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  1. #41
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Berzee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tikey View Post
    How can you reward exploration without enforcing that kind of behaviour is beyond me.
    Yeah, that's quite true...maybe the way is just to make the worthwhile-explorable places be places you'd actually be proud to explore. It goes back to that "weird behavior for a person" thing...in real life, someone who loves exploring goes to really cool places, or hidden places, or out of the way places, and usually without becoming a burglar. =) In DX1 there *are* a few really cool places to stumble across, but it largely amounts to strip-mining apartments for soy food. (And yet it's still the funnest thing...lol).


    Quote Originally Posted by Tikey
    That's a great idea. You could even stealthy steal all the enemy ammo before a confrontation. Weakening them (like destroying the enemy resource collectors in an RTS).
    That would be awesome. :D You're right about it being a rather difficult thing to do, though. Anytime you add a whole new level of simulation to NPCs, you'll get that. o_O

    Haha, what if you could play as, essentially, the office thief from Deus Ex 1, just prowling around the building takin' stuff and selling it to secret agents? Solve the problem by making the protagonist *actually be* an obsessively thorough larcenist.

  2. #42
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Berzee's Avatar
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    On a side note...

    has anyone ever tried talking to people in real life in the same way you talk to NPCs in a conversation-heavy RPG or Guns n' Conversation game? I haven't been brave enough to try it with strangers, but it's still good to do to unsuspecting friends.

    "Hello! How are you today? What do you know about Jason? What can you tell me about Dr. Sterling? Heard any good rumours lately? Heard any more rumours lately? Heard of any work to do around here? What can you tell me about this bracelet? I'm looking for a thief. I'm looking for the mayor. Tell me about your family. Heard any rumours lately? Nevermind."

    edit: "I saw a mudcrab the other day."

  3. #43
    Network Hub SMiD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berzee View Post
    On a side note...

    has anyone ever tried talking to people in real life in the same way you talk to NPCs in a conversation-heavy RPG or Guns n' Conversation game? I haven't been brave enough to try it with strangers, but it's still good to do to unsuspecting friends.

    "Hello! How are you today? What do you know about Jason? What can you tell me about Dr. Sterling? Heard any good rumours lately? Heard any more rumours lately? Heard of any work to do around here? What can you tell me about this bracelet? I'm looking for a thief. I'm looking for the mayor. Tell me about your family. Heard any rumours lately? Nevermind."

    edit: "I saw a mudcrab the other day."
    Berzee, I'm almost positive that's a punched ticket to the nut-house. I would definitely watch footage of this.

  4. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Wisq View Post
    Problem here is, what happens if the player doesn't find the vent and just stealths past the three guys? Isn't that potentially harder, and potentially worth even more? How do you factor that in?
    5. Not killing or stunning anyone and not going through the vent: 175 XP

    That would work wouldn't it?

  5. #45
    Lesser Hivemind Node Drinking with Skeletons's Avatar
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    I think it sometimes depends on the context which the game provides for its XP system. In Human Revolution, you are explicitly told after the first mission (very minor spoiler) that all of the available augmentations are already in place but not activated so that Jensen's body can adjust. The vent XP example, while not the most credible implementation of XP rewards in a game, makes a certain degree of sense if thought of as Jensen becoming reacquainted with his body and professional life as opposed to becoming better in a specific skill. In addition to making sense of the fact that you can upgrade these advanced systems on the fly despite the game establishing that augmentation involves extensive and complex surgery, this viewpoint allows any action that would have required some thought on the player's part to contribute XP.

    To look at another example of XP as contextual, I would suggest, of all things, Bulletstorm. Certainly not an RPG, but you do earn points for defeating enemies which can be applied to unlocking and improving your weapons. The game explains that your performance is being evaluated by your high-tech whip weapon: the better you perform, the more points you get, and the more guns and ammo you can purchase. The game tends to reward more points for kills which are ammo-efficient (such as kicking someone into spikes instead of shooting them) and multiplies points for group kills, so there's a degree of believability to the system. The fact that you get more XP for following a QTE of crossing a rope bridge than simply and uncreatively killing an enemy reinforces the system and helps push the idea that you need skill to get points rather than points to get skill.

    Both of these games make more sense in their use of XP than, say, Fallout: New Vegas, which simply gives you a bunch of all purpose XP for completing quests with little thought as to what deserves more or less XP beyond creating a mostly balanced progression, let alone offering any possible explanation for why you earn those points in the first place.

    So besides being a very "gamey" mechanic, clearly designed to encourage you to play the game in a certain way and/or to allow you to progress, XP can be integrated into the gameplay in a way that makes sense in context instead of merely being a necessary abstraction, and I think it opens up an interesting avenue of criticism for RPGs and games which incorporate RPG elements.

  6. #46
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Tikey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Land Squid View Post
    5. Not killing or stunning anyone and not going through the vent: 175 XP

    That would work wouldn't it?
    Problem is that it works until someone does something that the devs didn't though first, and with games like DX it can happen a lot.

    You might not kill or stunt them but run pass them, soak up the bullets and keep on running. You didn't stealth, you didn't fight you just run. So maybe that isn't worth more XP than stealthing through.

  7. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Tikey View Post
    Problem is that it works until someone does something that the devs didn't though first, and with games like DX it can happen a lot.

    You might not kill or stunt them but run pass them, soak up the bullets and keep on running. You didn't stealth, you didn't fight you just run. So maybe that isn't worth more XP than stealthing through.
    XP for bravery?

  8. #48
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Tikey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Land Squid View Post
    XP for bravery?
    Ahaha, that be great, but not the point I'm trying to make.
    In order to assign different values for xp for different things you should first think and define all the things you can make and that can be a little difficult in the "immersive sim" genre. It's something that happens to HR in minor degree because it only assigns xp for fewer variables.
    It's an interesting system, but seem to be very limiting.

  9. #49
    Activated Node Wisq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berzee View Post
    The thing is, you have already broken into the house. Of course you have, if you're playing optimally. You broke into that house because it was there, because even if it only has soy food in it, you need to *know*. And you know it'll be a good house to break into, because the door is strong; and of course nobody on Earth buys a strong lock unless it's to give JC Denton a good diversion. So when the guy gives you the tip about the arms dealer, you start to realize that if you were a *normal* person who doesn't eat up every row of offices or houses like a corn-on-the-cob, it would have actually been a really great tip. It would help you locate a useful hotspot in the midst of a normal city.
    Yeah, the game tries to give you pointers to these cool locations, but the problem is that it's waaay more efficient to break in to every house I see (so I'm methodically looting the entire city) than to try to follow a dozen different leads around town.

    I think you can chalk this up to the fact that there's simply not enough places to search. If there were hundreds (or even thousands, someday) of apartments to search, most of which contain nothing useful (not even a few credits people have wallets and bank cards, you know), and all of which have moderately difficult locks (that give you 0 XP or require an item to pick), you wouldn't have to put fancy locks on the important ones security by obscurity.

    So I guess it boils down to, open-world games aren't open-world enough yet? We loot every container we find and every room we come across because we know that we're going to find something. Take that away (or make it a very low chance) and things get a little more immersive.

    It's not all just a kleptomania problem, though that's the most noticeable case of weirdness. But as has been said, talking to EVERYONE you see, about EVERYTHING you can think of, until they stop talking to you altogether, is weird.
    Yeah, it would be nice if they severely limited your conversation options with complete strangers. Like, unless there's some crisis going on in the area right now that you can talk about, your options are basically to ask for directions or something. Or, better yet, they allow you to be a conversational weirdo, but word starts to spread and soon you find people are actively avoiding you.

    In fact it sometimes seems like walking past that line of seemingly-ordinary offices without exploring it would be a BAD thing to do (in the sense of making you a "bad game-player")...because the developers designed each of those offices for you to see, and if you walk past the doors without opening them, that's like throwing part of their creation into the garbage.
    Yeah, I don't think we'll ever get past this until we have hundreds of (procedurally generated?) offices to walk past, i.e. the developers designed those offices for you to not see.

    What if, stealing a pistol or some ammo or a medkit actually affects the NPC who it belonged to? Maybe you steal some ammo from the locker room and then, when it comes time for the siege, all your allies run out of ammo in like 5 seconds and start yelling "Need Ammo!!! Where are my boolets!?" because the boolets are in your cargo pants of infinite capacity.
    Interesting idea. There's a way to take it even further, and deal with theft of other stuff: Adjust the market to match. You can come up with all kinds of rationale. Did you steal a bunch of credits? Well, your stuff sells for less now, because the black market guy has no buyers, and he knows you have cash so he's charging an arm and a leg for everything to make up for his losses. Steal a bunch of ammo? HQ can't give you any for your next mission because someone in shipping "misplaced" the last shipment to make a little cash, and the black market guy is out because everyone's buying.

  10. #50
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Fumarole's Avatar
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    I think that an ideal RPG would award XP solely for accomplishing quests. An example would be bandits are raiding some villagers. Some options for handling this scenario could be:

    * kill the bandits
    * talk/intimidate the bandits into stopping/leaving
    * bribe the bandits into stopping/leaving
    * sneak into the bandit camp and recover intelligence that influences a third party to intervene on the villagers' behalf

    Thus leaving the player with plenty of opportunity to handle the situation as they see fit, with multiple non-combat options. I don't necessarily think every quest should be set up this way (quests themed around a thieves guild would most likely focus around stealth options), but certainly the majority of them should.
    Last edited by Fumarole; 24-08-2011 at 09:50 PM.

  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fumarole View Post
    I think that an ideal RPG would award XP solely for accomplishing quests. An example would be bandits are raiding some villagers. Some options for handling this scenario could be:

    * kill the bandits
    * talk/intimidate the bandits into stopping/leaving
    * bribe the bandits into stopping/leaving
    * sneak into the bandit camp and recover intelligence that influences a third party to intervene on the villagers' behalf

    Thus leaving the player with plenty of opportunity to handle the situation as they see fit, with multiple non-combat options. I don't necessarily think every quest should be set up this way (quests themed around a thieves guild would most likely focus around stealth options), but certainly the majority of them should.
    I agree. RPGs should reward players for completing objectives. They shouldn't reward players for playing in developer constrained ways. The player should be free to improvise by completing quests in unexpected ways using their character's skills. Giving them experience on quest completion is all that needs to be done. No need to punish players.

  12. #52
    Lesser Hivemind Node Keep's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fumarole View Post
    I think that an ideal RPG would award XP solely for accomplishing quests.
    I can see the ludic sense behind this, but it's at such a remove from reality that personally I find it hard to accept.

    In order to learn the skill 'Basic Proficiency in French' I have to complete the quest 'End Of Year Exams'. That's not at all how our experience and skills come about.

    I'd lean towards games being a simulation of something real, so I'd prefer XP be directly awarded for practising (or studying, or even observing) the relevant skills.

    The problem is, how do you curtail the completionist, as in OP's example, from breaking that simulation?

  13. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    I agree. RPGs should reward players for completing objectives. They shouldn't reward players for playing in developer constrained ways. The player should be free to improvise by completing quests in unexpected ways using their character's skills. Giving them experience on quest completion is all that needs to be done. No need to punish players.
    I'm half with you on that. For something like Deus Ex I like the old-fashioned objectives system. You get Primary objectives (main quests) and finishing them gets you XP. Secondary objectives that act as side quests, with extra XP available, and then tertiary objectives that are hidden at first, but can be discovered through exploration, eavesdropping, etc.

    But then I would be tempted to add some sort of explicit bonus system with objectives like "don't get spotted", "kill everyone" or so on. Some of which are mutually exclusive.

    Or just use the Alpha Protocol system - playing in a certain way gets you perks that make you better at playing that way.

  14. #54
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Lambchops's Avatar
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    Great thread guys, I do always enjoy a bit of levelling system/gaming incongruities chat. Oh and Berzee, you absolutely have to talk to someone like that, it would be hilarious. Kind of reminded me of sketch that I'm pretty sure I saw once (but can't find so I could be imagining it) where somebody stood around like an RPG NPC trying to hand out quests to strangers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wisq View Post
    Y
    Yeah, I don't think we'll ever get past this until we have hundreds of (procedurally generated?) offices to walk past, i.e. the developers designed those offices for you to not see.
    This just makes me hope that Introversion's Subversion is good. They were working on a lot of procedural city/building generation tech.

    @ Topic

    I can't help but, as I often do when this sort of topic comes up, think of Alpha Protocol in all of its almost brilliant glory. If I remember rightly it doled out XP on mission completion regardless of how you accomplished it, which depended on your skills far in advance of player skill/reflexes (note: I haven't played it through more than once but ccertainly I've heard people attest that stealth is nigh on impossible to the point of annoyingly omniscient enemies without upgrading that skill). Certianly if I chose to switch to automatic weapons or melee combat I couldn't do fuck all damage whereas my pistol was devestating and I could run around invisibly (of course the from behind knock out did negate the need for a high melee skill). Certainly the thought was there to the sort of systems a lot of people are suggesting, unfortunately the balance of the skills themselves just wasn't quite right. Perhaps not so much that they were too powerful (you should be powerful by the end of an RPG) more that the power just felt a little, well, silly.

    Another thing they did right was the intel system. instead of buying a fancy new gun you could put your cash towards little boosts for that specific mission that made absolute sense within the world of the game. A double agent can hide you a sniper rifle. Excellent stuff! You can't carry it around with you (again makes sense) but it does give you the reward of being able to make life easy for yourself in one specific section of the level, nudging you to a certain way of playing. If you know you're a stealth player then that's not the option for you, so perhaps you spend some cash on more gadgets or a map to aid your sneaking. It's a well thought out system (though again perhaps they made money just a bit too readily available by mid game to actually force you to make choices).

    Again though, the things that work well for Alpha Protocol work well because it's a fairly linear mission based game rather than open world. This makes things easier to control as there's nowhere for you to wander off for (beyond OCD in collecting dossiers, I guess), you are very mission orientated.

    Another subject that has been raised is the dissonance between the players and the characters actions making sense. One game (not an RPG though!) that did this well for me was Hitman: Blood Money (really need to get around to playing more of it than the first three missions!). My goal was to kill someone. i'd maybe have one side goal to make it look like an accident. Then get the fuck out. I'm dumped in a fairly open level with the information and tools I need and off I go. So there is generally no incentive to explore everywhere. All that matters is the mission. Going off track just leads to uneccessary risk. I don't want it. Instantly my general tendency for exploration not related to the task at hand is quelled. Which is exactly the way my character would be thinking. it's a nicely designed concept like that, though obviously not generally applicable, particularly to true open worlds.

    So I guess another point of this is that levelling systems/encouraging the player to fill a role rather than "game" the systems and all that jazz is a much harder task to achieve with an open world game rather than a level based system. As if open worlds weren't a technical challenge enough already! Pity the poor game designers and developers working on these things, they've got a fairly tricky task.

  15. #55
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Fumarole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keep View Post
    In order to learn the skill 'Basic Proficiency in French' I have to complete the quest 'End Of Year Exams'. That's not at all how our experience and skills come about.
    It may not a realistic representation of actual learning, but at least the quest based system rewards roleplaying in a variety of ways. An alternative would be to have everything skill based, with such skills (to use my example above) as Stabbing, Negotiating, Bribing and Sneaking. Of course taken to the extreme you have games like Dungeon Master wherein you can game the system by repeatedly punching walls or throwing arrows at staircases to raise your skills.

    I can't think of any game that combines the two systems just right now, but surely there has to be at least one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keep View Post
    The problem is, how do you curtail the completionist, as in OP's example, from breaking that simulation?
    I don't think there is an easy answer to that using skill-based or exploration-based reward systems.

  16. #56
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Lambchops's Avatar
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    Re reading myself banging on about Alpha Protocol always makes me laugh. I think it becomes a better game with more clever ideas the longer and longer the time is since I've played it. I'm sure it would only disappoint me if I did play it again and it's this that stops me. More adeptly balanced skills, some properly memorable characters (most importantly a better main one), a slightly more gripping plot, a bit less shonky AI and it would have easily been one of my favourite games. It's the poor man's Bloodlines really and I guess there's no shame in that.

  17. #57
    Lesser Hivemind Node Keep's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fumarole View Post
    It may not a realistic representation of actual learning, but at least the quest based system rewards roleplaying in a variety of ways. An alternative would be to have everything skill based, with such skills (to use my example above) as Stabbing, Negotiating, Bribing and Sneaking. Of course taken to the extreme you have games like Dungeon Master wherein you can game the system by repeatedly punching walls or throwing arrows at staircases to raise your skills.
    Yeah, that's the problem with the direction I'm facing - the system is all too gameable.

    But then, why does this direction care about checking against the system being gameable?

  18. #58
    I don't think you need a system that is impossible to 'game', you just need some sort of barrier to gaming the system so that you never feel compelled to do it. That way people want to game the system can, and people who don't like being compelled to do that sort of thing can ignore it. I have heard of people constantly jumping for ages in oblivion, until they get an acrobatics skill of 100. Yes that improves your character, but it is not something I ever felt compelled to do, because I am not going to spend hours just pressing E/spacebar.
    Last edited by Land Squid; 24-08-2011 at 11:34 PM. Reason: Rewording

  19. #59
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus sinister agent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    I'd say the solution to Oblivion's horrible imbalancing vis a vis levels AND skill gain would be to simply remove levels.
    I think more games should experiment with removing levels altogether. They're a very unnatural and dissatisfying abstraction. You should know how dangerous something is by its appearance, behaviour, or reputation, not have to wait until it attacks and see how much damage it does.

    Some fallout 3 and oblivion mods had wildlife with different sizes according to their strength, with individual stats, instead of just having a level 1 arsebiter be identical to a level 9 arsebiter until the latter ripped your face off. It worked well.

    Sticking with just skills, it'd also mean that you might be able to take something out even if it was several levels above you, IF you were an ace shot or a dab hand at magic or whatever.

    Darklands did this well, also. No levels; just skills and some stats. You wouldn't walk into a fight knowing you'd win automatically because you were higher level - your extremely talented alchemist could still be in trouble if he didn't have the skill to defend himself against a two-bit thug with an axe.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    Pretty much. 'Course, there are bad and easily-exploited mechanics for trying approximate the consequences of theft. The "karma" mechanic in the latter-day Fallout games comes to mind and the "stolen" tag in Morrowind and Oblivion are equally bad, because they both assume an omniscient deity who knows who owned what you pilfered and more or less informs the entire world of it instantly.

    They're poor substitutes to a guy coming in, noticing stuff is missing, and putting two and two together when he sees you down the street wearing his shoes and selling his stereo. But I still think the theft thing is a subset of the fact that every merchant in the world is selling things to you at a 1000% markup.
    Yeah, I agree. Those alternatives are quite clunky and dissatisfying, although they're at least good attempts.

    As to your latter point, I'm sure the Gothic games did something like that . It may have only been at certain points (I didn't play them extensively), but I remember sneaking into a house and stealing stuff, and then the next day when I spoke to its owner, he gave me a mouthful because he found it pretty damn suspicious that one day I appeared and started chatting, then the next all his stuff was gone.

    Perhaps you could have a system whereby if you're displaying a stolen thing, its owner can recognise it. Your inventory would be another matter (though I maintain that inventories should in general be smaller than they are in most RPGs), but then perhaps you could have a chance that anyone who's been ripped off can accuse you of theft if they suspect you - a percentage chance based on your reputation or relationship with them, say.

    Berzee - I won't paste your whole post, but I like the sound of your "NPCs actually need that stuff and will notice if it disappears" thing. Be a pain to programme perhaps, but hell, it's 2011. Surely someone can pull it off.

  20. #60
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Berzee's Avatar
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    Lambchops, your comments about Hitman: Blood Money (I DL'ed the demo and it crashed, by the way :( I should try again...) made me think...because you mentioned that the reason you didn't try to "game" the system was because it was too risky to the mission, 'cuz you were thinking like a hitman. =P But as you also note, open-world games are a different business.

    I am in favor of open world games that let you look at and pick up everything, of course. Those are fun but I don't want them to be the *only* kind of open world games. =) So I had this crazy thinking event in my mind, and even though it is silly I will say it anyway...

    There are no Main Missions really in open world games (until you want there to be), but what is -- bear with me here now, internet -- what if there was an open world game with no loading? Or maybe you can load from like, the beginning of the last dungeon, but that's it. Because I think a lot of the "I must see EVERYTHING" comes from the knowledge that you can always go back. I know all the reasons to hate games that don't let you quickload, yeah; this game would have those problems =) But it would also be an open world game where "you only get one shot". In such a world you might be apt to focus more on what's important to you, instead of trying to absorb the whole planet.

    But that's no guarantee I would play it ;) it might not be *fun* to have your actions be so permanent. Who can know?

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