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Author Topic: Non-Combat Gameplay: Myths & Reality  (Read 79171 times)
galsiah
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« Reply #75 on: April 11, 2008, 06:49:52 am »

Like I said on the codex, I think Spacekungfuman's points are good - apart from the overuse of "random", "randomly" etc. A few final decisions might need to be made on a random basis, but as much of a generation process as possible ought to be based on solid game world factors. That's the only way a collection of generated responses/actions/objects/quests... are going to create a world with any coherence. A player can't reason in an incoherent world.

But perhaps Spacekungfuman only means "not-pre-determined" when he says "random[ly]". If so, he probably needs to think a bit more about how these "random" processes would work, and elaborate.
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caster
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« Reply #76 on: April 11, 2008, 08:44:34 am »

Yeah, i was put off by those "random" words in there too.

Procedural generation of dialogue that folows specific rules and is influenced by character stats and personalities of NPCs , for example... could be a good thing if somebody could really make it.

As oscar said, thats something that at first look would fit better in some sort of sand box game but i think usual more focused RPG could benefit from it if it was implemented with measure for specific NPCs and some of those usual filler NPcs.

I wonder would it be possible to create some system that would create quests like that...?

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Spacekungfuman
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« Reply #77 on: April 11, 2008, 09:30:32 am »

When I said random, all I really meant was the choice made at the end (and some other specified portion) of the stat based decision tree.  Basically, at every step where what I called a "random" decision needs to be made, the system will generate an answer using an equation that factors in NPC stats, location, and the number of times that particular answer has been made, to avoid repetition.  So if there are 500 possible goal items some will be eliminated based on what the guard's stats are, so he can't get the pink tutu but it likely to get the dagger, drinks, or money.  Maybe this guard lives in a very pious town though, so the drinks are eliminated too, and the quest start for money will skew towards an option like needing it for a sick kid, vs to pay off gambling debt.  The only reason that I used the word random to describe this process is that you can't have it entirely determined by stats, otherwise you'll get the same outcome every time in any given situation, which kills replay.
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galsiah
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« Reply #78 on: April 11, 2008, 10:44:51 am »

The only reason that I used the word random to describe this process is that you can't have it entirely determined by stats, otherwise you'll get the same outcome every time in any given situation, which kills replay.
That's true only where identical situations are likely. If enough factors are allowed to be dynamic, it's quite possible to have an entirely deterministic solution that'll never repeat in practice. Certainly you can't have everything determined by static stats/factors if you want variety - but that's fine, since you'll be aiming to construct a world that's as responsive/dynamic as possible anyway.

For NPCs, all that's really necessary is to give them some autonomy, quite a few stats, and medium/long-term responses to their interactions. Bumping into an NPC with exactly the same attributes, skills, health, knowledge, mood, position, finances, desires... is never going to happen, so it couldn't matter less that a deterministic algorithm would select the same response in all such situations.

In any case, I'd say that the repetition problem you outline is exposing a more fundamental flaw: the problem isn't that the algorithm spits out repetitious results in identical situations; rather the problem is that you're allowing identical situations to occur at all. Two real situations are never going to be anywhere close to identical. If two of the situations in your game are considered identical by such an algorithm, it's either a particularly dull world or a needlessly blind algorithm.
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Vahha
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« Reply #79 on: May 14, 2010, 01:47:59 pm »

A truly great article. Sorry for necroposting, but this one is worth praise.
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zenbitz
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« Reply #80 on: January 13, 2011, 07:15:31 pm »

I am poking this thread because it's so full of awesome.   Possibly the best thread on RPG game design on the internet.

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« Reply #81 on: February 19, 2011, 06:28:07 pm »

It's funny that this thread has been bumped to the front page, as I was thinking to myself the other day if we could have a RPG without combat. Additionally, also wondering if we can still have different C&C while at it.

One thing I would like to see in RPGs is a cross-over with adventure games. In my opinion that would make gameplay more interesting while adding alternatives to combat.
Although this is something that probably won't please all audiences.

In AoD, for example, you can make acid and use it on locks, but the way I see it, that's less about alchemy and more about providing alternative solutions.
Instead of the player clicking on the lock/door/etc and a drop-down menu showing up a list of options, why not make things more "adventurish" by choosing an item from your inventory and clicking on the lock.
Some (offtopic) C&C for it:
(i) Picklock tools: perfect, you can open the lock, loot, and close it back with no traces of theft. You'll be long gone.
(ii) Acid: you shall loot and not be heard. Suspicion may arise at a given moment in time.
(iii) Crowbar/sword: the noise may draw attention and you may end up in jail for some time, have to pay a fine, and gain the reputation of thief... all of this as opposed to the traditional fight to the death or game over. Not all is bad with this, you may meet up someone interesting when in jail, which may open another side quest. The only problem with this unsuccessful (iii) option is that it works only once or twice per city. But it still beats the approach in current games.

Quote
You are standing in front of a fortress and dying to get inside because that's where all the cool kids are. There is a gate, but it's guarded. You need a pass to enter.
Some options implemented in a point-and-click way:
- during nighttime, place a coin trail leading to behind the bush, use rock on bush to attract attention, execute ambush
- <use> <metal cross> <with> <rope>, <use> <climbing rope> <with> <wall> (*)
- <use> <gold> <with> <guard> and the appropriate dialog unfolds
Of course the appropriate skill checks apply.

(*) this could be seen as a generalization of the alchemy process: combining items. The same could be done with chemical reagents, but if you don't know the recipe the player would very likely just lose both reagents to make something useless.

This same principle could be applied to dialogs with NPCs. You would interact with an NPC with an item and an appropriate dialog would start.
In FO1 they had implemented the "ask about" button in dialogs where you would type a word. It has been ages since I played FO1, so I can't really remember if it worked as intended or not. At least I don't recall it being necessary to achieve goals.

I think this point-and-click approach, as opposed to pure dialog option selection, gives more interactivity to the user by adding a new mini-game, besides the combat mini-game. And taking adventure games into consideration, I think it's safe to say it's a proven and entertaining one by the way.
For the record: I'm not advocating the use of other mini-games like pick-lock games or others. Maybe the use of the term mini-game is not the best word.




On another note, what type of C&C are desired in a game?
Quote
You are standing in front of a fortress and dying to get inside because that's where all the cool kids are. There is a gate, but it's guarded. You need a pass to enter. Your options are:

- knock some sense into the guards with your war hammer and go inside.
(1) - persuade the guards to let you in: Hi there! I'm with the Tavern Food & Service Inspection Agency. We've heard rumors that you have rats running around in every cellar. Well, it's fucking better be a misunderstanding because if I see a single rodent-looking motherfucker - which includes this rat-faced bastard over there - I'm shutting this evil fortress down TONIGHT! Now open that fucking door already!
(2) - ask around about the pass, find out who has one, and either steal it or trade it for something.
- create a diversion - Look behind you, a three-headed monkey! - and sneak inside. Or hire some thugs to attack the guards and while the guards are busy breaking some heads, sneak inside.
- wall-climbing text-adventures are fun and very ninja-like: your dagger blade snaps with a loud noise and you plummet to your death cursing stupid non-combat gameplay.
(3) - impersonate an officer - Atten-hut! Is that how you salute an officer of the watch, swine? Stop eyeballing me! You're not worthy to look your superiors in the eye. Stand straight, eyes forward! What is the name of your commanding officer?
- bribe your way in.
- forge a fake pass using your knowledge of what a real pass looks like and skills (lore, literacy, scribing, etc)
In this case there are different choices for accomplishing the same objective. But are the consequences of a successful check all the same? It would be interesting to have:
(1) you are indeed successful, but on the next day they found out they were fooled and they end up finding you on a local inn
(2) someone confronts you with your nosiness, you either bribe, or kill, or do nothing and have a nasty surprise latter
(3) some days latter your hear rumors at the inn about an imposter and that the local authority is giving a reward on reliable info on this, because pretending to be authority is a serious crime. If the player didn't wear proper "makeup" (fake hair, beard) he may be at risk if he doesn't lay low for a while, maybe even travel to another city; if he goes through the main gates in plain sight, he ends up caught. If the player did wear proper makeup, he may even plant evidence on someone and collect the reward. This proper makeup could be implement as a skill check: (a) stat above 65: success; (b) stat between 65-50: success that comes to haunt you latter; (c) less than 50: failure on the spot.




BTW, don't pay attention to the structure of my comment. I just wrote some thoughts in response to some things that I read.
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Vince
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« Reply #82 on: February 20, 2011, 10:36:45 am »

In this case there are different choices for accomplishing the same objective. But are the consequences of a successful check all the same?
The best way to provide meaningful consequences for different options is via connecting quests.

For example, in our Thieves Guild questline the first quest is to find a new smuggling route. Naturally, you get quite a few options. Pick one, do what you have to do to get it done, and the quest is completed, but your choice isn't forgotten. In the third quest you have to take something out of the city, something that gets everyone's attention and brings in a lot of heat, and you'd have to rely on the choices made in the first quest.

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Hiver
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« Reply #83 on: February 20, 2011, 11:04:08 am »

Thats what i miss the most in quest design in games.
Not a cosmetic consequence of your deed in a sense that someone will mention it or it will affect your stats or some morale meter or, at the most, influence some NPC to be friendly or not later on - but something that you will actively use later on, something that will change your path or expand a specific situation with meaningful, appropriate consequences.
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« Reply #84 on: February 20, 2011, 11:27:58 am »

That's music to my ears  Approve
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« Reply #85 on: February 20, 2011, 02:15:24 pm »

That is, indeed, awesome.
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Wrath of Dagon
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« Reply #86 on: February 20, 2011, 03:59:40 pm »

Yeah, preaching to the choir.
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Secondly--MURDER? Merely because I had planned the duel and provoked the quarrel! Never had I heard anything so preposterous.
Hiver
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« Reply #87 on: February 20, 2011, 04:08:41 pm »

Thats the best preaching you can give.

Lay it on brother!
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My first axiom:
Never, ever think about or make any conclusions about life, universe and everything else while youre depressed, suffering a trauma, a tragedy and or being drunk.

What the hell do you expect you will come up with in such a state?
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