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TechnoGoth

What would you want to do in an RPG without combat?

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TechnoGoth    2937
Now we all know most RPGs are about combat. But if you where to play one where there was no combat then what would you want to do in it? Now I'm not saying its a non violent game. Just that combat would be removed from it and instead come down to a characters stats and skills. Get jumped by two muggers carrying knives and choose to fight. The outcome would be based on your stats, skills, and equipment. But there'd be no battle for you to involve yourself in. There might be snap decisions for you to make. These come as option windows and a couple of seconds to make choice, but no combat in the traditional sense. If that was the case and you where playing a game in a new near future, crime ridden world. What sort of activities would you want to spend your time doing? So far I have: Social interactions Item building, Syndicate Building, Stealth operations, DD&M(Death, Destruction, and Mayham) [Edited by - TechnoGoth on November 27, 2006 11:36:34 AM]

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EnigmaCEO    122
Would be tough to pull off IMO. Taking all control out of the hands of the player and placing it on a dice roll? That will be a mighty big pill for people to swallow. Especially those who have become attached to their characters.

You may be able to package it as a RPG-lite and appeal to casual RPG players that don't have the time or patience for long and detailed combat systems.

Without something to slow players down you are going to have to find other timesinks to keep players from maxing out really quickly.

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JBourrie    1204
What you are describing sounds like an interesting strategy game concept, not so interesting of an "RPG" as the term is normally used. Have you considered removing single-character stats (like strength and speed) and instead focus on acquired power (monetary, territory, reputation, etc)? Possibly "combat" is actually just the final outcome of strategic planning and mission completion.

For example, you are currently the syndicate boss in Hightown. Your mission is to make alliances with the street gangs in Lowtown, but the triads in Lowtown want to keep control of those gangs. The mission begins by making peace with the gangs (in some way or another, depends on your gameplay and may have been an ongoing mission throughout the game). At some point, the triads come in to stop you and the gangs that you have acquired will either work with you or turn on you. Later, any acquired territory/gangs can be used to further your mob, or failure could result in the triads growing and taking your territories.

If you wanted it to feel more like the standard definition of an "RPG", this can all be presented in a style where you still control a single character. But your actions affect the world as a whole. (Now imagine this system in a Grand Theft Auto game...)

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Kevinator    229
Any number of things!

I don't understand how one could possibly think it'd be tough to pull of an RPG without combat. Combat is the tiniest slice of roles that can be played! Unfortunately, so many games are based on it. You could take on the role of an explorer or, well, anyone interesting who does interesting things.

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Omegavolt    196
Combat in an RPG seems to have a couple different roles:

- Uses character attributes to test against a measurable obstacle
- Quick suspenseful action
- Achievement/Reward system

Find any other event that accomplishes the same roles, and combat can be overlooked. :)

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Puzzle solving? As in Myst and Uru? Just have more of a character ?
Exploration and expeditions? - I for one like that more then combat. The rewards can be fining digging up gold or a cheap source of some item for sale.
Research and discovery? – Find out how to make bronze, compass or telescopes?
Business like game? As in Universal (A Tractor) RPG? Although it still has combat on some worlds most worlds are just big simple monopoly game.
Just talking and hanging out, parties, weddings, dances.

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Micromanagement, like scheduling your daily affairs in a sims style, might do it for some people. Leaving out combat or some other clear "do or die" scenario, though, you often wind up without a litmus test for your performance.

Wonder Project J for the SNES had a neat dynamic by which you'd perform a bunch of tasks to train your character to respond in a certain way to certain stimuli, then cut him loose in different situations. He'd have to open certain doors in certain ways, or use an item properly. It was fairly rudimentary, but it rewarded your efforts with a clear victory condition that was seldom related to killing something.

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Actually I think "no combat at all roll playing" is a kind of rpg that people have been hoping for. My idea of it is possibly too much like a sim. Create a character, possibly several, with in depth real-life features like diabetes or fear of spiders. Then you would have to manage their health and food intake, stay away from diseased people. Then managment of money or land, a business, even political power. There might be a greater goal such as free your people from oppression. I would put this in an ancient times setting. (if you die of old age at 40 carry on as one of your children.)

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TheOther    150
Anyone remember the original Dune game from Virgin?

This is one that really blurred the line between RPG and RTS, though it's probably much more RTS-leaning as you couldn't affect your own skills.

But the combat system was non-interactive on your part. You'd direct Fremen to target bases that were Harkonnen-controlled, and you would see the units either win or lose.

you could train up your Fremen army, but you never got to actually control them...ie. "Take out that Sadukar cannon on the right!"

But in the end, it really worked for the game design. You were focused on meeting spice production numbers to appease the Emperor, while monitoring and directing your Fremen forces.

But to get back OT, why not allow the player to do both? When combat begins, present the player with the option to skip the combat and base the outcome solely on your stats. *shrug*

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Benjamin Heath    925
Combat is rare in the day-to-day lives of most people. Perhaps your fictitious world is no different. Considering this, you could instead discourage most combat (as it may be allowed, but simply unfruitful for the most part) and focus on overcoming the major obstacles in other, perhaps even more magnificent, or perhaps more subtle and humorous, but certainly satisfying ways.

As an example, watch Superman Returns. Sure, there was no Doomsday monster for him to fight, but what happened instead is still magnificent. So your opponent has his own island? Why not move or destroy the island off the face of the earth? You have many options here.

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JBourrie    1204
Quote:
Original post by questors_endgame
Actually I think "no combat at all roll playing" is a kind of rpg that people have been hoping for. My idea of it is possibly too much like a sim. Create a character, possibly several, with in depth real-life features like diabetes or fear of spiders. Then you would have to manage their health and food intake, stay away from diseased people. Then managment of money or land, a business, even political power. There might be a greater goal such as free your people from oppression. I would put this in an ancient times setting. (if you die of old age at 40 carry on as one of your children.)

I never thought of that... but really, The Sims is a party-based RPG without combat. It's all there, you take on the role of a group of characters and choose how they interacts with other characters and the world. The game also rewards character growth with higher paying jobs, children, and better stuff.

It's stretching the definition of RPG a bit, but then again so is Final Fantasy [grin]

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I don't know I'm thinking it would be very different than that.
I just hope for a game that has broad horizons of character creation and a developing plot or world but not like a MMOG. When I think of RPG it's playing a roll.

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alunharford    122
Quote:
But to get back OT, why not allow the player to do both? When combat begins, present the player with the option to skip the combat and base the outcome solely on your stats.

The problem with this is that if you can get significantly better results by doing the combat yourself, nobody wants to have the computer automatically resolve. And if the computer gets better results, nobody will do the combat. If you don't balance it *very* carefully, you really hurt the game, and I've yet to see a game that correctly balances it.

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templewulf    526
Does Harvest Moon qualify?

What about Indigo Prophecy? What about Omikron: the Nomad Soul?

I guess a more meaningful question is: how do you distinguish a non-violent RPG from an adventure game?

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
>> What would you want to do in an RPG without combat?

Kill myself!

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TechnoGoth    2937
Some varied response to the question.

But lets stop and think for moment what role comabt has in rpgs.
1 - Main source of gameplay
2 - Risk and reward system
3 - Sets game pacing
4 - Provides a sense of progession

I don't see why that can be replaced with other things, and more interesting gameplay oppertunities.

Now I think one common misconception is that game without combat is a nonviolent game that doesn't have to be the case and isn't in the scenario I'm thinking off. Nothing stopping you from shooting someone in the back you just don't get the traditional rpg combat aspect instead it is all abstacted.

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MSW    151
The main role of combat in RPGs is CONFLICT RESOLUTION.

Conflict comes in many forms, and has as many ways to resolve it...not just brute combat.

You can take combat out of RPGs. But RPGs (like ALL games) still need conflict.

This can be done in a number of ways...Simplist way is to change the conflict focus off of combat and onto some other contest....For example instead of combat, the RPG revolves around conflict resolution through the raceing of horses, or the blacksmithing skill, or being the best muscian in all the land. In such examples instead of fighting monsters...one would be raceing agains other opponets on horseback, or trying to beat opposeing blacksmiths in both speed and quality of work, or just beating "battle of the bands" type contests....statisticly rich and complex games can be made from such game scenarios, just as they can from conventional RPG combat. Your imaginiation and willingness to try something different are the only limiting factor.

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Kaisel    163
I really like the idea of taking out combat (or having the computer do it based on stats), though it makes it more of a sim game. I think the only reason someone would cry foul would be if there wasn't anything to take its place, since in a lot of RPGs (mostly console ones) combat is all the player really has any amount of control in.

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In most RPGs, "combat" isn't really a violent activity. You make selections from menus or use hotkeys for them, and other than that, the most intense, twitch based combat is moving little lines and circles and dots around a grid to see where they line up in terms of range, aim and area of effect, and then letting th emachine do some math to find out which variables are reduced to 0 first. That's computer fighting. More stylized combat systems ditch the grid and just use the variables.

You can replace the swords and HP with sponges and a "dirt quotient" and turn combat into cleaning, or use a hose and soil aridity to suddenly find yourself watering a garden. The only thing that changes is the text and graphics. Aim for the roots! Shoot at the rooooots!!!

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spartanx    100
Watering a garden.... that could actually be cool if exploited properly. [smile]

RPG - Combat = All about the "minigames" being turned into fuller featured components. Imagine an MMO (for instance) where your class choice has a heavy impact on the nature of how you play the game - i.e., combat medic characters basically play a Trauma Center clone patching people up - instead of boringly having the exact same interface as a barbarian, simply with the "Berserk Rage" button replace with "Heal Ally".

Hmm. Massively multiplayer M.A.S.H. anyone? [grin]

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Nytehauq    328
Quote:
Original post by EnigmaCEO
Would be tough to pull off IMO. Taking all control out of the hands of the player and placing it on a dice roll? That will be a mighty big pill for people to swallow. Especially those who have become attached to their characters.


It's a shame most people would prefer the illusion of control to just a straight dice roll...it comes down to random in most RPG's anyway.

In any case, this is a good topic. What else can an RPG be about than the combat? In a traditional sense, combat should be downplayed in a Role Playing Game, it will be interesting to see what people come up with.

I'd personally go with minigames, and dramatic interactions/events that facillitate role-playing.

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mako_5    103
Look at most of the later Final Fantasies. If you take combat out, you end up with an interactive story with mini-games. You could take this concept, and simply add more mini-games for the different portions of games.

EDIT: Example of mini games, triple triad in 8, jumping rope with Vivi in Alexandria in 9, chocobo racing in 7, etc. I would like to see a game with such mini-games in which rewards were not so combat related (i.e. they give you new weapons, etc.)

Silly example story: you're a up-and-coming cardshark who finds out his wife's been abducted. You go around to different locations playing cards with people for money and information to keep you going, while trying to earn the title of "Master Card Player" title (going to competitions, etc.).

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templewulf    526
Quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
In most RPGs, "combat" isn't really a violent activity. You make selections from menus or use hotkeys for them, and other than that, the most intense, twitch based combat is moving little lines and circles and dots around a grid to see where they line up in terms of range, aim and area of effect, and then letting th emachine do some math to find out which variables are reduced to 0 first. That's computer fighting. More stylized combat systems ditch the grid and just use the variables.

You can replace the swords and HP with sponges and a "dirt quotient" and turn combat into cleaning, or use a hose and soil aridity to suddenly find yourself watering a garden. The only thing that changes is the text and graphics. Aim for the roots! Shoot at the rooooots!!!

While you make a good point, I don't know if that's what the OP quite meant by that. It's still, fundamentally, the same experience, just with a different coat of paint.

I took his questions to mean something more general, like "what would a role-playing game look like, if you spent more time role-playing than roll-playing?" After all, table-top RPGs are really a story-telling game, rather than a fantasy combat simulator.

That's why I answered with Indigo Prophecy in a previous post. I think that's also what attracts a lot of people on these boards to the interactive story-telling concept. That is much closer to simulating a story-telling RPG than the current fantasy RPG concepts.

Having said that, I'm a total square-enix fanboy. I'm not a big fan of spreadsheets, but man those numbers in Vagrant Story are sexy.

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JBourrie    1204
Quote:
Original post by templewulf
Having said that, I'm a total square-enix fanboy. I'm not a big fan of spreadsheets, but man those numbers in Vagrant Story are sexy.

I never understood Vagrant Story. Not in the "I don't understand why it's popular" way... I actually did not understand the game. I really wanted to like it, but I couldn't figure out how to level my weapons up in a way that I could damage anything past the giant crab boss. I even bought the strategy guide, and I couldn't understand it either!

Apparently that game is above me. [lol]

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MSW    151
Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
Quote:
Original post by EnigmaCEO
Would be tough to pull off IMO. Taking all control out of the hands of the player and placing it on a dice roll? That will be a mighty big pill for people to swallow. Especially those who have become attached to their characters.


It's a shame most people would prefer the illusion of control to just a straight dice roll...it comes down to random in most RPG's anyway.

In any case, this is a good topic. What else can an RPG be about than the combat? In a traditional sense, combat should be downplayed in a Role Playing Game, it will be interesting to see what people come up with.

I'd personally go with minigames, and dramatic interactions/events that facillitate role-playing.



*cough* RACEING LAGOON *cough*

Its a little known Square RPG game set in the modern world. Instead of combat, players are tasked with modding and raceing cars as in the Fast and Furious...sadly most wouldn't consider it a RPG simply because it isn't centered around combat. Ironicly if you punch up the story in sports games featureing a carrer sim...well thats basicly what a RPG is ;)

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