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Grellin

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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