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Brain-Storming: nonviolence in the fantasy setting.

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[size="2"][font="Arial"]I don't know about you, but I really enjoy games with a fantasy setting. I love a game that transports you to another world, and I like exploring imaginative content. I'm talking about games like: World of Warcraft, the Legend of Zelda series, the Final Fantasy series, the Star Wars franchise, the Elder Scrolls, the list goes on and on.

A lot of the fantasy games extensively involve medieval-style combat, but in this thread, I'd like to see if we can come up with some alternative ways of resolving the conflict. I'd like to see if I could do a game with no combat. One could create a fantasy game like Myst where there is little or no adversarial conflict (except with the environment) but let's say that adversarial "monsters" and such villains are part of the fun of the fantasy setting. Therefor I'm thinking about a game that would include such adversaries, but still have some non-violent resolution.



What's the point? Well, there could be several. Here are some considerations that may apply:

1. Politics: Angry parents don't want little Timmy playing violent video games. Maybe yours is different. Maybe you offer a viable alternative that is both fun for the player and also suitable for the more sensitive social climate.

2. Gameplay: "I love gruesome violence, but I've already done that in the last game I played. What else is there for me to do?" Maybe you can entice players by coming up with a new spin on the old fantasy game: Offering a whole new experience in a compelling fantasy setting.

3. Narrative: Maybe you want to explore the fantasy setting from a different point of view. Imagine the hobbits in Lord of the Rings: they were not effective in combat and tried to avoid it in all situations (except for a few exceptions such as when Frodo slays Shelob). Rather than playing the muscle-bound armored-up hero, the player can play a humble, meek character and experience the thrill of facing seemingly insurmountable odds with only guile and wit to see the day through.

maybe you can think of another?

Additionally you could use these methods as an [b]addition[/b] to the regular fantasy melee combat, just to add more options and more flair to the over-all experience.




So... Here are some ways I thought of for dispatching monsters without the use of sword and shields:

1. scare the enemy (use a bright flash, load noise, explosion to send the enemy running)

2. distract the enemy (leaving bait or food on the ground will draw the enemies attention away from you, maybe you can start a machine that will make noise that will draw the enemies attention, maybe you can throw your voice.)

3. blind the enemy (bright flash, smoke, no doubt this will only work for a short time, like the pepper in Burger Time)

4. disguise self (disguise yourself as the same enemy and walk freely among them, or disguise yourself as enemy’s enemy to convince the enemy to avoid you.)

5. trap the enemy in place (Maybe you can set a trap to snare your enemy, maybe you can use magic to hold your enemy fast. )

6. turn enemies against each other (For example, you could arouse the attention of a troll, who will pursue you, but you run into a dragon's cave. Once the troll sees the more-dangerous dragon, he will attack the dragon instead, while you make your escape. )

7. block the enemy (build a wall to block a passage so that your enemy can't follow you. Cut the rope, which is holding up the portcullis, sending it crashing to the ground.)

8. feed the enemy ( You throw meat at the hungry lion and it is no longer interested in chasing you. In fact it simply takes a nap)

9. make enemy sleep (music, tranquilizer, whatever)

10. avoid the enemy (Maybe the only way to get by your enemy is to outrun your enemy. Maybe your enemy skulks around in a predictable pattern and you can predict when the enemy will be away.)

11. hide from the enemy (If the enemy comes around, you can hide and wait for it to go away again.)

[/font][/size]So, for those of you who are interested in the same type of game, please share your own ideas.

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The player could be an illusionist (the magical fantasy kind, not the Kris Angel kind). He'd stand no chance in a fight, but could learn and use spells to solve puzzles, manipulate NPCs, and avoid being eaten or chopped up with an axe.

He could be an expert at free-running and acrobatics (a la Assassin's Creed but without all the stabbity stab parts), using stealth and agility to escape danger.

He could be the master of BS, charismatically persuading NPCs to do all the dirty work, or tricking enemies into letting him live (or turning them against each other while slipping away). This could work along with a Kris Angel type of illusionist; although he has no actual magical abilities, in a world where magic exists some characters might believe a slick talker who can allegedly float or start fires with his mind. That might be quite entertaining actually... I just got a mental image of "Penn & Teller in King Arthur's Court", calling bullsh*t on Merlin and causing a medieval ruckus.

EDIT: Ah sorry maybe you were thinking I should be more specific. Maybe tomorrow :)

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I see this as a great opportunity to include a lot of puzzles into your gameplay. Imagine some of the challenges a player can face if they have to outwit enemies that want to tear them apart without confronting them. Puzzles could involve manipulating the environment to trap or avoid enemies or perhaps use a social aspect to soothe angry opponents or even talk them into turning on each other? I suppose there also would be an opportunity to implement some sort of stealth/sneak aspect into the game as well (not sure if I have seen an RPG that relies heavily on this).

What is your target audience? RPG fans? Puzzler fans? Children or adults?

If violence/confrontation were avoided altogether, I can see the game feeling more like a puzzler or stealth game as opposed to a traditional RPG but this might be what you want?

This sounds like an interesting idea. If you need some help flushing it out farther, I would be more than happy to assist (not sure how much help I would be, but I can try!)

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I would go for something along the lines of this:

You are a messenger in ancient Greece. You first work out who your primary clients are through story portions, then work on maintaining your morality alignments and clients after you've earned them. Then add in a bit of intrigue.

The hardest part will be finding ways to make the delievery type setting interesting. I would imagine you would go for something along the lines of getting into and out of cities(stealth, politically, through a crowd, flat out lying, or whatever), managing your relationship with Hermes, "human level" evasion, and maybe a modification of quick-time events for travel/time bonouses.

EDIT: on second thought I would recomend looking at some of the classic "choose your own adventure" books.

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I would certainly like to see violence being less of a unique theme in all games, not just fantasy settings. I enjoy combat in games as much or more than the next guy, but, its a bit worrying that almost all games seem to revolve entirely around fighting :/ Games are not just entertainment, they can also be educational. Surely we can make games with other themes as well?

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A shapeshifter who could turn into a cute animal could be quite effective at begging for help. A shapeshifter who could turn into a flying animal could easily escape ground-bound monsters. A shapeshifter who could turn into a really fast animal could outrun monsters. A shapeshifter who could turn into the same animal as the monster might be ignored or welcomed by it. Or a shapeshifter could turn into a rock or armor-hided monster which was impervious to attacks and/or boring due to being inedible.

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I really like the ideal of more advanced AI or various ways to interact with NPCs in games. It sure is better than the current options of 1) fight and kill the attacker or 2) run away from the attacker. Other options could be:

[u]For Monsters[/u]
[list][*]Pheromones of fear[*]Warcry to startle/ run of something[/list]
[u]For Humaniods[/u]
[list][*]Bribe to not attack you or for safe passage[*][Convince] Reason them to stand down (they would surely die)[*]Tell them a joke, riddle, or something to distract them and slip away[/list]

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You have fallen for the same trap as many people do. They state they want non violent games, but then they specify a setting that leads to violence. You specify that the player has to fight monsters, just that they can't fight back. The only way to not have violence is to not make is necessary. As Shakespeare said: "A rose by any other name smells as sweet". Fighting by any other names is still violence.

Most people think of violence in games is a result of conflict. It's not. Conflict is in all games violent or not (yes even in games like Tetris or Bejewled). Violence is harming someone. Conflict is where two or more contradictory goals interact. Yes, violence involves conflict, but not all conflict is violence.

However, if you design a game where you have to harm another (even a computer controlled opponent) then this is violence. In your example of using a flash or loud noise to drive them away is violence as is binding them ans some of the other suggestions you provide. The others are about avoiding violence, but then if this is supposed to be game play, where the player might fail, then their failure will result in violence. In other words, your suggestions are not getting rid of violence but are actually a kind of violence (either through the player failing, or in their actions). What you seem to be trying to avoid is gore (blood, injuries, etc).

Take the game "The Guild 2". There is violence in that (you can attack people but it is not necessary), but a lot of the game is non violent as you try to out compete other families for wealth and political power. The game would work fine without the violence in it, but it does add that aspect for people who seek it as a solution to certain problems (if a political rival is getting too much support, you can just assassinate them - or bribe their followers if you want the non violent solution).

So, be careful when you are trying to create a game and not fall for the trap of equating violence with gore. Gore usually involves violence, but not all violence involves gore.

Actually, what most people do mean when they complain about violent video games is not violence per se, but gore. Chess is actually a violent game (you are sending armies into battle and even have to sacrifice your troops to get what you want) but there is no gore. It is because there is no gore, people don't complain, but when you actually think about it, chess [b][i]is[/i][/b] a violent game.

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[quote name='Edtharan' timestamp='1298126510' post='4776308']
You have fallen for the same trap as many people do. They state they want non violent games, but then they specify a setting that leads to violence. You specify that the player has to fight monsters, just that they can't fight back. The only way to not have violence is to not make is necessary. As Shakespeare said: "A rose by any other name smells as sweet". Fighting by any other names is still violence.

Most people think of violence in games is a result of conflict. It's not. Conflict is in all games violent or not (yes even in games like Tetris or Bejewled). Violence is harming someone. Conflict is where two or more contradictory goals interact. Yes, violence involves conflict, but not all conflict is violence.
[/quote]

You raise an interesting point here. Perhaps the phrase "non-violence" is not precisely what I meant. What I'm looking for here is simply gameplay alternatives to direct combat. So it doesn't mean that the game setting itself is nonviolent, it simply means that role you play in the game is non-combative.

While I mentioned the goal of providing non-violent games for children, I only put that forth as one possible goal that someone might have. I do realize that not all of the gameplay ideas that I suggested would meet this particular goal.

Additionally, I believe that many would consider a game to be non-violent even it wasn't completely nonviolent in a philosophical sense. For example, most sports games are considered non-violent, even though they involve adversarial conflict that often results in injuries.

One of the examples I mentioned was Lord of the Rings, which is obviously a very violent setting. So I'm not necessarily talking about eliminating all of the violence in a game, although that could be a goal if you want.

[quote name='Edtharan' timestamp='1298126510' post='4776308']
However, if you design a game where you have to harm another (even a computer controlled opponent) then this is violence. In your example of using a flash or loud noise to drive them away is violence as is binding them ans some of the other suggestions you provide.
[/quote]

Hmm. If you do consider these to be _violent_ actions, then we can say, at least, they are less destructive and less offensive. Non-lethal and non-injurious forms of violence are more accepted as means of conflict resolution.

[quote name='Edtharan' timestamp='1298126510' post='4776308']
The others are about avoiding violence, but then if this is supposed to be game play, where the player might fail, then their failure will result in violence. In other words, your suggestions are not getting rid of violence but are actually a kind of violence (either through the player failing, or in their actions). What you seem to be trying to avoid is gore (blood, injuries, etc).
[/quote]

I assume you mean that if the hero were to fail to avoid the enemy, then the enemy would attack the player violently (This is certainly possible, but you could also have the enemy escort the hero back to the beginning of the level). Assuming that the enemies would indeed resort to violence, it would be different than the player being allowed to use violence. If the player is allowed to use violence, it could be seen as advocacy on the part of the games author (although we assume that most don't actually advocate real violence). If only the enemies are allowed to use violence, it could likewise be seen as opposition to violence, so this would be more accepted. I think this is a very important distinction.

As for "blood, injuries, etc", I think that is what most of the people who object to violent video games are most concerned with.

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[quote name='krez' timestamp='1298010854' post='4775735']
He could be the master of BS, charismatically persuading NPCs to do all the dirty work, or tricking enemies into letting him live (or turning them against each other while slipping away). This could work along with a Kris Angel type of illusionist; although he has no actual magical abilities, in a world where magic exists some characters might believe a slick talker who can allegedly float or start fires with his mind. That might be quite entertaining actually... I just got a mental image of "Penn & Teller in King Arthur's Court", calling bullsh*t on Merlin and causing a medieval ruckus.
[/quote]
I like this idea because I hadn't really thought of using conversation as gameplay for these types of scenarios. I think it's a really good idea, especially because that is the preferred method of resolving adversarial conflicts in the real world.

[quote name='krez' timestamp='1298010854' post='4775735']
EDIT: Ah sorry maybe you were thinking I should be more specific. Maybe tomorrow :)
[/quote]

Not necessarily. Vague ideas are good too. I have seen conversation represented in many games in very abstract forms. Nothing that I'd be satisfied with as a primary game-play mechanic. Perhaps those who are inspired by this post will each come-up with their own implementation ideas, which we may see in the future.

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[quote name='Kelly G' timestamp='1298236593' post='4776794']
Additionally, I believe that many would consider a game to be non-violent even it wasn't completely nonviolent in a philosophical sense. For example, most sports games are considered non-violent, even though they involve adversarial conflict that often results in injuries.
[/quote]
Yes, my post was meant to be more of a philosophical thought than practical.

I know that most people who object to violent games do so because of the gore factor (ie: they object to God of War, but not to Mario Bothers, despite the fact that in Mario brothers you are stomping enemies to death, burning them, killing them with the corpses of their fallen comrades, etc [img]http://public.gamedev.net/public/style_emoticons/default/laugh.gif[/img]).;

You could probably re-theme a game like GTA and turn it into a non gore game and people might call it non-violent (it would probably be something like pac-man - now there is a violent game it is about eating your enemies "alive" before they eat you alive [img]http://public.gamedev.net/public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif[/img]).

The important point of it though is that all games have conflict, it is an inevitable aspect of games. But, not all games have to be violent (and yes, you can have gory, non-violent games - think of a trauma game where you have to respond to accidents and such, this could be quite gory but have no violence in it at all as you are rescuing people).

But, as you said you are not looking for a non-violent game, just a non-gory game with indirect violence.

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