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karthink
07-06-2011, 04:20 AM
http://paperghost.tumblr.com/post/6268074336/woke-up-screaming-because-i-just-realised-mass-effect-3

Apart from the turret sequence seen in the trailer, ME3 apparently has on screen prompts for moving into cover (a la Alpha Protocol) and push-a-button-to-watch-a-cutscene (a la Bulletstorm).

After my initial reaction of "Oh God Why Is This Happening", I've reconciled myself with "Let's Not Panic It's Too Early" and "Oh Well I'll Fixate On Some Other Franchise".

Besides, we know quite well why this is happening, no need to get into that.

Baris
07-06-2011, 04:29 AM
I honestly couldn't hold in my laughter when they showed a turret sequence in the precious little time they had to showcase their flagship RPG (hah) title. I know it's probably irrational and I missed out because of it, but I immediately skipped ahead when I saw the turret sequence and crossed the game off my radar.

LittleLizard
07-06-2011, 04:42 AM
What I was afraid of happenning, at least, happened.

ME1 - Hybrid RPG / Shooter
ME2 - Third Persone Shooter with a Damn Good Story, situations, etc.
ME3 - Gears of War with a good story.

Murphy's Law: If something can fail, IT WILL FAIL.

thegooseking
07-06-2011, 04:46 AM
They could have made a trailer about menu navigation and dialogue selection. Golly, that would have been exciting.

But then they would have denied people something to complain about, and people need something to complain about, like I always say.

soldant
07-06-2011, 05:10 AM
Murphy's Law: If something can fail, IT WILL FAIL.
Everything fails then?

Have to admit that I don't like the look of this. I don't understand the "Push button to stare at flying thing!" nonsense that's creeping into games. Thanks guys, but I can see it and I can follow it, you don't need to do it for me.

The JG Man
07-06-2011, 11:22 AM
What I saw looked alright in the trailer and game-play sequences, but it just looked dull. Nothing grabbed my attention. It kinda felt like "Here is some shooting. Here is some moving. Here is some shooting while moving." It all looked very polished, but there was something missing.

EndelNurk
07-06-2011, 11:46 AM
It all looked very polished, but there was something missing.

What's missing? What are we looking for from Mass Effect 3? What makes a Mass Effect game good? I would be very surprised if the mechanics are the only things that people enjoyed in the series.

Joseph
07-06-2011, 12:02 PM
What's missing? What are we looking for from Mass Effect 3? What makes a Mass Effect game good? I would be very surprised if the mechanics are the only things that people enjoyed in the series.

Guaranteed some people will buy the game this late in the series purely on storyline alone and regardless of whether the gameplay is any good. So that allows the devs to make the game appeal more to first time buyers by making it play like other things out there on the market.
But I'm not sure what they'll do about the story, whether they'll make it more accessible to newcomers to the series or make it a brilliant end to it (Not sure but I heard this is the last ME) so they won't have to worry about new people not getting how it's all working out as that might even push them to buy the previous games.
Tricky.

The JG Man
07-06-2011, 12:51 PM
What's missing?

Soul? I don't know. Everything is there, I don't disagree, but I feel like the vibrant and extremely well fleshed out universe they've created, albeit slightly derivative at times, boiled down to "Shoot these dudes, yo!" The Reapers added atmosphere, but I got no sense of any RPG (I appreciate that's hard to convey), no sense of that great space they've invented, other than Reapers flying about. Credit where credit is due, in the gameplay when the Normandy swoops down to collect you, a smile did come to my face. I really hope we get to pilot that in the please-let-it-happen space combat game that has to exist.

Despite what I'm saying, I'll be getting ME3, I was just expecting something a little more, despite having no expectations whatsoever.

Kadayi
07-06-2011, 01:10 PM
They could have made a trailer about menu navigation and dialogue selection. Golly, that would have been exciting.

But then they would have denied people something to complain about, and people need something to complain about, like I always say.

Indeed. The new forum seems to have brought with it a lot of cynics which is rather unfortunate. Hopefully once E3 is out of the way things will bed down again, but I suspect this week is going to consist of one long series of posts scoffing at everything that's shown from E3 based off of initial trailers. A few minutes footage is not enough to really make anything but snap judgements off imho. No doubt over the coming days there will be plenty of coverage from various site as to impressions coming from the convention floor and I suspect those longer looks will be much more indicative as to the true state of play with many titles.

EndelNurk
07-06-2011, 01:33 PM
Soul? I don't know. Everything is there, I don't disagree, but I feel like the vibrant and extremely well fleshed out universe they've created, albeit slightly derivative at times, boiled down to "Shoot these dudes, yo!" The Reapers added atmosphere, but I got no sense of any RPG (I appreciate that's hard to convey), no sense of that great space they've invented, other than Reapers flying about. Credit where credit is due, in the gameplay when the Normandy swoops down to collect you, a smile did come to my face. I really hope we get to pilot that in the please-let-it-happen space combat game that has to exist.

Despite what I'm saying, I'll be getting ME3, I was just expecting something a little more, despite having no expectations whatsoever.

I understand your thoughts. The things we've been shown are not the best of ME. It looks like all trailers etc have been about the conflict on Earth and as we've already heard, a substantial amount of the game will be about recruiting others to help with that fight. I understand why it's not in marketing as fiddling around on the quarian homeworld would be impenetrable for the purposes of marketing. I haven't seen anything at all to suggest that that side of the game has been changed at all. Instead we see differences in combat mechanics in what is likely the introduction to or finale of the game. I don't think we should worry based on this.

The soul, as you describe it, of ME is Shepard. The fact that he's there is honestly enough for me on its own. I genuinely think that Mass Effect is one of the strongest thematically driven games around and Shepard embodies that theme.

thegooseking
07-06-2011, 01:50 PM
IThe soul, as you describe it, of ME is Shepard. The fact that he's there is honestly enough for me on its own.

Pfft. 'He'. Right.

Other than that I think you said what I was trying to say in a far more reasoned and less grumpy approach.

EndelNurk
07-06-2011, 01:54 PM
:) I knew somebody would comment about that. If you check my other posts on the subject I always refer to Shepard as female. I understand that some people don't play that way though. For myself, I've never even managed to finish the whole of the Eden Prime mission as a male Shepard, or as a Renegade Shepard for that matter. It's just not the role I want to play.

[Edit: Sex/Gender terms switch]

winterwolves
07-06-2011, 01:55 PM
For me Mass Effect 2 was better than the first. But I play it mostly for the story, characters, and the hybrid RPG/FPS. I have to admit that I enjoyed much more Borderlands than ME2 though.

The JG Man
07-06-2011, 01:56 PM
Aye, I don't disagree with anything said.

I'm looking forward to it and I'll no doubt love it. The fact it was delayed simply means more time spent with BF3.

thegooseking
07-06-2011, 02:00 PM
:) I knew somebody would comment about that. If you check my other posts on the subject I always refer to Shepard as female. I understand that some people don't play that way though. For myself, I've never even managed to finish the whole of the Eden Prime mission as a male Shepard, or as a Renegade Shepard for that matter. It's just not the role I want to play.

I actually finished both games first time round not only as ManShep, but as DefaultShep, so I can't really say anything. I've only ever played FemShep since then, though.

SMiD
07-06-2011, 02:45 PM
Indeed. The new forum seems to have brought with it a lot of cynics which is rather unfortunate. Hopefully once E3 is out of the way things will bed down again, but I suspect this week is going to consist of one long series of posts scoffing at everything that's shown from E3 based off of initial trailers. A few minutes footage is not enough to really make anything but snap judgements off imho. No doubt over the coming days there will be plenty of coverage from various site as to impressions coming from the convention floor and I suspect those longer looks will be much more indicative as to the true state of play with many titles.

Indeed E3 seems to stir things up quite a bit with gamers over-analyzing the tiniest bit of information. Indeed.

thegooseking
07-06-2011, 02:53 PM
Indeed E3 seems to stir things up quite a bit with gamers over-analyzing the tiniest bit of information. Indeed.

It's just funny how gamers are always so doubtful about whether we'll actually get what developers promise, but can have such unwavering certitude about whether we'll get what someone who makes a post on the internet fears.

That said, one can go too far the other way. I think I probably do. I'm just an optimist.

deano2099
07-06-2011, 03:19 PM
If they'd made a trailer of menu and inventory screens they might actually stand out at E3!

Silly I know, but it's bizarre the 'best way' to market a game like ME3 is to make it look as much like every other game being show there.

(And yes, who is that guy in the trailers? A new NPC? Where is Shepard, etc)

EndelNurk
07-06-2011, 03:26 PM
I think it's bizarre that games marketing of this kind exists at all. Games are all about play and the experience of the player in response to cues in the game. No video can ever replicate that. I think Cliffski is right that the only good marketing strategy is to release demos. It's just a shame that the industry has apparently given up on that idea. In the absence of a demo I would prefer a CGI video that demonstrates the thematic style of a game rather than a video of always shonky looking gameplay. I know I'm in a minority on that, however.

Tikey
07-06-2011, 03:27 PM
I remember a similar outrage at ME2

EndelNurk
07-06-2011, 03:27 PM
Specifically with regards to Mass Effect 3, I would suggest that the PC Gamer UK podcast 53 probably provides far better insight into the game than anything that will ever turn up at E3.

karthink
07-06-2011, 08:21 PM
Clarifying: The ME2 launch trailer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjOEmHEd2XM) was a finely edited mess of cutscenes that suggested very little "player agency". This trailer is similar, and I'm not reading much into it. Going by past Mass Effect advertising, Bioware is going to keep the story/dialogue very much in the game (and out of the trailers).

My beef is with some of the new game mechanics they seem to have included:
http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lmea6yUakz1qzqfb8.jpg
http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lmea9gtB5z1qzqfb8.jpg

I find them condescending and lazy. That is all.

EndelNurk
07-06-2011, 09:59 PM
I find them condescending and lazy. That is all.

Would you mind if they were in there as an option? From what I recall, there are various assistance options already in the first two games that can easily be turned off. Hopefully the points you have highlighted will be the same.

Wizardry
07-06-2011, 10:08 PM
The only way to save Mass Effect is to include an option for the game to play itself.

EndelNurk
07-06-2011, 10:17 PM
The only way to save Mass Effect is to include an option for the game to play itself.

We'll see.

karthink
07-06-2011, 10:26 PM
Would you mind if they were in there as an option? From what I recall, there are various assistance options already in the first two games that can easily be turned off. Hopefully the points you have highlighted will be the same.

It would be great if they could be turned off.
It still speaks of a laziness in design if cover isn't evident enough to the player to begin with, or if cinematic scenes are foisted upon the player instead of blending in effortlessly, like in the Half-Life series. But most of us play ME for the story anyway, and it won't be actively distressing if those prompts from the screenshots don't appear.

What assistances did the the first two games offer? (I remember ME1 had an "Auto aim" option left in from the console version that didn't actually do anything, but that's about it.)

Finally, thanks for mentioning the PC gamer podcast- Tom Francis' description is exciting; pretty much exactly what one wants to hear.

EndelNurk
07-06-2011, 10:28 PM
I only really remember aiming as well. I remember four options of which one was aiming, another was companions using abilities automatically. Can't really remember the others. Nothing quite as visually blatant as those in the pictures you've linked, anyway.

mpk
07-06-2011, 11:17 PM
I'm new to the Mass Effect games, having only recently completed the original and in the middle of the sequel, but it's quite clear to me that the first game wanted to be an action game more than anything else. The improvements to combat and the mission structure of the second only lends itself to this theory, imo, and I'm not at all surprised that there seems to be more streamlining intended for the third.

G915
07-06-2011, 11:42 PM
I've given this some thought and came to the conclusion that I don't give a crap whether it's gonna be a gears of war console conversion or point&click adventure. It's Mass Effect, there's gonna be a great story and Liara and Tali and everything! Yay!

Wizardry
07-06-2011, 11:43 PM
A BioWare game with a great story?

Kadayi
07-06-2011, 11:52 PM
For me Mass Effect 2 was better than the first. But I play it mostly for the story, characters, and the hybrid RPG/FPS. I have to admit that I enjoyed much more Borderlands than ME2 though.

I enjoyed the premise of ME2 and the characters were entertaining and I preferred the combat to that of ME1, however I did feel that Bioware had stripped it back a tad too much in terms of inventory and player/world interaction. An occasional bit of puzzle solving wouldn't of necessarily gone amiss. Though I think that perhaps contextually that might of seemed out of place given the overarching narrative direction and drive of the main mission. With the first game it was a little odd that you would take time out from saving the galaxy from a galactic threat to save an old ladies cat or some such.


A BioWare game with a great story?

How dare people enjoy the fruits of a company you seemingly despise.

In fact I'd like to know exactly what it is that you didn't like about the story of Mass effect 1 & 2. What particular elements didn't sit well with you and why? What particular beats didn't work for you?

Heliocentric
07-06-2011, 11:54 PM
A BioWare game with a great story?
Play nice!
or

A game with a great story?

deano2099
08-06-2011, 12:15 AM
I remember a similar outrage at ME2

And most of those complaints proved to be justified. The RPG elements were stripped out and dumbed down. Luckily it was a good enough game that it didn't matter so much.

deano2099
08-06-2011, 12:18 AM
A BioWare game with a great story?

Most BioWare games have great stories. I think it's fairly well agreed that the problem with them is that those stories are derivative, both of traditional works in the genres they belong and of other Bioware games.

It's a story that's been told a thousand times before. But the reason it was told a thousand times is because it was a good story. See also: tropes are tropes because they work.

Kadayi
08-06-2011, 12:30 AM
I'm fairly sure at one point on the old forum Wizardry said something fairly dismissive about story in games, somewhat along the lines of John Carmacks infamous 'Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It's expected to be there, but it's not that important.'. So it's surprising that he gets so irate over what Bioware get upto tbh. Still I'm fascinated to read his detailed breakdown as to what was wrong with the storyline in Mass Effect so far.

Tom OBedlam
08-06-2011, 12:40 AM
not enough numbers

Baris
08-06-2011, 01:16 AM
not enough numbers

Hear hear! I demand more numbers. Especially ones that slowly increase.

vinraith
08-06-2011, 01:44 AM
The key to enjoying the Mass Effect franchise (after the somewhat confused first one, anyway) is clearly to put aside any notion that it's an RPG and simply enjoy the ride. It's a shooter with some conversations, some (largely meaningless, but still engaging at times) choices, some lovely cinematics, and a nice sense of adventure. Drop your expectations and enjoy it for what it is, or simply ignore it if what it is doesn't appeal to you. I do agree that mislabeling it as an RPG is just unproductive and misleading, however, as it only serves to 1) confuse the kiddies about what that acronym means and 2) fuel rage due to false expectations among old farts that do know what it means.

soldant
08-06-2011, 02:07 AM
however I did feel that Bioware had stripped it back a tad too much in terms of inventory
I don't think this is anywhere near as big of an issue as people make it out to be. The inventory system in ME1 was terrible for its interface, but more to the point, your inventory would get filled with items that were absolute junk, especially once you got access to Master Gear. I don't lament the loss of having like 10 Lancer I assault rifles kicking around and cluttering up the screen. The shifting of different kinds of ammo to powers just streamlines the whole thing, I mean only a few types of ammo were worth using anyway. It seems sometimes like people argue for "more stuff" simply for the sake of having more stuff.

Wizardry
08-06-2011, 05:16 AM
I don't think this is anywhere near as big of an issue as people make it out to be. The inventory system in ME1 was terrible for its interface, but more to the point, your inventory would get filled with items that were absolute junk, especially once you got access to Master Gear. I don't lament the loss of having like 10 Lancer I assault rifles kicking around and cluttering up the screen. The shifting of different kinds of ammo to powers just streamlines the whole thing, I mean only a few types of ammo were worth using anyway. It seems sometimes like people argue for "more stuff" simply for the sake of having more stuff.
If it's broken, scrap it? Countless games did loot well. Why couldn't Mass Effect? And why did BioWare streamline things when they could have improved things? It's this sort of lazy design that makes people hate the company and the games they produce.

soldant
08-06-2011, 06:05 AM
Why couldn't Mass Effect?
Honestly, what is there to loot? Even ME1 was primarily a shooter with a couple of stats tacked on. I don't understand what people wanted from Mass Effect 2 when it comes to loot. What should they have done?

Kadayi
08-06-2011, 08:52 AM
not enough numbers


Hear hear! I demand more numbers. Especially ones that slowly increase.

Numerical divisions abstract from the game environment (magic sword +1) are a hangover from P&P RPGs, where in numerical differences was the only real way to put across distinction given the oral narrative. With present gaming technology it's been possible to put across the relative qualities of an object or a person/monster either through appearance, behavior, storytelling or by baking distinction into the actual mythology of the games universe (Rio Mark 7 Assault rifle) the necessity to employ abstracts becomes less and less.

Still I'm more interested in knowing what Wizardry disliked about the mass effect storyline in terms of the plot.



I do agree that mislabeling it as an RPG is just unproductive and misleading, however, as it only serves to 1) confuse the kiddies about what that acronym means and 2) fuel rage due to false expectations among old farts that do know what it means.

I'm fairly sure Mass Effect is all about playing a role in a world where in the decisions you make have consequences for the world at large and the people around you, and your personal evolution as an entity within that game space. What more is there that qualifies a game as a RPG in your view? Abstract stats? They are a P&P redundancy, and in fact have never been that fundamental to the P&P scene save for combat resolution by and large. If all you've ever done is dungeon crawls I can understand the confusion, but confusion it certainly is.


It's this sort of lazy design that makes people hate the company and the games they produce.

Being hated by the membership of the RPGcodex is a badge of honour amongst developers I'd say.

thegooseking
08-06-2011, 09:26 AM
I'm fairly sure Mass Effect is all about playing a role in a world where in the decisions you make have consequences for the world at large and the people around you, and your personal evolution as an entity within that game space. What more is there that qualifies a game as a RPG in your view? Abstract stats? They are a P&P redundancy, and in fact have never been that fundamental to the P&P scene save for combat resolution by and large. If all you've ever done is dungeon crawls I can understand the confusion, but confusion it certainly is.

Precisely. I've played plenty of PnPRPGs that right there in the rulebook printed the message, "don't let the rules get in the way of a good story". I'm not sure why this philosophy should be acceptable in PnPRPGs, but unthinkable in computer RPGs even though they are better suited to it.

EndelNurk
08-06-2011, 10:02 AM
That was an excellent post, Kadayi.


I don't think this is anywhere near as big of an issue as people make it out to be. The inventory system in ME1 was terrible for its interface, but more to the point, your inventory would get filled with items that were absolute junk, especially once you got access to Master Gear.

Nor do I. I also do not understand Wizardry's assertion that plenty of games have done loot well. I've always found it a tiresome game mechanic in every game and I think it is telling that Torchlight gave you a way of getting out of the dull business of hopping home to sell things.

I would argue that the new system was actually important to the game. N7 is another aspect of Shepard. It demonstrates his/her [I'm trying :)] military experience, training and talent. It's also iconic enough to be used on the front of game boxes. The new inventory system ensures that it is always possible to have N7 and the blood stripe on your armour without having to compromise on stats.

deano2099
08-06-2011, 10:41 AM
Honestly, what is there to loot?

This is the problem I guess? There's something vaguely compelling about the whole loot concept for a sizeable sub-section of gamers. The Diablo and Dungeon Siege games were pretty much based on it. That feeling of going on an adventure and coming back with loads of stuff, most of which you'll sell, but that makes finding something useful to you a lot more exciting.

Mass Effect's problem was that as the mechanics (even by ME1) had been simplified so much, there wasn't much to choose between guns and armour. But there was a bit: some classes wanted armours with cooldown reductions, others wanted more defence and so on. The guns were less interesting, but the overheat mechanic sort of gave some aspect of choice.

EndelNurk
08-06-2011, 10:46 AM
This is the problem I guess? There's something vaguely compelling about the whole loot concept for a sizeable sub-section of gamers. The Diablo and Dungeon Siege games were pretty much based on it. That feeling of going on an adventure and coming back with loads of stuff, most of which you'll sell, but that makes finding something useful to you a lot more exciting.

I understand that. I think we fall back to the discussion of whether we want a strong theme in our games or strong mechanics. Mass Effect has certainly gone the thematic root and I would argue has gone down that road further than any other game series, but that's a discussion for another time. I don't think that stops the game being an RPG as some would argue though as, as has been pointed out already, even from the earliest days there was a division between games with stronger plots and themes and games with stronger mechanics.

I'm glad people like the mechanically strong games that I care less for. I dislike the suggestion that my sort of game is less valid.

deano2099
08-06-2011, 11:09 AM
Some people just get hung up on the definition of a 'real' RPG. It's at least three different things: literally, a game in which you play a role (ie. nearly all games); from videogame history, a stat-driven game involving looting and levelling up; and from PnP history, a game involving developing a character through a narrative.

It's an acronym overloaded with this whole bunch of over-lapping meanings to the point that I've simple accepted that the definition of an RPG is "anything a developer says is an RPG".

That might sound trite, but there is a point to it. Bioware still call Mass Effect an RPG. They still sell it as an RPG. Which is interesting as shooters sell better generally, so marketing Mass Effect as "Guns and Conversation" might actually be a better idea.

EndelNurk
08-06-2011, 11:21 AM
I think you're right, deano.

Kadayi
08-06-2011, 01:01 PM
That might sound trite, but there is a point to it. Bioware still call Mass Effect an RPG. They still sell it as an RPG. Which is interesting as shooters sell better generally, so marketing Mass Effect as "Guns and Conversation" might actually be a better idea.

I think the 'Guns & conversation' line is a tad throwaway though because it removes the whole impact of player agency upon the game space and it's inhabitants. I'd say that's an important aspect for a game to qualify as an RPG.

soldant
08-06-2011, 01:12 PM
I would argue that the new system was actually important to the game.
Same here, I think the removal of pointless loot (it's not like anyone needed all that money!) and inclusion of more specific weapons and armour pieces made the whole thing a lot more focused.


The Diablo and Dungeon Siege games were pretty much based on it. That feeling of going on an adventure and coming back with loads of stuff, most of which you'll sell, but that makes finding something useful to you a lot more exciting.
I think the problem is that they're two different games, like EndelNurk is suggesting. The ME games have nothing worth looting because there really isn't any need for it. There's nothing worth selling or converting to omnigel, you're rolling in both in ME1 thanks to the sheer amount of stuff in the first hour of the game or so. There are no super special items because the game isn't built around that. Hence why I don't understand why people lament the loss of the ME1 inventory system.

Kadayi
08-06-2011, 01:46 PM
Hence why I don't understand why people lament the loss of the ME1 inventory system.

I don't thing anyone laments the loss of the ME1 system as it stood, more that people would of like a touch more diversity in terms of the available and usable items in the sequel. Stuff like the pre-order armours for example were rendered useless by the fact that the helmets were visible in dialogue cut scenes.

wearing a mask all the time might work for Darth Vader, not so much for renegade female shep.

thegooseking
08-06-2011, 02:14 PM
I think Mass Effect as an RPG has always really been closer to the LARP tradition than the PnP tradition. ME1 had some holdovers from the PnP tradition not because it was trying to be a PnP-style RPG but just because they are so pervasive in computer games that no-one thought not to include them.

On the other hand, some of the things it does, like skill progression and such, doesn't come from LARP but from PnP. But I think that's only because it's very difficult to do properly in LARP.

Tom OBedlam
08-06-2011, 02:21 PM
Thats a damn fine point actually, the DA armour was lovely and had a nice bit of fluff but, yeah, it was pointless.

I'd have preferred a bit more choice in the weaponry still, only having the basic gun and its upgrade, but still requiring you to select your loadout before each mission really wound me up. Even having several base template guns which you could customise their upgrades on would be good.

Wizardry
08-06-2011, 03:24 PM
Honestly, what is there to loot? Even ME1 was primarily a shooter with a couple of stats tacked on. I don't understand what people wanted from Mass Effect 2 when it comes to loot. What should they have done?
How about add things to loot? The Gold Box games back in 1988 did something wonderful that you don't even find in RPGs today. Enemies drop what they carry. If you fight 10 kobolds all wielding a short sword and a buckler, guess what they drop? 10 short swords and 10 bucklers combined. Then you just leave them all. If you fight a boss monster or humanoid, chances are they are wielding a magical item or two. In that case you should check what they've dropped and loot them. What's the advantage of this other than adding consistency and believability to the game world? Well, you then don't have to search every single corpse at the end of every single encounter because you know that trash will drop trash. It's such a simple thing to do. Baldur's Gate did it too as you never find magical items on generic xvarts, gibberlings, hobgoblins, bandits etc. Slaughter a whole pack of them? Move on. Slaughter a whole pack with a boss in the middle? Loot the boss of his magical items and then move on.


Nor do I. I also do not understand Wizardry's assertion that plenty of games have done loot well. I've always found it a tiresome game mechanic in every game and I think it is telling that Torchlight gave you a way of getting out of the dull business of hopping home to sell things.

I would argue that the new system was actually important to the game. N7 is another aspect of Shepard. It demonstrates his/her [I'm trying :)] military experience, training and talent. It's also iconic enough to be used on the front of game boxes. The new inventory system ensures that it is always possible to have N7 and the blood stripe on your armour without having to compromise on stats.
Boring. Statistics are far more important than the look of items. Plus, see above. Torchlight? That's a loot gathering game. Real RPGs shouldn't have a Diablo-style every-enemy-can-potentially-drop-a-quality-item loot system. And the advantage of not having that is so that you don't have to check every single corpse like you do in Diablo.


Numerical divisions abstract from the game environment (magic sword +1) are a hangover from P&P RPGs, where in numerical differences was the only real way to put across distinction given the oral narrative.
Moving pictures are a hangover from the olden days of film, where the moving pictures were the only real way to put across the narrative. Now days, with high quality audio and voice work, I think films should be audio only.


I'm fairly sure Mass Effect is all about playing a role in a world where in the decisions you make have consequences for the world at large and the people around you, and your personal evolution as an entity within that game space. What more is there that qualifies a game as a RPG in your view?
You've heard it here first folks. Non-linear or branching narratives equate to an RPG. Looks like someone needs to go change the Heavy Rain entry on Wikipedia to reflect its new genre.


Precisely. I've played plenty of PnPRPGs that right there in the rulebook printed the message, "don't let the rules get in the way of a good story". I'm not sure why this philosophy should be acceptable in PnPRPGs, but unthinkable in computer RPGs even though they are better suited to it.
And you've never considered that PnP RPGs suffer from exactly the same problems that CRPGs do?


I understand that. I think we fall back to the discussion of whether we want a strong theme in our games or strong mechanics. Mass Effect has certainly gone the thematic root and I would argue has gone down that road further than any other game series, but that's a discussion for another time.
Is this a joke? How has Mass Effect gone further down the thematic route than any other game series? Plus, you can go far down the thematic route while still having strong game mechanics. In fact, some of the best games have reflected the thematic elements in the game mechanics. Mass Effect doesn't really do this. It reflects them only in the removal or stripped down nature of the game mechanics.


Same here, I think the removal of pointless loot (it's not like anyone needed all that money!) and inclusion of more specific weapons and armour pieces made the whole thing a lot more focused.
Why not include a actual uses for money/credits so that you never have enough over the course of the entire game? That's what some of the best CRPGs do.

EndelNurk
08-06-2011, 04:04 PM
Boring. Statistics are far more important than the look of items.

You do realise how subjective that is don't you? The whole point of this thread has been that some people like some things and don't like other things. Everybody who has talked about liking Mass Effect (barring me, but I acknowledge my views are different) has said they don't like all of the mechanics. However they still like the game for other reasons. Are they wrong to like the game? If you think they are then you are committing a cardinal sin. People like different things. You do not seem to enjoy Mass Effect. I wish you well for enjoying other things. Is it not possible to let us like what we like as well?


You've heard it here first folks. Non-linear or branching narratives equate to an RPG. Looks like someone needs to go change the Heavy Rain entry on Wikipedia to reflect its new genre.

Kadayi's point was clearly with regarding to the fact that Role Playing Games are Games where you Play a Role. As has been commented by others this means that essentially all games are Role Playing Games. As I have said in another thread I think this is why the use of that genre title for any game is ludicrous. However you clearly have your own set views of what an RPG must be to be enjoyable and so I will not discuss that further with you.


Is this a joke?

No. It's really, really not. The core theme of Mass Effect is in everything within the game from central plot to game mechanics to dialogue to codex entries to mission structure to music and yes, even to the design of armour. It's something I would post about if I had a little more confidence and assumed that other people would be either interested or enlightened in my opinions. Regardless, I do not think your attitude here is appropriate to discussion of the topic.


Why not include a actual uses for money/credits so that you never have enough over the course of the entire game? That's what some of the best CRPGs do.

Here is the best part of your post. It's a question that leads on to a fascinating discussion of the economics of game worlds. Persistent game worlds deal with this in interesting ways. The game world continues spewing out money which leads to massive inflation and the requirement for money sinks. Only very few games allow the funding of massive public works and so money sinks have tended to be things like flying mounts for WoW or enormous ships for Eve [Please correct me if I'm wrong there. I have never played Eve Online but have been led to understand that the large ships cost colossal amounts of money in order to correct the imbalance of endlessly available resources to mine.]

Single player games have to do this in different ways. One way, and Mass Effect's way, is simply to not create the conditions that cause the inflation in the first place. On a second or third play through even this is inadequate as bonus funds are added for extended play. In that case the game goes back to money sinks such as the fun little model ships.

thegooseking
08-06-2011, 04:08 PM
Boring. Statistics are far more important than the look of items. Plus, see above. Torchlight? That's a loot gathering game. Real RPGs shouldn't have a Diablo-style every-enemy-can-potentially-drop-a-quality-item loot system. And the advantage of not having that is so that you don't have to check every single corpse like you do in Diablo.

That's a hell of an assertion. Not all of us like our narrative experiences to be so reductive.


Moving pictures are a hangover from the olden days of film, where the moving pictures were the only real way to put across the narrative. Now days, with high quality audio and voice work, I think films should be audio only.

Moving to just audio is more of an abstraction than using audio and video, so that would be, you know, the opposite of what Kadayi's point was.


And you've never considered that PnP RPGs suffer from exactly the same problems that CRPGs do?

You're the one calling them problems. I disagree with that, but my point was that things that are undeniably RPGs do it, so you can't say that something "isn't an RPG" on the basis that it does that.


Is this a joke? How has Mass Effect gone further down the thematic route than any other game series? Plus, you can go far down the thematic route while still having strong game mechanics. In fact, some of the best games have reflected the thematic elements in the game mechanics. Mass Effect doesn't really do this. It reflects them only in the removal or stripped down nature of the game mechanics.

I don't think it's a question of theme and mechanics. I think what EndelNurk was trying to say is that it's a question of whether we want a computer version of the experience traditional RPGs are trying to represent, or a computer version of traditional RPGs themselves. You clearly want the latter, and that's ok, but your insistence that that's the only option is plain wrong.


Why not include a actual uses for money/credits so that you never have enough over the course of the entire game? That's what some of the best CRPGs do.

Mass Effect 2 actually has a pretty tight economy. I don't see what the addition of a money sink would add to the game.

vinraith
08-06-2011, 04:28 PM
I'm fairly sure Mass Effect is all about playing a role in a world where in the decisions you make have consequences for the world at large and the people around you, and your personal evolution as an entity within that game space.


1) Every other computer game genre is defined by its mechanics, not its narrative structure. RPG's should be no different.

2) One of the components of a mechanical CRPG is that characters are defined by their abilities, not your reflexes. ME3 looks to be nearly entirely dependent on your ability to shoot, seek cover, etc (like ME2 was), which makes it an action game, not an RPG, from 1.

I enjoy the ME games, but this isn't about what's good and what's bad, it's about clear use of genre labels. If labels of this sort don't clearly convey the nature of gameplay, what purpose do they serve?

Jaxtrasi
08-06-2011, 05:40 PM
No. It's really, really not. The core theme of Mass Effect is in everything within the game from central plot to game mechanics to dialogue to codex entries to mission structure to music and yes, even to the design of armour. It's something I would post about if I had a little more confidence and assumed that other people would be either interested or enlightened in my opinions. Regardless, I do not think your attitude here is appropriate to discussion of the topic.

Although he's expressing it very badly, I do agree with Wizardry's specific point here. Mass Effect (especially 2) is not a game which communicates its theme through its mechanics especially well. It has a lot of strong theme in every *other* aspect (loading screens, narrative structure, world design, soundtrack and so on) but the mechanics are severely lacking.

Here are some random examples (please do note that I really like Mass Effect 2):


Mass Effect 1 makes it clear that the world is full of different arms companies producing different sorts of weapons. Mass Effect 2, set in the same universe, has no mechanic for this (there are only two models of each gun type). Is it part of Mass Effect 2's theme that one gun is much the same as another? No, it's just a mechanic.
Mass Effect 1 makes a big fuss of how ammunition doesn't exist. Mass Effect 2 uses clips. I know about the design decisions behind this, but that's exactly the point - the mechanics support the gameplay, not the theme.
Krogan are monstrously powerful. Grunt and Wrex are not. Again this is done for balance reasons, and most RPGs do this to one extent or another, but the mechanics do not support the theme.
The world is in peril. Time is pressing! This concept of time being pressing is very important in Mass Effect 2 (less so in ME1, but still as much as any Bioware game). The mechanics do not support this concept at all. They directly encourage you to wander the galaxy mucking about with stuff that really isn't very important. While the narrative and the mood created by the art and sound create the impression of tension and time pressure, the mechanics create the exact opposite impression.
Biotics use mass effect to directly alter the mass of things. That's to an extent the central scifi/technological (as opposed to social/political) theme of the game. In the mechanics, this manifests as force balls which can be hurled round corners and super saiyan megaduels between glowing, invulnerable super people.
The Reapers have an ambient field which destroys the minds of sentient creatures. No mechanic at all for this.
In Mass Effect 1, Shepard made a handful of decisions which have had a profound effect on the galaxy. None of these have any mechanical effect (whether they have a narrative effect is a separate point).

In almost every case I would very strongly argue that Mass Effect prioritises accessibility over theme in its mechanics. A game which has its mechanics completely rooted in its theme would be something like Amnesia. I can give other more specific examples if you're interested.

winterwolves
08-06-2011, 05:50 PM
I agree that ME3 is looking to seem more a FPS/RPG hybrid, than a RPG with FPS gameplay. RPG features have surely less impact in ME2 than ME1, and probably ME3 is going to continue the trend. Still I liked games like Alpha Protocol, but that's my personal tastes (probably also because I make VN games). I prefer games with more dialogue/choices/cutscenes than classic RPG ones.

SirKicksalot
08-06-2011, 05:55 PM
Mathematical masturbation can be done in Excel too, you don't need a game around it. Regarding the definition of RPG, I trust Chris Avellone on this matter:

Eurogamer: Why do you think the RPG genre itself provokes such fierce discussion? I mean, you don't have a FPSCodex where people complain about John Carmack all the time.
Chris Avellone: There's a lot of discussion about what constitutes an RPG, as you said. And the defining game, for me... Well, it's System Shock 2. Let me explain: System Shock 2 was almost a role-playing game. Almost. They had the character stuff down, the skill stuff down, but you never really made a choice, in my opinion. The ending was set; your path was set. If, at one point, there was a moment where you could've made one decision that changed the ending, that would've made it a barebones role-playing game, and a good one.


Eurogamer: So BioShock surely made the cut, then, because of the Little Sisters...
Chris Avellone: Well, yeah, it did have a meaningful choice. Granted, it was the two endings, which may be a bit low compared to Fallout standards where you get a ton of 'em, but at the same time, you're allowed to make a basic moral choice, and I still think that's important for an RPG.

Eurogamer: What do you think of Japanese RPGs? Do they fit into your definition of RPGs, on the whole? Or are they just adventure games with random battles and depressed, gorgeous teenagers?
Chris Avellone: They're role-playing games as long as some choice you make causes some change in the environment, so not everyone has the same experience.

TillEulenspiegel
08-06-2011, 06:03 PM
there was a moment where you could've made one decision that changed the ending

They're role-playing games as long as some choice you make causes some change in the environment, so not everyone has the same experience.

What an utterly bizarre definition. It's no less silly than the literalist interpretation of "a game where you play a role".

Please explain why King's Quest VI is or isn't an RPG. Two entirely different endings, multiple small choices to make, etc. Fits, right?

As vinraith says:

Every other computer game genre is defined by its mechanics, not its narrative structure. RPG's should be no different.

Basic game mechanics define a genre. You can make an RTS that has moral choices and multiple endings, and nobody would think to call it an RPG.

EndelNurk
08-06-2011, 06:13 PM
I think all of those could be countered using specific details. For example, guns still use the same ammunition in Mass Effect 2 as they do in Mass Effect 2. The thermal clips are in story terms used to correct a different problem that the (now two year old) technology has. Whether the change improves the technology or not is more subjective, I would say. However that's the sort of needlessly picky geek debate that doesn't really go anywhere helpful in my experience, unless you particularly want to discuss it.

In general, I will provisionally agree that on several wider principles the game mechanics may be inconsistent. However, I am specifically referring to the core theme of Mass Effect which I see as the struggle to cooperate in the face of adversity. That theme is well represented in several areas.

You're right about the Mass Effect 1 decisions. I think the fact that they didn't accept Mass Effect 2 too much (barring Tuchanka, as I remember) is acceptable given that Mass Effect 2 occurred in completely different areas of the galaxy to Mass Effect 1. If the alien/human council decision makes no difference in Mass Effect 3 then I will be upset.

thegooseking
08-06-2011, 06:30 PM
This discussion clearly isn't going anywhere. Purists are, by definition, never very open to new ideas.

Mihkel
08-06-2011, 06:55 PM
Dno why the suprise about ME3 gameplay when Mass Effect series was a shooter (on a combat side of the things) to begin with?

Wizardry
08-06-2011, 07:05 PM
You do realise how subjective that is don't you? The whole point of this thread has been that some people like some things and don't like other things. Everybody who has talked about liking Mass Effect (barring me, but I acknowledge my views are different) has said they don't like all of the mechanics. However they still like the game for other reasons. Are they wrong to like the game? If you think they are then you are committing a cardinal sin. People like different things. You do not seem to enjoy Mass Effect. I wish you well for enjoying other things. Is it not possible to let us like what we like as well?
I would normally agree with you, but this isn't such a case. Statistics are more important in an RPG than the look of items. The reason is that the statistics are an abstraction of the items. You don't get to really see what items look like in pen and paper RPGs. Just the statistics. In other words, it's more important to know that a Long Sword +2 is better than a Long Sword +1. It's not important to know that a Long Sword +1 looks better than a Long Sword +2, or vice versa, because that's completely subjective. Statistics are the abstraction. Therefore statistics are all important. RPGs were never about the look of items. Hopefully they never will be.


No. It's really, really not. The core theme of Mass Effect is in everything within the game from central plot to game mechanics to dialogue to codex entries to mission structure to music and yes, even to the design of armour. It's something I would post about if I had a little more confidence and assumed that other people would be either interested or enlightened in my opinions. Regardless, I do not think your attitude here is appropriate to discussion of the topic.
I've played countless CRPGs in my time and no CRPG that I've ever played is as strong thematically as Ultima's Age of Enlightenment trilogy. Mass Effect is no way near. Absolutely no way near.


Here is the best part of your post. It's a question that leads on to a fascinating discussion of the economics of game worlds. Persistent game worlds deal with this in interesting ways. The game world continues spewing out money which leads to massive inflation and the requirement for money sinks. Only very few games allow the funding of massive public works and so money sinks have tended to be things like flying mounts for WoW or enormous ships for Eve [Please correct me if I'm wrong there. I have never played Eve Online but have been led to understand that the large ships cost colossal amounts of money in order to correct the imbalance of endlessly available resources to mine.]

Single player games have to do this in different ways. One way, and Mass Effect's way, is simply to not create the conditions that cause the inflation in the first place. On a second or third play through even this is inadequate as bonus funds are added for extended play. In that case the game goes back to money sinks such as the fun little model ships.
There are lots of ways to make money relevant. Even 80s CRPGs did a far better job than today's. Quite a lot of CRPGs put a price on resurrection and healing. Others made you pay gold to level up by way of training. Then there were games where it would cost you money to cast spells by having to purchasing reagents. Games that contained thieves that steal your money. Just because Mass Effect does a shit job doesn't mean that it's not worth improving.


Moving to just audio is more of an abstraction than using audio and video, so that would be, you know, the opposite of what Kadayi's point was.
But as that abstraction is vital to role-playing games then it's exactly what Kadayi's point was.


Mathematical masturbation can be done in Excel too, you don't need a game around it. Regarding the definition of RPG, I trust Chris Avellone on this matter:
Yeah, Chris Avellone. The ultimate authority on CRPGs, being primarily a game writer who has mainly worked on CRPGs with both poor and weak game mechanics. Of course he's the person everyone should listen to when it comes to what makes a CRPG, as he's the one who wrote most of the dialogue for Planescape: Torment after all.


Basic game mechanics define a genre. You can make an RTS that has moral choices and multiple endings, and nobody would think to call it an RPG.
Exactly. And hasn't there been an RTS with narrative choices? I remember one or two but I can't think of their names. In fact, if multiple choices is all that is needed to make a game an RPG, all of those visual novel/hentai games coming out of Japan are CRPGs. To rape or not to rape. Role-playing at its finest.


In general, I will provisionally agree that on several wider principles the game mechanics may be inconsistent. However, I am specifically referring to the core theme of Mass Effect which I see as the struggle to cooperate in the face of adversity. That theme is well represented in several areas.
The issue is that you said that the Mass Effect series has a stronger core theme than any other game. In other words, the core theme drips into more aspects of the game than any other game before it. That's a complete lie. Have you ever played Ultima IV through VI?

thegooseking
08-06-2011, 07:10 PM
But as that abstraction is vital to role-playing games then it's exactly what Kadayi's point was.

So you're defending your assertion that it's vital to role-playing games by... reiterating your assertion that it's vital to role-playing games.

This is why this discussion is, as I've said, pointless.

EndelNurk
08-06-2011, 07:11 PM
The issue is that you said that the Mass Effect series has a stronger core theme than any other game. In other words, the core theme drips into more aspects of the game than any other game before it. That's a complete lie. Have you ever played Ultima IV through VI?

No, I have not and I will grant that my particular choice of words was unhelpful given that I have not played every game in existence. As I say, it's a discussion for another time as it does not directly help with the topic of this thread.

Kadayi
08-06-2011, 08:56 PM
You've heard it here first folks. Non-linear or branching narratives equate to an RPG. Looks like someone needs to go change the Heavy Rain entry on Wikipedia to reflect its new genre.

But that’s not actually what I said is it Wizardry. Let’s have a look again: -


“Mass Effect is all about playing a role in a world where in the decisions you make have consequences for the world at large and the people around you, and your personal evolution as an entity within that game space.”

See the important thing is ‘decisions’ and ‘consequences’ and ones that have an impact that resonate throughout the game in terms of both the world, the characters the player encounters and the characters development. I’d say my perspective is not dissimilar to that of Chris Avellone in that respect. For a game to qualify as an RPG it should be multi-faceted in terms of player experience.

Not having played Heavy Rain I can’t say definitively say whether it should or shouldn’t be classed as an RPG, but my inclination is to see it as more a case of interactive storytelling because afaik there is no evolution of the character, only the narrative. Given David Cage has labelled it as an interactive thriller, I’m inclined to go with his take on it.


You do realise how subjective that is, don’t you? The whole point of this thread has been that some people like some things and don't like other things. Everybody who has talked about liking Mass Effect (barring me, but I acknowledge my views are different) has said they don't like all of the mechanics. However they still like the game for other reasons. Are they wrong to like the game? If you think they are then you are committing a cardinal sin. People like different things. You do not seem to enjoy Mass Effect. I wish you well for enjoying other things. Is it not possible to let us like what we like as well?.


Moving to just audio is more of an abstraction than using audio and video, so that would be, you know, the opposite of what Kadayi's point was.

Welcome gentlemen to the wonderful world of Wizardry and the art of debate.


1) Every other computer game genre is defined by its mechanics, not its narrative structure. RPG's should be no different.

RPGs as a concept pre-date commercial computer games as a whole. This is why as a genre they defy purely mechanistic definitions. They were not invented within the medium.


2) One of the components of a mechanical CRPG is that characters are defined by their abilities, not your reflexes.

*rolls dice*

Player luck and ingenuity have always been part and parcel of the broader RPG experience; it’s never been a case of a determination being arrived at solely as a result of the character abilities. What you as a player do, is attempt to make the odds favour a successful outcome as much as possible.


Although he's expressing it very badly, I do agree with Wizardry's specific point here. Mass Effect (especially 2) is not a game which communicates its theme through its mechanics especially well

I think you’ll find each title is mechanistically consistent within itself. I’d answer each of your points in full, but this post is way longer than it needs to be. I recommend you replay both titles and pay particular attention to your mission briefings and objectives.



Mathematical masturbation can be done in Excel too, you don't need a game around it. Regarding the definition of RPG, I trust Chris Avellone on this matter:

Chris Avellone: There's a lot of discussion about what constitutes an RPG, as you said. And the defining game, for me... Well, it's System Shock 2. Let me explain: System Shock 2 was almost a role-playing game. Almost. They had the character stuff down, the skill stuff down, but you never really made a choice, in my opinion. The ending was set; your path was set. If, at one point, there was a moment where you could've made one decision that changed the ending, that would've made it a barebones role-playing game, and a good one.

Eurogamer: So BioShock surely made the cut, then, because of the Little Sisters...

Chris Avellone: Well, yeah, it did have a meaningful choice. Granted, it was the two endings, which may be a bit low compared to Fallout standards where you get a ton of 'em, but at the same time, you're allowed to make a basic moral choice, and I still think that's important for an RPG.

Eurogamer: What do you think of Japanese RPGs? Do they fit into your definition of RPGs, on the whole? Or are they just adventure games with random battles and depressed, gorgeous teenagers?

Chris Avellone: They're role-playing games as long as some choice you make causes some change in the environment, so not everyone has the same experience.

Chris Avellone, a wise man indeed.



But as that abstraction is vital to role-playing games then it's exactly what Kadayi's point was.

I'm on about the evolution of the medium, not the abstraction: -


Numerical divisions abstract from the game environment (magic sword +1) are a hangover from P&P RPGs, where in numerical differences was the only real way to put across distinction given the oral narrative. With present gaming technology it's been possible to put across the relative qualities of an object or a person/monster either through appearance, behavior, storytelling or by baking distinction into the actual mythology of the games universe (Rio Mark 7 Assault rifle) the necessity to employ abstracts becomes less and less

Wizardry
08-06-2011, 09:09 PM
*rolls dice*

Player luck and ingenuity have always been part and parcel of the broader RPG experience; it’s never been a case of a determination being arrived at solely as a result of the character abilities. What you as a player do, is attempt to make the odds favour a successful outcome as much as possible.
Oh Kadayi. You always do this to yourself.

Kadayi
08-06-2011, 09:15 PM
Oh Kadayi. You always do this to yourself.

Are you denying that RPGs don't contain an element of randomness? I'm fairly sure the gun mechanics in Fallout disagree with you as do the critical hits in Baldurs gate.

Shit who am I kidding though. I'm attempting to have a discussion with a guy whose prepared to badmouth Chris Avellone for being a 'writer' simply because his world view on what makes an RPG (and Chris would definitely know that) happens to be distinctly different from his own take. Next up Shakespeare was just a playwright.

mpk
08-06-2011, 09:17 PM
If it's broken, scrap it? Countless games did loot well. Why couldn't Mass Effect? And why did BioWare streamline things when they could have improved things? It's this sort of lazy design that makes people hate the company and the games they produce.

I think the point is that it wasn't important. I sold so much useless crap that I ended up with over 9million credits at the end of ME1, with nothing much to spend it on, being pretty damn happy with the loadouts for the characters I used the most. It was a superfluous system full of superfluous items - the system in ME2 is better by far.

It's not lazy design to optimise a system by removing redundancies, far from it.

vinraith
08-06-2011, 09:23 PM
the system in ME2 is better by far.



What system? There was one gun of each type, and then one better gun of each type. That was it. I guess if you derive no joy from finding and using upgraded gear, or from making thoughtful choices about what gear to use, it doesn't matter. For my part, the complete lack of an item system in ME2 is second only to the stripped down skill system as far as "things that disappointed me about the game."

The item system in ME1 was a wreck, but the solution was to have fewer items that were more likely to be useful, not to (essentially) do away with items entirely. I've played many shooters with a far more interesting variety of weapons.

mpk
08-06-2011, 09:40 PM
I think there are too many people in this thread dead set on calling a shovel a spade, and Mass Effect an RPG. It's clearly always wanted to be an action game - Guns & Conversations is a perfect alternative title.

The redundant systems that got in the way of the guns and the conversations have been stripped out, and what you're left with is a much more streamlined game.


What system? There was one gun of each type, and then one better gun of each type. That was it. I guess if you derive no joy from finding and using upgraded gear, or from making thoughtful choices about what gear to use, it doesn't matter. For my part, the complete lack of an item system in ME2 is second only to the stripped down skill system as far as "things that disappointed me about the game."

Notice how the stats were stripped out too? When there's no stats, how do you tell one gun from another? Even the descriptions of the weapons are deliberately vague. I'm as much of an item-whore as the next guy, but that doesn't mean I must have a donkey with me to carry all my loot in every game. The inventory system in ME1 didn't suit the type of game it wanted to be; ME2 is far closer to a straight action game and doesn't need it, so it's removed, and is better for it.

Besides, what choices where there to make about loadouts? Weapon upgrades were pretty much the only thing worth changing between combat zones and even then it really didn't make a whole lot of difference.

vinraith
08-06-2011, 09:43 PM
I'm perfectly content to call it a shooter, mpk, I'd just like some more weapon options in said shooter.

Kadayi
08-06-2011, 09:43 PM
The item system in ME1 was a wreck, but the solution was to have fewer items that were more likely to be useful, not to (essentially) do away with items entirely. I've played many shooters with a far more interesting variety of weapons.

What ME1 required was a better inventory management system. The fundamental problem with it was that the base inventory was one long list rather than sub-categories, and there was no ability to list & stack items or bulk sell (iirc).Also the ability to compare items against those of team mates not presently with on the ground you would have been advantageous as well.

I wasn't overly upset about no longer having to manage every team members equipment in ME2, however I'd of liked more options with regard to personal armour and weaponry. As stated earlier on in the thread, the pre-order armours were essentially useless as the helmets all obscured your face, and the same was true of a lot of the helmets (like most people I opted for the eye scope one). I'm sure with ME3 the developers will reach a middle ground.

vinraith
08-06-2011, 09:49 PM
What ME1 required was a better inventory management system. The fundamental problem with it was that the base inventory was one long list rather than sub-categories, and there was no ability to list & stack items or bulk sell (iirc).Also the ability to compare items against those of team mates not presently with on the ground you would have been advantageous as well.


Good point. It was a combination of way too many redundant/unecessary items and no good way to sort/sell/manage them. Fix either problem and it would have been better, but you're entirely right that better inventory management is actually the more important aspect of that.



I wasn't overly upset about no longer having to manage every team members equipment in ME2, however I'd of liked more options with regard to personal armour and weaponry. As stated earlier on in the thread, the pre-order armours were essentially useless as the helmets all obscured your face, and the same was true of a lot of the helmets (like most people I opted for the eye scope one). I'm sure with ME3 the developers will reach a middle ground.

IIRC the preorder armors were also hopelessly overpowered, which is never any fun anyway. Hopefully you're right that ME3 will find a middle ground, though I confess I'm (as always) skeptical. We'll see.

Wizardry
08-06-2011, 10:02 PM
Are you denying that RPGs don't contain an element of randomness? I'm fairly sure the gun mechanics in Fallout disagree with you as do the critical hits in Baldurs gate.
Probabilities can still mean character skill. If 10 strength results in 1-4 damage while 14 strength results in 2-5 damage, you still have randomness, but on average you do more damage. Randomness is added to statistical checks to add unpredictability. If you know that your character will always succeed at hitting an enemy and that your character will always do enough damage to kill the enemy then situations in the game become predictable.

I mean, how else do you resolve chance to hit without randomness? If your agility is lower than your opponents then you always miss, but if your agility is higher than your opponents then you always hit? That's just retarded as it makes a single point of numerical difference have way too much an effect on the game.

Randomness is basically a necessity, however you look at it.

Wizardry
08-06-2011, 10:16 PM
Notice how the stats were stripped out too? When there's no stats, how do you tell one gun from another? Even the descriptions of the weapons are deliberately vague. I'm as much of an item-whore as the next guy, but that doesn't mean I must have a donkey with me to carry all my loot in every game. The inventory system in ME1 didn't suit the type of game it wanted to be; ME2 is far closer to a straight action game and doesn't need it, so it's removed, and is better for it.

Besides, what choices where there to make about loadouts? Weapon upgrades were pretty much the only thing worth changing between combat zones and even then it really didn't make a whole lot of difference.
It doesn't whether that Mass Effect 2 improved on Mass Effect 1 by removing or streamlining Mass Effect's loot system. The fact of the matter is that Mass Effect's loot system could have been improved to the point of being enjoyable. If Mass Effect's item and loot systems were so bad that their removal resulted in a better game, and if the best RPGs have item and a loot systems that make the games better, then surely that tells you something. Surely that tells you that by overhauling the system rather than simplifying/removing it you could end up with something actually good.

Reduce the number of items found in the game. Make each enemy that wields a gun drop the gun they are using. Make each enemy that wears armour drop the armour they are wearing. Create a hierarchy of items so that very good items are harder to find than very crap items, unlike in Mass Effect where items were scaled to your level and thus the power distribution was constant throughout the game. Then hand place powerful prototypes (to represent powerful unique items) throughout the game, such as on bosses and specific NPCs. Overhaul the statistical system of items so that not all armour and not all weapons are represented using the same three statistics. Add other abilities to them that are usually added only through upgrades/mods.

Kadayi
08-06-2011, 10:40 PM
Good point. It was a combination of way too many redundant/unecessary items and no good way to sort/sell/manage them. Fix either problem and it would have been better, but you're entirely right that better inventory management is actually the more important aspect of that.

Yeah I was kind of pissed that Bioware never addressed it with a patch in the original game, but I suspect that would have been problematic as the PC version was ported by a third party.



IIRC the preorder armors were also hopelessly overpowered, which is never any fun anyway. Hopefully you're right that ME3 will find a middle ground, though I confess I'm (as always) skeptical. We'll see.

I'm not a huge fan of the pre-order thing tbh. But I view that as more publisher directive rather than developer driven (it's important to separate the two). Ultimately I hold that no developer wants to make a bad game (esp given how much time they sink into them these days), and I think they do listen to the player base when it comes to sequels, though sometimes their initial course correcting can go to far. It's all very goldilocks and the 3 bears. The first bed's too big, the next bed is too small and the third bed is just right. I'm optimistic for both ME3 & DA3 tbh, as I think Bioware will course correct the deficencies of both titles (lack of inventory & lack of environmental variety respectively).


Probabilities can still mean character skill. If 10 strength results in 1-4 damage while 14 strength results in 2-5 damage, you still have randomness, but on average you do more damage. Randomness is added to statistical checks to add unpredictability. If you know that your character will always succeed at hitting an enemy and that your character will always do enough damage to kill the enemy then situations in the game become predictable.

I'm not denying that character skill comes into things: -


What you as a player do, is attempt to make the odds favour a successful outcome as much as possible.

But much of it it player tactics as well. You direct the character, you decide what weapons they use, and how and when they use them.

thegooseking
08-06-2011, 10:43 PM
So, from the livecast demo and Q&A thing that was just on...

The turret section is mounted on a vehicle. Basically someone else is piloting it while you're firing the gun to try and escape.
The arrows indicate moves that you can make from cover (like Alpha Protocol), like rolling from cover to cover, or turning out of cover. The whole thing seems more acrobatic.
AI has apparently undergone some improvements, meaning that AI will "control the battlefield more", requiring more tactical use of squad orders and powers. The changes to the cover system mean that stealth-based gameplay is more of an option (although run & gun is still there).
The skill tree seems a lot deeper: although the skill list is similar to ME2's, when you upgrade a skill, you have to make a choice from several options about how to upgrade it.
There's a lot more weapon and armour customisation that changes both the stats and the look & feel of the weapons.
You can pilot mechs!!!
There's an "expanded inventory" (though no word on how that'll be handled) and a large economy.
PC requirements should be roughly the same as ME2.

Of course, this is from the horse's mouth stuff, so take it with a pinch of salt if that is your inclination.

Wizardry
08-06-2011, 10:57 PM
But much of it it player tactics as well. You direct the character, you decide what weapons they use, and how and when they use them.
But the best RPGs match player tactics with the role-playing. That's exactly the reason why in depth statistics and character development systems are so important. The better you can define your character the closer role-playing choices match with the tactical choices. Over the course of a game, if you pick the optimal action at every specific turn, a mage should cast more spells than swings of his staff. Over the course of a game, a mace specialised fighter should swing more maces than swords. If those things don't hold true, then the game has serious balance issues which ends up divorcing the role-playing from the tactics. If swords are much better than maces, generally, then the optimal action for a mace specialised fighter under the majority of circumstances may be to swing a sword rather than to swing a mace. This means your tactical choice (swing a sword) isn't the same as your role-playing choice (swing a mace). In the end you play the game as a tactical game rather than a role-playing game. This doesn't have to be the case!

It's pretty simple, but it seems like only a select few understand.

karthink
08-06-2011, 11:23 PM
Of course, this is from the horse's mouth stuff, so take it with a pinch of salt if that is your inclination.

Where did you watch the livecast?

Also, the points you list are... interesting. Still think the Alpha Protocol Cover prompts are shit; hopefully they can be turned off. Deeper skill trees and better combat is all good, of course. Hopefully it will retain the mass effect "feel" from the first two games.

vinraith
08-06-2011, 11:28 PM
@thegooseking

Thanks for sharing, that's actually somewhat encouraging.

The Colonel
08-06-2011, 11:39 PM
ME2 - Third Persone Shooter with a Damn Good Story, situations, etc.


Je te present:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/experienced-points/8868-Experienced-Points-What-s-Wrong-with-Mass-Effect-2

You must've been playing a very different version of this game. Even by Star Wars standards it was shocking.

G915
09-06-2011, 12:06 AM
I just hope there won't be any "cooling cartridges" or whatever was that terrible thing called.

Kadayi
09-06-2011, 12:18 AM
Over the course of a game, a mace specialised fighter should swing more maces than swords. If those things don't hold true, then the game has serious balance issues which ends up divorcing the role-playing from the tactics.

Says who? Lack of common sense?

If you've generated a character and 'specialized' them in using a mace, I suspect it's highly unlikely that you'd forgo using it as no doubt your specialization would advantage you and the character in some fashion (I certainly wouldn't), so I'm failing to see where there is a conflict in this tbh. Sure potentially a player could opt to use a non-specialized weapon and disadvantage their character, but unless there was some massive in game pay off for doing so (such as finding 'Soulslicer' 2-handed Vorpal sword +10) no one in their right mind is going to forgo their characters natural strengths.

I've recently been replaying The Witcher as I want a refresh before I tuck into the sequel. Now in the Witcher it's perfectly possible to pick axes and daggers from fallen foes and use them in combat, but given the fact that Geralt is a sword master and all of there is zero incentive to do so. Nothing is out of synch between the character and their background.

Personally I don't subscribe to the notion of skill specializations tbh. I prefer the Morrowind approach where in your actions inform your ability gains. Sure you might start off a lumbering oaf when it comes to using a sword, but it's wholly realistic that the more you use an sword the better you become.

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 12:24 AM
Reread my post and start again. Thanks.

deano2099
09-06-2011, 12:25 AM
As vinraith says:


Basic game mechanics define a genre. You can make an RTS that has moral choices and multiple endings, and nobody would think to call it an RPG.

But add in some persistent character development, call it Spellforce and they will.

Things that define an RPG:

Player-driven character advancement (but lots of other non-RPG games include this these days)
Choices and consequences (but what of Heavy Rain, the VN genre and so forth? And Japanese RPGs that don't have this at all)
Numerical/statistic based combat/interaction system (but Mass Effect and the like don't have this)

You could probably think of others. I'd say to really be considered an RPG a game needs two of those three, but someone will come along and give me examples that break that rule. There is no definition.


I think there are too many people in this thread dead set on calling a shovel a spade, and Mass Effect an RPG. It's clearly always wanted to be an action game - Guns & Conversations is a perfect alternative title.

Then why not sell it as an action game? It's hardly like RPGs are the most popular game genre while cover-based third-person shooters are languishing in dead-genre hell is it? If the designers didn't want to make an RPG, or at least something that is in their mind an RPG, then they wouldn't call it one.

Kadayi
09-06-2011, 01:13 AM
Reread my post and start again. Thanks.

I have and my response still stands. A background should only ever be a starting point of a characters journey, not the road map.

somini
09-06-2011, 01:33 AM
Aparently RPG elements are a mix between ME1 and ME2. Oh, and grenades are back, although maybe for soldiers only.
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.290204-Mass-Effect-3s-level-up-screen-spotted-Looks-great

TillEulenspiegel
09-06-2011, 01:38 AM
But add in some persistent character development, call it Spellforce and they will.

Well, precisely. It's the focus on character abilities that distinguishes an RPG. When people talked about "RPG elements" in the not-so-distant past (I'm thinking of GTA: San Andreas, for example), they were talking about character development, where your character becomes better at shooting and driving. This simple definition should be widely understood.

This fixation on "choice & consequence" as supposedly the defining aspect of an RPG is very recent and very odd. It's also extremely vague, so broad as to include the likes of Heavy Rain or KQ6 or bishoujo games.

karthink
09-06-2011, 01:42 AM
Aparently RPG elements are a mix between ME1 and ME2. Oh, and grenades are back, although maybe for soldiers only.
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.290204-Mass-Effect-3s-level-up-screen-spotted-Looks-great

Ooh, looking good. Coming from the original, it did feel like ME2 didn't provide enough abilities. I missed Warp and Throw on my Vanguard.

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 02:14 AM
I have and my response still stands. A background should only ever be a starting point of a characters journey, not the road map.
Eh? That's because it was an example without actual character progression. If the player starts off with 100% of their skill points in maces, but then puts points into swords at every opportunity until, at the half way point of the game, the character is 50%/50%, the exact same applies. At any particular point in the game, on average, the optimal solution should resemble the character's statistics. So at the start of the game the most optimal solution for the player should generally be using maces. At the half way point the general case should be that it doesn't matter whether to use swords or maces. Remember, generally speaking, because there might be immunities and what not, but these should again be balanced (roughly equal numbers of mace immune creatures to sword immune creatures). At the end of the game, if the player keeps pumping the sword skill, his skill should be at around 66% sword and 33% mace, meaning that using the sword should be advantageous most of the time.

Again, the further apart the two skills are the more often the optimal solution should lean to one side. In other words, even against highly sword resistant enemies, a character with 90% sword skill and 10% mace skill might benefit more from sticking to swords. However, if it's more like 70% to 30%, the advantage of the mace against that particular enemy might make up for the difference in skill level and become the optimal solution. Similarly, if an enemy is completely immune to swords then even a 100% sword skill character would stand a better chance of killing the enemy using their 0% mace skill.

It's all to do with connecting the role-playing with the tactics. Playing just like your character would play (in role-playing terms) should be close enough to the tactical optimum. If not then you lose the role-playing element when playing tactically (such as in combat). If it is then the two are merged into one. The better you are at sticking to character the better your tactics are.

Jockie
09-06-2011, 02:20 AM
Well, precisely. It's the focus on character abilities that distinguishes an RPG. When people talked about "RPG elements" in the not-so-distant past (I'm thinking of GTA: San Andreas, for example), they were talking about character development, where your character becomes better at shooting and driving. This simple definition should be widely understood.

This fixation on "choice & consequence" as supposedly the defining aspect of an RPG is very recent and very odd. It's also extremely vague, so broad as to include the likes of Heavy Rain or KQ6 or bishoujo games.


It's not a new phenemenon, it goes back to DnD (which is old) and the Dungeon Master gem of "ROLE-play, not roll-play" pertaining to players who would attempt to roll the dice in any given situation, rather than engage in actually trying to form a character.

thegooseking
09-06-2011, 09:54 AM
But add in some persistent character development, call it Spellforce and they will.

Things that define an RPG:

Player-driven character advancement (but lots of other non-RPG games include this these days)
Choices and consequences (but what of Heavy Rain, the VN genre and so forth? And Japanese RPGs that don't have this at all)
Numerical/statistic based combat/interaction system (but Mass Effect and the like don't have this)

You could probably think of others. I'd say to really be considered an RPG a game needs two of those three, but someone will come along and give me examples that break that rule. There is no definition.

I wouldn't say there's no definition, but the definition is very loose. Certainly, Deus Ex has two of those three, but it doesn't have the third in any meaningful sense. I'd be comfortable calling Deus Ex an RPG. Or, sticking with BioWare, Jade Empire has the first two but not so much the third, too.

Of course, you're right that there are exceptions. Final Fantasy VII satisfies only one of those criteria. It has character advancement, but it's not player-driven beyond grindy levelling up, and it doesn't have any meaningful choice and consequence (How much like a girl can you make Cloud look? Who will you go on a date with in Gold Saucer: Tifa, Aeris or Barret? Hardly world-changing stuff). It does have stat-based combat, though. It also has a couple of other things that I would suggest are common (if not necessary) in RPGs - exploration (of course some non-RPGs have exploration and some RPGs don't, but I'd say both of those are fewer in number than the RPGs that do), and acquisition and customisation of new gear (not even all games in the Final Fantasy series - let alone all RPGs - allow customisation of gear, and again, some non-RPGs (like Modern Warfare 2) do).

Ultimately, though, the problem with trying to define what an RPG is is that RPG is a top-level genre that admits sub-genres. We're quite happy with this in other genres. We know that a third-person squad-based tactical shooter is going to be different to a third-person platforming arcade shooter, even though they both belong in the third-person shooter genre. We know that a certain first-person physics-based action puzzle game is going to be different to Bejeweled, even though they both belong in the puzzle genre (although I have heard people call Portal an FPS). F1 2010 and Mario Kart are in entirely different subgenres of the racing genre (but does F1 2010 perhaps belong in the sports genre or the vehicle simulation genre? Can Mario Kart really be called either? Game taxonomy is not entirely concrete, and, as noted by Chris Crawford, is also subject to change). I don't think RPGs should be unique among top-level genres in that there's one template that specifies a 'real' RPG.

Wikipedia suggests that we should call Mass Effect (and Deus Ex, and Fallout 3, and Borderlands, and Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines) a role-playing shooter (a subgenre of the action RPG, which is itself a subgenre of the RPG), or an RPS, but I think there's something around here that's already taken that initialism. Can't quite think what.

thegooseking
09-06-2011, 10:07 AM
I just hope there won't be any "cooling cartridges" or whatever was that terrible thing called.

There was a question about that in the Q&A. The answer was that thermal clips are in there right now, but they're still thinking about whether they'll stay or be removed before release.

Kadayi
09-06-2011, 01:41 PM
Eh? That's because it was an example without actual character progression. If the player starts off with 100% of their skill points in maces, but then puts points into swords at every opportunity until, at the half way point of the game, the character is 50%/50%, the exact same applies. At any particular point in the game, on average, the optimal solution should resemble the character's statistics. So at the start of the game the most optimal solution for the player should generally be using maces. At the half way point the general case should be that it doesn't matter whether to use swords or maces. Remember, generally speaking, because there might be immunities and what not, but these should again be balanced (roughly equal numbers of mace immune creatures to sword immune creatures). At the end of the game, if the player keeps pumping the sword skill, his skill should be at around 66% sword and 33% mace, meaning that using the sword should be advantageous most of the time.

Again, the further apart the two skills are the more often the optimal solution should lean to one side. In other words, even against highly sword resistant enemies, a character with 90% sword skill and 10% mace skill might benefit more from sticking to swords. However, if it's more like 70% to 30%, the advantage of the mace against that particular enemy might make up for the difference in skill level and become the optimal solution. Similarly, if an enemy is completely immune to swords then even a 100% sword skill character would stand a better chance of killing the enemy using their 0% mace skill.

It's all to do with connecting the role-playing with the tactics. Playing just like your character would play (in role-playing terms) should be close enough to the tactical optimum. If not then you lose the role-playing element when playing tactically (such as in combat). If it is then the two are merged into one. The better you are at sticking to character the better your tactics are.

@Wizardry

Your position takes no account of the quality of items or myriad other factors, but more importantly you seem to be attempting to corral game play/combat mechanics into one some kind of universal linear system, and that is an impossibility because no linear system can possibly accommodate all of the factors a developer might consider pertinent with modern gaming (such as reach, elevation, position, stance, stamina, handiness, lighting, etc etc). The notion of linear systems of resolution flew the coop once computer games made the jump from 2D simulacra to 3D reactive environments.

This desire to plunge into archaic mechanistic minutiae Vs the broader discussion of the RPG in light of this evolution of the medium is folly tbh. A dogged refusal to accept that is in some ways admirable, but it's as futile as King Canute attempting to hold back the tide. The games of old were the best that they could be, based on the technology available to the developers at the time, but were the technologies and resources of today made available to them, the games they would have created would undoubtedly be distinctly different beasts. No one here doubts your knowledge when it comes to these older games, but it's time to give up beating a dead horse with respect to 'that's not an RPG'.


Numerical/statistic based combat/interaction system (but Mass Effect and the like don't have this)

It's entirely possible and thematically preferable when it comes to immersion to bake these things into the game world as understandable aspects (Mark 7 Rio Assault Rifle instead of magic Crossbow +1) rather than removed abstracts (as mentioned previously). Deus Ex does this to a great degree through the notion of augmentations and enhancements, and Mass Effect 1 did with the hierarchy of the various weapons manufacturers.

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 01:45 PM
Your position takes no account of the quality of items or myriad other factors, but more importantly you seem to be attempting to corral game play/combat mechanics into one some kind of universal linear system, and that is an impossibility because no linear system can possibly accommodate all of the factors a developer might consider pertinent with modern gaming (such as reach, elevation, position, stance, stamina, handiness, lighting, etc etc). The notion of linear systems of resolution flew the coop once computer games made the jump from 2D simulacra to 3D reactive environments.

This desire to plunge into archaic mechanistic minutiae Vs the broader discussion of the RPG in light of this evolution of the medium is folly tbh. A dogged refusal to accept the is in some ways admirable, but it's as futile as King Canute attempting to hold back the tide.
Reread my post and start again. Thanks.

Kadayi
09-06-2011, 01:58 PM
Reread my post and start again. Thanks.

I have and my response is that same. Your model takes no account of anything but a straight comparison between opponents relative strengths and omitted any other factors, that's not an adequate system to operate with when your game is set with a 3D space because it creates a disconnect between what is witnessed and what occurs.

If I'm missing something in your explanation I suggest you provide a more comprehensive and coherent example.

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 02:00 PM
No. The fucking opponents' relative strengths and weaknesses was for the fucking example. Fuck. Anyone with half a brain could see that it was an example. Fuck. You really do live up to your avatar.

Rossignol
09-06-2011, 02:08 PM
Calm down please, Wizardry. Go have a nice cup of tea.

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 02:11 PM
Calm down please, Wizardry. Go have a nice cup of tea.
I'm drinking one right now. Milk and two sugars.

But seriously, Kadayi. It's like you complaining that I left out ranged weapons from my example. Or that I should have included axes along with swords and maces. It's a simplified example!

Toamouse
09-06-2011, 02:15 PM
My word alot of discussion over an issue which is really down to personal preference (at least in my opinion!).

Lets face it everyone is going to want something different from the games they play, in mass effects case I saw it as a mix of shooter & rpg elements in a sci fi manner. Yes it wasnt as strong as having a "pure" game of either sort (which in the shooter thing must be a good thing considering the 2 gun at a time rule nowadays! :P) but I enjoyed the game non the less!

And really isn't enjoyment the reason we play the games?

deano2099
09-06-2011, 02:25 PM
No. The fucking opponents' relative strengths and weaknesses was for the fucking example. Fuck. Anyone with half a brain could see that it was an example. Fuck. You really do live up to your avatar.

When you put it like that it sounds like a new sub-game for The Witcher 3....

Lilliput King
09-06-2011, 02:33 PM
Fight and fuck does roll off the tongue better than guns and conversation.

TillEulenspiegel
09-06-2011, 02:46 PM
It's not a new phenemenon, it goes back to DnD (which is old) and the Dungeon Master gem of "ROLE-play, not roll-play" pertaining to players who would attempt to roll the dice in any given situation, rather than engage in actually trying to form a character.

What does that have to do with choice & consequence as the defining element of an RPG?

Everything is done through the lens of a character. Roleplaying is the improv acting bit of a tabletop RPG, and it's great fun. But no sane DM would let an ugly, smelly, illiterate barbarian (CHA 2, INT 2, or whatever) read poetry to court a noblewoman. When you, the player, act in a way as to exceed your character's abilities, you are out of character and no longer roleplaying. It's not about dice rolls, it's about the character and the numbers that define that character.

Kadayi
09-06-2011, 04:14 PM
What does that have to do with choice & consequence as the defining element of an RPG?

Everything is done through the lens of a character. Roleplaying is the improv acting bit of a tabletop RPG, and it's great fun. But no sane DM would let an ugly, smelly, illiterate barbarian (CHA 2, INT 2, or whatever) read poetry to court a noblewoman. When you, the player, act in a way as to exceed your character's abilities, you are out of character and no longer roleplaying. It's not about dice rolls, it's about the character and the numbers that define that character.

Generally modern games restrict you when it comes to dialogue options (as in fallout) if you aren't party to particular levels of information or insights. It's the same thing, just done in a different way as your barbarian analogy.

Jockie
09-06-2011, 04:58 PM
What does that have to do with choice & consequence as the defining element of an RPG?

Everything is done through the lens of a character. Roleplaying is the improv acting bit of a tabletop RPG, and it's great fun. But no sane DM would let an ugly, smelly, illiterate barbarian (CHA 2, INT 2, or whatever) read poetry to court a noblewoman. When you, the player, act in a way as to exceed your character's abilities, you are out of character and no longer roleplaying. It's not about dice rolls, it's about the character and the numbers that define that character.

What it has to do with choice and consequence as a defining element of role-playing games is that by saying every choice and decision open to your character are defined by statistics and abilities is a very rigid formula for creating any interesting character.

Role-playing is not only about saying I can jump up to that ledge and smash open to winch on the gate because i have two ranks in 'jumppowersmashwinch', it's about a person or character expressing their personality and their ethos by making a choice in the face of conflict.

The idea that you can define a character purely by abilities might be ok for an MMO, where you are one among thousands, or an action RPG where there is little to no plot or story. But every good story I've seen has characters in it, who are forced to make decisions and it is those decisions that actually define a character, rather than their basic characteristics, which in CRPGs boils down to a character sheet.

My point is that RPG's that allow you to make decisions, which bear consequences. That allows you to define their character in a much more nuanced manner than assigning points to abilities, or statistics.

The DnD example was to show that the question of choice and consequence is an old one. Do I kill the guy, or show mercy doesn't require any statistics and defines your character more than do I add +1 to strength or Dexterity when I level up. Even in sitations in DnD where you have alignment (a hateful thing that tries to dictate a personality), making a decision like that can have severe consequences.

For instance you make a decision as a Paladin to kill the metaphorical guy in the example above causing the deity bestowing your powers to lose to faith in you, this could cause your character to rethink the way they approach situations, or even start down a new path in their life. If you are talking from a purely mechnical standpoint, you'd always act in the interest of keeping your god-given abilities, if you're more interested in the development of an interesting and conflicted character you might choose to kill the person regardless.

So yeah, for me RPG's have always relied on choice and consequence to make them truly engaging, from DnD to CRPG's. I'd imagine most people consider Planescape Torment ( a game in which you make numerous decisions that impact the story and define your character) superior to Icewind Dale ( a game in which you make a party of people defined almost entirely by statistics lacking any personality).

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 05:09 PM
Even in sitations in DnD where you have alignment (a hateful thing that tries to dictate a personality), making a decision like that can have severe consequences.
No. Alignment is a great thing. Plus, your actions should be able to change your alignment. In other words, the player's decisions affect the character sheet.


For instance you make a decision as a Paladin to kill the metaphorical guy in the example above causing the deity bestowing your powers to lose to faith in you, this could cause your character to rethink the way they approach situations, or even start down a new path in their life. If you are talking from a purely mechnical standpoint, you'd always act in the interest of keeping your god-given abilities, if you're more interested in the development of an interesting and conflicted character you might choose to kill the person regardless.
If there are no in game mechanical benefits for losing your paladin powers then that option is basically only for LARPers. That's what happens when you intentionally gimp your characters purely for role-playing purposes. However, a really good game would give advantages to fallen paladins. Perhaps some new quests or restricted armour and weapons.


So yeah, for me RPG's have always relied on choice and consequence to make them truly engaging, from DnD to CRPG's. I'd imagine most people consider Planescape Torment ( a game in which you make numerous decisions that impact the story and define your character) superior to Icewind Dale ( a game in which you make a party of people defined almost entirely by statistics lacking any personality).
I, for one, prefer Icewind Dale. It's a better game. Planescape: Torment has better dialogue, story and characters. It's better for reading.

TillEulenspiegel
09-06-2011, 05:27 PM
So yeah, for me RPG's have always relied on choice and consequence to make them truly engaging, from DnD to CRPG's.
There are two entirely different conversations here. You're talking about what makes an RPG or another game good, I'm talking about (in response to the Chris Avellone quote) what makes an RPG an RPG, as distinct from any other type of game, many of which include choice & consequence but are not RPGs.

Are visual novels RPGs? If not, why not?

My point: no, they're adventure games. They have a ton of choices you can make to define your character in a story sense, but no RPG mechanics.

The numbers are limitations. Limitations are good. They help you create a character with personality.

TillEulenspiegel
09-06-2011, 05:51 PM
Oooh, another good example: I've been getting into Das Schwarze Auge recently, which has a few "solo adventures (http://www.amazon.de/Drakensang-Eilifs-Schatz-Fluss-Solo-Abenteuer/dp/3868890343)" on the market. They play out exactly like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, except with skill checks and the like to determine which branch you can go down. It's quite a simplified version of DSA, but still recognizably an RPG in a way that a straight Choose Your Own Adventure book clearly is not.

cjlr
09-06-2011, 05:57 PM
It's a question of min-maxing or plotwhoring, and it's not an argument we'll ever see an end of. But since we're all erudite chums having an interesting conversation, who'd want to?


The numbers are limitations. Limitations are good. They help you create a character with personality.

Well... Sort of. If I'm role-playing a character then I know what they would do. Limits should only ever be placed on abilities - not actions.

Jaxtrasi
09-06-2011, 06:00 PM
Everything is done through the lens of a character. Roleplaying is the improv acting bit of a tabletop RPG, and it's great fun. But no sane DM would let an ugly, smelly, illiterate barbarian (CHA 2, INT 2, or whatever) read poetry to court a noblewoman. When you, the player, act in a way as to exceed your character's abilities, you are out of character and no longer roleplaying. It's not about dice rolls, it's about the character and the numbers that define that character.

One very common paradigm is that your physical skills (fighting, jumping, etc) are based on your character sheet but your mental (except spellcasting) and social skills are not represented by numbers, or ignored when they are, because the group enjoy either acting out social situations or figuring out mental puzzles for themselves.

Most roleplayers must have experienced the situation where your group's most asocial shutin, playing a charismatic bard type, fumbles his way through a supposedly convincing oratory and then says "Can I roll my charisma now???"

BobsLawnService
09-06-2011, 06:01 PM
Wait, where did my post go?

Ok, I'll try again.

My main issues with Mass Effect 2 were :

a. It was a mediocre shooter and as a game it was trying to focus on being a shooter as opposed to being an RPG.
b. The mini-games were absolutely putrid and made the game a chore to play. What were they thinking?
c. The story just went down hill after that of the original and the original was pretty poor to start off with.

I don't mind so much if they make Mass Effect 3 a shooter with a dialogue wheel but they need to at least make it a good shooter.

Jockie
09-06-2011, 06:04 PM
There are two entirely different conversations here. You're talking about what makes an RPG or another game good, I'm talking about (in response to the Chris Avellone quote) what makes an RPG an RPG, as distinct from any other type of game, many of which include choice & consequence but are not RPGs.

Are visual novels RPGs? If not, why not?

My point: no, they're adventure games. They have a ton of choices you can make to define your character in a story sense, but no RPG mechanics.

The numbers are limitations. Limitations are good. They help you create a character with personality.

Fair enough I conceed your point, I read your comment out of the context of the quote from Chris Avellone you were referring to. I'd still argue that a good RPG has choice and consequence as a defining point of the experience in most cases, that go beyond mechanics and statistics (with good being the key word there).


If there are no in game mechanical benefits for losing your paladin powers then that option is basically only for LARPers. That's what happens when you intentionally gimp your characters purely for role-playing purposes. However, a really good game would give advantages to fallen paladins. Perhaps some new quests or restricted armour and weapons.

No idea what Live Action roleplay has to do with it, it's perfectly possible and acceptable to make choices in CRPG's with no mechanical benefits, such as refusing to accept payment for a good deed (Temple of Elemental Evil), or sacrificing part of yourself for knowledge (PS:T at Pillar of Skulls), purely for roleplaying purposes.

cjlr
09-06-2011, 06:07 PM
No. Alignment is a great thing. Plus, your actions should be able to change your alignment. In other words, the player's decisions affect the character sheet.

And yet, if all it does is change based on player actions, without restricting actions, what is the point? It can be a shorthand aide to the DM in calculating out some things (even then it's not all that useful), but it's the kind of thing that there's really no point including as such in a computer game.


Oooh, another good example: I've been getting into Das Schwarze Auge recently, which has a few "solo adventures (http://www.amazon.de/Drakensang-Eilifs-Schatz-Fluss-Solo-Abenteuer/dp/3868890343)" on the market. They play out exactly like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, except with skill checks and the like to determine which branch you can go down. It's quite a simplified version of DSA, but still recognizably an RPG in a way that a straight Choose Your Own Adventure book clearly is not.

That's just the point, isn't it? A good game system is there so that the player has some idea of whether or not something will work.

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 06:37 PM
Well... Sort of. If I'm role-playing a character then I know what they would do. Limits should only ever be placed on abilities - not actions.
Abilities and not actions? What does that mean? A character with 1 point in strength should be able to push a 1 tonne boulder?


One very common paradigm is that your physical skills (fighting, jumping, etc) are based on your character sheet but your mental (except spellcasting) and social skills are not represented by numbers, or ignored when they are, because the group enjoy either acting out social situations or figuring out mental puzzles for themselves.
Yet most RPGs have some sort of intelligence, wisdom and charisma attributes, with each of them modifying the game experience in some way. High intelligence might allow you to brew better potions. High wisdom may allow you to identify weapons. High charisma may allow you to talk enemies down from combat. In a conversation, all three might be useful from time to time by giving you bonus dialogue options or allowing you to persuade people to your cause with your superior knowledge and/or charm.


Fair enough I conceed your point, I read your comment out of the context of the quote from Chris Avellone you were referring to. I'd still argue that a good RPG has choice and consequence as a defining point of the experience in most cases, that go beyond mechanics and statistics (with good being the key word there).
But some of the finest CRPGs have fuck all choices and consequences. The Ultima series is a good example. The Gold Box games are others. The Baldur's Gate games basically have none of any significance. Some of the Wizardry games might have multiple endings but they are hardly games full of choices and consequences.


No idea what Live Action roleplay has to do with it, it's perfectly possible and acceptable to make choices in CRPG's with no mechanical benefits, such as refusing to accept payment for a good deed (Temple of Elemental Evil), or sacrificing part of yourself for knowledge (PS:T at Pillar of Skulls), purely for roleplaying purposes.
But if refusing payment grants you a +1 reputation or another quest later on, it does have a benefit. Giving a choice with no benefits is basically an example of a fake choice. Gain something, or gain nothing. That's not a real choice.


And yet, if all it does is change based on player actions, without restricting actions, what is the point? It can be a shorthand aide to the DM in calculating out some things (even then it's not all that useful), but it's the kind of thing that there's really no point including as such in a computer game.
No. It can restrict actions. It can also change the effects of actions (calculations). For example, many cleric spells in AD&D depend on alignment. Protection from Evil only protects your a character against evil aligned creatures. Holy Smite only does damage to evil creatures. Baldur's Gate 2 even has a sword that does increasingly more damage the further the enemy is from true neutral. Lots of equipment is alignment restricted. Some items can only be used by evil characters, for example, while others can only be used by good characters. Alignment has plenty of mechanical effects in the D&D CRPGs.

Kadayi
09-06-2011, 06:57 PM
But some of the finest CRPGs have fuck all choices and consequences. The Ultima series is a good example. The Gold Box games are others. The Baldur's Gate games basically have none of any significance. Some of the Wizardry games might have multiple endings but they are hardly games full of choices and consequences.

http://insomnia.ac/commentary/on_role-playing_games/ : -


The Western approach to CRPGs (or, An Exercise in Futility)

So the point of RPGs was never the tedious stat-recording and incessant battles -- indeed, the more creative gamemasters quickly discovered that all the calculations and dice-rolling often got in the way of the story, and acted accordingly to minimize it.

Yet from the very beginning of computer role-playing games (CRPGs) it was clear that the stat-recording and incessant battles were the only things that could possibly survive the transition to the electronic medium, and that nothing short of the invention of human-level artificial intelligence could change that. Because what could possibly be left of the idea of role-playing without an intelligent gamemaster to breathe life into the world surrounding the players? What chance would the players have to make decisions and act them out -- in other words, to role-play -- if they were denied the ability to express themselves, and if their actions were limited to inventory-management, battle tactics, and wandering around static maps? The quality of the RPG experience had from the very first depended on the ability, talent and dedication of the gamemaster, and some dumb computer program was indeed a pitiful substitute for a Gary Gygax or an Ed Greenwood.

All this was of course instantly recognized by the pioneers of CRPGs, who, being programmers, were well aware of the limitations of the primitive software engineering techniques available to them.

And so they focused on the stats and battles.

Within mere months from the publication of Dungeons & Dragons the first CRPGs began to appear. From crude efforts written by college students to run on university mainframe computers -- Rusty Rutherford's pedit5 (1974), Don Daglow's Dungeon (1975 or 1976), Gary Whisenhunt's and Ray Wood's cheekily-named dnd (1975) -- to the first commercially-available titles: Richard Garriott's Akalabeth (1980), Sir-Tech's Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord (1981) and DynaMicro's Dungeons of Daggorath (1982); they were pure dungeon crawlers one and all. Containing absolutely no role-playing whatsoever, they were nothing more than simplistic strategy games, with the limited dungeon exploration aspect breaking up the otherwise monotonous business of directing endless battles. The quest to design a true computer role-playing game had seemingly been abandoned, before it had even begun.

But since early D&D modules themselves consisted of little more besides dungeon crawling, the pioneers of CRPGs could at least claim that their games managed to capture to a degree the spirit of those early modules. The computer gaming world -- such as it was at the time -- could hardly be blamed for praising their efforts.

Unfortunately, those early efforts would end up setting the tone for all subsequent ones.

New games came and went, yet little of substance changed. The Bard's Tale (1985) featured unprecedented 3D graphics and animated monster portraits (eye-candy, in other words); Dungeon Master (1987) introduced real-time action; Pool of Radiance (1988) upped the ante in terms of the variety of locations and the scope of the story, while Eye of the Beholder (1990) had difficult puzzles -- all these were indeed well-made, enjoyable games, but they weren't fooling anyone. Because it was plain that they contained about as much role-playing as Super Mario Bros. or Duck Hunt.

For one thing, they all effectively required the player to assume control of a party of characters, something which immediately ruled out the possibility of any kind of role-playing (except perhaps for schizophrenics or those suffering from multiple personality disorder). For another, despite all the additions and refinements they boasted over their predecessors, none of them managed to get far beyond their strategy/wargaming roots. Character generation became more elaborate; sprawling towns and extensive outdoor locations were added; dungeons were spruced up -- but progression through the game still depended entirely on skillful inventory management and tactical thinking (both while directing battles and navigating dungeons). Only the more ambitious titles went as far as to include a handful of dialogue choices -- the better to trick the more naive players into believing they had some control over the development of the story.

Before long, CRPGs had become something of a joke in the role-playing community, whereas in computer gaming circles the term "RPG" had been debased to a euphemism for a genre that contained a varying mixture of strategy, action, and adventure elements -- everything, that is to say, except role-playing.

Jockie
09-06-2011, 07:15 PM
But if refusing payment grants you a +1 reputation or another quest later on, it does have a benefit. Giving a choice with no benefits is basically an example of a fake choice. Gain something, or gain nothing. That's not a real choice.


What nonsense, I don't make decisions in an RPG to see a number go up, but because i want to see the EFFECT of my ACTIONS.

Here's a simple EG,

I make a choice to save Betsy from the kidnapper, seeing that her dad is a pauper and can't really afford my wages me I refuse payment for the good deed.

If I takethe other choice the Criminal offers me 200 gold and promises he can get me a discount from the local fence for buying and selling goods, I lie to Betsy's father to cover his tracks and pocket the cash.

So here, I'm purposefully choosing to get a far lesser reward for roleplaying purposes. That is not a 'false choice'.

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 07:23 PM
http://insomnia.ac/commentary/on_role-playing_games/ : -
Yep. Congratulations for quoting someone who thinks Deus Ex is the only true CRPG.

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 07:26 PM
What nonsense, I don't make decisions in an RPG to see a number go up, but because i want to see the EFFECT of my ACTIONS.

Here's a simple EG,

I make a choice to save Betsy from the kidnapper, seeing that her dad is a pauper and can't really afford my wages me I refuse payment for the good deed.

If I takethe other choice the Criminal offers me 200 gold and promises he can get me a discount from the local fence for buying and selling goods, I lie to Betsy's father to cover his tracks and pocket the cash.

So here, I'm purposefully choosing to get a far lesser reward for roleplaying purposes. That is not a 'false choice'.
Ultimately, that's your problem. If an RPG offers you choices, each of them has to have advantages over the others else it's a really crappy choice chucked into the game for no reason. Even Baldur's Gate occassionally gave you reputation bonuses for refusing rewards. Suitable reward for a good deed.

Jockie
09-06-2011, 07:43 PM
It's not my 'problem', I don't feel like I'm missing out on gold. I make a choice because I'm roleplaying (playing a 'role') as a good guy and wouldn't dream of performing such a heinous deed. The character has his own system of morality and ethics that aren't defined by some statistic or mechanic, perhaps a happy outcome and the satisfaction of a philanthropic act are reward enough...

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 07:53 PM
So basically you are imagining a game inside your head, because the actual game doesn't give a damn if you refuse a reward? I'm sure that's a perfectly reasonable point to defend a game on!

Jockie
09-06-2011, 07:57 PM
It's weird that you present yourself as some kind of RPG guru, but don't understand roleplaying.

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 07:58 PM
It's weird that you present yourself as some kind of RPG guru, but don't understand roleplaying.
And it's funny that you don't understand games.

Jockie
09-06-2011, 08:07 PM
And it's funny that you don't understand games.

I don't understand games because I am able to derive enjoyment out of something other than a statistics driven interface and am able to overlay parts of my imagination onto the interactive experience to enhance my enjoyment?

Righto..

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 08:09 PM
I don't understand games because I am able to derive enjoyment out of something other than a statistics driven interface and am able to overlay parts of my imagination onto the interactive experience to enhance my enjoyment?

Righto..
No. That you don't acknowledge a perfectly valid criticism just because you claim that your imagination can deal with it.

Lilliput King
09-06-2011, 08:18 PM
But it's not true to say that the game 'doesn't give a damn.' If the story changes in some way (in Jockie's example, the girl is returned home safe) that is the game reacting. It's as meaningful as a reputation increase because, well, all that reputation increase would lead to is another story change somewhere down the line. If the father gives you his magic sword for returning the daughter then it'll have an impact on the character's ability to fight, but all that will eventually change is the outcome of a battle, which will itself just lead to a story change. I think it's possible to be too niggardly about what 'matters' outcome wise.

Still, I know what Wizardry is getting at - the problem with these things and these outcomes are that they don't change your character, and your ability to act as that character later on. They do nothing to define your character and the way that character interacts with the world. The eventual extreme is that you're no longer playing as anyone except your own out of game self.

Jockie
09-06-2011, 08:18 PM
I don't think it's a valid criticism at all, to claim that some kind of mechanical reward is the be all and end all of decision making in gaming.

To use an example from a recent game, without naming it in case of spoilers. I killed an important character, because he turned out to be a rapist. Not because he had some kind of brilliant sword on his corpse, not for reputation points, but because in the character I was (role)playings eyes, he deserved to die and revenge was a righteous course of action.

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 08:25 PM
Yeah. And I went around killing every friendly NPC that I could find in the original Ultima. That's what RPGs are about, after all. Doing whatever you feel like doing, even if the game doesn't care in the slightest.

It's not even an issue about getting rewarded. It's also about your character being tested. If you are given two choices, to infiltrate an enemy base by stealth, or by diplomacy, but both end up giving you the exact same reward, it's a valid choice if both the stealth and diplomatic paths test different aspects of your character. If the stealth route tests your stealth skill (and is therefore optimal for stealthy characters), while a diplomatic route tests your diplomacy (and is therefore optimal for diplomatic characters), that's a good quality RPG choice, with consequences, even if the reward is 10,000XP however you solve the mission.

The fact is that if you are given two dialogue options, and both are available to make regardless of the statistics of your character, and neither of which reward or punish you differently, and neither of which lead to different gameplay in the future, it's a fake/pointless choice with fake/pointless consequences.

Jockie
09-06-2011, 08:40 PM
The fact is that if you are given two dialogue options, and both are available to make regardless of the statistics of your character, and neither of which reward or punish you differently, and neither of which lead to different gameplay in the future, it's a fake/pointless choice with fake/pointless consequences.

It depends on what you term as 'gameplay' I constitute an effect on the story to be a perfectly acceptable outcome from a decision, the reward or punishment can come from seeing the consequences of your actions affect the world.

Kadayi
09-06-2011, 08:44 PM
Yep. Congratulations for quoting someone who thinks Deus Ex is the only true CRPG.

It certainly was at the time, though I'd say that Mass Effect, Alpha protocol & the Witcher have built upon it's legacy. It has character advancement and branching narrative with consequences that impact not only the people you encounter, but also the game world as a whole. The pushes all the right buttons as far as I'm concerned.

However what I think is more interesting is his brutal assessment of the cRPG scene and its inception. These games had little in common with real RPGs save thematically.

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 08:56 PM
It depends on what you term as 'gameplay' I constitute an effect on the story to be a perfectly acceptable outcome from a decision, the reward or punishment can come from seeing the consequences of your actions affect the world.
Well, in an RPG, basically anything that tests your character. Whether it's something that checks your character's strength, whether it's something that tests your chance to hit, whether it's something that checks whether you've got a spell memorised, or whether it's something that checks the gender of your character. Basically, the gameplay of an RPG is when the RPG rule system is running and acting.

Therefore, if each of those dialogue options spawn a unique quest later on in the game, the choice you made has affected the gameplay, as each possible quest would no doubt test your characters in different ways. One might have spawned a more stealthy quest, while the other might have spawned a magic heavy quest, for example. If, however, the choice affects ending slides, that's a fake choice because it has no affect on the actual gameplay. The best RPGs merge story with gameplay. If a choice ends up wiping out life in an entire city, then the city is empty later on, which fundamentally changes the gameplay. If you can't ever reach the city that you have a choice of destroying, then your choice has no effect on the gameplay.


It certainly was at the time, though I'd say that Mass Effect, Alpha protocol & the Witcher have built upon it's legacy. It has character advancement and branching narrative with consequences that impact not only the people you encounter, but also the game world as a whole. The pushes all the right buttons as far as I'm concerned.

However what I think is more interesting is his brutal assessment of the cRPG scene and it's inception. These games had little in common with real RPGs save thematically.
Yep. The year 2000 brought with it the first ever computer role-playing game, Deus Ex.

I think it's safe to say that I can ignore Kadayi from now on.

Kadayi
09-06-2011, 09:29 PM
I think it's safe to say that I can ignore Kadayi from now on.

You haven't brought one solid rational or reasoned counter argument to any point I've raised throughout this entire thread. In fact when questions have been directly asked of you, you've failed to address them time and again even when they've been restated. All you've brought to the table (and the forum as a whole) is faux snobbery, dis-ingenuousness and unwillingness to even countenance the opinions and viewpoints of others.

Please feel free to set me to ignore, but realise doing so doesn't make your opinions any more valid at the end of the day. Whose next on the Wizardry ignore list? Jockie? Lilliput? Deano? Goose? Kickalot? EndelNurk ? anyone else who disagrees with you?

I'd tell you to piss of back to the codex, but I suspect even Vince D can't stand your pontificating.

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 09:35 PM
I won't ignore those posters because they don't make retarded claims like Deus Ex being the first ever CRPG, while dismissing all the valid points I make by merely claiming the opposite is true.

Kadayi
09-06-2011, 09:49 PM
I won't ignore those posters because they don't make retarded claims like Deus Ex being the first ever CRPG, while dismissing all the valid points I make by merely claiming the opposite is true.

I think Mr Kierkegaard makes for a compelling argument. If you think otherwise you need to make a more compelling counter argument refuting his stance. The floor is yours, knock yourself out, and whilst you are pondering that, you can perhaps explain what exactly it is that you didn't like about the story of Mass effect 1 & 2. What particular elements didn't sit well with you and why? What particular beats didn't work for you?

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 09:54 PM
Why would I need to refute it now when every single one of my posts on every single forum I post on refutes it? All you need to do is string together every single one of my posts I've made on the RPS forum and article comments and you have enough ammunition to destroy that guy.

And the Mass Effect story is generic space marine saves the galaxy from big evil aliens bullshit, with cheesy romances to pull in the dorks.

cjlr
09-06-2011, 10:01 PM
Abilities and not actions? What does that mean? A character with 1 point in strength should be able to push a 1 tonne boulder?

It's really not that complicated. If there is a statistical system, it should only affect whether I succeed - it shouldn't tell me what I'm allowed to try to do.

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 10:08 PM
It's really not that complicated. If there is a statistical system, it should only affect whether I succeed - it shouldn't tell me what I'm allowed to try to do.
I generally agree with you, but at the same time I don't. It would be silly if intelligent or charismatic dialogue options show up for characters with an intelligence and charisma of 1.

Ravenger
09-06-2011, 10:25 PM
I'm looking forward to the rooms full of waist-high boxes/crates/rocks telegraphing that I'm about to go into combat again.

Ok I lied. I really hope ME3 avoids the repetitive mission structure of the second game. One of the reasons I prefer the first game (at least for the main story mission worlds) is that they at least disguised the cover points amongst the geometry. In the second you enter a big open area with waist high boxes and know that you're about to be attacked. They didn't even try to subvert that by not throwing you into combat in one of those arenas. It's one of the main reasons I can't bring myself to replay ME2 any more.

cjlr
09-06-2011, 10:26 PM
The fact is that if you are given two dialogue options, and both are available to make regardless of the statistics of your character, and neither of which reward or punish you differently, and neither of which lead to different gameplay in the future, it's a fake/pointless choice with fake/pointless consequences.

Except, y'know, the role-playing aspect.


No. It can restrict actions. It can also change the effects of actions (calculations). For example, many cleric spells in AD&D depend on alignment. Protection from Evil only protects your a character against evil aligned creatures. Holy Smite only does damage to evil creatures. Baldur's Gate 2 even has a sword that does increasingly more damage the further the enemy is from true neutral. Lots of equipment is alignment restricted. Some items can only be used by evil characters, for example, while others can only be used by good characters. Alignment has plenty of mechanical effects in the D&D CRPGs.

Yes, I know that - and most of that stuff is silly. You can't quantify morality. "I only need to perform three more good deeds to be a good person again!" No. That's just silly. Alignment-locked gear can make sense for a fantasy setting, sure, but that's just a boolean. If I give enough candy to children it doesn't mean I can commit genocide without changing people's opinion of me.

Kadayi
09-06-2011, 10:28 PM
Why would I need to refute it now when every single one of my posts on every single forum I post on refutes it? All you need to do is string together every single one of my posts I've made on the RPS forum and article comments and you have enough ammunition to destroy that guy.

Then if you are so confident in your position, it shouldn't be more than a trifle for you to refute him again should it? Step to with the writing. I look forward to seeing your compelling counter point.


And the Mass Effect story is generic space marine saves the galaxy from big evil aliens bullshit, with cheesy romances to pull in the dorks

So basically you've not actually played it at all then?

cjlr
09-06-2011, 10:30 PM
I generally agree with you, but at the same time I don't. It would be silly if intelligent or charismatic dialogue options show up for characters with an intelligence and charisma of 1.

Dialogue is one of the few times a hard lock makes some sense. A poor speaker who's trying to be eloquent is still a different case from one who's not, even if s/he's not likely to be very successful. Intelligence is a similar case. While it is difficult enough to play a character as dumber than yourself, it's impossible to play one as smarter than yourself.

It's always things like req 7 str to wield that annoy me. First, it's too abstract to mean anything, and second, what would happen if I did try?

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 10:51 PM
Except, y'know, the role-playing aspect.
Which has nothing to do with the game as it doesn't affect gameplay. Simple, ain't it?


Yes, I know that - and most of that stuff is silly. You can't quantify morality. "I only need to perform three more good deeds to be a good person again!" No. That's just silly. Alignment-locked gear can make sense for a fantasy setting, sure, but that's just a boolean. If I give enough candy to children it doesn't mean I can commit genocide without changing people's opinion of me.
Reputation != alignment.


Then if you are so confident in your position, it shouldn't be more than a trifle for you to refute him again should it? Step to with the writing. I look forward to seeing your compelling counter point.
Fuck no. That article is huge. I've covered every single point within this thread most likely. And if not, I've definitely covered it in that really long thread on the old boards.


So basically you've not actually played it at all then?
So basically you've never played another RPG before?


Dialogue is one of the few times a hard lock makes some sense. A poor speaker who's trying to be eloquent is still a different case from one who's not, even if s/he's not likely to be very successful. Intelligence is a similar case. While it is difficult enough to play a character as dumber than yourself, it's impossible to play one as smarter than yourself.
We had this discussion on the codex recently. It's impossible to role-play a charcter smarter than you, but it's perfectly possible to play a role-playing game as a character who is smarter than you. All you need is enough abstraction.


It's always things like req 7 str to wield that annoy me. First, it's too abstract to mean anything, and second, what would happen if I did try?
That abstraction seems perfectly reasonable to me. Maybe it would be better to have some sort of range. Below 7 and you can't even hold it. Above 7 and below 13 you can wield it but with a penalty. Above 13 and you can wield it fine.

cjlr
09-06-2011, 11:01 PM
Which has nothing to do with the game as it doesn't affect gameplay. Simple, ain't it?

There you have it. Role-playing has no place in a role-playing game. I think this is why people disagree with you, Wizardry.


Reputation != alignment.

Reputation, at least, can be easily generalized. Reputation is a gauge of how others respond to the character. Alignment is a gauge of how the character responds to the world. Right?

So what does an alignment value accomplish?


That abstraction seems perfectly reasonable to me. Maybe it would be better to have some sort of range. Below 7 and you can't even hold it. Above 7 and below 13 you can wield it but with a penalty. Above 13 and you can wield it fine.

Well, a single pass/fail check made sense when it wasn't being performed on a computer. It was reasonable for 1E D&D, when a DM might not even have a calculator around... What about chirality, left versus right? Fighting style? What about the effects of whatever else I'm using? What about endurance, energy, the surrounding climate, a thousand other things? There's just no point sticking to six or eight catch-all terms with integer values when the math happens on a computer. Pick your requirements for a 'normal' wield, then have each aspect of effectiveness dependent on a requirement-based function which will hit that normalized point...

EndelNurk
09-06-2011, 11:13 PM
And really isn't enjoyment the reason we play the games?

Yes. Absolutely and entirely without criticism, yes. I regret starting a discussion that seems to have gone to a very unpleasant place now.

Wizardry
09-06-2011, 11:25 PM
There you have it. Role-playing has no place in a role-playing game. I think this is why people disagree with you, Wizardry.
No. You can't praise a game when it's not a game. Similarly, you can't praise gameplay when it's not even gameplay. You can't say a game is good because you are capable of imagining things that the game doesn't bother with.


Reputation, at least, can be easily generalized. Reputation is a gauge of how others respond to the character. Alignment is a gauge of how the character responds to the world. Right?

So what does an alignment value accomplish?
It allows the game to access, at any time, whether your character is good/evil/lawful/chaotic/paragon/renegade. Then it can act or branch on the information.

Anyway, it's nice to see someone else here who hates the paragon/renegade system in Mass Effect. What do you find particularly bad about it?


Well, a single pass/fail check made sense when it wasn't being performed on a computer. It was reasonable for 1E D&D, when a DM might not even have a calculator around... What about chirality, left versus right? Fighting style? What about the effects of whatever else I'm using? What about endurance, energy, the surrounding climate, a thousand other things? There's just no point sticking to six or eight catch-all terms with integer values when the math happens on a computer. Pick your requirements for a 'normal' wield, then have each aspect of effectiveness dependent on a requirement-based function which will hit that normalized point...
Don't care either way, to be honest.

Kadayi
09-06-2011, 11:45 PM
That article is huge.

Then you best get writing, because personally I don't care for your endless excuses, mock offence, hollow bullshit and relentless deflection when asked to form a cohesive and coherent counter argument at every opportunity, and doubt whether many others reading this do either.


So basically you've never played another RPG before?

Let's stick on topic here. You came into this thread ( a thread about Mass Effect 3) and your first post was this: -


The only way to save Mass Effect is to include an option for the game to play itself.

Yet, given you seemingly can't even recount one single aspect of either game in terms of play and from a truly critical perspective (unlike say someone like vinraith), it's increasingly clear you've never actually even played the games.

What's the motivation for this pointless trolling exactly? To get yourself banned eventually when enough people complain about your constant disruptive and unproductive behaviour like Simon was?

Tikey
09-06-2011, 11:50 PM
No. You can't praise a game when it's not a game. Similarly, you can't praise gameplay when it's not even gameplay. You can't say a game is good because you are capable of imagining things that the game doesn't bother with.

Actually yes, if a game is expertly crafted it's going to pull you into its lore and really make you feel like a character, not like a collection of stats.
But of course you aren't interested on that aspect so it might as well don't exist.

A game is not only gameplay and mechanics.

Wizardry
10-06-2011, 12:01 AM
It is. For example, cutscenes aren't games. You don't play anything.

Tikey
10-06-2011, 12:07 AM
Cutscenes aren't games and I never talked about them. Atmosphere and world crafting are also important FOR A GAME.

I don't mean to offend but you sound like an excel spreadsheet that gained sentience.

Wizardry
10-06-2011, 12:16 AM
And you sound like a book who gained sentience. What's that got to do with anything?

cjlr
10-06-2011, 12:17 AM
Don't care either way, to be honest.

One is a more accurate model of (quasi-)reality, no? Which is surely the point, yes?

Or else, if the numbers needn't be connected to anything in particular - if you're just interested in making them come out the way you want - what's the difference between an RPG and autocad?


And you sound like a book who gained sentience. What's that got to do with anything?

Don't we all, in a text-based forum?

Kadayi
10-06-2011, 12:21 AM
I don't mean to offend but you sound like an excel spreadsheet that gained sentience.

*Chortle*

You sir win the best post of the day award.

Anyway I'm sending Wizardry to ignore (for reals). I recommend anyone else with a desire for actual proper debate and discussion about gaming does the same.

Kad

Wizardry
10-06-2011, 12:27 AM
One is a more accurate model of (quasi-)reality, no? Which is surely the point, yes?

Or else, if the numbers needn't be connected to anything in particular - if you're just interested in making them come out the way you want - what's the difference between an RPG and autocad?
Well, real-time is a better model of reality. It doesn't make it better for RPGs. There's really a limit to how realistic you can go without too many factors coming into play and turning tactical decisions into more of a guessing/estimating game, requiring more player skill and experience to exploit properly. I mean, you could easily claim ArmA 2 is more realistic than Jagged Alliance 2, but that doesn't mean Jagged Alliance 2 is inferior.

Kadayi
10-06-2011, 12:43 AM
I'm looking forward to the rooms full of waist-high boxes/crates/rocks telegraphing that I'm about to go into combat again.

Ok I lied. I really hope ME3 avoids the repetitive mission structure of the second game. One of the reasons I prefer the first game (at least for the main story mission worlds) is that they at least disguised the cover points amongst the geometry. In the second you enter a big open area with waist high boxes and know that you're about to be attacked. They didn't even try to subvert that by not throwing you into combat in one of those arenas. It's one of the main reasons I can't bring myself to replay ME2 any more.

True enough. There were a few locations where they made some effort, but certainly they could of done more as you say in that regard.

My one big criticism with the games overall is a lack of diversity in terms of assets. The identikit elements spread across the different environments tended to bland a lot of the spaces in my view. Albeit I can appreciate that much of this repetition is a resultant of asset management rather than artistic poverty, it detracted from making a lot of the environments seems distinct which I think undermined the sense of place at times.

duff
10-06-2011, 01:37 AM
The thing I liked least about ME2 (and I hope gets fixed in ME3) was the companion missions. They felt so unorganic and rigid and alot of them were almost the same, it was essentially 'do I let party member X kill nobhead Z' every time. Bioware need to find a way to integrate the companion missions more seemlessly into the narrative. I would say Mordin's mission in ME2 was a better example of this, the links into the main plot kept the mission interesting and at the same time you learn some interesting things about his dubious past. It might also help if they actually beef out the main plot a bit aswell, if you cut out all the companion missions from ME2 the game is surprisingly thin.

Alex Bakke
10-06-2011, 01:43 AM
I agree on Mordin's sidequest - That was, for me, extremely effective as you're deciding on the fate of an entire race.

deano2099
10-06-2011, 02:03 AM
The thing I liked least about ME2 (and I hope gets fixed in ME3) was the companion missions. They felt so unorganic and rigid and alot of them were almost the same, it was essentially 'do I let party member X kill nobhead Z' every time. Bioware need to find a way to integrate the companion missions more seemlessly into the narrative. I would say Mordin's mission in ME2 was a better example of this, the links into the main plot kept the mission interesting and at the same time you learn some interesting things about his dubious past. It might also help if they actually beef out the main plot a bit aswell, if you cut out all the companion missions from ME2 the game is surprisingly thin.

Aye, it's not so much it was bad, it was just a missed opportunity. Why not have successfully completing each companion mission reveal a small piece of the plot? You could even avoid small-world syndrome as Cerberus would have sent you to recruit these people *because* they had a link to the Reapers.

That's basically the approach taken in ME1, with the three main planets all hinting at what was really going on. Done well, the missions in ME2 could have been awesome. As it was, it felt like playing episodes of the original Star Trek, where all the plots stand-alone, when I wanted to be playing Deep Space 9, and having individual stories that are tied together.

LittleLizard
10-06-2011, 02:13 AM
Indeed. I will probably buy ME3 cause i played the other 2. If the trailers alone had to sold me, they have failed... EPIC FAIL

Jockie
10-06-2011, 08:13 AM
Let's not forget, the advertising campaign and pre-release trailers for ME2 were shockingly bad too, which didn't have any real reflection of the quality of the game.

Kadayi
10-06-2011, 08:32 AM
Let's not forget, the advertising campaign and pre-release trailers for ME2 were shockingly bad too, which didn't have any real reflection of the quality of the game.

True enough. Jacks trailer was bloody terrible, yet she actually turned out to be one of the most interesting & sympathetic characters once you got past the veneer.

Jockie
10-06-2011, 07:33 PM
Oh, look a Live-action trailer for ME3.

No, really.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMu1WRgYB7U

Kadayi
10-06-2011, 11:54 PM
Aye, it's not so much it was bad, it was just a missed opportunity. Why not have successfully completing each companion mission reveal a small piece of the plot? You could even avoid small-world syndrome as Cerberus would have sent you to recruit these people *because* they had a link to the Reapers.

That's basically the approach taken in ME1, with the three main planets all hinting at what was really going on. Done well, the missions in ME2 could have been awesome. As it was, it felt like playing episodes of the original Star Trek, where all the plots stand-alone, when I wanted to be playing Deep Space 9, and having individual stories that are tied together.

Well IIRC they did kind of divide up your recruitment process into about 3 stages which occured around main storyline beats, but I do agree that they could/should of tied in all of the recruits story lines into the reaper threat through some background device 'you were on Eden prime when....' etc, etc


Oh, look a Live-action trailer for ME3.

A really odd move to go for Live-action tbh. I sure hope this is just something EAs marketing department came up with, and they don't have this sort of thing inserted into the actual game. This sort of thing just makes me instantly think of Command & Conquer. I was half expecting a screen flash & Joe Kucan to pop up looking crazed & Machiavellian.