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RPG and FPS control systems

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Kevinater helped me see an interesting feature in both RPG and FPS control systems in his thread "PVP ideas". My last post there carries the basic idea of what I'm about to write, but not the implementation concept. RPG and FPS game mechanics carry basically the same control scheme with one major difference: the RPG scheme carries more automated functions than the FPS one. Still, both schemes have strengths for the players who enjoy them. For those who want to watch the melee unfold under their express command but not direct influence, the RPG control system works well. For those who enjoy a more hands-on approach and prefer to view the world from the ground up, there's the FPS control system where a player has direct control over his actions. These control schemes are perceived as being two totally separate concepts, but I believe a link exists between them. The RPG control system calculates strengths of a character, including attributes of accuracy and dodging ability. These traits and a few key others are central to the subconscious thinking process of an FPS player. The key difference is, a computer can calculate such statistics so quickly that it must be limited by a system in which dice rolls calculate the outcome, not true reaction times like with FPS players. Thus, abilities for a character such as accuracy are automated functions of the game environment, allowing the character to react to situations without direct control. This helps with the issue of latency in online games: if the player's character will react to the situation at hand rather than the lag inherent to the game, as the human player would, they have a distinct advantage in the real combat. These same lag issues are crippling features of online FPS games, limiting them to much smaller environments even today. My question is, what if it were possible to include both systems in the same game design? Say I'm in a situation where I have a fairly decent internet connection that would allow me to take direct control over my character without too much risk due to lag issues. In this situation, I would be able to take hold of my character and use an FPS playing style to accomplish my goals. When no longer needed or the lag situation becomes less favorable, I can switch back to a semi-automated RPG control scheme of roughly equal strength to my FPS skills. This carries several concerns, of course. An RPG system typically uses strength modifiers as well as accuracy to determine how much damage to inflict, whereas an FPS scheme is more dependent on the player's own accuracy and weapon skills. This would have to be balanced in such a way that a player at that experience level using that weaponry may be capable of inflicting that damage. The accuracy modifier would have to be close to its mark, but not too close, depending on the nature of the weaponry being used. Also, accuracy and/or dodging would have to be actual movements by the RPG-controlled character so that it acts on the competency level of an FPS player. (However, dodging ability could be an added ability to the FPS control scheme in some way, giving the player more survivability the higher in level they are, although it could unbalance the game in some way to have high-level players walking through firestorms unharmed as they fire away their main weapons with reckless abandon.) Furthermore, the attack from an RPG character has to be balanced in such a way that the computer automates the attack and yet forces some level of inaccuracy inherent to most FPS players. The attack must also be based on a delivery system much like an FPS player's use of ammunition and the requirement to lead his target in order to score a hit. A typical RPG system uses definitive "hit" or "no hit" conditions, whereas FPS systems allow for the hit to be dependent on several aspects of the game environment even while the bullet is in flight (or sword in swing, for that matter). In order to allow FPS gameplay, this has to be a consideration of the system. Anyway, I'm just on the verge of coming up with the idea as I write this down, so best I stop for a while and let it simmer. I'm looking for a mostly academic discussion on this one, although I'm considering it as an added feature to the design I posted last week ("Game idea for MMO"). Might be a bit large of a feat to pull off in a game that would already incorporate some radically new thinking, but how much so is the point of this thread. So, the question is: Do you think it would be possible to combine RPG and FPS control schemes in a kind of "on-the-fly" system that can switch between them quickly and still keep both systems equally effective in most situations? What aspects of MMORPGs carry similar traits in the thinking processes for an FPS player? How would these aspects need to be balanced against each other to create a system that tailors to all three PvP control situations: RPG-vs-RPG, FPS-vs-FPS, and RPG-vs-FPS? EDIT: On the part of the PvP situations, add to that the complexities of rank/experience level, creating three added criteria for each control scheme: low, middle, and high rank. That creates roughly 27 combinations of the control schemes and the experience level, including low-vs-low, low-vs-middle, etc. It makes sense to consider the equal-level combinations because a fight between two low-rank players is a very different experience from a fight between two high-rank players, especially in an FPS environment, but still in an RPG one, as well. [Edited by - NecroSen on June 22, 2005 1:56:00 PM]

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Original post by NecroSen
This carries several concerns, of course.

One of them: RPG type of character creation typically relies on balance between strengths and weaknesses. Very strong character won't be very accurate in their attacks; character able to heal a lot won't be too good at dodging blows and their damage tends to be low. Agile character will tend to be light armoured and not deal much damage (with exception of critical hits)

When you allow for the player skill to replace some of character's skill, this balance goes all out of the window. It allows me to maximize the stats which are not based on player skill (strength, resistance to damage etc) which the RPG system will try to balance by lack of agility, less accuracy etc... except i can then enable the hands-on control mode and effectively wind up with perfectly-accurate, extremely agile walking tank which can both strike and take damage like no one else.

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