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What do we expect of players in an RPG?


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#1 Niphty   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 15 June 2000 - 04:50 PM

Landfish posed this seemingly innane question in response to my ramblings about his "mental math" posting. It''s a good subject to look at for all. In an RPG, what do we want from the player? What do we expect and what do they expect? How do you feel these questions are answered currently, and are those answers correct? Specifically, talk about the CRPG vs table-top RPG, and MMORPGs. These all have their own methods of including the player. I personally think it''s broken down like this: Tabel-top: The player is the character for all intents and purposes. They add the personality and decide what the character''s actions are. This is considered a more "true" role playing. CRPG: The player takes on more of a strategic outlook in this role playing game. They know about the character, yet they cannot add any personality to them unless the programmer allows multiple "options" to be said in speaking. However, this is merely providing a few very limited options. So perhaps CRPGs are nothing more than done-up strategy and "what would you do?" games, as Landfish put it. MMORPG: Once again, the player is the character. This form moves back to a more traditional table-top viewpoint. Since the game is inhabited by people, you can speak and people will understand you This allows you to once again put a personality to the character. The NPC''s are very limited in dialog.. and thus reflect the computer''s lack of ability to talk to us.. in english So come on, tell your thoughts.. and how you feel about this subject. How could it be improved in the different versions? I look forward to some good responses J

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#2 Indeterminatus   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 16 June 2000 - 07:20 AM

I can only tell you what I told Landfish too ...

Whenever I hear "RPG", I have my own imagination of that genre...for example, "Diablo" is no RPG to my mind, rather an adventure with the aim to kill as many monsters as possible...is that really the meaning of a RPG?
A real RPG is for me...for example "Ultima VII". You are part of a "real" world, a world in wich you have the impression of being an inhabitant...not just a monster-killing-machine, because you have to talk and solve riddles (so called "Quests" )
At the beginning you can create your character as you like it, and whenever you create a new character, the game won''t be the same as it was before, because the NPCs react differently...

Yours,

Indeterminatus

--consuetudo est quasi altera natura hominum...

#3 Landfish   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 16 June 2000 - 10:14 AM

It should be noted that not only can we not effectively let players control character emotion, we shouldn''t. Human beings are hardwired to have certain reactions according to their principles and personality. If we allow the character to blatantly act out of synch with this by setting the dial to a spontaneously "Angry " or "affectionate" reaction, we''ve violated the character. He becomes nothing more than a meat puppet whose sole purpose is to groud our player in that reality.

It would be IMPOSSIBLE to create quality dialog or any kind of characterization to speak of in this system. In tabletop and MMOs, the entire purpose of the player is to characterize the character, so this is not a concern. This kinda goes back to the "Linear Tai Interactive" post.

You all are likely familiar with what *Landfish* is expecting of the new breed. And what questions I ask to figure it out! And you know as well as I that the new breed of player is out there. He doesn''t enjoy leveling or lording his power over others. New breed gamers are in for the "experience", and I don''t mean the kind that can be quantified in points! There may only be a few, but more will come. I promise.

K. I''m done preaching now. It was fun...

#4 Roderik   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 17 June 2000 - 07:48 AM

Hey, Landfish...you are absolutely right. Just wanted to tell you. I''m pretty good too, BTW.

#5 Roderik   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 17 June 2000 - 07:52 AM

I didn''t intend to say anything meaningfull in my last post, nor did I want to flame or spam. I''m just a bit tired right now, forgive me.

#6 Paul Cunningham   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 18 June 2000 - 04:02 PM

I speak as a player of RPG''s and tell you what i like and don''t. Firstly, i like options. This is problably the main reason why i play RPG''s is that they allow one to do/interact more with the game environment than do other game genres.

Diablo''s not bad, but it''s extremely linear. What i mean by linear is that all the maps are laid out one after another. I was quite disappointed when i heard D2 would be the same. What good about D1 is that the real-time element of the game is very well done. I don''t think any RPG''s have done as good a job as D1 on the real time element of RPG''s.

But back the the "role" playing side of things. I think hardwired personalities would work in a CRPG. If not to constrict the player into actions then to give the game a little bit of variety. Example would be choosing a Personality for your PC at the Character Creation stage of the game. This may not effect what is available to the player ingame but give some different verbal expressions from the character during the game. This i believe would add greatly to my "Role" playing experience. If this was done the next thing i would want would be a personality construction kit so i could take my new character online, just for fun and see what other people think of the personality that i''ve constructed for my character.

Hassle me please,
Paul C


#7 Landfish   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 19 June 2000 - 07:49 PM

On an archetypal level, the character is so deeply ingrained in the story that allowing a ''choice'' of something as crucial as a personality would be jeopordizing the character, and encouraging flat, one dimensional characterization. Don''t we have enough already?

In fact, the character isn''t just part of the story... she IS the story. She must be the person to serve a very specific funtion because of her own flaws and virtues. If this is not the case, then the character doesn''t seem to "fit" with the story, because there is nothing tying them together. This is how it is with most games, no?

#8 Paul Cunningham   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 19 June 2000 - 08:56 PM

quote:
Original post by Landfish

On an archetypal level, the character is so deeply ingrained in the story that allowing a ''choice'' of something as crucial as a personality would be jeopordizing the character, and encouraging flat, one dimensional characterization. Don''t we have enough already?



Wrong and wrong again. What was the last RPG you played that made the personality of the character essential to the story line development. Fallout1/2 allowed you to basically design your personality whilst employing a fully emersive storyline. BGate you chose your character. Diablo you have no personality (really you don''t). I think the art is in moulding the story to the character otherwise you might as well be reading a book.

quote:


In fact, the character isn''t just part of the story... she IS the story. She must be the person to serve a very specific funtion because of her own flaws and virtues. If this is not the case, then the character doesn''t seem to "fit" with the story, because there is nothing tying them together. This is how it is with most games, no?


The story must flex to the character i believe. Remember, you''re interacting with the story so you want to have an impact, change things, screw things up a little. If you have to do everything the story says you must because you''ve got "this" personality then it isn''t a game.



#9 MadKeithV   Moderators   -  Reputation: 971

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Posted 19 June 2000 - 09:07 PM

Ooh, a post on roleplaying, must take part!

About the "fixed personality" argument. There are three sides to it, and the third has been missed.
Side 1: Fixed personality,l interaction enforced. This is strait-jacket roleplaying, you are almost playing an NPC in a game. Your path has been determined for you ( or by you, at the time of creation of your character ). Changing the path is difficult. The upside is that the story can develop around the personality you are playing, thereby increasing immersiveness in the story.

Side 2: No personality. This is the Diablo style. There is no mention of personality, and no way to enforce any of it. You do what you like, hack what you like. The story NEVER touches on your character''s personality, so you are not encouraged to develop it.

Side 3: Free personality. This is closer to the older Ultima''s. You are free to make any decision you like, but you are confronted with the consequences in the game. Playing a different personality makes the game experience different. NPC''s react differently depending on what YOU do.
This is the most desirable form , and also the hardest to implement in computer games. On tabletop, it''s easy, with a good DM/GM, but how do you let the computer simulate this?



Give me one more medicated peaceful moment..
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~

#10 Landfish   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 19 June 2000 - 09:36 PM

(BTW, you asked for a hard time, where''s my "thank you?")

Note that I said "stories" and not "existing games". Read the Lineas v. Interactive thread if you haven''t already. My case is that there is no way players can interact with a story in any meaningful way, so why fool yourself? Start fooling the player! If they are convinced they are interacting when YOU are actually still in control, you have done your job. Fallout does this.

Ask yourself, was Diablo any less linear than what I''ve described? Nope. But what I''ve described would be a lot less boring to play, I''d bet.

Also, a distinction... I didn''t say "No descision making, no choice path". I said "No emotional control" which is actually pretty trivial when it comes to the choices that govern most diverging paths.

Madkieth, you must also try to discourage the players in some fair way from violating the personality they set up. Otherwise, you have a ridiculous story. If none of this makes sense, I''ll come back and write it later. It''s 4:30 am where I am. I know I forgot something important.

#11 Paul Cunningham   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 19 June 2000 - 09:57 PM

quote:

Side 3: Free personality. This is closer to the older Ultima''s. You are free to make any decision you like, but you are confronted with the consequences in the game. Playing a different personality makes the game experience different. NPC''s react differently depending on what YOU do.
This is the most desirable form , and also the hardest to implement in computer games. On tabletop, it''s easy, with a good DM/GM, but how do you let the computer simulate this?



OPTION 1.
A NPC must be able to judge the player not by their actions but by the characters personality. From here the NPC changes the storyline. Therefore, the storyline changes according to the players personality.





The measure of intelligence is in the question not the answer.

#12 Paul Cunningham   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 19 June 2000 - 10:20 PM

quote:
Original post by Landfish

(BTW, you asked for a hard time, where''s my "thank you?")




Thankyou :-), and i appreciate the thoughtful reply.

quote:


Note that I said "stories" and not "existing games". Read the Lineas v. Interactive thread if you haven''t already. My case is that there is no way players can interact with a story in any meaningful way, so why fool yourself? Start fooling the player! If they are convinced they are interacting when YOU are actually still in control, you have done your job. Fallout does this.



I tend to think of the books i read when i was a kid, like: "Choose your own adventure", "Pick a Path" and "Twist a Plot". How would you judge these? Is the book fooling the reader/player?

quote:


Ask yourself, was Diablo any less linear than what I''ve described? Nope. But what I''ve described would be a lot less boring to play, I''d bet.

Also, a distinction... I didn''t say "No descision making, no choice path". I said "No emotional control" which is actually pretty trivial when it comes to the choices that govern most diverging paths.

Madkieth, you must also try to discourage the players in some fair way from violating the personality they set up. Otherwise, you have a ridiculous story. If none of this makes sense, I''ll come back and write it later. It''s 4:30 am where I am. I know I forgot something important.


One trick a DM used to do when trying keep PC''s in alignment was to keep notes on the PC''s character as the game evolved. Why not implement a system like this to CRPG''s. The player starts off as a blank sheet and develops personality/character as the game progresses.

Ok, i''ll stop typing and go read that thread now :-)


The measure of intelligence is in the question not the answer.

#13 MadKeithV   Moderators   -  Reputation: 971

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Posted 19 June 2000 - 10:34 PM

quote:
Original post by Paul Cunningham
One trick a DM used to do when trying keep PC''s in alignment was to keep notes on the PC''s character as the game evolved. Why not implement a system like this to CRPG''s. The player starts off as a blank sheet and develops personality/character as the game progresses.



Alignment, I think, is one of the WORST things ever invented in role-playing games. On one hand, that game tries to advocate free choice, acting, enjoying yourself, and playing a role. But if you feel like doing something out of the ordinary, breaking the mold, you get penalised. This is nonsense.

The same reply goes to you, LandFish..
quote:

Madkieth, you must also try to discourage the players in some fair way from violating the personality they set up. Otherwise, you have a ridiculous story.


1. It''s MadKeith ( enough nitpicking ).
2. I''m not sure what point you are picking up on. If it''s side 1, I agree. If it''s side 3, I strongly disagree. Player freedom is what RPG''s are about. If the player wishes to twist the story in the weirdest of ways, it should be possible. I''m thinking of subterfuge, lying, things like that.
A slightly off-topic example is Tie Fighter. I had played it, having a lot of fun, up to the mission where you had to save the emperor''s skin. At that point, I thought it would be excellent to betray the Empire, and blast him to hell. Of course, the game ended there, which I thought was complete and utter bullcrap, specially because the Empire had ALWAYS been the bad guy, and that sort of behaviour should have at least been expected.

Another would be my old role-playing efforts, rescuing the evil necromancer out of the clutches of some Good PCs unwittingly, and then raiding his castle with the aid of a band of Beholders that I had managed to blackmail. Completely chaotic behaviour, but very in-character.
Would you disallow this kind of thing, because its not heroic, or doesn''t fit the story?





Give me one more medicated peaceful moment..
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~

#14 Captain Goatse   Banned   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 20 June 2000 - 12:34 AM

I have to add my holy opinion:

We can''t expect anything from the players, they are dumb, simple and they can''t solve any quests, but still you have to have more advanced quests for better players. What MadKeith told about alignment is almost right, but I think that if it''s well done it wont hurt the game. I liked karma thing in Fallout, but in AD&D that stupid CG, CE, LG, LE and so on was extremely annoying. In Baldur''s Gate when your repultation dropped enough you could get any exp, quests, items or money which SUCKED and still you could have rep 20 and be chaotic evil. Also, there was one stupid thing too, because Drizzt Do''Urden or whatever was classified as Chaotic Good in manua, every goddamn player wanted to be CG. I thought Chaotic Good personality is maniac type guy who can''t decide between Laws and Good acts.

In my next game I''m going to implement system which requires more dialogue writing, but it gives much more to the player. Let me explain my metaform: In dialog if player talks with empire guy and he works for rebellions he sees empire automatically evil, but when he works for empire he sees rebellions as evil dudes, so there isn''t good or bad side, just the side which player sees.

You guys have great ideas but ultimately you have to do what players want. I mean your games are useless if noone plays them. You seem to have great ideas, but I''m not sure would I play them.

Time comes, time goes and I only am.

#15 Ingenu   Members   -  Reputation: 850

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Posted 20 June 2000 - 01:13 AM

...
This is the kind of question that has non real answer.
...
I''m still (and for a year now) thinking about it, I''ve found many solutions but none is perfect.
...
I found that Final Fantasy sells well, so maybe I must follow their example.

What the most important to you, final outcome/success or the way you succeed ?

If it''s the way, it''s what I expected and you''ll be happy with my game, if it''s the outcome...
Sorry try another game.



-* Sounds, music and story makes the difference between good and great games *-

#16 Landfish   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 20 June 2000 - 10:14 AM

I hate alignments. Keith, you should know how much I hate all of those crappy, out-moded, D&D regulations. *shudder*

I don''t really thing controlling player emotion has any place in a game where that is not the central object. MMOs, for instance, the wqhole point (kindof) is to portray a character, and so the player should be in complete control of such things. If you are trying to do this with single-player games, i might say your efforts are... misguided. The end result will be clumsy and unrewarding to the player.

#17 Paul Cunningham   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 20 June 2000 - 03:18 PM

So how does a character develop personality that will allow the game to open and close oppurtunities for the player.

I think using systems such a karma achieves little in this respect as it doesn't differ one player from another. The game should keep a more personalised tab on the character. I'm not talking about punishing the player for steping out of character.

If a character does something lawful then something chaotic then the game can judge them as neutral. This then open's up missions in the game for neutral players. If you want lawful good missions then you "role play" a lawful good character and you will get missions for this type of character.

Remember, this has to do with what i said earlier about start of with a blank sheet.

I agree that punishing the player is bad, fact!




The measure of intelligence is in the question not the answer.

Edited by - Paul Cunningham on June 20, 2000 10:21:14 PM

#18 Landfish   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 20 June 2000 - 03:30 PM

There are some terms from philosophy that are applicable here. (nothing is JUST a video game...) Objectivism and Subjectivism.

Objectivism is the belief that external forces inherent in the universe govern what is "good'' and what is "evil". Alignment systems were this way. Organized religion is this way. The only problem with this way of thinking *in games* is that the player will be punished if he does not go according to what you have deemed the "right" way.

Subjectivism is the belief that each person defines his or her own "good" and "evil". It states that there is no underlying mathematical law of the universe saying "stealing is bad."

There is no reason that one system would work for all games. They guy from the "Any Christian Artists?" thread will probably want an objectivist system. No problem with that... hey, maybe he knows something I don''t.

As for decision making... choosing a path to travel is not a character-building action. An game character''s reaction to his friend sudden grisly death is a character-building moment that had NOTHING to do with divergent pathways. There is no reason to give players emotional control. It has no gameplay value, and it weakens the story.

#19 Nazrix   Members   -  Reputation: 307

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Posted 20 June 2000 - 07:12 PM

First of all, I agree with the blank sheet concept. Alignment is not a good way to handle it, but I believe if the game is set in a world that has any sort of society then it will have rules. If you break the rules then there are most likely concequences.

I think that good and evil are terms based upon opinion, but if someone steals from me I'm going to think that they are pretty wrong. However, it would be an objective opinion. I don't think it's important or correct for the game to label this player the bad one or the good one, but to label this character the outlaw or this one the peaceful. Also it should be pointed out that in a society of thieves the player may not be seen as wrong. It's all relative which is what I think you were saying, LF.

LF, I understand your point about choosing a path can extend the story beyond what the writer had intended, and cause the story to suffer. A writer dilegantly paces a plot revealing what needs to be revealed to the reader/player when it is time. I just think that interactivity and alteritive paths are more important than that. Maybe I feel that way because I would probably not be the most effective writer. I think that most ppl who are more on the programming side of things sees alternative paths as a really interesting thing because they like to see their code producing all these different directions.

Edited by - Nazrix on June 21, 2000 2:15:39 AM

#20 Landfish   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 20 June 2000 - 07:22 PM

It has been said the game writing is "An amalgam of math and storytelling". We can''t leave that second part out. Even if we were to develop the technology to create infinite divergent pathways, we would end up with infinite stories not worth playing.

It might not seem like that now, because of the novelty. You''d play for a while, because it would be so neat... but soon it would grow pointless. No matter what you did, the game would adapt to fit that need, and you would have no sense of purpose, and no direction. The human mind enjoys narratives so much because they provide us with a sense of closure. If you create a truly interactive story, it will simply be playing another life. Just as boring as this one.


There are those who make the arguement, "If you want to be given a story that you can''t change, go read a book." To that I say, "If you want to be part of a story that you can change entirely, go WRITE a book."






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