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Skill Based RPG

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I don''t post here that much, so I have no idea if this is just simply an idea already posted. Anyway. While playing Dark Age of Camelot, I realize that it become increadibly unfun the more you play it. Because it''s the same thing over and over. Find monster, press a couple buttons, wait for monster to die, sit down, stand up, repeat. You do this until you get higher in lvl, then once you start getting up there you can try some PvP, but there isn''t any real reward there either. There''s no sense of skill that I''m used to in games involving more than just yourself. I don''t generally mind this type of gameply when playing say Final Fantasy games. This is because there is an actual story going on to keep me interested in the game. In multiplayer games though... players want to feel skillful among their peers. Or at least I do. If I see a player whose better than me, I try to become better. Competition drives people. In MMORPGs (in general) it''s not how skillful you are, it''s how long you''ve invested in the game. So if I''m playing, and I stop for a week, then everyone I play with is going to be "mightier" than me. The point to me rambling on is this. A game that instead of increasing in stats and hit points when you lvl. Make a game where there is no real Levels. A game where there aren''t any hit points either. In this game, you can be damaged in different locations on three levels. Wounded, severely wounded, and mangled. Take enough damage and you''ll bleed. Bleed long enoug, you''ll die, take too much damage to vital areas, you''ll die. Fighting would be more reliant on the players skills, and on some degree... the equipment being used. And while better armor could possibly be more effective to some types of defense, it''ll never be impenetrable. Think of armor being effective against certain types of attacks, and "weak" against others. Like chain mail armor. A stabbing weapon would be far easier to penetrate chain mail than a slashing weapon. I''m not exactly concrete on anything except that all players will be on generally equal terms over a variety of "stats". So if I just created a character, I''d have a fighting chance against players who have played longer than me, or creatures that are concidered "high level". Albeit it''d be harder due to my lack of equipment, or even perhaps skills (i.e. earned skills in the game), but not impossible. What hero became so because he fought longer than any other soldier out there. If they did fight longer it''s because they were skilled, and not because they had more free time. Hmmm, reading back on this post, I find I''m rambling on... This is only a solidly formed ideal with only half thought out implimentations and even less thought out presentation. I''ll leave it up to you folks to help flesh this out, and I''ll put my two cents in as I collect my thoughts on this.

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I think the key to making an MMORPG skill based is to force people to react to their opponents actions. A MUD I currently play called Achaea is the best example I have ever seen of this. Basically, it has a system of afflictions and cures.. Afflictions can be cured by eating specific herbs, applying certain vials, etc, and a fighter will always be equipped with a set of all of these (Or they die very very quickly). The thing is that a good majority of what your opponents do will afflict, a Knight''s ''basic'' attack is called Doubleslash, where they hit you with two edged weapons, both envenomed. You very seldom dodge this, so its assumed that every two to three seconds you will be hit with two more afflictions from them that you need to cure. Add in that you can only eat herbs/apply vials every so often, and it gets tricky. This only scratches the surface of Achaea''s combat system, but even from that you can see that it takes a great deal of personal skill to be able to keep up. Levels in it are seldom considered to be much of a factor at all, once you have reached a decent one.

Another key is to give a good variety of attacks, and to make it so in order to survive your opponents offense you have to be able to force them to back off with yours. Fighting defensively should, as a rule, not work.

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Hmm. Some good ideas, some not-so-good.

You said you want people to compete and measure themselves against each other. All very true and fair enough. But then you advocate taking away levels. Levels are much maligned, and not always fairly. It''s true that they are often used as a ''lazy'' design, but one thing they do achieve very well is to rank players and give them targets.

As for the duration of play dictating ability in MMORPGs, this is commonly viewed as a necessary problem. Most games involve a trade of time for skill. In RPG-type games, the ''skill'' is character skill rather than playing skill. You''ll find the opposite in shooter games, if that''s what you''re into.

Your combat system ideas didn''t really offer anything I''ve not seen before. But I ask you this - if a new player has a good chance of beating an experienced player, where is the motivation for the experienced player? One reason why some people play RPGs rather than Quake-style games is because they like to know a character''s skills will make up for their lack of reflexes or whatever. If you take that away, you ruin the game for those players.

Your ideas are not bad as such, but I think you are not so much thinking of a new approach to MMORPGs, but of a different style of game altogether that perhaps just shares the setting of MMORPGs.

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No ones created a combat system that I know of that relies not on reflex or character attributes but strategy. As an example, I'll use a magic-based combat system. No spell is really more powerful than any other. They are all balanced. Fighting head-to-head, you have to out-think your opponent rather than shoot 'em or be higher in "experience". Magic: The Gathering is a great system IMO. How come no MMORPG's use systems this advanced?

I don't see the difference between having hit points and using levels of damage. In actuality, they're both levels of damage, only one has a higher resolution. You could have hit points in the background but only tell the user that he is wounded, severely wounded or mangled. Ultimately, it would be better to have hit points at different parts of the body. Where you are hit effects your performance.

- Jay

"Strictly speaking, there is no need to teach the student, because the student himself is Buddha, even though he may not be aware of it." - Shunryu Suzuki

Get Tranced!


[edited by - coderx75 on June 5, 2002 8:36:02 PM]

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The boundary between winning by stats and winning by reflexes intersects with the boundary between "game as language" and "game as test", on precisely that point where the process of acquiring stats and the process of assessing a reflex''s success are reversed. Ie. If you produced stats in the game to be acquired by other people and assessed your reflexes in response to the stats produced by others in the game, you would be talking about the difference between using the game to communicate and using the game to evaluate - producing stats would be a communication and personally implementing those stats would be an evaluation.

What is interesting is to think about this situation at the nexus between designer-to-player and player-to-player.
FPS suggests a designer-to-player test, MMOFPS suggests a player-to-player; by playful interpretation, RPGs suggest a designer-to-player language (ie this is how to interpret the world), MMORPGs suggest a player-to-player language (ie. this is how to interpret the world now that I am in it).

However, the representation (not interpretation) of the game in all these genres is designer-to-player, naturally. A game (test) in which this is reversed is, for example, the Turing challenge where the goal is to mimic a human player (of the language game). A game (language) in which this is reversed might be, for example, dream interpretation where the goal is to mimic (in language) the dream player (of the reality game?).

The question begged is this, can a game allow players to occupy both evaluating AND communicating roles in a fashion that might resemble the combination of the Turing Test with dream interpretation (the ELIZA program, developed for the Turing Test was close to this)? Further, can such a game be made massively multiplayer (MMOELIZA?)?

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Thanks for the input everyone, I''m glad to see it''s more than just "That''s Stupid"

I''m afraid when I stated this game would use a system based on damage severity rather than hit points that was misunderstood.

No hitpoints at all. No damage "values" as such. Think of all damage consisting of five values ranging from 0-4. And also, armor having values ranging from 1-2. (just examples).

So if I had armor 1 on my head, and I got struck with a damage 2 blow to my head, then I''d have 1 damage level on my head. There are three damage levels per body part. So if I was "green" in my head, then I''d now be "yellow".

The reason for this, is to stop people from becoming obsessed with the numbers. It also get''s people into the habit of thinking pretty much everything as potentially harmful. Even if I''ve played the game for umpteen hours, then a troll swinging a club at me is something I''m still going to have to be mindful of.
Yet, if my armor was sufficient, I wouldn''t have to worry about the rodents gnawing at my ankles.

No hit points, no damage points. Everything consists of very basic values ranging from 0-5 tops, with different things having different ranges for balance. (like armor value 0 wouldn''t make much sense, but a damage 0 attack could possibly make sense if 0 was determined through basic modifiers (like strenght, or possibly magical debuffs).

As far as the rest of combat. I''m not clear on this myself. I''m trying to concieve of a possibility of a system like this working without being an FPS, since you guys are right, the fps gamers are different then the RPG gamers and they expect different things in their experiences. I''m the same. I don''t play Day of Defeat or Quake III expecting to explore or whatever.

I''m trying to find a way to keep certain RPG elements without punishing players for not being logged in as much as others. I''m trying the think of a game design that puts everyone on a more level playing field with subtle differences rather than broad gaps in fields of numbers that do nothing but increase as you play the game. Anyone heard of progress quest? That''s exactly how RPGs feel to me these days.

I guess the biggest problem is that I''m trying to change one of the core defining characteristics of RPGs. Stats building and level gaining. But are those really core attributes? Rifts is an excellent role playing game, and you do gain some hit points and such, but for the most part the only gain are skills. Their balance of SD and MD (Standard Damage and Mega Damage) is along the lines I''m talking about.

But instead of lumping these two properties of damage in combat, I''d like to spread everything out on a delicately balanced line of small numbers. Where the difference between armor 1 and armor 2 is great, and is readily felt as soon as the upgrade is made. Also, where damages are thought of as light, medium, heavy and "immense" where "immense" would be comparative to a tank against a person.

Well, I''m rambling again, and I''m thinking I didn''t clear up any of my thoughts at all to anyone. If it''s clearer to you what I''m trying to say, thanks. I know that you have helped me as well begin to re-evaluate and try to bring the whole package into a neat one.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by coderx75
I don''t see the difference between having hit points and using levels of damage. In actuality, they''re both levels of damage, only one has a higher resolution. You could have hit points in the background but only tell the user that he is wounded, severely wounded or mangled. Ultimately, it would be better to have hit points at different parts of the body. Where you are hit effects your performance.



That''s exactly what I want to avoid though. I want to "lower the resolution" of the hit points system. Of course there needs to be more than just, dead/alive in the wound system, so a scale of some sort is needed.

Yet, I don''t wans somone running around with 500 hit points because he played three hours longer than someone with 100 hit points.

So instead, I''d like the playing field leveled to some extent. So like, you and me. Think of the two of us. I don''t know how old you are, but I''m 21. Does that mean that you would have more or less capacity to take damage than me because of our differences in age?

Also, just because someone has fought a lot, does that mean they should suddenly be able to take damage that no other human can? Why does becoming higher in level in an RPG have to suddenly make you superhuman? Why can''t it be that you''re capacity for damage never goes up (from the naked state). After all, if I were join the military, I''d possibly get stronger, and I''d possibly be able to take more damage... but gunshot damage? Axe to the head damage? Dragon claw to my midsection damage? Probably not and never.

What I''m trying to do is reward players for playing, but in in ways that make them far superior to others around them. Everyone is human, or at least they''ll still be so when you go on vacation and come back. Sure the equipment will change, that''s to be expected even in a real life situation, but they won''t suddenly be able to survive being hit by a bus.

Reward through skills, reward through items and equipment, but don''t increase the physical stature of the character.

I think that''s basically is the core of what I''m trying to change.

I''m not trying to single you out coderx75, so please don''t take offense.

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Argh, I lost my login info when I tried posting that last one.

Anyway, that was me.

Also, I meant to say in one paragraph was
"What I''m trying to do is reward players for playing, but in in ways that DON''T make them far superior to others around them. Everyone is human, or at least they''ll still be so when you go on vacation and come back. Sure the equipment will change, that''s to be expected even in a real life situation, but they won''t suddenly be able to survive being hit by a bus."

heh, I''ll stop posting now :D

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Bandeco,

I think you have very good ideas on this.

The ideal virtual world in such a setting would be that the outcome for instance of your sword fight with someone else depends simply on how good you are in swordfighting, just like in Counterstrike where the outcome depends on your ability to shoot.

There is no need for skills or stats. The skills that are important in that virtual world should be real skills. If it''s a business game, your skill of handling all the information and seeing in what to invest. Your succes will be measured by the amount of money you''ve got. In a political simulation your success will be measured by the postion you are able to take in the political structure. And in a sword fight game, your reward for being a good swordfighter is that you stay alife and your opponent don''t (unless you are greatfull

You make clear sence!

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