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QuantaCat
24-11-2011, 05:10 PM
OK. I took the bait.

Wiz, what are your specifications for an RPG to classify as such?

Ill list the ones I remembered from other threads and such:
- character gameplay ie. play according to the character, not the player
- use a system (usually statbased) to define a characters abilities and skills and base the entire workings of the game to said system.
- preferably turnbased, though I guess there is no real reason for the turns to not be as fast as realtime. I have to admit, when it comes to tactics, I loved XCOM Apocalypse, due to the dual nature of each mission.

(Im interested, because I like RPGs, minus the combat systems, generally)

PS: anti-wizfans, go fuck off. This is a design thread, all constructive opinions are welcome

Fumarole
24-11-2011, 05:26 PM
I'm looking forward to reading this thread, but at the same time dreading what it may turn into. It'd be funny if Wizardry never shows up.

Heliocentric
24-11-2011, 06:01 PM
Woah, wrong thread.

Wizardry
24-11-2011, 09:20 PM
1) Player defined character, usually involving stats.
2) Game to acknowledge the character, usually by using stats in calculations or by changing events after stat checks.
3) Player skill must be on a higher level than character skill.

Nalano
24-11-2011, 11:06 PM
OK. I took the bait.

/cry

/10char

QuantaCat
24-11-2011, 11:30 PM
1) Player defined character, usually involving stats.
2) Game to acknowledge the character, usually by using stats in calculations or by changing events after stat checks.
3) Player skill must be on a higher level than character skill.

1) as in unlimited way of defining a skill? so classes would be a bad thing then?
2) Yes! so not only in combat, which is what I first thought of, but also for perception by NPCs, like if (s)he is strong, then (s)he will look strong etc. Basic consistency.
3) I think I get what you mean, but I do quite like you to elaborate? Does this mean that in order for the player to properly play a character, he has to know more than him?

Wolfenswan
24-11-2011, 11:36 PM
isn't 3) a way of saying "a game shouldn't be (/make it) easier for the player just because his stats/skills/levels have reached amount x"?

Wizardry
25-11-2011, 01:35 AM
1) as in unlimited way of defining a skill? so classes would be a bad thing then?
If you can only make a single character and you can only choose a class and nothing more (no race, religion, attributes, skills) then it's a very limited (and thus terrible) system. For a single character game you really need to be able to customise your character in far more detail. For a party based game, though, it's easier to get away with a simpler system as the depth comes from the combination of characters working together. SPECIAL (Fallout) would be a decent enough example of a single character RPG system, while AD&D (Gold Box, Infinity Engine) would be a decent enough party-based RPG system.


2) Yes! so not only in combat, which is what I first thought of, but also for perception by NPCs, like if (s)he is strong, then (s)he will look strong etc. Basic consistency.
Ideally, but the visuals of an NPC don't change the game. They can look stronger, but they also need to be stronger. They really need to do more damage, be harder to tackle/take down, be able to move heavier objects out of their way and find it easier to bash down doors. If all an NPC's strength attribute does is change the way they look on screen then it's only affecting the player's perception of the NPC and nothing more. The player (and not the character) may be frightened of attacking that NPC, but mechanically there wouldn't be a difference between that NPC and another with very low strength.


3) I think I get what you mean, but I do quite like you to elaborate? Does this mean that in order for the player to properly play a character, he has to know more than him?
What it means is that the player has to work at a higher level than the rule system. Most cRPGs have very detailed combat systems in comparison to stealth systems. If you look at a typical character sheet you'll notice lots and lots of combat related numbers and very little in the way of stealth related numbers. You may see a character's chance to hit, damage, attack speed, attack range, resistances, armour class, weapon proficiencies and saving throws, all combat related statistics, but for stealth you may just get a single number determining how good they are at stealthing. This is because the whole system is focused more on combat than stealthing. In other words, stealthing is far more abstracted than combat is.

So when you have a detailed combat system with lots of statistics that determine different actions and events that can happen in a combat encounter (battle), the game can let you do more with your character in battle. Telling the game that you want your character to swing a sword at an enemy is at a higher level than what your character actually does, which is to actually swing their sword through the air and perhaps chop off an enemy's arm, determined by their statistics.

If stealth relies on just one single statistic, the game should only really allow the player to determine when their character should go in and out of "stealth mode". Whether their character is subsequently spotted while walking form A to B should be purely down to that stealth statistic and perhaps the statistics of the enemies. This is why you end up with visually stupid stealth in games like Baldur's Gate, where your character appears to walk straight through a room full of enemies as normal, but undetected. If the player is forced to do things simultaneously to improve their character's chance of success, such as completing a stealth related QTE, or completing a block puzzle where each block is an enemy on patrol, then the player is controlling their character on the same level as the stealth statistic. Another easier to understand example of the player controlling their character at the same level as the rule system is Morrowind's combat system in which hitting an enemy is determined both by the player's skill at targeting the enemy and "dice rolls" using statistics.

Of course, the worst is a system in which the player is working below the level of the rule system. An example is most mini-games. Imagine that there's a locked door ahead and the player tells their character to unlock it. The character's lock picking statistic is checked to see if they can attempt to unlock the door. If it's too low then they are unable to unpick it. If it's high enough then a mini-game starts. The mini-game isn't affected at all by the character's statistics and is entirely driven by the skill of the player. The player may have to move some sort of graphical lock-pick around in a certain pattern to unpick the lock without causing the lock-pick to break. This means that the player is doing something lower level than the rule system. They are the one doing the actual lock-picking while the rule system only checked to see if you have access to the mini-game or not.

Of course, cRPGs don't all have to be about combat. You could reverse the ratio entirely so that there's only a single combat statistic (named "combat skill" or something) and twenty or so numbers relating to stealth, such as speed, loudness, camouflage, vision, hearing, climbing, crawling, swimming, distraction and retreat. The game would work by allowing the player to decide on fine-grain individual actions relating to stealth, such as where to move to, when to cause a distraction, when to start crawling, when to stay still and wait, when to make a retreat, with the outcome of all of those being determined by the character's statistics as above. Combat, on the other hand, would be relegated to something rather dumb as the player can't be more involved than a single statistic is. Automatic combat resolution when an enemy reaches the player's character could work, with that lone "combat skill" statistic determining how much health you lose.

Cooper
25-11-2011, 01:32 PM
By those definitions, all three Deus ex games count.

So as I understand it, there are varying stages of input / output relation.

Firstly you have a 'fire gun' input and an output that takes into account stats, environment, opponent, etc. as required by the game. Here the player is inputting at a higher level.
This the original Deus Ex format.

The second is a 'fire gun' input and an output which just fires the gun wherever you pointed it. Variables may have to do with reticule size, stability whilst moving etc. All of which effect the accuracy / ease of shooting, but at the end of the day a 'shooot' button is just that.
This is the Deus Ex: Human Revolution format.

The final is a 'fire gun' input which then instigates a QTE which must be accomplished to aim, fire the trigger and reload. A more obvious example is lockping and hacking mini-games.
This is the Deus Ex: Human Revoluiton - hacking skill - format.



To be honest, I much much prefer the first when only used in party games. Where I have a number of characters and cannot be expected to, nor do I wish to, command each individually.

The second option tends, I would say, to be better when you are in direct command of a single character. Unless it's at an absurd point where you simply cannot be the tyope of character you want to be because of a lack in your own skill, such as being unable to do wuick 'combo' moves or use scoped weapons (etc...)

The third is always annoying, unless done well. I got the skeleton key in Oblivion asap and just hammer the 'auto' try button...

Wizardry
25-11-2011, 04:54 PM
Firstly you have a 'fire gun' input and an output that takes into account stats, environment, opponent, etc. as required by the game. Here the player is inputting at a higher level.
This the original Deus Ex format.
No. Aiming in Deus Ex is down to both the player's skill and the character's skill. Where a bullet ends up in Deus Ex is down to both the player's aim and the character's accuracy. Similarly, dodging in Deus Ex is down to the player, with influence from speed augmentations and the like. This means that Deus Ex features multiple elements where the player's skill is involved at the same level of interaction as the rules/statistics are. Deus Ex is an action RPG.

For Deus Ex to be a cRPG it'll need things like aiming and the dodging to be at a lower level than the player's input. Pointing and clicking on an enemy while the game is paused, with the game giving sufficient feedback so that the player definitely knows that they haven't misclicked, would be one way to eliminate aiming on the part of the player. Even if it's top down, real-time and without a pause the player still has to click on moving sprites in a speed critical manner. It's like how RTS games are often action strategy games, especially micro-heavy ones like StarCraft where clicking fast matters a great deal.

Dodging could be done automatically when an enemy shoots at you. This way the player has absolutely zero control over it, meaning that the game rules do the dodging while the player does nothing. That's great! An alternative would be to have a dodge/evade/defensive mode that can be enabled. This could result in the character using their dodge skill at the expense of, say, accuracy when shooting. This would give the player some control over whether their character is prepared to dodge or not, but they won't be controlling the actual dodging.

You'll probably notice that a higher level of control means that the game has to be turn-based or at least have pausing. That's because real life is real-time. The character is supposed to be doing things in real-time. If the player also has to do things in real-time then they are interacting in a time critical manner, something that the character is meant to be doing (often using statistics related to speed to judge, for example, who shoots first or who gets their turn first). This often automatically relegates player control to at least the same level of interaction as the statistics, because the player's speed of control affects the character's speed of action. When the character performs an action becomes dependent on both the character's speed statistics and the time delay between the player's decision and the player's action.

CuriousOrange
25-11-2011, 06:27 PM
It's an action cRPG, doesn't the c bit just mean computer?

Wizardry
25-11-2011, 06:29 PM
It's an action cRPG, doesn't the c bit just mean computer?
Yes. It is an action cRPG. It's just that when you prefix RPG with action it tends to automatically refer to computer games.

Grizzly
25-11-2011, 07:21 PM
Hmm. I do seem to recall that you once called a "CRPG" a tabletop RPG that is simulated on the computer. Baldur's Gate is a cRPG because it is the D&D ruleset adapted for the computer.

What if the ruleset is specifically designed for the computer, and no 'Tabletop' substitute exist? Then it is no longer a simulation, but an actual game. Would it then still be an cRPG?

Wizardry
25-11-2011, 07:27 PM
Hmm. I do seem to recall that you once called a "CRPG" a tabletop RPG that is simulated on the computer. Baldur's Gate is a cRPG because it is the D&D ruleset adapted for the computer.
No. I said that cRPGs are computer adaptations of tabletop RPGs. They don't have to have a tabletop equivalent. Wizardry was a D&D rip off but it didn't use the D&D rules.

pakoito
25-11-2011, 07:34 PM
I like the system they described for Kingdoms of Amalur: Recockning. It's kind-of Skyrim but the out of combat skills are acquired separately. Also, skill combinations lead you to player fates (a.k.a. specialist/parangon classes with unique skills). Skill cap, learning by using and some other stuff.

I'm eager to see how well it works ingame.

QuantaCat
26-11-2011, 12:55 PM
One of the reasons of my asking, is because I have a design that I'm going to convert to "finished game" status at one point in the future, don't know when yet, but I will.

And I believe it to be inherently RPG, but I still have enough time to work at the design and think about the concepts lying behind it. This all spawns the question: If Frozen Synapse were more statdriven instead of "combat mechanic" driven, with it's simultaneous TB ways, would it qualify? (and of course, if the surrounding story would fit it. Like if you were a dungeon group manager, basically, where all traveling and noncombat things happen between fights)

To clarify: in this context,
statdriven means "these are characters, they have stats meaning what skill they have in different areas of combat, added to the items they use"
combat mechanic means "they are standing somewhere, and they are crouched, they shoot while crouched or react to something moving, this shotgun has a 50% hit rate"

(obviously, from this explanation, statdriven would be a layer added onto combat mechanic)

Reason for the question is: I like the system of planning ahead, then letting carry out some orders before pausing again, or maybe even just set the "stance" before an entire fight/wave, where you depend on your ability as a player to let them pick the right stuff for using.

Also, no mentioning of Skyrim.

Wizardry
26-11-2011, 04:03 PM
Reason for the question is: I like the system of planning ahead, then letting carry out some orders before pausing again, or maybe even just set the "stance" before an entire fight/wave, where you depend on your ability as a player to let them pick the right stuff for using.
Lots of RPGs are like that. Wizardry for example. It's perfectly fine for an RPG as long as the player can't interfere during the combat phase.

GraveyardJimmy
26-11-2011, 05:06 PM
Of course, the worst is a system in which the player is working below the level of the rule system. An example is most mini-games. Imagine that there's a locked door ahead and the player tells their character to unlock it. The character's lock picking statistic is checked to see if they can attempt to unlock the door. If it's too low then they are unable to unpick it. If it's high enough then a mini-game starts. The mini-game isn't affected at all by the character's statistics and is entirely driven by the skill of the player. The player may have to move some sort of graphical lock-pick around in a certain pattern to unpick the lock without causing the lock-pick to break. This means that the player is doing something lower level than the rule system. They are the one doing the actual lock-picking while the rule system only checked to see if you have access to the mini-game or not.



Just so you know as I dont know whether you have played it, Skyrims lockpicking minigame is actually affected by character skill, in that the gap around the sweet spot for each lock difficulty gets bigger, and therefore a lot easier depending on the character skill.

Wizardry
26-11-2011, 05:08 PM
Just so you know as I dont know whether you have played it, Skyrims lockpicking minigame is actually affected by character skill, in that the gap around the sweet spot for each lock difficulty gets bigger, and therefore a lot easier depending on the character skill.
What mini-game?

GraveyardJimmy
26-11-2011, 05:18 PM
What mini-game?

The lockpicking one. You have to move the mouse and have it within a certain area on a half circle. The size of the area changes with skill level of the character.

Wizardry
26-11-2011, 05:20 PM
The lockpicking one. You have to move the mouse and have it within a certain area on a half circle. The size of the area changes with skill level of the character.
I see. But what's the point of it? What's gained by having it in the game? Why can't the game just automatically unlock things based on the character's skill level and the lock level?

GraveyardJimmy
26-11-2011, 05:24 PM
I see. But what's the point of it? What's gained by having it in the game? Why can't the game just automatically unlock things based on the character's skill level and the lock level?

Well not much really. I assume its to visualise the frustration of breaking lockpicks, rather than players clicking on the door and having 50+ picks break, whereas this way they can get a feel for the lock. The thing about it is it is almost another way of doing a dice roll, as the chance of you selecting the correct section of a master lock is tiny, just as a dice roll would be tiny. You can also still fail on easy locks, like a critical failure. Oblivion however had autoattempt and I dont see why it is not in Skyrim (unless I have overlooked it, which is possible).

Fiyenyaa
26-11-2011, 05:31 PM
I see. But what's the point of it? What's gained by having it in the game? Why can't the game just automatically unlock things based on the character's skill level and the lock level?

Because you can break into locks above your skill level if you as a player have enough skill to - someone with no points in lockpicking at all can open a master lock, given a deft enough touch.

Wizardry
26-11-2011, 05:33 PM
Because you can break into locks above your skill level if you as a player have enough skill to - someone with no points in lockpicking at all can open a master lock, given a deft enough touch.
But it should be the character that opens the lock and not the player.

GraveyardJimmy
26-11-2011, 05:40 PM
Because you can break into locks above your skill level if you as a player have enough skill to - someone with no points in lockpicking at all can open a master lock, given a deft enough touch.

I disagree. Its not if you have a deft enough touch, but more like if you have a lot of luck and enough lockpicks. Since the chance of a diceroll would be very small, so is the window for getting it right. A novice CAN open a master lock, but it is extremely unlikely that it would be on his first attempt and often only if you use enough lockpicks, like if you rolled a dice.

It fits in with game lore as well to a degree, but that way is spoiler territory.

Edit: Lockpicks are also more likely to break at a slight touch on master locks, whereas on novice locks they can be stressed a fair bit more, which links into character and not player skill.

Fiyenyaa
26-11-2011, 06:10 PM
But it should be the character that opens the lock and not the player.

I'm not sure to what extent I agree or disagree with that, but there comes a point where people want a game rather than interactive fiction.


I disagree. Its not if you have a deft enough touch, but more like if you have a lot of luck and enough lockpicks. Since the chance of a diceroll would be very small, so is the window for getting it right. A novice CAN open a master lock, but it is extremely unlikely that it would be on his first attempt and often only if you use enough lockpicks, like if you rolled a dice.

It fits in with game lore as well to a degree, but that way is spoiler territory.

Edit: Lockpicks are also more likely to break at a slight touch on master locks, whereas on novice locks they can be stressed a fair bit more, which links into character and not player skill.

I guess you're right, really. The only reason I've been able to open Master locks is because of a large supply of lockpicks. Still, there is at least an element of skill to it when you get outside the ultra-hard ones.

Wizardry
26-11-2011, 06:23 PM
I'm not sure to what extent I agree or disagree with that, but there comes a point where people want a game rather than interactive fiction.
D&D is more of a game than Mass Effect, sorry to say. For a start you don't have to watch your very own character act like a complete prick in an automated cutscene.

Keep
26-11-2011, 06:59 PM
But it should be the character that opens the lock and not the player.

Can I play devil's advocate?

If it's the character's abilities that matter so much, in what sense can the player be allowed to impose himself at all?

Picking a lock should be up to the character, but what about choosing to pick the lock as opposed to blowing the door to pieces? Why should the player get to affect that aspect of the game? Shouldn't the character be in control of that?

In fact, why should the player make any choices? "Will you take on the merchant's quest, or just rob him blind?" - shouldn't that be the character's choice, not player's? "Will you head west from the starting town toward the forest, or east toward the city?" - Surely that's also up to the character, based on his knowledge and background, to decide.

Take it to its extreme: why not just mail your character-sheet to the developer and have them send back a unique novel based on it?

There's an intersection between player skill/input and character skill/input. You've made that clear, you'v estaked your spot on where it should be. But how can you justify where you've placed it without rationally having to cede the player side altogether?

Wizardry
26-11-2011, 07:04 PM
Because RPGs are games.


There's an intersection between player skill/input and character skill/input. You've made that clear, you'v estaked your spot on where it should be. But how can you justify where you've placed it without rationally having to cede the player side altogether?
The player should always act on a higher level than the character acts (stat usage). In other words, in an ideal RPG, everything the player tells their character to do should involve statistics in some way, either using formulae or simple comparisons.

It's like when you come across a puzzle in an RPG (or supposed RPG), like those tower of Hanoi puzzles in BioWare games. The player's actions during the solving of that puzzle do not work on a higher level than the character because the character is never tested in any way. This means that nothing about the character matters, it's purely down to the player. It's an adventure/puzzle game element and nothing more.

Keep
26-11-2011, 07:14 PM
Because RPGs are games.

Could you cash that out?


The player should always act on a higher level than the character acts (stat usage). In other words, in an ideal RPG, everything the player tells their character to do should involve statistics in some way, either using formulae or simple comparisons.

I'm not sure what "higher level" means. Is the decision to use a hook pick as opposed to a snake rake a lower level decision than deciding to pick the lock on the door as opposed to blow it open? Why does the character make one, but the player make the other?

Or, in the opposite direction - macro rather than micro - why can't you devise a formula to tell a character "Find the jewel at the heart of this dungeon", and wouldn't that be just as much an RPG as your "ideal"?

Wizardry
26-11-2011, 08:09 PM
I'm not sure what "higher level" means. Is the decision to use a hook pick as opposed to a snake rake a lower level decision than deciding to pick the lock on the door as opposed to blow it open? Why does the character make one, but the player make the other?
Well, blowing it open could require a high enough demolition skill or something like that, meaning that the act of blowing the door up is a lower level action than the decision the player is involved in. The player decides to blow up the door and it's the character that actually does it at a low level (simulated with a statistic in this case). Deciding to pick a lock is again higher level than the small individual actions that are simulated by the lockpick skill in order to pick a lock. It's the same with deciding what type of lockpick to use, because the advantages and disadvantages of a particular type of lockpick will work together with the lockpick skill to simulate the act of picking a lock. It's the same for deciding which weapon to attack an enemy with, as the weapon type usually modifies the damage and chance to hit, which take part in the simulation of the actual action of attacking an enemy.


Or, in the opposite direction - macro rather than micro - why can't you devise a formula to tell a character "Find the jewel at the heart of this dungeon", and wouldn't that be just as much an RPG as your "ideal"?
In a perfectly balanced RPG all possible characters should be able to win the game with the same difficulty assuming optimal decisions are made. Singular missions or encounters may be harder for some than others, but the difficulty should even out over the course of the game. And this is kind of the problem with abstracting player involvement way too much. If all you can do is choose to raid dungeons that are large enough to contain a number of encounters then there's no real change in outcome with different characters. If the game models strength, dexterity, intelligence, constitution and all of those kind of stats as well as plenty of skills like climbing, navigating, survival and repair then the player needs to be able to make decisions as close as possible to that level of granularity.

It's like having automatically resolved combat. If the game is balanced so that battles are just as difficult for a fighter, thief and a mage then having automatically resolved fights will result in the same exact outcome regardless of class. It makes character development irrelevant to the game the player is actually playing.

Of course, you can have an RPG where the player acts at a super high level such as in choosing what dungeon to raid next. However, the way to do it would be to have character skills that are also of a much higher level to match. You could have environmental statistics that determine how good characters are at traversing particular types of environments. You could then plot courses through the game world using way-points, balancing risk and reward. If you created a character who was afraid of the dark you would try to avoid night time travel. On the other hand, if they were great at mountain climbing then travelling more directly over a mountainous region would be less risky than for other characters. A character with arachnophobia may want to avoid dark forests, while a character with a high hunting skill may survive better in them. You don't actually move your character step by step through the game world, nor do you get to control your character through tactical battles. It's a much higher level game with statistics that match.

Subatomic
26-11-2011, 09:06 PM
Reading all your requirements for a game to qualify as a RPG Wizardry, I'd like to ask: Did you play the second Neverwinter Nights 2 addon, Storm of Zehir, and if yes, what's your opinion on it? Almost every skill and attribute has relevant effect on dialogue and combat, for example high wisdom characters have more insightful dialogue options, characters with a high appraise skill can negotiate for better quest rewards, a high survival skill allows faster travel on the overland map, stealth lets you avoid monsters on said map, and all dialogue skills (bluff, intimidate, diplomacy and taunt) can be used in almost every conversation. It has a distinctly different feel to it than the original NWN2 campaign and it's addon, MotB, which were far more focussed on story and characters, for better or worse.

QuantaCat
26-11-2011, 09:21 PM
I'm afraid to say, that Im starting to agree to a lot of these points. Not that it's a bad thing, but I thought you were just being pedantic instead of simply thorough.

Though I have to add (maybe you did say it, but I overlooked): the feeling that those minigames give me, is that they intentionally give me the feeling of more control of how the character would open the door, regardless of the skills you attribute to them, which is also in turn a way of making the player feel either like the character, or to "immerse" him/her more into the game. ie. make the player "care" for the character. Which is something that should not be.. encouraged, simply because you should be able to make your own character, entirely as you see fit, which means you would be invested anyway.

Thats why, for my story telling pnp sessions, I do away with this kind of system, and make it the most important what stories the players give their characters. It just has to come down to what role they take, not how they got to taking that role. Needless to say, its a story RPG, which has flaws as well: it all depends on me & the players. There is no backup, there is nothing to fall back to. The players are allowed all freedom to try everything, and a lot of things work, which I did not expect. So its hard to "make them" follow a path and a lot has to be improvised.

But then again, that might also be seen as the good bit. Depends on the "good will" of everyone involved, not to be an arse, and it becomes more a game of roleplaying adventure, than a classic tabletop RPG.

Wizardry
26-11-2011, 10:22 PM
You like what you like. It doesn't really affect genre definitions. If I preferred action RPGs to proper RPGs I wouldn't claim that action RPGs were proper RPGs. And that's a problem on this forum. A lot of people see the term "role-playing game" as more elite than "action game" and end up using it for hybrids. I can usually live with that but when people talk about how Skyrim, New Vegas or Mass Effect are "taking RPGs in the right direction" it annoys me because the right direction was being followed at the very beginning of the 90s. Of course, the vast majority of people don't know much about cRPGs from that time period, and they are usually the ones making such bizarre statements in the first place.

QuantaCat
26-11-2011, 10:30 PM
You like what you like. It doesn't really affect genre definitions. If I preferred action RPGs to proper RPGs I wouldn't claim that action RPGs were proper RPGs. And that's a problem on this forum. A lot of people see the term "role-playing game" as more elite than "action game" and end up using it for hybrids. I can usually live with that but when people talk about how Skyrim, New Vegas or Mass Effect are "taking RPGs in the right direction" it annoys me because the right direction was being followed at the very beginning of the 90s. Of course, the vast majority of people don't know much about cRPGs from that time period, and they are usually the ones making such bizarre statements in the first place.

Aye, I get that. But then again, thats been twenty years already. Maybe the definitions have been dilluded so much already, that they arent applicable anymore. My point being that I cannot be the judge of how the term should be used, as I use the term loosely myself. Though DXHR is definitely a shooter with RP elements, not an action RPG, by that definition. Too much dependant on playerskill ie. playerskill defines characterskill, and it just feels like that. Also, the story doesnt allow enough freedom to be a "real" RPG.

I guess there is a fine line between tabletop/pnp and computer RPGs to be tread, and I seriously want to tread it in the sense of allowing as much freedom as possible, while "truly" playing a character (or multiple characters). And I really want people to be able to think their actions through, not have to rush in, and take quick decisions. After all, the player has time, just the character might not. Atleast I know who to go to for testing. :D

Also, death to QTE.

Wizardry
26-11-2011, 10:48 PM
And I really want people to be able to think their actions through, not have to rush in, and take quick decisions. After all, the player has time, just the character might not. Atleast I know who to go to for testing. :D
Yeah. That's why timed dialogue sucks. I hope games don't start adopting it after the likes of Alpha Protocol played around with it.

QuantaCat
26-11-2011, 10:50 PM
Yeah. That's why timed dialogue sucks. I hope games don't start adopting it after the likes of Alpha Protocol played around with it.

Yes. Though to be honest, Alpha Protocol was only an RPG in the way you could tackle conversation & story development. All other game parts were pretty (lackcluster) actiony.

Wizardry
26-11-2011, 10:52 PM
Yes. Though to be honest, Alpha Protocol was only an RPG in the way you could tackle conversation & story development. All other game parts were pretty (lackcluster) actiony.
Tell that to publishers. =)

QuantaCat
26-11-2011, 10:59 PM
Tell that to publishers. =)

Oh I dont have to. :D

I will pay obsidian to make a real RPG again, after I make my own game, of course. And make them fucking bugtest it before selling it.

(although it would be ironic if they wouldnt have bugs in their RPGs. just that theyre making FPS and alikes which cause the buggery)

Nalano
26-11-2011, 11:14 PM
And make them fucking bugtest it before selling it.

Most of the bugs in FONV were the exact same UI/stability bugs inherent in the game engine and evident in FO3 and Oblivion.

KotOR2 was notorious for how LucasArts fucked them with the stark cutoff.

Wizardry
26-11-2011, 11:17 PM
Most of the bugs in FONV were the exact same UI/stability bugs inherent in the game engine and evident in FO3 and Oblivion.
The turn-based combat is still broken. ;)

Nullkigan
26-11-2011, 11:22 PM
You like what you like.

Can I please ask that you post in this spirit in the future?

Your general posting habits make you come off as a multiclassed flippant/dismissive/sarcastic/elitist grognard. The caustic posting style, unfortunately, makes me less inclined to admit to the points I agree with. Especially as your largest concerns seem to be over the appropriation of a TLA which has moved on through common usage and the separation between player and character.


To summarise with examples the sort of points you're trying to make:

With Baldur's Gate, player input is irrelevant to immediate (turn, pulse, whatever) outcomes. The characters take care of that automatically. The player assembles the events the characters have to deal with (by e.g. positioning them favourably for combat) and provides support in the form of 'tactics used' (e.g. fireball, sword, whatever) but does not enact those himself (so no swinging the mouse about to hit with the sword, or trying to draw out a pentagram to cast the fireball). This is an RPG, but largely linear as you follow the plot of the game.

With Vltimo (as I don't care for the aesthetics of Ultima and therefore never played any of them, so have a made-up knock-off), you have to hit a couple of objectives (e.g. retrieve virtue sigils from dungeons) on the way to the final objective (defeat final boss). Quest chains are shorter and more freeform, and the objectives can be met at any point in any order except for the final one. This is 'more of an RPG' because the player has more agency to dictate the story and the characters matter only insomuch as they are tools for driving the story forwards and can therefore be 'imagined/painted in' by the player. A large element of the player freedom comes from the world design and story assumptions.

Skyrim / New Vegas allow and practically expect the player to ignore the prewritten story for a significant chunk of the game in favour of doing side or secondary quests, story chains, etc. The player gets to decide how the character responds, much like the earlier examples. The difference is that the player skill drives the success of the character in an immediate sense (e.g. aiming) and the main plot points are linear. As such this is an 'action'-RPG.

In Mass Effect you have very little control over the way the plot works out, how it is completed (except for a token concesion in the form of "you may elect to do these three missions in the order you please) or who the character is (aforediscussed "character acts like a complete prick"). Success is almost entirely reliant upon the player. This is an adventure game because sometimes you can do things without 'action'.

In Call of Modern Lead Farming, you have no control over the story. Success is entirely dependant upon 'action', explosions, and gunfire. The character you control is entirely prescripted, and there is almost no way to do anything under your own initiative. Whilst the character is now independant of the player for everything EXCEPT combat, this is still an Action game.

(Remember when adventure game was still an actual genre?)


Pigeonholing something like Alpha Protocol (bad game, good meta-structure) is a bit more difficult.

Nalano
26-11-2011, 11:24 PM
The turn-based combat is still broken. ;)

It's not a turn-based game.

Anybody who thought VATS was a good idea needs to get smacked upside the head. The game plays better without it.

Wizardry
27-11-2011, 12:04 AM
With Baldur's Gate, player input is irrelevant to immediate (turn, pulse, whatever) outcomes. The characters take care of that automatically. The player assembles the events the characters have to deal with (by e.g. positioning them favourably for combat) and provides support in the form of 'tactics used' (e.g. fireball, sword, whatever) but does not enact those himself (so no swinging the mouse about to hit with the sword, or trying to draw out a pentagram to cast the fireball). This is an RPG, but largely linear as you follow the plot of the game.
Yes. Though "above" Baldur's Gate in this seemingly descending list of RPGness would be games like Dark Sun: Shattered Lands, Temple of Elemental Evil (Co8) and the Gold Box games as they are similar to Baldur's Gate but without requiring the user to pause arbitrarily between rounds (as they are turn-based). In Baldur's Gate and the other Infinity Engine games you can set the game to pause every round. However, it's advantageous to also manually pause between rounds to shuffle units around, to either avoid a spell's area of effect or move out of an archer's line of sight.

Also, above the lot of them would be a game with great turn-based combat but with a dynamic and highly simulated world and a good story to boot. No RPGs have covered all those aspects though, as the greats tended to specialise.


With Vltimo (as I don't care for the aesthetics of Ultima and therefore never played any of them, so have a made-up knock-off), you have to hit a couple of objectives (e.g. retrieve virtue sigils from dungeons) on the way to the final objective (defeat final boss). Quest chains are shorter and more freeform, and the objectives can be met at any point in any order except for the final one. This is 'more of an RPG' because the player has more agency to dictate the story and the characters matter only insomuch as they are tools for driving the story forwards and can therefore be 'imagined/painted in' by the player. A large element of the player freedom comes from the world design and story assumptions.
Largely. That's basically how Ultima plays anyway. The two biggest issues with the Ultima games is that they have something like three statistics in: strength, dexterity and intelligence. The stats only affect the combat too, and even then you don't really notice the difference in most of the games. As you spend something like 95% of the time in the classic Ultima games talking to townsfolk and exploring the towns where the three stats don't matter, the games are terrible RPGs in that respect.

However, they are fantastic adventure games. You don't just talk to NPCs and get a quest log update. You don't have a goal from the start. You are dumped in the world and have to discover the problems in the world as well as a way to solve them. The first NPC you talk to might give you an overview of the problems plaguing the land but no real hints as to how to progress. It's up to you to explore, find clues, talk to NPCs and piece things together. Often there are clues leading to more significant clues. You might find one NPC who tells you the hidden location of another more important NPC. The games are giant puzzles.


Skyrim / New Vegas allow and practically expect the player to ignore the prewritten story for a significant chunk of the game in favour of doing side or secondary quests, story chains, etc. The player gets to decide how the character responds, much like the earlier examples. The difference is that the player skill drives the success of the character in an immediate sense (e.g. aiming) and the main plot points are linear. As such this is an 'action'-RPG.
Yes. That's what an action RPG is for sure. You have statistics that play a part and you can develop a character how you want, but you'll ultimately be playing an action game while fighting an enemy. Swinging, blocking, strafing, dodging arrows, aiming spells etc.


In Mass Effect you have very little control over the way the plot works out, how it is completed (except for a token concesion in the form of "you may elect to do these three missions in the order you please) or who the character is (aforediscussed "character acts like a complete prick"). Success is almost entirely reliant upon the player. This is an adventure game because sometimes you can do things without 'action'.
It's not an adventure game because there are no puzzles to really solve. Mass Effect is a story driven, cut-scene heavy third person shooter where the player can choose the stance of the protagonist during the cut-scenes. You can't really get stuck in the game. Options given to you throughout the game all lead to progress in some way. "Guns and conversation" is a fine descriptor.


In Call of Modern Lead Farming, you have no control over the story. Success is entirely dependant upon 'action', explosions, and gunfire. The character you control is entirely prescripted, and there is almost no way to do anything under your own initiative. Whilst the character is now independant of the player for everything EXCEPT combat, this is still an Action game.
Yeah. Pure action game.

Fiyenyaa
27-11-2011, 12:39 AM
D&D is more of a game than Mass Effect, sorry to say. For a start you don't have to watch your very own character act like a complete prick in an automated cutscene.

Yeah. Because in D&D you have a DM who will spontaneously react to any and all events. In D&D video games, you have exactly the same kind of canned dialogue options that Mass Effect has, except acted in a less impressive manner. Video games will not (for the immediate future at least) be able to spontaneously react to a player doing unexpected things in the same way a human being will, so for the time being I'd rather have a well-acted and voiced game when we're dealing with a branching but essentially linear narrative.

QuantaCat
13-02-2012, 09:59 AM
Im reviving this one, due to discussions/talking about the autoresolve function in RPGs. (also, note the mentioning of paying for obsidian games in this very thread, by very me! yay foresight!)

If the autoresolve does not resolve a fight to the best of the characters abilities, why is there a need for it? I know it encourages people to do certain things on autoresolve, and certain not, but why would there be a need for it, why have mobs/enemies that way outclass you (and still fight)? so either make every enemy a potentially difficult one, and every fight engaging, or cut out the small stuff.

Though I have to admit, autoresolve missing from xcom games is what made me stop every single xcom game I ever played. Just playing through every single small ufo crash mission was so tedious... argh. (but then we're at squad tactics games again, not RPGs)

Nalano
13-02-2012, 01:29 PM
Yeah. Because in D&D you have a DM who will spontaneously react to any and all events. In D&D video games, you have exactly the same kind of canned dialogue options that Mass Effect has, except acted in a less impressive manner. Video games will not (for the immediate future at least) be able to spontaneously react to a player doing unexpected things in the same way a human being will, so for the time being I'd rather have a well-acted and voiced game when we're dealing with a branching but essentially linear narrative.

Noooo. Do not argue with Wizardry about RPGs. Down that path lies madness.


If the autoresolve does not resolve a fight to the best of the characters abilities, why is there a need for it? I know it encourages people to do certain things on autoresolve, and certain not, but why would there be a need for it, why have mobs/enemies that way outclass you (and still fight)? so either make every enemy a potentially difficult one, and every fight engaging, or cut out the small stuff.

I attribute it to a problem of game design. Every fight in one game may take a set amount of time to resolve, thanks to turns or the necessity of pausing to give commands to a series of characters. This may become tedious for fights that are of no real threat to your group. In more real-time, action-oriented RPGs, this isn't an issue, because those fights are resolved on their own quickly enough, but in slower, turn-based or RTwP RPGs, taking time out to off half a dozen orcs just isn't worth the setup. Hence.

I say it's a fault of game design, because in both styles of RPG, combat is still the bread and butter of what you do, and if you're just skipping through the combat because fighting's a chore, then why are you there? Imagine playing a whole game of Total War on the campaign map: Not as strategy-oriented as war sims, but with no individual tactics nor visceral, nitty-gritty fun to make up for it.

Dolphan
13-02-2012, 01:46 PM
Wizardry - would you class Dwarf Fortress as an RPG?

Wizardry
13-02-2012, 04:27 PM
If the autoresolve does not resolve a fight to the best of the characters abilities, why is there a need for it? I know it encourages people to do certain things on autoresolve, and certain not, but why would there be a need for it, why have mobs/enemies that way outclass you (and still fight)? so either make every enemy a potentially difficult one, and every fight engaging, or cut out the small stuff.
What do you mean by resolving combat to the best of their abilities? The only way a game can do that is to run your characters through the combat with the same AI as the enemy, as presumably that's the best AI the developers could come up with. In most cases that'll be worse than the tactics you can come up with, which is why auto-resolving fights may as well done in a more abstracted way. A complex statistical comparison, for example. Perhaps some slight randomness involved too. Sort of like how battles are automatically resolved in a strategy game like the Total War ones.

As to what the point of the fights are, well, if you constantly fight higher and higher level creatures then you run in to the same problem as level scaling introduces. You never get to witness the power of your characters increasing. Hence a few quick battles against trash makes you notice the improvements you have made to your characters. But I guess the reason why games allow you to bump in to lower level enemies is because they aren't linear. You can go to lower level areas at a higher level just as you can go to higher level areas at a lower level. Running back to the starting town might make you run in to a low level starting battle, for example.

This has nothing to do with grinding, though.


I attribute it to a problem of game design. Every fight in one game may take a set amount of time to resolve, thanks to turns or the necessity of pausing to give commands to a series of characters. This may become tedious for fights that are of no real threat to your group. In more real-time, action-oriented RPGs, this isn't an issue, because those fights are resolved on their own quickly enough, but in slower, turn-based or RTwP RPGs, taking time out to off half a dozen orcs just isn't worth the setup. Hence.
Wrong. I can kill half a dozen orcs in under 10 seconds in a post-II Might and Magic game. Turn-based combat has little to do with combat speed. In fact, turn-based is often faster than real-time games. Just see how long it takes to traverse the map in a pre-VI Might and Magic game compared to games with real-time movement. You're only really limited by input in turn-based games and not animation.

Fiyenyaa
13-02-2012, 06:02 PM
Noooo. Do not argue with Wizardry about RPGs. Down that path lies madness.

I have since learned. Even if the temptation resurfaces from time to time.
I'll just get back to playing some of the latest new RPG; Kingdoms of Amalur.

archonsod
13-02-2012, 07:06 PM
I say it's a fault of game design, because in both styles of RPG, combat is still the bread and butter of what you do, and if you're just skipping through the combat because fighting's a chore, then why are you there?

It's not necessarily that fighting is a chore, but that certain fights may be a chore. Particularly with those that utilise random encounter generation. To use your TW example, imagine if you have your ultimate, end-game stack of doom inexorably advancing on the last enemy province, and the AI responds by repeatedly sending a single militia unit against it. Every time it does that you're going to have to sit while it loads the battle engine, sit for the two minutes or so the fight will take (and probably watch said unit get annihilated by artillery long before it gets anywhere near your troops), then sit while it unloads the battle engine. And you could be doing this several times per turn.
The tricky thing with auto resolve is balancing it. Generally it can't perform too well in order to encourage the player to fight the battles rather than simply auto-resolve them. At the same time, you can't make it too poor without punishing players for not wanting to sit through a rather dull and unengaging battle (see above).

You could argue the need for it is a fault in the design, but on the other hand it's hard to see how you could design a game which allowed for a similar degree of 'openness' without it.

QuantaCat
14-02-2012, 10:53 AM
My point is, is that the auto resolve option should be equally good as "doing it yourself". I think developers are making it worse on purpose. I dont think it is a bad thing to be able to autoresolve if one so wishes, after all, we've come a long way from having to have a competitive game, in order for it to be one. Especially in RPGs: either the combat is involving and you want to do it yourself, or it isnt, and you dont want to do it. But you should have a choice, and not *have* to resolve every tough or easy battle yourself.

Also, I think King Arthur had a good autoresolve feature, where you could protect certain units. But it had one flaw, which wasnt an autoresolve thing, but a general gameplay flaw: there were exploits to the main campaign, where you could win by "advanced" tactics of "troll the hill".

Also, can you please cut the "OMG DONT TALK TO WIZ, HE IS NOT NICE TO ME D: D: D:", why the fuck do you think I started this thread in the first place? to talk RPG, damnit. @nalano but also @anyone else considering.

Nalano
14-02-2012, 03:35 PM
Also, can you please cut the "OMG DONT TALK TO WIZ, HE IS NOT NICE TO ME D: D: D:", why the fuck do you think I started this thread in the first place? to talk RPG, damnit. @nalano but also @anyone else considering.

Because, QuantaCat, I don't want every goddamn thread that has the word "RPG" in it to be yet another circular argument about the boundaries of the genre. I'd like to discuss RPGs too, and rehashing the ole' nonsensical shit ain't fun.

QuantaCat
14-02-2012, 09:51 PM
Yes but the entire point of this thread is to be a discussion about RPGs, and it was actually specifically aimed at wiz. Read the very first post, then come back. Also, Im pretty sure he's laid out his expectations for an RPG already, and I doubt he wants to repeat himself, in the same thread.

SO ANYWAY. Even though King Arthur wasnt a TB game, it had autoresolve, good one at that too.

Nalano
14-02-2012, 11:25 PM
and I doubt he wants to repeat himself, in the same thread.

Go read the other RPG threads, then come back.

If you wanted a discussion specifically with Wiz, I'm wondering if PMs wouldn't have sufficed.


You could argue the need for it is a fault in the design, but on the other hand it's hard to see how you could design a game which allowed for a similar degree of 'openness' without it.

Well, in the sense that the game is divided to two spheres - the strategic and the tactical - you're correct, but in RPGs it's almost always tactical. It's never army-versus-one-unit.

trjp
14-02-2012, 11:47 PM
You can't make character customisation/choice a requirement for RPGs as about 20%+ of RPGs don't offer it (Zelda being the obvious choice).

There is an argument that without it you're playing an adventure and not an RPG - thus FF and Zelda are adventure games and not RPGs at all - but you'd be working hard to sell that to people.

End of the day, RPGs are more defined by the world and the gameplay than they are the character(s) and their customisation.

Wizardry
15-02-2012, 02:38 AM
Because, QuantaCat, I don't want every goddamn thread that has the word "RPG" in it to be yet another circular argument about the boundaries of the genre. I'd like to discuss RPGs too, and rehashing the ole' nonsensical shit ain't fun.


Go read the other RPG threads, then come back.

If you wanted a discussion specifically with Wiz, I'm wondering if PMs wouldn't have sufficed.
So are you going to continue to sully my good name or are you going to reply to the following instead:


Wrong. I can kill half a dozen orcs in under 10 seconds in a post-II Might and Magic game. Turn-based combat has little to do with combat speed. In fact, turn-based is often faster than real-time games. Just see how long it takes to traverse the map in a pre-VI Might and Magic game compared to games with real-time movement. You're only really limited by input in turn-based games and not animation.

No? Okay.

c-Row
15-02-2012, 09:14 AM
Wrong. I can kill half a dozen orcs in under 10 seconds in a post-II Might and Magic game. Turn-based combat has little to do with combat speed. In fact, turn-based is often faster than real-time games. Just see how long it takes to traverse the map in a pre-VI Might and Magic game compared to games with real-time movement. You're only really limited by input in turn-based games and not animation.

I wouldn't necessarily call it "faster", but maybe "more efficient" instead. Issueing orders to all your chars in turn-based combat slows the pace down, but as a result they are busy most of the time and you don't end up with a unit just standing around awaiting new orders. If you compare X-COM to UFO:Aftermath, the latter plays more fluid in real-time, but the turn-based combat in X-COM lets you squeeze the last ounce of efficiency out of your soldiers.

Would you agree that turn-based combat against an AI is also a lot fairer since it takes one of the computer's biggest advantage (speed and reaction times) out of the combat?

QuantaCat
15-02-2012, 10:49 AM
I wouldn't necessarily call it "faster", but maybe "more efficient" instead. Issueing orders to all your chars in turn-based combat slows the pace down, but as a result they are busy most of the time and you don't end up with a unit just standing around awaiting new orders. If you compare X-COM to UFO:Aftermath, the latter plays more fluid in real-time, but the turn-based combat in X-COM lets you squeeze the last ounce of efficiency out of your soldiers.

Would you agree that turn-based combat against an AI is also a lot fairer since it takes one of the computer's biggest advantage (speed and reaction times) out of the combat?

I would simply agree that it removes certain gameplay out of a game. It can also be used as a narrative, to not be able to twitch your way through it. (ie to build atmosphere, like X-COM did)

I think that it is an error to say it makes it more fairer; if a dev really says that, then they dont know that it simply is another system, and you cant just switch it out for something else, you can use it like a tool, not just "make something fairer/easier". (not that I mean it is an error when you say it, but I think devs hiding behind TB making something easier, are really not grasping the extent of this system)

Wizardry
15-02-2012, 04:35 PM
I wouldn't necessarily call it "faster", but maybe "more efficient" instead. Issueing orders to all your chars in turn-based combat slows the pace down, but as a result they are busy most of the time and you don't end up with a unit just standing around awaiting new orders. If you compare X-COM to UFO:Aftermath, the latter plays more fluid in real-time, but the turn-based combat in X-COM lets you squeeze the last ounce of efficiency out of your soldiers.
No. It is quicker. Why are you saying it isn't? Issuing an order to a character is a matter of a button press or three. No different from a real-time game. The advantage of turn-based games is that you don't have to wait for animation to play. For example, you can run from A to B at a speed proportional to the key repeat delay.


Would you agree that turn-based combat against an AI is also a lot fairer since it takes one of the computer's biggest advantage (speed and reaction times) out of the combat?
Of course. But then again, I don't think RPG combat is about the AI much.

c-Row
15-02-2012, 05:19 PM
No. It is quicker. Why are you saying it isn't? Issuing an order to a character is a matter of a button press or three. No different from a real-time game. The advantage of turn-based games is that you don't have to wait for animation to play. For example, you can run from A to B at a speed proportional to the key repeat delay.

Again, compare X-COM to UFO:Aftermath. While being turn-based, you still have to wait for the walk/shoot/whatever animations in X-COM, and they don't happen simultaneously for all your soldiers at the same time. Moving five soldiers in Aftermath takes much less time than in X-COM.


Of course. But then again, I don't think RPG combat is about the AI much.

True, but I'd rather play against an AI that cleverly uses the environment and the spells and skills of the enemies it controls instead of just spamming the player with two or three different attacks.

Wizardry
15-02-2012, 05:23 PM
Again, compare X-COM to UFO:Aftermath. While being turn-based, you still have to wait for the walk/shoot/whatever animations in X-COM, and they don't happen simultaneously for all your soldiers at the same time. Moving five soldiers in Aftermath takes much less time than in X-COM.
Out of all the turn-based games, why are you picking X-COM? It has animations, so of course it's going to be really slow. Can you explain to me why turn-based can't be faster? Can you explain to me why you think Oblivion is faster than Might and Magic III?


True, but I'd rather play against an AI that cleverly uses the environment and the spells and skills of the enemies it controls instead of just spamming the player with two or three different attacks.
But at the same time you don't want to be playing a game where the challenge comes from battling an AI. An RPG isn't a game in which the aim is to prove to be a better tactician than your buddy the DM.

c-Row
15-02-2012, 05:31 PM
Out of all the turn-based games, why are you picking X-COM? It has animations, so of course it's going to be really slow. Can you explain to me why turn-based can't be faster? Can you explain to me why you think Oblivion is faster than Might and Magic III?

X-COM is just as valid a pick as M&M3 and an example of a turn-based game where an existing real-time counterpart plays faster. I think we can agree upon the fact that turn-based games can be faster than real-time games depending on the implementation, but it's not an absolute truth that one is always faster than the other.


But at the same time you don't want to be playing a game where the challenge comes from battling an AI. An RPG isn't a game in which the aim is to prove to be a better tactician than your buddy the DM.

What is it then?

Wizardry
15-02-2012, 06:35 PM
X-COM is just as valid a pick as M&M3 and an example of a turn-based game where an existing real-time counterpart plays faster. I think we can agree upon the fact that turn-based games can be faster than real-time games depending on the implementation, but it's not an absolute truth that one is always faster than the other.
Which is what I was arguing. "Turn-based combat has little to do with combat speed."


What is it then?
We've already covered that. Why insist on going in circles?

TsunamiWombat
15-02-2012, 06:52 PM
Those 3 requirements sound basically reasonable, wheres the horrible troll thread I was expecting? I feel ripped off here.

'RPG Elements' is easier to say then 'Character Leveling and Upgrading Based On Choices and Abstract Experience Point Gain elements' however, so RPG is going to be slapped on anything with the latter regardless of pedantic definitions.

c-Row
15-02-2012, 07:32 PM
Those 3 requirements sound basically reasonable, wheres the horrible troll thread I was expecting? I feel ripped off here.

This thread has remained pretty much on rails indeed. Nothing wrong about that, honestly.

c-Row
15-02-2012, 07:41 PM
We've already covered that. Why insist on going in circles?

I just don't see how a classic tabletop games with or against a DM should/would be less tactical than battling an AI. Sure, my character stats define the boundaries within which my PC can act, but I still got to choose when to use which skill or talent against an opponent controlled by the DM, especially when playing with a whole party of friends which introduces possible synergy effects and thereby even more tactical options.

Wizardry
15-02-2012, 08:26 PM
I just don't see how a classic tabletop games with or against a DM should/would be less tactical than battling an AI.
But I didn't say that...

c-Row
15-02-2012, 09:02 PM
But I didn't say that...

Well, that's how I understood the remark quoted below...


An RPG isn't a game in which the aim is to prove to be a better tactician than your buddy the DM.

... and why I asked for a clarification in the next post.

Rakysh
15-02-2012, 09:05 PM
http://www.memorylast.net/content/graphics/animated-gifs/popcorn.gif
You don't understand how much I've been wanting to post that as I read though.

c-Row
15-02-2012, 09:10 PM
You don't understand how much I've been wanting to post that as I read though.

Nothing wrong with a good snack. We will be right back after the break!

Wizardry
15-02-2012, 10:04 PM
Well, that's how I understood the remark quoted below...

... and why I asked for a clarification in the next post.
No. I said that RPGs shouldn't be about proving yourself to be a better tactician than the DM. So what does this have to do with AIs having to be worse than DMs? I didn't say this at all. You've plucked it out of thin air.

c-Row
15-02-2012, 10:13 PM
No. I said that RPGs shouldn't be about proving yourself to be a better tactician than the DM. So what does this have to do with AIs having to be worse than DMs? I didn't say this at all. You've plucked it out of thin air.

I never said AIs had to be better or worse than an actual DM. Plucking things out of thin air, eh?

Wizardry
15-02-2012, 11:26 PM
I never said AIs had to be better or worse than an actual DM. Plucking things out of thin air, eh?
No, you made out that I said something about the comparative tactical requirements of pen and paper versus computer RPGs. That's the only impression I can get from this:


I just don't see how a classic tabletop games with or against a DM should/would be less tactical than battling an AI.

All I said was that RPGs shouldn't be about trying to out outmanoeuvre the DM in combat. Tactical decisions should ideally come from the units your characters are up against rather than whoever (or whatever) is actually controlling them. In other words, your tactics should be as close to what your characters would do in specific situations rather than what will exploit flaws in your playing partner (DM or AI).

c-Row
16-02-2012, 07:59 AM
All I said was that RPGs shouldn't be about trying to out outmanoeuvre the DM in combat. Tactical decisions should ideally come from the units your characters are up against rather than whoever (or whatever) is actually controlling them. In other words, your tactics should be as close to what your characters would do in specific situations rather than what will exploit flaws in your playing partner (DM or AI).

Ah, now I see. Yes, though in my opinion this happens most of the time in combat anyway. I mean, let's face it - how many people you ever played an RPG with were actually able to wear heavy armour or wield a broadsword without injuring themselves?

From my experience, though, this is in fact more of a problem in non-combat situations, especially with social skills like Diplomacy or Intimidate where most of the time people tend to act it out based on their actual skill rather than the character's, and I don't think you can completey get rid of this behaviour. The question is how the DM should react to this? Rewarding a player who stayed "in character" with more XP than the Orc who suddenly donned his CSI sunglasses and solved the mystery all by himself despite his low INT? Interrupt the conversation once the players try to be smarter than their characters and insist on rolling the dice instead?

Kadayi
16-02-2012, 01:47 PM
From my experience, though, this is in fact more of a problem in non-combat situations, especially with social skills like Diplomacy or Intimidate where most of the time people tend to act it out based on their actual skill rather than the character's, and I don't think you can completely get rid of this behaviour.

Indeed. The only way you effectively combat this is to pretty much remove storyline (or make it some nominal that decisions have no impact) and if your going down that route you might as well play Tetris.

QuantaCat
16-02-2012, 03:56 PM
Yes but seriously; who cares about what "people usually act out". It should be possible to play as your character, I totally respect and demand that.

Kadayi
16-02-2012, 05:16 PM
I totally respect and demand that.

From whom exactly? It's very well to 'demand' it, but unless you've got any ideas how to bring it about it's all for moot.

Wizardry
16-02-2012, 06:01 PM
From my experience, though, this is in fact more of a problem in non-combat situations, especially with social skills like Diplomacy or Intimidate where most of the time people tend to act it out based on their actual skill rather than the character's, and I don't think you can completey get rid of this behaviour. The question is how the DM should react to this? Rewarding a player who stayed "in character" with more XP than the Orc who suddenly donned his CSI sunglasses and solved the mystery all by himself despite his low INT? Interrupt the conversation once the players try to be smarter than their characters and insist on rolling the dice instead?
As RPGs are intellectual games rather than physical games, player intelligence will always be an advantage. Even staying in character is a mental exercise. It's hard to lay down rules to stop the player from breaking character in this way. In combat you can restrict a character using a heavy amount of rules such as the ones found in D&D. Outside combat, well, I haven't seen many RPGs that enforce rules as much there.

One option is to just focus on things like combat. Another option is to be clever and think up rules that can govern non-combat gameplay, including conversations. The other is to just accept the status quo and accept that better players will do non-combat activities significantly better than poorer players.

Personally, especially on computers (which basically run on numerical rules), the second is most appealing.

Kadayi
16-02-2012, 07:05 PM
Alternatively dump the entire idea of non combat stats entirely (because they aren't a perfect fit even in P&P sessions) and simply accept that the player drives the character in that regard and how NPCs react and respond to the character is based upon their personal relationship and history to that character as the game narrative progresses.

Wizardry
16-02-2012, 08:29 PM
Alternatively dump the entire idea of non combat stats entirely (because they aren't a perfect fit even in P&P sessions) and simply accept that the player drives the character in that regard and how NPCs react and respond to the character is based upon their personal relationship and history to that character as the game narrative progresses.
Nope. That's not feasible when a computer can't write a narrative or dynamically generate dialogue. Perhaps in 100 years.

Kadayi
16-02-2012, 08:48 PM
Nope. That's not feasible when a computer can't write a narrative or dynamically generate dialogue. Perhaps in 100 years.

No ones asking the computer to write the narrative, but it's entirely possible to gauge an NPCs relationship to a player character based on pass experience.

Wizardry
16-02-2012, 08:49 PM
No asking the computer to write the narrative, but it's entirely possible to gauge an NPCs relationship to a player character based on pass experience.
Sure, but then what happens?

Kadayi
16-02-2012, 09:03 PM
Sure, but then what happens?

The narrative options branch accordingly with relation to that NPC.

Cooper
16-02-2012, 09:13 PM
The problem in not having non-combat statistics is, and not using 'dice rolls' or an equivlaent for non-combat choices is that the best (and they far from bad) option for computer games seems to be the tree-structure of dialogue / action choices, branching like Kadayi says.

Which is fine until, as will happen, someone maps out that tree structre, so that you know -exactly- what will happen given every possible choice. The only way to obscure this for the player is to make the outcomes of any choice not easily predictable, and hope they don't use the internet...

No one has yet, outside of the Sims, produced a convincing non-deterministic structure for non-combat interaction in computer games. And the Sims relies, in its own way, on the same statistics + RNG format of RPGs. It's just that, far from a bloody catch-all 'Charisma' stat or even a small handful of them, it models dozens of them and so makes outcomes not unpredictable, but unpredictable in the immediacy of player interaction.

(Unpredictable =!= random. Unpredictable means you should have some idea of where things -might- go, but unsure exactly. Not a simply 'fail / not fail' state based upon a dice roll around one character stat.)

Heliocentric
16-02-2012, 09:39 PM
No one has yet, outside of the Sims, produced a convincing non-deterministic structure for non-combat interaction in computer games.
Dwarf Fortress called you outside, looked angry too.

While you are at it an entire field of management games like tropico and Startopia are equally unimpressed.

Do you consider uplink combat? What about football management games?

Wizardry
16-02-2012, 09:42 PM
The problem in not having non-combat statistics is, and not using 'dice rolls' or an equivlaent for non-combat choices is that the best (and they far from bad) option for computer games seems to be the tree-structure of dialogue / action choices, branching like Kadayi says.

Which is fine until, as will happen, someone maps out that tree structre, so that you know -exactly- what will happen given every possible choice. The only way to obscure this for the player is to make the outcomes of any choice not easily predictable, and hope they don't use the internet...

No one has yet, outside of the Sims, produced a convincing non-deterministic structure for non-combat interaction in computer games. And the Sims relies, in its own way, on the same statistics + RNG format of RPGs. It's just that, far from a bloody catch-all 'Charisma' stat or even a small handful of them, it models dozens of them and so makes outcomes not unpredictable, but unpredictable in the immediacy of player interaction.

(Unpredictable =!= random. Unpredictable means you should have some idea of where things -might- go, but unsure exactly. Not a simply 'fail / not fail' state based upon a dice roll around one character stat.)
Yes. But a better idea would to get more stats involved and provide more options in conversations. Then at that point it's clear that what you're ultimately trying to achieve is to make conversations as complex as combat, which is a good thing in my opinion as combat is the only thing that can easily be done the right way. It's the whole binary skill check thing that annoys me the most as it means that every single conversation needs mechanics scripted into it by the developer. Developers don't need to script skill checks into every combat encounter as each one uses the same combat model (the combat system).

Heliocentric
16-02-2012, 09:45 PM
The other is to just accept the status quo and accept that better players will do non-combat activities significantly better than poorer players.

Personally, especially on computers (which basically run on numerical rules), the second is most appealing.
What about accepting that players with better reflexes and manual dexterity ate generally better than players who have poor reflexes and manual dexterity.

Progress Quest is the only game that doesn't discriminate against stupid and slow players.

Wizardry
16-02-2012, 09:53 PM
What about accepting that players with better reflexes and manual dexterity ate generally better than players who have poor reflexes and manual dexterity.
Because that has already been eliminated with the use of turn-based gameplay. Not only does real-time combat destroy this, but things like Alpha Protocol's timed dialogue choices does too.

Representing the intelligence of a character is a lot harder to do, as role-playing games are intellectual challenges themselves. There will always be some overlap.

Kadayi
16-02-2012, 10:24 PM
Yes. But a better idea would to get more stats involved and provide more options in conversations. Then at that point it's clear that what you're ultimately trying to achieve is to make conversations as complex as combat, which is a good thing in my opinion as combat is the only thing that can easily be done the right way.

I can be the handsomest cleverest man in the kingdom, but if I've slept with the sister of my betrothed she's not going to be too happy about it when she finds out, and neither will the sisters husband. No amount of base good looks or wits is going to win her over so easily, or stop him from wanting too kick my teeth in.

Things like charisma checks made sense when you're sat around a table playing P&P and a lot of encounters are being pretty much generated on the fly by a GM responding to the actions of the players because they need a vague measure to determine initial success ('I slap the arse of the barmaid' DM rolls dice and checks against Charisma 'She gives you black stare and pours your ale over your head' ), but in a computer games the NPCs already exist, and increasingly you can assign them personal qualities (dislikes dwarves, loves poetry, etc, etc) that they will respond to. This sort of stuff is already there in games like the Sims 3 as Cooper rightly points out.*

@Cooper

Certainly people can look up narrative solutions on the internet, but the same is also true when it comes to how to defeat a boss in fight for instance (and I've certainly had to use those on occasion). There are walkthroughs available for pretty much any game lets face it, so it's hardly a black mark Vs branching narrative that they exist. In any situation you have to accept that some people will always look for a workaround.

* In all seriousness Wizardry, you should really get hold of Sims medieval. It's pretty much your dream game in a weird way tbh. It has all the emergent game play of a sandbox, it's not twitch based, there's quests and everything to do, and you can be an asshole to everyone if you want to be (or vise versa). Put aside that it's 'the sims' and explore it from a different angle. It's about 24 or so.

Wizardry
16-02-2012, 10:48 PM
I can be the handsomest cleverest man in the kingdom, but if I've slept with the sister of my betrothed she's not going to be too happy about it when she finds out, and neither will the sisters husband. No amount of base good looks or wits is going to win her over so easily, or stop him from wanting too kick my teeth in.
And what's not stat-based about relationship matrices?


Things like charisma checks made sense when you're sat around a table playing P&P and a lot of encounters are being pretty much generated on the fly by a GM responding to the actions of the players because they need a vague measure to determine initial success ('I slap the arse of the barmaid' DM rolls dice and checks against Charisma 'She gives you black stare and pours your ale over your head' ), but in a computer games the NPCs already exist, and increasingly you can assign them personal qualities (dislikes dwarves, loves poetry, etc, etc) that they will respond to. This sort of stuff is already there in games like the Sims 3 as Cooper rightly points out.*
But you've just described the Sims 3 as having what an RPG should have. So what is your argument? Are you on my side now or something?

Kadayi
16-02-2012, 11:50 PM
And what's not stat-based about relationship matrices?

There's a bit more nuance to it, and certainty of success is not so boringly predictable. If there's only the one check against the players, then having a high skill means success is almost always certain. If Casper has a ring of Charisma + 4 and is already Charisma 18 then there's not a barmaid in the land that would refuses his advances. If you build in traits and preferences (as with the Sims) the whole thing becomes a lot more interesting in terms of the dynamic.


But you've just described the Sims 3 as having what an RPG should have.

No I just told you to check out the Sims Medieval because you might find it interesting with regard to how the AI work, especially given it combines Sandbox (something you have stated you like), with questing and has emergent game play due to the behaviour and interaction of the Sims.

QuantaCat
17-02-2012, 12:36 AM
@kad I demand it from a game, it makes it great to me. (that is a saying, right? to demand something from something, as a prerequisite)

Kadayi
17-02-2012, 01:33 AM
@kad I demand it from a game, it makes it great to me. (that is a saying, right? to demand something from something, as a prerequisite)

If it already exists yes, if not then it's wishful thinking.

c-Row
17-02-2012, 08:03 AM
Yes. But a better idea would to get more stats involved and provide more options in conversations. Then at that point it's clear that what you're ultimately trying to achieve is to make conversations as complex as combat, which is a good thing in my opinion as combat is the only thing that can easily be done the right way. It's the whole binary skill check thing that annoys me the most as it means that every single conversation needs mechanics scripted into it by the developer. Developers don't need to script skill checks into every combat encounter as each one uses the same combat model (the combat system).

The problem is that a dialogue system that would use a huge library of templates rather than a hand-scripted dialogue tree per character would feel rather generic, unless said library would be very huge.

A combat system can work fine with a number of skills only, as the Human Warrior would probably use a bow the exact same way as the Tiefling Rogue and results can be easily calculated, but a dynamic dialogue system would need to take an absurdly huge number of things into account to feel realistic(*), like the character's alignment, maybe their background history (Human Warrior Hector certainly knows a thing or two about the capital's feudal family, while Tiefling Rogue Iggs probably doesn't), their likes/dislikes ("I won't talk to you, filthy dwarf!") and even their basic stats (WIS/CHA should be obvious, but a strong character would be much more self-confident in conversation than that wimpy vendor down the road).

It's not that such a system would be bad - I would love to see something that feels more dynamic and properly reacts to my character rather than giving the same pre-determined answers no matter what - but it would be one hell of a system to set up in the first place. Or do you see a good way to somewhat simplify it?


* Though you could argue whether or not said system or an RPG in general needs to be (real-world)realistic at all, or just useful/entertaining/all of the above.

QuantaCat
17-02-2012, 08:31 PM
I think a game engine toolbox called Storybricks is messing around with AI NPC behaviour trees like described here earlier. Its hitting alpha soon, but I know the developers personally, Im pretty sure they can deliver, also, I know that atleast one of them is a hardcore classic pen and paper nerd.

(you know, with generating story by relation to actions or favourability towards specific npcs etc.)

QuantaCat
23-02-2012, 05:51 PM
..and here we are again. I cant be arsed to read through the horribly unworking comment section of the main page, but here we are: skippable combat. Autoresolve anyone?