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RPG Realism vs. Hack'n Slash

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I have a question that I would basically like to get a few opinions on. First, the background. A few friends and I are making a small scale single player RPG as a stepping stone to possibly something larger in the future. We are just about finished with the design stage less on the run modifications and we have hit our first bump in the road. We are planning on an RPG like Morrowind not Diablo. Not in scale or quality, just used as an example to demonstrate NOT hack and slash. I know that all games of this nature have combat as part of the game, and most make it the focus of the entire game. I have worked very hard to give the player alternatives to combat to play the game with a non violent quest system, merchant classes, player affected economy. Don't get me wrong, the player will still be able to grab the ol' widow maker but it is a choice. My question is, sorry took so long to get to it, how much realism is too much? People play games to escape from reality but I believe a certain amount helps ground the game. I believe a player should have to eat or suffer penalties in performance. My partner does not. So, if you would be so kind as to share your opinions on this I would be grateful.

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Well...I'd go with your friend on the not-eating thing. Gamers today want to play games where they can kill billions of helpless chickens and rats without ever even considering cooking them. If you have a need for food, it's going to lead to the need for crafting (cooking is a crafting skill, I guess).

Crafting -> Wasted Time -> Less Interest IMO. As to where to draw the line between reality and fantasy...well, Star Ocean: The Second Story (I can't comment on the first or the newer one) had a fun mix of realism in a completely made-up fantastic world. If you haven't played it, crafting was very, very detailed, and it was completely optional. If you didn't want to, you could completely finish the game (several times) without ever needing to craft anything. Well...that is, if memory serves right, though some of those contests may have been necessary.

So, in my usual way of answering things, I say that it's all up to what you feel you'd like, and what you think would be fun.

Have fun deciphering (sp) that.

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How much realism is too much? When it bogs down the game, or adds nothing significant.

Eat or die of starvation (long process), in my opinion adds to the game, while having to go to the bathroom basically adds nothing. .. Having to eat each bite of a stake adds nothing, but clicking on a stake to eat it is micromangement.

Of course, a lot of these 'realism' activities are often discarded under the guise of 'while the player was away' or such like. I.e. Assumed done but the player does not (and often can not) have any control over them.

Regardless be mindful to not make the player micromanage game play elements unless that is an important part of your game play. With a RPG, by and large it should not be, I think.


Hope that helps

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If you remember Ultima, one of the first cRPGs, it included food. With each step you ate food, and if you ran out of food, your health went down. What you could do is have a day and night cycle, and simply have the player have a "food store" that is eaten from every day cycle or something. If there is no food, they collapse, or lose health, or something.

But once you start getting into functions that detract from the game itself and serve no purpose, you are getting to realistic. PLayers should automatically brush their teeth, etc.

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I would agree with your friend, not eating should not result in a penalty(i.e. shouldn't be required). I also agree with Boku San, in a way anyway. Generally with stuff like eating and crafting, I think you should reward those who do it, and not penalize those who don't. Tales of Symphonia comes to mind for the eating/cooking, you didn't have to really, but certain food gave you bonuses and you didn't always have a caster around.

Saying how much realism is too much is rather subjective though, so I would just make what you want and see how it's received.

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Perhaps approach the design problem by decomposing the question of 'realism' into individual rules and consider the effect of each rule on player behaviour.

For example, in Nethack the character must eat otherwise he or she weakens, faints from hunger, then dies. If the character eats too much, they get satiated and slow down. (I can't remember if you burst like Mr Creosote if you eat while you are satiated.) When a character dies, the player must restart with a new character. Note that the player can save and resume, but cannot continue after his or her character dies.

1. 'eat or die' means that starting characters have to hunt for food, buy rations from the shopkeepers and invest in a blessed tinning kit.

2. 'death is permanent' means that players have to be conservative, buy healing potions and avoid combat.

Thus I play Nethack very slowly and it can take weeks (!) for me to finish a game.

What sort of behaviour do you want your players to demonstrate when playing your game?

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People are used to watching there health and magic points so having them watch there food stores or hunger value isn't a big issue. The problem comes when you have to watch so much stuff the game isn't fun anymore. The line between realistic and just boring is very grey and its also a personal thing as well so you'll never satisfy everyone. For me personally I'd rather not have to worry about it, but if you put it in the game and never gave me the option I probably wouldn't mind having to do it though :P

Just make sure you don't have to eat to often, and your given plenty of warning when your low or run out of food. If your halway through a battle and then suddenly die because you havn't eaten in days by accident then that'll suck big time and i'll probably uninstall your game on principle for being so annoying ^_^

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Quote:
Original post by kaysik
People are used to watching there health and magic points so having them watch there food stores or hunger value isn't a big issue. The problem comes when you have to watch so much stuff the game isn't fun anymore. The line between realistic and just boring is very grey and its also a personal thing as well so you'll never satisfy everyone. For me personally I'd rather not have to worry about it, but if you put it in the game and never gave me the option I probably wouldn't mind having to do it though :P

Just make sure you don't have to eat to often, and your given plenty of warning when your low or run out of food. If your halway through a battle and then suddenly die because you havn't eaten in days by accident then that'll suck big time and i'll probably uninstall your game on principle for being so annoying ^_^



Hmm...you know what, I change my answer. I think every RPG, especially Square RPGs, should make you eat every 5 minutes or else your stats start to plummet. Also, I think that the games should not inform you when you've got 3 people down and you're on your last sandwich. I think starvation should be prominent in battles, too.

Maybe then people will stop copying Square RPGs so much.

[/joke]

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Good points everyone. Thanks for the quick responses. We decided to use the automatic eating so the player isn't bothered with actually clicking the food. They will need to have food in their pack though. Also cooking is one of the crafting skills in the game and doing the feed-o-matic shouldn't hurt it.

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If you've ever played Nethack, then you've no doubt lost countless characters to starvation. [grin]

If eating is just going to be a by-rote sort of thing (eat to maintain some on-screen stat; stat hits 0 and just like with hit points, you're dead), you might want to consider not doing it. Consider Nethack. There are more things involved with eating than just keeping enough energy to go on.

Eating too much can cause choking. Some foods are greasy and may make your hands slippery, causing you to drop your weapon and have difficulty wielding it again. Some food items may have other uses; dead lizards can be tasty and nutritious, but they can also be effective when wielded against cockatrices. Eating a leprechaun corpse can inflict the eater with 'teleportation sickness', causing the character to teleport randomly around. A ring of teleportation control can then be worn to grant the user control over the teleportation. Eating the corpse of a floating eye can grant one ESP; if the player then blindfolds himself (or drinks a potion of blindness, or gets creamed by a Keystone Kop, or any of the numerous methods of going blind) he can then detect the presence of monsters and know their location. Food can spoil and cause food poisoning if left for too long before eating. Food can come in tins, which are difficult to open without some sort of can opener. Food can be tainted. Food can be vomited up, increasing your hunger level. Eating a carrot can cure magically induced blindness. Eating a human corpse (or a corpse of the same race as the character) is considered cannibalism and is punished by the gods. And so on, and so on...

If eating in Nethack were just a simple thing of 'eat this much food to be able to go for this long' and so on, I would not have enjoyed it and probably would not have continued playing Nethack for so long. Yes, it is annoying as hell sometimes to starve to death on L4, simply because you've found no food rations since raiding the shop on L2, and all you've been killing is zombie kobolds, which leave rotten corpses that are unsafe to eat. Or your dog darts in and eats a fresh kill before you can get to it. But the process of eating as implemented, and all the associated things that come along with it, simply add so much to the game that what might normally be a boring and inconsequential detail becomes something fun instead.

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If the goal is realism then somethings wrong. The goal should be entertainment. Most of my meals are mundane and boring. Going out to diner with friends in a fine restruant is an entirely differant story. If you can simulate that then you add something to the game. You arrive at the next town, head to the tavern, have a meal, some drinks, individuals head out to sell loot and restock, you spend the night at the inn and you head out. You don't do it because you have to, but because it is going to take people time to do everything they need to and in the real world they need to use the bathroom, grab something to eat or get a fresh drink. Setting in the tavern telling tall tales is a way to pass the time while you wait. Spending the night in an inn is a way to let people know you are afk and when you are back.

There is certainly no problem with making food a resource in the game that needs to be managed. You eat food, you drink a potion, what differance does it make. It doesn't matter if you died in some fight because you ran out of healing potions or because you haven't eaten or slept in days. It's a resource to be managed, you failed to manage it and as a result you died. Forget roleplaying though. That isn't roleplaying, but rather it's playing a game according to the rules of the game. The player doesn't want to watch a movie of their character walking through the world killing everything it comes across. They want an active role. They want decisions that at least give the appearance of mattering. So they need resources to manage. Skill/attribute points, potions, food, gold, backpack space, etc. You don't want to just give them widgets, every five minutes a widget disappears, when they run out of widgets they die so they have to keep hunting widgets. If that's what you want to make food then don't bother.

When it comes to roleplaying though don't mistake props for resources to be managed. Resources management is part of the game. Props are just for laughs and giggles. The wolves are running rampant over the farms killing cows as soon as they pop so a steak here costs an arm and a leg. You're in a sea port so its fish everything in every tavern you go to. You find a run down tavern in the back woods, stop for a meal and get sick. You drank too many ales in too short a period of time so now you can't walk a straight line, you're insulting the local residents and a detail of the city guard is following you down the street until you leave town. That adds something to the atmosphere which promote roleplaying, but having to collect and eat 1,000 apples, all apples, nothing but apples, until you hope you never see another apple again adds nothing to the roleplaying.

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Perhaps some sort of hp regenerator, linked with eating?

The player sets (and can change at any time) the level of eating, from starvation to gormet.

At startavion, you loose x hp 3 times a day (when you should be eating).

At gormet, you gain x hp 3 times a day (because you have eaten)

At mediocre, you neither gain, nor loose any points.

You have a fixed amount of food, which you can buy at shops, find, ect. And when you eat (which is fixed), you loose an amount of food based on what level you are at (at starvation, you sue no food, at gormet you use heaps).

Just an idea...
DENC

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I think it all depends on the type of RPG. It would be stupid for an RPG like Diablo to have a food system since the player rarely wanders far from town (or at least in the first one they didn't).

However, in a more traditional, "epic" style RPG where the players might have to make there way across a large continent, I could see a food like system working. This is because the adventuring is the main focus in a game like this, while in Diablo the main focus is about combat.

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Great input everyone. The system we are using is based on skills. We did not want to go with only a skill level/number to base total proficiency on. To me it is beyond unrealistic to say a player will always perform at the same level no matter what. Using an energy system of sorts that will vary the effectiveness of skills is what we are shooting for. The food (and possibly rest) are going to tied into that. It takes in to consideration the quality/type of food on energy replenishment while the predetermined effort levels for the activities a player can perform will all have a negative effect on the total energy which is calculated against the skill proficiency.

Again thanks for the inputs everyone.

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if a person wants to take the time to gather / prepare / eat food then they should be rewarded. The time that they have put in should be worth something.

Keeping the player feeling like they are making progress is very crutial. Progress could be considered fun but not always. I hate games where if feels like I'm going no where and what I'm doing is worthless because the time it costs to do it is not worth the outcome.

Eating should be there ... required ... no

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by Grellin
I have a question that I would basically like to get a few opinions on. First, the background. A few friends and I are making a small scale single player RPG as a stepping stone to possibly something larger in the future. We are just about finished with the design stage less on the run modifications and we have hit our first bump in the road. We are planning on an RPG like Morrowind not Diablo. Not in scale or quality, just used as an example to demonstrate NOT hack and slash. I know that all games of this nature have combat as part of the game, and most make it the focus of the entire game. I have worked very hard to give the player alternatives to combat to play the game with a non violent quest system, merchant classes, player affected economy. Don't get me wrong, the player will still be able to grab the ol' widow maker but it is a choice.

My question is, sorry took so long to get to it, how much realism is too much? People play games to escape from reality but I believe a certain amount helps ground the game. I believe a player should have to eat or suffer penalties in performance. My partner does not. So, if you would be so kind as to share your opinions on this I would be grateful.





Cause and effect is fairly shallow and obvious in hack-n-slash.

In a more complex representation of reality, can you show the state of the world effectively???

Can you express emotions and stance of the characters in the world so that players can have a clue about what is really going on???

Will objects react and interrelate realisticly so that the players already know what works (instead of being arbitrary) in
your more complicated world???

Will the player have the ability to express emotions/stances to communicate to other players AND npcs???

Will the NPC objects remember and react accordingly with some kind of history memory ???



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