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Powergaming isn't the problem


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#1 theRaskell   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 28 June 2000 - 03:46 AM

It is a common human error to focus their efforts on the problem and not the solution. We look for the easy way out of problems and not the right way, and I see the same thing happening with this whole Powergaming issue. Threads gallor exist on how to stop Powergaming, yet there is very little discussion on what to replace it with. It''s almost like people think if you get rid of the Powergaming, the void left behind will automatically be filled with something better. Unforutnately, this is not the truth. The problem here is that it is very easy to create a Powergaming environment, and much more difficult to create a more roleplaying friendly environment. Stats, skills, levels, abilities, these are all easily defined and accounted for within the game code. All aspects of roleplaying are an entirely different matter. So we choose to attack Powergaming because it''s easier to quantify, and thus easier to attack. If you take something away from the gamers though, you need to give them something in return. I personally don''t believe you have to take the Powergaming out though. Give them something more worthwhile and the problem will take care of itself. But, giving them something more worthwhile is a far greater challenge then taking away their Powergaming. So what do you need to give the players to draw their attention away from the Powergaming? You need to draw them into a dynamic and intriguing storyline. You need to make them feel like an integral and essential part of that storyline, as well as the community and society built into the game. There needs to be rewards for participating in these events that exceed the materialistic rewards of powergaming. Give the players politic and social power that can exceed that of mere physical prowess. Make them feel like they are not only in control of their own life, but they have some control over the world and events around them too. Do all of this and you''ll have what you want, and it will exist with all of the Powergaming features in the world present in your game. Sure, it''s far easier to strip all the powergaming features out of a game, but that still leaves it up to the player to fill in these needs, and that could be done with or without Powergaming, so what really is the purpose of removing it? Other then personal dislikes or opinions?

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#2 Landfish   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 28 June 2000 - 08:38 AM

The element of role-playing and interaction, political and personal intrigue, and character development on levels other than whack a monster are all present in games already, though squelched into an unrecognizable state by the powergaming stigma. It has been my belief that if you remove the whole powermaxing thig, you needn''t fabricate a replacement for it, since you already have the MUSH factor.

There are people who want this. Not many, but they''re out there. I am sure every single person on a MUSH or MU would leap at the chance for a graphical interface vs. their traditional text. These are people who live and breath this social and event based interaction, without a whiff of unnecessary combat.

"The unexamined life is not worth living."
-Socrates

#3 theRaskell   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 28 June 2000 - 10:37 AM

I personally was addressing the currently available commercial games, more specifically MMORPGs. Games where the mechanical aspects of the game downplay the roleplaying element and push the statistical element to the foreground. The three primary and most well known games being the UO, EQ, and AC worlds. All of these worlds offer far more rewarding statistical gaming then roleplaying, yet they are all supposed to be Roleplaying games.

I believe it is quite possible to provide in-game rewards for developing and playing a role within the game that can equal the rewards available for focusing on the statistical argument. The reason it hasn''t been done yet is because this is a far more difficult task to accomplish.

I also believe that if you were to take any of these strictly social environments and add an advancement system with monster spawning and all the trimmings to them while ALSO restricting the access to only those people who have become regular visitors to these environments, powergaming will become commonplace. Obviously this is an opinion on a Hypothetical situation, but if the MUSH factor is indeed there, then what keeps these people that want it so dearly from having it with the presence of powergaming? I mean, how does another person spending all his time camped at a spawn point gaining levels at an alarming rate affect you at all if that is something you have no interest in? What do these MUSHs provide that the commercial graphically based games do not provide, and why is it not possible to provide these things with the elements of powergaming present? Tell me specifically why what you want absolutely cannot co-exist with these elements? Why is it so essential that you completely divide these two gameplay elements?

I personally do not believe that it is at all essential to divide them. I believe this because I have ran many successful ROLEPLAYING campaigns using the AD&D gaming world and all it''s supposedly horrible game mechanics. It''s not the game that made them successful, it''s the people I played the game with. It is the complete control we had over the entire experience to make it what we wanted it to be. There was level advancement, there was combat with beast and villains. There was also interaction with town and village folk, there were political and social issues that were resolved without using the combat mechanics. And, heaven forbid, there were even political and social issues that were resovled with the combat mechanics.

#4 theRaskell   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 28 June 2000 - 10:40 AM

Anyone else besides me notice that I have a habit of begin my paragraphs in a very few specific manners? What''s up with that? It''s definitely done subconciously. My opinion is that it shows rather poor writing skills, which is certainly something that doesn''t make me happy. Anyone agree or disagree with that, or have a completely different opinion altogether?

#5 Kylotan   Moderators   -  Reputation: 3163

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Posted 30 June 2000 - 03:00 AM

I think most people post to forums using the "I..." format As I just did right then. Don''t stress about it

As long as we don''t fall into some "I know what''s best for you" trap of assuming that people don''t -really- like to powergame, and that if we replace it, everyone will be grateful, that''s ok. People have to accept that, to the general majority, what we call ''powergaming'' is just what they call ''gaming''. Nearly all games you grow up with are games you play to win, or to do the best, or score the most, etc. That, to most humans in the western world, is what a ''game'' entails.

I think the issue is that designers have to decide what you want from a game, and actually do it. And conversely, players need to accept that when a game is advertised as "role-playing" that doesn''t mean standing around and talking ''in-character'' or telling people that they can''t do something because their character wouldn''t really do that.

Sadly, most games have to be profitable: that means they need to have a target audience of some critical mass. This -doesn''t- mean you have to cater to the lowest common denominator: but it''s often easier to do so. When you aim at the plot/storyline market, you are targeting a hard area to break into: these people are not as likely to have up-to-date computers (why bother upgrading? they don''t care for Quake 3), so your tech-specs must be lower. In fact, they may well already spend all their time on MUSHes or the like. Why would they abandon their current community to join yours? Whereas a ''power'' gamer might think of a new game as a new challenge, something fresh to master, a gamer who values community and stories might be a lot happier staying with what they''ve got. I''d say that the ''powergamer'' market is more willing to try new games than the ''true roleplayer'' market, but of course I have no figures to back that up, only supposed wisdom.

And, of course, computers are great at dealing with statistical advancement, but rewarding people for roleplaying is hard. How would you do that? Allow people to reward each other? You''ll just get PiMpMaStA@aol.com and all his buddies hanging out together, rewarding each other for non-existent roleplaying just so they can all progress.

quote:
What do these MUSHs provide that the commercial graphically based games do not provide, and why is it not possible to provide these things with the elements of powergaming present? Tell me specifically why what you want absolutely cannot co-exist with these elements? Why is it so essential that you completely divide these two gameplay elements?


MUSHes, and many MUDs etc, provide a stable, intelligent community. Whereas UO, AC, EQ all have prepubescent types killing you for your equipment, or saying "hey, I''m 3l33t, wanna c4mp sum orcz?". The mere fact that the MUD-style games are all text discourages many of the fools, which is good.

The problem with the 2 sides co-existing is that the powergaming hacker-talking kids annoy the hell out of the more mature, roleplaying/socialising audience. Most 30 year olds get bored of playing with the 12 year olds after a while. The 2 gameplay elements are -not- mutually exclusive, as you mentioned in your AD+D anecdote: you can do perfectly fine roleplaying with a stats system. But with online games, it is the 2 -audiences- that are incompatible.




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