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Who to make you feel that your character is stronger without using stats?

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Well, in RPGs, your character evolves, of course, and I was thinking of alternatives way to make you feel that evelution without using stats. This topic is a bit the next step of last topic on RPGs stats. I''m thinking about animated fx like auras and stuff around your player. I know that some of you will say to change the model to make him look stronger but that''s alot of work!;-) -Monk http://newgatetech.topcities.com/

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i don''t understand why so many people are against using stats in a CRPG, especially since large amounts of numerical details are what computer are good at (and are one of the only parts of a "role-playing game" that they can handle efficiently)... but i suppose "hiding" the stats would make the game more non-hardcore-player-friendly...
it would be tedious making multiple "buffer" models for each character to show he is stronger, but a bigger problems is, how do you show that the wizard player is wiser? or that the thief is sneakier, or the bard is even more charming? models themselves won''t do it.
i personally thing the aura idea is contrived and would seem out of place, unless auras were written into the game''s story from the beginning.
perhaps since you are trying to hide the stats altogether, instead of making the characters seem stronger or whatever, you could instead give the player no indication at all about their strengths and weaknesses; but, when faced with a challenge that takes the stat into account, then give them a good idea of how (or if) they can handle it (i.e. when a giant troll suddenly jumps out in front of him, the fighter whose stats indicate that he will definitely be crushed pathetically might jump in fear, while the badass strong fighter would laugh haughtily and straighten his shoulders). or, if they try to do something (such as move a rock or something), roll the dice and see if they can do it based on stats; either way, give them a good idea of how easy it was (if they succeed) or how close they were (if they fail). i can imagine that now, trying to make the guy push this huge boulder out of the way of some door, and getting a message that says "you are far too weak to move this boulder" or maybe "you could not move the boulder, but you feel that you were close; perhaps you should get a friend to help?"

i dunno, just my 2 cents...

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Argh, I used to have a great article on why numerical displays in CRPGs are possibly one of the things holding them back.
I remember one example from it I will paraphrase and spice up:
Say you''re this new wet-behind-the-ears kid, who after you have accepted a quest to save the land, your father gives you his magic sword. You slay some wolves with it along your travels, and then suddenly one day you are ambushed by a group of orcs. They are far too strong for you, but you fight valiently, and manage to slay a few of them. As they close in on you, they form a circle trapping you in the middle, and their leader enters from one end, challenging you to a dual for fun. You know there is no way you can defeat him but you try, and as you cry to the gods for help and the adrenaline in your veins surge for what is most likely to be your last blow before death...a surge of flame runs from the hilt up the length of the blade and flares brightly. The orcs jump back and as you slash their leader, he falls, his armor on fire and his wounds screaming in flaming pain. As the orcs look to each other for assurance and then flee as you strike down their leader, sword still aflame. When the danger is passed, the flames on your blade die down but the heat they have caused has let be shown a mysterious inscription on the blade: "Orc Bane" is written in elvish runes.

Now. What made the sword fun? The fact that it was suddenly shown to have very magical and very powerful properties. Not that when your father gave it to you, he said, "Here son, this is a sword called Orc Bane that has been passed down in the family for centuries. It is a flaming sword and does 1d8 damage normally, 2d6 damage + 1d8 magical fire damage against orcs. Have fun."
The mystery of not knowing how powerful an item is or is not is a very large thing that can be used in games to heighten the suspense and interaction.
The Lord of the Rings wouldn''t be the same if everyone knew from the start that Bilbo''s little magic ring was indeed "The One Ring". In fact, through out Tolkien''s universe, mystery abides in all magical objects, and this is the fantasy world the majority of our RPG''s are based on. Orcrist and Glamdring are partner swords, but it never says what they do or how. Sting for that instance either. Or why The One Ring has different effects for different people. Sauron uses it for great power, but even wearing it, Bilbo and Frodo just turn invisible, not almighty. It wouldn''t be the same if everything was laid flat in numerical terms in front of you. Numerics add min/maxing to the equation.
Play a game of NetHack or Angband or ADoM some time. And you''ll start to realize why you should always check if that Silver Ring you picked up is a Blessed Ring of Strength, or a Cursed Ring of Teleport.

-Ryan "Run_The_Shadows"
-Run_The_Shadows@excite.com
-The Navidson Record! The best film you''ll never see!

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I agree. Ultimately, the computer is going to use some form of stat or even a fixed number to calculate how many hits and enemy will take, so why bother to abstract the numbers away from the player, especially since there are many gamers, like me, who much rather being able to see finite stats in the first place.

The only exception I can think of that stats didn''t bother me was the Legend of Zelda games, but those games were always more focused on adventure and puzzle solving than fighting and becoming stronger anyway.

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Run_The_Shadows: you have a good point, but ultimately it boils down to special "hidden attributes" of the objects (swords and the ring in your example), and part of the gameplay would then be to determine these effects. even in nethack, once you positively identify your ring, it comes up on the screen as "Blessed Ring of Strength" or "Cursed Ring of Teleport".
this is a neat feature in games that implement it, but i was talking about the characters stats and whatnot.
personally i like to see that my intelligence and agility went up a point each, and my axe skill is three points higher after practicing for a while. without numbers to express these stats to the player, they would have no idea about whether they even stand a chance against some challenge, or if they are very close and should try again hoping for better luck this time. that is why i suggested the psuedo-subjective (psuedo because you''d have to work out which numbers gave which response) messages about the ease or difficulty of doing anything in the game; it would hide the stats that essentially must be there to have an CRPG.

Taiyou: as far as i can tell, the only "stats" in zelda were your heart containers and the level of the sword you had (1 - 3 i think).

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strength: don''t do anything, it will be apparent in battles. or make him looks larger
agility: make him move faster.
intelligence: make him more intelligent. that is, low intelligence, dumb AI, high intelligence, smart AI.
personality: make him behave when communicating with npc.


My compiler generates one error message: "does not compile."

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Well thanks to all, I pretty like the «to weak to push» method for strenght, and other stuff like that. And it's true that it spoils a bit to see all the stats. But as I see, stats are important but I will try not to put them in numbers, because you can't say, I am 32791 strong!?! I will rather use words like:12 year old nerd up to titan, (just an exeple ;-))

Well thank you all for youre ideas

[edited by - NGT Monk on December 2, 2002 6:11:29 PM]

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quote:
Original post by Run_The_Shadows
The mystery of not knowing how powerful an item is or is not is a very large thing that can be used in games to heighten the suspense and interaction.

But wait: aren''t you mixing two concepts here? Your example was not more fun because of the lack of numerical data - it was more fun because that data was not immediately available. In a CRPG setting, I would not have been any less impressed with the orc-firey-death scene if it gave me the dice rolls and bonuses after the event. I agree that hiding some information is a good thing, but that this concept does not require removing numerical feedback from the game.

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

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My own ideas (even though I''m not opposed to numerical stats and/or levels at all):

Titles: from Peasant, through Squire, Warrior, Knight, Lord, etc. Or simple adjectives after the name such as ''the Craven'', ''the Meek'', ''the Mediocre'', ''the Fearless'', ''the Demonslayer'', etc.

Events: in a heavily quest-based game, it can be nice just to see a long list of all the character''s achievements. Someone with a 3 page list of all the notable things they''ve done is obviously more ''advanced'' than someone with few or none.

In-game items: in the real world, martial artists can receive coloured belts to denote their level of skill. Perhaps have the characters go to a trainer and receive something similar that denotes their ability, as appraised by the trainer. This is also nice as it adds a little mystery to the system: you never know exactly how good you are until you can get back to a trainer to be tested.

Reputation: this could be similar to a title, which reflects how good the populace consider the character to be. It might be made obvious through NPC reactions in conversation.

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

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Well, changing the model\sprite of the character probably has the biggest impact. Most PC rpgs (console RPGs tend to have characters that look the same no matter what they''re wearing due to the stylized anime look) now a days have characters that look differently depending on what kind of equipment they''re wearing. Project ego takes this further, deforming the character (larger\smaller muscles, different skin tones\tanning, scars, etc.) based on his stats. It is more work to do, but it''s not difficult to do it in a limited way. Changing a character''s skin or sprite a little can have a big impact, and changing the weapon a character is holding is pretty trivial (and pretty much expected nowadays.) You could even do it zelda style and just change the character''s color scheme as he becomes more powerful.

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No time to read the whole thread this time but I wanted to post my comments regarding the original post.

I personally would like to hide MORE (but by no means all) of the stats and numbers that I feel plague the CRPG genre. A few previous threads have mentioned the idea of using an Zelda: Ocarina in Time type interface -- more arcade-ish and most importantly, giving the player direct control over the character. I really like this idea. Considering the Zelda comparison, as the character gets stronger and more experienced, it should perhaps gain additional combat moves that look (and are) more powerful.

For instance, the real reason increased strength affects a character''s attack is because there is more force behind the blow. So let weak characters have weak and wimpy-looking attacks, and let stronger character have animations that are more forceful, throwing themselves into the attack, knocking the enemy back more or having the enemy really look like they''re taking a heavier blow.

In other words, don''t TELL the player his character is stronger with numbers -- SHOW it, in the way the character fights and the visual results of the enemy''s reaction animation.


Brian Lacy
Smoking Monkey Studios

Comments? Questions? Curious?
brian@smoking-monkey.org

"I create. Therefore I am."

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I support irbian 100% !

I''ve even began to plan to introduce some kind of fuzziness in my Animation System, with lower fuzziness as you progress.

Basically when you''re a beginner fighter, your attacks are inacurrate and somewhat jerky, but when you''re a master your attacks follow the perfect path...

It''s a computer game, and the main feedback is the screen, SHOWING the character skills is the best way to keep the player immersed and make him feel his character is getting better.

Also a note on interface : make it as small as possible !

And don''t forget the gold rule : everything the player do needs to be designed to require the less mouse move and clicks possible. Especially those used the most.

Some games out there are just painfull when it comes to inventory for example.

-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-

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I agree with you. Because in Diablo ii, you can''t fell that your''e charcter is storng without looking at the stats! Like you see someone approaching and the only way to judge his level is by looking at his levels! An it sux to always look at numbers! But to put some fuzziness in animations is I think a very good way but how do you work that? At each 15 levels change the ennemy reaction? At each 2 levels change your attack animation? For each weapons? I know I exagerate but it''s still complex.

-Monk

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I''m writing a two-dimensional RPG, but I''m at a loss when it comes to making character equipment show on the screen. I''m going to try a sort of advanced paper-doll approach, but it''s going to be ultra-tedious unless all of my characters are exactly the same height and width. I don''t wanna use anime-style drawings!

Personally, I think that displaying equipment would be good enough. A character wearing shiny, glowing Plate Mail +5 and carrying a steel shield is definitely going to look better than a guy in splint mail with a wooden shield.

Characters who don''t wear overt equipment, like martial artists and wizards, would be well-served by the color-coding. A white-robed character with a white belt (lvl.3) confronting a white-robed character with a black belt (lvl.17) gives us a good visual indication of who will win the battle.

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I think information hiding could be a good thing done well. Two notes of caution though:

Firstly, if a player has to try-it-and-see to discover what compromises are best in choosing equipment, etc, then you have to reduce the difficulty of challenges affected by those compromise choices because you can''t expect players to make the right choices automatically, and you risk making players play more conservatively with regard to items - sticking to the longsword they''ve been using for a while and know works (and suspect is +2) rather than switching to the Platinum Uber-Sword of Doom (borrowed from the twinking thread). This makes handing out prizes harder, particularly if you want to avoid the problem below. Also, if the player never tries using his orcbane sword against orcs, then the whole effort of hiding the fact it is orcbane so the player can discover it is wasted - to subvert Run_The_Shadows'' example yet further: having received your father''s magic sword and run into a few wolves, you divert from your course to discover whether the wolves are a part of a larger threat. In doing so, you evade the party of Orcs in ambush, and play for quite a while without ever encountering any more Orcs (in the original game, Orcs are supposed to have heard about your encounter with their brethren and steer well clear of you whenever possible). After a while, you manage to acquire a new magical sword from an enemy NPC. After trying it out in a few fights, you decide it''s superior to your father''s sword (being +1 rather than +0). A little while later, you back-track wondering why the plot seems not to be making much sense, and run into the Orc ambush. Several of the Orcs have regeneration abilities, so without the flaming ability of Orcbane, you have no chance (any damage from sources other than fire or acid will be regenerated faster than you can hack the other Orcs to pieces)...

Secondly, if done clumsily, eg by replacing each numerical value with a flavourful name, a fair proportion of players will just generate their own look-up tables for them and translate back into numbers, and then complain about the extra effort they have to put in. Similarly, with prize items, a player will tend to assume that items gained from tough fights/quests are higher power than their current gear. If you let them do this, then, again, the players will play in much the same way as before, pretty much defeating the object. For example, having defeated the Ultimate Villain, the player comes across a sword in the Treasure Beyond Counting. He immediately shrugs, picks his weakest current weapon, and swaps it for what he strongly suspects is the Platinum Uber-Sword of Doom.

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