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A crusade against constant stats!


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#1 Gollum   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 05:07 AM

This is related to the "What's with Stats?" post, but different enough to be an offshoot, I think. People keep saying that no matter how much you hide stats, the players will eventually figure them out, post them on the internet or whatever, and so what's the point? I think that having static stats/abilities is silly anyway. Here's my solution: THE EASY WAY: Just make things like weapon damage, chance to pick a lock, hits points gained per level, chance to hit an opponent, etc. RANDOM but contained within a range. So, instead of knowing that you get five hit points for every level you gain, it could be somewhere between 3 and 15. A lot of games do this at some level - weapons that have min and max damage, etc. In special instances, freak with the endpoints of the range to keep them guessing. THE COOL WAY Start with the above situation, then pile a bunch of modifiers onto it. So, you start off with a strength that is in the range of 20-50. Well, if you've been walking for a long time, you're weaker. Subtract another randomly generated number, say between 2-4. If you're really mad, maybe you get an adrenalin rush. Add a number between 3-5. If you're from the frozen north, maybe the midday heat is sapping you. Subtract some more. And so on. To make this even better, don't show the stats for weapons. Don't disply stats for the basic attributes (strength, intelligence, etc.) . To make it really cool, and to give the players some fun and incentive, make the player look different when they're at the peak of their attributes. Make the player look beefed up when he is in the top 5% of his strength. Make her glow blue when her magic is in its sweet spot. Make a sword shower sparks when it's really slashing someone. Or let the character comment on how they're feeling. That could be highly amusing as well. I think this would be the best of both worlds - it's like real life, you can't just figure it out (which means your brain goes to sleep), and yet you can add cool, fun fantastic effects for special occasions, and to let your players know how they're doing. The only limitation I see here is really time. Time because every instance would add code, and the cool effects would mean more graphics. Ideas, anyone? - gollum Edited by - gollum on 7/6/00 11:19:42 AM

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#2 mossmoss   Members   -  Reputation: 326

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 05:33 AM

quote:
Original post by Gollum
People keep saying that no matter how much you hide stats, the players will eventually figure them out, post them on the internet or whatever, and so what''s the point?

THE EASY WAY:
Just make things like weapon damage, chance to pick a lock, hits points gained per level, chance to hit an opponent, etc. RANDOM but contained within a range. So, instead of knowing that you get five hit points for every level you gain, it could be somewhere between 3 and 15. A lot of games do this at some level - weapons that have min and max damage, etc. In special instances, freak with the endpoints of the range to keep them guessing.

THE COOL WAY
Start with the above situation, then pile a bunch of modifiers onto it. So, you start off with a strength that is in the range of 20-50. Well, if you''ve been walking for a long time, you''re weaker. Subtract another randomly generated number, say between 2-4. If you''re really mad, maybe you get an adrenalin rush. Add a number between 3-5. If you''re from the frozen north, maybe the midday heat is sapping you. Subtract some more. And so on.

To make this even better, don''t show the stats for weapons. Don''t disply stats for the basic attributes (strength, intelligence, etc.) . To make it really cool, and to give the players some fun and incentive, make the player look different when they''re at the peak of their attributes. Make the player look beefed up when he is in the top 5% of his strength. Make her glow blue when her magic is in its sweet spot. Make a sword shower sparks when it''s really slashing someone.




Some good ideas, I think. It is certainly true that if you don''t provide the hard numbers, some people will go searching for them. Some of them may be cheaters or trainers, or just doing it for fun. Power to them. That not sufficient reason to be forced into revealing numbers.

If I were doing it, I would probably experiment with a fuzzy number (fuzzy logic) system. Hard stats would be replaced with descriptive words ("weak", "average", "strong") that represent a range (although with fuzzy logic, it''s not really a range... beyond this topic though, so I won''t get into that further).

Then, as you suggest, certain character states will modify that range, or that fuzzy value. "Tired" could lower strength slightly, while "pumped" would raise strength slightly. These are fuzzy adjectives that have corresponding mathematical operations. Easy to implement, but don''t fixate on a particular number.

As for drawing the character to represent their state, this is certainly possible. Have a few drawings for each descriptive term ("strong" may be drawn as a bodybuilder, while "weak" might look like a computer nerd; pardon the stereotypes).

There have been some games that do this to a certain extent. The first one I remember is Doom. Near your health was a picture of the character''s face; as you received more damage, the face would become bloodier and more mangled. While fairly simple, it was effective for its time.


---- --- -- -
Blue programmer needs food badly. Blue programmer is about to die!

#3 Gollum   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 05:46 AM

Yeah, I remember how cool it was when I first saw the bloody face in Doom.

If I ever do have even a pseudo-garage-game company, I''m gonna call it Fuzzy Games. Because almost all of the stuff I really like comes down to some sort of fuzzy logic (from what little I understand of that subject) and particle systems.

- me

#4 Mezz   Members   -  Reputation: 570

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 06:31 AM

Yes, those are good ideas, it has been said that the player should not know specifics about things such as health/armour etc. I think this would be a good step, and would increase the tension in some ways (point in case, bloody face) because you do not know the exact value of something. I agree with your views on static stats and abilities, they should be dynamic based on what you are doing, e.g. if you want sword mastery - you gotta use a sword and batter crap into a lot of bad guys, then your mastery will increase, if you want more strength, you should be carrying heavier items, etc. etc.

All sound ideas, just the implementation needed....

-Mezz

#5 Ferinorius   Members   -  Reputation: 125

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 06:44 AM

I like the idea of using "strong" "average" and "weak" for certain stats. That is something that could be exagerated upon a lot. Instead of people running around saying "I have a 100 Str" they can say " I am strong!" More name can come around like Brute, Macho or something like that (those are just something off the top of my head, nothing that can be used) but something that does take stats a little away. Not all the way though.

#6 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 08:34 AM

people like stats, why else would games show them? Yet your plan is to deprive people of the knowledge they seek. You presume that you know more about what the player wants than what he does. Those who don''t like stats don''t look at them, those who do, do. Taking away that choice is foolish.

#7 Gollum   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 09:12 AM

Computers, being things that compute after all, can''t do very much without numbers. When I say to get rid of stats, I don''t mean to remove them from the program. Instead I''d like to hide them from the player. Even more than that, I''d like to vary them, for two reasons:

1. The player won''t be able to figure out exactly how they work. Predictability puts players to sleep, and constant stats are an infestation of predictability. If you vary stats, it''ll be hard to play the game the same way twice.

2. It''ll be more like real life. And in this case, that''s not a vague moral thing, but something that adds to playability. I''ll know that my thief is going to do best in the dark of night, in an alleyway, when stabbing from behind. I''ll know that my water priest will do really deal some damage when he''s standing in a stream in the pouring rain. I''ll end up actually planning based on the situation, rather than thinking, "Ok, three hits on this spider will kill it, just like every other spider I''ve met in the game." If I''m going to armwrestle a brigand for the life of a fair maiden, I might eat a big meal and get some sleep first.

Add in the graphics, and you might see that your mage is glowing blue, and think "Yeeha! I bet I have a chance against that troll now!" and run off to fight it while the time is right.

Hee hee. Ok, now all I gotta do is learn to program.

- gollum



#8 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 09:57 AM

There comes another idea i''ve chewed on ...

- most rpg''s come with some kind of levels - i don''t think there is anything wrong with that (you wont go around killing anyone 10 levels above or below you) - but in my opinion there shouldn''t be an automatic - rather it should be something about promotion perhaps on some kind of test.

and here comes my idea about hidden stats - the stats should be relativ to the level - and as the leveling isn''t automatic a strong level one can well be stronger than a weak level two
weak, average, strong would be very variable - as when all the other in the level rise and your character stands still you will get weaker - though if there are many promotions of lower strengh the same will go up in strength - the player always knows where he stands in comparison to equals.

my 2 cents

#9 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 01:33 PM

quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster

people like stats, why else would games show them? Yet your plan is to deprive people of the knowledge they seek. You presume that you know more about what the player wants than what he does. Those who don''t like stats don''t look at them, those who do, do. Taking away that choice is foolish.


People enjoy squeaky wheels on shopping carts. Why else would shopping carts have them? People seek out statistics in games only because you make it worth their while by crippling those who don''t. If your game needs a certain kind of stat to be fun, use it. Otherwise, don''t. Don''t use flawed logic to support tradition when tradition supports itself!

#10 Chiroptera   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 03:48 PM

I''m all for hiding the numbers from the players. If I ever get around to making my MMORPG, that''s what I''ll do. But if you do this, there''s a few important things to keep in mind.

1) Logical things should affect your abilities. In my opinion, the more things that can affect your abilities, the better. For example, rest, hunger, daylight, even your mood could come into effect.

2) There should be feedback of some sort when your abilities are affected. For example, in Ultima Online, you know exactly when your skills have gone up the tiniest increment, but you''re never quite sure how hungry you are until you eat... Feedback can come in the form of messages, icons, or changes in the player image, or even more creative things, but if you don''t represent in some way the knowledge the character would have, you''ll just frustrate the gamer.

#11 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 06:32 PM

first anon here

"Computers, being things that compute after all, can''t do very much without numbers. When I say to get rid of stats, I don''t mean to remove them from the program. Instead I''d like to hide them from the player."

This has nothing to do with computers. People just like stats, to differing degrees. For every person out there who doesn''t like stats there is another person that does like them. You know in street fighter II (which one though?) the game has stats on height, weight, age, and yes even blood type for each guy. The stats don''t mean a thing, yet I''m sure there is some guy out there who knows em all. Most people like more practical stats, knowing exactly how many attacks it takes to kill a foe. The average person likes an average amount of information.

"1. The player won''t be able to figure out exactly how they work. Predictability puts players to sleep, and constant stats are an infestation of predictability. If you vary stats, it''ll be hard to play the game the same way twice."

Actually predictability allows for a wider variation in strategies. That is simply true. Starcraft has almost no randomness at all, yet there are an infinent number of outcomes. If you want unpredicability there is one proper place: the other player, or the AI. Stuff like attack rolls is acceptable though because without them well it would be just dumb. Not having them though would be nice.



"2. It''ll be more like real life. And in this case, that''s not a vague moral thing, but something that adds to playability. I''ll know that my thief is going to do best in the dark of night, in an alleyway, when stabbing from behind."

that has absolutely nothing to do with whether you show stats or not.

You can''t get away from the truth, only a small minority want to live in a murky haze. It is perfectly fine for you to not want to know stuff but saying that the rest of us are wrong is just silly.

#12 MadKeithV   Moderators   -  Reputation: 971

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 08:01 PM

quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster


Actually predictability allows for a wider variation in strategies. That is simply true. Starcraft has almost no randomness at all, yet there are an infinent number of outcomes. If you want unpredicability there is one proper place: the other player, or the AI. Stuff like attack rolls is acceptable though because without them well it would be just dumb. Not having them though would be nice.





I love it when people ruin their own arguments in the same posts
1. The talk about stats was about Role-Playing games. Starcraft is NOT a roleplaying game, it''s a RTS game. Completely different genre, one where the quantification of ability is very important to be able to accurately simulate the outcome of battles.
Role-Playing games are NOT strategic games. This is something most people have lost out on completely, and I guess the endless streams of stats has something to do with that. However, the "strategic whacking set in a fantasy setting" type game is NOT what we were trying to achieve when talking in the original "what''s with stats" thread. We''re out to promote roleplaying, not figuring out stats.

2. "Stuff like attack rolls is acceptable though because without them well it would be just dumb. Not having them though would be nice."
Now you have completely lost me - first you argue for stats, then you say not having them would be nice, what side of the argument are you trying to make?




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#13 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 09:45 PM

(The Malcontent anon poster, not the last one...)

I think the other anon poster is somewhat unclear on the reasons for the player/character split, and on how certain kinds of satats differ. First of all, he''s confusing qualitive stats like starcraft unit qualities, with advancement stats like most RPGs. And he throws in some flavor stats from street fighter. Buddy, you completely missed me with that arguement.

We''re talking about ONE kind of stat here. Advancement. That''s it. All other stats pose no problem, because they are static. Problems only arise when you show the player a number, tell them "you should raise this number if you want to win/do well", and then say "here is what you need to do to raise that number."

Why are we suprised when this lends itself to abuse? It''s such and obvious performance reward system... you might as well see it as a skinnerbox. You can''t stick a rat in a cage with a food-delivering button and not expect it to press away like mad.

The ways around this behavior are SO obvious, but to implement them we must first stop being concerned about alientating powergamers. Let it go. If you design a system that they hate, so be it. Others will come and fill the gap. Maybe more, maybe less.

-The Masked Bandito

#14 MadKeithV   Moderators   -  Reputation: 971

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 09:59 PM

The Masked Bandito eh
Why don''t you register yourself on the boards? It''s easier, and people will start to know you after only a very short time.

Anyway, you are very correct that having stat advancement is just ASKING for stat advancement. That''s all that powergaming is, figuring out the most efficient way to improve your stats.
So really, if you have stats, you are NOT allowed to complain about power gaming, because you are encouraging it...

Even the way that gollum suggests won''t stop powergaming, it will just make outcomes less predictable. If you have higher stats, you will still do better.
( If you don''t do better with higher stats, why have stats in the first place, just randomise outcomes! )

The only way is to either hide the internal numbercrunching from the players ( which might still not eradicate powergaming, because just because they don''t SEE it doesn''t mean they don''t know its there ), or get rid of that type of "advancing the stat to get better."



Give me one more medicated peaceful moment.
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#15 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 10:14 PM

What if I already *am* registered? (wink)

If this doesn''t give me away, nothing will...

There is a way to have stats and yet not have powergamers (be effective). Two actually.

1) Skill attrition: Have all skills ratings in the game atrophy slowly. This will guaruntee less of a spread between starting characters and supercharacters, hence making powergaming *less* worthwhile. Must be combined with other techniques to be at it''s most effective... like absolute death. =)

2) Skill Checking: Make a note of the times skills have been performed and the context in which they were perfomed (i.E., proximity to designated "targets") At the end of a day/ session (preferably day) grade skill improvement on a percentage of time spent. If the percentage reaches a certain point, progression starts to curve DOWNWARD, because less and less is left to be learned. This is combbined with a traditional skill curve (ie leveling). Essentially, your better off just playing the character, because grotesque repetition will get you nothing. You can only learn so much in a day....

I don''t know if that all made sense, or if anything is missing... but you''ve probably figured out who this is, huh? Oh well. One more moniker down the toilet....

-The masked Bandito

#16 MadKeithV   Moderators   -  Reputation: 971

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 10:28 PM

Eh eh.
I''m guessing it''s the Masked Landfishian Bandito!

I must say, I like the second idea.
( I have to say that, I designed a system like that for computer-supported pen and paper ).

Now, what if I said you can combine both ideas!
That would really be interesting, because you could rapidly improve a bad skill when you needed it, but it would atrophy rather quickly again, up to some normal point.
That way, your character is highly variable, but with a constant baseline ( those skills/abilities you use almost all the time are going to be higher ).

Give me one more medicated peaceful moment.
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#17 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 10:51 PM

In most cases, that''s a rather abstract idea, my Avatar friend... However, I think I see where it would be neat. What we really need to do is find a good way to classify different kinds of learning... Here''s a deconstruction of that last example you gave...

-There is ALWAYS residual knowledge of a skill. Skill attrition should never cause a skill to fall below a certain percentage of it''s highest every rating.

- There are several different ways to acquire skill. On can recieve actual experience, practice, or "education". Until we find a role and a technique for abstract skills such as chemistry and math, "education" might not be the best way to learn anything.

-The rules which would govern the rate of increase and attrition would vary so greatly that the system would need to be intuitive! This means character creation becomes less a matter of player decision, and more a series of player choices that mold the character unconciously to the player''s style of learning. Sounds tough, I know, but it could be done.


The attrition puzzle is a tough one, Keith. The more you pull on it, the more you realize how big it really is. It''s VERY close to the way things are in reality, so getting it right is crucial. I''ve been working on it non-stop for a month now, and I still haven''t been able to show Niphty how it works... But I KNOW that it does. The end result will be either horrendously complicated or incredibly simple. Or both.

-Mr. Hyde

#18 MadKeithV   Moderators   -  Reputation: 971

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Posted 06 July 2000 - 11:03 PM

One way we here tried to solve the learning puzzle is like this:
( Using the dreaded-way-too-much-like-adnd notation )

You have Ability Scores. They determine your genetic makeup, hence, not changing all that much. You start off with these, perhaps random, perhaps chosen, it doesn''t really matter. Attrition doesn''t really take place here, unless in very serious circumstances ( muscle wasting disease, bone cancer, stroke.. )

You have Knowledges. They determine how much you "know" about something. Knowledge is hard to make yourself, because it''s research. Most knowledge is acquired from "teachers", someone who has some of that knowledge too. Generating knowledge yourself is not impossible,but it takes a long time, and a lot of effort. Improving knowledge is "learning".

You have Skills. Skills determine how good you are at something. Your maximum possible skill is determined by how much you "know" about it, through the related knowledge, and how good you "naturally" are at it, through your Ability Scores. Improving Skills is "practice" or "experience".


Now, in your post you distinguish between experience and practice, what makes this distinction?

Plus, I know I''m still making heavy use of stats here, and somehow, I''d like to throw them out, or at least make them more abstract than the way I''m thinking of them now, based on the ancient ADnD system...


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#19 Gollum   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 07 July 2000 - 03:08 AM

(Just cuz no one ever uses the Santa)

Ok, lemme start over.

I am pro-advancement . Even allowing for skill attrition, which I support because it encourages roleplay, I enjoy advancement. I think most other people do, too. Games seem to be an extension of our egos. So, make our egos feel good, eh? (Let's ignore morally instructive tragedies for now, shall we?)

Here's what I don't like:
- Predictability - it bores me.
- Games that play the same for every character.

Hiding stats and making them random take care of the first problem. Modding stats like crazy, based on as many factors as the computer can handle, takes care of the second.

This, however, creates a new problem. If you're hiding the measurements of how good a character is, how do you communicate that feeling of advancement that we like?

So, this is really a new thread, but my ideas go something like this:

Alternative ways of showing chracter skill

- NPC reactions.
- Character comments. --> "These guys are too easy. Let's find some real monsters." etc.
- Cool effects (graphical, sounds) when your stats and their mods hit optimal ratings, or "sweet spots".

Any other ideas? How do we give feedback to people about their characters, without reducing it to boring and predictable numbers?

- gollum

Edited by - gollum on July 7, 2000 10:09:03 AM

#20 MadKeithV   Moderators   -  Reputation: 971

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Posted 07 July 2000 - 03:37 AM

I think I mentioned this in another thread somewhere....

If you do advancement right, you don''t need to communicate ANYTHING to the player ( though visual/aural feedback is always good ).

Basically, getting better at something means that your success rate goes up. The player will find it''s easier to do things, perhaps even accidentally. For example: walking into that big rock that''s always been in the front garden in an awkward spot, but this time you uproot it, and think "wow, I really have been working out well".

Other things I''d have:
A few well-defined levels for certain abilities, specifically the ones that are visual in real life: for instance, a wimpy-looking graphic when you are weak, a normal when you are average, and a bodybuilder if you are strong. A fat character, a grey-haired character, you get the idea...

Some aural feedback: If your character gets exhausted, make it pant! If in pain, make it scream. Little clues, not too obvious, and only to enhance the visualisation/realism/immersiveness of the playing experience, in stark contrast to "communicating the level of your statistics".



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