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JSwing

How much are you willing to suffer? (Horror)

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I''m still tinkering around with horror ideas. One of the aspects that I''m working on is long term detrimental effects to the player character. Not crippling ones, but something to provide a sense of risk. There''s cosmetic things, like turning the player''s hair white. Then there are temporary setbacks, like a sprained ankle, or broken arm. I cna imagine the mechanics for a sprained ankle to be something like -10% movement rate, with a small chance the player loses a turn as they mistep. These would be a hindrance, but they wouldn''t be permanent, maybe only for the duration of the current chapter. Then there are permanent things, like scars. This would be something that affects one portion of the game (NPC reactions) but maybe not another (combat). And maybe tradeoffs - player gains skill or knowledge X, but doing so costs them permanent health. or somesuch. My question is, how much would you, as a player, tolerate the suffering of your character before you hit Reload? Assume that the player is set as a normal person (not a superhero) and that no hindrance would directly prevent the player from winning, although after accumulating a few it might get tough. This is sort of the opposite of most games today, where you quaff a handful of health potions after each bttle and you face your next opponent in the same condition as your previous one - like a stcom where each show ends exactly where it begins.

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The idea of permanent alterations to characters is a very good one and offers a much wider scope of realism and replay value to a game, but I have seen permanent character alterations implemented in some games before and ther main problem is the quicksave - if you didn''t like the outcome, just reload and try something different. This can be done for as long as the player wants until the outcome is favorable. A way round this would be to maybe set save points in the game instead of just a save option in the menu. This could be problematic if the save points are too far away, with players not being able to stop ofter, but if you get the balance right it could be done. Another way would be to implement a saving implement into the game, so that they need a certain item to save, that way the player could save when they want, but have a limited number of saves. That way players would not just be able to save at the start of combat/entering a room and just reload from there unless they are willing to use a save item. Working out a system to do this would be good because some of the ideas you talked about sounded pretty cool.

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Doing the saves is one way, but I don''t really like it. I think there''s a line that most people would draw (like if they really fouled up) beyond which they would hit the Reload. I don''t begrudge them this - the point is to have fun after all.

I''d like to convey to the player that scars, bruises, and injuries are a natural consequence of battling the forces of darkness. Not a penalty for poor performance by the player, but a normal result of doing heroic tasks.

Not to mention things like loss of sanity, tho I''ve already got some good ideas for integrating that one.

Would you, as a player, be satisfied with a character who was less than perfect?

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One thing I just thought of is if those "imperfections" were interesting and balanced.
Just imagine if scars meant people were less likely to be friendly towards you, but more likely to be impressed/commanded by you? You exude strength and bravery because of those scars.

The "damage" could make your character more interesting, instead of simply weaker. You might run into NPC reactions you've never seen before, just because you have a broken leg. (Hey, you finally managed to get the attention of that gorgeous waitress now you're hurt... she feels sorry for you and wants to help you.)


People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
Mad Keith the V.

Edited by - MadKeithV on January 11, 2001 8:45:17 AM

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I personally think that a character with faults is a character without personality but I come from a backgroung of roleplaying games. I do think that being able to just reload if you''re really not happy with your character is fair, but the point I was trying to make was that the average gamer will see any bad alteration to the character as an excuse to reload that one fight. I have seen many gamers who use the quicksave button when entering any combat situation, and if they come out with less health then they would like then they reload. I do however think that the idea of some alterations due to the heroic task idea is a good one. Say you want to do a task which is beyond you''re character''s profile as such, you could expect to come back with some sort of injury. Like if your character wants to try and stop a train with their bare hands, or more realisticaly, if they want to save the village/city/world from a massive demon then coming out of it with a few scars and a bit less insanity is perfectly reasonable. The kind of system where there is a tradeoff would be a good one - if something happens to you it should be for a good reason. So that the player knows that if they try to fight this hero they will come out of it injured, or if they escape the castle by diving from the top into the sea and swim to the mainland there will be some permanent side-effects. That way the player makes the choice - be heroic and suffer the consequences or don''t take on more then they could handle. Normal combat with your bog-standard creature should not cause you to lose an arm or something, that I would find really annoying, but I admit that for realism''s sake there would always be a chance of you getting injured, it just shouldn''t be something permanent every time.

The semi-permanent effects like sprained or even broken arms could be allowed into combat if it is realistic to include it, I think if they were reasonably easy to heal (even if it did leave a scar) then I wouldn''t mind having the occasional combat injury.

I would be really annoyed if I permanently lost some strength in my arm from a combat injury, having permanent stat losses as part of injuries would only be fun if there were ways of increasing them again (training, studying, just general experience in that area). Overall it is a good idea, but it just has to be implemented so that the player doesn''t feel like their character is degrading over time as opposed to advancing, and picking up a few scars along the way. Is this for a specific game or is this just an idea you were thinking about?

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I like the idea of having different interaction options available due to injuries. Maybe a believability factor if you''re trying to get help:

You walk into some location and try to convince the NPC''s that there is some sort of threat at the [insert other location here]. If your character shows obvious signs of having been in such a situation (broken arm, bleeding, hair gone white) then they will believe you. If your character walks in without a scratch, with no other form of proof, they''ll think your insane, and try to restrain you/call the local asylum, etc.

There could be makeup/prosthetics (wigs/contacts etc) to avoid some interaction penalties.

As for sanity, I think a system could work with multiple levels of mental illness. There would be minor quirks, phobias, etc, and more major illnesses like catatonic episodes. Illnesses would work as a sort of outlet, when the character is subjected to a situation that will affect your sanity, there will be a chance to gain an illness, and it will affect the characters overall mental state. The severeness of the illness would be determined by the overall state, and the more illnesses the character has, the more jaded (resistant to future illnesses) they are. Illnesses could also be temporary and actually improve the characters overall mental state when recovered from. (You feel better about the world after coming out of your corner ) The length/severity would be controlled by the overall mental state.

Basically, a player who reloads to avoid a minor mental breakdown, would be more likely to have worse ones later.

Hope that makes some sense.

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What I''m hearing is that cosmetic changes are ok, and temporary hindrances are ok if used in moderation, but permanent changes are only good if they are a tradeoff.

I can accept that.


Shudder: Yes, it''s a specfic project, but it''s only in the ''ideas on paper'' stage right now.

pwd: the subject of Sanity is worth an entirely separate thread since it touches on author control and the nature of roleplaying. But I''ve already got a plan for that.

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Adding my 0.02 credits, I agree w/ MKV about the trade-offs as far as damage.

But I''d invite you to think about what you''re trying to get the player to deal with in the first place. You can remove saves, and balance every scar with a fearsome NPC reaction, but I don''t think that''s enough.

I think you need to get away from minmax gameplay if you want players to accept loss. If you toss them into a haunted house with hundreds of ghouls, and there''s only one way out (and that''s through them) then of course they''re going to save and restore. Your efforts of detailed wound effects & such are lost for the sole reason that you haven''t-- in this example-- given them a reason to appreciate the combat system.

Now, if players can hide and heal, damage adds more tension...

If enemies can suffer the same effects and the player knows this, damage is more fair...

If wounds actual blend naturally with gameplay (think bloodtrail and hemorraging, drugs, bandages, monster tracking, etc)...

then I think the player will more greatly appreciate your efforts.

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

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