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dechorus

Planescape: Torment - minus the D&D stuff

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Planescape: Torment was a phenomenal game. Its greatest criticism however, was the clunky combat mechanics - while its greatest strength was its adventure game-like story telling and attention to detail.

The point of this topic is to explore the idea of a game like PS: T, minus all of the contrived role playing mechanics. The game is enjoyed most when cutting through its thick plot and dialog, and least enjoyed when weapons are drawn. Most of the game can be played like an adventure game, but at certain points combat is inevitable, and it makes all those stats and all those items you've ignored in favor of the plot come to bite you in the backside. Inventory management, spellbooks, statistics, THAC0... yuck.

Would a game like this have been improved if it weren't a D&D role playing game? Is it possible to have a legitimate 'game' out of simple exploration and conversation? Of course, it would more or less turn into an adventure game, but what is it about experiencing a story in a video game and allowing player input that makes it superior to a experiencing a story in a book or film for example? Player input means player choices means branching storylines - but in terms of gameplay all that really translates to is pointing the cursor to your desired answer to a multi-choice question. How can we turn a story experience into an "interactive experience", truly, and how can it be better by being one rather than not?

I know I'm really exploring two (almost) separate ideas here, but I feel they go hand in hand, as one came about from the other. In any case, share your views about either one!

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You mean like gamebooks (the ones where you read paragraphs and from time to time are asked to choose a question which will determine in which direction the story will go)?

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Well, sure. To a certain degree, adventure and roleplaying games that take choice into account do pretty much the same thing. Though they offer visuals and sound, the gameplay more or less comes down to making those choices.

I know that's not the case with most games, but if you strip them down, that's more or less what you end up with. And to a lot of us, that is one of the most compelling parts of those games.

How can we expand this kind of gameplay - is my question, really. Slapping a roleplaying game on top of it expands the gameplay significantly, yes, but it doesn't really improve it. Planescape: Torment being Exhibit A.

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Well, sure. To a certain degree, adventure and roleplaying games that take choice into account do pretty much the same thing. Though they offer visuals and sound, the gameplay more or less comes down to making those choices.

I know that's not the case with most games, but if you strip them down, that's more or less what you end up with. And to a lot of us, that is one of the most compelling parts of those games.

How can we expand this kind of gameplay - is my question, really. Slapping a roleplaying game on top of it expands the gameplay significantly, yes, but it doesn't really improve it. Planescape: Torment being Exhibit A.


Go play games like Space Quest and Kings Quest.

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Well, sure. To a certain degree, adventure and roleplaying games that take choice into account do pretty much the same thing. Though they offer visuals and sound, the gameplay more or less comes down to making those choices.

I know that's not the case with most games, but if you strip them down, that's more or less what you end up with. And to a lot of us, that is one of the most compelling parts of those games.

How can we expand this kind of gameplay - is my question, really. Slapping a roleplaying game on top of it expands the gameplay significantly, yes, but it doesn't really improve it. Planescape: Torment being Exhibit A.

Isn't the problem, that when you strip the RPG part from PS:T you are left with an interactive story/movie ? It's like taking away the golf ball from a golf tournament to get a better view of the landscape. Yes, it is a lovely landscape, but it is no longer a game.

A good story can be very important for a game, but you should always start with a good gameplay first instead of bending the gameplay to the story (IMHO this is one reason movie/book adaption are poor rather than good).

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Planescape: Torment was a phenomenal game. Its greatest criticism however, was the clunky combat mechanics - while its greatest strength was its adventure game-like story telling and attention to detail.

The point of this topic is to explore the idea of a game like PS: T, minus all of the contrived role playing mechanics. The game is enjoyed most when cutting through its thick plot and dialog, and least enjoyed when weapons are drawn. Most of the game can be played like an adventure game, but at certain points combat is inevitable, and it makes all those stats and all those items you've ignored in favor of the plot come to bite you in the backside. Inventory management, spellbooks, statistics, THAC0... yuck.

This is simply your taste, and it is definitely misaligned with Planescape taste: you dislike the closely tied tactical combat optimization and strategical power accumulation that are the true soul of AD&D.

Imagine a RPG character whose best plan to win fights is "yuck". Can you honestly imagine such a character not dying ignominiously as soon as he has an adventure in a dangerous place like Sigil?

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Isn't the problem, that when you strip the RPG part from PS:T you are left with an interactive story/movie ? It's like taking away the golf ball from a golf tournament to get a better view of the landscape. Yes, it is a lovely landscape, but it is no longer a game.

A good story can be very important for a game, but you should always start with a good gameplay first instead of bending the gameplay to the story (IMHO this is one reason movie/book adaption are poor rather than good).


Going with that golf analogy - suppose one wishes to see some amazing sights, but are held back because they have to play (and win) a game of golf, and until they do, they cannot see what they came for. Golf is fun in its own right, but you may find yourself spending more time than you'd like on it all because you'd like to see some landscapes.


This is simply your taste, and it is definitely misaligned with Planescape taste: you dislike the closely tied tactical combat optimization and strategical power accumulation that are the true soul of AD&D.

Imagine a RPG character whose best plan to win fights is "yuck". Can you honestly imagine such a character not dying ignominiously as soon as he has an adventure in a dangerous place like Sigil?


Going by reviews across the web, these are not just my views. Plenty of people found the actual combat and interface to be frustrating and obtrusive, and interfering with what they enjoyed most about the game: the story. And more importantly, the experience. Meeting new people, discovering new places, finding new truths, solving mysteries... and the like.

I realize that my views seem to contradict the idea of 'playing a game'. A story without any roleplaying could be found in a book or a film, and I realize that these should be the alternatives I ought to go for if I cannot simply handle the 'game' aspect of these games. But that is not true at all - and Planescape: Torment is the perfect example I can use, for it simply cannot EXIST as a book or a film. What makes the experience so enthralling is the interactive element. YOU are the Nameless One, and you need to find out what's going on. You make moral choices. You can explore the locations and get to know its citizens. You are in control of solving the mystery behind your past.

But the problem is it exists as a 'game' when it really ought to exist as an 'interactive experience'. I think that is, in a sentence, how I would summarize what I think of it.

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[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1323076834' post='4890643']
Isn't the problem, that when you strip the RPG part from PS:T you are left with an interactive story/movie ? It's like taking away the golf ball from a golf tournament to get a better view of the landscape. Yes, it is a lovely landscape, but it is no longer a game.

A good story can be very important for a game, but you should always start with a good gameplay first instead of bending the gameplay to the story (IMHO this is one reason movie/book adaption are poor rather than good).


Going with that golf analogy - suppose one wishes to see some amazing sights, but are held back because they have to play (and win) a game of golf, and until they do, they cannot see what they came for. Golf is fun in its own right, but you may find yourself spending more time than you'd like on it all because you'd like to see some landscapes.


This is simply your taste, and it is definitely misaligned with Planescape taste: you dislike the closely tied tactical combat optimization and strategical power accumulation that are the true soul of AD&D.

Imagine a RPG character whose best plan to win fights is "yuck". Can you honestly imagine such a character not dying ignominiously as soon as he has an adventure in a dangerous place like Sigil?


Going by reviews across the web, these are not just my views. Plenty of people found the actual combat and interface to be frustrating and obtrusive, and interfering with what they enjoyed most about the game: the story. And more importantly, the experience. Meeting new people, discovering new places, finding new truths, solving mysteries... and the like.

I realize that my views seem to contradict the idea of 'playing a game'. A story without any roleplaying could be found in a book or a film, and I realize that these should be the alternatives I ought to go for if I cannot simply handle the 'game' aspect of these games. But that is not true at all - and Planescape: Torment is the perfect example I can use, for it simply cannot EXIST as a book or a film. What makes the experience so enthralling is the interactive element. YOU are the Nameless One, and you need to find out what's going on. You make moral choices. You can explore the locations and get to know its citizens. You are in control of solving the mystery behind your past.

But the problem is it exists as a 'game' when it really ought to exist as an 'interactive experience'. I think that is, in a sentence, how I would summarize what I think of it.
[/quote]

You're kind of arguing against your own point here. You have to make choices and solve problems, but what if making choices and solving problems is stopping you from enjoying the story? You solve puzzles in Myst, but it's certainly not easy. There is no AD&D there.

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[quote name='dechorus' timestamp='1323401363' post='4892059']
[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1323076834' post='4890643']
Isn't the problem, that when you strip the RPG part from PS:T you are left with an interactive story/movie ? It's like taking away the golf ball from a golf tournament to get a better view of the landscape. Yes, it is a lovely landscape, but it is no longer a game.

A good story can be very important for a game, but you should always start with a good gameplay first instead of bending the gameplay to the story (IMHO this is one reason movie/book adaption are poor rather than good).


Going with that golf analogy - suppose one wishes to see some amazing sights, but are held back because they have to play (and win) a game of golf, and until they do, they cannot see what they came for. Golf is fun in its own right, but you may find yourself spending more time than you'd like on it all because you'd like to see some landscapes.


This is simply your taste, and it is definitely misaligned with Planescape taste: you dislike the closely tied tactical combat optimization and strategical power accumulation that are the true soul of AD&D.

Imagine a RPG character whose best plan to win fights is "yuck". Can you honestly imagine such a character not dying ignominiously as soon as he has an adventure in a dangerous place like Sigil?


Going by reviews across the web, these are not just my views. Plenty of people found the actual combat and interface to be frustrating and obtrusive, and interfering with what they enjoyed most about the game: the story. And more importantly, the experience. Meeting new people, discovering new places, finding new truths, solving mysteries... and the like.

I realize that my views seem to contradict the idea of 'playing a game'. A story without any roleplaying could be found in a book or a film, and I realize that these should be the alternatives I ought to go for if I cannot simply handle the 'game' aspect of these games. But that is not true at all - and Planescape: Torment is the perfect example I can use, for it simply cannot EXIST as a book or a film. What makes the experience so enthralling is the interactive element. YOU are the Nameless One, and you need to find out what's going on. You make moral choices. You can explore the locations and get to know its citizens. You are in control of solving the mystery behind your past.

But the problem is it exists as a 'game' when it really ought to exist as an 'interactive experience'. I think that is, in a sentence, how I would summarize what I think of it.
[/quote]

You're kind of arguing against your own point here. You have to make choices and solve problems, but what if making choices and solving problems is stopping you from enjoying the story? You solve puzzles in Myst, but it's certainly not easy. There is no AD&D there.
[/quote]

The learning curve for an adventure game is significantly lower than that of a D&D RPG. Compare the playing manuals of each type of game, and you'll find the latter to consist of hundreds of pages.

In any case, I'd rather not consider this thread as an argument of A vs B, but rather to simply explore B as an alternative to A. CAN a game like PS: T be just as amazing (perhaps even more so?) if the gameplay was that of a different genre entirely?

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In any case, I'd rather not consider this thread as an argument of A vs B, but rather to simply explore B as an alternative to A. CAN a game like PS: T be just as amazing (perhaps even more so?) if the gameplay was that of a different genre entirely?

But the story you would like to tell in a better way would be "of a different genre entirely" too. If you remove combat from a violent adventure, it becomes a completely different nonviolent adventure consisting of different dangers, different challenges, different purposes (no climactic combat with the evil mastermind for you, sorry), different characters (starting from the player's one, for whom different skills and perks and equipment will be important).

You cannot simply replace, for instance, a fight that you are expected to win decisively with no need to run away (meant as entertaining action and as a warning that someone hates you) against a group of thugs that assault your home to kidnap you and deliver you to your enemies with a puzzle. What kind of puzzle could plausibly get rid of the thugs? Do you need to involve NPCs to employ violence on your behalf (e.g. you manage to call the police) instead of fighting alone? Do your enemies use less violent means to capture you, for example threatening loved ones? What good reasons do they have to use inefficient methods that don't require combat on your part? Everything changes.

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