Smarq, would I be wrong in thinking you personally don’t care for UI assistance in gameplay? (Welcome to the forum, BTW!)
I actually felt a little worn-out by all the interface assists in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. They actually went so far as to award an achievement for going through all their tutorials – it was a bit much.
That said, commercial games have to make money to keep a studio alive. That requires making some effort to allow new gamers, including a few who haven’t played this kind of game before, to learn the mechanics.
So: while I hope SS3 won’t explain an epilepsy-inducing array of visual aids in incessant detail, I think there must be some of these mechanical assistance interface aids available… that aren’t required, and that we can switch off if we don’t want them.
Dawn, to the questions of SS2’s tutorial area, I personally liked it. I thought it did a useful job – tell the new player how to do stuff using a “training simulation” metaphor – that also neatly fit into the game’s aesthetic. Furthermore, the look of the gameworld when SHODAN is “restructuring reality” is a satisfying reference to the tutorial area. Finally, the whole tutorial area can be completely skipped for those in a hurry. It’s really well-done IMO.
To the notion of “classes” at the start, I think I saw it mentioned recently that this was a kind of riff on how a game of Traveller starts. If you’ve never played it, Traveller is different from most tabletop RPGs (and pretty much all CRPGs and MMORPGs) in that the first thing you do is go through its terrifically detailed character creation process.
First you roll basic attributes, then based on those you can choose a class. For a given class, you then roll for skills on tables related to that class… but many classes share skills. The classes, and their tables, are just there to bias the particular skills your character gets – nothing in the game’s mechanics ever forces you to play as a Barbarian or a Noble or whatever.
SS2’s “class”-based skill selection worked the same way. The Navy / Marine / OSI class choice was just a way to start out with some basic skills related to the way you like to play. As you say, once the game starts, you’re free to play however you like, and to choose new abilities that support this preference.
As much as I like the Traveller model, I don’t know that SS3 also needs to use it. It wouldn’t bother me, though, since I think it can be helpful for not overwhelming new players with a giant pile of undifferentiated options right away.
As to what I’d like to not see in SS3… I feel pretty good that the mechanics and dynamics will be fine. I expect them to reference some of the progression features and objects from the original games, while smartly iterating on them.
My concern is with the narrative and narrative setting. I’m resigned to the cynical corporation-bashing that will surely play some role in SS3. It’s a key setting element of the first two games, plus Warren is extra-disgruntled following the recent election, so I’m sort of expecting Trioptimum to be the Avatar of All That Is Evil. (Weapons in vending machines will be only the mildest result.)
But my hope is that “all corporations are evil” isn’t allowed to become the story. There’s nothing wrong with using a satirical version of them as a storytelling prop, but good stories are about people; philosophical criticisms turn into BioShock Infinite where gameplay takes a back seat to Message and the world itself is literally just a façade through which the player is marched to get to the next criticism.
What I (just speaking for myself) don’t want from SS3 is a similar haunted house ride through someone’s political gripes, even if I agree with some parts of them. What I do want from the aesthetic design of SS3 is an emotionally and intellectually realistic story about plausible people, most especially including SHODAN, and the clash of incompatible but understandably human goals among those characters. Warren and the team in Austin accomplished this in Deus Ex; I hope and believe that OtherSide Austin can do the same for System Shock 3.
Oh, and no concluding boss battle (with SHODAN). That game design trope needs to die.
I don’t know what you replace it with – a stern talking-to? – but there must be some other way to pay off a character-driven contest of visions.