Fantastical Thoughts On RPG Game Mechanics

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AuthorTopic: Fantastical Thoughts On RPG Game Mechanics
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #0
This is about the possible future of Spiderweb games or RPGs in general, rather than A4, per se. I am realizing something that has been bothering me about the construction of most games of all kinds where you fight things. Namely, how you have to keep hacking hacking hacking at everything to kill it. It's like those dumb fights in movies where the hero and villain alike take massive physical punishment and keep fighting and functioning, whereas in the real world, any one or two of those blows would have put any non-immortal person out of commission.

My thought is how I'd rework fantasy role-play game mechanics to get over the staleness of just amassing hit points and cumulative damage in games and enduring repetitive drawn-out fighting.

For starters, archers should be wickedly deadly, once decently trained. Any good archer in the real world can take down or kill a foe in one well-placed strike. Archers should miss more often, or have arrows deflected by shields and armor, but when they hit, take a massive amount of hit points off a foe, or kill it outright. This would be oh, so satisfying. As archery exists in Avernum now, it’s boring and wholly predictable. You never kill anything suddenly with an arrow. Archery should be a more specialized skill to train in. You'd really have to invest in archery, but the payoff would be worthwhile, rather than a mere wimpy supplement for ranged assault. I don't have any fun as an archer, because an archer doesn't really KILL things the way an archer would. Meh.

Melee attacks would also be more short-lived. Successful strikes would quickly damage your opponent's offensive and defensive abilities, like real wounding would. Randomly, you could weaken their attack strength, their dexterity, etc. as you continue to hit them. There would be an increasing winningness to your battle as you hit a foe more, eventually clearly guaranteeing your success. But if your foe gets more successful hits early on, you might have to retreat, because you'd be in bad shape. The whole “hit point” model of health and life and death sucks, if you ask me. You wouldn’t have hit points as an absolute indicator of your ability to stay alive. Fatigue and wounding would accumulate, perhaps as a red bar of their own or, better yet, one for each. Your Strength and Endurance (think about the word) would affect how long you can fight before you need to rest to recover. When you see yourself getting perilously weakened/wounded, you would need to retreat or send someone to the rescue to preserve your fighter. Retreating would be much more commonplace.

Healing would work very differently too. Virtually all games have this silly ability to heal magically either ranged by another PC or by simply applying a medkit/healing potion instantely, even in the middle of battle. This is of course ridiculous. I'd love the challenge to make healing something like the older Avernum games where you had to rest or reenter a town/go to a healer when you are more gravely injured. You would also, through strategy, be able to avoid terrible wounding much more ably, with proper party construction and collaboration, which would be required. Wounding/low hit points is a ridiculous concept in a game...you keep nearly dying from grievous gashes and searing and acid and blows, yet a potion or priest can make you instantly like new as long as you don’t run out of potions or priests. Meh. Surely someone could have the guts to violate this tired old gimmick and make something with some teeth regarding your preservation?

In the real world, you either tend to carefully take on your fights and win them, or you get maimed or killed, usually either in short order. Fatigue and minor wounding should be normal in fights. Major wounding should take something more major to recover from...and some time. You would be very motivated to avoid it, because it can cripple you ultimately. As games are constructed, there is no breathing space. You just run back and forth ceaseless fighting, hacking, looting, healing. This is tedious and repetitious and, let’s face it, insulting, as far as feeling like part of a remotely real story goes.

So, with more vulnerable/realistic mechanics in fights, how would this work?

There might be larger numbers of foes to take out, which are more easily dispatched in a hit or two or few most of the time, when you choose your fights carefully. Scrying would be used to scope out enemies before battles frequently. Retreat might be necessary. Fights against you are also more quickly deadly, so you'd better win your fight quickly or perish. Games would rely more on reload and restrategizing than scrambling to magically heal and keep your party alive for some long hacking session on and on. To keep alive a long time, you have to be strategic and skilled at combat, and find ways to rest along the way. I miss resting in dungeons. Healing major wounding would require time and a healer in some combination. I like the idea of being able to split up parties and leave someone in a town or in a dungeon for a time until ready to move again. Other PCs could be more easily enticed or induced to join your party, rather than be stuck statically with the same four members. As you gain reputation and ability, you gain the ability to recruit more powerful members. Some members of your party would be your own long-run constructions. Others would be rotating and temporal, and strategically necessarily so, depending on your missions.

Archers would be great to stay back and quickly thin out the ranks of groups rushing you, and essential to take out enemy archers. If you don't have a shield, it would be more likely for enemy archers to hit you and do a lot of damage or kill you outright, meaning you'd better take them out quickly. The closer an archer is to you, the more likely it would be to hit you and hit you for lethal damage. Magicians would be able to take out (kill or cripple) a bunch of foes in one nasty burst of attack in a fight, but expending such magic would be very depleting, and could only be used once or minimally in any one battle. Magicians should have other fighting ability as well in order to be viable, but a party of six or eight would enable far more specialization. Magic overall seems overpowered, too generic, too familiar, too predictable, too equalized, and too, well, magical. I'd create a more believable and variable kind of magic in a fantasy world. For instance, if you get acided once in real life, you are never the same again, yet you can be magically healed of acid endlessly in your typical RPG. Really now.

I'm really itching for something much more realistic and strategic than I have seen employed in most games for a long time. The game Civilization does well in some regards, but it is not an RPG. I can't believe how formulaic games have been for so long. I'd attempt something significantly different from the D&D/Warcraft/Diablo/Doom/RPG model. Too bad it's not easy to build your own game. I'm full of ideas, and I am growing quite bored with endless reiterations of the same ol’ same ol’.

-S-

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Apprentice
Member # 8273
Profile #1
Well,i agree with you mostly.
But for fighting,i insist on not saving and loading a lot.If a game can give the pc more information for the outcoming fight,then most the saving and loading can be avoid.To save and load a lot just ruin the feeling of reality.And you dont take care.Why take care?If you are died ,you can always load.So our pc are fearless.So i dont prefer to S&L.But it is also very furstrating to restart again when you are dead.I figure out a small solution.When your all party is dead,you recruit a new party and continue the adventure rather than restart the game.In the road to victiory many adventers died ,but some do it.If it is in a TRPG ,we can relate the two party.For instance ,you receieved your uncle's dead,who was the adventurers that falled,and you gathered some of your friends to find the reason of his death.But as a CRPG ,this is too much to demand.
Posts: 8 | Registered: Saturday, March 10 2007 08:00
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #2
Yeah, a game in which death really feels like the absoluteness of death would be welcome, but it comes close to being a non-sequitor in the gaming world, at least with the instant-gratification mindset. If you had better control over fighting and retreating and preparing and scoping many of your battles, along with text warnings about the specific condition of each PC during your battles, you could play in a way to keep most, but not all of your party alive over the long course of a game. Let's face it, some of you would die after many adventures, travels, and fights. Some of you would also live.

My emphasis would not be on save and reload, which also sucks, but on slowing down and having the complexity and data with which to strategize more. If you weren't always relying on experience points from kills to maximize your game, it would be much more satisfying to sneak around more instead of always using brute force, for instance. Some places you'd never be able to take on with a fight, but you could infiltrate and sneak around, and perhaps kill key characters in semi-privacy. This would make for more versatile play and missions.

Any being you'd click on would give you text information about how tough, dangerous, skilled, armored it looks. You could gauge your risks in actually taking it on. If it sees you first, you might not get that option, or the option to run away easily, anyway. You'd have to fend it off, slow it, wound it to get away, if not outright kill it.

-S-

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Infiltrator
Member # 7298
Profile #3
I have played some games where technically you could heal or cure. It just was a lot harder and the enemy could easily kill one of your characters if you not careful. It used different mechanics to limit healing and stuff. While I do like the game in question the one thing I dislike about it was the enemy's ability to kill one of your units and causing you to start over. One example is I have defeated all the enemy's on the level and I just have one thing left to do and a enemy comes quite literally out of nowhere and kills my main character (said character was of decent stats in context my progress in the game and was full health) causing me to lose the game.

Now consider they technically could just cast a healing spell or down a potion and get all better the game mechanics just made it a bit harder too; what your posing would limit that even more so. I'm not saying you couldn't get it too work however you need to design game engine with that in mind and not just slap the onto an existing one. The biggest downside you propose is having to restart the game 50 billion times is a tad bit annoying. So unless the game had some other qualities that made it incredibly good I doubt I would play it.

What you said sounds good in theory and might be possible to make a good game with the game mechanics you mentioned, but would be very hard to get it right. Personally I play rpgs and read medieval fantasy because to escape reality. I don't want to be reminded of it and I like to think a large number of people who play RPGs agree. If you go on reality its most likely your character gets killed or maimed horribly in their first battle putting them in bed for the rest of their life if not 6 ft under. You need to find the right balance of reality vs fantasy. I personally I have no problem if reality gets skimped a little bit.

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Posts: 479 | Registered: Wednesday, July 12 2006 07:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #4
If you want realistic simulations of medieval combat, you're looking at a very different type of game, not a revision of FRPGs. Short of that, the goal is not realism but fun. Suspension of disbelief is an important ingredient in fun, to be sure, but you can achieve that just by changing how you think about the game. Whereas the mechanics changes Synergy suggests would, I think, make a game that was outright infuriating.

I have played tabletop games with combat systems more like what Synergy suggests, as well as the classic D&D 'to hit' plus hit points system. The old sci-fi game 'Traveller' was basically similar but had no separate hit point total; instead, damage was applied temporarily to your primary stats, so getting shot would drop your strength or your dexterity. The typical amount of damage that things did would frequently drop any one stat low enough for penalties to make you very ineffective at anything, until you got healed — which was not easy. No doubt this was somewhat realistic, in that one wound was definitely bad. But since the same rules worked for your enemies, the effect was that it was essentially impossible to totally incapacitate anyone with one shot, no matter how big your laser rifle was: you could drop the cyborg's DX to 3, but it would still be shooting back with some chance of doing damage. And it was infuriatingly easy to have your character rendered virtually useless for the rest of the game session, because a hit had dropped your DX to 3.

I also played a session or two of 'Stormbringer', set in Michael Moorcock's world of Elric and Melniboné. This was rather similar to Traveller, except worse, in that bad hits had a fairly good chance of permanently maiming or crippling you in some way. It wasn't really much quicker or easier to kill anything than in D&D, but by a couple of hours after roll-up our whole party was a pack of gimps. Accumulating injuries seemed to degrade your characters faster than experience points could improve them.

These may just be two bad examples, although Traveller at least had quite a following. But I think there's a general lesson. Combat systems featuring slow erosion of hit points ensure that losing a battle is something you can see coming, in time to do something about it. Run away, or pull out that super-wand you've been saving, or whatever. Combat systems that allow deadly things to happen suddenly effectively mean regular random auto-kills. Or at least, like Traveller and Stormbringer, regular randomly-inflicted severe handicaps.

The randomness is essentially impossible to avoid, because RPGs cannot afford to devote hours to recreating combats in detail, with the player choosing every feint and dodge. All of that has to be covered by random rolls. If a player wonders why they just lost an arm, the in-game reason is that they sidestepped when they should have shield-shifted, or something like that. But the player didn't make that mistake; it was just a die roll. This is not fun to have to accept.

Of course, it is realistic; but that's just it. The essential piece of fantasy in an RPG is the possibility of heroes: one to six awesome individuals who accomplish the entire saga. In reality this just does not happen. Fighting a battle is like Russian roulette even when you're maximally skilled and talented, and the only characters that can be counted on to survive a long campaign are the generals who stay out of the fray. If you want an RPG instead of an RTS, you need a combat system that lets heroes survive and prosper through an unlimited number of battles.

So to make heroes possible, you need hit points. What I tried to do, when I was DMing, was to justify them. The idea was that only your last few points actually meant physical injury of any kind. The rest was all a symbolic quantification of fatigue, luck running out, chi getting drained, or whatever. A hero's hack-fu is strong. In fact I souped the system up a bit more than this, with four tiers of hit points representing more and more substantial effects, and taking longer to heal. But the point was that killing a 100-hit-point beast in 30 rounds with a d8 weapon wasn't really a matter of bruising it to death. It was wearing it down, fending it off, probing its weak spots, maybe all without even touching it; and only finally delivering a deadly thrust.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 6785
Profile #5
There was Boot Hill's injury system where not only was damage determined but location of injury. So you could lose use of part of your body. That game favored first strike over accuaracy in hitting since you could take someone out with a shotgun blast very easily.

Still Synergy has a point in that it should be easier to replace characters but still have them close enough in ability so the new ones aren't pack mules.
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #6
I am well aware that it would be very difficult to implement fully the sort of stuff I'm describing. I would actually feel more heroic playing characters who are able to survive in a slightly more perilous and unpredictable world...something that feels more organic than just plain mathematical. I would love to take a crack at it, like I said, if I could easily actually build a game engine based on whatever ideas I had in mind.

Think about a story like Lord of the Rings. Many encounters occur, and there are many close calls, quite a few fights, and a very few deaths amongst the heros overall. You had a fellowship of the ring that was well suited to handle many different situations and stay alive. I'd like to construct that sort of RPG, where each encounter relies more on specific and varied strategies at each encounter, but overall, if you are choosing wisely, you are not likely to get maimed or die.

If you are choosing poorly, you could be instantly pushed back/routed, or get an end-game script in some cases, forcing a return to a saved game. If you fight too long, get fatigued, or start getting wounded, and you push an encounter too far without prevailing, you would risk serious injury, then death. But your heros wouldn't usually be in danger of either, though you might have to choose to retreat, as I said, to avoid it. There would be numerous possible options in situations rather than the obligatory fight to the death. You could bribe an enemy when losing a battle you might not be able to escape from, etc.

I don't mean there is a random likelihood of sudden maiming or death as far as your own PCs are concerned. I do mean that you have a greater likelihood of quickly killing your opponents, just like the heros do in a novel like Lord of the Rings, in which they dispatch many without taking serious wounds. Think how satisfying it is in a game to kill something with one strike, rather than five back and forth hacks. In which case do you feel more godlike and heroic?

That is what being heros is like. In most RPGs, you start out as wimps who have to work their way up to basic capability and who die a lot in the process. Dying at all ruins my illusion of being a real hero in a real unfolding story. I'd create another way, in which dying really isn't the usual problem or obstacle to your progress. I guess I'm talking about a game in which many other plot elements and actions come into play in situations rather than just many many fights. Stealth, diplomacy, disguise, bribery, luring enemies into traps, circumnavigation, using the terrain strategically for maximum attack and defense advantage. And so on.

Hey, I said my thoughts were fantastical. I didn't say they'd be easy to implement.

-S-

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #7
To some extent, Synergy, you seem to be asking simply for a better game, rather than a better game system. A lot of what you want can be done in pen-and-paper games with a live referee, almost regardless of what system is being used. A referee can fine tune the level of challenge of monsters to the individual party, making enemies that hit harder, but fall quicker, with less risk of random auto-kill.

I guess I do agree that too much whacking gets old, and that a few more easy kills late in the game would somehow be satisfying. I'm not sure I see any room for commercial CRPGs to do much more than just tweak the hacking down a bit, though. A good pen-and-paper campaign would probably do the full job. Maybe a BoA scenario could come close. It might not appeal to many, but those who liked it would like it a lot.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #8
Lord of the Rings isn't exactly combat-heavy, for the most part. Yes, it has battles, but not with the relentlessness of most RPGs. And the characters survive for two reasons. Firstly, they are, in large part, stupendous heroes. Secondly, the plot demands their survival.

How do RPGs model this? Hit points and stats. It's an abstraction. Actually, it's a huge abstraction, and I've always viewed it much as SoT has outlined. But that beats the bookkeeping and vagueness of a realistic system by a whole lot.

—Alorael, who can see how your system could be implemented at a basic level in Avernum by removing pretty much everything but the easiest fights, making healing much, much harder, and making all damage crippling. That's quite possible, but would it actually make a better game? Most players would probably say no, although you might have the septuagenarian Eskimos on your side.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 10374
Profile #9
It would be good to introduce something more real but not as much as Syngery said.

And I don't like when you use bow you have infinite amount of arows.I don't see a point of troving missiles that have limited amount when you could use bows.

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Posts: 263 | Registered: Sunday, September 9 2007 07:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 10488
Profile #10
Okay, for the most part I don't think I like this idea. In particular, the complaint that magic is too "magical" seems silly. Magic is magic - it's supposed to be unrealistic just by definition. Sure, magic can completely heal an acid burn or small wounds instantly. Larger wounds may take more time depenfing on the power of the mage.

On the other hand, the hacking does get boring after a while. This can be overcome (I assume) by the tactical puzzles such as many BoE designers (and presumable BoA designers) have used.

There was a game called Realmz (by FantaSoft) that I found on the same CD as Exile I and II, and I think it was more realistic. For example, when you were hit, you would start bleeding. I think you would have to rest after wandering for a certain time. I really didn't like it.

quote:
Originally written by Synergy:

Healing would work very differently too. Virtually all games have this silly ability to heal magically either ranged by another PC or by simply applying a medkit/healing potion instantely, even in the middle of battle. This is of course ridiculous. I'd love the challenge to make healing something like the older Avernum games where you had to rest or reenter a town/go to a healer when you are more gravely injured.
Not so ridiculous when magic is involved. And what's this about older Avernum games? You didn't have to rest, reenter a town, or go to a healer when you more gravely injured - unless you didn't have a priest capable of casting a healing spell. As far as healing goes, all the Avernum games are basically the same.

(This infinite arrows thing - that's just in A4, right? In all the other games you have limited arrows.)

(By the way, I think this topic would be better in General.)
Posts: 334 | Registered: Friday, September 14 2007 07:00
Infiltrator
Member # 7298
Profile #11
Their are ways to do what you want without drastically changing the game mechanics. You could for example make magic healing harder to do and more expensive. You could already make opponents hit harder that die easier. You can what you mention without a massive reworking of the game mechanics. If you where to try this I wouldn't it with a spiderweb game. The game mechanics are so fundamentally different that it requires its own game. Lastly the games I have player where the mechanics come close to what your talking about were good but the fact if a character died you lost them forever. After restarting a game 50 billion times it will old real fast because you

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Posts: 479 | Registered: Wednesday, July 12 2006 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #12
quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

If you want realistic simulations of medieval combat, you're looking at a very different type of game, not a revision of FRPGs. Short of that, the goal is not realism but fun. Suspension of disbelief is an important ingredient in fun, to be sure, but you can achieve that just by changing how you think about the game. Whereas the mechanics changes Synergy suggests would, I think, make a game that was outright infuriating.
I dunno. X-COM: UFO Defense is one of the greatest squad-based tactical games of all time, and it has quite a few of the gameplay elements Synergy would like. It sounds like what Synergy wants is basically a fantasy-themed version of that. It does require a certain change in player attitudes, though: for example, trying to keep all your original characters alive ends up being counterproductive, so the player has to accept a certain level of PC death and turnover as a matter of course.

I agree that it's a very different type of game from traditional RPGs. I don't think a game where you're expected to finish the game with the same four to six characters that you started with can plausibly coexist with a world where one well-placed hit can be fatal.

[ Wednesday, October 24, 2007 16:56: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Apprentice
Member # 122
Profile #13
There's a reason why those fights in movies go on and on and on: it's because people like it that way. No one wants the big brawl to come down to one guy knocking the other out in a matter of seconds.. or the gunfight ending before anyone has to reload.. or the knight to charge in, dodge one blast of flame, and stab the dragon in the heart. They want long, varied, and exciting action sequences, starring superhumans. Reality is cheap; we want our stories to be legendary.

This is the "reality" that RPGs usually try to present. Massively-inflated HP and attacks that can never do enough damage to kill significant foes in one shot are the most traditional way to do this. (Just ask D&D.) Otherwise, you would have to make it so that attacks almost never hit at all, or do any real damage.. and how fun would that be? ("You attack and miss. You miss again. Your attack hits your foe's armor and bounces off. You miss again. You nick your foe on the arm! You miss again. Your foe dodges." Et cetera.) And if the PCs are going to be the heroes who complete all the quests, kill all the monsters, and survive all the various incredible dangers they're faced with, then they need to be superhuman to survive it. What's more, they need to have all the "plot immunity" they have in movies and stories.. so they almost never get crippled or lose an eye or jam their gun, and if they do, it's only in a situation where it doesn't spell their doom. RPGs don't really have authors who decide everything that happens; they have a lot of random die rolls to see who gets hurt and who doesn't and how much, so the only way to give PCs the same plot immunity is to make sure that crippling injuries and accidents like that never happen by chance.

The healing is easy enough to explain: people who get in fights are bound to get hurt. Hurt is no way to go adventuring, especially when injuries can weaken and cripple, so hurt people are generally out of action until they're not hurt anymore. Without magical healing, that out-of-action period can last weeks or months, and spending weeks or months not doing anything is Not Fun.

The kind of realistic game you're talking about pretty much ensures that PCs will die eventually - usually sooner rather than later - and that the kinds of things heroic characters do are simply impossible. Sorry, the tribe of goblins kills you from above, in the dark. Sorry, the dragon rips a tree out of the ground and crushes you with it. Sorry, you had no better chance to resist the witch's curse than any of the other poor schlubs who came before you. Sorry, you caught acute pneumonia and died a slow, painful death of dehydration and organ failure in the wilderness a thousand miles from the only peace and comfort you ever knew. So you end up changing something.. either your characters take on perfectly ordinary tasks, like not getting mugged, changing a flat tire, and arguing with Human Resources because you didn't get your vacation time.. or else you back the scope off a bit and make something more like a tactical wargame, where life is cheap, character generation is fast and faceless, and no one is necessarily expected to survive until the end.

That said, if you play tabletop RPGs and want a game that can be a lot more realistic, look at GURPS. (It has a reputation for needing a degree in math before you can play it, but undeservedly so.) If not, then there aren't any CRPG options that I know of.
Posts: 8 | Registered: Sunday, October 7 2001 07:00
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #14
I know there are reasons why things get the done the way they get done over and over again. I find that ultimately very unoriginal and tedious, whether it's a movie, a game, a book, religion, social norms, fads, or romantic mythology.

I find it telling that it is hard for many of us to picture a game like I am describing being possible or fun. What we do as humanity is get stuck in paradigms, and it takes someone quite off the beaten path to risk derision to propose or create something to supplant an older, perhaps inferior model. If we keep creating games centered around massive slaughter and movies around punishiing, protracted fights, then we keep feeding the paradigm that lots of combat is the fun and satisfying way to resolve all conflicts. I'm thoroughly bored with it. It's become unimaginative. That it could be argued to be a disturbing pathological signature of our current level of cultural evolution is another matter.

One must really think outside the box to imagine how a game roughly the same in format and look as a SW game might involve a very different engine and rules and be, perhaps, as much or more fun, varied, and exciting. It would take tweaking and experimentation to get the balances right. It takes a compelling story to pull you along, an engaging environment, character development (actually having a sense of your characters and their humanity), a sense of foreboding and tension and building to something more than just another big fight against some predictable boss monster.

I could do all this, and prove my point. If I had a WYSIWYG game-building utility by which I could just focus on the mechanics and game-build itself, I'd have great fun demonstrating the viability and desirability of the kind of thing I am only roughly and approximally describing. Another lifetime, perhaps.

Are we really such singular, savage, bloodthirsty brutes that the only kind of fun we can imagine involves endless, regurgitations of numbing slaughter, where there are no real consequences for our choices? Then South Park is right. Our imaginations have been held hostage.

-S-

P.S. Wow, Xplo...three posts in six years? See you again in two years! ;)

[ Friday, October 26, 2007 12:33: Message edited by: Synergy ]

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Apprentice
Member # 122
Profile #15
Synergy...

It's really rather pointless for you to rhapsodize here about how humans are sheep and pat yourself on the back for thinking "out of the box"; that's just wankery, and irrelevant to the subject of game design. Let me assure you that your ideas are neither new or untried. I had a lot of the same ideas over a decade ago when I got tired of D&D, and I was not the first.

With that said, your ideas are not without merit, nor have the trials wholly failed. It's a subject worth discussing.. but there's no point discussing it with someone who won't listen to anyone else because he's convinced he's right. So far, you haven't proven your point, nor have you given any indication that it can actually be proven; in fact, you said yourself that you can't do it, which isn't very convincing.

So, if you've got anything besides accusations of unoriginality and vague promises that it would be "really cool, honest!", then trot it out. If not, that's fine; I'll be on my way.

(Regarding my posting frequency: imagine my surprise when I tried to register an account and the system told me I already existed. ;) )
Posts: 8 | Registered: Sunday, October 7 2001 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #16
quote:
Originally written by Synergy:

Are we really such singular, savage, bloodthirsty brutes that the only kind of fun we can imagine involves endless, regurgitations of numbing slaughter, where there are no real consequences for our choices? Then South Park is right. Our imaginations have been held hostage.
Now hang on a minute there. The reason we were all talking about combat is because you started the topic by talking about combat mechanics. If you're now saying that what you want is not redesigned combat but less combat and more things other than combat, then that's a separate issue. Don't try and paint us all as brutes because we participated in the discussion that you started.

I'd respond to some of your points in greater detail, but, well, I'm not sure exactly what you're arguing for any more. One day you seem to be advocating a tactical wargame, the next you want an RPG that de-emphasises the role of combat in driving the plot, perhaps along the lines of Planescape: Torment. With apologies to Matt Groening, it seems like you want a realistic, down-to-earth game that's completely off-the-wall and swarming with magic robots.

[ Saturday, October 27, 2007 05:31: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Raven v. Writing Desk
Member # 261
Profile Homepage #17
quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

I agree that it's a very different type of game from traditional RPGs. I don't think a game where you're expected to finish with the same four to six characters that you started with can plausibly coexist with a world where one well-placed hit can be fatal.
One easy way to make that work is to only fight monsters, i.e., creatures that don't wield weapons. This has been done at least twice in a quality RPG (Dungeon Master) and it's fairly reasonable for claws et al. to never kill you in one hit if you're wearing at least a little bit of armor.

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Slarty vs. DeskDesk vs. SlartyTimeline of ErmarianG4 Strategy Central
"Making poorly-sourced claims is not the same as determining something."
Posts: 3560 | Registered: Wednesday, November 7 2001 08:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #18
quote:
Originally written by Yama Toman?:

One easy way to make that work is to only fight monsters, i.e., creatures that don't wield weapons. This has been done at least twice in a quality RPG (Dungeon Master) and it's fairly reasonable for claws et al. to never kill you in one hit if you're wearing at least a little bit of armor.
True enough, perhaps, but it would seem to limit the kinds of stories that could be told in that system. Plot and character interaction are not exactly the Dungeon Master games' strong suit. (Also, for games that have no logical need to kill you swiftly, they're remarkably good at, well, killing you swiftly. But that's a feature specific to those games.)

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #19
quote:
Originally written by Xplo Eristotle:

It's a subject worth discussing.. but there's no point discussing it with someone who won't listen to anyone else because he's convinced he's right. So far, you haven't proven your point, nor have you given any indication that it can actually be proven; in fact, you said yourself that you can't do it, which isn't very convincing.
Huh? I'm listening with interest to anyone's thoughts on this topic, and I have very little invested in it. There is no right or wrong to the matter, nor is there any point I am trying to prove. I'm expressing a preference and ideas (which is what I am all about), and while frequently not original, as nothing really is, are largely unexplored in the gaming world overall.

I witnessed the beginning of the video game era, being something of a Space Invaders addict back in 1978. I frequented the heyday of the video arcade. I am now noting that since day one, the vast majority of games are basically a one-trick pony: shoot anything that moves and do it until you are dead. I think this is largely due to the same reason we have endless sequels in Hollywood: fear of risk and failure to do something more original, and seeking to profit off what sold before. Thankfully, ingeniues come along often enough to prove the corporate mindset wrong. But still, overall, we get business as usual.

I don't profess that my talent is in being particularly original, but I truly loved doing something highly unorthodox with a game when I had the ability to do it. When I owned an Apple//c, I loved the game Loderunner, which enabled you to build your own levels. After playing hundreds of the typical Loderunner style, which involves running around collecting gold, while evading guards, I build about seven of my own levels, which didn't utilize the guards as attackers or threats at all. They were part of extravagant logic puzzles, in which you had to, say, dig a guard out, run over its head, and thereby use it to gain access to the next point and continue on with the level...and so forth.

These wound up being extremely challenging levels very different in flavor from the run around frantically and avoid getting caught model most of Loderunner employed. With creativity, one can even take existing engines and do something quite un-usual, and it can be much more interesting than the same ol' same ol'. People who like puzzles loved my levels. People who just wanted the run around, dig, kill, avoid experience did not. Neither is right or wrong, but it's nice to have something very fresh and different.

All I am doing is proposing what I would find a very refreshing variation of and diversification of a (for me) tired gaming theme. Thuryl, you know I meander off on philosophical tangents readily, and that that needn't distract from my primary point of different kinds of combat systems, along with other options during a game than to just fight everything that is not friendly. We are seeing more of those kinds of ideas in Jeff employing some options with stealth/thievery or diplomacy/charisma qualities in games like G4. I'd like to see a lot more of it, so that any situation could have numerous, diverse possible ways of navigating through, as well as having combat, when engaged, being more risky and realistic in certain ways.

-S-

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A4 ItemsA4 SingletonG4 ItemsG4 ForgingG4 Infiltrator NR Items The Lonely Celt
Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Apprentice
Member # 122
Profile #20
Ah, yes. Damn those horrible, generic shooter games of yore. Pong, Frogger, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong.. I don't know what was worse, the fact that they were all about savage, mindless, unending killing, or the fact that they were all the same.

:P

In all seriousness, though... Your observations of the gaming and movie industries seem either laughably ignorant, grossly biased, or indicative of a lack of good taste in entertainment; to say the least, they are unfair generalizations, and not particularly deep either. Your "proposal" for a new kind of game is both self-contradictory and vague: you say you want a game with detailed, realistic tactical combat, but at the same time, you evidently regard combat as a barbaric form of dramatic conflict and would prefer to avoid it in favor of nonviolent solutions. As a demonstration of the viability and feasibility of your ideas, you offer us some imaginary RPG that exists only in your head, which you are neither able to create nor describe in much detail.. and, I feel, implied that anyone who doesn't share your vision is guilty of lacking courage, originality, or sophistication.

I apologize for not contributing more positively to this discussion, but I'm not in the habit of propping up other people's idealism in the face of legitimate criticism; what's more, you seem to have ignored as irrelevant my response to what little substance your posts contained, which leaves me in doubt that I could say anything here that would not be a waste of my time.
Posts: 8 | Registered: Sunday, October 7 2001 07:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #21
Corn flakes tasted funny this morning, did they? Sheesh. No lives hang on this issue, so maybe we could save the donnish excoriations for our comments on Synergy's next term paper. And if every dream of better things were scorned for being vague and incoherent, we'd all still be hooting at the hyenas in the cavemouth.

Gradually hacking away at monsters is a staple component of an awful lot of gaming. It's like Pizza Hut: some tasty toppings, but underneath there's always this massive slab of bland dough. I think this is really just the micro end of the grinding issue on which Jeff himself has recently called crusade. Hacking is filler. It's easy to design, and including a lot of it in the game you design lets you stretch the playing time a lot. No-one will mind, because the phenomenon is accepted without question.

What alternatives are there? Scylla and Charybdis. If you somehow manage to make combat short and decisive without making it horrible, you make a short game that plays thin. If you make combat intricate and realistic, then you have to design a novel swordsmanship challenge for every orc, or else all you've done is mounted a steep learning curve onto the front end of a game whose plateau is still effectively just hack and slash.

Ordinarily there's just no substitute for detailed creative design. If you want to replace half a game's playing time with something more interesting, you've got to put twice as much effort into designing it; or else hope to sell a game half as long for full price.

The only way I can see to escape this dilemma is to invent chess. Come up with a combat system which has a manageably small number of elements, but offers endless scope for tactical skill, and stubbornly resists reduction to a few optimal strategies. Beautiful challenges, which yet can be solved in a few tries by average customers, can be concocted in this system without effort or limit — and without needing Neuromancer for your game's AI. Now you're set.

[ Monday, October 29, 2007 23:16: Message edited by: Student of Trinity ]

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #22
I wish this thread were in General so that people would actually read it.

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #23
Concur. Will a mod move this to General? I had mixed thoughts on where to put this (Avernum 5 was where I'd have LIKED to have put it) and as soon as I posted it here, I realized it wasn't the best choice.

Xplo — there's a reason I haven't been addressing your commentary. You're probably right about wasting your time here, as far as I am concerned. You are right, if you seek to point out that I am full of paradoxes and seeming contradictions. This is the nature of all reality, really, and I sit easily enough with my own. It takes many more words to satisfy for some how the paradoxical can sit side by side with itself, or how the contradictory can really be complementary. Why this topic appears to rile you so is beyond me. Don't worry. You're in no imminent danger of my wacky ideas being foisted upon you.

Cheers.

-S-

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A4 ItemsA4 SingletonG4 ItemsG4 ForgingG4 Infiltrator NR Items The Lonely Celt
Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 6785
Profile #24
quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

I wish this thread were in General so that people would actually read it.
The advantage of having it here is that we have polite discourse instead or it being reduced to the usual flaming. This happened in Geneforge 4 forum on evolution.
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00

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