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  1. #61
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus SirKicksalot's Avatar
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    Mathematical masturbation can be done in Excel too, you don't need a game around it. Regarding the definition of RPG, I trust Chris Avellone on this matter:

    Eurogamer: Why do you think the RPG genre itself provokes such fierce discussion? I mean, you don't have a FPSCodex where people complain about John Carmack all the time.

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


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

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

  2. #62
    Lesser Hivemind Node TillEulenspiegel's Avatar
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    there was a moment where you could've made one decision that changed the ending

    They're role-playing games as long as some choice you make causes some change in the environment, so not everyone has the same experience.
    What an utterly bizarre definition. It's no less silly than the literalist interpretation of "a game where you play a role".

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

    As vinraith says:
    Every other computer game genre is defined by its mechanics, not its narrative structure. RPG's should be no different.
    Basic game mechanics define a genre. You can make an RTS that has moral choices and multiple endings, and nobody would think to call it an RPG.

  3. #63
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    I think all of those could be countered using specific details. For example, guns still use the same ammunition in Mass Effect 2 as they do in Mass Effect 2. The thermal clips are in story terms used to correct a different problem that the (now two year old) technology has. Whether the change improves the technology or not is more subjective, I would say. However that's the sort of needlessly picky geek debate that doesn't really go anywhere helpful in my experience, unless you particularly want to discuss it.

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

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

  4. #64
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus thegooseking's Avatar
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    This discussion clearly isn't going anywhere. Purists are, by definition, never very open to new ideas.

  5. #65
    Network Hub Mihkel's Avatar
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    Dno why the suprise about ME3 gameplay when Mass Effect series was a shooter (on a combat side of the things) to begin with?

  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndelNurk View Post
    You do realise how subjective that is don't you? The whole point of this thread has been that some people like some things and don't like other things. Everybody who has talked about liking Mass Effect (barring me, but I acknowledge my views are different) has said they don't like all of the mechanics. However they still like the game for other reasons. Are they wrong to like the game? If you think they are then you are committing a cardinal sin. People like different things. You do not seem to enjoy Mass Effect. I wish you well for enjoying other things. Is it not possible to let us like what we like as well?
    I would normally agree with you, but this isn't such a case. Statistics are more important in an RPG than the look of items. The reason is that the statistics are an abstraction of the items. You don't get to really see what items look like in pen and paper RPGs. Just the statistics. In other words, it's more important to know that a Long Sword +2 is better than a Long Sword +1. It's not important to know that a Long Sword +1 looks better than a Long Sword +2, or vice versa, because that's completely subjective. Statistics are the abstraction. Therefore statistics are all important. RPGs were never about the look of items. Hopefully they never will be.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  7. #67
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus thegooseking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    But as that abstraction is vital to role-playing games then it's exactly what Kadayi's point was.
    So you're defending your assertion that it's vital to role-playing games by... reiterating your assertion that it's vital to role-playing games.

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

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    The issue is that you said that the Mass Effect series has a stronger core theme than any other game. In other words, the core theme drips into more aspects of the game than any other game before it. That's a complete lie. Have you ever played Ultima IV through VI?
    No, I have not and I will grant that my particular choice of words was unhelpful given that I have not played every game in existence. As I say, it's a discussion for another time as it does not directly help with the topic of this thread.

  9. #69
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    You've heard it here first folks. Non-linear or branching narratives equate to an RPG. Looks like someone needs to go change the Heavy Rain entry on Wikipedia to reflect its new genre.
    But that’s not actually what I said is it Wizardry. Let’s have a look again: -

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry
    “Mass Effect is all about playing a role in a world where in the decisions you make have consequences for the world at large and the people around you, and your personal evolution as an entity within that game space.”
    See the important thing is ‘decisions’ and ‘consequences’ and ones that have an impact that resonate throughout the game in terms of both the world, the characters the player encounters and the characters development. I’d say my perspective is not dissimilar to that of Chris Avellone in that respect. For a game to qualify as an RPG it should be multi-faceted in terms of player experience.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by EndelNurk View Post
    You do realise how subjective that is, don’t you? The whole point of this thread has been that some people like some things and don't like other things. Everybody who has talked about liking Mass Effect (barring me, but I acknowledge my views are different) has said they don't like all of the mechanics. However they still like the game for other reasons. Are they wrong to like the game? If you think they are then you are committing a cardinal sin. People like different things. You do not seem to enjoy Mass Effect. I wish you well for enjoying other things. Is it not possible to let us like what we like as well?.
    Quote Originally Posted by thegooseking View Post
    Moving to just audio is more of an abstraction than using audio and video, so that would be, you know, the opposite of what Kadayi's point was.
    Welcome gentlemen to the wonderful world of Wizardry and the art of debate.

    Quote Originally Posted by vinraith View Post
    1) Every other computer game genre is defined by its mechanics, not its narrative structure. RPG's should be no different.
    RPGs as a concept pre-date commercial computer games as a whole. This is why as a genre they defy purely mechanistic definitions. They were not invented within the medium.

    Quote Originally Posted by vinraith View Post
    2) One of the components of a mechanical CRPG is that characters are defined by their abilities, not your reflexes.
    *rolls dice*

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaxtrasi View Post
    Although he's expressing it very badly, I do agree with Wizardry's specific point here. Mass Effect (especially 2) is not a game which communicates its theme through its mechanics especially well
    I think you’ll find each title is mechanistically consistent within itself. I’d answer each of your points in full, but this post is way longer than it needs to be. I recommend you replay both titles and pay particular attention to your mission briefings and objectives.


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

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

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

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

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

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


    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    But as that abstraction is vital to role-playing games then it's exactly what Kadayi's point was.
    I'm on about the evolution of the medium, not the abstraction: -

    Numerical divisions abstract from the game environment (magic sword +1) are a hangover from P&P RPGs, where in numerical differences was the only real way to put across distinction given the oral narrative. With present gaming technology it's been possible to put across the relative qualities of an object or a person/monster either through appearance, behavior, storytelling or by baking distinction into the actual mythology of the games universe (Rio Mark 7 Assault rifle) the necessity to employ abstracts becomes less and less
    Last edited by Kadayi; 08-06-2011 at 09:07 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Finicky View Post
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  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    *rolls dice*

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

  11. #71
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    Oh Kadayi. You always do this to yourself.
    Are you denying that RPGs don't contain an element of randomness? I'm fairly sure the gun mechanics in Fallout disagree with you as do the critical hits in Baldurs gate.

    Shit who am I kidding though. I'm attempting to have a discussion with a guy whose prepared to badmouth Chris Avellone for being a 'writer' simply because his world view on what makes an RPG (and Chris would definitely know that) happens to be distinctly different from his own take. Next up Shakespeare was just a playwright.
    Last edited by Kadayi; 08-06-2011 at 09:35 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Finicky View Post
    Kadayi will remain the worst poster on the interwebs.
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  12. #72
    Activated Node mpk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    If it's broken, scrap it? Countless games did loot well. Why couldn't Mass Effect? And why did BioWare streamline things when they could have improved things? It's this sort of lazy design that makes people hate the company and the games they produce.
    I think the point is that it wasn't important. I sold so much useless crap that I ended up with over 9million credits at the end of ME1, with nothing much to spend it on, being pretty damn happy with the loadouts for the characters I used the most. It was a superfluous system full of superfluous items - the system in ME2 is better by far.

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

  13. #73
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus vinraith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mpk View Post
    the system in ME2 is better by far.
    What system? There was one gun of each type, and then one better gun of each type. That was it. I guess if you derive no joy from finding and using upgraded gear, or from making thoughtful choices about what gear to use, it doesn't matter. For my part, the complete lack of an item system in ME2 is second only to the stripped down skill system as far as "things that disappointed me about the game."

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

  14. #74
    Activated Node mpk's Avatar
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    I think there are too many people in this thread dead set on calling a shovel a spade, and Mass Effect an RPG. It's clearly always wanted to be an action game - Guns & Conversations is a perfect alternative title.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by vinraith View Post
    What system? There was one gun of each type, and then one better gun of each type. That was it. I guess if you derive no joy from finding and using upgraded gear, or from making thoughtful choices about what gear to use, it doesn't matter. For my part, the complete lack of an item system in ME2 is second only to the stripped down skill system as far as "things that disappointed me about the game."
    Notice how the stats were stripped out too? When there's no stats, how do you tell one gun from another? Even the descriptions of the weapons are deliberately vague. I'm as much of an item-whore as the next guy, but that doesn't mean I must have a donkey with me to carry all my loot in every game. The inventory system in ME1 didn't suit the type of game it wanted to be; ME2 is far closer to a straight action game and doesn't need it, so it's removed, and is better for it.

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

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus vinraith's Avatar
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    I'm perfectly content to call it a shooter, mpk, I'd just like some more weapon options in said shooter.

  16. #76
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vinraith View Post
    The item system in ME1 was a wreck, but the solution was to have fewer items that were more likely to be useful, not to (essentially) do away with items entirely. I've played many shooters with a far more interesting variety of weapons.
    What ME1 required was a better inventory management system. The fundamental problem with it was that the base inventory was one long list rather than sub-categories, and there was no ability to list & stack items or bulk sell (iirc).Also the ability to compare items against those of team mates not presently with on the ground you would have been advantageous as well.

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Finicky View Post
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  17. #77
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus vinraith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    What ME1 required was a better inventory management system. The fundamental problem with it was that the base inventory was one long list rather than sub-categories, and there was no ability to list & stack items or bulk sell (iirc).Also the ability to compare items against those of team mates not presently with on the ground you would have been advantageous as well.
    Good point. It was a combination of way too many redundant/unecessary items and no good way to sort/sell/manage them. Fix either problem and it would have been better, but you're entirely right that better inventory management is actually the more important aspect of that.

    I wasn't overly upset about no longer having to manage every team members equipment in ME2, however I'd of liked more options with regard to personal armour and weaponry. As stated earlier on in the thread, the pre-order armours were essentially useless as the helmets all obscured your face, and the same was true of a lot of the helmets (like most people I opted for the eye scope one). I'm sure with ME3 the developers will reach a middle ground.
    IIRC the preorder armors were also hopelessly overpowered, which is never any fun anyway. Hopefully you're right that ME3 will find a middle ground, though I confess I'm (as always) skeptical. We'll see.

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

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

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

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

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

    Reduce the number of items found in the game. Make each enemy that wields a gun drop the gun they are using. Make each enemy that wears armour drop the armour they are wearing. Create a hierarchy of items so that very good items are harder to find than very crap items, unlike in Mass Effect where items were scaled to your level and thus the power distribution was constant throughout the game. Then hand place powerful prototypes (to represent powerful unique items) throughout the game, such as on bosses and specific NPCs. Overhaul the statistical system of items so that not all armour and not all weapons are represented using the same three statistics. Add other abilities to them that are usually added only through upgrades/mods.
    Last edited by Wizardry; 08-06-2011 at 10:19 PM.

  20. #80
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vinraith View Post
    Good point. It was a combination of way too many redundant/unecessary items and no good way to sort/sell/manage them. Fix either problem and it would have been better, but you're entirely right that better inventory management is actually the more important aspect of that.
    Yeah I was kind of pissed that Bioware never addressed it with a patch in the original game, but I suspect that would have been problematic as the PC version was ported by a third party.


    IIRC the preorder armors were also hopelessly overpowered, which is never any fun anyway. Hopefully you're right that ME3 will find a middle ground, though I confess I'm (as always) skeptical. We'll see.
    I'm not a huge fan of the pre-order thing tbh. But I view that as more publisher directive rather than developer driven (it's important to separate the two). Ultimately I hold that no developer wants to make a bad game (esp given how much time they sink into them these days), and I think they do listen to the player base when it comes to sequels, though sometimes their initial course correcting can go to far. It's all very goldilocks and the 3 bears. The first bed's too big, the next bed is too small and the third bed is just right. I'm optimistic for both ME3 & DA3 tbh, as I think Bioware will course correct the deficencies of both titles (lack of inventory & lack of environmental variety respectively).

    Probabilities can still mean character skill. If 10 strength results in 1-4 damage while 14 strength results in 2-5 damage, you still have randomness, but on average you do more damage. Randomness is added to statistical checks to add unpredictability. If you know that your character will always succeed at hitting an enemy and that your character will always do enough damage to kill the enemy then situations in the game become predictable.
    I'm not denying that character skill comes into things: -

    What you as a player do, is attempt to make the odds favour a successful outcome as much as possible.
    But much of it it player tactics as well. You direct the character, you decide what weapons they use, and how and when they use them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Finicky View Post
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