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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by NathanH View Post
    Perhaps a more interesting rephrasing of the question is: why aren't more pure action games using choice'n'consequence and choose-your-own-adventure approaches that are popular in modern RPGs?
    Perhaps that is the way to look at it. Obviously, RPG's are moving more towards the "action" and gradually more away from the "RPG." This is bad; I will agree with this. On the other hand, there is no functional reason why an action game cannot feature real choices, real consequences, emotional story moments, etc. No reason at all.

    And as for stats in RPG's: What I envisioned with the OP was that weapons and magic would keep their stats. These would decide the damage done with each. Well, this, and where you hit, whether you swing quick and light or heavy and slow; whether the opponent is wearing armor and what type. Each weapon would have its own physics and staggering power, as would each type of hit, each body part and every armor would reduce them by a set amount, with blocking retaining only just enough impact to know you blocked, but not enough to throw you backward.

    As for progression and character build: Amalur and Divinity II did something sort of cool when you gained a level. Amalur gave you points to spend in non-combat areas as well as combat areas; so did Divinity II. But points spent in combat areas unlocked new moves/spells/actions, for the most part. These are things you can see your character perform on screen, and their results are both visible and full of impact. No reason other RPG's should not do more of this and less of the "Congrats; +2 to damage and carry weight" sort of thing they do now.

    None of which means I am against turned based-strategic/spreadsheet-reliant harcore RPG games. I am not. I think in fact we need more of these. My point here, which I want to clarify, is this: If you're going to make an action RPG, with the way the market is leaning hard toward action, why not just make an action game, and include meaningful choices and consequences, branching stories, etc? Let the RPG be an RPG, and the action game be an action game.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    Interesting thread. So basically you want action RPGs to finally remove the only thing that ties them to RPGs? And then we can call them action games, right? I'm all for it, personally.
    What would be the point? We already have action games, and if I wanted to play them I would. I prefer ActionRPGs though (and the occasional "true" RPG, rare as they may be these days), and have no real interest in pure action games. Why remove an option if there are obviously people enjoying it?

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Subatomic View Post
    What would be the point? We already have action games, and if I wanted to play them I would. I prefer ActionRPGs though (and the occasional "true" RPG, rare as they may be these days), and have no real interest in pure action games. Why remove an option if there are obviously people enjoying it?
    Ask Blackcompany. He suggested it.

  4. #24
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    Isn't it actually going the other way though? 'Action' games introducing leveling and progression mechanics?

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    Isn't it actually going the other way though? 'Action' games introducing leveling and progression mechanics?
    Well yeah. I'd say they are both converging.

  6. #26
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Berzee's Avatar
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    But...

    there are always numbers. In action games, in fighting games. In the examples you suggested:

    How much better is a lighter sword against lighter armor? How much bleeding occurs? How long does a staggered opponent get staggered? Do stronger opponents get staggered for less time? Extra stamina damage -- how muchz? I won't ask more how muchz, as I think it's obvious. =P

    We can't get rid of number crunching and your suggestions about "extra damage" and etc. suggest that you are aware the numbers will continue to exist, too. So when you say "get rid of hidden number crunching" I assume you must mean one of two things:

    1) Un-hide ALL the numbers and simplify the equations to the barest minimum (so that there are no stats and, a certain sword just does a fixed amount of damage, like a weapon in Tribes does a fixed amount of damage). This actually makes the game just as numbery (in TF2, Tribes, other actiony games -- one must consider the numbers, but it's a fast consideration).

    or

    2) Hide the numbers totally, but keep them crunching -- so you never have to pull up a screen that asks you to increase points in a stat or a skill -- though you might notice things changing in the game as you secretly "level up" by using things.

    The first one makes the game static and easily calculable, like Tribes Ascend or something ("this sword will always do this amount of damage, I can count on that and so basically ignore it"). The second one makes the game impossible to calculate (aside from "it takes me this many hits to kill that guy currently"), but allows it to grow and change somewhat.

    Neither of them has anything to do with getting rid of numbers for health and weapon damage. That's not possible except in a game where one hit always kills. =P
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  7. #27
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    RPGs that step away from point-and-click style gameplay but keep all the numbers and such intact are trying to, as someone further up mentioned, define a character in terms that go beyond the player while still allowing for the style of play and control that so many gamers in other genres enjoy. The idea is that this character has different limitations that the person controlling it--and not just in the obvious sense that most game characters do. I might be an exceptional video-game sniper but my character might be quite bad a sniping. Having numbers in the background interfering with my shots allow me to enjoy the visceral pleasures of shooter or platformer style controls while also enjoying a character that is not artificially assisted in firing a sniper rifle by my past experience with this type of game. You could certainly argue that the point-and-click style of gameplay is more suited to this particular kind of player/character separation, but I think it would be a lot more interesting for us to talk about how to tie these disparate mechanics together smoothly rather than assume there is something inherently wrong with this particular breed of mechanical hybrid (as Wizardry and you seem to be doing, Blackcompany).

    For example, what are some other ways we could define characters in such a way? How else could we make distinctions between player skills and character skills? At the most basic level, we could take a more in depth look at the variety of tabletop RPGs out there and pick apart some of the mechanics that haven't made their way into video gaming to try and understand if the particular numerical definitions of character ability are what's dragging these sorts of games down for you. Or we could look at how to hide the numbers (they aren't going anywhere--games are computerized) in a way that still allows for player-driven progression and development of the character's mechanical abilities.

    If you are not interested in player-driven progression and development of character abilities ... then we aren't really discussing mechanical flaws or outmoded design methods here. We're discussing wildly disparate design goals that have every reason to coexist. In other words, perhaps these games achieve exactly what they want to achieve and just aren't for you.

  8. #28
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berzee View Post
    But...

    there are always numbers. In action games, in fighting games. In the examples you suggested:

    How much better is a lighter sword against lighter armor? How much bleeding occurs? How long does a staggered opponent get staggered? Do stronger opponents get staggered for less time? Extra stamina damage -- how muchz? I won't ask more how muchz, as I think it's obvious. =P
    You beat me to it. I had to edit my post, thunder stolen. :P

    Competitive fighting-game players quite often understand those hidden numbers fluently. I have a friend who used to compete in tournaments and still remembers pixel ranges, charge-up times, and damage comparisons for half the moves in Street Fighter IV. And he sounds an awful lot like my friends who play D&D (and related PC games) when he talks about the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackcompany View Post
    None of which means I am against turned based-strategic/spreadsheet-reliant harcore RPG games. I am not. I think in fact we need more of these. My point here, which I want to clarify, is this: If you're going to make an action RPG, with the way the market is leaning hard toward action, why not just make an action game, and include meaningful choices and consequences, branching stories, etc? Let the RPG be an RPG, and the action game be an action game.

    In my opinion, that's poor game design. My biggest problem with Mass Effect was exactly that: there was a story-telling game and an action game and they didn't communicate much. I'd much rather play one game with nicely integrated systems. This doesn't mean there can't be mechanics that are more narrative-oriented or more action-orinted or more RPG-esque within the game. But I feel you are describing a fundamentally poor approach to game design that results in a lot of high-production near-misses. If it is fundamentally an action game, what are the meaningful choices and consequences doing in there? If it is fundamentally and action game with meaningful choices and consequences ... we can't very well just "let the RPG be an RPG, and the action game be an action game." If you want a coherent experience, it should feel like one-game not several.
    Last edited by gwathdring; 27-05-2012 at 04:34 AM.

  9. #29
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwathdring View Post
    If it is fundamentally an action game, what are the meaningful choices and consequences doing in there? If it is fundamentally and action game with meaningful choices and consequences ... we can't very well just "let the RPG be an RPG, and the action game be an action game." If you want a coherent experience, it should feel like one-game not several.
    I don't like that people think "action" and "RPG" are mutually exclusive.

    It is increasingly clear that when certain grognards say "RPG" what they mean is a game where the numbers are explicit. You have this many hitpoints, and every strike this enemy hits you with this ability will take away this many hitpoints. You have ultimate control over every aspect of the "simulation," but the "simulation" must be as simple as possible so that you don't get bogged down parsing the numbers.

    I find this to be an inherent limitation. Furthermore, I find that every time a game is made where the numbers are crunched in the background on the fly, it is criticized for being "simplified" or "action-y" when the opposite is the case. Anybody who has tried to work through melee with grapple mechanics or reach in a traditional RPG knows how much more elegant "action RPGs" are in that regard.

    The computer's simply a more effective simulator than any system meant to be handled by us. Why are we hamstringing it?
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  10. #30
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    I agree about the perceptions of what an RPG is. There's nothing inherently wrong with borrowing mechanics from RPGs, RTS games, shooters, and plat-formers all in one game. We'd be stuck with a lot of really boring and repetitive games if genres hadn't been recreating themselves, merging, converging and generally mucking about.

    That said, I don't see the explicitly numerical design of many RPGs as hamstringing. Some players really enjoy the mechanical systems of AD&D and it's ilk. We aren't holding games back by providing them with explicit numerical content in their games. What I do see as hamstringing is the specific numerical systems chosen for many of these games. The whole "Attribute+Skill" thing only works for a small subset of the games that use it. There are a lot of ways to describe characters numerically and it feels like more games that go the classic RPG route should build their numerical system from the ground up to fit the game's aesthetics rather than start with established RPG traditions and work sideways until it vaguely intersects with the game being built.

    More importantly, I suppose, a lot of players aren't looking for a simulator. Those players don't necessarily need or want rules too complicated for them to understand the inner workings. Just because computers CAN be incredibly complex simulators doesn't mean RPGs should be any more than it means hidden object games should be.

    For my personal play style I think I agree with you significantly more than I do at the game-design level. I tend to really appreciate the streamlining that occurs in "action-y" RPGs. Conversely I usually end up hating point-based systems. I'm fine picking skill upgrades, picking proportional allocations of skill and attribute points and what-not ... but I don't like putting individual points into my attributes or having my character arbitrarily understand the nuances of The Belt of Firestarting without any magical ability whatsoever--down to 1% differences in protective ability. For me, it starts feeling insincere and unimportant. I just don't care enough about the numbers. I recognize, however, that this isn't usually a failure of the game's design but rather something that sets me apart from the game's target audience.
    Last edited by gwathdring; 27-05-2012 at 06:56 AM.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwathdring View Post
    Some players really enjoy the mechanical systems of AD&D and it's ilk.
    Some players also like to call those types of systems "true" RPGs, when all they are are mere means to solve questions of combat resolution, with some nod towards simulation. Not only are those systems not the whole "RPG" - the 'gist' would be closer to cooperative storytelling rather than dungeon-crawling - but we have better systems now: Computers can do more than roll dice.
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  12. #32
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    You obviously don't understand "grognards" very well, Nalano, so kindly stop being an insolent little prick about it.

    In other news, I'm amused that it seems to be a spammer that necroed this thread.
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

  13. #33
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NathanH View Post
    You obviously don't understand "grognards" very well, Nalano, so kindly stop being an insolent little prick about it.
    If all you have to retaliate with is a "you don't know me" whine, then you can kindly either shaddup about pricks or stop waving yours.
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  14. #34
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    Edit: OK, I feel better now, I'll stop acting immature now.
    Last edited by NathanH; 27-05-2012 at 12:57 PM.
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

  15. #35
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    That they can. I would love to see games invent some interesting new mechanics or borrow mechanics from some of the more flavorful tabletop systems out there. I want to see what sort of system would evolve from putting the ideas of Ghost Echo into a video game.

    The trouble here of course is that, as you allude, RPGs outside of the digital realm really aren't about all the numbers and the dice and such. You lose what most of them are about when you translate into a single-player, digital experience. As such, many of these systems of highly effective character description simply don't apply well to PC games in the same way that a lot of old-school RPG systems don't apply well to a lot of the more narrative-focuse and flexible games of today (and even yesterday to a point). So that leaves us abandoning this style of character description altogether or coming up with something new that meets the needs of people who enjoy these mechanics without preventing the proper function of new mechanics being blended into more recent RPGs.
    Last edited by gwathdring; 28-05-2012 at 12:09 AM.

  16. #36
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    Has there been a game that punishes you for acting outside an alignment you choose for the character at creation? I know a lot of classic RPGs would alter your alignment, but it would be interesting if there was an elegant way to sort of "force" role playing by having alignment choice at creation, then when you act outside of that alignment (which is going to be really hard for a game to determine properly...if it can even be done) you lose experience...or something. Some new stat that represents how well you stay within your prescribed alignment...

    On second thought this may actually take away from role playing by gamerizing it.

  17. #37
    My problem with action RPGs is mostly with the use of traditional hit point systems. It's frustrating to me when I hit a regular human in the face with an axe or a machine gun or a fireball and that person doesn't just die. This is more acceptable to me in turn-based RPGs because I understand that there is a certain degree of abstraction, but once you start getting closer to an action game it no longer "feels" right to me. I wish more action RPGs would take a cue from Bushido Blade.

    Maybe this isn't really an RPG issue, though. I feel this way about a lot of regular action games.

  18. #38
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    I totally agree, Birdman. I've always felt this way about straight action games, too. I don't always want insta-kills, but games like UT always felt like I just wasn't really doing anything with my gun... unless it was a flak cannon alt fired :D

    I think I prefer the abstraction method you described. Don't try to show me all the action, because it is just going to interfere with that "suspension of disbelief" in some way.

    I think it would be fun to play an RPG that based combat around hexes like the new civ-likes, but on a tactical RPG scale. And I've always prefered the fallout style tactical maps, which are just grid overlays on the actual game world, as opposed to loading a battle screen.

  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwathdring View Post
    That said, I don't see the explicitly numerical design of many RPGs as hamstringing. Some players really enjoy the mechanical systems of AD&D and it's ilk. We aren't holding games back by providing them with explicit numerical content in their games.
    Though we are perhaps deviating from it being an RPG. When you think about it, the entire purpose of the system is to introduce unpredictability into a co-operative narrative (i.e. you may hit or miss the orc). Given computers are notoriously bad at being unpredictable it makes sense in many ways to retain this by hiding the numbers from the player.

  20. #40
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sparkasaurusmex's Avatar
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    Have you guys tried the Age Of Decadence beta/demo? I feel like it is a modernization of the character-based RPG. It has a lot of flaws but many strengths. Actually many of its flaws are either beta issues to be fixed or subjective, taste based issues.

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