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why not hide the numbers?


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#321 rmsgrey   Members   -  Reputation: 153

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Posted 25 June 2005 - 06:45 AM

A couple of thoughts on quantisation:

A cap on power needn't mean a cap on level number - for example, if each level gained increases your power by half as much as the previous level, then you will never get more than twice the first increment from your base power, but can keep gaining levels until the computer runs out of memory to store the numbers (or, more likely, you die of old age)


For stair-step improvement, one problem with level-based games is that everything improves at the same time - which makes bookkeeping easier for PnP players, but is unnecessary in cRPGs - even with an outright XP driven system, you could have the characters various skills and attributes advance at set XP totals independently rather than in lock-step - achieving a significant blurring of the (necessarily) quantised nature of character improvement.


For massive hit points, various PnP RPGs explain hit points not in terms of getting stabbed 100 times by a sword and surviving, but in being swung at by the sword 100 times and managing to just dodge (or ride the blow) each time until you're sufficiently tired and/or bruised that subsequent attacks actually connect - high HP representing your being hard to kill because you're good at avoiding being wounded, rather than hard to kill because you can have your head chopped off and still keep fighting. The issue here is more one of terminology than realism - if you called it stamina or survival instinct points, you'd have a lot fewer complaints...

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#322 Ranger Meldon   Members   -  Reputation: 198

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 02:46 AM

Quote:
Original post by Madster
quantization of relative scale wasn't even mentioned [crying]
Still a good read. Seems part two is a lot less impartial than part 1 :)
try and get it featured!


Thanks! I'm not sure how I would go about getting it featured, though. I just hope it was helpful to some people. I know it was helpful to me. I've never bothered to sit down and put all that into writing, which is why it was so long. :)

Yeah, I know the last part was more specific, and thus less impartial. But it couldn't really be helped much, as I had to get down to details eventually. Also, a lot of my own game design preferences showed through there in the end; I suppose they should be taken with a grain of salt, even though I find them to make a lot of sense.

As far as not mentioning quantization of relative scale -- Really, I didn't think I had to explicitly mention that. Every discussion that revolved around how to put vague or arbitrary things (such as "strength", etc) into numbers technically covered that topic. Ultimately, every individual programmer has to decide for him or herself how to quantify relative spectrums.

The point was this: Make numeric relationships seem more intuitive (i.e. correspondent to real life). In addition, once you decide on some scheme, be willing and able to change it if it ceases to feel real. I know I said that fun is more important than realism; however, this was mostly in regard to wanting to add more realistic features, not to developing a number system in general. If an RPG's numbers feel only remotely related to reality (if even that), the character-to-player mental interface won't be nearly as intuitive (read: fun).

Thanks for the interest,

~Ranger Meldon~ M.M. .:

#323 Ranger Meldon   Members   -  Reputation: 198

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 04:09 AM

Quote:
Original post by rmsgrey
A cap on power needn't mean a cap on level number - for example, if each level gained increases your power by half as much as the previous level, then you will never get more than twice the first increment from your base power, but can keep gaining levels until the computer runs out of memory to store the numbers (or, more likely, you die of old age)

I agree with your theory; this would be a viable recourse if you wanted to give the player the option of unlimited level-ups. That being said, I'm not sure it would be a good idea to implement such an option. For one thing, you aren't going to be able to make a game world capable of supporting fun gameplay for an infinite number of character levels. It's easy to have individual numbers able to go off into infinity, but making an entire world's worth of quests do that? "Highly unlikely" would be speaking optimistically, I think. In an XP-based progression system, one of the defining concepts is that it gets harder to level up the higher you go. Eventually, you won't be able to find ten different combined armies' worth of enemies that can make you level up again. So even if your system supported leveling up to infinity, the player would never actually see that aspect, or even suspect it.

Therefore, it would seem to be most prudent to focus on improving the gameplay for whatever is calculated to be the viable range of reachable levels. Not to mention that you would be unnecessarily extending game development time to incorporate game content that hardly anybody is ever going to see. You can always go back and release an expansion pack that caters exclusively to higher-level characters wanting to level up more. Still, as a programmer, you have to try to limit the scope of your focus, or else you will get overwhelmed. Every piece of a program ever created by one person was written one line at a time.

The other reason I have for thinking the infinite range might be a bad idea is this: what would be the incentive to level up when the skill rewards are guaranteed to be half what the last level's were? Having to play twice as long to reach each new level should ensure that when you reach that new level, it should yield as much benefit as the previous. Perhaps it would be acceptable if we slowly lowered the benefit of each new level, but by half each time? I can tell you that I wouldn't enjoy playing that game. Overall, it would just seem like it would be logistically better to not have to plan on your level system extending to infinity.

Quote:
Original post by rmsgrey
For stair-step improvement, one problem with level-based games is that everything improves at the same time - which makes bookkeeping easier for PnP players, but is unnecessary in cRPGs - even with an outright XP driven system, you could have the characters various skills and attributes advance at set XP totals independently rather than in lock-step - achieving a significant blurring of the (necessarily) quantised nature of character improvement.

I completely agree. I may not have mentioned this explicitly in those two posts, but what you propose is what I had in mind while writing it. To me, this is what is ideally implied by having a system where you only improve in the skills you actually use, but I should have said so.

Quote:
Original post by rmsgrey
For massive hit points, various PnP RPGs explain hit points not in terms of getting stabbed 100 times by a sword and surviving, but in being swung at by the sword 100 times and managing to just dodge (or ride the blow) each time until you're sufficiently tired and/or bruised that subsequent attacks actually connect - high HP representing your being hard to kill because you're good at avoiding being wounded, rather than hard to kill because you can have your head chopped off and still keep fighting. The issue here is more one of terminology than realism - if you called it stamina or survival instinct points, you'd have a lot fewer complaints...

Ok, this is a really tough (i.e. good) topic. I have had this same discussion with some of my friends in the past. Things seem to come down to one problem: CRPG vs. PnP RPG.

On paper, there is only one scenario: If you get attacked, it is assumed that the enemy is within range, and you stand a chance of being hit. In a CRPG, unless the enemy attacking you is extremely disciplined and experienced, there is always a chance that they will attack you even though their attack has no chance of success (i.e. their attack is out of range, you moved at the last second, etc). In a CRPG, if you interpret HP as you have above, then for the sake of realism, you really need to have two separate quantities. You need to have a number for HP and a number for "stamina" or whatever. In sci/fi games like Descent, this is somewhat the equivalent of shields vs. hull integrity. Using this method in a CRPG, a player can tell when they dodged or otherwise avoided damage, and when they took damage. Taking damage is inherently less cool than avoiding damage. If a player can see how often they are avoiding harm, they can enjoy working to improve that rate. Having two separate quantities is also a good way to add nuance to your game, since each quantity can regenerate (or not) at separate rates. You can also have separate sounds for dodging vs. getting hit. Another reason I don't like the idea of a unified number is that, even if your character is totally exhausted (no stamina), there's no guarantee that they will be hit. This is especially true if they are using terrain strategically.

~Ranger Meldon~ M.M. .:

#324 Ranger Meldon   Members   -  Reputation: 198

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 04:23 AM

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If you can't be very specific or the DM can deviate greatly, then you don't have much say in your character's design.

Assuming the DM equals here the game engine for a CRPG, you can always have almost absolute say in your character's design. The great thing about making an RPG game engine is that there is no DM ego or desires. There's nobody to try to railroad the player (no matter how well-planned) into doing things or being someone they don't want to do or be. You can code in the ability for players to adventure aimlessly, killing monsters where they find them, or take part in the politics and relationships of the world. No matter how a player wants to play, or what kind of character they want to develop, they can go out and do it. On top of that, they can change their style at any time from "kick-in-the-door" to "intriguer."

~Ranger Meldon~ M.M. .:

#325 Daniel Miller   Members   -  Reputation: 218

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 04:25 AM

You guys are obsessing over the technicalities of genres, when you should instead be obsessing over what more people like in a game. [grin]

#326 Ranger Meldon   Members   -  Reputation: 198

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 05:15 AM

Quote:
Original post by Daniel Miller
You guys are obsessing over the technicalities of genres, when you should instead be obsessing over what more people like in a game. [grin]

This thread is not solely about what people like more in a game, although it does directly relate to that as far as numbers are concerned. We are not obsessing; it is important to understand that CRPGs came from PnP RPGs so we can determine how they need to part ways. It's not genre bickering.

I do agree with the spirit of your sentiment. Would you care to suggest a number-related idea that concerns what more people would like in a game?

~Ranger Meldon~ M.M. .:

Edit: Wow, finally a new page.

#327 Daniel Miller   Members   -  Reputation: 218

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 05:34 AM

It doesn't matter what the root of your genre is; if something is found to be more enjoyable by more people, then that is what you should have in your game. However, if the majority of people playing your game are playing it because they want to play game similar to how the genre started, then fine, but otherwise it shouldn't be brought up as a reason to do one thing over another.


As to the discussion:

I don't mind seeing numbers in games, but I realize that some people really do. If they want to abstract them away, fine, but be sure to say somewhere what everything really means in order to save players' time so they don't have to figure everything out.

#328 Ranger Meldon   Members   -  Reputation: 198

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 10:17 AM

Quote:
Original post by Daniel Miller
It doesn't matter what the root of your genre is;

Yes it does. If you don't know what influences your genre, you can't as easily identify what shortcomings it may have, or how it can be improved without losing the essence of what started it as a genre in the first place.
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if something is found to be more enjoyable by more people, then that is what you should have in your game.

We do not disagree at all in this respect.
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However, if the majority of people playing your game are playing it because they want to play game similar to how the genre started, then fine, but otherwise it shouldn't be brought up as a reason to do one thing over another.

I think you misunderstood me. When I said "so we can determine how they need to part ways", what I meant was, "so we can determine how best to evolve the CRPG in such ways that it will begin to significantly differ from its PnP origins." This is vital to making next generation CRPGs. Otherwise, you could be taking certain elements of your genre for granted when you shouldn't, including them in your game at all, or at least unaltered from their original form, when you shouldn't.
Quote:
As to the discussion:

I don't mind seeing numbers in games, but I realize that some people really do. If they want to abstract them away, fine, but be sure to say somewhere what everything really means in order to save players' time so they don't have to figure everything out.

There are many times in a game where numbers are unavoidable, and in those instances, I completely agree with you. If you're going to use numbers and make them known as numbers, you should show exactly what they mean and how they relate to other things in the game. However, there are other instances in life where it would be absurd to visually represent things in numbers, such as swinging a sword. A real-life fighter doesn't think, "Ok I need to swing at least 7.06 speed and do 37 damage in order to kill this thing." This would be the height of unrealism. So in these cases, visual and/or auditory methods should be employed to communicate these things that numbers shouldn't.

As far as saving players time, I sometimes wonder if this is always a good thing. Sure, it's a great thing when you're literally saving them time, as when you offer ways to transport quickly across the game world to places the character has already been. Taking 20 minutes to have to walk somewhere really sucks after a while. Players start making autotravel mods to navigate for them while they go read a book or something! In other words, you're not adding to the gameplay experience (after a while) to make them walk everywhere.

But is it a good thing to take away part of the learning curve that would be a natural part of a person's life education if they were actually an adventurer? If you were your character, you wouldn't know how many times you have to hit a goblin to kill it. The only way to find out would be to pick up a sword, go to a goblin den, and start swinging. Even then, you'd have to do a lot of killing to get accurate about how much health goblins have. Hence the bravery (and foolishness) associated with the adventurer archetype. Taking this element of uncertainty out of the game would be sadly crippling the roleplaying AND realism elements, without gaining any significant advantages for your trouble.

As others have mentioned, you could even have a skill that you can develop over time that allows you to make more accurate assessments of enemy HP and strengths. The enemy HP bar could have a colored background that spectrums color between green/yellow/red to indicate assessed enemy difficulty. That way, if you see a dragon and can't tell how many HP it has, but its bar is red, you still know to run away unless you feel lucky. During a fight, the enemy model could be animated differently to reflect flagging health, and perhaps have wound decals applied based on the angle of a successful hit and the damage done. This would indicate all the places a monster is wounded, and how bad each wound is. A real-life adventurer would have no better indications than these as to how much health his opponent has left.

~Ranger Meldon~ M.M. .:

#329 Daniel Miller   Members   -  Reputation: 218

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 10:42 AM

Quote:
Yes it does. If you don't know what influences your genre, you can't as easily identify what shortcomings it may have, or how it can be improved without losing the essence of what started it as a genre in the first place.


Again, you are sticking yourself to the confines of a genre. Why? Why shoudn't you sit down and say:

X is a good feature, we should include it.
Y is a bad feature.
Z is a good feature, but our target market won't agree.

Instead, you are basing what you include in your game on the stereotypes of the genre you are copying. Innovation does not happen under that system. You can easily be influenced by a game/genre without using all of it's characteristics; you don't have to feel like you have to use all of them.

Quote:
As far as saving players time, I sometimes wonder if this is always a good thing. Sure, it's a great thing when you're literally saving them time, as when you offer ways to transport quickly across the game world to places the character has already been. Taking 20 minutes to have to walk somewhere really sucks after a while. Players start making autotravel mods to navigate for them while they go read a book or something! In other words, you're not adding to the gameplay experience (after a while) to make them walk everywhere.

But is it a good thing to take away part of the learning curve that would be a natural part of a person's life education if they were actually an adventurer? If you were your character, you wouldn't know how many times you have to hit a goblin to kill it. The only way to find out would be to pick up a sword, go to a goblin den, and start swinging. Even then, you'd have to do a lot of killing to get accurate about how much health goblins have. Hence the bravery (and foolishness) associated with the adventurer archetype. Taking this element of uncertainty out of the game would be sadly crippling the roleplaying AND realism elements, without gaining any significant advantages for your trouble.

As others have mentioned, you could even have a skill that you can develop over time that allows you to make more accurate assessments of enemy HP and strengths. The enemy HP bar could have a colored background that spectrums color between green/yellow/red to indicate assessed enemy difficulty. That way, if you see a dragon and can't tell how many HP it has, but its bar is red, you still know to run away unless you feel lucky. During a fight, the enemy model could be animated differently to reflect flagging health, and perhaps have wound decals applied based on the angle of a successful hit and the damage done. This would indicate all the places a monster is wounded, and how bad each wound is. A real-life adventurer would have no better indications than these as to how much health his opponent has left.


It all depends on whether your target market finds it fun. Some people love to explore the game and figure everything out. Others just want to sit down and play immediately without having to figure out how powerful everything is first.

About any real life comparisons: Just becuase you have to do something in real life doesn't mean that gamers want that (they are in a fantasy world, remember).

It all depends on what your market is.

#330 makeshiftwings   Members   -  Reputation: 394

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 11:59 AM

Quote:
Original post by Ranger Meldon

12. Role playing vs. min/maxing and munchkins
---------------------------------------------
Ultimately, min/maxers and munchkins have no place playing a real RPG. If a good RPG happens to give them certain things on which they can focus, so be it. But by and large, a good RPG should minimize artificiality (or even just the feeling of it) and maximize role-playing. As of right now, it doesn't seem as though such an RPG has yet been made to this full standard. Certainly no FPS RPG has yet been made to these standards that also includes a cooperative multiplayer capability. Key word: yet. Anyone can kill other players, but it takes a real warrior to work together well with others to achieve a common goal. I am aware that these two posts of mine did not focus enough on number specifics, but I have always felt that such decisions should be left up to each individual programmer. Guidelines are about the only thing I can safely contribute without mentioning number values that someone else will end up changing anyway.

~Ranger Meldon~ M.M. .:


I liked your posts up until this part at the very end. Your condemning of the entire other half of roleplayers as unfit for real RPGs not only goes against your earlier post of "RPG means whatever you think it means", but it's also nothing but egotistical opinion. As someone said earlier, just because RPG contains the words "role playing" does not mean that it has much of anything to do with actual role playing anymore, especially in terms of computer games, where nearly every single genre involves playing a role. In fact, many non-rpgs have stronger role-playing than RPGs do: I feel much more "in the role" of Gordon Freeman in Half Life or Mario in Mario Bros than I did in my party of no-personality clones in Icewind Dale.

There will always be fans of stats in RPGs, both p&p and computer alike. And though to a degree I agree with you that the term "RPG" is left open to interperetation, I think for the vast majority of people, RPG means "game with stats where I can affect the skills of my character as I kill things and get XP", not "game where i pretend to be someone else".

#331 Madster   Members   -  Reputation: 242

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 02:48 PM

as a funny side-comment, Wikipedia says that CRPGs "borrow some elements from PnP RPGs" which I guess it means that PnP RPG players don't think CRPGs are RPGs at all =D

So.. don't get too worked up on the concept.

#332 Ranger Meldon   Members   -  Reputation: 198

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 03:46 PM

Quote:
Original posts by Daniel Miller

Again, you are sticking yourself to the confines of a genre. Why?
Because I happen to really like certain elements of the RPG genre and think that it will make a good starting-point for making a role-playing FPS. Call it whatever you like. People don't have to call it an RPG if that offends their sensibilities. I don't care about names nearly as much as I care about quality and good, fun gameplay. I sense that we are the same when it comes to that. I try to make games that my friends and I would love to play, and so far that has always taken me where I needed to be.

Quote:
Why shouldn't you sit down and say:

X is a good feature, we should include it.
Y is a bad feature.
Z is a good feature, but our target market won't agree.
There's nothing wrong with that, except that it requires you to determine what "good" and "bad" means first, presumably in relation to what kind of game you are trying to make. My "good" has always been:

- Fun (first and foremost)
- Difficulty balance
- Immersiveness
- Addictiveness
- Realism
- Roleplaying

These are ranked in order of their importance to me, based on what seems logical and appropriate to produce the kind of game I want. Perhaps I should rank addictiveness before immersiveness, but in my experience, many games which are initially addictive are later prohibitively sickening to contemplate playing (i.e. Diablo 2). Diablo 2 was not immersive or realistic enough to keep long-term interest. Any of the people I know who used to play Diablo 2 night and day couldn't be paid to play the game now! Theirs is a revulsion rarely seen in computer gaming, and paralleled only by the same game's initial popularity. I want my game to prove its quality now and in the long run, but if I have to choose a game design that will guarantee only one of those, I will pick the long run every time.

The reason I place realism before role-playing (even though I seem to strongly advocate RP) is that without some degree of realism, role-playing has less meaning. In many cases, realism has a big hand in determining immersiveness. It is less immersive to play a role which is unrealistic than one which is realistic. Notice that I do not say that the former is NOT immersive, just LESS immersive. I define realistic here as meaning "based in concept on real-life rules with which we can all identify, even if only on a subconscious level."

You might ask how this applies to elements which (supposedly) have no parallel in the real world, such as magic. An example of how this applies to a game world with magic is this: In the real world, people may not be able to shoot lightning bolts from their fingertips; however, if we could, then we would expect, based on what we know about real-world electricity, that it would really fry the hell out of whatever we shot the lightning bolts at. So an example of using magic "unrealistically" in a game would be to shoot lightning bolts at someone and have it do something other than damage, like make flower petals shower down around them.

A less random, albeit non-magical, example would be if you hit someone with a mace and a red number jumps up out of their head. Can you make your game world do this? Sure! Are red numbers jumping up out of someone's head at all realistic? Not a chance. Would it be more immersive and therefore more fun if we could find some more realistic way to represent a mace damaging someone? Absolutely, according to my faith in what's possible with computer programming. The red numbers thing is a bit arbitrary when speaking about first person RPGs, admittedly, but it's just a metaphor for the same such unrealistic number-based problems that do arise in modern FPS RPGs.

I just hope from all this that it does not seem as if I am set in my ways about what I think would make a good game. I have some definite opinions based on what I think is logical, but that doesn't mean my mind can't be changed. That's a big part of the reason why I even post on here -- in the hope that my follies and fallacies will get pointed out. It can only contribute to making me a better game writer.

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Instead, you are basing what you include in your game on the stereotypes of the genre you are copying.
Not quite. I am actually doing the converse -- I am basing what genre stereotypes I accept on what I want to include in my game. There is a difference.

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Innovation does not happen under that system.
Agreed, based on the system you were referring to. I don't believe that's what I'm doing, however.

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You can easily be influenced by a game/genre without using all of it's characteristics; you don't have to feel like you have to use all of them.
Quite so, and I'm actually very willing to scrap many elements of whatever genre I take as my starting point. I usually stick with the things I do because I feel they are structurally necessary. When it comes to proving what's actually necessary, I never mind being proven wrong. I appreciate you making sure to express the point you did, as this can be a very large pitfall that many programmers fall into (because it's easier).

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It all depends on whether your target market finds it fun. Some people love to explore the game and figure everything out. Others just want to sit down and play immediately without having to figure out how powerful everything is first.
The system I am proposing does not require a user to figure "everything" out right away. If I program the game correctly, new characters will start out in areas with monsters that are not too powerful to be killed, and are also not powerful enough to stand a big chance of killing the character. The only difference is, new players will not know that initially. When introducing a new system idea like not showing certain numbers (such as health and/or damage dealt), I don't want to ever do it at the expense of those people who just want to sit down and play. Even in my game, it would not take much effort to put a sword into your character's hand and go out and swing it at things.

I base what I want to put into a game on several factors. What I think is fun is important, but I cross-reference that with what games I think are fun that are also thought to be fun by millions of other people. From these games, I try to identify what elements I think are the most fun that would also apply well to the game I want to make. I also listen to negative feedback from my friends and on forums, so I can know what to avoid like the plague when comparing concepts. Once I have a firm framework in mind, then I start improvising to change, improve on, or flesh out that framework.

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About any real life comparisons: Just because you have to do something in real life doesn't mean that gamers want that (they are in a fantasy world, remember).
I definitely agree with this statement, so long as it is not exclusive of the possibility that gamers might want aspects of real life to be present in-game. Are you willing to acknowledge the opposite possibility that just because a game allows you to not have to do something that you would have to do in real life, doesn't mean that gamers will want that (if given a choice)? As a gamer, I want to be able to figure some things out for myself. It lends an air of mystery to what would be an otherwise cut-and-dried game. And yes, I remember that we are speaking of a fantasy world. But fantasy does not have to mean completely unrealistic or spoonfed, either.

Quote:
It all depends on what your market is.
I suppose it does, at that. ;)

~Ranger Meldon~ M.M. .:

#333 Ranger Meldon   Members   -  Reputation: 198

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 05:27 PM

Quote:
Original quotes by makeshiftwings
Quote:
Original post by Ranger Meldon

12. Role playing vs. min/maxing and munchkins
---------------------------------------------
Ultimately, min/maxers and munchkins have no place playing a real RPG. If a good RPG happens to give them certain things on which they can focus, so be it. But by and large, a good RPG should minimize artificiality (or even just the feeling of it) and maximize role-playing. As of right now, it doesn't seem as though such an RPG has yet been made to this full standard. Certainly no FPS RPG has yet been made to these standards that also includes a cooperative multiplayer capability. Key word: yet. Anyone can kill other players, but it takes a real warrior to work together well with others to achieve a common goal. I am aware that these two posts of mine did not focus enough on number specifics, but I have always felt that such decisions should be left up to each individual programmer. Guidelines are about the only thing I can safely contribute without mentioning number values that someone else will end up changing anyway.

I liked your posts up until this part at the very end.
Thank you, I appreciate the positive and the negative feedback.
Quote:
Your condemning of the entire other half of roleplayers as unfit for real RPGs not only goes against your earlier post of "RPG means whatever you think it means"
Well, not quite... my statement was intended to apply to us as programmers, not to players in general or as a subset. Players generally play whatever is available, which is determined by game developers. But I see what you're getting at.
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but it's also nothing but egotistical opinion.
It kind of goes without saying that a lot of what anyone says on here is opinion. But "egotistical?" That's the kind of terminology that starts flame wars when used carelessly. I am honored that you apparently don't expect me to overreact. At any rate, I genuinely do not believe that my statement was based in the kinds of overt selfishness or feelings of superiority that people usually associate with egotism. Rather, I said what I did out of a feeling of frustration about the slim variation in RPG offerings from the computer game market thus far. It's just plain depressing sometimes. "Ooh, another Icewind Dale (Diablo 2, Morrowind, etc) clone... oh wait, that's right, I don't care anymore." But I suppose a partial retraction is in order.

I really didn't mean min/maxers have no place playing a real RPG. Min/maxers are people too. My previous post makes them sound like soulless automatons who exist only to min/max. What I should have said is something like this: "Min/maxing (as a practice) should not have a direct focus in a real RPG. If a good RPG happens to allow patterns or situations which lend themselves to min/maxing, then so be it. But a good RPG should attempt to minimize this feeling of artificiality and only allow min/maxing in ways that real life would, for the most part. For instance, people compare their cars' top racing speeds all the time, and racer modding is basically a real life min/max situation. But the focus for maximum enjoyment is usually the thrill of racing itself, and not some particular engine or other." Does that restatement seem more fair? I hope so. It does to me, and it's way closer to what I really meant anyway.
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As someone said earlier, just because RPG contains the words "role playing" does not mean that it has much of anything to do with actual role playing anymore, especially in terms of computer games
Then let's change that! I think the only reason why so many people find the greatest enjoyment in an RPG to be min/maxing is because the games out there don't offer them anything better than that! What if min/maxing is merely an "acquired taste" that could be replaced with something more naturally tasty?

...Or perhaps I need to think hard about what new genre name to make up to describe the type of game I want to develop. I have never been entirely satisfied with the line of FPS RPG offerings being released. I have always thought of my efforts as wanting to redefine the genre, but perhaps I need to make a new one. This does not, however, make my statements about hiding some of the numbers in an RPG game less applicable.
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[...] nearly every single genre involves playing a role.
True. In fact, I said that in my first post. However, I also said, "RPG doesn't just mean dictating your character's choices and actions. It also means developing a persona for your character that dictates your choices and actions in the character's life. This persona evolves over time as you interact with the game world. This evolution is not just a result of the game world affecting the character, but also a result of the character affecting the player."
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In fact, many non-rpgs have stronger role-playing than RPGs do: I feel much more "in the role" of Gordon Freeman in Half Life or Mario in Mario Bros than I did in my party of no-personality clones in Icewind Dale.
I totally agree with you about the clonish nature of Icewind Dale. The gameplay just didn't allow the characters to be immersive. When it comes to the other games you mentioned though, you are referring to the feeling of ambiance, not role-playing. You enjoy the ambiance of experiencing Gordon Freeman's life and trials. But you don't really have to role-play him in order to play the game, much less win the game. Half-life 2 pretty much guides you where you must go. You can be a traitor by blowing up your rebel allies or a hero by never letting one of them get killed, and the gameplay avenues will still be the same, the ending will still be the same. This cannot be said for a true role-playing game. There, your actions and moral choices (should) dictate what friends or allies you end up with, what reputation you have, what items you have access to, and even to what places you can safely go without reprisal.

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There will always be fans of stats in RPGs, both p&p and computer alike.
I should hope so. As I have said in the past, I think stats are a necessary part of any customizable character-based gameplay. And my changed stance is that min/maxing is not all that bad, so long as it is never allowed to be the main focus. I know that cuts out some audience, but it also gains some audience too. You will never make a game that will appeal to everyone. I, for one, am not even going to try. I will admit it outright: not everyone will like my type of FPS RPG. But a lot of people will, and I think you might be surprised when some players who typically focus on min/maxing find they like my type of game better. Even if someone beats me to making such a game, the result I desire will still be achieved: people will see that it is possible to make an FPS RPG that gets everything right. Although, I've kept expecting for years to see someone come along and beat me to this; so far it has yet to materialize, despite other gaming technology innovations.
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And though to a degree I agree with you that the term "RPG" is left open to interperetation, I think for the vast majority of people, RPG means "game with stats where I can affect the skills of my character as I kill things and get XP", not "game where I pretend to be someone else".
And they do seem to be mutually exclusive some of the time, don't they? But I wonder if we could ever make them be together, even if that means decreasing one in order to add the other...

~Ranger Meldon~ M.M. .:

[Edited by - Ranger Meldon on June 28, 2005 6:27:27 PM]

#334 Ranger Meldon   Members   -  Reputation: 198

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 03:00 AM

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Original post by Madster
as a funny side-comment, Wikipedia says that CRPGs "borrow some elements from PnP RPGs" which I guess it means that PnP RPG players don't think CRPGs are RPGs at all =D

So.. don't get too worked up on the concept.
First of all, PnP RPGs do pre-date CRPGs, and they do also serve as their origins. Look at any Icewind Dale, Baldur's Gate, or Neverwinter Nights game, and you will see "D20 system" or "Forgotten Realms" or straight-out "Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition Rules". All of these refer to the fact that they are indeed entirely based off of a PnP RPG. Even those that don't, still derive their ruleset from a PnP RPG on a basic level. Wikipedia is right, if taken to mean no more than exactly what it says. Where from do you think we first GOT our concepts of hit points, attack rating, defense rating, armor class, magic items, special abilities, skills, gaining "experience," and leveling up? All of these came from PnP RPGs. If you don't think so, then tell me where else you think they came from... Egypt?

Secondly, it is true that CRPGs and PnP RPGs are not nearly the same thing primarily because CRPGs lack the flexibility and adaptability of having a human GM (or DM, if you prefer). A player can't just decide to perform some random action, tell the GM his intentions, and it happens. In this sense, I can see why PnP RPGers don't think CRPGs are RPGs at all, because mostly CRPGs are all about the numbers sans roleplaying. And over time, the two genres have been becoming less similar in some ways like two diverging circles in a Venn diagram. CRPGS took into their fold all the elements of PnP RPGs that were the easiest and most obviously able to be assimilated. In this sense, the CRPG experience is merely a subset of the PnP RPG experience.

However, many people who like PnP RPGs also like CRPGs, even if for differing reasons. There's nothing to say that a diligent programmer with a little imagination and perseverence could not make the two circles begin to reconverge in purely beneficial ways. Nor is there anything saying this would not be a long-awaited achievement accepted even by hardcore min/maxers (if done properly).

~Ranger Meldon~ M.M. .:

#335 Daniel Miller   Members   -  Reputation: 218

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 03:17 AM

I hate to reply to your long post with this tiny response, but since I misunderstood what you were saying (you were stating what you liked in games) I can't argue anymore. To each his own. [smile]

[Edited by - Daniel Miller on June 28, 2005 9:17:29 AM]

#336 ozzoright   Members   -  Reputation: 148

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 03:23 AM

I don't have a problem with numbers, I do however have a problem with the players that manipulate them (as in, the players that play 8 hours a day versus the ones that don't, the casual gamer). These players learn how to make thier character the strongest by leveling up certain skills/abilities/spells. There's actually nothing wrong with this, it is in human nature to solve problems and find the easiest way to do things. Truly it is the creator's problem, he/she is the one that has to fix or even things out, but usually this can't be solved by just changing a few numbers, taking them off the screen might solve the problem however. The question is, how is the player going to know that he can't defeat this ogre or he doesn't have a high enough skill to forge this longsword. Experience? I suppose you could place the ring around the monster, (you know, blue if its easy, white if its just your level and red if its too hard) but that doesn't explain the other things. You would have to find another way or multiple methods to get the information to the user.

#337 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 06:46 AM

As far as I know, beating monsters has always been either a direction experience thing. You either completely outclass the enemies you've seen so far, so you decide you can take him or you see a new enemy and try to take him regardless. The other part comes into word of mouth, but that originates from one of the two examples above. I find that a lot of the time the color scheme is just plain wrong. Some greens I don't want to fight, oranges I can beat, reds I can beat, oranges I can lose to... just about the only ones you don't beat are the purple/black ones. I don't see it being a problem with forcing someone into facing an opponent they have no idea the strength of. With all they have learned in the game by the time that should happen, it's their own fault. That is, as long as there is a reasonable means of escaping said battle. Champions of Norrath had that problem. Too much knockback, bosses always faster, 1-3 hit deaths.

#338 makeshiftwings   Members   -  Reputation: 394

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 07:26 AM

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Original post by Ranger MeldonIt kind of goes without saying that a lot of what anyone says on here is opinion. But "egotistical?" That's the kind of terminology that starts flame wars when used carelessly. I am honored that you apparently don't expect me to overreact. At any rate, I genuinely do not believe that my statement was based in the kinds of overt selfishness or feelings of superiority that people usually associate with egotism. Rather, I said what I did out of a feeling of frustration about the slim variation in RPG offerings from the computer game market thus far. It's just plain depressing sometimes. "Ooh, another Icewind Dale (Diablo 2, Morrowind, etc) clone... oh wait, that's right, I don't care anymore." But I suppose a partial retraction is in order.


Sorry, it might have came out harsher than I meant it to :) I tend to get a little jumpy because there are a large number of game developers in this forum who just condemn min-maxers as "unworthy" and "not true roleplayers", as if their opinions don't matter. This bothers me not only because I'm a min/maxer myself, but because it's a relatively bad business idea to try and create an RPG that will purposely annoy and repel min/maxers, which was what some people earlier in the thread implied by wanting to hide the stats.

I agree that games that allow more actual role-playing would be fun, but I don't necessarily think they need to replace the existing form of RPGs. If there were a hardcore political intrigue, nearly combatless, role-play heavy game, I would probably buy it and enjoy it. But I'd also still want to buy stat-heavy, combat and tactics-only games as well, since I also enjoy those.

#339 Ranger Meldon   Members   -  Reputation: 198

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 12:35 PM

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Original post by makeshiftwings
Quote:
Original post by Ranger Meldon
It kind of goes without saying that a lot of what anyone says on here is opinion. But "egotistical?" That's the kind of terminology that starts flame wars when used carelessly. I am honored that you apparently don't expect me to overreact. At any rate, I genuinely do not believe that my statement was based in the kinds of overt selfishness or feelings of superiority that people usually associate with egotism. Rather, I said what I did out of a feeling of frustration about the slim variation in RPG offerings from the computer game market thus far. It's just plain depressing sometimes. "Ooh, another Icewind Dale (Diablo 2, Morrowind, etc) clone... oh wait, that's right, I don't care anymore." But I suppose a partial retraction is in order.
Sorry, it might have come out harsher than I meant it to :) I tend to get a little jumpy because there are a large number of game developers in this forum who just condemn min-maxers as "unworthy" and "not true roleplayers", as if their opinions don't matter. This bothers me not only because I'm a min/maxer myself, but because it's a relatively bad business idea to try and create an RPG that will purposely annoy and repel min/maxers, which was what some people earlier in the thread implied by wanting to hide the stats.
It's ok. Actually, I don't blame you for feeling like replying harshly if I had written something like I did and actually meant it. As it is, I just wrote something I didn't really mean. Still, I appreciate your apology. I think I was just tired by the time I got to the end of that long thing and might not have been fully focusing on what I was saying, for the sake of getting done with it sooner. Apparently, it showed. And I know exactly the people you are referring to, who have expressed spiteful opinions toward min/maxers in posts previous. I must say that even though I do not consider myself to be a min/maxer (and therefore am less sympathetic to supporting min/maxer views), I have to ask myself this: Is it really going to hurt all that much to have a game that allows min/maxing side-by-side with role-playing?

Assuming I could construct such a game, what would be the harm in that? Why not appeal to both crowds, if possible. But this strategy would hinge on one thing: making each aspect as strongly present as possible without interfering with the other aspect. That's the tricky part. But it's very important.

In other words, if you're going to make your game appeal to min/maxers, don't just make it have visible numbers. Make the best min/maxing aspect of a game you possibly can. But then, if you also want to make it a roleplaying game, make the best role-playing game aspect you possibly can. "Whatsoever thou findest to do, do it with thy might." Now I realize it's always a lot easier to say something than to do it, but I still think this should serve as a guiding principle when trying to make this type of "alloy" game.

Ok, here's a slight thread re-direct: Since a lot of the time, a good game can be 80% defined by what it doesn't do wrong,

What things have all of you experienced (role-players and min-maxers alike) in the various RPGs and FPS RPGs that you disagreed with, didn't like, or outright hated?

I ask this question as it applies in general, but also especially as it relates to numbers. This might be a better starting point for understanding how to make an alloy game that simultaneously has numbers and doesn't have numbers. For the moment, I am assuming this would depend on how the programmer makes the game, and how the user is allowed to customize what appears onscreen.

~Ranger Meldon~ M.M. .:

#340 Ranger Meldon   Members   -  Reputation: 198

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 01:46 PM

I'll start this question off with some answers of my own:

1) I don't like having walking/running consume stamina. That just gets to be a pain in the ass, like having to go pee every two minutes. Just take it out of the game entirely.

2) I don't like massive hit points for anything (unless it's physically big, like a dragon or something). If you still want to have the equivalent of massive HP, have smaller HP and a separate, massive "fighting stamina" or "maneuvering stamina" (MS) tank.

3) I don't like games that don't allow your character to regenerate slowly over time by default. If HP in most games (that don't explicitly have MS) is actually supposed to represent mostly MS, then you would become rested again over time while not fighting (or running?). If you still want to have a regeneration power, then make it effective even while fighting and running, make it regenerate MS more quickly, or make it regenerate HP instead of MS. Maybe have a higher form of regen that does both HP and MS when applicable.

4) I don't like games that base encumberance on volume of storage space consumed. Ok fine, I understand that there's only so much room in a backpack. So make the game tell the player, perhaps in the character's own voice, "There's no more room in my backpack for that!"
Have a separate weight-based encumberance that makes the voice say "That's too heavy!" or "I'm already carrying too much!" etc. Realism should allow for both space and weight constraints, not just one or the other, and certainly not one acting as the other.

5) I don't like how games that use weight-based carrying limits don't offer any recourse to physically wimpy mages. There needs to be some kind of "magic bag of holding" or something, that only mages (or characters beyond a certain level of magic skill) can make and equip that allows them to carry somewhere near the same amount of stuff a warrior can. I also think a packmule and/or wagon are good ideas too.

6) I don't like games where magic items are ridiculously prolific. I also don't like games where so few magic items exist as to almost not be a part of the game.

7) I don't like how most games don't have many varieties of weapons. Even the ones that do, don't give each weapon type special consideration when used in certain situations, like how a spear can be used nicely against a group of enemies at once, or when surrounded.

8) I don't like how uncustomizable the weapons are in practically every game I've ever played, especially if it's an FPS RPG. I want to be able to forge my own custom sword that has a large chance of looking unique even in an MMORPG setting. This would just be an issue of mixing and matching different weapon subparts, i.e. hafts, handles, blades, blade tips, edges, guards, pommels, runes, effects like glowing or flaming, etc. This would be so extremely cool, and if you coded it right, it wouldn't have to be that much more complex.

9) I don't like how few special abilities, and particularly fighting moves and abilities, that most games have. Special abilities, along with skills, should define a character far more obviously than stats ever could.

10) I don't like how set-in-stone that most model animations are. Sometimes they need to be predetermined, but especially in fights, why not incorporate more "ragdoll physics" type interactions, where the character can feint, can mess up and trip, or get out of step, off-balance, etc? Also, why not merge this concept with skill level, such that a character looks cooler, smoother, and less varied in doing a certain thing the more they do it (based on how much they've skilled up in it). Also, I don't like how totally unrealistic running up and down stairs looks. Each foot should land squarely on each step, and appear to be propelling the character upward and forward by virtue of the interaction of their feet with the steps. It should not appear as if their feet are running in place while their body is translating in a straight line at an upward angle.

11) I don't like how in almost all FPS RPGs, you can't look down and see your character's lower body and feet. Even in those few games where you can, your feet look like they're running in place when you move your character's body even a little bit forward or backward. Cheesy.

12) I don't like how most (if not all) games that give you a limited lungful of air while swimming underwater don't allow you to skill up in swimming such that you can eventually swim for longer.

13) I don't like game engines that handle reputation stupidly. Say you kill some monster that's harassing some village, completely by yourself out in the middle of nowhere, and by the time you can make it to the nearest town, everybody somehow magically knows that you killed the monster, as if they were watching it on TV or something. Right.

14) I don't like how no game has ever allowed a person to skill up in dancing. That would be so cool, to watch a good dancer character. (And it might allow you to get yourself into situations more easily as a secret agent or assassin.)

15) I don't like games like Diablo 2 when they give numbers (especially percentages) for an item that don't really tell you any more than you knew to begin with. Example: What does 10% faster hit recovery even mean? 10% faster than what? and is that based on my character class? does the monster I'm fighting affect that percentage at all? If I have multiple pluses to hit recovery, do they stack? or does each one figure in after the previous one has been figured in? Annoyingly vague.

16) I don't like how in games like Diablo 2, your skills give you less and less additional benefit each time you put a new level into them. After a while, it's almost like, what's the point? Especially since the monsters don't seem to gain skills in such a diminishing fashion.

17) I don't like games that make finding uber-powerful or epic magic items a matter of pure luck. Ok fine, so some of them might make those items only drop from certain bosses, but it's still a matter of extreme luck. I might kill some boss a hundred times and never get a really cool drop, whereas my friend might kill the boss once and get two such items. That just sucks. I know they do this so that people will be encouraged to play the game for days on end, but come on. There's got to be a better way. The developers are cheapening their own game in doing this, and a player's eventual revulsion is the proof.

18) I don't like it when games make a boss or some random mini-boss suddenly much tougher than previous bosses or mini-bosses. You can be cruising along, dealing death left and right, getting lulled into a sense of false security, and then all of a sudden, you die in one or two hits, sometimes without even knowing who killed you. This would be either because the badass was hidden amongst a bunch of identical-looking minions, or because he had some kind of lightning or flame aura that did 4 to 5 times the damage for that aura than you've seen in other bosses before or after that part in the game. Many times, after you resurrect and go back to confront him again (more prepared this time), he's no longer there. It's like, where the hell did he go? I certainly didn't kill him. It's annoying and disheartening, and it makes you feel like the game was designed so that every so often it's just going to kill you, whether you like it or not, and no matter how prepared you try to be.

19) I don't like shallow role-playing opportunities in RPGs. The game offers these scenarios that any character class can effectively solve, and after a while, it makes you feel like you might as well not even have a specific character class. I realize that it is cool part of the time to see how you can get your class through the different obstacles, but it feels like templated railroading after a while. I think the problem is that these games need to offer more class-specific content, that can only be accessed directly when playing as a member of that class. (i.e. druid-only quests, paladin-only quests, etc)

Ok, I'm done for now. I'm eager to see what other things get posted in response to this question of what sucks.

~Ranger Meldon~ M.M. .:

[Edited by - Ranger Meldon on June 29, 2005 10:46:03 AM]




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