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Immersion: the Player vs the Character

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I have been thinking about a fundamental dilemma in computer role-playing games, but one that rarely gets addressed. The problem is this: In the interests of an immersive game-world, how much control over a character should be given to the player? If we want to provide suspension of disbelief and good storytelling, is it feasible to give the player ultimate control? Here''s a scenario: The player has chosen Beren the just, a paladin type character as his avatar. His first mission is to see the king to recieve an important quest, which he does. Afterwards, however, the player decides to take a stroll around the castle. He opens doors to rooms that aren''t locked, and searches some chests and barrels (as any gameplayer worth their salt would). There is a maiden in one of these rooms, who protests about Beren intruding. The player approaches the maiden and tries a number of game commands on her ("push", "examine", "use"). The player is rewarded with some humourous lines such as "how dare you!" and "you filthy pig!". After a while, the player gets bored and wanders back into the main hall. The guards wont let him leave yet, however (because he has not visited the master of arms and recieved the sword of dragon slaying). The player becomes impatient and attacks the guards for fun. Other guards arrive and the player runs away, leading the guards on a wild goose chase around the main hall, while the king sits unmoving on his throne. IS THIS IN ANY WAY THE BEHAVIOUR OF A PALADIN? No, of course not. But it''s FUN, right? This is the crux of the issue. It''s NOVELTY vs INTERNAL CONSISTENCY. Unfortunately, in single player "role-playing" games the avenues for real roleplay are actually very limited. We are not rewarded for roleplay as we are in Pen-and-Paper or to a lesser extent MMORPG''s. Instead, in it''s place we have novelty. The more detailed and responsive the game world is, the more novelty-seeking behaviour will be encouraged. In this type of environment, the player naturally wants to test the boundaries, and to push them. The first time I played Deus Ex, as I was recieving the first briefing speech I noticed I could pick up a plant. So, while I was supposed to be getting important information, I ended up running around, jumping on desks and pushing and throwing chairs, plants, and ashtrays. The game proceeded with no penalty for this crazy behaviour, and now my mental image of J.C. Denton in an otherwise serious game includes this "episode". Now, If I''m playing a pen-and-paper game, I don''t constantly bombard the GM with statements like "I pick up the barstool and throw it at the barkeep, then I fondle all the barmaids, then a grab a pitcher of ale and go dump it on the head of the captain of the night watch". Well, ok, maybe sometimes, but generally the fun comes from roleplaying your character realistically, or in a manner consistent with the game world. The more imaginative you can be in becoming a character, the more you and those with you will become immersed and enjoy yourselves. This is almost impossible to replicate in a single player CRPG, especially where there is the option of saving/reloading. This entirely removes consequences from actions and encourages experimentation for the sake of it, no matter how inconsistent it may be in terms of the game-world. Slaughter villagers for fun, reload. Jump off a cliff to see what happens, reload. Try and steal from the merchant, reload. Why does this all matter? I would argue that it breaks suspension of disbelief, reduces immersion, and discourages true roleplaying. Please understand that I''m not arguing against good old FUN. What I''m proposing is that in a rich enough game environment, the players options should be tailored to what would be reasonable for the type of character they are playing. The character would actually be partially autonomous, and would simply refuse to do certain things. For example, a Paladin would not attack innocent villagers, or go on a panty raid of a maiden''s room. You as the player would be limited to the actions reasonable to your character. I really believe this would be FOR THE GOOD OF THE EXPERIENCE. I imagine many of you may be up in arms at this point, saying "How dare you take away my freedom, I want to be able to do what I want whenever I want, thats immersion". From a certain point of view yes, I agree with you. I have been using a rigid archetype as my example, a Paladin. You might say "Don''t force me to play a Paladin by the books, I want to add spice, he''s a really a delusional Paladin". Thats fine, let the player take the delusional Paladin then and go with it, roleplaying it for all its worth. Derive your enjoyment from that rather than from trying out everything you can just because you''re bored and you just saved the game and want to see what you can get away with. Also remember that you have to accept all the downfalls of the choice as well, i.e. the character just suddenly cannot revert to perfectly normal because its advantageous to you, the player. (Whew!) Here is my question: How many of you would like a system as described here, given that the game has a rich enough environment and good opportunity for roleplaying? That is, you are limited to playing consistently the type character you choose. As well, throw in a theoretical saving system where your actions are permanent and you have to take responsibility for your actions and their consequences. Want to see what its like to kill the villagers? You have to play an evil soldier then, sent to raze a city. ***This is as opposed to an entirely freeform game, where you can go anywhere engage in any type of behaviour.*** In my opinion, executed correctly you will have a better experience roleplaying a character believably within the game world. As I said earlier, it just seems to make for better story flow and immersion, and I think gives a greater focus for the players actions. The trick is not to make the characters limitations an obstacle to the players expressiveness, causing frustration. What do YOU think?

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Couldn''t agree more with you. Roleplaying tabletop and roleplaying computer games are two different worlds.

I''m at the point where I''m accepting that roleplaying and computer won''t go hand in hand for a few more years (decades?).

I really don''t know any good solutions of how to get a player to roleplay... I give up

If there''s ONE setting that MIGHT create some sort of roleplaying experience, I think it would have to be a virtual world where EVERYthing is so completely different from life as we know it that the designer can create the entire world to fit his wishes (in other words: create the world to enforce roleplaying). Think of Tron etc. I still don''t have an idea what form this roleplaying would take, but I think we have to move away from the idea of ever (soon) implementing a roleplay experience into our fantasy worlds.

Woohoo... I''m on day 4 on my C++ in 21 days course. %Another two weeks and I''ll be a master programmer!%

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So what do you guys want? Jiminy bleepin'' Cricket tagging along behind every player going "Oh no no.. good little wooden boys don''t do that.."?

I can tell you have had positive paper-game experience and I wish for everyone''s sake that it was the only way to play, but think of it realistically, from the noun "game" and the adjective "roleplaying".

A Game is not Reality, by definition. Roleplaying is nothing more than acting Not Like You. Maybe you choose Beren the Just because you want to be the sallied paladin fallen from grace?

I mean, if Shrek were real, would he be any less of an Ogre just because he''s NICE? C''mon.

In paper games, the roleplaying also falls to interpersonal courtesy. You generally respect the wishes and decisions of the GM or other players, because if you don''t, they''re gonna throw their snacks at you, being that they are sitting at the same table. Personally my groups that I played with ALWAYS had some damn rules-geek who argued those decisions without fail. I''d swear if the dice didn''t have dots, he''d always roll a 20. Ever play with people like that? you kicked them out, right? Where do you think they went? I''ll tell you, just read on.

In electronic roleplaying, all bets are off. There will at times be players with NO respect for the character class, NO respect for the world or it''s objects, and probably could care about capturing the flag as much as shooting up the cathedral. Your bad boys, your rules geeks, and other generally misanthropic gamers are going to collect where they can have the most FUN, storyline be damned.

You could provide some kind of Guidance Fairy, or Conscience modifier, or Do-Gooder stat, or Deviant attribute. There''s any number of things that you could TRY to do to enforce the roleplaying, but the problem is not the game nor the gaming system. It''s the gamer.

Please don''t misunderstand, I DESPERATELY wish you could do something like this, but realistically who would want to be Pinnochio?

--------------
-WarMage
...r-e-s-p-e-c-t, build it in a game for me! r-e-s-p-e-c-t, keep kids off the street! (sock-it-to-me-sock-it-to-me-sock-it-to-me..)

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Unfortunately, while I like the sentiment, I think this will always be a bad idea.

Here''s why: The interface between player and computer is mostly one way and totally incomplete. Cutting out experimentation and restoring for the sake of internal consistency runs afoul of the fact that the player can''t always interact with the game the same way he can interact with a GM. In a tabletop RPG I can ask the GM, "does my status protect me from this law?" or "does it look like I can take this guy?"

In a cRPG, you often don''t know until you try. If you penalize players by keeping a record even if they save, then you''re going to get either very meek players or very annoyed players. A good example is the first Baldur''s Gate, which made traps harder if you restored after being wounded by them. Not good.

Players playing in character is partly an individual discipline issue. But interface and welll hidden, integrated limitations can help. Your briefing situation in Deus Ex could be fixed, for example, by freezing the character in place and going 3rd person cinematic like in Voyager: Elite Force or No One Lives Forever.

There are some actions, though, that aren''t that easily fixed. Attacking an NPC team-mate is a good one. Here I''d argue for clever and serious penalties that are known and well understood beforehand! Hostages in Counter-Strike are a perfect example: The penalty for killing them and reward for rescue or non-rescue are mechanics that actually reinforce role-playing of a sort. The result is good guys trying not to hit the poor innocents, and bad guys cowardly using them as human shields.

I''d argue that not restricting freedoms or adding known results beforehand in many cases confuses the player. They think, "well, this action is allowable, let''s see where it goes."




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

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quote:
Original post by WarMage
So what do you guys want? Jiminy bleepin'' Cricket tagging along behind every player going "Oh no no.. good little wooden boys don''t do that.."?



A horribly implemented real example of this can be found in the game Requiem. Your character, a gun toting angel in a futuristic world, constantly says stuff like "I''d better not do that here" if you try to use magick in certain civilized areas. The maddening thing was that it''d kick in before you were sure that you were in civilized space (as they lived in ruins and sewers and stuff). So I''d be walking around hearing this and thinking, "why the hell not?!?!?!?!" Very annoying.




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

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Well, if the character is a pladin, and you really don''t want him to do things as in the example, you can always not let him. If that''s not an option, well, if they do something bad, take away his paladinhood status. If the internal consistancy is really important, then enforce it.

I''m not quite sure what the dilemma is. If someone wants to roleplay, let them, if not not. If you want to try to enforce roleplay, don''t reward for out of character situations.

In the Deus Ex example, what would have been an apropriate penalty or reaction? In actuality, something small, maybe "Hey, pay attention!" Simply a small reaction to your action.

Rather than limit a character''s actions to the set that''s proper to them, maybe a better idea is to have logical consiquences for those actions. A paladin wouldn''t burn villages down under normal circumstances, true, but it''s perfectly in character for a black knight.

So, on to the question, would I enjoy a game where I got to pick one character, and from there on out the responses were tailored to the character. It depends on how well the options and story was set out.

However, is it roleplaying if I don''t get to determine the nature of the interactions? At that point, in my mind, it becomes more of a drama, a play if you will, to see what developments happen around the character that we picked to watch. It''d simply be a matter of if the star is a paladin, or a thief.

I have problems with games offering a false choice. I''d rather have no choice, and play along, rather than a series of meaningless choices. Ie, my paladin reaches the village and can choose from: 1. Save the village 2. Save the village happily 3. Save the village as soon as I''m done saving the princess. In reality it doesn''t really matter what button I hit, as the outcome is allready predetermined.

In the end, it comes down to "What is your game about?"
If the point of your game is to tell a good story with a singular outcome, then stick with a single character type. If it''s about freedom and exploration, then allow the player to build their character type through gameplay.

In my personal opinion though, I don''t see the worth in designing the same situation over multiple times for multiple character types. I think that if you''re trying to tell a consistant story, your actions could be better placed. And if you''re trying to design a game with the freedom to play a large number of different characters, there are better ways to go about it.

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That''s exactly why gameplay needs to be designed to generate player behaviour. In the Deus Ex example, making plants unmoveable would be the easy way out, and generating negative reactions like characters saying "J.C. Denton''s a maniac" and withholding information or other penalties (similar to the reactions you got from characters from being violent or not violent for example.) In extreme characters they could put you in jail or fire you (hence ending the game.)

Anyway, if designers don''t want players to act stupid in their games, they need to have a system that deals with it (usually rewards\punishments work the best in any game.)

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*DashZero roleplays his favorite half-orc*

Mmmmmmmmmm - You ask what me think!!?? Me no think!! Me steal from Raph!!! Heheheheh...

(http://www.legendmud.org/raph/gaming/index.html)

"Koster''s Law (Mike Sellers was actually the one to dub it thus)
The quality of roleplaying is inversely proportional to the number of people playing.

Hyrup''s Counter-observation
The higher the fee, the better the roleplayers. (And of course, the smaller the playerbase.)

Enforcing roleplaying
A roleplay-mandated world is essentially going to have to be a fascist state. Whether or not this accords with your goals in making such a world is a decision you yourself will have to make."

*DashZero steps Out Of Character (OOC)*

There is no such thing as a CRPG. Not in any true sense like you are hoping for. Secondly, limiting what the player can do will get you bad reviews. You let the player do whatever they want. If all they want to do is rearrange the flowers in the mission assignment room, look ''em square in the eye and say, "Thank you for buying my game".

Dash Zero
Credits: Fast Attack - Software Sorcery - Published by Sierra 1996

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Taking the Requiem ''angel'' idea one step further (hopefull a good step)...

What if, depending on your actions, different ''angels'' will accompany you? IF you choose to do the ''right'' thing the entire time, your angel will be a righteous one, if you choose to do the ''bad'' thing, you''ll have an evil little angel on your side, complimenting your every kill etc.

What if different angels can grant you different powers?

Back to the paladin idea...

To encourage consistent roleplaying (to me, roleplaying is all about consistency, even though it''s hard to transfer roleplaying to the computer, you can at least try to make the player make consistent actions), the paladin could have an entity living inside of him that enpowers him. When the entity doesn''t agree with the actions of the paladin, the entity will leave him. Another entity might join the paladin (depending on his actions).

Example:

Paladin helps out the poor and weak (saves villages from monsters, gives money to the poor) and a nice entity enters his body, aiding him some defensive powers. The longer the player stays ''in character'' (that is, the longer he keeps playing the nice paladin), the longer the entity will be with him and the more defensive power it might give. But, if the paladin starts to roam castles, disturbing people in their rooms, maybe even touching fair maidens against their will, the entity would leave, leaving the paladin weakened (without the defensive powers he''s learned to depend on).

If Rowen the Rogue keeps finding his way into locked houses, a mischievous entity might join him on his adventures, aiding him the power of improved stealth. But if one day, during a break-in, the rogue has to kill the innocent victim (who awoke to a disturbance), the entity might decide that the fun of the adventures is offset by the feeling of guilt from the murder and leave.

If Goran the Fighter is always brave in battle, fighting off enemies without any regard for his own life, an entity might join him that aids him power in his arms. But if Goran turns and runs at the sight of 3 puny goblins, the entity might decide that Goran is not worth his stay and leave.

The entities would provide the player with somewhat of a motivation to make his character perform consistent actions. But, it wouldn''t keep players from just doing as they please (you can get by without the entities).

Just another silly idea.

Woohoo... I''m on day 4 on my C++ in 21 days course. %Another two weeks and I''ll be a master programmer!%

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WOW! Silvermyst that was a great idéa!!

I was just going to at something to this discussion. I don''t understad why your complaining at the "unreality" of Baldurs Gate. I think it''s great in the way of balancing good and evil!

For example the paladin, whenever you create a character i BG you can chose from a 6 or 8 (don''t remember exactly) scale from The Devils son to the right hand of God (actually the scale in BG says something like "Pure Good" "medium Good" "Pure Evil" blabla). But the paladin can only choose the 3 highest "Good", not neutral or any "Evil" in the scale. BUT! During the course of the game you _can_ commit "evil" acts and your scale will tip. To the point where you are transformed to "Fallen Paladin". If I''m not mistaking your power change too. Not to mention the reaction from the townsfolk!

I think BG did good in solving your problem! You can play the nice Paladin and everyone will praise you. Or you can go amok, and people will fear you!

It''s the player that is the paladin, not the other way around. So if the player wants to become a Fallen Paladin, who are you too argue? I know people that would like to join the Dark Forces in Star Wars, wheres I find it impossible NOT to join the Rebels! It''s a matter of character, and who are you to judge?

OK, I understand that you want a more linear story... But exploration shouldn''t be punished! If you _really_ want to limit things the character could go "no, I prefer not to do that to the poor maiden" on the first try, on the second try "Hmmm... no, I can''t!". If the player insists on a third try "well... it HAS been a long time... come here little girl! *hihi*". Maybe 3 tries are to much, but whatever you get the picture!

}+TITANIUM+{

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quote:
Original post by Silvermyst
Taking the Requiem ''angel'' idea one step further (hopefull a good step)...

What if, depending on your actions, different ''angels'' will accompany you? IF you choose to do the ''right'' thing the entire time, your angel will be a righteous one, if you choose to do the ''bad'' thing, you''ll have an evil little angel on your side, complimenting your every kill etc.

What if different angels can grant you different powers?
(...)
Example:

Paladin helps out the poor and weak (saves villages from monsters, gives money to the poor) and a nice entity enters his body, aiding him some defensive powers. The longer the player stays ''in character'' (that is, the longer he keeps playing the nice paladin), the longer the entity will be with him and the more defensive power it might give. But, if the paladin starts to roam castles, disturbing people in their rooms, maybe even touching fair maidens against their will, the entity would leave, leaving the paladin weakened (without the defensive powers he''s learned to depend on).



mmmmm my how this Crow I''m munching on is yummy.

Thank you for sticking with it, SM. You have a great idea and I hope my rant did not deter you guys.

It''s a good idea, though you''d have to get the broad playtest in before you could make final decisions on that. I think of this like your Good and Bad Muse hanging over your right and left shoulders repectively (little red horned you, little pink winged you)...

I''m getting some ideas on how I might make this work on a unit-basis too...

-------------------------
-WarMage
...cynicism is only as good as...well, mine''s pretty damn good, anyway...

--------------
-WarMage

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WARMAGE:

Yes, it''s a little like the ''good muse, bad muse'' principle, except that you could create hundreds of entity personalities each with their own powers (or flaws?).

The player might or might not be able to have control over the entities. Should a player who''s been nasty be possessed by an entity that will try to change him? Like an unwanted houseguest?

Should the player be able to banish that unwanted houseguest? Should he have to perform certain actions to get rid of it? (like, go to a priest and have the priest expel the entity?)

I think that the fun thing about having multiple entity personalities is that the player will be able to experience different styles of playing. Each entity could be designed specifically to encourage a certain type of play. You could have tens, or hundreds, or thousands... or millions (randomly generated).

Could a player have more than one (good and bad muse)?

And what type of gameplay should be paired with this entity idea? Just your regular rpg ''kill monster, get ep''?

Woohoo... I''m on day 4 on my C++ in 21 days course. %Another two weeks and I''ll be a master programmer!%

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quote:
Original post by Impossible
In extreme characters they could put you in jail or fire you (hence ending the game.)

Anyway, if designers don't want players to act stupid in their games, they need to have a system that deals with it (usually rewards\punishments work the best in any game.)


Hmmm... I'm remembering that the Wing Commander's actually dealt with this well. They always had the traitor subplots going, and if you attacked a friend long enough they'd say something like, "So YOU'RE the traitor!!" and start fighting back. When you got to the ship, you were jailed.

(Heh, they thought it important enough to include this that they spent money having Mark Hamill and Malcom McDowell do a "take this man into custody" scene in WC3 )



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

Edited by - Wavinator on July 20, 2001 4:53:08 PM

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Thanks for all your responses, its nice to see one''s thoughts rewarded tenfold.

Just to clarify, I''m not advocating or shunning any particular type of behaviour or character choice. Play a Shrekian ogre. Play a paladin fallen from grace. Burn villages or build them, it''s not the players actions that concerns me but the CONSISTENCY of those actions. I believe that choosing a character should provide a strong focus for the player. If we can find ways to entertain the player WITHIN the limits of their choice, then they wont need to resort to novel means to enjoy themselves.

Roleplay should be just that: Playing a ROLE, rather than just vicariously indulging our fleeting whims. Lets help the player play out their roles and give them a fufilling experience, defining it sharply sometimes if need be. I think the problem with a "freeform" game is that it tends to emphasise the player too much at the expense of the character.

I am not a Kardurian War-Monk. I don''t possess the patience, skill or deadly resolve necessary. In my unguided hands, this character will most likely visit a couple towns, talk to every NPC he meets looking for information, buy some supplies, leave town on a quest given by a merchant, kill some respawning low level monsters to gain experience, and hoard all the weapons and gold he can obtain. Strangely, this is the same behaviour that I would exhibit by playing a Thief of the tattered cloth. Or a Szzyth wizard. Or an Imperial honour guard.

What is defining my experience AS A CHARACTER IN THE GAME WORLD when I have complete freedom? My garb? My name? My hodge-podge skill set? I become nothing but a watered down vision of a characterization, A dull and unremarkable experience. Now a true Kardurian War-Monk eschews all frivolous valuables. He seldom speaks to strangers and when he does it is for good reason. The tasks he undertakes are those which accord with his theology, and he never draws blood needlessly.

I want the game to help me see through this characters eyes. I want to be given a unique perspective, one that I would not have a chance to see otherwise (left to my own devices). Let this character have limitations and tendencies, aversions and beliefs. Let him act and react "In character", CONSISTENTLY AND WITH PURPOSE.

Granted, I may be targeting a small audience here, so lets sharpen the question on the grindstone.

Which do you prefer, then, and why:
1) freeform world where the onus is on the PLAYER to provide motivation, goals and characterization; by whatever means they desire

or

2) guided world where your CHARACTER has detailed motivations, goals and behaviours which the player must work within, playing AS that character

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The above anonymous post belongs to me, in case you were wondering.

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I think you are still playing the options of true character decision making - with simple subsistence in the game world as it''s least common denominator , and inconsequential decisions on an incontrovertible path - the Diablo and Baldur''s Gate problem.

Doesn''t this still boil down to finding some form of reward or acknowledgement based on character action and interaction that is typically going to defy logic and analysis? I cannot yet fathom how (or why) you would reward a character basically for "being themselves". I think this is why questing is important, it allows the designer to set goals that typicaly won''t conflict with a particular social code.

Maybe I''m overthinking this?

I would prefer open-ended gaming, with the occasional boss-type stashed away in the mountains or a woods somewhere that ultimately I have to fight, again, because he is an amoral antithesis not to me, but to the game world. Give me the chance to wander around juggling axes in the bazaar for 15 years, then I''ll go fight some bogies.

...but I really didn''t want to play eq

------------
-WarMage
...I still don''t have a good answer for this one, mostly because how do you build a state machine based on a player''s random series of in-character acts that have no bearing on the gameplay?

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Silvermyst brought up an implementation of reward system. It will work well no doubt, but as mentioned earlier by somebody else, it is ruined by the save and reload tactic.

It almost seems indeed the gamers'' mentality which need changing. But that is one thing we cannot do, can we?

Firstly, we could have save points. Not that bad but it isn''r realistic. And saving gems fare worse. Also, we could auto saves at specific areas and when players make a mistake, they respawn there. This would make players think twice before doing anything stupid. Also, they''d be pretty annoyed. =p

We should employ a mix of solutions. Somebody suggested doing things the easy way, by limiting the actions of players. For example, you cannot hurt the townsfolk. Personally, I''d go with this idea. Then we cannot implement the reward system. Silvermyst had it such that you enjoy benefits while being in-character and you lose them as soon as you did something silly.

I have no other suggestions other that the above. I believe that immersion is more important than freedom. Though freedom is also an important factor. Though maybe, we could change how freedom is executed. Like playing style, we should make combat open to all types of styles.

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Personally, I''m for allowing the player to do whatever they want. Many people that play cRPG''s aren''t true role-players. For them part of the fun is obliterating a village for fun or stealing everyhting in sight. If you''re a true role-player than all you have to do is obey the rules. Since your actual purpose is to take on the existance of a character that isn''t YOU, you''ll play the role of the character because you WANT TO.

But if you want to have it work both ways here''s a suggestion. Have an option to turn consequences and consistency on/off. If its on then you won''t be able to do things that go outside your character and/or the game can save every ten seconds or something, so your actions are permanent.

Personally, I don''t consider myself a ROLE-player, I''m more or a WORLD-player. What I mean is that I don''t want to play the role of someone else, I want to be myself, but in a different world. I don''t get to run around fighting monsters, saving princesses, and casting magic spells in this world, so I go to a different world where I can, but I want to be myself as I do it.

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There''s a way to restrict character capabilities given the players previous action, it''s called character building, a feature I plan to include in my game.
I think that''s best than a fixed character, you''re free to build your won character, but you must act accordingly.

About the World-player, I find this ridiculous, cause in a game your character is an interface to the world, and his capabilities have nothing to do with yours, his face... are those decided by the game designer.
In a game with a story, is backstory also is owned by the gamedesigner.

I don''t think players want to be ''themselves'' in another world, but much more being to play a being similar to them or different depending on their feeling.
Forcing one or the other is a bad idea, simply offer auto restricted freedom such as described at the beginning of the post, or full freedom.

-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-

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Wow. A lot of good ideas in here. However, what is the need to create a set of exterior penalties or rewards for proper role playing? Why not play things within the constraints of the story and enviroment?

Let''s run with the Paladin a little more. If your player chooses to join the White Order of Paladins, they''ve then agreed to the constraints and code of behavior of the White Order of Paladins. So if they go around and slaughter villagers, eventually news will reach home. Needless to say that the White Order will be pissed off, and investigate. If the player is found guilty, strip the player of any abilities and ranks or titles, and possibly kill or imprision them.

Let''s say the player survives and escapes. All people who look up to the White Order will hate the player for their actions, and betrail. All who feared the order will keep the player at a distance, though their name might attract a few people who want to pick a fight with the White Order.

So how to deal with the issue of save/reloading? Things don''t happen right away. Sure, they slaughter a village full of innocents, and maybe their Paladin abilities get a slight degredataion (the start of a much longer slide), but after a few missions, word starts getting around. Things start going bad. Lots more options start opening up. To try to expierence the variations on actions would take a much longer timespan than just the slaughter of the village.

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Freedom vs. Internal consistency

Hmmm, where to begin? Well, I look at it like this. Why do people play RPG''s? I think because they want to be able to explore a reality unlike our own; the chance to be someone else, and perhaps more importantly, do things we can''t normally do. Players want to have a backdrop for their characters that is absorbing but they need to feel like they have the freedom to act as they please. Their actions determine the consequences of the final outcome. Most players don''t want to be consciously aware that their actions are being forced down a certain path.

Unfortunately, this is antagonistic to dramatic storytelling. One of dramatic storytelling''s key principles is pacing. If the characters are at the helm, who knows where they will head and how long it may take them to get there? More importantly, a good story has direction, with foreshadowing dropping hints as to what''s to come. AGain, if the players are free to do WHATEVER they want, where''s the direction? Another critical miss is that a story is structured with a beginning a middle and an end. Sounds stupid, but it''s amazing how many people forget that simple fact. Finally, a good story has a purpose that the plot leads up to. The protagonists actions had some kind of effect or ovreall purpose to convey to the viewer.

Again, if the characters are free to do as they please, I don''t think it''s as effective storytelling as possible. So what''s a gamer to do? Just watch movies? Not at all. I think the key here is players have TOTAL freedom. In PPRPG (Paper&Pen RPG''s) the GM acts as a moderator and someone who can guide the players along. He can foreshadow events, drop hints to make sure the players are going in the right direction, and like a good director, ensure good pacing. The best GM''s do this without the players realizing that he is goading them into a particular storyline.

With the way RPG''s are done today, there''s no moderator to guide the story or character development along. And that brings up whole nother can of worms. Frankly, I don''t think that character development is in increasing your stats, or gaining power, wealth or prestige. For me, character development is about watching the universe unfold, and being better able to experience even more grand stories. As I am so fond of doing, I shall relate yet another martial pearl of wisdom

Once, there was a young man desperately wanted to be great in martial arts so he asked a Master how long it would take him to become a Master just like him. The Master replied "with hard work, 10 years". The student couldn''t believe it, so he said that he would work twice as hard as anyone else. "In that case, it will take 20years". The student couldn''t believe it, so the student said he would practice day and night and eat only a meal a day to further his training. "Then in 30 years you will become a Master". Finally the student could contain himself no longer.."Master, everytime I say I will work harder, you say it will take longer to become a Master....why?". TO which the MAster replied, "if one eye is looking at the prize, you only have one eye left to practice with".

I think people are so caught up with some sort of instant gratification or material gratification, that we forget that it''s really the EXPERIENCE that counts...the actual doing. As another saying goes, "getting there is half the fun". So this is yet another area of CRPG''s that need work on. I just laught when people go on "quests" simply to make their characters more powerful. That''s fun to a lot of people?? Frankly, I don''t think we are ready yet for single-player CRPG''s. PPRPG''s are the best of both worlds...it allows spontaneity and creativity along with the guidance of good storytelling. To be very honest, I''m not very fond of CRPG''s because I think that not only do they not come anywhere near as close to being as fun as PPRPG''s, I think there''s something about being with a group of people that''s far more fun.

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quote:
Original post by Dauntless

I think people are so caught up with some sort of instant gratification or material gratification, that we forget that it''s really the EXPERIENCE that counts...the actual doing.


EXACTLY, I couldn''t agree with you more. This applies to all genres, not just RPGs. In a lot of games, players are far more interested in maxing everything out then they are in actually playing the game and enjoying it. I believe that a good design can encourage experience more then gratification, it''s just that the experience needs to be more interested then the "I beat it\them" feeling.

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There's obviously TWO types of persons here.

The PPRPG's and the CRPG's... I can hardly believe it when the PPRPG's go "the CRPG's don't know what they're missing. They must be stupid. Material gaining is boring. Pen and Paper rules. blablabla!!" That's _your_ opinion. The CRPG's and other might like maxing out resources, I know I do! I think of StarCraft. I don't think StarCraft would be better without the resource handling, it would suck without it... And it is by far one of the most intreging storys I've ever seen in a non-RPG.

If a person really likes PPRPG's, then they'll play it. The others play CRPG's! I know you're trying to implement "the best of both worlds". But saying how wrong a person is because they don't think like you... "material gaining is stupid", that's just annoys me

The "experience" or "gameplay" is veeery important! I agree!

Hasn't anyone played FF?? _That's_ a linear story... Diablo, _that's_ also an linear story. FF, you have the random encounters where you pic up your weapon and fight. Diablo, in the town you have your sword in a holster. You could have it like that.

Here are some plans for the RPG I'm writing:
An "aggresion" meter. Unless you encounter someone with "aggresion against you" your weapon is hulstered. Like the good little Paladin you are The "agression meter" could be different for different players.

¤An Paladin, it would be more of an "evil meter". Someone comitting an act of evil like murder, that's when your swords jumps up! If you try to attack someone else while the sword is up -> "but he has not done anything wrong".
¤An evil clan Ogre, a townsman standing in your way has medium "aggresion meter". Maybe enough for you to eat his head..?

Just adjust the fight engine not to be entirly like BG and a little more like FF. Like I'm planing. It will be a mix. When you enter the "zone" of an "aggresive" person that person would activate your "fight meny". You can run away by runing away from the persons zone, and continuing running because he will follow for a while. When in "fight" mode you can only attack the "aggresive player". Maybe... hmmm... make all other NPCs on screen "flee in panic"??

Well that was just a suggestion for not making it possible for an good player to become bad... But there are many other things, like stealing, etc... A paladin would have difficulty stealing with his armor *cackling'ing* all the time Any suggestions, excep "but that would be wrong"? The penalty from the "White order of paladins" was a good suggestion! =D

EDIT - restructured the text

}+TITANIUM+{

Edited by - Seriema on July 24, 2001 4:23:34 AM

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Sorry, but it does bother me when I see players play mostly for the sake of material gratification or increasing their resources. The key here is to what extnet it motivates their wanting to play the game, as it IS important to increase your physical.material standings to go on even more grand adventures. Is it WRONG for players to want to play that way? No, but it really isn''t my cup of tea at all.

So, I have no interest to play with other players like that. And to be honest, it''s a reason that I didn''t enjoy games like Starcraft...primarily for the same reason. Gameplay became less about being absorbed in the world, and more about being "powerful".

It''s a mindset that just does not appeal to me, and I don''t wish to play around people who want that style of gaming. If that''s your bag of tea, then you''re more than welcome to it But I think that most game developers are making games that encourage this style of gaming, and not enough designers thinking up of ways to encourage my preferred style of gaming which concetrates more on ROLE, and less on ROLL.

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