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  To die, or not to die...that is the question...  (Read 15946 times)
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Offline Breakfast

Senior Member




for great justice!


« Reply #30 - Posted 2006-06-22 12:02:44 »

This is why I was saying that a virtues/flaws system works better in pen and paper- I don't think it's enough to give a stat difference alone, which is usually the way it works in computer games. Taking the flaw "ugliness" may give you -10 speechcraft but most people don't care very much about that. If, however, it made your character really ugly to look at people would think twice about it. I'm not suggesting that is actually feasible, but you need something like that for your flaws and virtues to be meaningful.

System Shock 2 had quite a good story-based character generation, I seem to recall, as have the last couple of Elder Scrolls games.
Offline OverKill

Junior Member




Java games rock!


« Reply #31 - Posted 2006-06-22 13:24:52 »

Yep, been there, seen that.
NWN players with 8 int, wis and charisma and talking like professors.
If you have those kinda stats it is very important that they be used ingame.
Offline endolf

JGO Coder


Medals: 7


Current project release date: sometime in 3003


« Reply #32 - Posted 2006-06-22 14:03:27 »

Hi

Hows about an adaptive system based on the way you play. A really simple example is strength v.s. intellegence. If you character wanders round with a big sword for 80% of their gameplay time, it maybe that the strength of that character goes up, whilst some of their other stats go down. Inversly, someone who spends lots of time casting spells, may have thier int go up and thier strength down, someone who mixes the two would be the jack of all trades, master of none type person.

The player may create some starting statistics, but the way they play thier character after that defines they way they develop.

Endolf

Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline OverKill

Junior Member




Java games rock!


« Reply #33 - Posted 2006-06-22 14:16:42 »

@endolf:
If it were my game I'd definetly do something like that.
IMHO skill and stat progression based on the players actions is among the best systems.
Offline endolf

JGO Coder


Medals: 7


Current project release date: sometime in 3003


« Reply #34 - Posted 2006-06-22 14:47:41 »

Hi

It can be taken further into the skills as well. Skills can be either taught or learned through observation. I can go to town and find the local mage school and learn the basics of say fireball. I can then go off and start casting it. At first, i'm not that good, sometimes it may fizzle, sometimes it may do little or no damage. As I practice it, I slowly improve. One day, I get myself into a high skill group, and there is someone there who is casting it 100% of the time doing tons of damage, just by being near that person, I am observing what they are doing, and whilst I may be performing other things, because I already know the basics, and I have high intellegence, I am able to increase my own skill in the spell.

This all happens under the covers with no feedback to the user, but next time I cast it, I find I kill my foe quicker.

I've discussed this next bit with kev before, and I still think it's a good idea. What *I* hate about some games is the level/stat grind. Remove the numbers, and it's about the game experience.

I'm now finding my foe are very easy to kill, I can either sit there clicking the same buttons over and over, and over and over, or I can go off and find a new challenge. By entering in to the unknown (With no numbers, I can't look online to find out what I should be killing at level 20) the excitement has returned, it becomes and adventure again. Death becomes a risk, and that introduces excitement.

You still have to get the balance right, if death means nothing, then the risk has gone, if death means you loose everything, no-one will risk it.

Maybe death means your char is unusable for an hour, time to go work on one of those alts, maybe time for the alchemist to prep some more potions. Death still has a meaning, but it's not hours and hours of game advancement lost. You also probably didn't improve many of your abilities whilst your body was being flug about by that troll Wink

Endolf

Offline beowulf03809

Junior Member




We live for the code, we die for the code


« Reply #35 - Posted 2006-06-22 15:34:43 »

Two models in pnp RPGs that I am reviewing are similar to that.  In both models, stats or abilities are pretty much fixed after creation.  They can be altered in-game , but such a change is usually from an exceptional event.  Both avoid the use of "levels" and general advancement of everything ( even unused skills ).  Neither method uses "levels" for the player.  Each uses a system of the player accumulating experience in-game and may allow some ( slower ) progression even while logged out ( to keep them coming back ).

  • One model has the player selecting at the beginning of the game which skills ( perhaps 1 to 3 ) they would like to focus their training in.  As they earn experience during the game, it is divided evenly among those skills.  If you focus on just one skill at a time you will learn it more quickly and allow specilization.  Training in more than one will allow you to progress as a more well-rounded character.  Positive and negative modifications to the point allocation will exist based on some more detailed mechanics and decisions.  When a skill gains enough points to advance one rank you are notified and can either select another skill to train or let the others accumulate points faster.
  • The second model is almost completely based on advancement thru use. Each time you use a skill, successfully or otherwise, you gain some experience with it.  After enough experience, your skill increases in rank.  You can also select a "Training" activity which allows you to train in any one skill of your choice.  The points accumulate slower than actual "real" use, but this will allow players to develop some skill in areas they cannot otherwise use and also allows for some off-line training to take place.  There will be a fairly low maximum rank you can attain from training a skill in this way to prevent a player from selecting "pistol combat" to train, going off-line for a week and coming back at rank 20.  This will force players to actual DO something in areas they want to improve.

In the event of non-permanent death, all experience accumulated toward the new ranks will disapear.  Additionally, which ever method I select I do not believe I will show the player how many points they have accumulated.  There will be some degree of feedback but not explicit points. I like to try to seperate the numeric aspects from the game interface enough to help with immersion and reduce playing "by the numbers".
Offline JAW

Senior Member


Medals: 2



« Reply #36 - Posted 2006-06-24 19:07:38 »

I once considered the idea of a Call of Cthulhu / Lovecraft style MMORPG. I didnt like the run around, slay monsters and
gain xp, short: leveling, of existent games. It would be rather an investigate style gameplay. Players solve
riddles, discover secrets, etc. They have to battle monstes, but they dont give xp, they are just threads. Running around
and killing is no use. You only get xp for Quest solving. And Quests would need different skills. You cant just go around alone.

All in all, gameplay should be more like story playing. Follow an interesting plot, like reading a book. No big leveling, no special items, no hundred levels of xp, no dozens of special skills and spells and such. The game fun is the experience of the story, your brain being your best skill.

If you die, you create another char. If you have some levels and skills, items and money, maybe you can keep some and lose some, so you dont start over at 0 but have a penalty. All in all, there shouldnt be too much difference between a newbie and a pro. No level 100 and 4 times the damage or so. Just ingame experience and knowledge, a little more insight in the great plot maybe. But a pistol is a pistol and always does the same damage. Bullets dont go stronger when you level up. Accuracy might increase a little, but not so much that you would need to go level 20 to be able to survive an area.

Basically, its "play a novel" gameplay. You have chars, a story, hints, riddles, etc. The drawback is, you dont get much. You get no great number as level, no superspecialunique items. Well, ok, there are special items, but they dont make so much of a difference. When you play a game for the experience and the story, and not to get gold, xp or items, then it might be an idea for you.

All in all, get the ROLE PLAYING into MMORPG, while most of them are hack and slay based. People talk outgame, the bright paladin just doesnt behave like one, there is no role playing atmosphere. People discuss sports results or school homework, while playing dwarves or elves. They run around and slay monsters to get xp to get levels to get some skills or better stats just to kill stronger monsters. I dont like it.
Offline OverKill

Junior Member




Java games rock!


« Reply #37 - Posted 2006-06-26 09:04:48 »

Out of personal preference I would stay away from alowing people to choose stuff out of the box.
Sure a basic set of skills that have little or nothing to do with their later professions and stats are ok.
But I would not yet let them choose what they want to play. i.e. fighter, wizzard, etc.

The game I talked about in an earlier post does the same and I find it very nice out of the simple reason that I can do what I want.
Even if my stats have fighter written on them I can still do magic, though poorly.
Also you can let people change who they are midgame. Say a fighter decides to focus more on magic. In some game systems it would not be possible or limited.
If you find a great axe you could reskill to the axe.

design pitch:
Using your 'learning by dooing' and 'training one skill offsets the others', how about a finite amount of skill points a character can have per level.
Say you have 10 pts at lvl 1. You have no skills what so ever so you learn swordsmanship for 4 pts, armor for 3 pts, shields for 2 pts.
You have 1 pt left you can use for another skill, *but* here is the deal. You could learn more, but it will cost you other points.
So learning 2 pts alchemy will reduce your swordmanship by 1 (oldest trained skill).
For each sucessive level you can give out extra points to the max.
i.e. lvl 2 = 10 + 3 = 13
lvl 3 = 13 + 3 = 16
Offline Mr_Light

Senior Member




shiny.


« Reply #38 - Posted 2006-06-26 13:41:01 »

has anyone taken into account separation? I mean if I play a game with some buddies and somone dies the game doesn't get more boring for the buddy that dies but also for the rest of the group.

It's harder to read code than to write it. - it's even harder to write readable code.

The gospel of brother Riven: "The guarantee that all bugs are in *your* code is worth gold." Amen brother a-m-e-n.
Offline OverKill

Junior Member




Java games rock!


« Reply #39 - Posted 2006-06-26 14:11:38 »

has anyone taken into account separation? I mean if I play a game with some buddies and somone dies the game doesn't get more boring for the buddy that dies but also for the rest of the group.
I'd say agreed but only if the game was designed for that purpose, like GuildWars.

Otherwise, tough cookies. Smiley
Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline Breakfast

Senior Member




for great justice!


« Reply #40 - Posted 2006-06-26 15:47:51 »

I wouldn't worry about the rest of the group that loses a member- it makes them feel their own survival more closely and enhances their roleplaying experience. Coming back from a lrp mission or battle where you've lost a bunch of people is one of the most intense moments in the game. The absolutely critical thing is that the player group can identify what they did wrong. They must never be placed in a situation where they think "there was nothing we could do" - that is when your players become dissolusioned with the whole game.

As a counterpoint to Overkill's starting skills, to my mind it does help people to feel that they have a role in mind when they create the character but it doesn't matter greatly either way.

One thing I would include is an atrophy element to the highest level of skills. So if you train yourself up as a swordsman and get your swordsmanship skill up to 100% and then decide to multiclass to a wizard and start chucking fireballs at people rather than chopping them up with a sword, you start losing the top few points from your swordsmanship skill because you're not using it. In a multi-player universe that creates the credible outcome that you can't be the best swordsperson in the world and the best mage in the world and the best rogue in the world at the same time. You could be each consecutively, but when you decide to stop using a skill that is in the top 10% it starts declining.  You could even have a set number of points behind the scenes that are allocated to skills according to use- you start out having 1 point in each skill and as you prioritise your skills the system pushes your available points into the skills you are using and away from the skills you don't use.

Offline beowulf03809

Junior Member




We live for the code, we die for the code


« Reply #41 - Posted 2006-06-26 16:27:27 »

I once considered the idea of a Call of Cthulhu / Lovecraft style MMORPG. I didnt like the run around, slay monsters and
gain xp, short: leveling, of existent games. It would be rather an investigate style gameplay. Players solve
riddles, discover secrets, etc. They have to battle monstes, but they dont give xp, they are just threads. Running around
and killing is no use. You only get xp for Quest solving. And Quests would need different skills. You cant just go around alone.

I really enjoyed CoC back in my pnp game days.  It had some very nice mechanisms but really required a talented game master.

Basically, its "play a novel" gameplay....When you play a game for the experience and the story, and not to get gold, xp or items, then it might be an idea for you.

All in all, get the ROLE PLAYING into MMORPG, while most of them are hack and slay based.

Role Playing in an online game is difficult for a couple reasons, and I believe the hack & slash model exists in such quantity now for the exact same reason that hack & slash became the dominant way of playing PnP games.  It's easy.  You create an environment with traps and monsters that match the skills of the players and reward when they kill everything.  The players get stronger and face more/harder monsters. This continues until people get bored.   

True Role Playing in a game requires an environment that is interresting, things for players to do within and with that environment other than just killing, and a mechanism to reward those that do so.  But it is VERY difficult to desgn a persistent online game world that provides interresting role-playing oportunities to a population without employeeing huge numbers of moderators.  So many games seem to fall back on hack & slash for challenge / reward stimulation and providing a set of scripted random Quests that always seems to give the players the same basic ones no matter how many thousands of Quests the game claims to offer.

People talk outgame, the bright paladin just doesnt behave like one, there is no role playing atmosphere. People discuss sports results or school homework, while playing dwarves or elves. They run around and slay monsters to get xp to get levels to get some skills or better stats just to kill stronger monsters. I dont like it.

Those are some of my major pet peeves w/ current online games.  i hate to play a game that offers a good environment and story line in which you can try to emerse yourself, only to find other players with names like L337ElfSmack and YoMamma chatting about last night's episode of American Idol.  I know that sort of stuff cannot be avoided, but I hope with some of the mechanisms I'm considering for rewarding players for "in character" role playing can have the side effect of discouraging players whose activity effects the emersion of others.
Offline Mr_Light

Senior Member




shiny.


« Reply #42 - Posted 2006-06-26 16:28:59 »

has anyone taken into account separation? I mean if I play a game with some buddies and somone dies the game doesn't get more boring for the buddy that dies but also for the rest of the group.
I'd say agreed but only if the game was designed for that purpose, like GuildWars.

Otherwise, tough cookies. Smiley
setting that aside for a moment if you take for example a good of high leveled  ppl and one dies and he actually starts over you can't really run togetter until that person is highlevel again (if the game is challenging) since usually high level ppl don't gain experience in area's where low level ppl can survive.

It's harder to read code than to write it. - it's even harder to write readable code.

The gospel of brother Riven: "The guarantee that all bugs are in *your* code is worth gold." Amen brother a-m-e-n.
Offline beowulf03809

Junior Member




We live for the code, we die for the code


« Reply #43 - Posted 2006-06-26 16:58:09 »

Mr. Light:  That is actually a key item I'm trying to handle and a reason for so many of the directions this thread has gone.

I personally do not agree with what I see discussed in some game forums.  Reading the forums for EvE for example, I see a lot of players recounting situations where their ship is blown apart, but their life pod races back to another sector of space, they board another ship they have waiting there, and fly back in time to help their gang out in the same battle they were just destroyed in.  Likewise with fantasy RPGs that have characters die, respawn somewhere, and come rushing back in. 

I just do not like or agree with those game models.  I have little interrest in trying to devote my time as a player to a game that to me feels shallow and and non emersive.  As an indie developer with a regular job I also have the luxury of not having to design a game that follows the mainstream.

Because I am choosing a game model that does offer real danger to the player of character permadeath there are so many other factors to consider to help balance this out. and keep things fun.  Eliminating the "start from zero" and level-grinding models, throw out level-based advancement for a more player-controlled skill-based development, and focus on emersion and role playing elements rather than a combat-centric advancement process are some of the examples. 

I think by providing a mechanism for "new" characters to be valuable, having an emersive world that minimizes hack & slash dependency, and rewarding appropriately, some of the negatives can be reduced.  If a party lost a character then they will understand what is at stake and the rewards will feel that much greater.  If they liked the player of that character, then they should be able to let that player's new character join them without feeling they are burdened ( remember, hack and slash combat will NOT be a focus and not the primary way of advancement  and "level" importance will be minimized).  In PnP role playing we often had characters of various levels because the PLAYER brought something to the group. 

In the end, if a player wants WoW, they should go play WoW.  If a game designer is looking to produce a commercial game with the same market apeal as WoW, then they will basically just remake WoW.  This same pattern duplication exists in Hollywood and television as it does in games. Doing something new may not carry the same market appeal and chance for commercial success, but sometimes "cult classics" can find a comfortable niche and ( rarely ) can even become more...as long as they are done well.
Offline Mr_Light

Senior Member




shiny.


« Reply #44 - Posted 2006-06-27 11:00:48 »

I'm not saying thats a reason to stick with the old, but... I would want to have that adressed as a player.

it's tricky.

It's harder to read code than to write it. - it's even harder to write readable code.

The gospel of brother Riven: "The guarantee that all bugs are in *your* code is worth gold." Amen brother a-m-e-n.
Offline Mr EEK

Senior Newbie





« Reply #45 - Posted 2006-06-27 14:09:24 »

beowulf03809,

I find myself agreeing with pretty much all of your ideas.  I like the idea of perma-death, and was thinking about it as part of one of my own game ideas (although that was not really an MMORPG, more like an ordinary multiplayer game (with short-lived military "missions") but with a persistent universe in the background (a overall "war" that the missions are part of).  In the context I was thinking, death is sort of expected (you play a soldier), and can almost be another aspect of an enjoyable game.

To make death more palatable to the player, I was thinking I would:

- keep a record of their past characters so that they can look back at those who sacrificed their lives so gallantly Wink
- have a sort of game "newspaper", or even as part of the "mission" loading screen, a brief obituary of recently killed noteable characters (e.g. "Corporal Smithers of Red Platoon was killed in action on such-an-such a mission after killing so-and-so many of the enemy and capturing a such-and-such.  Private (the name of the new char) has joined up as his replacement")

I also think you are on the right track with making new chars comparable in power to more experienced ones - I was thinking (as part of an idea for a different game, this time actually an MMORPG) of using the law of diminishing returns to make gaining strength/hit points/skills more and more difficult.

For example, all stats have a maximum of 1.0.  All start at 0.5.  When you add a point to the stat, it goes up maybe by ((max - current) * 0.05).  Add 10 points, your stat is 0.7.  Add 20 points, it's 0.82.  And no-one can possibly be more than twice as strong as anyone else;  new characters are useful in a group of experienced characters.

I know you want to dispose of the idea of levels completely, but people do enjoy watching stats creep upwards as they grind, and they like to be able to improve their character.  But in your game, it won't be a grind, they can take part fully even when their char is new.
Offline beowulf03809

Junior Member




We live for the code, we die for the code


« Reply #46 - Posted 2006-06-27 15:14:36 »

I've discussed this next bit with kev before, and I still think it's a good idea. What *I* hate about some games is the level/stat grind. Remove the numbers, and it's about the game experience.

I know you want to dispose of the idea of levels completely, but people do enjoy watching stats creep upwards as they grind, and they like to be able to improve their character.  But in your game, it won't be a grind, they can take part fully even when their char is new.

I think other forms of feedback can replace "levels" and still provide players with a sense of growth.  There are the material gains of wealth and items of course.  There is also the idea of attaching a descriptive value to skills with each descriptive representing a range of numeric value for the skill ( "average swordsman", "superior trader", etc. ).  The player could see themselve improving without getting too hung up on the specific numbers.  And even if I used actual numeric values for individual skills it's still not as bad as broad "levels". 

Another reward I am workin in is based very loosly on another concept in some PnP RPGs I enjoyed historically.  One had two other number characters accumulated: Fame and Fortune.  Fame would grow possitivly or negatively based on your activities in the game and measured how you would rise to glory ( or infamy if you were evil ).  Fortune points would be gained ( very slowly ) based on risks taken by the player.  This is proving to be a little tricky to work into a game mechanically, but basically if the character tried something that could result in death or bad injury and succeeded, they may gain a Fortune point.  These Fortune points could accumulate and be "spent" by the player for extreme situations, such as one point for eliminating a bad injury, or a couple points for increasing one characters Stats ( which otherwise are pretty fixed ).  They could also spend a fair number ( maybe 5 ) to convert a perma-death situation into a serious injury.  So until the characters Forutne runs out, they always have a chance.  And with a high enough Fame you could live on in legend.

Official:  "You are absolutely the worst pirate I have ever heard of."
Pirate:     "Ah! But you HAVE heard of me."
Offline Breakfast

Senior Member




for great justice!


« Reply #47 - Posted 2006-06-27 16:22:32 »

Your character living on in legend could have some really amusing in-game effects, such as NPCs having tall tales about how they once sailed with Blackheart Johnson when he went on his famous rampage through the southern carribees, when nothing of the sort ever happened. Especially amusing for anyone finding bizarre anecdotes about their former character traversing the world...
Offline JAW

Senior Member


Medals: 2



« Reply #48 - Posted 2006-06-27 16:29:40 »

Role Playing in an online game is difficult for a couple reasons,

But it is VERY difficult to desgn a persistent online game world that provides interresting role-playing oportunities to a population without employeeing huge numbers of moderators. 

Yes, considering a permanent running MMORPG, it is extremely hard. It would need fast storywriters and very flexible scripts to develop new plots. Smaller quests should be auto-generated. But keeping massive players busy on a MMORPG server is hard work, I think.

Maybe one could use a Dungeon Keeper method, let some players be good, some be bad. But not exactly a player vs player, but a "bad side" master who can spawn and control monster to keep player parties busy. I tried to find ideas, how people could play against people with a deep plot, and not on a shoot em up or hack and slay manner. More like conspiracy, secret cults, etc. The major drawback is, that any person could destroy a lot by just running around and giving away secrets.

When allowing people to play the bad side, spawn monsters, generate dungeons, maybe even generate quests, there is a quality problem. You could get a shitload of crap from unskilled players.

I once read about an online game, I think it was called Planetside, there are 3 sides, companies or countries or so, and they battle over a planet. You can play one of the 3 sides, take different classes, control vehicles, etc, you take a role in the army. There are several regions you need to conquer or defend. The whole gameplay world lives by its players, they are permanently struggling for terretory. The variety of weapons, classes and vehicles allows everyone to take an individual role, the lone sniper, the defending heavy machinegun, the assault tank, air combat as well as medic or troop transport or air defense, short: support roles. And only a good mix of classes can win a battle. Its a first person shooter, the RPG and experience and leveling factors are small, and you can join and leave anytime, you dont really need a clan or guild. There are always enough people playing, you can just get right in.

This is a gameplay that can live by its own, without moderation. But such things seem always to be limited to combat, be it guild vs guild, player vs player, hack and slay or shooter. This doesnt work for the game story. I am searching for a gameplay, where people are opposed in a story, not in a fight. Where you have to discover things, not to shoot enemies. No solution yet...


PS I think we left the dying question, anyone interested to get back on topic?

-JAW
Offline beowulf03809

Junior Member




We live for the code, we die for the code


« Reply #49 - Posted 2006-06-27 16:54:47 »

Yes, considering a permanent running MMORPG, it is extremely hard. It would need fast storywriters and very flexible scripts to develop new plots. Smaller quests should be auto-generated. But keeping massive players busy on a MMORPG server is hard work, I think.

Maybe one could use a Dungeon Keeper method, let some players be good, some be bad. But not exactly a player vs player, but a "bad side" master who can spawn and control monster to keep player parties busy. I tried to find ideas, how people could play against people with a deep plot, and not on a shoot em up or hack and slay manner. More like conspiracy, secret cults, etc. The major drawback is, that any person could destroy a lot by just running around and giving away secrets.

With an interresting enough world, player-influenced environments, dynamic background events and oportunities for interraction a world may almost be self-evolving.  A few key story lines with oportunities for player involvement ( Quests ) would be needed but a game along the lines of a Pirates-type world may not need too much actual linear story.  The players choices of actions and interractions with other players and NPCs would be most of the backdrop. 


PS I think we left the dying question, anyone interested to get back on topic?


I have thought a couple times during this thread how far it has deviated, but it does come back now and then ( see the "Fame" messages above between myself and Breakfast ).  It's a real good example I think of how major decisions for a game cannot be made in a vaccume. 

My original question was "is it reasonable to have permadeath in a persistent-world game".  The thread that involved basically said "if you do, you don't want to torque off players when they have to start again", so we discussed some ideas for starting characters while avoiding noob / level-grind situations. Then there was the direction that alternative in-game rewards vs. traditional leveling would be more appropriate for such a game and how focus on story-play vs. stat-play could help players with new characters participate more in a world with stronger characters.  And in each of these and other tangents there was a tie back to the original issue of permadeath ( usually directly, sometimes indirectly ). 

So, yes...we have covered several "off topic" issues, but all of them within the context of "is permadeath acceptiable and if so, under what conditions".  If nothing else it's a good exercise in how important it is to have a good plan and design for any game of moderate complexity and really take time to understand the interraction between elements ( character creation, starting capabilities, advancement, damage, death, rewards, etc ) before committing too much effort into coding.
Offline dsellars

Junior Member




Need to write more games


« Reply #50 - Posted 2006-06-28 10:43:42 »

Well this thread may be twisting and truning a bit but I'm enjoying it Smiley

Just for the record I thinkt hat perma-death would be a good feature of a game if done well. 

On a slightly different note, you seem to be going back to the source and using PnP rpg's as an influence rather than looking at computer rpg's and saying that's what a rpg is!  Have you considered looking here -> http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/ ? It's a forum where alot of indie game (PnP RPG) writers hang out and there are qite alot of very interesting discussions that go on there especially aropund how different people want different things out of a game.  Any way while you may not be able to directly convert the ideas in to a computer rpg (I can't see how you would do a Narrative game in virtual land for instance) it may spark some new ideas off.

I hope you find this interesting,
Dan.
 
Offline beowulf03809

Junior Member




We live for the code, we die for the code


« Reply #51 - Posted 2006-06-28 15:10:37 »

Thanks for the pointer, Dan.  I am marking it and will poke around this weekend.  The couple forums I looked at already appeared interresting.  Very similar to what we have here but targeted more at human-interractive RPGs. 

I am not so much hoping to duplicate a PnP experience in a CRPG environment since I realize the "human factor" of running a PnP cannot be duplicated virtually without a MASSIVE amound of complex AI and scripting ( far beyond my skills Cheesy ) or a massive amount of hired moderators ( far beyond my budget  Roll Eyes ). 

Emersion in a game genre is a double-edged sword.  It is important to really understand what is already on the market ( both successes and complete failures ) so that you can get an idea of what does and does not work both commercially and technically, ideas of where you can find a niche or expand game play options, etc.  The downside is that no matter how much you try to keep your ideas unique, the more external influences you are exposed to the more those may reflect regardless of your intent.

Just like if you wanted to write a fictional mystery book.  Unless you are a uniquely gifted writer, you need to read a lot of good mysteries in order to develop a feel for how the stories are presented, characters developed, dialog managed, etc.  However, if you read too many you may find yourself pulling elements from certain writers and incorporating them without even realizing you have done so.  Too much of this and it may actually corrupt your vision or dampen your unique flavor, resulting in people comparing you closely to those influences.

In the case of my SMOG ( Small-scale Multiplayer Online Game ), I am trying to draw more on alternative influences ( PnP RPGs ) for some of the basic mechanics but am otherwise doing the design docs for a game I just wish I could play myself.  I did some early research of similar games to make sure no one else hasn't beat me to the punch on some of the angles I'm taking, but otherwise I'm trying to avoid many influences.  Once I have a lot of the design fleshed out I'm going to prototype some of the UI to see if I'm making things overly complex, etc.  Once my basics are solidified enough that I'm comfortable that it won't be too influenced, I will probably spend some time doing some  "compartive research" ( good excuse to play a lot of games Cheesy ) of other games on the market, but not until then.
Offline dsellars

Junior Member




Need to write more games


« Reply #52 - Posted 2006-06-28 17:48:35 »

I like the idea of  a SMOG Smiley somthing I wondered about my self.  How many players per world are you thinking of?  Am I right in thinking that your game is going to be like multiplayer 'Pirates'?  I lost hours to that game on my amiga.  I guess on to your initial question I liked the way death was handled in that.  Basically at a certain point in the game you had either aged or gathered enough wounds (long term injuries) that you stopped being effective (if I remember correctly) and then retired, based on how well you had done in the game it gave you a future carrer which randed from begger to kings advisor.   
Offline beowulf03809

Junior Member




We live for the code, we die for the code


« Reply #53 - Posted 2006-06-28 20:04:06 »

That's basically what I have in mind, dsellars.  Something that would be fun and reasonable to develop and put me in the direction of developing the skills and understanding of getting into larger scale projects.  it's also something that can be started with a basic 2D interface and replaced with a 3D based client in time.  The player interface and a lot of game mechanics is different than the old SidM games, but the local and concepts are similar.

As for game size, that will probably depend on how well it plays.   Grin  Considering the size of the Caribbean and the fact that there were a few dozen ports spread across the region, the environment could probably support a hundred players  without "crowding", but I think initial targets of maybe twenty players would be good.  A good oportunity for players to become legendary, not too much competition for unique roles ( there are, afterall, only so many governor's daughters to marry! ) and not so many players that they need to start ganging up in "clans" in order to be protected from each other.  Player feedback would be very important to judge when a world is getting too crowded to be fun.
Offline Jeff

JGO Coder




Got any cats?


« Reply #54 - Posted 2006-06-28 21:29:30 »

Two models in pnp RPGs that I am reviewing are similar to that.  In both models, stats or abilities are pretty much fixed after creation.  They can be altered in-game , but such a change is usually from an exceptional event.  Both avoid the use of "levels" and general advancement of everything ( even unused skills ).  Neither method uses "levels" for the player.  Each uses a system of the player accumulating experience in-game and may allow some ( slower ) progression even while logged out ( to keep them coming back ).

TORG didnt have the greatest character creation system over-all but it DID do a good job of keeping the characters tracked.

An idea Ive stolen in my house system is the idea of progressive stat points.  Cost to raise a stat is flat in creation, but in avancement it gets significantly more expensive so its hard tp raise a stat that strated low.  if you whole system is skill-based then this tends to limit stat growth after the afct and thus keep the charcters tracked in their original tracks.

I have played a system where use is what raises skills (was it RUnequest? I forget.)  I was never entirely satisfied with the character growth, it felt too random  and driven by cirumcstance to me.  This is a case where, for me, it was too much simulation and not enough story.

ANother thing i have done with a Fantasy Hero setting is to set different statlimits depending on a starting package.  The heavy fighter can grow STR higher but DEX is more limited.  The light fighter, the reverse is true.  Coupled with STR maxes on the use of items, and additional limits on what skills can be chosen, it works pretty well to keep characters in archetypes


Got a question about Java and game programming?  Just new to the Java Game Development Community?  Try my FAQ.  Its likely you'll learn something!

http://wiki.java.net/bin/view/Games/JeffFAQ
Offline Breakfast

Senior Member




for great justice!


« Reply #55 - Posted 2006-06-29 00:42:48 »

The Elder Scrolls games all have skills that increase as they are used.
Offline bahuman

Junior Member





« Reply #56 - Posted 2006-06-29 11:09:10 »

First off: I have no game development experience to show off with, so please take everything I said with a grain of salt  Grin

Everybody tries to convert tabletop RPG's to computer RPG's, and IMHO that's where everything goes wrong. Tabletop RPG's invented "stats" and "skills" and "levels" and whatnot, because they needed a system to track how "good" someone was.

On a computer, you don't really NEED artificial points for skills. If you give two players the same ranged weapon, one player will handle it to more effect than another, less experienced player. You don't need to keep track of skill points, you just need to create weapons that take a bit of skill to aim, time correctly, ... etc.

In MMORPG's, it doesn't make sense to assign someone a level 1000+ for "persuasion", because if he's talking to PC's, they won't be persuaded by his level, only by good, solid arguments (and perhaps a little bribery  Wink )

My conclusion: you don't need to keep track of skills. Make sure it requires REAL skills to advance in your MMORPG.
The advantage: no level grinding necessary. A veteran player is a veteran player, even when he starts with a fresh character.
The disadvantage: even a permanent death becomes less of a penalty. But there are other ways to make death appropriately painful: by taking away all the character's possessions, for example.
The compromise: you can still keep track of a few stats that have nothing to do with skils. Physical form is one. You can be as skillfull as you want, if you don't have the strength to wield a longsword, you'll have to do some training first.


There is still some danger in this system. If a party looses a member, they could guard his possessions for him, and wait for the dead player to create a new character. Once this new character joins the party again, he can have his "old" possessions back. However, even in this system, death can be enough of a penalty: if the new character respawns far away, the waiting of the party can be an adventure (foraging in enemy territory?), and the new character's journey towards the party can be a quest in itself.


There is another way, but it'll be much more difficult to program.
Anyone know Magic: the Gathering? Anyone remember "Shandalar" ? Suppose you walk around in a world, and you find/collect/trade runes, for certain spells. If you trade away a certain rune,  you can no longer cast that spell. These spells differ a little in power level, of course. So certain spells will be "worth" more than others, and will help the magician win more fights. BUT! My experience with Magic: the Gathering has been that an experienced player can beat the living daylight out of a novice player, even if this novice player has a good portion of powerful spells. Hell, a novice player might not immediately gauge the potential power of a spell correctly! It took Magic players all over the world several years to appreciate the power of certain spells.
A few issues: you'll need a VERY powerful and flexible rules engine to process all possible combinations of spells. And you might also run into some copyright/trademark/whatever issues if you try to emulate the collectable card game play style. Not sure about that.
Offline Breakfast

Senior Member




for great justice!


« Reply #57 - Posted 2006-06-29 11:26:39 »

In bahuman's skill-based model you could do interesting things with high-level kit- having the enchanted longsword +3 making the player's mouse three times more sensitive during combat so that the player needs  much greater finesse to be able to handle it.

The downside, as I see it, is that I would like to have the freedom to play the kind of character I want to play- if I want to play a bowman but I'm rubbish with the archery interface then I'll never be able to advance as the type of character I want to be. You end up only playing characters with your own physical skills, which doesn't give much for the whole role-play aspect...
Offline harry@dayfamilyweb

Junior Member





« Reply #58 - Posted 2006-06-29 11:46:22 »

pepole like to see and compare statas they like to know how good they are so they can tell overs it one resones pepole play to compare skills whith there friends whith stats you can say oh my inteligence is 50 or somthing like that
Offline OverKill

Junior Member




Java games rock!


« Reply #59 - Posted 2006-06-29 13:43:53 »

In bahuman's skill-based model you could do interesting things with high-level kit- having the enchanted longsword +3 making the player's mouse three times more sensitive during combat so that the player needs  much greater finesse to be able to handle it.

The downside, as I see it, is that I would like to have the freedom to play the kind of character I want to play- if I want to play a bowman but I'm rubbish with the archery interface then I'll never be able to advance as the type of character I want to be. You end up only playing characters with your own physical skills, which doesn't give much for the whole role-play aspect...
I like what bahuman worte BUT:
Lets be honest people.
We play RPGs because it lets us be people we normally cannot be.
I don't have pointy ears so cannot play an elf?
I look and talk like an orc IRL but I should be able to play a pretty little princess.
That is why we have RPGs.

If needed we can hide the skills and stats from the player, roll dice in the background and tell the player the results by other means.
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