Favourite Mechanics from a Less-popular Game You Wish Ended Up in a AAA Game

Hey guys, you ever absolutely fall in love with the way a certain mechanic in a game functioned and wished it would end up in a bigger game? The one that stands out in my mind is how telekinesis worked in Psi-Ops. Despite having access to other psychic powers in that game I basically used telekinesis as much as I possibly could. One particular instance that always stands out in my mind is a level that ends with running down a hallway trying to escape before a bomb explodes. There are guards trying to take you down along the hallway but I remember just lifting and flinging them out of the way, either off a bridge into an electrified wall or at each other and as I played it all I could think was “I sure hope an action Star Wars game does this exact thing.” Fast-forward to Star Wars the Force Unleashed and my disappointment with how using the Force worked. In Psi-Ops you target and lift your target and then move it around with the right-thumb stick. That also allowed you to effortlessly fling objects/people like a badass Jedi.

So, what’s a mechanic from a smaller game that you wished was picked up for a bigger game?


Temporal scrubbing and propagating of causality in waves:

So this was tried in a strategy game but we’ve seen a few first-person AAA games recently playing a bit with timelines and slicing through several points in time. Oh, and a few less-than-AAA games too.

I’d love to see it done to the extent it exists in Achron. Everything is happening as we’d expect from linear time but you can unstick yourself from constantly progressing time and jump to another point (assuming you’ve got the energy to solidify the jump then you can influence past events and create a new causality chain - the energy requirement stops it just being a rewind feature or automatically making the dominant strategy to always jump back as far as possible). Anything you change from there will propagate forward through the timeline in waves so you can jump back forward before your changes propagate and live in the old timeline until the wave comes and causality rewrites your present. That time you’re in the past, that present is still moving forward (fast actions are still rewarded, it’s not that you have unlimited time).

It’s just one of those cool things: “hey, it’s fun to think of this… oh wait, we can actually simulate it and make a virtual reality where you can actually walk back in time and watch causality waves operating”. Just, that’s amazing (assuming you’ve got a good interface for being able to understand how the timeline is being manipulated and where the causality waves are).

Just think of what an immersive sim would be like if it was built around blocks of time and being able to freely move around them and poke at the causality, except more than poke at them, the changing of causality is a dance (you’re not the only one who can play with the timelines).


every RPG should respond to your actions the way Alpha Protocol did


A mechanic I’d like to see expanded upon or used in more games is the positional combat in Darkest Dungeon. Basically different classes have different moves that are only able to be used if they are in different positions in your party. Usually, more damage focused classes needed to be up front while support needed to be in the back. The interesting part was some abilities also moved characters around the party so if you wanted you could create sort of an algorithmic pattern of attacks and stuff. It’s cool!


More games with soil erosion mechanics!


Condemned 2 had some really fun detective puzzle solving that I haven’t seen much in other games. You had to find clues in the environment and were given multiple choice-style stuff to try and guess what they meant. Like one example was you were asked what the time of death was, and you had to find the victim’s broken watch to answer correctly. It wasn’t hugely impactful in a narrative sense… I think your handler would tell you you were wrong, you’d lose out on some XP, and you’d just move on, but it felt interactive in a way that most action games starring detectives don’t. I would have loved to see something like that in the Batman Arkham games.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate had some decent stuff like this in its side missions, but nothing integrated into the main plot.


I may be the only person in the world who really liked Scarface: The World Is Yours, a GTA-clone from the era where open-world games were still GTA-clones. It has a nonsensical story (what if Tony Montana survived the end of the film and came out, like, even cooler), an obnoxious tone and a “Balls” mechanic where you grab your crotch and quote the movie while shooting to charge Tony Montana’s super which, if I remember correctly (probably am not, it’s been well over a decade), was some kind of area of effect spell.

The thing about it though was that it solved key the problem I always had with GTA: What am I supposed to do with all this money? Scarface: The World Is Yours included a Sims-like decorating layer where you bought furniture and incredibly tacky works of art to furnish Montana’s home. Outside of the story missions, the main loop of the game involved obtaining cocaine from a trafficker, selling the cocaine, and then laundering the money from the cocaine, all three represented in golf-swing styled mini-games that are just difficult enough to feel satisfied when you get a maximum percentage of your dirty money laundered. This, in turn, would fund shopping sprees where I would blow 45,000 dollars on antique decorative carpets and statues of lions and stuff.

It was that last part of the loop that’s always been missing for me in open world games. I had fun for a bit in Saints Row The Third buying clothes (ancillary fantasy: going into a store where everything fits you) but ultimately there’s never enough items worth buying. Upgrading armor and weapons is only kind of satisfying. I want to have to save up for a really cool tattoo or dress. I want to feel the joy of shopping (but with only in-game currency, no DLC or loot-boxes). That said I only have an X360 and haven’t played any AAA open world games from the past 5 or so years, so maybe that’s changed. Maybe Watchdogs 2 had, like, a ton of cool Iconic Caps for you to buy.


@Patrick_R This sort of reminded me of playing the Godfather on the Wii. Another GTA clone set before and during events of the trilogy. I loved how bashing someone with a bat felt in that game version of the game because of the Wiimote but my absolute favorite thing was taking over rival family rackets, collecting from rackets and generally feeling a made man because of how that part of the game was structured.


Great thread! I have a two quick ones:

State of Decay has that really neat mechanic where you can hurry certain things but make more noise. It only kind of works because you can completely secure a house but the second you hit that hurry button, the game will just spawn some, which is unfortunate. I’d love to see this in a Splinter Cell or Dishonored.

Betrayer has this really neat mechanic where you have to press a button and literally listen for this certain creepy sound and turn your head to locate it, sort of like echolocation. The whole game has really good, creepy audio design so forcing players to listen for creepy whispering does a lot of racket up the tension because then the screams from enemies are extra loud, because you’ve been subconsciously turning your volume up. I’d love to see some more directional audio design in games. (They later added a visual indicator on a part of the screen, which is good because it can get tedious when you are hunting for an item that’s very very far away.)


That thing that Soldak’s games do where things keep happening in the world whether you’re around to witness them or not.


I wish the rewire mechanic from Gunpoint made its way into more games. Devising weird little traps with the tools in the environment and having guards witlessly summon elevators for me was so much fun.


This game may not count because it gets mentioned on Waypoint’s podcast all the time, but I would like to see Dragon Dogma’s companion mechanic implemented in more games.

This mechanic could work in a Monster Hunter game or one of Bethesda’s big RPGs. The ability to enjoy someone else’s game through a programmed NPC that gathered experience really appealed to me.


I would love Tacoma’s time-scrubbing mechanic in a full-blown detective game. Quantum Break seemed to be promising something along those lines but didn’t deliver anywhere close. Maybe sprinkle in some of the scene re-creation elements of the Telltale Batman games or Murdered: Soul Suspect.

The Arkham games would be the obvious recipient of my new best-in-class detective simulator, but after @EmuPrime mentioned Condemned 2, I would choose to put it in a hypothetical Condemned 3. (Please make Condemned 3.)


I mentioned this recently in another thread, but I love the way that Master of Orion 3 handled science/research as a messy and unpredictable venture, and would love to see that in other x4 games.

Knights of the Old Republic II had an interesting, if somewhat rudimentary companion influence system (e.g. taking actions or making conversation choices that please or displease party members affects your degree of control over them), and it’s a crying shame that most modern RPGs haven’t implemented a meaningful trust/influence system.

King of Dragon Pass and the 1980s Hidden Agenda both have rule-by-committee mechanics, wherein the actions you are able to take (or at least the actions you are encouraged to take) are constrained by who you select as your advisers. I know that it sort of side-steps the power fantasy implicit in most player-as-ruler games, but I love the idea that being a good leader is in large part being smart about to whom you listen for advice and when you follow vs ignore that advice.

Every AAA game needs to take dating from the less-popular games that have it


This is more of a storytelling mechanic than a game play one, but I would love if more games would use FMV or full motion video. I think that there is a lot of potential for games to utilize fmv.

With all the renewed love the Stalker franchise has been getting lately, I figure this is a good venue to share one of my favorite little details from it.

Throughout the game, you encounter hundreds of other folks who’re roaming The Zone, and practically any of them that aren’t marked as being hostile to you can be talked to and/or traded with. However, not a single one of them, regardless of their affinity toward you, will allow you to do so while you have your weapon drawn. Before any kind of communication can occur, you must holster your weapon. Not even NPC’s who are designated as “Friendly” feel comfortable enough with your presence so as long as you’re bearing down on them with a loaded Kalashnikov out. As such, any and every NPC that you come up to drawing on will absolutely return the favor, keeping a bead on you with their own weapon while gesticulating and shouting at you to do the same. Once you do though, they’ll follow suit and your conversation can begin in earnest.

It’s weird that other games don’t do this to me. Sure, many other FPS-es are content to just have you turn down the barrel of your weapon when interacting with (or even just facing) an NPC, but this always felt like a cop-out. Being made to completely put away your weapon in such a dangerous environment is a tiny bit thrilling, as you’re made completely vulnerable for the precious few seconds it takes to draw and ready your gun if and when unexpected violence erupts, as well as being… weirdly humanizing. It makes such a clear expression of the idea that these other NPC’s, with their randomly generated names and loadouts, are “people” who exist inside of this nightmare alongside you. They have as much a need for safety as you do, and the mutual acknowledgement of this in the game is truly something special.


This may not count because I feel like strategy games are pretty much a niche market and are seldom/never going to be AAA. But I really liked the concept for simultaneous turn-based combat (WEGO). Both sides input their commands (or sometimes just their intentions) for the next chunk of time, usually 60 seconds. The computer then resolves both sides at the same time.

When it works, it lets you plan tactics without degenerating into a “clicks per minute” twitchfest of an RTS. It also has a lot more feeling of unknown and anticipation than a regular turn-based game, so the decision-making feels less stiff and more organic.


I kind of want more personal spaces for characters to chill, sleep in and options to decorate in open world games like they did with Sleeping Dogs? For as much as AAA open world games often tout themselves as ‘immersive’, nothing breaks that immersion for me more than not having a space for characters to rest and sleep in and a space that’s their own.

I remember early in Sleeping Dogs when you’re starting out of the apartment in North Point (which is real small and a bit rundown), walking around the night market you’d find a dude selling an air conditioning unit. That AC does not do anything or buff Wei, it’s purely cosmetic but having a proper window unit I thought was really nice, especially as someone who’s had to gone through the ungodly six months of humidity and heat in Southeast Asia and know how vital ACs are. You can also buy a bunch of expensive plants and a hot tub that Wei never uses at all and it’s pretty great.

Also Sleeping Dogs presented the idea of ‘The entire cast is made up of Asians and there’s like three white people with about fifteen minutes worth of dialogue in the whole game’ and that’s something I want to see end up in an AAA game


This reminded me how much I loved Sleeping Dogs.