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rKallmeyer

Player Skill vs Character Skill

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I'm creating this post to get your opinions on the distinction between Player Skill and Character Skill. It would appear to me that very little attention is given to the matter and game design thus suffers for it. Let me start by giving a template definition for each. Player Skill Player skill refers to the ability of the player to play the game. Usually, the following two things determine player skill: Controls On the low end this would be hand-to-eye coordination, and on the high end this would be the twitch reflexes required in a game like ninja gaiden or Quake 3. This is a physical reference. Strategies The player's understanding and mastery of winning strategies. On the low end this would be knowing that holes=death in an old school game like Mario. On the high end this would be a multiplayer battle plan in War Craft III. This is a mental reference. Benefits: 1.No saving of progression is required. Getting good at a game is like learning to ride a bike, so if you leave and come back 6 months later you can start where you left off because you will still be just as good. 2.Tactical and Strategic Immersion go hand in hand with player skill, meaning that players who get good also get into the game. When a player does something cool like swinging flawlessly through skyscrapers in spider man 2, the player really feels like they are doing it. Drawbacks: 1.Harder to measure progression. The only way to measure Player Skill is by looking at results. In some situations this is perfectly fine, in other situations players might feel like they aren't getting recognition enough. Character Skill Character skill refers to the perceived character progression. When you here the term "RPG elements", think character skill. Levels, Hit points, Speed, items, wealth, ext. can all fall under the banner of Character Skill. Increasing Character Skill is generally a process of reputation in which some form of experience points are awarded resulting in benefits to the character. Benefits: 1.Easily measurable progression. A level 20 character is better then a level 1 character. 2.Narrative Immersion generally accompanies Character Skill. Because the player is spending time to learn and progress with the character, he/she feels a much stronger connection with them, and hence cares about the resulting story. Drawbacks: Starting a new game really means starting a new game. It doesn't matter if you have spent the time to level up your character to 99; if you forget to save and start over again, your character sucks. In the past, most games have opted to include one dominant skill or the other. Most Role Playing Games use a 'Character Skill' dominant model. While strategies are present, they really fill the role of icing on the cake. The key factor in winning the game is your characters experience and level. The better players are the players who have been playing longer. Most Action Games use an exclusive 'Player Skill' model. No levels, every player has the same stats, and the only thing that makes one player better then the other is the player's ability to player game better. Recently, games have begun to include a good mix of Player Skill and Character Skill. Good examples would include games like Kingdom Hearts, Ratchet and Clank, and THUG. When it comes to what is 'best' I think it is a matter of personal preference. My question is this, how have you implemented Character Skill or Player Skill in your games? What do you think is best? And would you define them differently?

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Depends on the game type, of course, but as a general rule, I'd say that in an ideal game, everything should rely on a combination of the two. An example would be when driving a car. Your character skill might improve handling, or maybe even extend your view range, but you still have to control the car yourself, like in a racing game.

Or maybe your character's aiming skill could work like the autoaim option in most FPS games. Once the crosshair is within a minimum distance from the target, it'll jump to point straight at the target.

Still, depends on the game. In a FPS game, relying on player skill works pretty well.
In RPG's, some element of character is clearly neccesary, but should it be all there is to it?

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We're still in the planning stage of our game, so the details are a little vague, but I believe the emphasis will be almost entirely on character skill (it's a CRPG).

Some people have even requested that turn based combat be included so that their own lack of speed or dexterity is less of an issue.

It makes more sense to me for a CRPG to be based on character skill as few players are likely to be able to cast spells or repair weapons in real life.

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But people can't take seven bullets in the face, either, or jump four times their height. Games like those often times don't require leveling up, yet aren't realistic. And, you know what? They are fun. Whether what happens in the game is possible in real life should not be the deciding factor as to whether reflexes should be involved. Plus, even if it possibble in real life, you probably wouldn't do it by pressing buttons on a controller/keyboard.

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Remember that Player Skill also includes Strategies. A game that has only character skill wouldn't really be a game at all. Make sure not to neglect the Player Skill aspect of your game or you might end up with a fan base full of zombies.

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Quote:
Original post by thedevdan
But people can't take seven bullets in the face, either, or jump four times their height. Games like those often times don't require leveling up, yet aren't realistic. And, you know what? They are fun. Whether what happens in the game is possible in real life should not be the deciding factor as to whether reflexes should be involved. Plus, even if it possibble in real life, you probably wouldn't do it by pressing buttons on a controller/keyboard.

I'm not sure whether you're agreeing or disagreeing with me here (or even if your post was in response to mine), so I'll clarify what I meant to be on the safe side.

I wasn't suggesting that what is possible in the real world should have any bearing on what is possible in a game, merely that most players wouldn't have the necessary skills in real life.

I agree, you shouldn't base several dozen character skills on a player's skill with a mouse and/or keyboard.

Quote:
Original post by Nuget5555
Remember that Player Skill also includes Strategies. A game that has only character skill wouldn't really be a game at all. Make sure not to neglect the Player Skill aspect of your game or you might end up with a fan base full of zombies.

It would be very difficult to make that mistake as I've yet to see a CRPG (or any other game come to that) where "strategy" was a skill handled entirely by the computer - at least as far as player characters are concerned.

Personally, I view it as being part of the decision making process, which has to be handled by the player or they would be watching - not playing - a role. In fact, I'm against automating tasks for this very reason, but that's another story. [smile]

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It would be very difficult to make that mistake as I've yet to see a CRPG (or any other game come to that) where "strategy" was a skill handled entirely by the computer - at least as far as player characters are concerned.

I am very much in agreement with you. Unfortunetly though, while playing many RPGs these days, it seems like many developers have taken it for granted.

Quote:
Personally, I view it as being part of the decision making process, which has to be handled by the player or they would be watching - not playing - a role. In fact, I'm against automating tasks for this very reason, but that's another story.

Apperently you arn't one of those developers ;) Which is good.

BTW, What is the 'C' in CRPG stand for? :)

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I used to enjoy creating maps and writing notes when playing CRPGs, but most games these days tend to do that and half a dozen other tasks for you. If the trend continues, games will become yet another form of movie.

The "C" in CRPG stands for "computer" (or possibly "console"), to avoid confusion with traditional pencil and paper or board variations.

It isn't included in MORPG and MMORPG abbreviations as the "O" part makes it redundant.

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Ya know, I'm not so sure that a CRPG where there was little player skill would be quite as evil as it's being made out to be. There seem to be two main criticisms about this:

1) It'd basically make it a movie
2) It makes zombies of the player

However, there are two main draws to CRPG's:

1) The story aspect
2) The cultivation aspect

and, I think, the first draw negates the first criticism and the second negates the second. Those who play RPG's "for the story" may as well watch a movie. Those who play RPG's to cultivate a character don't care for player control skill in the game. Player strategy skill should exist, but needn't be much. As long as there's some interesting choice that makes some difference, it should satisfy the cultivator. (e.g. Tomagachi, which I'm not sure I spelled correctly)

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I personally dislike control type skills mainly because I prefer learning what to do than how to do it, and secondly I end up struggling with how the game runs on my hardware. Nothing will ever feel snappy enough and I'll always be paranoid that everybody else's rich dad paid for their supercomputer just to beat me in games.

But the player does have to be doing something, making some kind of decisions or actions, and there has to be a great depth to that, whatever it is, in order to give a feeling of depth to the game and stop people from getting bored.

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