I seem to have problems with thinking about things. Specifically thinking about them too much.
Most roleplaying systems are more than just systems: They are frameworks for a very specific kinds of experiences and themes. Dungeons & Dragons is brainless dungeon asskicking. Storyteller (White Wolf’s d10-system) is about wielding inhuman powers and straddling on a fence between humanity and vampiricity/lycanthropy/magism/dickitude. Star Wars is all about the lure of the Dark Side and great destiny. Zombeja! Ovella! is about feeding the others to a zombie horde so that you can escape. A system that just handles combat or the interaction between characters risks being too vanilla.
Therefore I began to think about Champions of Ilea’s theme and the experience the system wants to give the playes. I realized that I did not have any, and the project grounded to halt. Now I’m thinking about redesigning the whole system from scratch. This is how progress is made.
Speaking of progress, I replayed Prince of Persia Sands of Time. Yet again I marveled how much polish the game has. Nearly every action and every facet of the game is there for a reason. A smooth player experience is at the forefront, and everything is crafted around it. The cool combat maneuvers are showcased with camera angles that do not impede the gameplay. The game is consistent with itself, as there are virtually zero mechanics that do not feel derived from the core controls. The oft-disliked combat system is actually a tactical puzzle rather than a mechanical skill challenge, which goes well with the platforming of the game. What maneuver was this monster weak to? Should I knock that monster down or should I finish that one with the dagger?
I also have played The Witcher 2. As I mentioned, there are Quick Time Events (cutscenes where you press buttons as prompted) in the game. It was quite surprising that the game handles the almost universally reviled gameplay mechanic quite well. Fistfighting is the prominent example: Geralt and his opponent face each other, a button flashes on the screen and if the player presses it, Geralt attacks and deals damage. If he fails, Geralt takes damage. The system works because the button presses happen before combat animation, not during it. In many other games that sport Quick Time Events the player must follow the button prompts in the awesome attack animations, missing the action itself easily. The Witcher 2 lets the player witness the fruits of their labor. The system reminded me of Sands of Time’s combat system and it’s camera angles. As the player does not have to input 5+ button press combinations, he has more time to watch the action on screen.