- They have to satisfy bigger audiences. Less room to make design mistakes or gamble on risks.
- Less project time since they have more things to do.
- Micro-optimizations and customizations seem to be a big thing now.
- Must have lots of variety.
- Larger pounds of script, dialogue, cutscenes. In-game bonus stuff.
- Presentation and style emphasis.
- Lower danger of making regrettable in-game mistakes.
- Player must feel like they are progressing.
- Prescence of a virtual assistant to manage the mundane stuff.
- Wouldn't call it hand-holding but clear, unconfusing guidance.
- Game must be winnable without overachieving difficulty.
(Dark Souls is blistering hard, but there are some clear rules and patterns to discover. Battle education)
- Time efficiency. Gamers must feel like every hour was worthwhile.
- Lots of in-game information and UI assistance.
- Situational awareness. Strengths, weaknesses. Odd misc stuff.
- Socializing. Dialogue. Buddy atmosphere.
I think (S)NES RPGs were simpler enough that you had an idea what to do but still roughed you up with crunchy boss battles. Easier to manage but satisfying because there wasn't an overload of things to be aware of. Rings of Power (SMD) was one I remember more.
Older CRPGs were more about DIY, survival and little help offered. Victory was an achievement; the devs didn't want you to win.
As far as I can tell, the NES version of Ultima 3 only has a single manual, which doesn't mention town names or locations, or list every piece of equipment (e.g. that Iron Sword I mentioned) or compare every weapon to each other (e.g. how does a Mace compare to a Sword?)
Also the only direction given in the manual as to what to do is: "Their quest: to return peace to the kingdom. They must solve the riddle of Exodus." That's pretty vague. A hint guide was sold separately from the game (mentioned in the back of the manual as 'coming soon'), should that really be considered mandatory? Yes the PC version had lots of additional info that came with it but a) this is not that version, and it's unclear that the PC version's info is applicable, even to the vanilla NES game; and b) the hack's readme and release notes don't instruct me that I need to consult the PC version's manuals/map. I'm trying to avoid looking at walkthroughs etc. if possible.
Wow, that's bad.
Sure I could wander around, find more towns eventually, and hopefully find an NPC that explains what the Marks are for, but it's standard for an RPG to explain what something important is before you happen upon it, particularly when it seems to be story-critical. Given it's an open world it's difficult to ensure that happens, but the NPCs in the first town could be more helpful, as a suggestion.
Maybe put important information in the readme? I really need to re-read the (3) PC manuals. :|
The Marks are intentionally not described on purpose, as it is a game puzzle. You can go to the town of "Devil Guard" to gain a few more clues about them but nothing very explicit.
The 4 names are the clues to their use. Kings is an indirect clue to well ..
If you need direction on the other 3, we can give vague hints.
Melee: Hand, Mace, Axe, Sword, 2-H Sword
Range: Dagger, Blowgun, Sling, Bow
Armor: Skin, Cloth, Leather, Chain, Plate
Iron Sword > Sword. Guessing it's the +2 Sword, with +4 being better.
Blowguns should be pretty weak.