Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

What's with Stats - the Return (TM) (RPG)

This topic is 5605 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Well, after a nice little thread on RPGs somewhere in the depths of Game Programming ( RPG''s Everywhere ) I thought it was just about time to resurrect this age-old topic. The catalyst in this case is Neverwinter Nights, DnD 3E, and Kylotan''s assertion that we should (and must) be able to do better on our little CPU''s than what is currently being offered and thought up. I''ve got Neverwinter Nights. It''s the only game I''ve bought the past couple of years. I like playing it, but the ruleset underlying it (DnD 3E) irks me more than a little. Why adapt a Pen-and-paper ruleset onto a computer implementation? The way people around a table interact is so very different from the way a computer calculates things that it seems to be very counter-intuitive to do so... (I can see the point with Neverwinter Nights, somewhat, because of the Dungeon Master''s Tools, but still). So, an example pet peeve, and brought up by Kylotan in aforementioned thread: How come a character at "level 2" is twice as hardy, on average, as a character at "level 1"? You double hit points, that''s a HUGE increase relatively speaking. Why would being hit by a sword suddenly only be half as dangerous? They explain it by saying that hitpoints are not really a measure of the damage you can take, but rather a measure of how adept you are at not getting damaged in vital places by wriggling out of nasty situations etc. etc.. But that''s not a terribly gradual progression, is it? It''s in there because it''s easy. You get a certain number of "hit points" per "level", as a measure of your hardiness. Hey, that''s simple, even a half-wit half-orc like me can get my head around that... in a pen and paper game. But, there''s no need to keep it simple and illogical on a PC, the PC is much better at tracking huge numbers, floating point stats, 24-variable to-hit functions, etc etc. So my question is the following: How can we leverage the computing power of that little box under our desks to have computer-RPG systems that work, are entertaining, and make sense (whereas pen-and-paper seems to fall down at "making sense" )? People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There are a couple of big advantages to using a system like the D&D 3rd edition rules.

1. Your players are familiar with them. (or at least the ones who have played P&P D&D) Even if they are not familiar, they can easily learn the rules, since they are relatively simple. People fear the unknown - a lot of players will tend to buy a game with rules and a game world they understand, rather than go with something unknown.

2. The ruleset is well playtested already. It might not be perfectly balanced, but it is not horribly unbalanced.

Are these good reasons? From a marketing point of view, yes. From a development point of view, yes (all that playtesting and balancing has already been done - saves a lot of time)

From a gameplay point of view, maybe not.

I don't know the 3rd Edition rules so well, but I am reasonably familiar with the 2nd Edition, and it is definitely NOT perfectly balanced. A player who is reasonably familiar with the rules can easily find and exploit the weaknesses, resulting in powermaxing characters and generally ruining the spirit of the game - which is really about playing an interesting character in an open ended story, not a competition to see who can exterminate the most goblins in the shortest possible time.

However, since most CRPG's seems to strongly focus on the goblin extermination theme, maybe using an existing, well known and possibly slightly flawed ruleset isn't such a bad idea...


[edited by - Sandman on July 24, 2002 9:40:27 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I can''t really answer your question, but rather state my opinion. I''ve been a pen-and-paper GM for several years, and I have always liked to make up new rules and systems. The problem, to me, was that the systems I''d like to use didn''t suit PnP games (I made them too complex), so making computer RPGs is really a relief for me...

To say it in another way:
You can gain a level every 30 minutes in a computer game, in a PnP that would ruin the gameplay because you would spend too much time rewriting your character sheet That is probably why the level difference is so great in D&D3, it should mean something.

Hmm... duh... I lost my point somewhere... Oh well, back to work.


My Stuff : [ Whispers in Akarra (online rpg) || L33T WAR (multiplayer game) || The Asteroid Menace (another game) ]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Sandman
1. Your players are familiar with them. (or at least the ones who have played P&P D&D) Even if they are not familiar, they can easily learn the rules, since they are relatively simple. People fear the unknown - a lot of players will tend to buy a game with rules and a game world they understand, rather than go with something unknown.



One one hand, I can go with this - I know AD&D quite well, and it''s reassuring to see the classes and races you know so well reappear. It gives the world a feel without the game designer having done diddley squat except for picking a system. In that way it is useful.
Yet, on the other hand, why do players need to be familiar with the actual rules in a computer game? I mean the deep, underlying mathematical and statistical stuff that''s going on. "This helm will improve my chance of doing x points of damage by 10%". That''s one of the original points in the old "What''s with stats" thread that I tried to make as well - a lot of things need to be poured into formulae to be calculated, but the player need not see those formulae. All the player has to see is that he got a bit better at whacking goblins while standing on one hand wearing a pink scarf.

quote:
Original post by Sandman
2. The ruleset is well playtested already. It might not be perfectly balanced, but it is not horribly unbalanced.


I think this is very true, but again, my limited experience with 3E is that some of the simplifications they made to make it playable, also make it seem very contrived and illogical. With a human DM, maybe he can use some common sense or at least a consistent interpretation of some ambiguities, but a PC doesn''t have that option, it must do the thing that was programmed. (case in point: 1-hour discussion with one of my players on whether or not one could Cleave off of an Attack of Opportunity !! )

quote:
Original post by Sandman
However, since most CRPG''s seems to strongly focus on the goblin extermination theme, maybe using an existing, well known and possibly slightly flawed ruleset isn''t such a bad idea...



END GOBLIN GENOCIDE!




People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
But, there''s no need to keep it simple and illogical on a PC, the PC is much better at tracking huge numbers, floating point stats, 24-variable to-hit functions, etc etc.


Yes, but most players like to see the numbers. Also, if you make it "make sense" your characters wouldn''t last through the first battle. There''s a tradeoff between making sense and being entertaining. Having to roll up another character every 10 minutes would not be very entertaining. You have to pump up a character every level so they can take on bigger and more dangerous enemies. If a character got better only very gradually it would mean you be fighting pretty much the same type of enemies for a long time. It would just get easier to kill them. But if your character wasn''t getting stronger faster he would get wiped out trying to take on something stronger. At least that would be the case with the current crop of RPGs since they''re pretty much hack ''n slash. If you were able to plan battles and use strategy (ambushes, traps, etc) you could get away with a character not getting stronger quicker as they could take on tougher enemies and win.

The problem is that RPGs are probably the toughest type of game to write because of all the number crunching of stats, combat, etc. How long are you willing to spend writing a game to make it more logical and still make it fun for the player if they want to see the numbers getting crunched. That''s part of the fun of RPGs - fiddling with the numbers. If you take that away from the player by letting the PC handle it, you''ll lose a large portion of the RPG crowd.

I don''t believe there''s any easy answer. I personally like the 3rd ed. D&D rules. There''s some things I would change but overall it''s come a long way from the original. Bioware also did a pretty good job adapting it to the PC with NWN. The game is far from perfect but I enjoyed it and played all the way through it in about 2 weeks. Now I''m taking a stab at designing a module and getting into multiplayer. I''m not sure how anyone could top everything that''s in the game, other than fixing the bugs that people have come across and they''re doing that already.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Machaira
Yes, but most players like to see the numbers. Also, if you make it "make sense" your characters wouldn't last through the first battle. There's a tradeoff between making sense and being entertaining.



I did not mean "real-world realism" by saying "making sense". I don't like real-world realism much anyway

What I meant was (among others) removing most of the blanket "this is an abstraction of so-and-so" statements, that turn out to be false anyway. Hitpoints abstract how good you are at avoiding that your critical parts get hit... then why is there also a dexterity modifier (which is more more "logical")? I've seen worse, I've seen games with both a "hit" check and a "damage" check, where if you fail either, you don't hurt the other guy at all.


quote:
Original post by Machaira
You have to pump up a character every level so they can take on bigger and more dangerous enemies.



This is something that has always irked me greatly in all forms of roleplaying... do you get tougher to kill the monsters, or do the monsters get tougher to challenge you? The actual challenge level doesn't really increase as the game progresses, you both have "bigger guns" - you can take more damage, the other deals more damage... so what has changed, really? The name on the little sheet that says what the monster is called, and the "awe of the populace at your immense prowess" which is usually limited to "YAY, you won, you saved us, you're our hero, no, you're not getting this magical longsword any cheaper because of it."

Then again, I'm told I'm a story-gamer, I like talking a lot in my games (pen-and-paper), I've played ridiculously under-powered characters because I thought it was fun. I'm thinking maybe it could be fun for other people too, if I can show them how.

quote:
Original post by Machaira
If a character got better only very gradually it would mean you be fighting pretty much the same type of enemies for a long time.



Yep. Didn't you ever wonder why the "mysterious mages" only sent in 8hp goblins to wipe out the academy in NWN? The very first encounter with them ruined my disbelief of the campaign. These are supposed to be powerful people in the academy... Well, maybe they underestimated you etc etc... but still... you always happen to NOT run across really lethal monsters if you're not ready for them, and that just doesn't feel right with me. I want to run into that zombie lord, and KNOW that if I don't manage to hide my sorry behind somewhere, I'm going to be toast I want those heavy cannons to be in there right from the start. I want to have to think to bring them down. I don't want to find myself suddenly at demi-god status because I happened to bring Foozle back his thingiemadjing and it granted me enough XP to go up 13 levels...

I want knowledge to be power in my games, and cooperation to be the way to bring the big guys down. Not any "amulet of protection vs. big guys that would have killed you otherwise."

quote:
Original post by Machaira
The problem is that RPGs are probably the toughest type of game to write because of all the number crunching of stats, combat, etc. How long are you willing to spend writing a game to make it more logical and still make it fun for the player if they want to see the numbers getting crunched.



I've been doing it for years, in pen-and-paper anyway... I just figured that my knowledge of programming and computer games might find some new insights into how the PC can be leveraged to do better than what's currently going on in the paper arena.


quote:
Original post by Machaira
I'm not sure how anyone could top everything that's in the game (note: Neverwinter Nights), other than fixing the bugs that people have come across and they're doing that already.


It still doesn't run on my laptop . But seriously, how could you NOT improve on the game concept, if you dropped the 3E rules altogether from the computer version? These rules were designed for completely different circumstances, for humans to parse... The computer has other strengths and weaknesses that we need to mine and avoid, in my opinion.



People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.


[edited by - MadKeithV on July 24, 2002 10:19:19 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MACHAIRA wrote:
quote:
At least that would be the case with the current crop of RPGs since they''re pretty much hack ''n slash. If you were able to plan battles and use strategy (ambushes, traps, etc) you could get away with a character not getting stronger quicker as they could take on tougher enemies and win.

I think that''s what it''s all about: in order to be able to use a different computer-rpg system, we need to change the way we think about those games, the way they function. We need to move away from the hack''n''slash and focus more on the roleplaying aspect. Not so much the ''I play a troubled bard with a terrible voice, unable to attract attention from the opposite sex'', but more in the way of ''Okay, there''s a patrol of four angry-looking [insert enemy] in front of us. Combat is only one of many options.''

So, let''s ask ourselves an important question (in order to be able to better answer the original question):

Do we want to keep combat somewhat the same, but just change the way the numbers work?

Or do we want to change the entire feel of the game as we''re changing the way the numbers work, finetuning each to the other?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Silvermyst
We need to move away from the hack'n'slash and focus more on the roleplaying aspect. Not so much the 'I play a troubled bard with a terrible voice, unable to attract attention from the opposite sex', but more in the way of 'Okay, there's a patrol of four angry-looking [insert enemy] in front of us. Combat is only one of many options.'



The D&D ruleset is very much combat orientated. There is a fairly good reason for this - this is the part of the game that is most likely to cause controversy. People would rather think that their character is killed fairly, rather than just because the DM decided to kill it. (even though we know in real life that most DM's invent their dice rolls anyway )

With the non-combat side of things, pretty much anything goes. There is relatively little use (in the rules) for the characters int, wis and cha characteristics beyond the difference they make in combat (spell bonuses, save bonuses, reaction rolls etc)

A good player can take any random set of stats, and create an interesting and believable character out of them. A good DM can see he is doing a good job of playing his character, and reward him accordingly. However, all of this is left up to the DM - only the most basic rules exist for this sort of thing - and with good reason. It is hard to come up with a hard and fast set of rules for these things, it is easy to leave it up to the DM.

What you need to do is extend the rules to try and cover the other aspects of gameplay. Is there an algorithm that can objectively tell you how well the player is playing his character?

There is also an issue of progression. Generally, most RPG's involve a fair bit of fighting during the course of a story. A human DM can vary the amount of combat to suit his players' characters, but can the computer do this? Of course it can, but this requires a slightly different approach to the way CRPG storylines are written.

[edited by - Sandman on July 24, 2002 10:43:24 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Silvermyst
Or do we want to change the entire feel of the game as we''re changing the way the numbers work, finetuning each to the other?



This is what I''m aiming for - I believe firmly that the feel of a CRPG can be much more dynamic than it is now, by modifying the way it works completely.

Yes, I still want stats of a sort - I do not want to play Quake3, I want things that influence how good my character is with a sword without having to study swordplay or get to grips with a difficult user-interface. But I do think that it is possible to do this in a real-time game, with a lot of flow. I think "inertia" would be a large part of it, "inertia" when you are caught flat-footed, "inertia" recovering your weapon to a useable position after a swing... and getting better would mean your character''s inertia decreased.

I haven''t thought about this very thoroughly yet though, I posted this thread in a fit of madness I''ve got a few alternative ideas for skill progressions, how they relate to experience handouts, difficulty levels, etc... but they need to solidify in my mind still.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by MadKeithV
Yes, I still want stats of a sort - I do not want to play Quake3, I want things that influence how good my character is with a sword without having to study swordplay or get to grips with a difficult user-interface. But I do think that it is possible to do this in a real-time game, with a lot of flow. I think "inertia" would be a large part of it, "inertia" when you are caught flat-footed, "inertia" recovering your weapon to a useable position after a swing... and getting better would mean your character's inertia decreased.



I don't know if you meant it like that but the way you describe it still sounds somewhat combat-centric.

While adding a level of realism to way in which your swordsmanship improves, and the way in which combat is carried out might add a bit of eye candy and strategy to the combat side of things, it won't really change the game as a whole. People will still play hack and slash style, and still powermax their characters.

To be honest, I don't think the combat rules need to change. Sure, they may not be realistic, oversimplified and illogical etc, and there is no real reason why you shouldn't change them, but I don't think it will necessarily solve the problem. The problem is that P&P RPGs rely on a flexible and intelligent DM being able to adjust the game to the players, and reward them based on criteria not specifically covered by the combat rules, whereas CRPG's tend to have an inflexible storyline, and award experience ONLY according to the combat rules. There is relatively little experience to be had from talking to goblins (except in a few very rare scripted cases perhaps) whereas you can guarantee a small reward for hacking the little green bastard's head off on sight. And since you invariably need to gain experience in order to make any progress in the game, talking to the goblin is a waste of time.

In other words, to improve things you need to:

a) Change the way experience is gained, so that going on random murdering sprees is not the only way to gain experience

b) Make sure that progress can be made in the story without necessarily having a powerful character.


[edited by - Sandman on July 24, 2002 12:30:53 PM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If I was playing a game where them was a complex combat system like that, how would I understand what was going on, how much damage I could do, whether I could beat the Ugly Ogre or if I needed to run away. If there are no reasonably simple stats I can look at to make these decisions, I either run scared from everything because I''m not sure if I can win, or I die every other battle because I''m getting in to fights I can''t win. I agree that the system doesn''t make a whole lot of sense sometimes but it is very playable. It is easier for me to see that I have more hitpoints and strength than him so I can probably win, rather than seeing he''s using a sword three inches longer than mine in his left hand and that he wife just broke up with him and he''s going on a killing spree. At some point, I need to see numbers or meters or something that allows me to form these decisions, otherwise, I''m not in control because I don''t understand what''s happening.

I not saying that I like the system or that I think there''s anything wrong with changing it or that it''s better. I''m just saying that I need to be able to understand what''s happening.

tj963

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I love this. I''ve had 3 discussions about exactly this in the last 2 weeks.

I was talking to a friend of mine (actually lead programmer) who had just picked up NWN the previous week or so and was chatting with him about the game. His character was an 18th level monk. I sat there thinking about it. I''ve played D&D since 1981 or somewhere thereabouts and never have I gained 17 levels in less than a years worth of playing. This made me think that something was inherently wrong with the game on computer, then it hit me.

D&D is balanced for a half dozen people sitting around a table spending half of their time bullshitting and getting about a level every month or so. How do you incorporate that into a computer where the DM doesn''t have to roll a single die or figure out what bonuses apply to a situation? How do you adjust for the fact that an entire portion of the group is ''inactive'' while waiting for the other portion to finish talking to the GM and working something out? You don''t.

75% (or more) of the role-playing aspect of these games is gone, which leaves you with what? Combat and a little plot intrigue. So now your game is 80% combat and 20% plot development instead of the 50/50 balance that so many games strive for. What happens because of this? The characters level WAY too fast, the minimized plot is finished in a week or two instead of a year and there isn''t the real appreciation for the characters that you get when you bust your butt for a year. So what if your character just died after playing for a week... it''s not like you spent a year building that character. You don''t ''know'' the character the way that you would if you had actually played him for all that time and cared intimately about this character that you had built from the ground up.

A friend of mine who is in RPGA went to GenCon a number of years ago and played in a grandmaster game. The scenario was for level 18-25 characters, he brought his thief that he had played for 4 years to the game, while almost everybody else that was there actually sat there and made their characters on the spot. The game was supposed to be cooperative and eventually the GM changed it to competitive because the thief was so much better played than the other characters, he knew his character inside and out, knew when to run and when to fight.

I think that the biggest problem with these games nowadays isn''t that the rules sets don''t fit the computer and that they should be more complex, it''s that the players don''t have to really bust their butts to keep their characters and have to learn them inside and out. You pull that character outside of the computer and play him in a PnP game with people who have played their characters PnP the entire time and your character will get wiped out every time.

This is the biggest loss that RPGs suffer nowadays, they don''t force you to actually know your character. That''s one reason that I like Everquest to some extent, you really have to know your character and how to play the class. Even a player with a level 50 warrior can''t get a level 50 Enchanter and have a prayer of playing it correctly, they''ll get wiped out and vice versa. People complain about ''exp sinks'' in the game all the time and I have to say that it probably helps the game and the players.

This is something that could probably be used in NWN, exp sinks to force the players to work harder to gain their levels. Force the players to do things in different ways to learn. Hopefully more games will include the ''exp sink'' in the future. It''s not about suckering them into playing longer, it''s about suckering them into knowing how to actually play, whether they like it or not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

a bit ''off-topic'' but anyway...

quote:
I''ve seen worse, I''ve seen games with both a "hit" check and a "damage" check, where if you fail either, you don''t hurt the other guy at all.


I don''t see any problems with that Everything is a question of balance and need to be tested over and again.
It seems normal that if your agi is far higher than your opponent agi, he won''t be able to touch you so often because of your high speed (and his limited speed due to a heavy armor for example).

But in some games (like Morrowind) it''s not really good implemented. You see your axe bashing the enemy, and most of the time nothing happens if you''re not at a high level. It might look odd if not handled correctly.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Since my name was mentioned, I guess I should add my 2 euro-cents to the simmering fire...

I've played various forms of D+D and AD+D in pen and paper form for some time. I've also played various computer games based on their rules, from the original Pools of Radiance to Baldur's Gate. (I've not done any more than read the manual to Neverwinter Nights, however.) I've also played pen and paper RPGs that had far better rules than AD+D, and CRPGs with better rule systems than AD+D.

Dungeons and Dragons was originally based on a set of wargame rules called Chainmail. It has kept most of its wargame roots - numerous look-up tables, formulae, arbitrary numbers, quick deaths for 'average' soldiers, and so on. Playing as individual heroes was tacked on as an afterthought. And the notion of 'roleplaying' in the way that most of you think of it was also tacked on as an afterthought. Through being the first roleplaying game, and subsequently the most popular and best-supported, it is the system that most people know of and are comfortable with. But it was built upon a rules system that was never designed for 'roleplaying', even in the loose Diablo sense. Just as many of MS Windows' problems over the last 5 years have stemmed from backwards compatibility with DOS and Windows 3.1, Dungeons And Dragons has awkward, unintuitive, and counterproductive rules as a result of its wargame heritage.

Now I should make myself clear - I am not against RPGs with levels, or character classes, or experience points, or even the "kill to progress" game mechanic. What I am complaining about, is that the D+D rules are a horrible way of going about it.

One example, which is one that MadKeithV has repeated for me, is the whole 'hit points' concept. A level 1 fighter will have somewhere between 5 and 10 hit points in most AD+D games. (They have 'd10 hit die', which means they get, on average, 5 or 6 hit points per level.) Most weapons deal 3 to 4 points of damage in a hit. This means that most level 1 fighters will die if they sustain 2 hits in a fight - not uncommon. When you're sat around the table, the Dungeon Master who makes the roll to hit the player may pretend to have missed, in order to spare the fighter. In Baldur's Gate, there is no benevolent Dungeon Master interested in the flow of the game, so you end up reloading every half hour or so. Despite being a game about heroes, the AD+D hit point system translates appallingly to computer form at 1st level.

Of course, when you hit 2nd level, your capacity for taking damage has doubled, and your chance of dealing damage has risen too, not to mention any additional skills or abilities. So you are now at something like 250% of your previous fighting capacity. Most of the encounters that were too hard at level 1 are now a walkover as you pass the magical lv1 -> lv2 mark. Again, this is very evident in Baldur's Gate. This doesn't lend itself well to game balance as you have to either have very distinct Level 1 and Level 2 zones, which means that the player loses access to a lot of content, or you need to dynamically tweak the encounters, which feels artificial as someone already stated. Worse of all, subsequent levels do not confer the same kind of advantage for mathematical reasons: level 3 is something like 170% of level 2, level 4 is something like 140% of level 5, and so on - the relative benefits of each level slow down, while the amount of experience needed each time goes exponentially up. The system's progress curve starts off too sleep and levels out too quickly to make for good game balance or use of content.

And there's more wrong with hit points - in the pen and paper form they are a necessary abstraction of physical health, ability to dodge and deflect blows, the ability to ignore pain, and so on. Keeping track of all those on paper would be a nightmare (although it hasn't stopped AD+D trying to bolt those sorts of features on afterwards to placate the 'realism' camp). But in a computer game, we don't need to abstract numerous stats down into one stat. The computer is more than capable of handling them all with a few trivial calculations. You can have separate scores for Dodging, Parrying, Ignoring Pain, Absorbing Damage, and everything else. If you want your players to see all these stats, you can show them. If you want a simplified interface, just perform the relevant mathematics that will get used in the attack roll and show that score as a 'Defence' stat or whatever. If you don't want to show any stats, as a lot of you keep saying, then show none - just hint in the manual that your game responds to a lot of real factors and name a few so that the players take them into account. Either way, the principle is clear - you can make the interface as abstract or as detailed as you like, but there's no reason for the system itself to be so abstract it's a poor representation.

The same goes for Armor Class, THAC0, and other AD+D statistics... the system they use is an oversimplification, good for pen and paper, poor for computer games. Why does armour affect how often you are hit, rather than how much damage you take each time? Simple - because keeping track of individual damage levels in a wargame would be very fiddly, so they didn't want that. You either got hit and died, or got missed and lived. It just happened that as AD+D evolved and they started keeping track of the individual health levels for heroes, it would have been too much work to change the armour rules. So we're stuck with them. But they're a poor abstraction, and we shouldn't keep them. The weight and quality of the armour can affect the chance of dodging, and the type and quality of the armour can affect the amount of damage reduction per hit. This is trivial to do on a computer, and the player doesn't need to know the details. It would enhance the game by offering tangible results to the player that match their intuitive expectations of what would happen.

That's not all, of course. The rest of the rules are not exactly simple or intuitive either. AD+D has numerous different resolution mechanics that it uses: attack rolls, saving throws, skill rolls, and so on. In 3rd Edition these have been standardised somewhat, but in the past you had a system where some stats were better when they were lower, some stats were better when they were higher, and so on. All in all, a mass of confusion just to make the dice rolls easier to remember. All this is pointless in a computer game - bigger should always be better, because that is most intuitive, and handle the awkwardness of subtracting one thing from the other behind the scenes.

The class system is horrible too - rather than settling on a sensible system where each character plays a certain class, they have 4 basic classes, each of which has some derived classes, and those classes can be mixed using either a dual-class system (where you learn 1 of 2 classes at a time) or a multi-class system (where you learn 2 or more simultaneously)... yet more added complexity for very little reason. Plus they tend to unbalance the game by being hard to compare against other characters of similar level. If you want character classes, pick a few that highlight memorable archetypes for your game, and stick to them. If you want classless, pick skills, abilities or attributes that allow one character to differ from another and develop those. But don't pick a game that was designed to use classes and had multiple-classing tacked on as an awkward afterthought.

Ok, I could go on criticising the mechanics as applied to computer roleplaying games all day, but you get the point. Instead I'll address a few points made by the rest of you:

Sandman : indeed, the players are familiar with the rules, but the point is that the rules should not need to be complex enough that prior familiarity is a significant benefit. Look at Civilisation: the chance of hitting is Attack divided by Attack + Defence. One simple combat rule, yet with all the potential modifiers for terrain, morale, fortification and so on, there's an ocean of depth there, none of which needs spelling out in explicit rules.

As for the ruleset being playtested and balanced... I don't think it is balanced at all, although I obviously cannot argue about the playtested part. However, I will stress that it has been extensively playtested in a different domain where the game is played very differently - ie. with a human dungeon master's discetion mainly.

Machaira said: "Yes, but most players like to see the numbers. Also, if you make it "make sense" your characters wouldn't last through the first battle. There's a tradeoff between making sense and being entertaining. Having to roll up another character every 10 minutes would not be very entertaining."
The thing is, in most AD+D computer games, you usually do have to roll up another character every 10 minutes until you hit level 2 or get a load of people in your party. And whether you hide the numbers or not is not really the point, as you can hide or expose as much or as little as you want of a complex system. But you can't make a simple and overly abstract system fit your needs as easily.

Silvermyst : you ask a philosophical question that I don't think can be answered here. It's true that some people like hack-and-slash RPGs, whereas others want to write something a bit more cerebral. But no matter which type you want to write, statistics will come into it if you are writing what most people consider 'role-playing' to be about. Perhaps what is being overlooked is that a good statistical system extends far beyond just combat. The system I use for my game uses the same mechanics for combat, stealth skills, political skills, and anything else you want resolved according to stats. In AD+D, the non-fight elements are tacked on as an afterthought, which is perhaps why a lot of people make the assumption that statistical resolution is unsatisfying for non-combat activities in these games.

tj963 : as I pointed out above: the system itself could have 100 variables for working out whether you hit or miss, yet it could still present a nice and simple "Attack" score on your character sheet if the programmer wanted. On a computer game, the complexity of the system can be far higher than the complexity of the interface. The problem is that we're using a system designed for humans where the interface is the system and it therefore had to be kept very abstract. This limits the gameplay and balance possibilities.

Sorry for the long post.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost | Asking Questions | Organising code files ]

[edited by - Kylotan on July 24, 2002 9:47:54 PM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Since stats are simply a generic, abstract representation of what happens in the game''s reality blow by blow, it stands to reason that (heh, given enough art resources) you can hide stats and express them solely through your character''s actions and movements (as Project Ego plans to do).

If you''re encumbered, you might dispense with numbers (305lbs/310lbs) and instead animate a character that is extremely slow and weighed down.

If you''re not very good with a sword, the arc that the sword swings is often wild, too high, and hits the dirt alot.

If your number of attacks are slow, this could be expressed as a delay between hit and ability to hit again.

If you''re severely damaged and close to death, your character might stumble and hold his stomach; or even bleed profusely.

If you have something like "opportunity attacks" which are a part of 3rd edition, you can represent this as your character or an NPC leaning and dropping their guard.

If you strike someone and do significantly more damage, they might spin around faster or fly back farther (or maybe the sound effect of metal clanging on metal is louder or deeper).

If your hitpoints are greater, your character might automatically block faster, or blocks might be much more successful.

The animated expression doesn''t actually have to affect or detract from gameplay. Just because your character stumbles doesn''t mean that he falls over cliffs or away from an enemy you''re trying to attack. The character can express stats and states without fundamentally affecting controls and gameplay.

Essentially, the computer gives you a chance to actually play out all the things that a GM describes as a result of rolls ("What, you rolled a 1? You throw your sword!")

You still have to handle the case of those players who want to see their numbers. You also need a reminder of capability for returning players who haven''t played in awhile.



--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
My problem with my character''s vital statistics being wholly manifested with numbers is that you end up with the excessive micromanger present in computer D&D games. Unlike most everyone else who has posted thus far, I myself haven''t played much pen&paper D&D, so I don''t know the ins and outs of the system as well as those who have. Every level brings with it an assult of new numbers to figure in with the old so that I can determine my character''s ability not to get its ass handed to me. On top of this, I only get 20 or so "magic level-ups", so each level is exceedingly crucial. In summery, the story and the game''s fun usually end up being lost in a sea of "1d6 + 1/level of caster" numbers.

Morrowind at least took a step (albeit a wobbly one) in what I consider the right direction. I enjoy the fact that you slowly gain power by using and practising your skills. It''s majors problems are, however, that it''s unbalanced (to say the least) and the lack of evidence of progress. You practise and practice, but about all that changes are the proverbial "behind-the-scenes" numbers. That''s not to say that all of its skills are that way, because there are a couple that do manifest themselves over time.

The only other aspect of gameplay I really want to mention is health (as everyone else has). It seems to me that as someone is damaged, their body usually begins to show signs of wear and tear. What happened to the days of Wolfenstein 3D when you at least got a picture that gradually became more bloody and gruesome? My character shouldn''t just go from top physical condition to dead when they lose that last hit point. I''ll end with this: I will get down on my hands and knees and bow to the first game that allows me server every limb on my enemy so that I can hear him scream that he''ll bite my bloody head off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wavinator I had a discussion like this elsewhere last week and my position was pretty much the same as yours here. I salute you. And this is the first I''ve heard of Project Ego, just looked it up and I''m fascinated. Thanks.

I''m rehashing Wavinator''s post a bit but here''s my take on the whole stats thing. We roll dice in PnP RPGs because they''re an easy way of simulating chance, not because there''s anything special about them. But in CRPGs computers can simulate chance by generating random numbers for us. Voila, no dice rolls required. It seems logical to me to extend this idea into other areas.

I agree that stats are just an abstraction of what happens in the game reality but they also serve another significant purpose. They give you a way to judge your character''s ability to accomplish a task without attempting it. This helps prevent you, for example, from constantly trying to take on far more powerful opponents. So you need not only an alternate representation for the outcome of a character''s actions, you need to make sure that the player can make an educated guess about their chances at succeeding in some task. Playing experience is part of this, but not all. In real life I don''t have to try and kill someone to see if I''m strong. I have other means - I can look at my muscles and see how big they are (or hehe I can try lifting something heavy - didn''t someone here post about lifting weights in an RPG to test your strength?).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Sandman
I don't know if you meant it like that but the way you describe it still sounds somewhat combat-centric.



Yes, it is, I guess. Mostly because the discussions I've had have always stemmed from the hopeless combat rules and resolutions in CRPGS. As Kylotan said, in pen-and-paper, there's a reason for simple rules, and I don't mind, but when I see those simple awkward rules badly translated onto a computer just for the sake of more-or-less sticking to those rules, I get a shiver running down my spine.

[edit: I just realised that my rant below doesn't really apply much to what I've said above, but I'll let it stand I'm completely scatterbrained today ]

Yet, there's no reason that good solid basic rules couldn't be translated into other sections of the game. I'll take Vampire - The Masquerade's abstraction as an example (because I happen to like it an awful lot - leaning more to the story side than the combat side).

Firstly, there are three basic categories of abilities and skills: physical, mental and social. These are further subdivided in the game, but for challenge purposes in a computer game, lets just stick to these three. Hence, you can be faced with three kinds of challenges: a physical one, a mental one and a social one. These could also be the main "abstracted" stats that the player can see all the time. Basically, let the player know how good his character is at each of these three, generally. They also show the character's general knowledge in these areas, but no specifics - giving the "if nothing else applies" score on a challenge - i.e. if you find a challenge for which you have no particular skills.

Now, I've mentioned skills, so they must be in there somewhere right? Well, yes. Again, skills are divided into the same three broad categories. Seduction is a social skill, brawling is a physical skill, electronic engineering is a mental skill. Now, this is where it starts getting really interesting on a PC. For instance - Seduction is a social skill, but I've mentioned that social may be subdivided into sub-abilities. Lets take subvisisions such as physical attractiveness, leadership and charisma. Instead of saying "seduction is an attractiveness skill", lets say instead "seduction can be attempted with any social skill". If you seduce with attractiveness, your character struts around the person you're trying to seduce, showing off his or her "assets". If you seduce with charisma, you start a suave conversation bowling the other over with your witty remarks and romantic poetry. If you seduce with leadership, you radiate an aura of power and ability intentionally, perhaps flashing some gold or diamond or green here and there...
Basically, the underlying roll doesn't change from ability+skill, but there's a lot of depth there already, and a lot of potential for characters that might be weak in one area to still succeed by being better in another area. Plus, certain opponents could be especially susceptible to one particular field, for instance, a "golddigger" girl might be very impressed by your leadership seduction, but couldn't care less about your charm and wit.


It seems to me that there could be a lot of potential in there, without overcomplicating things.

[edited by - MadKeithV on July 25, 2002 3:36:59 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree with some of what has been said, but strongly disagree with some statements.

First, without going off on a rant, let me say that the entire concept of NWN is immensely stupid. It is foolish in that it attempts to be way overly literal in the translation from D&D to PC. Imagine playing D&D over a conference call - pretty sucky! Now imagine even worse and you have NWN. Rather than realize that PC gaming is actually different from D&D gaming and adjusting accordingly, they just totally ignored what we like to call "reality." For example, you can only have one character in the single player campaign. Yes, you can only have one character in D&D...how often do you play single-player D&D? Have you ever played an extended D&D campaign where it was just you and the DM...BORING! Rather than try to capture the FEEL and spirit of pen & paper gaming, they chose to capture the literal rules. Dumb.

Anyway, that said, some of what you people are suggesting is way off. For example the idea that we don''t need all these abstractions, we could have tons of different stats like "Pain Tolerance" and what have you. There is an obvious danger in this, and if you need proof look at the Moo3 disaster. Gamers need to know WHY things are happening. If the player swings at a goblin similar to one they have killed 100 previous times and they can''t kill it, they will be confused. Even if you have some good reason like their fatigue is too high, or some nagging injury is hurting them. Moo3 suffered from that problem, where things would happen but the cause was somewhat unknown to the player.

Once again, you cannot be overly literal. If in real life I am tired I KNOW I am tired. If some nagging injury is holding me back I can feel the pain and dizzyness. In a game how do I know that my dizziness is now less than kDIZZY_LEVEL or that isCritical(bloodLoss)==true. Unless you can SHOW me I don''t. Unless there are little dizzie birdies flying around my head or my character is flopping around all over the place I have no idea what is going on. Even then, WHY did I get dizzy? Which injury is the one that lost so much blood?

I am not saying that the players need to understand every rule in the game, but there should be a pretty clear cause and effect. Let me give you a good example - in Street Fighter Alpha 3 you can get dizzied at very odd times. You get hit a whole bunch and don''t dizzy, wait a few seconds without getting hit by anything, then get hit by a low damage fireball and you are dizzy - huh? It isn''t random, there are rules governing it. But the rules are too complex for me to understand even vaguely or to predict them. Whereas in old SF games the rule was "get your ass kicked a lot over a short period of time and you dizzy."

So, if the damage you do or your chance to hit is a combination of your current fear level, fatigue, confidence, weapon skill, etc etc etc, how do you communicate that to the player? Or do they just throw their hands up in the air and think "who the hell knows why I can''t hit this thing"?

Furthermore, I would point out from a practical standpoint the more complicated you make the rules the harder it is to debug and make sure they actually work the way you intended.

I don''t believe that "complexifying" rules adds much to a game, and if you look at what games are popular I think they illustrate that. Depth of rules and breadth of rules are not the same thing. Abstractions are good.

Using the D&D rules is dumb, but not because the D&D rules are not complex enough. D&D rules are made for D&D, not for PC games. DMs have discretion in D&D, your PC doesn''t. In PC games things happen at a different pace, certain things become more or less obvious, players fall into different patterns, etc.

If you are creating an RPG the FIRST question is what do I want my RPG to feel like and play like? Base your rules on that. Is the RPG a horror style RPG where any encounter can mean death? Is it a power-levelling game? Is it based on swords, or guns, or vehicles? Choose your game first, THEN your rules.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by AnonPoster
Using the D&D rules is dumb, but not because the D&D rules are not complex enough. D&D rules are made for D&D, not for PC games. DMs have discretion in D&D, your PC doesn''t. In PC games things happen at a different pace, certain things become more or less obvious, players fall into different patterns, etc.


Just take this observation:
the, currently, most advanced implementation of the D&D rules on the master-of-all-calculations, the Personal Computer, OMITS a lot of the rules that D&D has.

What does this say about D&D? I think it says a lot. You can argue all day about how complex rules don''t make things better (and you''d be right!), but while NWN is complex, it''s LESS complex than the paper version, and still doesn''t really work.
So you have a system, that''s probably not really a shining example of simple rules. Then it''s translated to a PC. Then they decide to strip stuff ''cause it doesn''t make sense. It just SCREAMS "design mistake". Start from what the PC is good at, and work from there. And don''t make the mistake of "we need this or that stat to make it realistic", because realistic is not what RPGs are after. Otherwise we wouldn''t have elves and goblins up the wazoo anyway

BUT - if you have an easy-to-understand rule, such as "as you progressively study harder, you progressively get less benefit from it", and apply a floating-point inverse logarithmic function to it - the PC doesn''t have a problem. It''s still a really simple rule. Yeah, the math is complex, but the result is easy (still just a single number). This is how it can be leveraged - gradual advancement, a granularity that is a LOT finer than what pen-and-paper offer, a sense of continuity, and also, not abstracting things that should not be abstracted, just because they are "too hard to calculate".


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by MadKeithV

Just take this observation:
the, currently, most advanced implementation of the D&D rules on the master-of-all-calculations, the Personal Computer, OMITS a lot of the rules that D&D has.




Maybe they didn''t omit enough of them. Or maybe the rules are just not suited for a PC game, and no subset of them will work properly.

As far as I understand it NWN is Real-Time game, which right there is hugely different from D&D. The old Gold Box games were pretty close to D&D I think, because they could model turns as actual turns. D&D is a turn based game, essentially.

quote:

This is how it can be leveraged - gradual advancement, a granularity that is a LOT finer than what pen-and-paper offer, a sense of continuity, and also, not abstracting things that should not be abstracted, just because they are "too hard to calculate".



I agree, but I would point out that "too hard to calculate" and "too confusing or non-obvious" to calculate are two different things. Forget the calculation, you have to be judicious about what should be included at all. If you want to include blood loss that''s great, but as the player I had better understand how it happens, what it does, if I am suffering from it and to what extent, how to correct it, how to avoid it the next time, etc. If I try to swing at a monster and my character is soaked in blood and sluggish and falling over and I miss that makes sense, obviously blood loss is hurting me. If the only indicator I have is that my energy bar is low and slowly draining, when I miss I will think the system is pretty haphazard.

What people need to realize is that in real life we have real feedback! If I talk to someone in real life it might very well be a mix of charisma, intelligence, looks, etc. But if the conversation does not go well generally I know why. Maybe a certain phrase I said turned them off, maybe they were obviously uninterested from the start - or maybe I could tell they were attracted to me but as the conversation went on I bored them. In a game if you fail your "charisma + intelligence + looks roll" how do you know why you just failed? Are you supposed to figure out that Elves don''t like how Dwarves look and that''s why that Elf didn''t talk to you?

What I am saying is that it isn''t enough that things have logical explanations. As a player I need to see the cause and effect, I have to have some idea of WHAT the explanations are. It isn''t enough to say "our system is very well thought out, trust us, everything happens for a reason." I have to have a pretty good idea of why things are happening to me, other than "I must have failed my intillegence + charisma + looks test."

It might make sense to you as a designer that if I get hit in the head with a club I am dizzy and miss more often. But unless you put little circling dizzy stars over my head when the club hits me I''m not going to know why I keep missing, and it is going to piss me off. As I pointed out above, in real life you KNOW exactly why you miss. Maybe they dodged, maybe you feel sluggish due to lack of food, maybe you are having trouble seeing - you can model those things if you want but you have to give the player good feedback, since they don''t get any natural feedback that they would in real life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by AnonPoster
Maybe they didn't omit enough of them. Or maybe the rules are just not suited for a PC game, and no subset of them will work properly.



Yeah that's the point I was trying to make

quote:
Original post by AnonPoster
As far as I understand it NWN is Real-Time game, which right there is hugely different from D&D. The old Gold Box games were pretty close to D&D I think, because they could model turns as actual turns. D&D is a turn based game, essentially.



It's semi-real-time... you can see how long a "round" takes, and it goes at a pace that makes it reasonably easy to decide what you'll do next without being twitchy... but that tradeoff (trying to look real-time while still trying to keep a lot of the turn-based-ness of D&D) I think is what hurts the game the most.

quote:
Original post by AnonPoster
I agree, but I would point out that "too hard to calculate" and "too confusing or non-obvious" to calculate are two different things.
...
As a player I need to see the cause and effect, I have to have ome idea of WHAT the explanations are. It isn't enough to say "our system is very well thought out, trust us, everything happens for a reason." I have to have a pretty good idea of why things are happening to me, other than "I must have failed my intillegence + charisma + looks test."



As somewhat of an interface-freak, and having always been interested in games, I can't help but agree. I'd go further: if something happens, and the player doesn't know about it, then it didn't need to happen. Anything that does not provide feedback is useless. And indeed, this feedback needs to be better than a little text-balloon saying something cryptic like "Conversation test: D20, result: 4 + charisma 12 = 16, against DC 25, failure."
She better say something like "you think I'm impressed by that? Take a hike boy.", at least that's REAL feedback.

Start by stripping out everything you know you can't simulate very well (may depend on your skill as a designer/programmer), and flesh out those things you CAN simulate really well. And perhaps the focus should shift off of combat, since that's been done much better in FPS/RTS type games anyway. Spend design/programming resources on non-combat stuff.

It would, in my opinion, be really nice if you could really influence certain happenings by talking to people. That big badass orc captain that you KNOW will whip your ass if you get into fisticuffs with him? Well, he's not the brightest bulb in the box, and you're mighty persuasive, so lets impress him by talking to him and convincing him of all the really bad things that would happen should he kick your hiney. (In D&D terms, you've just "defeated" a 5th level warrior with a 1st level whatever, by using strengths other than your prowess with a pointy sharp thing, and more options like that can't be a bad thing, can they?). And this shouldn't be scripted, it should be a standard action through conversation - you can (try) to talk to anyone in the game, hostile or not. Of course, mindless zombies aren't going to be responsive, but then again, a mindless zombie generally isn't particularly dangerous to you unless you REALLY don't want to avoid it.


Heh, maybe I'm saying something along the lines of "yeah, we know computers are really weak at doing conversation stuff, so lets leverage that weakness, and actually pour the conversation idea into an actual game mechanic". Not too complex, but enough depth to make you feel as if the free-form conversation of pen-and-paper at least has been replaced by a not-so-free-form conversation mechanic, instead of just clicking through oodles of text that don't do anything.

[edited by - MadKeithV on July 25, 2002 6:31:11 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by MadKeithV
Yes, it is, I guess. Mostly because the discussions I''ve had have always stemmed from the hopeless combat rules and resolutions in CRPGS. As Kylotan said, in pen-and-paper, there''s a reason for simple rules, and I don''t mind, but when I see those simple awkward rules badly translated onto a computer just for the sake of more-or-less sticking to those rules, I get a shiver running down my spine.



My concern is this: Lets suppose you spend months designing and balancing a nice detailed combat system. How exactly does this improve the game?

Combat may be a bit more realistic, but you also add a bit of complexity and lose familiarity, so this is a potentially dubious benefit. If you design the rules well enough, you may add some strategy to the combat.

But in the grand scheme of things, you haven''t really changed the way the game plays at all. It''s still hack and slash.

The point I am trying to make is that while the AD&D rules aren''t the greatest and most realistic combat rules imaginable, there are some advantages to using a known ruleset, and changing them is not going to help the other parts of the CRPG genre which need more attention. Like the experience system, PC/NPC interactions, etc.

For example: Apart from the odd scripted encounter, in Baldur''s Gate the only way to gain experience was to either kill things, or complete missions. Since completing missions usually required you to kill a certain number of things, this means that your primary source of experience is to kill things. Also, you cannot go through the whole game at level 1: you MUST gain experience in order to be able to complete the game.

To cut a long story short, your goal is ''Get high enough experience to complete the game'' and the only viable way of acheiving this goal is to ''kill things''. Hence the prevailing hack and slash gameplay.

In a P&P game, a good DM will give you experience for doing things which suit your character. A paladin will only get experience for killing things if their death is justified. A mage will get experience for using spells in an intelligent and useful manner, which may or may not directly result in something being killed. A priest should get experience for spreading word of his deity and doing deeds in the name of that deity in order to demonstrate its greatness, etc. The game is a bit more than hack and slash.

My thinking is that it would make more difference spending your cpu cycles on a more detailed experience reward system than you would on a more detailed combat system.



Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Sandman
My thinking is that it would make more difference spending your cpu cycles on a more detailed experience reward system than you would on a more detailed combat system.



From what I have seen in CRPGs, the entire ruleset barely makes a dent in the CPU cycles anyway - it''s not going to be until it actually uses up enough resources to get noticed that there''s going to be a "wow" moment, an actual improvement of which the players will say "that''s really nice."

And no, it definately should not go into combat alone, but since combat is a very large part of CRPGs, it should get some attention. First, it should get some attention to become slightly less of a dominant power in the genre. Example: started a rogue character last night in NWN, and got killed in the first major encounter, without ever having a decent chance to get away from it. Yeah sure, there''s 10 gazillion stats for a rogue, but what difference do they all really make? Not a whole lot.
So, first, redress the balance, rethink the strategy for designing an RPG, and make it so that combat is important, but not the main focus of the game.

Then, I want to use some of the cycles I might have freed up in the first part, and a lot of extra cycles I''m demanding from the GFX and Sound guys, and spice up combat. Not more detailed, necessarily, more spicy. I want shields to get stuck in the way, weapons swinging wildly, characters staggering, furniture getting knocked over, people falling over furniture, that kind of thing. Hey, if you take a good look at the ruleset for D&D, those kinds of situations are in there, but they are abstracted into hits and misses and damage and flatfootedness and knockdown and etc... etc... etc... Instead of having a section in the manual explaining why I''m only seeing my character take one swing every 5 seconds (the "a combat round is an abstraction of a lot of stabbing and jabbing and moving around, and your hit roll is simply the total result of that 5 seconds"-talk), lets see the character doing that jabbing and stabbing and moving around, dynamically. So the end result is the same, but the path there is much nicer to look at, more believable, more of a world to lose yourself in.

BUT, that same treatment must be given to other sections too - conversation, research, learning... (learning is very important for mages!). Even exploration, since that can be a lot of fun too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
...spice up combat. Not more detailed, necessarily, more spicy. I want shields to get stuck in the way, weapons swinging wildly, characters staggering, furniture getting knocked over, people falling over furniture, that kind of thing.

More of a show, a spectacle, than a 'hit/miss'.

I'd like to share part of the most recent battle round in a PbEM that I participate in to show just how a 'spectacle' is more fun than 'hit/miss':

"Meanwhile, Serena has her own problems. Two of the creatures are charging towards her, when one of them stumbles to a halt just in front of her, staring at something behind her. She takes advantage of it's lack of concentration, and slams her longsword into it (OOC: 10hp damage). With a surprised and shocked look on it's face, it is thrown backwards, where it rolls back to it's feet snarling. Blood seeps through it's clawed hand as it clasps it's wound. Serena has no time to notice however, for the other
creature is not distracted by whatever had caused the other one to falter, and literally pounces on Serena, spinning her round as it rakes her with it's claws. There is the pinking noise of chainmail links splitting, and Serena feel's a sharp pain in her side (OOC: 4hp damage). As Serena staggers, trying to keep her balance, the creature bounces away and turns, ready to pounce again."

In a 'hit/miss' system, this would come down to "player 1 hits enemy 1, 10 damage; enemy 2 hits player 1, 4 damage".

I think it might be a good idea to start out by thinking of combat as purely visual entertainment. If you can design it so that as merely a spectator it is fun to watch two non-player characters fight, it would undoubtedly be as much fun (hopefully more), to watch that same fight but as a participant.

You decide what sort of visuals you want to be able to include (shields to get stuck in the way, weapons swinging wildly, characters staggering, furniture getting knocked over, people falling over furniture) and then you figure out a way to create (hidden) statistics and a system to make it so.

One of my friends enjoys watching two AI football teams play a match on his PS2. Although that would bore me, he would be the perfect test subject for the entertainment-oriented combat system.
quote:
Instead of having a section in the manual explaining why I'm only seeing my character take one swing every 5 seconds (the "a combat round is an abstraction of a lot of stabbing and jabbing and moving around, and your hit roll is simply the total result of that 5 seconds"-talk), lets see the character doing that jabbing and stabbing and moving around, dynamically.

This would also be perfect to give the player the ability to set his fighter in a certain fighting mode. Aggressive mode: character stays close to enemy, trying to create openings by jabbing and stabbing continuously. Defensive mode: character tries to stay beyond the reach of his enemy's weapon while looking for an opening.
It also would be a perfect way to show a visual difference in fighting styles. The thief (to use a cheesy example) would be able to use his agility to move quickly, circling around his enemy, jumping, rolling, etc. The big burly fighter would prefer to pretty much stay in one location, choosing to preserve his energy for his swordarm.

The automatic actions that take place in the 5 seconds would create a unique fighter. The actions could depend on the skills of the fighter, so it would constantly show off the progress of the character ('Man, look at that sweet spin move! I told you my fighter is an excellent acrobat!').
quote:
So the end result is the same, but the path there is much nicer to look at, more believable, more of a world to lose yourself in.

Yes, the actual 'hit/miss' would be the same, but the combat will be a true spectacle, something to behold.

[edited by - Silvermyst on July 25, 2002 10:48:30 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites