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Isnt OE's influence companion system a bit counterproductive to roleplaying?


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#1
Kaftan Barlast

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Ive been playing Jade Empire, and going from OE's influence system to BioWare's where companions gradually reveal more about themselves the further the story progress/you level up felt like a big relief. I was suddenly free to chose which companion I wanted with me at a time, without worrying about levelling up my influence with a character whose backstory I was curious about. Sure, if you dont have the right companion with you you might miss out on their interjections in conversations, but that doesnt feel too bad in comparison with influence where you will miss opportunities to gain influence points, and thus miss out on companions and their full story arcs.



The pro's of the influence system is that it simulates social interaction and makes it possible for the designers to create points in the story where the outcome depends on how close the PC is to a certain NPC.

The downside is that it effectively turns dialogue into a game where you must find out which lines to click in order to gain the most points. Which is not what dialogue choice is about at all, you're supposed to be able to roleplay. You choose your replies after how you think your character would respond(or just what youd like to say), but influence encourages you to select the replies that will give you points.



Sure, you might argue that a real roleplayer does dialogue the way he wants and doesnt give a damn about the consequences. But then you will miss out on things.



WHat do you think?

#2
Morgoth

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I never really cared much about that Influence system. Surely here and then in Kotor2 there would pop up some "Influence gained/lost", but that never really changed my attidude towards a particular NPC, nor did I feel I came closer to one. Picked up every line just so that the old hag would always reply "When the time comes you'll learn more from me, Noob". Pft. >_<

Edited by Morgoth, 07 August 2007 - 03:50 AM.


#3
kirottu

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The downside is that it effectively turns dialogue into a game where you must find out which lines to click in order to gain the most points. Which is not what dialogue choice is about at all, you're supposed to be able to roleplay. You choose your replies after how you think your character would respond(or just what youd like to say), but influence encourages you to select the replies that will give you points.


I never chose a reply to make someone to like me. I simply kept those in my party who liked how I did things.

#4
Gorth

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Same here. Both Kotor2 and NWN2, I kept the party members around me that I liked. Once or twice did I play the games in exploration mode to satisfy my curiosity.

I think it might have been better if they had left the notifications out and left it to the player to gradually discover (or not) new sides to his companions instead of the "Ping! Gorth scores/loses Influence with Xyz". If you don't know what triggers it, you might as well just play it according to your head, not your competitive instincts.

Much the same way as you eroded the "Fortress" variable for your companions in PS:T

Edited by Gorth, 07 August 2007 - 04:38 AM.


#5
Tale

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Ive been playing Jade Empire, and going from OE's influence system to BioWare's where companions gradually reveal more about themselves the further the story progress/you level up felt like a big relief. I was suddenly free to chose which companion I wanted with me at a time, without worrying about levelling up my influence with a character whose backstory I was curious about. Sure, if you dont have the right companion with you you might miss out on their interjections in conversations, but that doesnt feel too bad in comparison with influence where you will miss opportunities to gain influence points, and thus miss out on companions and their full story arcs.



The pro's of the influence system is that it simulates social interaction and makes it possible for the designers to create points in the story where the outcome depends on how close the PC is to a certain NPC.

The downside is that it effectively turns dialogue into a game where you must find out which lines to click in order to gain the most points. Which is not what dialogue choice is about at all, you're supposed to be able to roleplay. You choose your replies after how you think your character would respond(or just what youd like to say), but influence encourages you to select the replies that will give you points.



Sure, you might argue that a real roleplayer does dialogue the way he wants and doesnt give a damn about the consequences. But then you will miss out on things.



WHat do you think?


I think it sounds more like you have a lack of desire to actually roleplay. Roleplay and metagaming are commonly at odds. There is a constant tendency for many players to choose metagaming for one reason or another, when a player ends up doing so, the fault for the player not choosing roleplaying should not automatically be hoisted upon the system.

#6
Kaftan Barlast

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I dont enjoy replaying story-intense games, so I always try to get the most out of my playthrough. And in order to get everything out of the game, I end up metagaming because of the way the influence systems works. I dont feel that compulsion with games like Jade Empire or Kotor.

#7
Tale

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I dont enjoy replaying story-intense games, so I always try to get the most out of my playthrough. And in order to get everything out of the game, I end up metagaming because of the way the influence systems works. I dont feel that compulsion with games like Jade Empire or Kotor.

So, this basically goes to a larger issue not exclusive to the influence companion system. Limited access content, content that has qualifiers, often used to encourage multiple replays or display multiple choices vs open access content, which is accessible to everyone regardless of any other actions.

I don't think giving roleplaying options that can be metagamed through is counterproductive to roleplaying. You can't pigeonhole someone into roleplaying. You don't encourage roleplaying by eliminating cause and effect, by turning all choices into the same one with different letters. This same thing also applies to Jade Empire and KOTOR as well as NWN2. In Kotor, for example, you are encouraged to metagame character responses for light/dark side mastery buffs. Jade Empire encourages metagaming responses for a similar purpose of obtaining new Open Palm/Closed Fist moves.

Edited by Tale, 08 August 2007 - 05:43 AM.


#8
@\NightandtheShape/@

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So your complaint is basically that you can't Metagame very well in OE's RPG's... I'd say that's more your problem than the game being fundementally flawed, perhaps it should be considered options, like a tick box that basically puts party influence on or off, when it's off it's just always considered that the NPC will progress his story, while if on it uses the influence system.

Frankly I wouldn't want to loose the influence system to increase the metagamers enjoyment of a game.

#9
Spider

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Although it isn't metagaming if you're playing a character who is a manipulative bastard desperately trying to get everyone to like him/her. Thus planning your actions based on your companions (expected) reactions would be perfectly reasonable.

#10
Sand

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I like the influence system mainly because if the NPCs like or dislike of you can have an impact on the game, such as Neverwinter Nights 2 and if Obsidian continues to improve this system it can greatly improve CRPG story telling that even in story intensive CRPGs of theirs may eventually have radical differences in how other characters react to your character depending how well your character is liked or disliked.

#11
Kaftan Barlast

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So your complaint is basically that you can't Metagame very well in OE's RPG's...



No, thats not what Im saying at all. What Im saying is that the influence system inadvertently encourages players to metagame. Just like the example Tale brough up where you're encouraged to metagame in Kotor and JE in order to get enough 'good' or 'evil' points to get a bonus.

IMO, a system that encourages metagaming is a faulty system. Especially in a game where you are supposed to be immersed into the story/setting, because metagaming draws you out into reality where it's Kaftan playing a computer game, not Bertil the Barbarian saving a dragon in distress.

#12
Tale

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So your complaint is basically that you can't Metagame very well in OE's RPG's...



No, thats not what Im saying at all. What Im saying is that the influence system inadvertently encourages players to metagame. Just like the example Tale brough up where you're encouraged to metagame in Kotor and JE in order to get enough 'good' or 'evil' points to get a bonus.

IMO, a system that encourages metagaming is a faulty system. Especially in a game where you are supposed to be immersed into the story/setting, because metagaming draws you out into reality where it's Kaftan playing a computer game, not Bertil the Barbarian saving a dragon in distress.


However, all systems encourage metagaming that offer multiple choices. So, as I said before you can not loft the fault upon the system. It's a feature inherent in choice.

#13
@\NightandtheShape/@

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So your complaint is basically that you can't Metagame very well in OE's RPG's...



No, thats not what Im saying at all. What Im saying is that the influence system inadvertently encourages players to metagame. Just like the example Tale brough up where you're encouraged to metagame in Kotor and JE in order to get enough 'good' or 'evil' points to get a bonus.

IMO, a system that encourages metagaming is a faulty system. Especially in a game where you are supposed to be immersed into the story/setting, because metagaming draws you out into reality where it's Kaftan playing a computer game, not Bertil the Barbarian saving a dragon in distress.


Think of it like this, I would assume, based upon my personal experience, more gamers metagame CRPG's than RP in CRPG's.

You're stuck wanting to Meta-game because you "Don't want to miss something", and being as the average gamer is already meta-gaming anyways the influence system give the games dialogue more depth so to speak.

I don't see it as broken.

#14
Cantousent

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I don't see the influence system as faulty in and of itself. I think there were plenty of times when I was disappointed with the influence system in NWN2. Like some of the other inmates, however, I'm inclined to think that the influence system serves to provide consequences to our choices, which is what I personally want in a role-playing game.

#15
Slowtrain

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I like the way Oblivion does it personally. Dialogues about mud crabs make any game better.

#16
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#17
Zoma

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If this kind of conversation gets the world RPG gamers' approval, I can see Chris Avellone will be out of job in the next few years.

#18
Musopticon?

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I dunno, Shivering Isles was pretty impressive at parts. I'm actually pretty hopeful for Fallout 3's writing. And if it does work as intended, it'll pave way for other games with actual dialogue, because, no matter what happens, F3 will sell like hotcakes on acid.

#19
Azarkon

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Kaftan, I'm curious, but it seems that your argument of "not wanting to miss anything" logically rules out choice-and-consequence, as well, or more broadly any sort of branching in games. Now, personally, there are very good games out there (JRPGs, for instance) that don't branch, but then they don't exaclty allow for a great deal of roleplaying (or, to avoid that word, "choosing") either. As a result, I'm almost convinced that your preference simply precludes interest in branching games, which is a perfectly reasonable stance, but one that would make it unnecessary to argue any further. Is this correct? I'd like to know because it'd help me decide whether to respond in depth to your criticism or to simply "agree to disagree," if ya get what I mean.

#20
Kaftan Barlast

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No, Im not saying I dont like branching in games. I think its lots of fun when games allow you to take multiple paths, as long as this doesnt mean that one path contains significantly less game content than the other. If you do that, then you're really just punishing the player for making choices.


The question that I was asking in this thread is wether the Influence system works, or if the end result is just encouraging metagaming.




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