemies are stronger/weaker to different elements, you're bound to eventually come up to a boss that you are entirely unprepared for and will have to make up the difference either with melee or hours upon hours of grinding for those few magic points.

Essentially what this boils down to is having to choose and stick with one element throughout the entire game and dismiss the other 75% of the gameplay in order to actually finish the game, all the while muscling through those enemies that are strong against your chosen element.

The only upside to this is that there are these little wisp things you can activate to get a free magic level, but they are few and far between. If there was a repeatable way to get these, that'd be a different story, but there's not. You'll only ever have the items you can get in town (assuming you don't already have such an item) or find them in chests or off of enemies (IIRC).

The only time I ever beat the game was with Gameshark for max stats.
Are you really making me do to this? Please don't make me do it. I've done this rant so many times.

...oh the hell with it.

Rune Factory Frontier. BEST. HARVEST MOON. GAME. EVER. The farming was great, the combat was tight and responsive, the villagers were really interesting, the mail girl was ulta-cute and dateable, the crafting was good...And yet, one system utterly killed the entire game and ruined everything for me. If you've played it, you'll know what I'm about to flip my shit about.

THE !@#$ING RUNEY SYSTEM.

See, there are these little cute spirit thingies floating over the land, which is divided into "sectors". Your farm is one, the beach is another, the lake is another, etc. Now, these spirit things have a food chain. Water eats Rock, Rock eats Tree, Tree eats Grass, Grass reproduces a little tiny bit faster around Water Types. If left to their own devices, the food chain WILL fall apart and the runeys will die out.

Now, if an area has a healthy population of runeys, it's "normal". If, however, a zone has too few or even no runeys...BAM, it goes dark and your crops begin to suffer. If too many go dark, you can barely grow any crops as they start taking forever to mature and some die on the vine. If they all go dark? Good luck growing anything other than weeds and grass for your livestock.

So you need to spend a huge chunk of time every single in-game day going to the clock tower to check on the runey distribution in the world, then going to the places with runeys that need transferring, and sucking them up with this shitty little vacuum tool that has horrible range, making the transfer process horrendously annoying. Then you need to remember where to sent the new runeys and release them in the right spots. Gah.

But wait! There's a way to just stop the food chain! You need to have enough runeys in an area that it goes into "prosperity"! If you do that, then the food chain STOPS in that area, and only grass runeys will be eaten there. So, you designate one zone to be a "grass factory", where you only let grass runeys and water runeys live, which gives you enough to feed the rest of the areas that are now in "prosperity mode". Sounds good and convenient, right? Well, yes, but... Remember how when an area goes dark, the crops fail? Having areas in Prosperity makes your crops grow faster. And they start growing game-breakingly fast. I had strawberries to harvest every single day! I had no downtime to go into dungeons because my farm was monopolizing all my time! And I was making STUPID amounts of money with little effort! Suddenly, all the farming challenge was gone.

So yeah, that one mechanic killed an otherwise perfect game for me. :( Rune Factory 4 doesn't have the mechanic, and it's a great game, but...Well, the combat feels a little loose, and worse than that, none of the villagers are all that interesting. Literally the only really interesting bachlorette also comes with a super-annoying side-kick who never leaves her side. :(

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On a side note, Lunar Dragon Song also had a mechanic, or a LACK of a mechanic that was just stupid. In a turn-based RPG, why the hell would you make it so that you can't pick the targets of your attacks? What if I, as the player, know that the healer can just smack that weakened enemy with her umbrella to kill it, and want HER to finish it, instead of having the break-dancing main character waste his high-damage-turn overkilling the hell out of that enemy? It removes most of the strategy! :(
Final Fantasy II's rather backwards way of increasing stats, while a good idea in theory, isn't very well implemented. Friendly fire is not only allowed, but encouraged. Seriously. I think Riviera did a similar system and made it work properly (mostly because you can't attack your allies, and that all battles are scripted). Although the practice mode in Riviera still broke the said system, it was still much better than FF2.

TES3: Morrowind. While for the most part, the use-to-raise system works nicely, it's an absolute nightmare to play as a mage or magic-oriented character in this game. Reason? Because the system does not distinguish between weak, low-cost spells and the high-end spells. Casting either will only count as 1 use. "Oh you sent a bolt of pure magic completely annihilating every single living being in a 100ft radius and draining the entirety of your magicka? Here's 1 point for your effort!" This forces mages to craft ineffective, minimal-cost spells to spam just to raise their skill levels. It's terrible, I tell you. And don't get me started on raising Conjuration.
I never considered the magic system in Morrowind bad in that way, since I usually use spells that use a pretty constant percentage of my magicka meter. While I can spam cheap spells, it means that in general the same amount of my magicka meter causes the same amount of experience.

I was more disappointed by how impossibly difficult it is to start into most kinds of magic without paying for training. And how training basically makes any kind of grinding except alchemy a total waste of time.
MMOs are an easy target for a thread like this.

The unlock system for levelling up was terrible in RuneScape. Of course it's not very relevant any longer since the game received so many updates since then, but it felt like they had no idea where they were going with it years ago. Many of the Skills used to stop having relevant unlocks around the levels 50-60. So, instead of gradually adding new unlocks a little above each current set, they introduce the ultimate reward for getting to level 99 in a Skill, leaving a gap of 40-50 levels without any relevant unlocks in between (which could take many weeks or months to grind through).
Of course a large portion of the playerbase grinds their asses off to get to level 99 in their favourite (or the easiest to level) Skills for the reward at the end. Then, over the course of many years they slowly start filling the upper gaps with unlock updates that are hard to get excited over because people already have instant access to everything.

Guild Wars 2 has legendary weapons that were supposed to be the ultimate prestige item. But instead of having to go through harsh trials that put your skills to the limit you can simply buy them with ingame currency (get it instantly by converting real money into ingame currency). So legendary that they're bought and sold on the market.
Also, if you want to craft one yourself, all you need to do is grind a lot, grind some more, then get extremely lucky with a random drop, and you'll have a legendary weapon of your own - zero skill required. In a game that was supposed to have combat be decided by a player's skill, that makes surprisingly little sense.
The unlock system for levelling up was terrible in RuneScape. Of course it's not very relevant any longer since the game received so many updates since then, but it felt like they had no idea where they were going with it years ago. Many of the Skills used to stop having relevant unlocks around the levels 50-60.
Yeah. Even worse, while skills like Defense essentially stopped at level 60, other skills like Smithing were so drawn out that you need level 99 to create level 40 armour. Level 90 to 99 takes the same amount of exp as level 3 to 90, so it's a massive difference.

Guild Wars 2 has legendary weapons that were supposed to be the ultimate prestige item. But instead of having to go through harsh trials that put your skills to the limit you can simply buy them with ingame currency (get it instantly by converting real money into ingame currency). So legendary that they're bought and sold on the market.

I don't mind this so much as it's the reason GW2 has no monthly fees.
I'm gonna bring up a bad game system most of you might be familiar with: The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion

It applies the popular mechanic of level scaling, which is intended to keep challenging players of open world games, even if they do things out of order.

As you level up, so will your enemies, to the point that certain weaker species stop spawning (such as wolves and mudcrabs) in place of stronger ones. Obviously, this also applies to humanoid enemy gear (bandits in Vulcan/Daedric armor, for instance). This completely negates any benefit for leveling up - the only thing you really get out of it is access to Daedric Artifact quests (you need at least one to complete the main quest without exploiting glitches)

It does not stop there - First, the stat points you get for leveling up are based on the associated attribute of all skills you raised while gaining that level. For instance, if you gained points in two-handed weapons, you'd gain a bigger Strength bonus if you choose to incrase that stat. You have to carefully grind up all your stats so you get the maximum bonus (+5) each level (at least you only need to raise 2 stats as luck has no skills tied to it). Furthermore, increasing your Vitality doesn't increase your total HP, only how much you get every level up, thus forcing you to max out your Vitality ASAP to avoid getting gimped HP.

So even a deleved Oblivion has a retarded leveling system...
About Quest 64. Yeah, some of the mechanics are not that well implemented, but the game is pretty ingenious for its time. I wish more people gave it an actual chance... On the leveling issue. Battle exp is only useful to gain magic levels, and you can only get 50 levels through fighting. The other 50 you need to max your levels, you get by finding those 'wisp' thingies (I actually like this a lot because it genuinely encourages exploration. I rather look everywhere to find something as useful as a magic level, than examine every pot and barrel in the game just to find common items). So if you have, say, 1 water and 13 fire, you're not lvl 14. If you got half of those level by collecting 'wisps', in reality you're level 7. That's why exp often seems to be working in a wonky way.

Besides that, you can increase your stats like in ff2, the more you use melee attacks the stronger you get, the more you evade enemy attacks the faster you get, etc. On that note, your melee attacks can get very powerful. Sometimes they are only outmatched by spells in range and number of enemies you can target. So getting that melee boost spell is actually very useful. And the game does encourage you to use melee attacks often because that's one way of replenishing your MP...

The thing is that the game rewards you for keeping your magic levels even. The game is all about combining spells. And if you stick only to one element, it's obvious that you won't be able to crack that many combinations. So if you have, say, 16 water and 0 fire/wind/earth, the melee damage formula is something like: "16 -3 -3 -3", as opposed to: "4 + 4 + 4 + 4". Unintuitive? Maybe. But if you played the game the way it was meant to be played you wouldn't run into these problems. =P
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Anyway, I wish I could make a more on-topic contribution to this thread, but right now I can't think of anything... I'm just sticking out for a game that I feel people don't give enough credit to. And if I made you curious, go try Quest64 by yourselves. Or play the gameboy color version which improves on many things of its flaws, but well, it's gameboy.

Edit: The camera being bad is every N64 game's problem. The level design does become unbearable at times, specially in caves.
Quest 64 is all about Heal->Avalanche->Magic Barrier at which point the rest of the game is just a formality and hoping Magic Barrier doesn't give you too many one turn durations. I forget if the optimal build changes in the Japanese version since the physical attack strikes twice though.

Q64's biggest problem is the camera is garbage and the level design is forgettable at best. Dodging enemy attacks often require you to already be dodging correctly before the camera shifts and you can see where you are relative to the enemy (and there are some attacks you just can't dodge period). The dungeons are long boring slogs where everything looks the same and it's way too easy to get turned around after a battle. At least when you win the game will automatically face you the way you were going when the battle started but it won't if you run away.

The music also sucks except the final boss music, which is alright
Lunar: Dragon Song failed to implement an RPG in general, and eviscerated so many conventional RPG mechanics that the game is borderline unplayable. You could gain either EXP or items after a battle but not both. Your healer didn't have enough MP to cast the majority of her spells until Level 20+, and I don't think this was even plot-related. Also, running in the overworld drained your HP for no apparent reason, so you either constantly lose HP or walk around at a snail's pace.

It just did... so many things wrong.
When it comes to Lunar Dragon Song the whole damn game pretty much makes the list. It's take too long to describe them all so just read a LP of it and watch the horrors unfold. It's garbage from start to finish.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who mentioned Lunar Dragon Song (although it was secondary to my main rant).

*reads the let's play*

*immediately has this face for the entire thing*:


Oh. My. GOD. It got even WORSE than that starting temple?! That was painful to read.
How could I forget Tactics 100: Live?

The basic premise is awesome - you have 100 points to buy an army of at most 8 people, using it to fight other 100 point armies. Here's how they messed up:

-Not only is there no map variety, the only map available is a featureless plain, except for one of your starting squares, which is elevated terrain that provides bonuses to damage dealt and you take less damage on it.
-Move fatigue: Whenever a unit you own moved before attacking, you'll get a penalty for your damage (50% if you used up your whole movement).
-Weakening a target barely works as you get a massive damage boost if you're under 25% HP. This can easily happen if your focus target isn't properly accessible or a defensively invested tank.
-Notice a trend? The whole thing is a massive stallfest due to the severe penalties you face for attempting to attack. The only real way to go on the offense is to outrange the mage (who is likely on the hill) by using a ranger (whose damaging is completely nullified due to obstructed view, move fatigue and possibly shield blocks if he targets a knight) or trying to hit the front row with a mage. Both of these generally require you to go into a poor formation that leaves you open for a counter attack. Whereas stopping yourself from triggering the low HP buff can result in the target being healed out of kill range.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
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I don't know if I can pick one. Every time I play a new video game I come up with a new answer to this question. If you gave me a specific game to bitch and moan about, I could probably spend an hour ranking about the worst system in that game.

I guess for my all time worst, I'm gonna say... junctioning magic spells to stats in FF8? That's gotta be up there, at least. With most bad systems in most games, I can at least figure out what they were trying to do, why it appealed to the designers, and what went wrong in the implementation. I can point to other games with similar systems, but used better or balanced better or put in games where they make more sense. But with FF8's magic junctioning, I have absolutely no idea how anyone ever thought that any part of that idea could ever be functional in any game.
author=LockeZ
I don't know if I can pick one. Every time I play a new video game I come up with a new answer to this question. If you gave me a specific game to bitch and moan about, I could probably spend an hour ranking about the worst system in that game.

I guess for my all time worst, I'm gonna say... junctioning magic spells to stats in FF8? That's gotta be up there, at least. With most bad systems in most games, I can at least figure out what they were trying to do, why it appealed to the designers, and what went wrong in the implementation. I can point to other games with similar systems, but used better or balanced better or put in games where they make more sense. But with FF8's magic junctioning, I have absolutely no idea how anyone ever thought that any part of that idea could ever be functional in any game.


Being critical of individual aspects of a game is perfectly good, so yeah, the worst system would have no redeeming features and also be the core of the gameplay. From the FFs I played, I would say that mechanics-wise, FF7 is the worst because the battle camera is so profoundly stupid. FF13 has the corridor thing - but I don't think this makes the game worse, it only magnifies the flaws that have always been there.

To bring something new to the table, Pokémon: While I think the systems are well thought-out for the most part, here's a glimpse on the horrible mess that is the first generation:
author=LockeZ
I don't know if I can pick one. Every time I play a new video game I come up with a new answer to this question. If you gave me a specific game to bitch and moan about, I could probably spend an hour ranking about the worst system in that game.

I guess for my all time worst, I'm gonna say... junctioning magic spells to stats in FF8? That's gotta be up there, at least. With most bad systems in most games, I can at least figure out what they were trying to do, why it appealed to the designers, and what went wrong in the implementation. I can point to other games with similar systems, but used better or balanced better or put in games where they make more sense. But with FF8's magic junctioning, I have absolutely no idea how anyone ever thought that any part of that idea could ever be functional in any game.

You use magic so little in Final Fantasy 8 that I've never found this to be a problem, despite knowing that it is.

Being able to junction status-effects to your normal attacks is cool, though. I can't deny that. ALL SLEEP ALL THE TIME!
I think that more often, I play a game, and I really like the first half-hour or so. Then they introduce a new mechanic, a new style of play, a new type of level, etc. And I think, 'Well, this is not really as fun as the first part, but at least there is variety. Hopefully the next thing will be as good as the first part!'.

Then it dawns on me, I just finished the tutorial. That thing I hate is actually the core of the game now. All that fun before? Yeah, that was cool. But no. Now you know what the game is actually about.

For instance:
Escort and defending missions in Star Wars: Rogue Squadron.
Set-piece battles in Age of Empires III on DS.
The on-foot part of Star Fox Adventures.
Region dynamics in Sim City 2014.

Actually, forget I mentioned Sim City 2014...I could pick out any part of that game and call it out for being poorly designed and shoddily implemented, detracting from the fun you can clearly see is possible, but which remains just outside your grasp. That game is error. That game reminds you of your own mortality in all the wrong ways. That game is eternal longing for something you eventually realize you can never quite have.
Talking about N64 games, I recently had a flashback about something that I really hated about Banjo Tooie. Don't take me wrong, I love the game. It obviously builds upon and improves on many aspects of the first game. But one area I felt the developers dropped the ball on was the whole "learning of moves" deal. I feel like they couldn't think of many cool and original new moves to put in the game, so instead they tried to over-stretch the concept. Not only some moves are just stronger versions of their past iterations, but at one point you can separate Banjo and Kazooie, and things just get complicated from there...

Kazzoie apparently needs to "learn" how to jump higher on her own, even thought that would make sense considering she's not carrying Banjo's weight anymore; Let's also not forget that she can in fact jump higher when using one of those green spring pads all by herself. Banjo on his part apparently forgets how to use his fists when Kazzoie is not around, so he needs to "learn" how to use his backpack in order to hit enemies... And like these there are many examples.

This slowed me down and made me backtrack through the levels a lot. Every time that I got a new move, I kept going back to previous levels thinking that that new ability was the one that would help me get those few elusive jiggies. I always felt like I was doing something wrong, or missing something out... In part this was my fault for not just beating the game first and then coming back for the rest. But you can't ask a "completionist" like me not to get everything ASAP. -_-
Identification mechanics from about 99% of all roguelike games.

All loot you get in many roguelikes is unidentified. This means it could be beneficial or harmful. You don't know what these are unless you have scrolls of identifications or used the same item before. So most of the time you just use the items to identify them. This is all fine and well until you realize that "Potion of Self-Petrification" is a thing. So essentially you gamble with instant death in a lot of cases.
But that's not the only thing. There is also cursed equipment that can't be taken of unless the curse is removed (good luck with that). Some of those cause you to catch fire at all times or every few steps get teleported some other place randomly etc.

I get that roguelikes are random to some extend but the ID mechanic is more often than not a cheap sucker punch that can't always be avoided.
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