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TechnoGoth

Character development as the focus of a game.

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The purpose of most games seems to be either story or gameplay, but why not character development? The game begins with the player choosing or going through a proccess that determines the characters primary motivation. The motivation would then determine gameplay, and character development and victory conditions. Some motivations could be, wealth, power, honor, love, revenge, wanderlust. So if the characters motivation was wealth. Then they would focus on the acummilation of of money, thus they would gain improvments when their wealth reached certain levels and the ulitmalte goal would be acquire a certain level of wealth. To add a further to concept each character would have a secondary motivation that would come from the players actions and how they pursured their ambition. For instance in the case of Wealth there are several ways a person can obtain wealth such as trade, theft and adventuring. How they choose to purse wealth is up to them but the method they choose determines their seconday motivations. Which in turns has an impact on the character development, and possible even allowing for the generation of a substory based on the combination of Primary and seconday Motivation. ----------------------------------------------------- Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades Current Design project Chaos Factor Design Document

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Well, I see what you mean with wealth. Instead of levelling up when you get a certain amount of experience, you''d level up when your net worth reaches a certain amount.

I can see a similar sort of thing with power or honor, but I don''t see how this is possible with love, revenge and wanderlust (path integral over the journey of the distance from home, perhaps?).

It could be that there are three friends who go their separate ways, each of which chooses one of these motivations. They spend a while pursuing their goals. Eventually, Power, Wealth, and Honor come into conflict. The player (who is one of these people) is forced to choose between the other two. Wealth wants Power to crush his competition. Honor wants Power to help stop a dishonorable group from gaining power. Power must choose. Or Power wants Honor to train his troops. Wealth wants Honor to defend his economic interests from Power''s war machine. Or Power wants Wealth to finance his war machine (with a return on investment). Honor wants Wealth to help reconstruct a region after a natural disaster (the region Power wants to subjugate).

On the gameplay side, the improvements Wealth gets would be things like education and employees. The improvements Power gets would be things like conscripted armies and legal authority. Honor would probably get personal improvement, especially charisma, and perhaps supernatural powers.

This could lead to very different styles, with Power playing almost a strategy game, Wealth playing several Tycoon games, and Honor playing an almost typical RPG.

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In most MMORPGs the primary purpose is character development and the accumulation of wealth, although you don''t have a victory condition. Some people would tell you that social interaction is the primary purpose, and maybe this is the holy grail of MMORPG design, but what works now is character development. You could also say that in some strategy games "character development" (usually empire or city development) is the primary purpose.

I think love is covered in dating games (like Tokimeki) to some extent, although story is also a very large motivation for those games. Wanderlust is a motivation in a lot of RPGs and adventure games, but it''s rarely the primary motivation. You often start with the premise of "a man wandering the world looking for adventure" but you end up with "a man saving the world" as the story progresses. I''d like to see a game where your primary goal is purely exploration.

There are a lot of games about revenge, although they tend to have a pretty linear story based progression. It would be interesting to see a non-linear, non story based action game about revenge. Something like Kill Bill. You''d choose your targets, decide where you want to engage them, how you want to kill them, etc. The game would end as soon as you kill everyone on your list, and that list could even be variable.

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Revenge is rarely as simple as just killing the target of your revenge person. In fact that would most likly be the ultimate goal and victory condition. However in good liturate and in a good game that person is far more powerful then player at the start. So you have weaken them first at the same time building your own power. If the person your seeking revenge on was a corrupt buisnessman for instance. You would probably begin seeking revenge on them by attack there funds, destorying or otherwise hindering their buisness. Turning his allies into enemies, and finally seducing his wife before you finally kill them. Each action against your target could erode their powerbase and at certain levels of diffrences between the your powerbase and your targets could result in a "level up".

Another thought occurs to me and that is the idea of backsliding. If there are "level up" why not "level downs"? In other words the character has suffered a major set back and they worse off then they where before. Maybe the used to drink and quite and have now become an alcholic again. The player will have strive once again to reclaim what they have lost before they can begin to move forward.

For instance if your character is pursing wealth and there is wealth levels $100,000 , $250,000 , $1,000,000 , and the player manged to acquire a million dollars but then some bad buiness mistakes caused their net assets to drop below $250,000, wouldn''t that mean they have lost a wealth level? Result in negative character development?

Love is Tricky since it almost requires a scripted environment, there has to be a focus of that love some with which the charater is in love with and who is trying to make fall in love with them. There also needs to be obstacles to hinder the character in the pursuit of their love. Whether they are external or internal obstacles they would have to be overcome in order for the character improve and eventually have the person they love.


Pursing character development in a multiplayer enviorment would of course be prefable then a single player alternitive although it becomes more complex and undertaking. However, the result if done well would have a great deal of appeal seeing how characters with diffrent motivations interact with each other working together towards common goal and yet with their own agenda and motivations effect their dissicions and the conflict that arise because of this. Two character on quest one motivated by Honor the other by Wealth, while both these motivation coincided they can be the best of friends but what happens when their motivations come in to conflict? They discover a shinning ruby the size of a fist and old man who tells them how the ruby contains the soul of long dead wife trapped in side and as long the ruby is intact she will never know peace. The character motivated by honor would be obliged to aid the old man and destroy the ruby. While the character motivated by wealth can not simply pass up such a prize merely because an old man wants it destroyed. How do the player resolve this situation? Does one allow the other to suffer, do they fight amongst themselves, can the character remain friends in the face of this conflict?


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

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The only problem I see with this type of explore-your-own-character type of gameplay is that most players wouldn''t. I''m sure we all spent our off-time in GTA just loading up busses with hookers and dropping them off bridges. Not that I think its a bad idea. In fact, its probably a great idea. Just that the game would need to be specifically gear towards character story development. The problem there is that character story isn''t figured out by killing in the newbie fields and talking cellphone/AIM speak in the towns. Any good character story involves adventure and other characters. This is why PnPRPGs are always played with a GM directing the story and several players. Anyone that would play an PNPRPG by themselves would just as well write the next big Fantasy Novel located in aisle three at Barnes And Noble.

My advice? I think the winner would be a game that had players included in both Characters and GM roles, and was refined enough that the MMORPG aspect wouldn''t screw with the story development (i.e. a griefer showing up and killing the smart-alec pet dragon who''s being played by your little sister). I think Neverwinter Nights already touched on this type of game.

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quote:
Original post by Inmate2993
The only problem I see with this type of explore-your-own-character type of gameplay is that most players wouldn''t.


Why wouldn''t they? After all the whole purpose of the game would be character development. Not working towards character development would amount to doing nothing. If the player choose to pursue wealth and they spent all their time not gaining wealth then that would amount to no in game progress. It would like playing an RPG and never leaving your house. Or an rts and never bothing to build a base or units.

After all rpg term if you purse wealth then you could kill a million goblins and never gain a level or experince points. The only way to gain levels would be through gaining wealth.

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

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quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Why wouldn''t they? After all the whole purpose of the game would be character development. Not working towards character development would amount to doing nothing. If the player choose to pursue wealth and they spent all their time not gaining wealth then that would amount to no in game progress. It would like playing an RPG and never leaving your house. Or an rts and never bothing to build a base or units.


What I mean that they wouldn''t is that you''d get more Id-based gameplay then a superego refined experience. For example, what if there was just as many "evil" possible character developments as there were "good" possibilities? You''d probably see the statistics trend towards the evil traits being acquired more. I''m just of the opinion that leaving the player to their own devices might not turn out as well as expected, and the game would either have to make provisions for a GM, or make a really good GM itself.

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Why should the player be prevented from pursing the path of evil? It comes down to player choice and personal prefrence. Its like saying given the choice everyone would play as knight rather then a wizard. Also the diffrence is game play and devlopment would encorage a player to play the game several times with a diffrent motivation in order to exeperince the game in a new way.

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

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I kind of like the idea of getting exp. from things other than killing monsters or what not. I agree with the fact that players probobly wouldn''t explore these options to their full extent, (for some reason I start to think of Morrowind and failure...) Anyways I think it would be worth a shot to explore.

===============================
"I am master of all the lands of the rising sun, while you rule those of the setting sun." --Genghis Khan

Current Project:
Crumbled Kingdoms

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I agree with Gessar, the idea itself is great. Killing monsters in computer RPGs is only a small fraction of the fun you get in playing a PnP RPG. But on the other hand, killing monsters is what people expect when they hear RPG, and what they probably pay for.

From a designer''s point of view it would be difficult to keep the game balanced. One idea might be that different motivations could be assigned difference levels. For example "wealth" being the easiest difficulty level and "honor" as most difficult one. (Or love depending on what experiences the designer has made so far... )

There are a couple of possibilities that come to my mind when thinking about this, but maybe a game like this would be too far ahead of its time. For me it sounds as if it tries to satisfy the needs of many different kinds of gamers, but addresses no one directly with this approach...

------------------------------
There are only 10 kinds of people: those that understand binary and those that don''t.

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