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  1. #61
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    OK, I think that distinction makes sense. Good stuff.
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by NathanH View Post
    OK, I think that distinction makes sense. Good stuff.
    I've edited my post.

  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by NathanH View Post
    Every time I level up I'm going to try every plausible possibility until I've worked out what the rule is? Why not tell me the rule to start with?
    Why not simply make a decision and deal with the consequences? In fact, isn't it somewhat counteractive to the whole idea of playing an RPG if you're always going to go with the best choice? If everyone is doing that, at what point do you have a different character to anyone else?
    RPG characters usually start out pretty competent at their fields
    No, they start at level 1. It is in fact one of the great absurdities people got bored of joking about ten years ago; the backstory might state you're a mighty warrior capable of demolishing entire armies with only your left buttcheek, but according to the game your combat abilities are sorely tested by a random street thug with a knife. To be fair though it's something many tabletop games also suffer from (though not all).
    I guess it would be most suitable for a roguelike, since you'd probably want it to be a game where you restart a lot.
    Depends on the game. Few RPGs demand an absolutely optimal build, even aRPGs which usually see the most obsession towards it. Take something like Fallout for example; you can specialise in a given area and you'll get through the game. But it's equally possible to generalise and still finish the game. Neither is necessarily the better choice (ultimately it's a question of giving up potential routes or maximising a given route) and you're going to have a different experience with one type of character than you would with another. Given if you're hiding the system it's not even possible to know whether you're playing an optimal build or not, why would it matter? After all, without seeing the system then you're going to be making choices according to what you think the character would do (or what looks more fun to you as a player), is that not closer to an actual roleplaying game?

    Quote Originally Posted by SanguineAngel View Post
    Well as NathanH pointed out - that would be poor design and inefficient and probably not a lot of fun. Really, if you never know how the mechanics work you'd still be guessing at the effect after the fact.
    Depends on how it's presented. We're obviously on a hiding to nothing by using the example of choosing between a point of dexterity or strength in a game where we're hiding the system - somewhat odd :)
    The point I was trying to get across is that the ultimate 'aim' of a roleplaying game is to roleplay. A key part of that is your interpretation of the character. To use the rather odd example, if you're picturing your character as a lithe rogue type, then naturally you should go for the increase in dexterity. Which would be fitting with the goal of roleplaying. If you instead opt for strength so you can wear heavier armour, then you're no longer roleplaying (i.e. making choices according to the character), you're gaming the system.
    There's also a distinction to be made between having zero knowledge and giving the player a hazy overview. You merely need to obfuscate the system, not necessarily leave the player clueless. We can say higher strength makes you a better fighter while higher dexterity makes you a better thief, but not explain precisely how much or even why it does so. You then have enough information to make a general choice, but not enough to 'play the system'.
    We don't start any game like that because we are thrown into the game world as a fully functioning entity, not a child able to spend a few years figuring those basics out.
    It depends on the game, but as I said in reply to Nathan traditionally the whole point of a character starting at level 1 is to replicate this. So in that sense all we're doing is removing the abstraction - Slough is not a mighty warrior because he's only level 1 and thus has low stats; he's not a mighty warrior because he lacks the experience and knowledge to do much more than swing a weapon and hope for the best. Eventually he will be a mighty warrior because he'll hit level 50; eventually he'll be a mighty warrior because he's learned how to utilise his weapons and abilities to the best effect.
    However, I can see the reasoning for so many RPGs to display their mechanical workings in the way that they do. They are attempting to simulate the knowledge that character possesses about themselves and the world for the player.
    I'm not advocating every RPG immediately hide it's system either. Action RPGs for example are pretty much entirely about playing the system, I'm fine with that. The problem is in the more narrative oriented ones because then the system becomes a limitation precisely because you get a disconnect between the narrative and the actual mechanics/gameplay. At the start of The Witcher 2 for example Geralt is an experienced, master swordsman who has taken on everything from marauding terrorists to unnatural monsters and slaughtered them all. According to the game system however he can't even do something as simple as effectively parry a blow without levelling up a bit. There is an argument that this is simply bad writing, but it's only a problem because I can open the character sheet right at the start and see that there's two upgrades to parrying which reduce the incoming damage by a specific percentage. You can overcome a lot of this disconnect by simply removing the system description - say they improve my ability to parry without explaining how. I can still see it will improve my parry, if I'm particularly astute I could probably guess at what it does after taking it, but Geralt has moved from a master swordsman who can't even effectively parry to a master swordsman who can improve his ability to defend himself. It's a relatively subtle change, but it completely changes the context.
    I think that roleplaying does require an understanding of the system so that you can effectively gauge your character's position within the simulated world. I don't think the player needs an all seeing eye or anything - we have a DM for a reason - but I do think an understanding of the system is important.
    I don't think it's a disagreement on understanding the system, more the depth of that understanding and how the information is fed back to the player. The problem as I see it is that we give the player an all seeing eye by showing the bare bones of the system, what would be better instead is to substitute a more fuzzy understanding of the system. In real life most people understand gravity, but most of us can't give a precise distance before a fall becomes fatal. The same should apply to RPGs, my character should know hitting things with a sword will eventually prove fatal, but not the precise number of swings required before the victim dies.

  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by archonsod View Post
    if you're picturing your character as a lithe rogue type, then naturally you should go for the increase in dexterity. Which would be fitting with the goal of roleplaying.
    This is exactly why you need to be given useful information about the underlying system. Suppose you aren't told anything about the underlying system. You can try to pick your abilities in order to create the character you want, but you don't really know if you're creating the character you want because you have no concrete idea what your choices mean. You're hoping that putting the points into dexterity is the sensible approach, but you're not sure. Perhaps a certain amount of strength is required for a rogue to be effective in combat. Perhaps increasing your intelligence will unlock certain roguelike abilities. Perhaps the internal rules of this game don't even support a viable character of the archetype you want.

    The goal is to define the sort of character you want to play. But if you aren't given enough information about how the character you define will play, then you can't do that so well. If I am given plenty of information, I can make this definition better.

    Of course, there is another philosophy behind character definition, which is to make your characters as effective as possible. Clearly, this is also more satisfying to do if you know the system better, assuming the system isn't entirely trivial.

    Your point about level 1 characters is usually not valid. Most level 1 protagonists in cRPGs are presented as of above-average competence at least.

    I think in the later parts of your posts you're advocating ideas that feel more comfortable in the immersive sim genre of video games rather than the RPG.
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

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    The visibility and explanation of stats helps a min/max play style. I suppose it's certainly possible for an RPG to be great but not condusive to min/maxing, but that would certainly turn a lot of players off.

    I think I support hiding some of the mechanics though. I am not naturally a min/max type player, but I have noticed I tend to have some min/max qualities once I learn a lot about how the stats work. And once I start playing min/max with an RPG is when I begin to lose interest... not sure why that is. Hiding some of the mechanics might help. I don't want to be turned into a min/maxer, because it makes me look at the game differently and is definitely immersion-breaking.

  6. #66
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    I usually end up choosing character archetypes that turn out to be rubbish, so I often need to optimize in order to be able to progress!

    To be fair, you probably don't want everything revealed to the player, because there's some fun in observing and seeing what's going on. It's best if the mysterious stuff is the sort of stuff you can address by changing things, though. For instance, if I'm not sure exactly whether one piece of equipment is better than another, that's fine, I can try both and try to work out which is better. If I'm not sure which character build is good in say Diablo 2, then I am running the risk of completely crippling my character while trying to answer the question. I mean, you can't even see in-game what a skill is going to be like at level 2 without taking level 1 in it, which is yucky.
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

  7. #67
    Quote Originally Posted by archonsod View Post
    Why not simply make a decision and deal with the consequences? In fact, isn't it somewhat counteractive to the whole idea of playing an RPG if you're always going to go with the best choice? If everyone is doing that, at what point do you have a different character to anyone else?
    I am 100% on board with making a decision and dealing with the consequences. Crucial to that process though is that your decisions ought to be informed, where appropriate.

    As Nathan pointed out, if you don't know what the attributes of your character you are advancing actually do then your decisions on how to develop your character amount to mere guess work. That's not a great simulation of roleplaying - it simply doesn't work like that in the real world. Using linguistic terms do make those decisions is simply making an assumption that, as Nathan again pointed out, are entirely possibly not going to play out. There's always going to be a disconnect between what a word means in real life (IE our understanding of that word) and what it means within the context of the game system.

    These stats are there to describe for the player the rules of how the gameworld works so that they can then make their roleplaying decisions. As you did go on to mention - and I agree - there is a limit to what I think the player should be allowed to see. I'll get to that.

    Quote Originally Posted by archonsod View Post
    No, they start at level 1. It is in fact one of the great absurdities people got bored of joking about ten years ago; the backstory might state you're a mighty warrior capable of demolishing entire armies with only your left buttcheek, but according to the game your combat abilities are sorely tested by a random street thug with a knife. To be fair though it's something many tabletop games also suffer from (though not all).
    Hah, yes we often do start out these games pretty weak don't we? I don't think that's to simulate our development period where we learn how the world works though. I think it's a concious design decision in order to provide the player(s) with a sense of development. It's really a separate issue though. I find it quite irritating myself as it usually runs directly counter to what we are told. It's worth noting that these decisions also lead to you usually being stronger than the average peasant but often beating up a rat can prove life or death. bit stupid really and not my favourite RPG convention at all. Level 1 doesn't have to mean weak-ass childman. As it happens, I quite liked the Witcher 2 because they did provide a sense of development whilst still making you pretty badass from the get-go.

    Quote Originally Posted by archonsod View Post
    Depends on how it's presented. We're obviously on a hiding to nothing by using the example of choosing between a point of dexterity or strength in a game where we're hiding the system - somewhat odd :)
    True, I've been using that example because I have really been discussing the merits of mechanics on display I suppose.

    I suppose the aim is to create a game where you actively develop you character so that they can interact with the world based on their own abilities (divorced from your actual skill), then there needs to be a system that allows the player to develop their character.

    In order to do that there must be several methods available I am sure. By and large, though, I struggle to think of an instance where removing player access to the mechanics entirely has retained the above divorce of player and character skill.

    Quote Originally Posted by archonsod View Post
    The point I was trying to get across is that the ultimate 'aim' of a roleplaying game is to roleplay. A key part of that is your interpretation of the character. To use the rather odd example, if you're picturing your character as a lithe rogue type, then naturally you should go for the increase in dexterity. Which would be fitting with the goal of roleplaying. If you instead opt for strength so you can wear heavier armour, then you're no longer roleplaying (i.e. making choices according to the character), you're gaming the system.
    We've addressed this before but I'll just expand on my view here and where I think the linguistic interpretation falls down a bit. Say you have 5 points to spend on your character. You want him/her to be a lithe rogue but you have no idea how much of an effect each point would have in each catagory. Further, in my view a rogue really ought to be intelligent and probably at least strong enough to defeat a foe in one on one. But I have 10 points in strength already - is that strong or is that weak? I don't know because it's never been explained. If I put 1 point in dexterity will that actually have much of an impact? I don't know. Maybe I should put all my points in dexterity? Would that be overkill? I don't know. Will it unlock the rogue skills or would those be tied to intelligence? I don't know. Without explaining how the world works, I can't guide the development my character to fill the role I intend.

    We have an understanding of what a rogue means to us. and we have an understanding of the descriptive words dexterity and intelligence. What don't have is an understanding of how these terms relate to the game world. or what they meant to the person who designed the game and created the rules that govern that world. To make those decisions we need to know the rules.

    Quote Originally Posted by archonsod View Post
    There's also a distinction to be made between having zero knowledge and giving the player a hazy overview. You merely need to obfuscate the system, not necessarily leave the player clueless. We can say higher strength makes you a better fighter while higher dexterity makes you a better thief, but not explain precisely how much or even why it does so. You then have enough information to make a general choice, but not enough to 'play the system'.
    I agree with you here partly. But again, relying on linguistic terms alone just isn't sufficient when conveying mathematical information. Because Strength would make a better fighter but wouldn't dexterity and toughness also make a better fighter? In my mind it would. fast, strong, dexterous, tough: all ideal fighting qualities. How does dexterity effect combat? How do any of them effect combat? Or any other situation?

    Quote Originally Posted by archonsod View Post
    It depends on the game, but as I said in reply to Nathan traditionally the whole point of a character starting at level 1 is to replicate this. So in that sense all we're doing is removing the abstraction - Slough is not a mighty warrior because he's only level 1 and thus has low stats; he's not a mighty warrior because he lacks the experience and knowledge to do much more than swing a weapon and hope for the best. Eventually he will be a mighty warrior because he'll hit level 50; eventually he'll be a mighty warrior because he's learned how to utilise his weapons and abilities to the best effect.
    Well, there's no reason for level 1 to mean that Slough is a useless lump who can't swing a sword. In fact this is a good example of the problems of not letting a player know the numbers and the effects of those numbers. As you mentioned, we're told Slough has an extensive backstory - veteran soldier perhaps. Slayer of men. Further, we selected a class for Slough of warrior. Certainly he is at level 1 - because we have just stated the game. 1 indicating the beginning. But he MUST be good at fighting from the start since the game told us so. Immediate decisions would be made on that assumption. I'll start a fight with the guards because I am a warrior and a veteran - I can handle myself etc...
    Now then, Slough being a weakling at level 1 is not a consequence of having stats revealed or not - it's a consequence of the specific rules the dev has put in place. But if we are aware of those rule then we can adjust our perception of Slough's ability.

    Although we might rightfully feel a bit aggrieved by the multitude of devs who cannot seem to connect gameplay mechanics and plot/character/dialogue etc in their own flipping creation. /rant aborted
    That's not usually the case though.

    Quote Originally Posted by archonsod View Post
    I'm not advocating every RPG immediately hide it's system either. Action RPGs for example are pretty much entirely about playing the system, I'm fine with that. The problem is in the more narrative oriented ones because then the system becomes a limitation precisely because you get a disconnect between the narrative and the actual mechanics/gameplay. At the start of The Witcher 2 for example Geralt is an experienced, master swordsman who has taken on everything from marauding terrorists to unnatural monsters and slaughtered them all. According to the game system however he can't even do something as simple as effectively parry a blow without levelling up a bit. There is an argument that this is simply bad writing, but it's only a problem because I can open the character sheet right at the start and see that there's two upgrades to parrying which reduce the incoming damage by a specific percentage. You can overcome a lot of this disconnect by simply removing the system description - say they improve my ability to parry without explaining how. I can still see it will improve my parry, if I'm particularly astute I could probably guess at what it does after taking it, but Geralt has moved from a master swordsman who can't even effectively parry to a master swordsman who can improve his ability to defend himself. It's a relatively subtle change, but it completely changes the context.
    I'd argue that again, that's not the fault of knowing how the system works and of knowing your current stats but more of a poor gameplay/story design.

    Quote Originally Posted by archonsod View Post
    I don't think it's a disagreement on understanding the system, more the depth of that understanding and how the information is fed back to the player. The problem as I see it is that we give the player an all seeing eye by showing the bare bones of the system, what would be better instead is to substitute a more fuzzy understanding of the system. In real life most people understand gravity, but most of us can't give a precise distance before a fall becomes fatal. The same should apply to RPGs, my character should know hitting things with a sword will eventually prove fatal, but not the precise number of swings required before the victim dies.
    I do agree with you that often we are shown too much information. We don't really need to know everything. We need to know the ramifications of our immediate decisions - like putting this point in strength now will increase damage by 5-10% and enable us to learn cleave. But we don't need to know the full career path we are going to choose. Life doesn't work like that and we can never see the future with such clarity. Even if we do have plans they are almost always altered by circumstance.

    Having said that - in your Diablos where that character build is the game then certainly that information is appropriate.

    I agree with wizardry that by and large in a "pure" RPG the game is in making those immediate decisions, putting yourself in your character's shoes. It's why we have those stats to divorce the player's skill from the characters in the first place and why those myriad rules exist to simulate the worlds in such detail. If we don't know how the world works and our character's place in it then how can we roleplay that character in those situations?

    There's room for more in RPGs though - i mean they are just games and the ultimate goal is to have fun. If combing player skill and character skill in ways that have been suggested above provide a fun experience then that is to the good! I enjoy Skyrim just as much as any other game I might play. But it IS a different type of game. They all fall under this giant RPG umbrella that is ever expanding but there's no harm in having these subsets of RPG. But for my money, I am glad that there are people out there still catering to all our tastes.

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by SanguineAngel View Post
    We've addressed this before but I'll just expand on my view here and where I think the linguistic interpretation falls down a bit. Say you have 5 points to spend on your character. You want him/her to be a lithe rogue but you have no idea how much of an effect each point would have in each catagory. Further, in my view a rogue really ought to be intelligent and probably at least strong enough to defeat a foe in one on one. But I have 10 points in strength already - is that strong or is that weak? I don't know because it's never been explained. If I put 1 point in dexterity will that actually have much of an impact? I don't know. Maybe I should put all my points in dexterity? Would that be overkill? I don't know. Will it unlock the rogue skills or would those be tied to intelligence? I don't know. Without explaining how the world works, I can't guide the development my character to fill the role I intend.
    The problem here is that the player is given an abstract choice but not told what it means. Obviously, this is bad. A good design where stats are hidden would never tell you that you have 10 points in strength. Initially you would get your bearings from your character's self-image: "I'm not the strongest, but I think I'm stronger than most". Throughout the game you'd get comparative information through access to the character's impressions. In a particular fight your character might notice that the opponent is much stronger and that gives him a hard time, but he has more skill which compensates so he's just barely losing the fight, etc. The character might gain some strength through doing things which naturally build it - fighting, in-game things such as a spell intended to make him stronger, explicit strength training, choosing employment as a lumberjack, whatever. Again, you wouldn't necessarily get a popup going "+1 STRENGTH, ALSO U GETZ AN ACHIEVEMENT AND GAMERPOINTS" immediately upon doing those things, but the comparative assessments would quietly change, maybe with some delay. And the character might eventually explicitly notice and point out some change - "wow, I can lift this heavy anvil much easier now".

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by NathanH View Post
    This is exactly why you need to be given useful information about the underlying system. Suppose you aren't told anything about the underlying system. You can try to pick your abilities in order to create the character you want, but you don't really know if you're creating the character you want because you have no concrete idea what your choices mean.
    You don't need to. One of the under-used advantages of the PC as opposed to a tabletop is the player can actually play the game as they want their character to. So why abstract to a system for that choice in the first place? Why not use something like Alpha Protocol's system, where most of the characteristics are determined by how you're actually playing your character rather than asking you to fiddle with numbers?

    Quote Originally Posted by SanguineAngel View Post
    As Nathan pointed out, if you don't know what the attributes of your character you are advancing actually do then your decisions on how to develop your character amount to mere guess work. That's not a great simulation of roleplaying - it simply doesn't work like that in the real world.
    Doesn't it? If you were to ask a group of boxing fans what makes a good boxer, they're going to pick a number of different and often contradictory characteristics. None of which are the right answer, because being a good boxer isn't so much about the physical attributes as how they're used. It's more a case of having the game enable you to play to the character's strengths than it is the system as such. Again, take Fallout - a character who can punch a Deathclaw to death can be just as successful as one that can't fight their way out of a paper bag purely because the game is designed to allow multiple approaches to most situations.
    To use your example there's already several games in which strength and dexterity both assist in being a better fighter in different ways. In effect, the choice between the two doesn't actually matter; it's whether your playing style fits what you've chose rather than the choice itself. So it's not necessarily the case that you have to say what Strength does, you can instead simply describe how a high strength character might best use that advantage.
    Quote Originally Posted by SanguineAngel View Post
    I don't think that's to simulate our development period where we learn how the world works though. I think it's a concious design decision in order to provide the player(s) with a sense of development.
    It's a bit of both for the most part. What's interesting is in tabletop level systems tend only to be used by D&D and the more action oriented games; others tend to utilise different methods or ignore that aspect of advancement altogether (or you have Call of Cthulhu, where the normal character advancement is to start out pretty good and then gradually decline as the inevitable descent into insanity takes hold. Which when you think about it is probably a more accurate portrayal of how life tends to work). The main problem is it tends to be a crutch that encourages focusing purely on the physical, gamey aspects rather than anything more interesting; inevitably the level 1 goblin becomes cannon fodder to chuck at the players as filler content until they get to the interesting part.
    I suppose the aim is to create a game where you actively develop you character so that they can interact with the world based on their own abilities (divorced from your actual skill), then there needs to be a system that allows the player to develop their character.
    That's not really the aim. It's impossible to divorce the player and character; most RPGs instead encourage players to take on a persona similar to themselves to overcome this. The aim really is to encourage the player to develop a fully rounded character, whether that's someone completely different to themselves or simply themselves as they think they would be in that world. How much the system itself attempts to mitigate between player and character tends to depend on the game, but for the most part the main aim of the system is to provide drama.
    Although the intent of the system is a valid point. The thing about a computer is that it reverses the usual problem. In a tabletop RPG player knowledge and skill can be problematic because they can utilise it to draw benefits that their character shouldn't be able to (for example the Barbarian with an IQ of 10 who can jerry rig steam engines because the guy playing him happens to be a mechanic in real life). The system might have some mitigating factors, but in the main it's the job of the DM to prevent this. It's the opposite in a cRPG - what the player knows in those terms is moot, since the only options available to the character are those put in by the designer.
    In that respect I think there's a distinct difference. In the tabletop situation the rules can come in useful because they can be used to block such player actions ("explain which table you roll on to smelt iron"). With a cRPG I think they become the problem instead - player knowledge of the system allows them to make choices the character wouldn't in order to benefit from it (to use Nalano's example, a thief bumping strength for no other reason than to wear plate armour; if you had a DM they can prevent such behaviour by pointing out someone who's spent their entire life as a criminal probably lacks the military experience to even know how to put it on correctly).
    Quote Originally Posted by SanguineAngel View Post
    I agree with you here partly. But again, relying on linguistic terms alone just isn't sufficient when conveying mathematical information.
    We're not trying to convey mathematical information. This is going to be a bit of a ramble, but try and stick with it :P

    If we were to say strength means you hit harder, dexterity means you hit more often and toughness means you can take more hits, we have two ways to convey this. The first is simply to state it as I just did, the second would be to give you the precise amount of extra damage, to hit chance and hit points. Either conveys essentially the same information.
    When we talk about characters, we usually don't utilise mathematical information (autism not withstanding anyway). Superman is the guy who can leap tall buildings in a single bound. There is probably a numerical limit we could put on the distance he can travel both vertically and horizontally in a single bound, but when someone thinks of superman they think of the guy who can leap tall buildings in a single bound, not the guy who can leap 40 by 20 feet.
    This is where the problem of using statistics comes in. If you want your character to be a heavy hitting brawler, then either method of conveying the benefit of strength tells you what you need to know. Presumably, there will be a point where the extra damage is wasted, and to improve really you want to increase either your ability to hit or your ability to take damage instead. Again, you already have the information needed. The difference is why you choose it - in a non-numeric system you're going to notice that you're not hitting enough, or taking too much damage before you land the blow. In a numeric system, then the player can see precisely how much damage they're doing and switch stats at an appropriate time. The first is a more characterful choice - the Karate Kid goes to learn Karate after he gets beaten up, he doesn't notice he needs to work on his strength and dexterity prior to the event via some precognition (the all-seeing eye effect of giving the player full knowledge of the system).
    The other benefit goes back to what I said above about choice of play style rather than optimising characteristics. If your character is already strong then you know to improve you need to either increase your hit rate (glass cannon) or your ability to take damage (tank). It encourages the player to choose based on either how they see the character or how they prefer to play rather than number crunching. I think that's the problem Sparkasaurusmex was getting at - a lot of people will get bored when they start optimising to the system because the optimal way to play is not necessarily the most fun for them (fun being subjective, obviously). With the non-numerical way, you might not have the perfect balance of all three traits, but you are more likely to have a balance which both works well enough and is still fun for you.
    Quote Originally Posted by SanguineAngel View Post
    But he MUST be good at fighting from the start since the game told us so. Immediate decisions would be made on that assumption. I'll start a fight with the guards because I am a warrior and a veteran - I can handle myself etc...
    No, he's just better at fighting than the guy who picked a mage :P This isn't actually a problem though - think about the decision process. The player is picking a fight with the guards because that's what they think the character would do. Or in other words, they're roleplaying.
    Yeah, that might result in them getting slaughtered and having to restart, but that's down to how the game handles that situation and so not necessarily dependent on the system. Nor is it necessarily an issue even if it does; that's the consequence of the player's choice (and really you could argue player stupidity there; they're picking a fight with the guards. The fact the guys are labelled guards should be a dead giveaway; even special forces veterans tend to have the sense not to try and take on the entire police force)
    Quote Originally Posted by SanguineAngel View Post
    There's room for more in RPGs though - i mean they are just games and the ultimate goal is to have fun. If combing player skill and character skill in ways that have been suggested above provide a fun experience then that is to the good! I enjoy Skyrim just as much as any other game I might play. But it IS a different type of game. They all fall under this giant RPG umbrella that is ever expanding but there's no harm in having these subsets of RPG. But for my money, I am glad that there are people out there still catering to all our tastes.
    Like I said, I'd agree completely. I love playing Torchlight just as much as I do Skyrim. The problem for me really is that too many RPGs tend to fall into this same D&D inherited archetype and it's starting to feel like the genre is getting a little stale. Those which actually experiment with the formula seem few and far between; as I mentioned above I think Alpha Protocol had a brilliant way of handling it which certainly deserves further experimentation, regrettably it looks like it'll never happen.

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    You don't need to. One of the under-used advantages of the PC as opposed to a tabletop is the player can actually play the game as they want their character to. So why abstract to a system for that choice in the first place? Why not use something like Alpha Protocol's system, where most of the characteristics are determined by how you're actually playing your character rather than asking you to fiddle with numbers?
    Personally if I was considering going down this route I'd probably just ask the player to pick from a selection of balanced character archetypes at the start of the game and then keep their abilities fixed throughout. Learn-by-doing is in my opinion a method of progression most likely to lead to powergaming or accidentally crippling yourself, and can lead to you making combat decisions based on how you want to advance rather than what the best solution to the current problem is, or what you think the most fun solution will be. In some contexts I don't mind learn-by-doing, such as in Oblivion, but I play Oblivion in a very bizarre way.

    Again, take Fallout - a character who can punch a Deathclaw to death can be just as successful as one that can't fight their way out of a paper bag purely because the game is designed to allow multiple approaches to most situations.
    That doesn't address the point in question, because in Fallout, being a game with player-controlled character progression, if you want to make a character that can punch a deathclaw in the face then you'll want to know what the best combination of stats are to facilitate deathclaw-punching. Whether a game allows many different archetypes to prosper is quite different from whether a game allows the player to competently construct the archetype he wants.

    Again, you might want to make character progression not player-controlled. Then you don't have so much of a problem of having to explain everything, because the player doesn't have any choices. However, if you apply this sort of thinking across the board then you're moving away from RPG and more into the immersive sim genre, which is a good genre and a fine place to go for a choice'n'consequence action game, but it is a different place.

    If we were to say strength means you hit harder, dexterity means you hit more often and toughness means you can take more hits, we have two ways to convey this. The first is simply to state it as I just did, the second would be to give you the precise amount of extra damage, to hit chance and hit points. Either conveys essentially the same information.
    I think this statement cuts to the heart of the argument. You think those cases convey essentially the same information. I think they are leagues apart.

    The other benefit goes back to what I said above about choice of play style rather than optimising characteristics. If your character is already strong then you know to improve you need to either increase your hit rate (glass cannon) or your ability to take damage (tank). It encourages the player to choose based on either how they see the character or how they prefer to play rather than number crunching.
    I find this statement very confusing. If you're someone who enjoys optimization, then obviously you would prefer to know the rules in order to make your character the best. If you're someone who enjoys creating a character they want to play, then you would prefer to know the rules in order to make your character the one you want. Maybe you run into problems if you enjoy creating custom characters but do not have the self-control to avoid optimization. In that case I would recommend the person in question learns some self-control.

    I think I now see another point you are making, that you want character progression to be an exercise in simulating how someone learns to become better at something. To do this you don't want to be able to calculate the results of your level-up choices, you want to choose them, observe the results, and then correct the problems with your build at the next level-up. Apart from questioning how confident you can be that you are correcting the problems, I see your point here, although I have no interest in such a game.

    It's the opposite in a cRPG - what the player knows in those terms is moot, since the only options available to the character are those put in by the designer.
    Interestingly, I conclude from this sort of thinking that we shouldn't worry too much about "roleplaying" in RPGs. In most out-of-combat situations in a cRPG, the set of possible options is so small that I don't think you ever have an opportunity to roleplay properly. For me, proper roleplaying requires a large set of plausible options to choose from in any given situation, and then the game determines how to react to the chosen option. This is how combat works in most cRPGs, but nothing else. In almost all other situations you are choosing from a very small set of options with consequences planned to some extent by the designers of the game. That is, you are not really roleplaying but instead playing an elaborate choose-your-own-adventure game.

    That's why for instance I would say that any dialogue tree system of conversation in a cRPG or immersive sim does not ever count as roleplaying. Hopefully thing doesn't count as trying to define an RPG... we're having fun here, don't want to spoil it!
    Last edited by NathanH; 30-05-2012 at 09:41 PM.
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

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