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Noods

A RPG without numbers?

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I’m trying to find how far is too far concerning immersion in games. Specifically, concerning the numbers end of things. When you show a player the tangible end of things (his stats, damage output, level, resistances etc) he is prone to focus solely on min/maxing and leveling. In trying to theorize the other end of the spectrum, I’m wondering if a system that was on the other end of the spectrum would inspire players to focus on the story rather then the numbers. In other words, if you removed ALL the numbers from a game, and replaced them with immersion promoting aspects (your character animation changing when he has taken damage etc) would it somehow take away from the essence of the game? After all, a big part of RPGs is character progression, and what better way to gauge that then tangible numbers? Then put another spin on it. Let’s say the game had a great story/quest system that was awesome, totally dynamic, and seemingly endless. How do you think abstracting the player from the numbers end of things would impact the game? Do you think the players would be less inclined to focus on the leveling, and more inclined to focus on the actual adventure and story? [edited by - Noods on December 16, 2003 4:33:32 AM]

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Well, it''s a very interesting idea, to be sure. The game you would end up with, I think, would be more of a classic adventure game than an RPG, just based on the lack of direct stats. However, if you managed to work in health/strength/etc without numbers, then you''d basically have a ultra-realistic RPG. Depending on how this was implemented, the players could be attracted more to the story/characters or more to levelbusting (without the levels, of course). If the gameplay was set up so that the only reward from fighting was money/items/what have you, and the characters did not advance in their stats (non-stats, really), then yes, the players would be drawn more into the story and development of the characters. On the other hand, if the character''s skills did increase with more fighting, then the urge to levelbust would probably be just as strong, perhaps stronger, as the absence of stats would keep you guessing as to exactly how poerful your characters were.
Of course, if what you want is to get the player more immersed in the story, then the simplest (and yet most complex) solution is just to write a REALLY good story.

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Agreed, a good story would get any player more involved. However, in addition to the main story, lets theorize a MMORPG environment where much of the content (quests, mini-stories) were dyncamically generated by NPCs, both traditional townsfolk and hostile entiites. Also, lets replace the traditional "orcs hideout" (or other predetermined area where monsters always are) with an old fashion DnD random encounter, where nobody really knows what is going to happen when they start on their journey (not even the admins).

My intent here is for the character to still progress, but instead of priparily focusing on that, we want him to be pumped about the actual adventure, because holefully each encounter would be unique, challenging, and would pose the player with interesting decisions. I hope to do this through abstraction of numbers (to avoid any focus on numbers, and increase immersion) and quality content generation, excellent AI.

Feasible?

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Interesting idea, however, if you were to do this with an RPG, how would you know if/when your character was near death and needed to be healed?

Those aren''t bugs, they''re added features

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quote:
how would you know if/when your character was near death and needed to be healed?


Easy enough - animations and sounds for the character''s health, along with reduced speed. An injured character who physically LOOKS beat up, is trailing blood, clutching one arm to his chest and limping badly while occasionally stopping and grunting in pain pretty much shouts out "Hey, heal me please" to the player. You don''t need a health bar for that. If the character is near death, claxons and flashing lights are a big indicator.

Poison? Have a hazy green gas cloud drifting around the character. Or just change the character''s color to green.

It''s a great idea, and with a little imagination can be worked out well.

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that's not really "without numbers"... you're just changing the numeric characters on-screen into nifty animations and special effects.

not that i think it is a bad idea...

[edited by - krez on December 16, 2003 11:33:38 AM]

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I think the point trying to be made is leaning twards the lack of any "readable" numbers. Being able to say things like "If I have this <insert item here> then my atk goes up 5 points." By removing statistical information you have to relay on other methods of communication between the player and the game. You dont have to have a little picture showing your health state. the char your playing can show that quite well by limping/bleeding/etc.

The only problem I can see is char progression. Although that may be overcome by having a hidden "practice" counter. where your skills (as opposed to a level) raise with usage of that skill. If you have a spell book in the game you can show a "note" stating something along the lines of "I may need to work on this", "I''m on par with this ability", or "This is one of my stronger abilities" to signafy how good it is based on the other skills or your level etc. again, no numbers to show but still having an idea on how it stacks up on your char. This can be used for different weapons too (dagger/sword/bow).

Gaining new spells and abilities could be done by aquiring thinks like scrolls or finding a trainer npc to improve the avalible skills you have.

Thats my $0.02

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there''s been several threads about similar systems in this forum before, you should search them out and have a gander.

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there was big long thread about this not to long ago. I suggest you check it out I think it was called "perception in rpgs" or something like that.

You don't need numbers to make a game, it could all be done just as well if not better with qualitative descriptions. Such as if all stats are from 1 to 5 and your character has Strength 5, and intellegince 1. You could replace all that with a short discription such as "A dim witted young man with the strength of an Ox."

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I'm a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project
Chaos Factor Design Document



[edited by - TechnoGoth on December 16, 2003 1:09:07 PM]

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