Zombra wrote:What we're talking about (I think) is a system where it doesn't really matter what decisions you make. Every problem can be solved with equal ease (or difficulty, for places you're "not supposed to go yet") whether you use firearms, energy weapons, melee, diplomacy, or toaster repair. Making sure that every character build is viable, even ideal, for every situation is very dull. I want my pacifist party to be worthless when it comes to stopping a platoon of ravenous mutants from destroying a town. And I don't want my combat monster characters to be able to develop a cure for the California Plague.
I don't just want my choices to change how I succeed in the game. I want some of them to let me fail sometimes!
Exactly! And what necessarily comes with that is the stuff I mentioned in the OP. A specialized thief character at max level should be absurdly amazing at stealing things, because that's what I as a player have been working towards for the entire game. But the tradeoff is that I'll never be able to take on an entire regiment of guards head-on, and perhaps not even one guard. Every choice being equally safe in every situation renders those choices essentially meaningless.
How does the Deus Ex LAM trick and the Skyrim bucket trick fit in? That's the other part of what I'm saying; YouTube-able player ingenuity should be applauded, not patched out.
Of course, failure needs to be interesting. Maybe new side missions can even open up. Fail to stop the bomb blowing up the mayor's wife? What if he goes insane with grief and he runs off into the desert, and now you have to go rescue him? Bandits took over the town because your party couldn't fight them? What if now you have a chance to negotiate with them over trade policy with the next town?
I also agree with this.
axeldeath wrote: Balance isn't making every possible character build viable for every single mission or encounter,
it is in a lot of modern games. That's what I mean by "excessive balance". I completely approve of the version of balance that you outlined. It's far from standard today, though.