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A substitue for combat?

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I replied in EGG before realizing it was closed. AP made a comment I thought was interesting. Would anyone like to take this up? Here''s the text from EGG:
quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster That''s true games serve more function than just as an outlet for our violent tendency. They also serve as an outlet for human creativity, problem solving, social interaction, teaching, etc.. basicly a much widder range than just violence.
I agree. I think the most significant one as far as computer games go is problem solving.
quote:
the violence out of RPGs and you still could create a fun RPG, however it will have to replace the predominate form of conflict with something just as engaging, and truthfully i dont know what that would be. Conflict doesnt come from netural npc interactions. Giving the player a million ways to trade things or 1000s of dialogue options but not one way to kill a pesky goblin doesnt make the game more fun. You will need to replace the conflict/resolution mechansism with something just as simple/engaging, perhaps competitive tetris.
Consider that combat actually is little more than problem solving, with a time pressure and the important context of an extreme threat (death, which makes it viscerally more exciting). If I''m right about this, then you could replace combat with time based problems (for adrenaline) that threaten the player with loss, but don''t have binary outcomes. Tetris does this excellently, especially competitive tetris where your success is the other guys failure. The key factor is risk: In the gameplay, what risks are the player taking? It can''t be something static. Replacements: -Stealth (Theif). Nuff said. -Jumping puzzles that have incremental failure (no insta-death, but failure costs you something). -Conversation and lying, where what you say or don''t say could get you killed -Trading, either with a time based financial risk (competitive bidding), or illicit deals (con jobs, smuggling) -Experiemental magick / technology inventions that could blow up in your face -Any speed based navigation: racing, skating, flying There are many more, but we have to understand what makes combat so intriguing in order to emulate them... -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership...

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Great points, Wav. One thing about combat that I know we've covered: I think there is problem solving, but isn't there that part where in combat winning has this extra primal feeling of power? If you defeat something/someone in combat it has extra power than just winning or succeeding other ways.

Thief had a spendid idea about sneaking around and avoiding conflict, but wasn't it kind of fun sometimes to knock a guard on the head even though you could easily leave him be?


http://www15.brinkster.com/nazrix/main.html

"All you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be --Pink Floyd
Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.


Edited by - Nazrix on January 10, 2001 4:36:53 PM

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How about survival and exploration as an alternative.

Then there''s our personal favorite, Wav, manipulating a plot or story using strategical components.


http://www15.brinkster.com/nazrix/main.html

"All you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be --Pink Floyd
Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.

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quote:
Original post by Nazrix

Great points, Wav. One thing about combat that I know we've covered: I think there is problem solving, but isn't there that part where in combat winning has this extra primal feeling of power? If you defeat something/someone in combat it has extra power than just winning or succeeding other ways.



Hmmm.... Yeah, I forget about this one a lot. Being the best, being the strongest, being first. Good point! So to match combat you need this one, too.

quote:

Thief had a spendid idea about sneaking around and avoiding conflict, but wasn't it kind of fun sometimes to knock a guard on the head even though you could easily leave him be?



Yeah, I'm convinced that the best thing isn't to eliminate combat, but to design so that combat's not the only option. When it's blended with other types of gameplay combat can become rich rather than tedious (as I and many people find extended Diablo, for instance).

quote:
Original post by Nazrix

How about survival and exploration as an alternative.



With starvation and exposure as incremental failure and risk? Hmmm... I like that! Avoid becoming the Donner Party (Old West settlers, some of who froze to death and became cannibals after being trapped in a snowstorm in the Rockies, for those that don't know)

quote:

Then there's our personal favorite, Wav, manipulating a plot or story using strategical components.



Hah, notice I didn't say "systems."

Edited by - Wavinator on January 10, 2001 5:07:22 PM

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quote:
Original post by Wavinator

With starvation and exposure as incremental failure and risk? Hmmm... I like that! Avoid becoming the Donner Party (Old West settlers, some of who froze to death and became cannibals after being trapped in a snowstorm in the Rockies, for those that don''t know)



Yeah, I am thinking of using that in my current game. Yes the risk of starvation would emulate combat. I didn''t even think of that factor.

quote:

Hah, notice I didn''t say "systems."



Yeah that''s right. We need to keep things specific I just really like that one



http://www15.brinkster.com/nazrix/main.html

"All you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be --Pink Floyd
Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.

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quote:

Replacements:

-Stealth (Theif). Nuff said.
-Jumping puzzles that have incremental failure (no insta-death, but failure costs you something).
-Conversation and lying, where what you say or don''t say could get you killed
-Trading, either with a time based financial risk (competitive bidding), or illicit deals (con jobs, smuggling)
-Experiemental magick / technology inventions that could blow up in your face
-Any speed based navigation: racing, skating, flying



I''m assuming you mean in RPGs, and so I have to comment on this. Somehow, I don''t think jumping puzzles of any kind will catch on as a replacement (even temporary) to RPG combat. I don''t know about others, but for me, whether it has insta-death or not, jumping is not going to strike me as having anything to do with the game unless there is a definite situation that has to be finished. Like maybe if you''re running along trying to escape something your party obviously cannot handle, then jumping might work. It just seems like too much of a throwback to platform games to work in an RPG.

Of course, if you meant some other genre, then this post suddenly has no meaning...
--


WNDCLASSEX Reality;
...
...
Reality.lpfnWndProc=ComputerGames;
...
...
RegisterClassEx(&Reality);


Unable to register Reality...what''s wrong?
---------
Dan Upton
Lead Designer
WolfHeart Software

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Sometimes we forget that in a game there has to be no strict adherence to realistic combat sineros. I personally perfer competitve tetris/combat sinceros. Imagine this you meet a band of goblins in the woods, and instantly enter the competive tetris mode. If you beat all of them at competive tetris they drop their goodies and run off, if not then you must drop 1 inventroy item. Viola, non-violent fun combat! Their are other competive puzzle games, pac-man anyone? Really that could be quite fun!

Good Luck

-ddn

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My favorite is argument-fighting.

On Guard! Cliche!
Oh, that is so cliche!

You''re the ugliest monster ever created!
.... if you don''t count those you''ve dated!

Five people to day I''ve already defeaten!
Buy the size of your gut I''d guess they''ve been eaten!

etc......

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quote:
Original post by draqza

I''m assuming you mean in RPGs, and so I have to comment on this.

...

Of course, if you meant some other genre, then this post suddenly has no meaning...



Sorry draqza, I actually DID mean more than just RPG genres. So for instance if your goal was to get to the top of a tower, but you had to navigate all these wind ducts, and falling didn''t always mean death, then maybe that would be a substitute.



--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster

Sometimes we forget that in a game there has to be no strict adherence to realistic combat sineros. I personally perfer competitve tetris/combat sinceros. Imagine this you meet a band of goblins in the woods, and instantly enter the competive tetris mode. If you beat all of them at competive tetris they drop their goodies and run off, if not then you must drop 1 inventroy item. Viola, non-violent fun combat!


Hmmm... Okay. Bizarre, but okay... Although it could apply to some ritual. It would prolly work better w/ something that''s more in character.

Hey, a good example might be a card game. Sort of like in tales of the Old West, where the Doc Holiday character comes in and beats the pants off of everyone via poker...



--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by Forcas

My favorite is argument-fighting.



Ever see the movie Rozencranz and Gildenstern Are Dead? The two main characters had these crazy arguments that were like tennis matches (and even scored as such). It''s hard to explain, but a must see.



--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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Guest Anonymous Poster
In the natural world combat is often avoided as too costly to the participants and a common conflict avoidance strategy is competitive display.

examples would be the peacocks tail, frigate bird chest puffing and gorilla chest beating

myths and legends make references to competitive non violent challenges - riddling, throwing things, lifting things, drinking etc, so a challenge wouldnt necessarily have to be tetris, but could be more relevant to the plot/theme of a game.

Lastly, in the natural world again, conflicts are not always ''to the death'', they often only last until one protagonist has established dominance. Would some mechanism that allows conflicts to be broken off be useful ? There would still be gain/loss but over a wider range of values than kill or be killed.

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I have an idea kind of like what AP said:

Instead of stabbing that poor goblin in the back or killing him with magic, why not challenge him to a match of (place some neat game name here. I was thinking of either a card game or a game with dice). If you win he will let you into the goblin tunnel or if you lose he won''t let you by.

The player should be able to win money/items by winning the game, and at certain points in the game (like the one above) the player could barter with the goblin and give him something or pay him off. To build up the players inventory, he/she could go to the local village and try bartering/trading items until he gets something he wants (maybe have on of the goals that he starts off with nothing but a pair of half-worn out shoes and has to eventually get the magic jewel all by trading). Sure this would be hard to program but it could be quite neat to play. You could even throw in a pickpocket skill so the character can steal the ocasional item from a sleeping grunt/troll/human but if he/she gets caught then there would be a penalty.

What do you guys think of this?

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Hey, I like that last idea Moe, but I''m afraid to say some of those ideas touch WAY too close to pokemon,

-Doddler

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Question (a repeat from the EGG):

What is it that you are trying to do? Do you want to come up with a direct non-violent competition between individuals (or parties)?

If so, then AP had it right. Simply substitute some other form of competition for combat. Heck, you could even keep the mechanics of your violent game and simply replace the text and pictures.

(You need a 12 or less on your paint skill - you roll a 14 oh no ! painter''s block! The goblin rolls a 6, and does 3 points of painting to his canvas. Another 5 points and his masterpiece will be completed before yours!)

Silly, but who cares? It would still be fun. Replace the die rolls with a form of tetris where you are drawing and erasing lines on a sketchpad, racing to reveal the picture underneath.


Or are you looking for something other than direct competition, like a puzzle you have to solve or something that depends solely on your hand-eye-coordination?

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I guess what I was trying to say is that the mechanics (whether it''s tetris, rhyming games, or die rolling) can be separated from the effects (falling blocks, drawing pictures, gory sword cutting).

Not that they always should, but that they can.

So are you looking for a different mechaninc or a different effect?

JSwing

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>Ever see the movie Rozencranz and Gildenstern Are Dead? The two
>main characters had these crazy arguments that were like tennis
>matches (and even scored as such). It''s hard to explain, but a
>must see.
Very cool play (and film) and you''re definetly right about the main characters'' interaction. Hillarious. But it''s very tricky to write stuff like that well.

I don''t want to get too involved in the depths of your discussion, but could someone quickly explain why you might want to take the combat (or the option of combat) out of a game? People like fighting, it''s in our nature, and games are the best place for it really. If you''re thinking of doing it just to distinguish your game from the rest, then have you considered that you may be sacrificing the "fun factor" just to be different???

I don''t know. Just thinking out loud.

>Imagine this you meet a band of goblins in the woods, and
>instantly enter the competive tetris mode.
My only problem with that very nifty little idea, is that after losing - the first thing I''d want to do is give those goblins a good kicking. And I''d want the game to let me do it too...



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quote:
Original post by JSwing

Question (a repeat from the EGG):

What is it that you are trying to do? Do you want to come up with a direct non-violent competition between individuals (or parties)?



It''s not a matter of getting rid of violence, it''s about more meaningful violence. Violence can mean so much more if it means something within the game. In so many games we don''t even think of why we''re blindly murdering everything we see. We just know that everything we see is our advesary and must die. There''s usually very little thinking involved.

Instead imagine if the combat actually meant something. You''re killing someone because you have a reason within the game to do so. That person may have done something terrible and you have a reason want to attack them.

It''s the difference between a horror movie where people just die left and right and it means nothing and a war movie such as Saving Private Ryan where it really has a meaning when someone is killed.

Sure horror movies can be fun to watch, but if all we had were horror movies or maybe action movies where people die a lot and it means very little it would get boring fast.




http://www15.brinkster.com/nazrix/main.html
"All you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be --Pink Floyd
Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.

What a plight we who try to make a story-based game have...writers of conventional media have words, we have but binary numbers

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Wait, sorry that came out wrong.

The thread is titled ''a substitute for combat'' and I was trying to see whether we were talking about replacing the simulation of violence with a simulatyion of non-violent competition, or just interested in a different game mechanic.

To put it another way, a game today might have a goblin guarding a cave. In this game you kill him by swinging a sword and splattering blood all over the screen.

We can change this in different ways.

First we could replace the graphics, etc with a scene where you have a painting competition against the goblin instead. You can keep the same mechanics (die rolls or whatever) and simply replace the sprites. Change the name of your skills and weapons to fit the painting theme. Ta da.

In this case the mechanics are irrelevant and you''re really working on the graphics, sounds, story parts.

Or you can view combat as simply a direct conflict between parties and replace it with another style of conflict. the afore-mentioned jumping puzzles, or stock market trading or tetris or what have you.

This changes the direct competition to an indirect one. It''s a fundamental shift in mechanics. You can still keep the graphics as violent as you want, but the nature of the conflict has changed.

Does this make sense?

And if so, which do we want to discuss in this thread?

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JSwing,
I think orginially we wanted to find game mechanics and activities that are as fun as combat whether it have to do w/ conflict or not...

i.e.
stealth
(for instance, thief encouraged the lack of direct combat. Instead it was rewarded to avoid combat by using stealth)


we're looking for things that are as fun as and as repeatable as combat but not necessarily have to do w/ conflict.

Wav, mentioned the importance of risk, and I agree that's an important component

In essence, I think Wav is saying..."what makes combat such a fun repeatable activity and can we replicate that feeling with other activities"


Edited by - Nazrix on February 15, 2001 9:27:48 PM

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Well I doubt that it would really help to come up with a replacement, if the replacement is meant carte blanche, that is, if you toss in a mandolin duel between warring troll tribes, to decide which tribe overtakes the Magic Valley. It''s just plain silly to toss in something that doesn''t fit with the theme.

What needs to be done, is establish a motive for the contest. If you want alternatives for violence, then you also need to stay away from traditional violent-scapes (for lack of a better term). Replacing A with B just for the sake of A''s replacement doesn''t make a good game because it sounds interesting on paper... if you present the audience with events that are traditionally dealt with in terms of violence, and only offer solutions that don''t logically fit the event, then is the game really fun?

Instead, try to find ways to present challenges that (usually) HAVE no violent solution. Political, emotional, commercial, social, scholastic, scientific, or whatever. At least then, the solutions will appeal to a wider audience, rather than the 5% that saw the same thing on T.V. or in a movie.



MatrixCubed
http://MatrixCubed.org

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quote:
Original post by MatrixCubed

Well I doubt that it would really help to come up with a replacement, if the replacement is meant carte blanche , that is, if you toss in a mandolin duel between warring troll tribes, to decide which tribe overtakes the Magic Valley. It''s just plain silly to toss in something that doesn''t fit with the theme.



That''s not really what we''re trying to accomplish. We''re not looking for a replacement for combat. We''re looking for an activity or game mechanic that delivers the same level of entertainment and repeatability that combat delivers which has nothing to do w/ conflict.

Thief was a great example. The sneaking aspect was as fun as killing is in most games. It was such a great game mechanic that it was used throughtout the game and was always interesting.

So we are not looking for an activity to simply plug in place of combat, we''re looking for a game mechanic that delivers the same kind of fun as combat does.

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Nazrix, let me see if I understand you correctly then. What we are trying to do then is find a substitute for combat to determine the outcome of a conflict. Right? For example, instead of dueling with a goblin using swords to gain entrance to his lair, we might mutually decide to engage in, say, arm wrestling. Or perhaps a spitting contest.

Is this what you mean? Just kidding!

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quote:
Original post by bishop_pass

Nazrix, let me see if I understand you correctly then. What we are trying to do then is find a substitute for combat to determine the outcome of a conflict. Right? For example, instead of dueling with a goblin using swords to gain entrance to his lair, we might mutually decide to engage in, say, arm wrestling. Or perhaps a spitting contest.



Precisely! Wouldn''t that be great?!

quote:

Is this what you mean? Just kidding!



Thank God. I thought I''d have to start shooting people if I had to type it again. Oops. I''m trying not to advocate violence.

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