It's Time to Get Rid of "Trash Options" in RPGs, Says Veteran Designer Joshua Sawyer

By Thomas Luke

August 25, 2014

The trend towards putting a few useless skills into most RPGs is something that needs to stop, lead designer at Obsidian Entertainment Joshua Sawyer has said.

It is now 2014 and, friends, I am here to tell you that trash options are bullshit.

In a post about balancing RPGs, he noted that many games followed the tradition of throwing in options that were simply underwhelming, pointing to most instances of maces and padded armour as two examples of options that almost never appeal to hardcore gamers.

Any seasoned RPG veteran that looks at it in detail realizes it’s terrible and avoids it. Those who don’t look closely or who aren’t system masters may wind up picking it for their character under the mistaken impression that it’s a viable choice. In any case, it’s a bad option that the team spent a bunch of time implementing either for misguided schadenfreude or simple lack of attention.

Instead of designing bad skills, Sawyer said, designers would be better off working on nailing the rest of the game’s balance.

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