Gaming Concepts You Absolutely Loathe

Sep 24, 2008
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As many, I play games for stress relief and enjoyment. It's nice to know that you can put your money down and get an agreeable time from it. But there's a few concepts that bother me to the point that change my feelings for a game almost instantly. And they normally all have to do with Scaling.

1.) NPC Auto Leveling: To me, this is one of the single most dumbest design that has ever come out the gaming industry. There is nothing that tells me my time grinding was useless more than NPC Auto-leveling. Why did I spend hours grinding to get enough points to get the Super Nova ability when a Thief in rags that I had difficulty dispatching with my rusty sword doesn't die outright to it?

It's also world immersion breaking. I got the fabled sword of legends that was supposed to slice mountains in half, but I still need to do a solid minute of combos to destroy a creature I was introduced to at level 3?

For a particular egregious example of this, see what we found out about in Anthem and the level one rifle [https://kotaku.com/anthems-level-one-weapons-are-stronger-than-endgame-one-1833103893]. The game was designed to look at your character, figure out what your medium damage output would be... and then hinder it to make you want to grind for bigger and better weapons. Actual math [https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2019-03-16-anthem-fan-uses-the-power-of-maths-to-prove-loot-doesnt-matter] was used to find out how much the game kneecaps you to create a need for grind that can never sate you.

Imagine paying money for a power fantasy specifically designed to make sure you'll never get it.

And that's one side of the Scaling Coin.

2.) Adaptive Difficulty:The other side reared its ugly head this year as well in Resident Evil 2 Remake using Adaptive Difficulty [http://gametyrant.com/news/the-resident-evil-2-remake-will-have-adaptive-difficulty-similar-to-resident-evil-4]. In the beginning, I loved this game. So much.

Then I started noticing the luck situation. How more and more instant headshots became rare. And sometimes, the fabled Shotgun blast to the face would just blow a zombie's face away but it will still shamble forward like nothing happened. I thought even my luck couldn't be that bad. But then I learned about Adaptive Difficulty.

Talking about the difficulty in REmake 2, producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi said that:

"In terms of the standard difficulty, it does adjust based on player performance. I'd like to believe that you were doing really well and so the difficulty ramped up even more. But we have it tuned so that no matter how well you?re doing, there's always going to be that sense of dread and tension there. Also, we are definitely implementing things that assist the player if they choose to utilize that stuff such as auto game. If a player thinks, 'Here, I'd rather have an easier time going through this,' we will have those sorts of options as well."
So, the choice here is artificially make the situation harder because you happen to have skill or turn on hand-hold mode... so skill also doesn't matter. This is a no-win situation for a gamer like me.

Some people who know me know that I love Left4Dead and think that it's weird that I can still love Left4Dead's AI director but hate REmake 2's Adaptive Difficulty. And I say that it's simply not as severe. An Infected in Left4Dead won't mutate to suddenly be able to tank 7 rounds of your m16 because you're doing very well. But as recently as today, I can hit a zombie in the head 4 out of 6 shots in REmake 2 without even a stagger.

If every time I pull a trigger, I get penalties for being good at the game, I suddenly don't find that game that appealing.

So, those are some of my gripes. As always, please feel free to share yours.
 

Dreiko_v1legacy

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I don't have much of anything beyond this thing some mobile games do where they basically auto-play the game for you and all you have to do is worry about equipping your character and maybe tap the screen to use a special attack here and there.

At this point, I dunno if I'm just old-fashioned or what have you, but that's just not playing a game. That's like watching your older brother play a game and hitting the space key on the keyboard when the super move is charged up every 30 seconds and being deluded into believing you're actually doing something lol.
 
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ObsidianJones said:
As many, I play games for stress relief and enjoyment. It's nice to know that you can put your money down and get an agreeable time from it. But there's a few concepts that bother me to the point that change my feelings for a game almost instantly. And they normally all have to do with Scaling.

1.) NPC Auto Leveling: To me, this is one of the single most dumbest design that has ever come out the gaming industry. There is nothing that tells me my time grinding was useless more than NPC Auto-leveling. Why did I spend hours grinding to get enough points to get the Super Nova ability when a Thief in rags that I had difficulty dispatching with my rusty sword doesn't die outright to it?

It's also world immersion breaking. I got the fable sword of legends that was supposed to slice mountains in half, but I still need to do a solid minute of combos to destroy a creature I was introduced to at level 3?

For a particular egregious example of this, see what we found out about in Anthem and the level one rifle [https://kotaku.com/anthems-level-one-weapons-are-stronger-than-endgame-one-1833103893]. The game was designed to look at your character, figure out what your medium damage output would be... and then hinder it to make you want to grind for bigger and better weapons. Actual math [https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2019-03-16-anthem-fan-uses-the-power-of-maths-to-prove-loot-doesnt-matter] was used to find out how much the game kneecaps you to create a need for grind that can never sate you.

Imagine paying money for a power fantasy specifically designed to make sure you'll never get it.

And that's one side of the Scaling Coin.

2.) Adaptive Difficulty:The other side reared its ugly head this year as well in Resident Evil 2 Remake using Adaptive Difficulty [http://gametyrant.com/news/the-resident-evil-2-remake-will-have-adaptive-difficulty-similar-to-resident-evil-4]. In the beginning, I loved this game. So much.

Then I started noticing the luck situation. How more and more instant headshots became rare. And sometimes, the fabled Shotgun blast to the face would just blow a zombie's face away but it will still shamble forward like nothing happened. I thought even my luck couldn't be that bad. But then I learned about Adaptive Difficulty.

Talking about the difficulty in REmake 2, producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi said that:

"In terms of the standard difficulty, it does adjust based on player performance. I'd like to believe that you were doing really well and so the difficulty ramped up even more. But we have it tuned so that no matter how well you?re doing, there's always going to be that sense of dread and tension there. Also, we are definitely implementing things that assist the player if they choose to utilize that stuff such as auto game. If a player thinks, 'Here, I'd rather have an easier time going through this,' we will have those sorts of options as well."
So, the choice here is artificially make the situation harder because you happen to have skill or turn on hand-hold mode... so skill also doesn't matter. This is a no-win situation for a gamer like me.

Some people who know me know that I love Left4Dead and think that it's weird that I can still love Left4Dead's AI director but hate REmake 2's Adaptive Difficulty. And I say that it's simply not as severe. An Infected in Left4Dead won't mutate to suddenly be able to tank 7 rounds of your m16 because you're doing very well. But as recently as today, I can hit a zombie in the head 4 out of 6 shots in REmake 2 without even a stagger.

If every time I pull a trigger, I get penalties for being good at the game, I suddenly don't find that game that appealing.

So, those are some of my gripes. As always, please feel free to share yours.
Haha, nice double standard you got going there, Capcom.

I echo your sentiments btw. Also next generation needs to really look at physically based damage models more as a standard, for NPCs and environmental damage even. I?d love a new Bloodborne where your saw cleaver actually puts big gashes in enemies depending on their hide and where hit, or the mighty hammer pulverizes the chest cavity or what have you, adding more strategy to how and what you attack with vs mostly just hacking away and waiting for a life bar to empty, with an occasional scripted damage sequence.

It?s why I?m still having such a blast with Red Dead 2 right now, where a well-placed shot from a volcanic pistol will take a chunk of skull with it, or that guy running away from you will go down with a quick knee shot so you can still drag him kicking and screaming to jail for a live Bounty.
 

meiam

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Homeworld 2 (RTS) had an adaptive difficulty system where you kept all your unit that survived a mission when going to the next one, but the enemy force scaled to how many unit you had at the start of the missions. In practice this meant that right at the beginning of every mission a massive enemy force would attack you and destroy most of your ship, forcing you to start from scratch anyway. Really defeated the purpose of being able to keep your units. Shamus Young had a nice blog post about this (https://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=48163)

The worse about enemy auto leveling is when it's mixed with a loot system, when you get the super ultra legendary weapon the worse thing you can do is level up, since it'll just make the weapon weaker... Really kill the fun of looting newer stuff. It's a bit better when game scale difficulty based on resource available, ie when you have plenty of medkit/ammo, less spawn, at least the enemy are the same. But it makes everything feel pointless since no matter how good/bad you do, it all come back to the same. Ideal for me is game that just keep one difficulty system and accept that some player just won't be able to complete it, but that's a poor commercial decision, so we just end up with very easy game that even someone who skip most content and rush to the end by button mashing can finish it easily. I don't like difficulty setting, since none of them are really optimized, but it really is the best of the bad bunch of option available (except for the soul franchise, may the video game gods allow it to always keep one difficulty setting).

I guess my controversial pick would be overly generous fast travel, I try to never use fast travel in open world game because I think the fun of open world is being able to feel like you live in one giant connected world, and if your just teleporting everywhere you need to be then you might as well make the game instance based. But game are obviously built around fast travel, with quest having you pointlessly go back and forth between locations just to turn in an item and the world becoming lifeless after you've done the major quest there. Like say there's a small village in the middle of the map where you complete some quest in early game, the NPC will comment on that particular quest and it's outcome (say you supported a particular ruler). But then you keep playing the game and plenty of new development happens (say the ruler you supported is killed), yet the NPC never update, they'll still tell you how happy they are you supported that ruler, never commenting on him/her being dead, because the dev built the game with the idea that you'll never set foot in that town again after your done questing there since you'll just fast travel.
 

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I don't hate it exactly, and don't mind it existing in other games, but I cannot get on board with procedural generation. It instantly turns me off a game, ensures I'll never play it. I want a game to be specifically designed the way I play it.
 

Casual Shinji

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I don't loath it, but I'm not a big fan of textbox turorials. You find a way to organically weave a tutorial into the game. JRPGs especially suffer from this.
 

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Crafting mechanics. Stop it, it isnt immersive and just a case of x + y + z = 1 item with little thought to the crafting process
 

The Rogue Wolf

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Absolute helplessness in a horror/stealth game. I get it, my character doesn't have to be a skilled ninja or trained soldier, but at the very least I should be able to try to kick something in the balls while it's eating my face.
 

laggyteabag

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Open world games.

Not to say that open world games can't be done right, but im my experience, developers just cant seem to get it right.

These games are sold on their size, but there often isn't anything to justify it. "Game A is 10x bigger than Game B!" but that extra size is utilised for what? The same side mission done 10 times across the entire map?

More often than not, all the open world does, is bog down the experience and ruin the pacing. A lot of these games have fast travel, sure, but then I ask you what the point of being open world is, if all you are going to do is teleport from A to B in a menu?

And sure, your game may look pretty, but when I played Red Dead Redemption 2, most of my horse riding was done with one hand on the auto-run button on the controller, and the other browsing through Twitter until I reached my destination, so its not like I was even taking in the atmosphere after a while.

A massive open world is offered, but almost never ultised in a way that makes it satisfying, and im just bored of it.
 

Hawki

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Silent protagonists.

To be clear, a lack of voice acting isn't the same as a silent protagonist for me. Text, or even a "yes/no/other" option isn't quite the same either, even if it can be very bare bones. No. What I mean by a silent protagonist is one where the character is mute, where it makes no sense for them to be mute, and the story/characterization suffers from them being mute.

Yes, there are a few cases where this is pulled off well, but for every Jack or Chell, there's a dozen Gordon Freemans or Corvos out there. It's stupid, it's annoying, and there's really no reason for silent protagonists to exist anymore.
 

Nuuu

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Rogue-lites and open world survival. I just hate being forced to go back to the beginning of a game because I messed up, and it feels like a waste of time to try to get back to where I was and then die again.
 

Trunkage

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(This might be the reason why Adaptive Difficulty exists.) Being overpowered. Sure, I actually like it for 30 mins but if I have that super weapon and everything gets smashed in one shot, what is the point of playing? Eg. Skyrim with bow and sneaking made the game a cakewalk. And uninteresting.

And it's not to say that some areas shouldn't be easy to blow through. Just not all

There's a fine line here. Control made you feel overpowered, but managed to make you feel under pressure constantly.

While I can understand the gripes about Adaptive Difficulty, I also understand what they are trying to do. Keep the game interesting
 

Trunkage

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Another concept is backtracking. Hate it.

Divinity Original Sin 2 was one of my favourite games last year... except you had to play the game by poking a battles to see if you can beat it. This means your criss crossing the map to find the next battle.

Skyrim had a lot of dungeons that folded back on itself. Sure it doesn't make any sense. But backtracking through areas that you fought through is just disrespecting my time.

The Witcher 3 forced you to find the quest giver before being able to use a dungeon properly. That's disrepecting my time. If I unintentionally finish a quest because I'm exploring, let me. Stop forcing me to play the game you want me to play. I don't want to retread ground because your worried I won't get the story.
 

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Silvanus said:
I don't hate it exactly, and don't mind it existing in other games, but I cannot get on board with procedural generation. It instantly turns me off a game, ensures I'll never play it. I want a game to be specifically designed the way I play it.
The problem is that the AI that decides how Procedural Generation works is never smart enough to do the job as well as a human would, so it always tends to look off and artificial. Not that video games don't look artificial even when the maps are being designed by hand, but at least there's a kind of consistency there that procedural generation always seems to lack.

As for the OP, I wouldn't say I loathe it but Level Scaling combed with Beef Gates is quite obnoxious at times. Assassin's Creed Odyssey hits this hard, where each area is beef gated by level but the enemies level with you anyway as you pass them, so it never really feels like you're getting stronger as opposed to "Well, there's another area I won't get insta-murdered if I get in a fight there"(and inevitably you'll get ambushed by bandits or lynxes or something). Until you hit level 50 and then levels stop mattering at all because none of the areas are beef gated past 50.

At least one of the patches allowed you to throttle down the level scaling a bit so enemies would lag up to 4 levels behind you and Mercenaries far above your level normally would leave you alone unless you picked a fight with them.

It also leads to the weirdness of fighting a level 50 chicken because of said level scaling.
 

Dreiko_v1legacy

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Procedural generation is fine if it's minor stuff. Persona 3 and 4 do that with their dungeons which are more old school and it doesn't detract from the experience. Of course the p5 style with detail and hand crafted interaction points is better but back then they had limited resources so they didn't have any to spare to make the dungeons more interesting.


But yeah if the entire game and all that make it worth playing are just random it just ends up feeling kinda lifeless.
 

BrawlMan

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Laggyteabag said:
Open world games.

Not to say that open world games can't be done right, but im my experience, developers just cant seem to get it right.

These games are sold on their size, but there often isn't anything to justify it. "Game A is 10x bigger than Game B!" but that extra size is utilised for what? The same side mission done 10 times across the entire map?

More often than not, all the open world does, is bog down the experience and ruin the pacing. A lot of these games have fast travel, sure, but then I ask you what the point of being open world is, if all you are going to do is teleport from A to B in a menu?

And sure, your game may look pretty, but when I played Red Dead Redemption 2, most of my horse riding was done with one hand on the auto-run button on the controller, and the other browsing through Twitter until I reached my destination, so its not like I was even taking in the atmosphere after a while.

A massive open world is offered, but almost never ultised in a way that makes it satisfying, and im just bored of it.
This. I was more or less done with the genre after Saints Row 2 & GTA IV.

Indie games that used the worst parts of old game design and calls it a challenge. No, having me die against the final boss or the boss's hyper armor bodyguards should not put me at a checkpoint where I have to fight tedious enemies again. Also, you should not adapt the SNES style brawler of continuing by doing a section of the stage over again (Normal or Below) or above hard (the entire stage over again). For those that don't know, I am describing fighting rage. It's an awesome game, but there design choices I straight up hate.

The Ninja Saviors had a similar problem with its final boss, but nowhere near severe. Also, the hard mode is nothing more, but adding in tons of enemies with a few more hp.

Forced stealth section where it's an instant game over. Why do these still exists in this generation?

Most cover shooters in general were this to me. I found a majority of them far more repetitive than any beat'em up "critcs" were spouting on about.

Devil May Cry 2, 3 & 5 Dante's Must Die Mode turning enemies and bosses in to damage sponges. You guys and gals got it right in 1, 4, & DmC (2013). Why screw it up again with the 5th mainline entry?

ObsidianJones said:
As many, I play games for stress relief and enjoyment. It's nice to know that you can put your money down and get an agreeable time from it. But there's a few concepts that bother me to the point that change my feelings for a game almost instantly. And they normally all have to do with Scaling.

1.) NPC Auto Leveling: To me, this is one of the single most dumbest design that has ever come out the gaming industry. There is nothing that tells me my time grinding was useless more than NPC Auto-leveling. Why did I spend hours grinding to get enough points to get the Super Nova ability when a Thief in rags that I had difficulty dispatching with my rusty sword doesn't die outright to it?

It's also world immersion breaking. I got the fabled sword of legends that was supposed to slice mountains in half, but I still need to do a solid minute of combos to destroy a creature I was introduced to at level 3?

For a particular egregious example of this, see what we found out about in Anthem and the level one rifle [https://kotaku.com/anthems-level-one-weapons-are-stronger-than-endgame-one-1833103893]. The game was designed to look at your character, figure out what your medium damage output would be... and then hinder it to make you want to grind for bigger and better weapons. Actual math [https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2019-03-16-anthem-fan-uses-the-power-of-maths-to-prove-loot-doesnt-matter] was used to find out how much the game kneecaps you to create a need for grind that can never sate you.

Imagine paying money for a power fantasy specifically designed to make sure you'll never get it.

And that's one side of the Scaling Coin.

2.) Adaptive Difficulty:The other side reared its ugly head this year as well in Resident Evil 2 Remake using Adaptive Difficulty [http://gametyrant.com/news/the-resident-evil-2-remake-will-have-adaptive-difficulty-similar-to-resident-evil-4]. In the beginning, I loved this game. So much.

Then I started noticing the luck situation. How more and more instant headshots became rare. And sometimes, the fabled Shotgun blast to the face would just blow a zombie's face away but it will still shamble forward like nothing happened. I thought even my luck couldn't be that bad. But then I learned about Adaptive Difficulty.

Talking about the difficulty in REmake 2, producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi said that:

"In terms of the standard difficulty, it does adjust based on player performance. I'd like to believe that you were doing really well and so the difficulty ramped up even more. But we have it tuned so that no matter how well you?re doing, there's always going to be that sense of dread and tension there. Also, we are definitely implementing things that assist the player if they choose to utilize that stuff such as auto game. If a player thinks, 'Here, I'd rather have an easier time going through this,' we will have those sorts of options as well."
So, the choice here is artificially make the situation harder because you happen to have skill or turn on hand-hold mode... so skill also doesn't matter. This is a no-win situation for a gamer like me.

Some people who know me know that I love Left4Dead and think that it's weird that I can still love Left4Dead's AI director but hate REmake 2's Adaptive Difficulty. And I say that it's simply not as severe. An Infected in Left4Dead won't mutate to suddenly be able to tank 7 rounds of your m16 because you're doing very well. But as recently as today, I can hit a zombie in the head 4 out of 6 shots in REmake 2 without even a stagger.

If every time I pull a trigger, I get penalties for being good at the game, I suddenly don't find that game that appealing.

So, those are some of my gripes. As always, please feel free to share yours.
While the adaptive difficulty can be annoying, it's not that different from RE4 & 5. Once you know how it works, what zombie you need to kill, can bypass or cripple, it gets easier. Here's a hint, the knife is very useful if you want to save ammo. Obviously, weapon degradation exists, but once I learned how powerful the knives are, I'd get my use out of them. If you shot the all of the Mr. Raccoon figures in both characters scenarios, you can use the infinite knife with no penalty to your rank. You can get consistent head shots with the shotgun; upgraded or not. Now the basic shotgun, it's usually all about timing your shot and distance. If you let the zombies lunge at you just before they initiate the lunge, you instantly blow off their head 95% of the time. Once you upgrade the shotgun, the head shots are way more consistent (even on Hardcore), but it depends on the player's aim and where the zombie is positioned.

You have some points, but I rather not have the game be a total cakewalk. Besides, hardcore was made for people that most likely already the played game on Normal or did Hardcore on their first play. Usually the player ready to plan their routes or strategy after subsequent playthroughs.
 

Thaluikhain

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When there's 9 different ways to play the game, so there's more replay value, but they are almost exactly the same, just different enough to make me feel I'm missing something by not playing it another way.
 
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gyrobot said:
Crafting mechanics. Stop it, it isnt immersive and just a case of x + y + z = 1 item with little thought to the crafting process
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is one game that went above and beyond that. [https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kBGo-K2xIvs] Same with sword maintenance. [https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lLxJnWS72zc]
 

FakeSympathy

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Competitive/Ranked Mode

I am all for having good strategies, teamwork, knowledge of game mechanics, and not bullshitting around. This is what I expect when I press play on ranked, competitive, or whatever the name variation the game has. What I am greeted with instead are toxic and angry people throwing tantrum because things aren't going their way, people who leave games and letting the rest of the team suffer, and people who don?t talk through the entire game but later talk a lot at post-game. Yes, everyone wants to win in this mode, even me. It's okay to lose a few games, and we can all learn from what we did wrong so we can have a better experience next time? OH wait, that's no it, is it? It's always the healer who doesn't heal you, tank who doesn't soak damage, support that doesn't help, teammates who don't know the game, and everyone except you have (insert various mental-disability here) and they should kill themselves, isn't?

The fantasy of always winning and reaching the top of the rank ladder is the cause of all these problems, IMHO. Players are expecting an e-sport level of teamwork and gameplay all the time when they really shouldn't. No one's professional. No one has coaches that give them guidance. Now, toxicity aside, I can't understand why EVERY multiplayer game feels the need to have ranked/competitive mode. Like, have you not seen League of Legends or Overwatch? Do you want the same shit on your games? Granted, the toxicity in other games are nowhere near the level/not as infamous as LOL or OW, but I feel these modes are ruining otherwise great games. Not every multiplayer game need this mode; Because at some point, we just don't give a shit and want to play the game w/o hearing all the bullshit.

Every game trying to be the next Skryim
I'd say there are too many open-world games coming from AAA companies. Ideally, open-world games should be filled with detail-heavy environments, areas that are lively with NPCs, NPCs that are fully fleshed out, intriguing story that takes hours to complete, various side activities to do, and fun gameplay that keeps you in the game. Games like RDR2, BOTW, Witcher 3 are all great examples of good Open-world games.

But good open-world games like these are too far and in between. I feel there are way too many generic-looking open-world games that are advertised to be larger than the previous game that was advertised to be the largest game?. While open-world games are getting bigger, and they do look pretty and are filled with details, my problems are too many open-world games feature either a world is lifeless, NPCs are stereotypical and brings nothing new, repetitive gameplay, technical glitches/bugs, or dull story. I am looking at you, Anthem and GR: Breakpoint
 

laggyteabag

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Hawki said:
Silent protagonists.

To be clear, a lack of voice acting isn't the same as a silent protagonist for me. Text, or even a "yes/no/other" option isn't quite the same either, even if it can be very bare bones. No. What I mean by a silent protagonist is one where the character is mute, where it makes no sense for them to be mute, and the story/characterization suffers from them being mute.

Yes, there are a few cases where this is pulled off well, but for every Jack or Chell, there's a dozen Gordon Freemans or Corvos out there. It's stupid, it's annoying, and there's really no reason for silent protagonists to exist anymore.
I hate silent protagonists.

Again, as you say, a protagonist who isn't voiced is fine, so long as I can communicate via say, a text option like in a lot of RPGs, but characters who have no voice and no input at all just rub me the wrong way.

I understand that the intention is to allow the played to put themselves into the shoes of the character that they are playing, but this has never worked for me. The moment they give a character a name, or a gender, or a race - or even go as far as an entire identity, in the case of someone like Gordan Freeman, I dont see myself as that character, because that character already has traits that may or may not match with mine. If anything, all it does is bring me out of the experience further, as my character just sits around as characters spout exposition and tell the story around me, and talk at me, and it just seems so weird.

It all seems to be a way to solve a problem that I have never had, seeing as I have never had any problems identifying as a voiced character.

One scene that has always bugged me is in the level 343 Guilty Spark from Halo: Combat Evolved, where you unleash a horde of space zombies, and the pilot who dropped you off in that area is asking you what is going on, and the character who you are playing is just says... well, nothing. Why? Its always bothered me.

Of course, as you also mention, it does work for some protagonists, like Jack from the first BioShock game, or the Doom Slayer, but more often than not, all it does is detract from the experience for me.