Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Wavinator

RPG: Cultural gameplay enough or are you just "gaming the system?"

This topic is 4991 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Consider a holy warrior whose ethic is this: You must never back down from any insult to your master, you must always help the poor and you can never become rich yourself. Let's say that the gameplay for this warrior was based on a measure of reputation and internal "righteousness." You gain some of each by defeating enemies of your master; by helping the poor against brigands, or simply feeding them; and you could never sell, trade or equip expensive items (short circuiting the kill monster-get expensive item-level up treadmill and replacing it with missions and reputation). At some point a coder is going to have to code a point system that acknowledges your actions. Ignore an insult, lose some points in multiple categories; feed the poor, gain some points; etc. What would help you as a player to not "game the system," i.e., mentally break down the game world into objects you simply apply a strategy to? IOW, what would stop you from thinking, "Hmmm.... I want to level up, let me go feed these stupid beggars some more fish so I can get a few more points." Is the ONLY answer fully detailed NPCs so richly variated that you develop an emotional attachment? Would obscuring the numbers or delaying the feedback and response to your actions help at all? I make the last suggestion on the guess that the faster the feedback, the more mechanical you begin to think the process is ("poke button, get response" is a characteristic we I think tend to associate with machines).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
Something I've done in one of my RPGs is add in a hidden honor system. I don't let the players know that its there, but when they kill a neutral or friendly monster or NPC it subtracts from their honor variable. As time goes on if they get better honor, the town folk will start talking to them and even give free at the local tavern. If it get low enough, the NPCs will not even talk to them and no shop keeper will deal with them. The key here is to keep the player wondering... what was it that brought them upon them. It then creates a test-check mode where the players will try to be as bad as they want and not care or it will lead to them testing out acts of kindess and proper role play that the developer never intended.

-LJR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Black & White

Now there was a game where i wasn't looking at the points.
If you don't want ppl to care about the numbers and focus on the game, don't show the numbers, show some other vague representation of those numbers, like in B&W we wouldn't have a 'good' score and 'bad' score, our creature would evolve fisically and 'mentaly' to match their score.

Don't change the points immediately, if they do something right, let a random amount of time pass before adding it to the result, in a way hidding the value of each task, but at the end of a good day, showing a good result.

Make the points be affected by many factors, so that the line of thought 'i do this i get that' doesn't work so directly. So one would need to do 'a', 'b', 'c' and 'd' for factor 'x' to increase, and the amount increased would for instance depend on 'e' and 'f'. This might add some high overhead though.

Like LJR said, implement some(or several) scoring system and hide it, horror, depression, happyness, fisical form even, social skills, honor, righteousness, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree with what Way Walker said.

Heh.

Seriously though, hide the hard numbers from the player. Come up with other ways of describing their abilities and stats, either visually or textually. I'd much rather find a very sharp flaming sword than a +3 Sword of Flame. Or know that I'm moderately strong and extremely quick versus knowing simply the numbers. And by all means don't tell 'em how many HPs they've got. At the least use explanatory levels, like very good condition, poor condition, etc., with the addition of a graphical feedback mechanism all the more welcome (e.g., your face in Quake 1 - as you became more damaged it got bloodier and bloodier).

Like xor said, if you don't give them numbers to play, they're not going to play the numbers. The trick is to give the number runners so much other stuff to care about that they won't miss 'em.

Take care.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LJR:
Keeping the player wondering should be used with caution.

If they do not connect the dots thy will tend to think your game is broken.

Thus, make sure player knows about ‘hidden honor system’ but can never see the value or some such.

...

Quite good ideas presented.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bother... wouldn't let me post last night.

Anyway, when all is said and done, it is a game, so I don't think it's possible (if even desirable) to get the player to entirely ignore the system. I saw Black and White mentioned. Yeah, the "honor system" was pretty well hidden, but you still had a pretty good idea of which direction you were heading with each action you took.

I think the best way isn't necessarily to create deep and rich NPC's, but deep and rich "encounters" or "quests". If at the end of the day all you're given is "Stick sword in enemies, stick bread in beggars", then all you've got is the system. Maybe your response should depend on the context. If they offend my master out of ignorance, they should be informed. If they actively seek to slander my master, maybe they'll find themselves looking at the pointy end of my weapon of choice. If a family man spits when my or my master's name is mentioned, perhaps I could help him in some way to restore his faith in my master.

Also, as mentioned, more subtle ways of telling you your reputation are always desirable. Have it show in the way people interact with you. If it fits with the game world, maybe bad weather will follow you where ever you go if you've strayed from the code.

These aren't so much ways to keep the player from viewing it as a system, but ways to occupy them with more than just the system. If I'm deciding among the myriad of ways I can deal with this situation, I probably have more than just the honor system to weigh (and probably many factors weighing into just the honor system aspect, as well).

Distraction, like a magic trick.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Delaying the reward is the easiest way of avoiding mechanical gameplay. You need some kind of random component, or the reward will still become associated with the mechanical action (humans are decent at figuring out rewards over 'long'{gametime} periods of time). Maybe something like every 45+random(-10 to +10) minutes{starting after some deed worth X points total, or when a deed pushes the 'award poo'l over X points), apply 2/3 of the 'award pool' to the character, rounding the applied value up in such a way that it converges relatively quickly. This will make characters notice the increase after relatively important deeds, or also after doing many minor good deeds, but they won't see "+1 Experience" all the time and they won't miss increases for being too gradual.

Also, hiding the numbers would assist tremendously. Instead of 'Fighting Skill: 25' or 'Fighting Skill: Excellent', just have their character get better at fighting (ie, fighting skill goes up to 25, but it doesn't label it as such anywhere and the number is only used internally). They should notice the increase by being able to take out those used-to-be-difficult guys easily.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Extrarius
Also, hiding the numbers would assist tremendously. Instead of 'Fighting Skill: 25' or 'Fighting Skill: Excellent', just have their character get better at fighting (ie, fighting skill goes up to 25, but it doesn't label it as such anywhere and the number is only used internally). They should notice the increase by being able to take out those used-to-be-difficult guys easily.


I'm a big fan of qualitative over quantitative measures, but to not give any measure at all would be frustrating. The problem is, the gamers I know enjoy talking levels and such. To remove this entirely would likely reduce the draw to the game (especially since it sounds like we're discussing an RPG, where cultivating your character(s) is a large part of the draw).

Also, as for 45 minutes to see improvement, that's a little extreme for my gaming schedule, but would maybe work for others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How about there are a number of deities on the wall of the temple, and they smile or frown at you based on how you're doing. The further into the temple, the harder the deities are to please. Then gamers can say "my green fox dude started smiling at me" to measure/compare progress.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

Participate in the game development conversation and more when you create an account on GameDev.net!

Sign me up!