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JasRonq

Roleplaying: Identity and Agency

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JasRonq    156
What are some ways to encourage role playing behaviors and perspectives within a single player RPG environment? By this I mean I want the player to feel more immersed, feel a sense of identity, and feel like he/she influences the world. I'm not aiming for a fully dynamic or sandbox world but I do want the player to feel a real sense of identity in the world and be encouraged to role play it. Some thing I intend on including in my game are: •Customized armour, garb, and overall appearance. Controlling appearance affects your sense of identity far more than calling me your champion ever will. •Creating and controlling a space within the world that you call your own. Be it a house or something else, having a space that is your own and that you fully control gives a sense of influence in the world in general. Its appearance also contributes to identity. •Customized character ability without interfering with appearance. This means armour is picked for its aesthetics as are weapons, but the ones you pick can be improved functionally without changing the appearance. This allows the player to choose separately the visual and functional identities of their character. The skill system will also be balanced to support identity creation through the forging of a profession. •The world will have a network of allegiances and enemies possible with more depth and complexity than simple faction systems. Interactions with depth that react to who you are, what you do, and who you associate with will foster identity with relation to others. So again, I want the player to feel a sense of identity and agency. What more can there be to allow the player of a single player game to create a sense of identity. Keep in mind the ways you create identity towards other real people can work here so long as an AI can fill in the role of the other side.

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Sandman    2210
Quote:
Original post by JasRonq
Customized character ability without interfering with appearance. This means armour is picked for its aesthetics as are weapons, but the ones you pick can be improved functionally without changing the appearance. This allows the player to choose separately the visual and functional identities of their character. The skill system will also be balanced to support identity creation through the forging of a profession.


I'm actually slightly opposed to this one. I've always seen the form vs. function as a perfectly legitimate tradeoff that the player has to make on behalf of his character. It also goes against immersion, in my opinion.

Imagine you're a mercenary in Afghanistan. You're going to want decent, practical and protective clothing, however much you might dislike wearing it. If you absolutely insisted on wearing a fluorescent green mankini, you'd have to accept all the impracticalities and limitations that went with it; you couldn't just upgrade it to a bulletproof, camouflaged battle mankini + 3 and expect everything to be ok.

Of course, I agree that it's annoying when you find the best armour in the game, and then find that it makes your character look like a clown. That's a fault in art direction, IMHO. As a player though, I'll make a decision: are the bonuses desirable enough to tolerate the ridiculous appearance?

I'm not against allowing the player to upgrade equipment etc - I just don't think that form and function need to be completely separate. I am prepared to make form vs. function tradeoffs, and it could well be considered an immersive, roleplay decision to make.

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sunandshadow    7426
So far it sounds like the kind of game I would really enjoy playing, although unfortunately it also sounds like it will be expensive to develop in terms of art assets.

Don't think you've touched on the most important part though - more than any kind of visual customization, IMO the key to immersion is that the world must react to the player. NPCs that react differently depending on what the player is wearing or the morality of the actions the player has taken in the game or the rank the player has achieved with that NPC's faction. NPCs who are romancable, or conversely can be irritated until they hate the player, and are unique individuals with backstory and relationships with other npcs in the game. Monsters that stay killed, and destructible items/locations that stay destroyed. A sense of world time and status - if it's possible to go back to the starting area at all, going there when the game has almost been completed should not get the exact same dialogue that you got when you left it at the beginning of the game. Overall, I would say the goal should be to make the game feel like an interactive novel.

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Sandman    2210
One thing I think might be interesting from an RP perspective would be something I'm going to call Postures. Like an emote, it's an outward projection of your emotional, mental and physical state. Unlike an emote, it has concrete, in game effects in terms of bonuses and penalties.

Some examples:

Aggressive
Unsheathes weapon/shield/helmet
Bonus to intimidation
Bonus to attack
Bonus to damage
Penalty to defense
Penalty to social interactions

Defensive
Unsheathes weapon/shield/helmet
Bonus to defense
Penalty to speed

Frightened
Bonus to defense
Bonus to speed
Penalty to intimidation
Penalty to attack
Penalty to damage

Relaxed
Sheathes weapon/shield/helmet
Bonus to social interactions
Penalty to attack
Penalty to defense
Penalty to damage

These would all be controlled by the player. If you wanted your knight to be fearless, you simply have to refuse to enter the Frightened posture. However, you may find that if things go sour, that speed boost is the only thing to save you.

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JasRonq    156
Quote:
Original post by Sandman
Quote:
Original post by JasRonq
Customized character ability without interfering with appearance. This means armour is picked for its aesthetics as are weapons, but the ones you pick can be improved functionally without changing the appearance. This allows the player to choose separately the visual and functional identities of their character. The skill system will also be balanced to support identity creation through the forging of a profession.


I'm actually slightly opposed to this one. I've always seen the form vs. function as a perfectly legitimate tradeoff that the player has to make on behalf of his character. It also goes against immersion, in my opinion.


There would need to be some usefulness tied to appearance. For instance body parts are either armored or they are not. If you are a 17 year old horny male making a hot babe character and refuse to give her adequate covering, well, there are functional differences there. The more armour you wear the slower you are but the more protected you are. On the other hand, most armour will work the same, or nearly the same way so choosing one over the other is for its look. For weapons, a spear and a dagger are different and will work differently. Each weapon will have a reach and a weight which affect the speed and damage potential of the weapon, but most weapons will be balanced such that their damage potential is close and the reach is self balancing to a degree as a spear is no longer very good up close.

Some relation of form and function is just unavoidable, but as much as possible, I want the player to enjoy not having to sacrifice one for the other because I think not having to make that particular choice may be more fun than making it.

Quote:
Original post by SandmanOne thing I think might be interesting from an RP perspective would be something I'm going to call Postures. Like an emote, it's an outward projection of your emotional, mental and physical state. Unlike an emote, it has concrete, in game effects in terms of bonuses and penalties.


I'm not sure that postures would really capture the feeling of your character experiencing those emotions. For instance, I wouldn't really feel fearless just because I hadn't used that posture. I would likely just look at them purely as stat modifiers and use them as needed. As set of stat modifiers though, it is a useful idea. I have an idea of using stances within combat to affect what specific attacks look like and do. These stances cover some of the same ground as they would make defensive moves better or be good for acrobatic attacks, etc. In that vein of thought it might be good to give them some out of combat uses as well.

What if they worked as you suggest but affect more social aspects with the NPCs? If they affected the NPCs around you in a deep and meaningful way with subsequent consequences that would be an interesting roleplaying tool to the player. Increasing running speed and defense though is just going to make me use it to charge into combat before switching to aggressive.

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Sandman    2210
Quote:
Original post by JasRonq
I'm not sure that postures would really capture the feeling of your character experiencing those emotions. For instance, I wouldn't really feel fearless just because I hadn't used that posture.


It's not intended to make the player feel anything. It's more intended as a means for the player to tell the game how his character responds in a situation.

Quote:

What if they worked as you suggest but affect more social aspects with the NPCs? If they affected the NPCs around you in a deep and meaningful way with subsequent consequences that would be an interesting roleplaying tool to the player.


This is the idea. NPCs might respond very differently to the character depending on the posture he's in.
I don't think that you can completely disassociate it with combat though. I think the character's body language and demeanour can make just as much difference in combat as it can in social situations.

Quote:

Increasing running speed and defense though is just going to make me use it to charge into combat before switching to aggressive.


The examples are of course, just examples, and yes you can game them. There are plenty of ways you could make it undesirable for a player to enter combat using the fleeing posture. And besides, if a player wants to min-max rather than roleplay, then ultimately they will, one way or another.

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JasRonq    156
I could say the same thing for the players who want to role play instead of min-max. Ultimately they will do so to whatever degree they can (though it seems there are fewer like that than min-maxers). What I am aiming at here is removing min-max temptations and increasing the motivation to role play so that players who are easily tempted into gaming the system can try a new way of playing.

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