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Orymus3

[Weekly Discussion] on RPG Genre's flaws - Week 4 : "Exploration]"

30 posts in this topic

[quote name='Orymus3' timestamp='1342372671' post='4959304']
So basically, there is no exploration on the main path? That sounds restrictive. I think the player explores the game whenever they're not fighting (in fact once could argue they even explore the battle system everytime they're shown new enemies).

[/quote]

I would argue that there is no or almost no exploration in main paths for most games.

One reason being if you are told to go at a certain place you are aware of where you go and you have a goal. This ''mission'' is what is on your mind and not exploration.
I would'nt call going from point A to objective B exploration because you are looking for something specific. When you're exploring you're consciously deciding to go in a direction rather than a place your mind is not focused on any objective but finding on something new that you are not aware it exists or are unsure of what lies somewhere.

As for combat, if you want to have a equivalence of exploration you need to remove redundancy from the combat system as much as possible. In fact the only games I know who give a sense of exploration or discovery in combat would be Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. The reason being that when you discover a new enemy you don't know AT ALL how this enemy will attack you and you cant read his moves therefore you have to ''explore'' his behavior to discover how to kill him. Edited by KenjiSenpai
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@KenjiSenpai: I would counter that exploration and "discovery" are two different things. My favored example would be Final Fantasy 3. Just because I am told that an evil spirit in such and such cave needs to be defeated does not make me feel any less like an explorer when getting to that cave (I just hop in my airship and land on the cave side of a lake) and then going through the cave. It is something my party has never done before. For them it is an exploration. Every treasure and piece of dialogue is a "discovery." Whether this is true for the player depends on if they have memory of a previous playthrough and their mindset (mine varies a little bit from yours).

I wholly agree with you on combat that facillitates (versus killing you outright for doing something "wrong") and allows ("hey, doing this works, too!") exploration is wonderful. Just recently I saw this video:

[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTUiVAgOA0M"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTUiVAgOA0M[/url]

I can't remember the site I first found that on, but most of the people said how stupid it was. It is true that this makes the fight a lot easier, but I think this is BRILLIANT! For being board and doing something completely unexpected, you reap an awesome reward. That is never something to pass up when you can sneak it into the game design.

Now imagine a game where everything worked like these examples, using the crazy creative ways these players used:

[url="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LordBritishPostulate"]http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LordBritishPostulate[/url]

and

[url="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheDevTeamThinksOfEverything"]http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheDevTeamThinksOfEverything[/url]

Oh, sidetracked again, but this is just another day at the office, right, Orymus3?
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[quote name='Giauz' timestamp='1342793954' post='4961326']
Well, I upvoted you because you asked and were courteous to me. I usually don't bother with social point mechanics unless I feel strongly about a post in a thread I am participating in (those other threads seem to have gone by the wayside).
[/quote]

I wasn't specifically referring to me :) If you enjoy these discussions, chances are there's more than a single person contributing. Be sure to send the love.

[quote name='Giauz' timestamp='1342793954' post='4961326']

1.) The first point you made in the last posting about a hookshot complexifying the battle system... erm, well, part of your reaction stems from my fudging in a response to the weekly discussion on the overuse of Attack. The core idea I really would want to convey now is that the attack command could have a variable 'casting time' attached to it. When normally entering into a battle (coming into enemy's visual range versus preemptive strike with a sword or getting meleed by the enemy in an ambush) selecting Attack will usually take longer to execute than a ranged attack or spell. However, after the first melee attack is made Attack becomes the "quickest" option. Cast time for Attack will increase again if the target or PC decides to use a spell or ranged attack. The goal of this system is to make the normally no-cost Attack action have more situational use (the enemy just took a stab at my wizard, so now is the time for my warrior to strike! Versus the enemy has been firing off some arrows. I could have my warrior take him out with his mighty sword, but he would be at the risk of dying before delivering the blow. Should I wait for the enemy to risk a rush at my party?). This was an interesting mechanic in FF13, but there were other mechanics in action in those battles, so this suggestion may not be good after all.
[/quote]

So essentially, you're making this a 'strategic' jrpg battle system with position but no actual movement. While the above explanation would be insufficient to cover all use cases, I think you're on to something. Determining the distance between two units based on the actions they've last taken (melee or ranged) could really improve strategic flow.
The main problem I see is that you're sort of leaving out the main portion of this strategic element: being able to have tankers protect your glass cannons. If your system essentially boils down to this: character is considered back row unless 1 - he uses melee or 2 - an enemy has used melee on him and he hasn't replied with ranged yet, you're not able to have people interfere.
Complexifying this would require thinking about a way to make it user intuitive, which just isn't there (yet). That said, this relates more to discussion Week 1, so I'll stop there. Feel free to revive the old thread or start a new one based around this idea. It has enough merit to be discussed if anyone is serious about undertaking such a system.

[quote name='Giauz' timestamp='1342793954' post='4961326']
What I mean is just because an interesting solution (slow all of time rather than just a few enemies/party members) is used only a few times doesn't make it redundant or any less interesting.
[/quote]

I was affraid of the redundancy not of the solution, but of the problem. There's only so many areas where you can have falling platforms before it gets old. The fact that you cleverly slow them down isn't what's wearing you down.

[quote name='Giauz' timestamp='1342793954' post='4961326']
Um, now that I'm done going off on a tangent, I would say to study Final Fantasy 3 (Famicom is what I emulated but you could probably just watch some Youtube let's plays) for exploration I really loved just as greatly as that in my Zelda games collection. It has a vast world map that you actually need to use the limited mapping spell to keep you on track, good use of vehicles, and many towns, castles, and caves to explore with hidden treasure rooms and treasure rooms hidden inside those (this really cut down on the compulsion to grind with a few quick advances in equipment and money. I called it feel-good gameplay. FF4, 5, and to somewhat lesser extent 6 and 7 would continue to provide awesome hidden treasure).
[/quote]

They've made it for the nintendo DS too (and I own a copy of it). They've added an exploration mechanic where, once you've revealed an entire map (explored all of it) you get an item. This is true for all levels everywhere, and the further in the game, the better the loot (they've added it to ff4 ds remake as well following the success of this mechanic). While this is artificial, it does increase the worth of exploration, and so long as you don't get the bonus, you get the feeling you're missing on something. While it does indicate clear feedback (you have or haven't seen everything here) it feels a bit too narrow. I liked the idea at first, but it should've been less evenly applied so as to keep players on their toes. Also, the rewards should've been more interesting than actual items falling from the void. Opening secret passages for example.

[quote name='KenjiSenpai' timestamp='1342797911' post='4961340']
I would argue that there is no or almost no exploration in main paths for most games.
[/quote]

I think the issue is that we refer to exploration as two different concepts. To me, exploration is everything you do on your journey (which obviously means stuff occurs on the main path). For this discussion, I wanted to take fighting out, because we know fighting is a big big BIG portion of the exploration in an RPG (it is the main obstacle to progression). I wanted to delve into alternate solutions.
Early on, it was revealed that most people believe exploration stems from the player's need to go out the beaten path. Given that I'm not a native, I'll agree that my choice of word (exploration) is probably faulty, hence this confused discussion. Could we call it navigation then perhaps?

[quote name='KenjiSenpai' timestamp='1342797911' post='4961340']
As for combat, if you want to have a equivalence of exploration you need to remove redundancy from the combat system as much as possible. In fact the only games I know who give a sense of exploration or discovery in combat would be Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. The reason being that when you discover a new enemy you don't know AT ALL how this enemy will attack you and you cant read his moves therefore you have to ''explore'' his behavior to discover how to kill him.
[/quote]

I agree with you. These mushrooms got me wondering (as they weren't hostile at first).

[quote name='Giauz' timestamp='1342802044' post='4961359']
@KenjiSenpai: I would counter that exploration and "discovery" are two different things. My favored example would be Final Fantasy 3. Just because I am told that an evil spirit in such and such cave needs to be defeated does not make me feel any less like an explorer when getting to that cave (I just hop in my airship and land on the cave side of a lake) and then going through the cave. It is something my party has never done before. For them it is an exploration. Every treasure and piece of dialogue is a "discovery." Whether this is true for the player depends on if they have memory of a previous playthrough and their mindset (mine varies a little bit from yours).
[/quote]

that too

[quote name='Giauz' timestamp='1342802044' post='4961359']
I wholly agree with you on combat that facillitates (versus killing you outright for doing something "wrong") and allows ("hey, doing this works, too!") exploration is wonderful. Just recently I saw this video:



I can't remember the site I first found that on, but most of the people said how stupid it was. It is true that this makes the fight a lot easier, but I think this is BRILLIANT! For being board and doing something completely unexpected, you reap an awesome reward. That is never something to pass up when you can sneak it into the game design.
[/quote]

I like to think there is a different between emergent gameplay (using in-game mechanics in such a way that you find a workaround something that was unforeseen by the developer) and using an actual 'bug' (which is the case in this video, obviously). I think emergent is much more rewarding, and players will sense the difference. It's good to cheat a game, but it needs to make sense. This video makes none. But if you're to kill a boss that you can never be in contact with, but can both produce poison and food and have access to a steward, poisoning him would be as legitimate an action as hiring an assassin.
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I think there's a little bit of confusion. First off, I haven't seen much of the new FF3, but I agree that the mapping reward system feels awkward/I don't want it. I was talking about the world being huge and having a pretty limited map spell. Use the spell frequently until you get your bearings. Plus I just love switches opening treasure rooms, walking through a hidden passage in an unlit fireplace, hidden paths in trees and foliage (and the treasure in those), etc. I especially like that one castle on the floating continent that not only gives you really great treasure (some more is behind two doors you will be able to unlock later) but also probably the largest windfall in the game (I really felt like a "treasure hunter").

Second, how are you so sure that is a bug and not an Easter egg? I don't get the argument that it doesn't make sense is a bad thing. I love limitless hidden tricks like using the bug-catching net to deflect Aganim's magic, (also ALTTP) jumping in the water or using the hookshot to become temporarily invincible, putting on that eagle-headed mask to control Majora's second to last form, getting a butterfly to land on an outstretched deku stick making it become a fairy, etc. It's out of the ordinary and cool to discover.

Finally, I believe I will post an expansion of my attack idea in the original thread and see where that takes me. Right now I just got off work and have to get some sleep.
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[quote name='Giauz' timestamp='1342886330' post='4961692']
Second, how are you so sure that is a bug and not an Easter egg?
[/quote]

I don't know. It looks like a fishing rod. I think emergent gameplay is there to reward the player that explores the logic of gameplay mechanics laid before them. Using the fishing rod in a boss battle against anything that doesn't look like a fish doesn't sound like a 'clever use of game mechanics' to me. You just stumble accidentally on this by trying everything. This isn't really creative. I'd really love to hear what was the intent behind these and whether they were bugs or not... Then again, as a publisher, its easier to say it was an easter egg than a bug in most cases... (Red Dead Redemption flying t-poles, I'm looking at you!)
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Just a difference in opinion then. I try to keep real world logic out of a game's reality. I have no reason to assume a game goes by the same logic as in the real world or that its own internal logic is perfectly consistent. Trying stuff without being able to logically predict the outcome and receiving a neat little Easter egg is very satisfying for me. Also, I can't say that I really care that it doesn't fall into the buzz word of emergent gameplay. I had no idea about any of these things until I read about them from more experimentive gamers.

I respect your opinion but disagree with the reasoning.
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