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Wombat

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  1. A good article indeed. See how he shines when he is talking of what he excels.

     

    As for influence system, Alpha Protocol had some interesting twists, which made me think that it may not be alway good to attract attentions of a certain people - I kind of felt as if the protagonist was stalked. I wished the themes were much deeper. However, thining of that, I'm not a great fan of 007 series.

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  2. That may work when the story is/gets linear but, in a free roaming setting, the fake feel of the urgency is inevitably hard to be ignored.

     

    Again, the theme has been discussed thoroughly that I'd be pretty surprised if someone managed to come up with a possible solution worth being added to the existing tricks. Considering that human being cannot keep attention all the time, I think it would be wise for the designers to give additional stresses/challenges to the players at certain intervals, which can be covered by alternatives above. I presume even Dead State would try to employ some humour at times to avoid possible monotone. For the same type of stimulation would eventually end up with immunity, obligations, or even routines from the eyes of the players. Designers need to pull various strings to keep the players entertained/engaged. However, guess Avellone already knows better than this even if he can be astonishingly dumb to introduce factors such as jumping in a first person format (e.g. Dead Money) :(.

  3. To be honest, I feel it's odd to hear this from Avellone. For I regarded him as a designer whose ideal seems to let the players build their own stories. And yes, non-compromising time-limit is, indeed, imposing. In any shape, the sense of urgency may fit survival horror such as SS2 in a closed environment, I cannot imagine a scenario where time limit and open world exploration go hand in hand together. If I am allowed to give up the fixed time-limit, the closest I could imagine would be Dead State, which is still under development. In any case, the game seems to be carefully built around survival theme from the initial concept.

     

    Making various types of management, including time management, here, as a challenge rather than independent mini-games is a spirit of older RPGs. The problem is that, once something is screwed, it can prevent the players from completing the game. Definitely one of the most likely reasons why they have died out. I think the game like FO and Wasteland should basically allow free-loaming but, if some quests reward for completing a further challenge on the top of the basic game-plays, it can be good for change.

     

    So, possible alternatives would be:

    A time-limited quest and/or SS2 style independent quest (However, make sure that the players are aware of the time-limit trigger and/or entering the area). Dead Money, for example?

    Time-line instead of time-limit - no game-over but, if the players are reluctant to react to an obviously urgent situation, the inactivity itself has its own consequence but it won't be a game-over screen - some may welcome (an) alternative quest(s) as such a consequence like chamr's example, here. However, normally, this is mostly presented as quest/quests line which allow the players to choose the order of solving quests - The quest-lines of Alpha Protocol is built on this idea and, indeed, it gives the players initiative to the story rather than imposing factors like time-limit.

     

    In any case, if we are long-time board lurkers, we have discussed the issue quite thoroughly. So, I mean, why now?

  4. I agree that the "RPG" rewards (NPCs, story, etc.) can have a lot of value. But I'd also argue that great stealth games do that too! If you played Thief, one of the coolest parts of it was the little character interactions you'd hear between guards if you snuck up on them. If you didn't stealth properly, you missed out on all that stuff.

     

    Also, what I think is really important is that there is a somewhat comparable amount of depth that you give the player between various gameplay options if you ask them to mix and match. What I'm saying, more than anything, is that if you are going to give someone the option to stealth in the game, you should spend a little more time polishing your stealth gameplay than most RPGs do. That may mean sacrifices to other systems, or it may just mean a change in focus. But it's something that I think is really valuable.

     

    Let me put it like this: when I find an RPG where playing a thief is close to as satisfying as it was in Thief, I'll be ecstatic. Imagine how much more valuable your stealth abilities will feel in that case!

    Agreed. On the one hand, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, despite of the fact that some people still releasing unofficial patch, was generally regarded as a bad example of what would happen if RPG designers designed an FPS game-play and, on the other hand, I think Oblivion's stealth system was not bad but the depth of the setting was lost. The best of both worlds would be, indeed, gamers' dream. Looking Glass Studio was good at blending them together and wrapping the players in their imaginary worlds. When Obsidian went for FPS/TPS game-play style, I'd like them to "steal" some of the essences from games by LGS rather than just superficially imitating the game-plays of modern main-stream games, which would enhance their forte. In any case, if you think in that way, all I can say is good luck. :thumbsup:

  5. First, I want to clarify, I do not and have not worked on F:NV, so I'm just using it as an example.

    Yes. I've gotten an impression that your focus are on more short-term game-plays. I think this is more or less related with the complex development processes but I feel the designers began to see some parts rather than whole picture. Probably, the age of Fallout and Planescape:Torment, they probably had bigger pictures and more control on the whole projects.

     

    And, I'm definitely arguing for more player skill scaling (and less character skill scaling) at higher difficulties. I like to think of it this way: you've got the game that the player is playing (and this is where their skill as a player comes in), and the narrative in which they are roleplaying(this is where character skill and character development come in), and those are both working in tandem to make the RPG experience.

    I see. Rules narrate/dictate game-play experience as simulations to some extent. Among them, character stats narrate/dictate the game-play experience, hands in hands with player's skills (quantitative)/personalities (qualitative).

     

    Difficulty options should, in my opinion, affect the game moreso than the narrative. There are some cases where I think that the game reinforces the narrative and thus harder difficulties can help reinforce the narrative too. And there I think is where F:NV's hardcore mode is strongest - in making scavenging and dehydration bigger parts of the gameplay, they use the gameplay mechanics to better reinforce the narrative. It's just that, for more casual players, that may be too much game for them, and so we let them opt out even though they're really not experiencing the story world as they "should".

    The rules about the world narrate/dictate the game-play experience as well. Economy, scavenging and dehydration give the feel of the world to the players. However, these tend to have more long term effects and often result in more of resource management compared with their short-term counterpart, or more pressing game-plays such as combat/stealth systems and thus can affect pacing.

     

    His idea of defining core game-play is interesting. However, in complex games such as RPG (not a tactical combat game with character advancement), I think the context of core-game-play depends on the players.

    To some extent. Obviously RPGs (and some RPG-like action games!) tend to lay out pretty broad core gameplay options and we let players mix and match from within those options. But we're (and by we I mean the designers) still defining the core gameplay as the various combinations of the options we offer. And, on that point, I think that one way that RPGs actually risk being less satisfying as games than other genres is when we give the player many core gameplay options but do not make the truly "core options" equally deep and satisfying.

     

    The best example I can give is stealth gameplay. RPGs honestly have very little actual stealth gameplay - it's mostly just "hit the stealth button/click the stealth option and hope you don't roll low". Some RPGs have done a little better, but if you look at the depth and complexity of their combat systems and compare them to the depth and complexity of the stealth systems (especially compared against actual stealth focused games like Thief) the stealth gameplay does seem pretty anemic in comparison to the combat.

    I guess I understand your point. That said, this may bit digress from the topic about difficulty-adjustment but, again, when we are talking of depth, I think we have to separate short-term and long-term depths. For, I think the depth of role-playing games can be expressed in rather long-term manner. Generally speaking, it is experienced when a player made a different choice from his previous game. About character-development, for example, he may find it's interesting when sneak option opened up different aspect of the world such as NPC interactions and/or in-world secrets which were not spotted in his previous session as a combat expert. These things may feel trivial but they give the world/story/NPCs more characters and depth. I personally find that Obsidian game-designers tend to be good at designing these long term game-experience, or longevity, compared with other "RPG" designers. Of course, good at polishing short-term game-plays must be a definite plus, though.

  6. Well, but again, I think there are more interesting ways to scale difficulty even in those CRPGs. For instance, disabling friendly AoE damage in NWN2 was more interesting than just increasing damage. Maybe disabling wounded limbs for the player on super easy mode in Fallout, or making the requirements for repairing wounded limbs more severe.

    You could say that to those who implemented Heart of Fury mode in an Icewind Dale expansion, although I'd rather leave them alone... Jokes aside, the story gets complex when the main game-play is not fixed to combat and Obsidian began to make such games.

     

    Well, I think honestly that "Hardcore" mode is a good example of the kind of difficulty setting that I personally find interesting. The game is absolutely going to be more complex in hardcore mode and is going to provide more challenges to the player. That's kind of what I expect from a "harder" game - more depth, not something like "all damaged is doubled" which often just results in more frustration for the player. Because really, you should win and lose not because of damage number but because of tactical decisionmaking. If all you're doing is changing the damage numbers, in theory you're just encouraging the player to not get hit, which actually can reduce tactical depth (aggressive gameplay is less useful). It's a tough balance, but I think the goal of difficulty options should be to make the game more complex/deep and to push the player to play better, not necessarily just play more conservatively.

    I had gotten your point. However, as I wrote in the post you quoted, I don't think things are so clear-cut especially in sandbox games. In fact, as I wrote in the FO thread, some FPS purist players appear to be unhappy with degrading/jammed weapons in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. while they seem to like the competent AI: They seem to find these things get in their ways. In FONV's case, too (or rather, the problem gets larger when it comes to RPG, where various game-plays are available), armor threshold may give certain tactical depth to combat game-play but some players may as well find the necessity of resource-management just distracting. Actually, someone has already suggested that the designers offer the players more detailed options than just hardcore mode so that they would be able to choose the rules of their liking. The designers may not like it since this may appear to be amateurishly avoiding their responsibility on balancing but this can be a practical solution since, inevitably, tastes differ. Even in this case, the designers could call the default set of rules of their recommendation hardcore mode.

     

    You also mention how increasing difficulty scaling has traditionally limited gameplay-- reducing tactical depth, for instance. Your system seems to be the inverse: more difficulty really seems like an expansion of gameplay and gameplay considerations. It's a truly welcome paradigm shift, though it makes me wonder: if hard modes are "more game," then are easy modes just "less game"?

    His idea of defining core game-play is interesting. However, in complex games such as RPG (not a tactical combat game with character advancement), I think the context of core-game-play depends on the players.

  7. First, congrats on your first blog entry debut here. :thumbsup:

     

    About expected game-play experience, in RPG, rules are there to dictate the experience of the players, which is why the game masters need to interpret the meaning of the rules and have to decide which rules they are going to use in their sessions/campaigns. The core game-play of games which difficulty levels can be adjusted by decreasing/increasing damages to some extent is, of course, combat and it's condition for winning must be related with reducing the health/hit points of the opponents into 0. It is without saying that this mechanism was dominant in most of classic CRPG, which probably some players - even designers may still think in the same way even when thinking of games which core game-play should not be focused on that part.

     

    However, the format won't work in a game such as Thief, where the core game-play is sneaking. I believe this is something to do with its design philosophy. For, I've gotten an impression that the designers from Looking Glass Studios tend to regard games as simulations* rather than following/rebuilding game-play formats of existing games, probably reflecting their film influence (Hitchc0ck and Kubrick come to my mind). They build the game-plays to enhance the imaginary experience of the players in the simulated environments. I think even the birth of sneak action game-play is just a sub-product of this process although it was kind of evolutionary for shooter genre, which core structures are still somehow related with reducing the opponents' HP before the protagonist's HP gets 0. Simply put, different rule-sets for different game-experiences. It's always necessary for the game-masters (and probably designers) to imagine what kind of game-play experiences they'd like to offer their players.

     

    As for pacing, Thief allowed the players to play at their own paces. Even in hardest mode, the main character can be spotted numerous times, which is O.K. as long as he doesn't get killed although still fighting is not a wise option and stealth game-play is still intact. If the players choose such pace, the game may not remain so "stealthy", though.

     

    Regarding to putting elements which interfere with core-game play and pacing, there are discussions about hardcore mode of FO:NV in the thread of these boards although the thread may be digressing as usual. The mode won't only increase the difficulty in an indirect manner but also it definitely affects the pacing at the same time, which is probably one of the reasons why NV team separated it from the difficulty setting. In the context of what I wrote above, it is more like adding a set of house-rules which enhance the simulation to create the sense of survival but the addenda won't make the game easier to say at least. I guess there are no clear-cut ways to separate the difficulty from these additional factors which directly or indirectly affect it. This tendency would become more complicated in more sandbox games such as FO3 and probably GTAIV (Sorry, I haven't played it)... You seem to have began to use brain scanners in development. Is there a way to find adequate stress level of the brains of the players, by which you may able to find out the sweat spot for us non-super-taskers of the balance between the core game-play and other game-play elements?

     

    * Of course, by simulations, I mean putting the players in a shoes of other people who are in an interesting situation, which somehow cross over role-playing games. Some role-playing game-designers like Chris Avellone seems to see their games lacks some factors which, he seem to think, important for role-playing games mostly around choices of the players around NPC interactions, story development resulted from them, and character development. However, there are role-playing games of different breed such as Call of Cthulhu, where story proceeds through Lovecraft formula in which the characters try to combine in-world documents with their experience mostly in desperate situations...the simulated dilemma here is knowing too much is dangerous but the characters feel they must know. So, what can they choose? :lol: It's basically a role-playing game focused on simulation but, at the same time, the simulation plays the climax of the story. BTW, in these simulation-focused RPG, the most part of character developments in game mechanic sense are done before the game starts - the stats/skills of characters won't change dramatically except the HPs and/or sanity, in CoC's case, of course. I don't try to judge which view is right but even in PnP role-playing games, there are different focuses in game designs. Role-playing games are hard to define and, the bright side of it is that they have many possibilities/interpretations. Personally, I'd rather like to see Avellone to go faithful to his own design philosophy, which makes the players enjoy the "game-masters" of different personalities.

  8. Caution - The poster is over-caffeinated at the moment.

     

    In short, romance interest NPCs should be designed to constantly stroke the ego of the PC, which is the technique you've accumulated for years...O.K. since somethings won't change. According to your theory, I think this individual can win the best romance interest NPC award if she fails to be the PC president.

     

    Talking of advice, what is the opinion of your girlfriend on this article? Also, how about the opinion of J.E.Sawyer's girl friend as well? You might be able to get worthy advice and/or spice up your relationship...with your girlfriend and/or with Sawyer. ;)

  9. I still see absolutely no fun in the action itself. By comparison, games like Oblivion, Bloodlines, or Deus Ex that blend statistical elements on the character with more direct control over the character's participation in the action allow both the character and the player to be involved and relevant when completing the task. One of the key challenges with such systems is finding a good baseline for low skill characters. For example, Bloodlines had pretty infuriating firearms because the character's base skill felt terrible. Oblivion's archery felt decent at low level, and much better as your Marksmanship improved.

    The difference between firearms in Bloodlines and archery in Oblivion was that Oblivion restricted the skill modification only to the damage to the target. The other difference on this account is more arguable since, in Oblivion, the levels of hostile characters are adjusted to that of the character. This solves the problem for low level characters but lessens the believability of the world and the fun of exploration. This may be acceptable for thief/assassin characters but severely damages ranger experiences by reducing immersion in learning bestiary or general behavior of "animals."

     

    The main point of my original entry was that RPG titles with mechanics like Oblivion's are probably going to be more common in the future. Yes, I'm paying attention to what people like. Well over a million of them liked Oblivion a lot. That doesn't mean that Oblivion made no mistakes, but they did enough right that a lot of people enjoyed it.

    What I meant is Oblivion earned their audiences by carefully mixing essences from various genres. I've got an impression that Bethesda analyzed the preferences of various game players and hired people suitable for each factor. Also, I think Rolston managed to carry a lot of elements from his experience on tabletop and computer RPG even in that massive project although I wonder how much he was conscious of it. In fact, even I was more happy with Morrowind setting like Rolston himself, I still saw some elements of old tabletop RPG even in Oblivion.

  10. First, it seems to me that I have to clear that I don't have clear vision of what CRPG should be different from some people here. However, I don't agree with J.E. Sawyer at the point that strategy or tactical element is not appropriate to computer games since he is definitely ignoring the fact that some of tactical/strategy games are alive and kicking even now. We simply don't see its combination with RPG. I understand it is because of popularity but not because of defects of system itself since it doesn't explain why some strategy titles are still popular.

     

    How many of them are relevant to the state of the modern CRPG?

    Learn-by-doing system was originally from Chaosium's Basic Role-Playing system. Also, the multi-cultural backgrounds of Morrowind remind me of old Chaosium settings, where Ken Rolston worked. Especially, "Live Another Life in Another World" motto attracted even sim fans. There are many more factors in tabletop RPGs than what you can see in D&D.

     

    And of those, how many of them use something other than randomized numbers + skill bonuses vs. a static difficulty to resolve actions?

    Not so many in that respect, which is why I continued on the argument as "general RPG systems".

     

    It doesn't matter if you have one character or six characters; you're still resolving an action using a randomized number modified by points that you put in your character over a process of hours or even days. There is nothing "in the moment" about the event, no puzzle to solve other than deciding to attempt the task or not.

    The number of character matters. More characters/equipments mean more choices in this kind of game. In fact, in NWN2, I was often frustrated by forgetting to keep a stealth character in the party. My party needed to go back to the bar or the keep to change party members. If the developers allow players to choose characters in each map (or series of maps, if it is the design decision of the designer), then, it would have been more convenient. Since the main game-play in tactical games is resource-management and deciding general actions I would like the designers to maximize the fun elements and reduce the nuisances.

     

    I've got an impression that you are still comparing party-based tactical simulation games with single-player stealth action games too directly). The puzzles should be different in 1st person action game and 3rd person party-based tactical one. If you played old Comandos, you may well get the idea of possible puzzle essences in bird view tactical games. You use stealth characters to lure/bypass/destruct hostile NPCs and deploy assault characters for backups, where random factors shines.

    Either way, "a" character has to undertake the stealth action. The high-level tactical gameplay involved doesn't give the stealth game aspect a free pass to use a randomized mechanic. And in Commandos, it was a more direct stealth experience. You saw sound ripples from your characters, saw vision cones from the enemies. You had to time your movements and take actions based on these elements. Despite the view, this still has a lot more in common with Splinter Cell and Thief than it does with Baldur's Gate or Fallout, where click button = roll dice to hide.

    Probably, a better example would have been Silent Storm but the problem here is that I only played the demo. At least, as far as a single character stealth mission goes, I surely find the stealth element is too much on the skill of stealth character and, as you say, "proximity" produced by that: when the concealment is broken, I needed to reload. There is no option for any better risk management. Even worse, if I keep the character in stealth, the chance of being revealed becomes higher as time passes - this makes proximity almost necessity - This is a bad design decision. At least I don't see a point of single character stealth missions. However, if I use stealth characters as a part of team tactics, where I can disperse risks so that I can deal with a few "bad lucks," things worked well. As I wrote before, dealing with "proximity" is a part of the game-play in this kind of tactical games. If the designers don't give players options of maximizing their tactics, (in this case, by limiting controllable character to one character), then, they don't know how things work in this kind of game. This is why I think the problem is rather about implementation than an innate problem of stats-based "proximity".

     

    The article itself is interesting, I guess, but they do not illuminate how they arrived at their data.

    I understand the frustration - the article doesn't tell much about the definitions. The details seem to be confidential.

     

    I would assume that "Warfare" means all-out combat against all enemies on a map, which would explain why Splinter Cell has a much higher rating than Thief.

    In fact, I think you are comparing Deus Ex column with Thief's one...please check the order. "Warfare" is an easier piece of the puzzle since Deus Ex lets the players use heavy weapons against massive robots, for example.

     

    Garret usually can't kill three aware guys, but it's not a problem for Sam. In contrast, you can attack unaware individuals and kill them with effectively equal ease in each series.

    That is what I meant by "When you are found out, you are out." I think the problem is just about expression here. A miss or a simple bad luck claims more from Garret than Sam. However, I think this kind of "proximity" worked quite well in the series. Of course, this must have been different if there were no reload "function," though.

     

    In any case, Thief is not a game that punishes fighting characters, and you can certainly alert and/or kill characters and continue playing the game.

    Kill or not, in Thief, you are confined into stealth actions, rightfully for that game but it is just an element in RPG.

     

    Again, Thief, Splinter Cell, Oblivion, and Commandos all have much more in common in their stealth components than any of them have in common with traditional tabletop RPGs or CRPGs.

    I wonder if I need to repeat that I think you are mixing up a lot of elements here.

  11. If tactical games are cleared by simply reloading, it is the problem of balancing - not the game-play itself. Of course, trough trial and error, the players should maximize their tactics like they improve physical manipulation in action games.

    They can only maximize their tactics if they have the ability to directly influence the outcome. Most D&D skill checks don't really allow for much of that. Take picking a lock on a door. You can raise your Dex with a potion or spell, or you can use masterwork lockpicks, but there's really nothing else you can do to change the fact that the major component determining success or failure is a randomized number between 1 and 20.

    I am not willing to defend D&D system (You keep talking of D&D but there are various original systems even in tabletop RPG.) but, in general RPG systems, probably the character should be more skilled in different areas, which enables his/her party to deal with the situation, which is, even if you have no single character with a high picking skill in your party. I said resource management but this includes "human"(character?) resource management as well. These are a part of maximizing tactics and game-play in tactical games. Why are tactical RPG players unhappy with restricting control on PC, you think? It robs them of game-play of party management. In tabletop sessions, you are unlikely play as a party (except you are playing for missing members) and CRPG was already developed in a different way.

     

    In a stat-heavy CRPG with "a bird view," I'd rather want to see more tactical aspect of stealth. For example, the skill would work better in darker places even if character's level is low and the players need to think which is the safer route for their characters. This would make maps and NPCs on them as interactive puzzles. What players need to do is to decide which route their characters should take for the best bet. Of course, the game-play is more of resource management and deployment like in computer tactical simulation games, which is undoubtedly the kin of this type of "RPG". Comparing stealth in this kind of game with that of action stealth game is rather awkward.

    Why? Do you think that the environments in "stealth action" games like Splinter Cell aren't interactive puzzles?

    Yes. I have been talking of differences and not about which is superior to which. They are different types of puzzles from what is expected in party-based "bird view" tactical simulation games. In fact, my criticism on your previous post is about the point where you mixed up essences in different genres (Reading your new post, I've got an impression that you are still comparing party-based tactical simulation games with single-player stealth action games too directly). The puzzles should be different in 1st person action game and 3rd person party-based tactical one. If you played old Comandos, you may well get the idea of possible puzzle essences in bird view tactical games. You use stealth characters to lure/bypass/destruct hostile NPCs and deploy assault characters for backups, where random factors shines. This is the reason why I wrote the maps should be designed as interactive puzzles emphasizing fun factors, which, however, doesn't necessary mean that I think the maps of action games have no puzzle essences.

     

    As for your argument on Oblivion and other games, you mixed up a lot of aspects ranging from fixed/customizable character, learn-by-doing/experience point, real-time/turn-based and (near) first-person view/a bird view system. For example, even in Oblivion, it is tough to go stealth if you haven't developed your character in that way. Thief? You have already chosen stealth character when you bought the game. If you are found out, you are out - you need reload. This type of stealth heavy action game had difficulty in adding variety of game-plays, which probably lead to the demise of Deadly Shadows. This is why some more popular implementation of stealth action games are more forgiving like Splinter Cell, where you can normally choose assault or stealth anytime when you feel it fits your style. This can only be done well when the developers took balance really carefully. Reading this article, I think at least you need to talk with developers of stealth action games about the mechanism... Of course, (near) first person-view and real-time interaction would be good for immersion and I understand its popularity but why should you mix up things in a so unorganized manner?

    You can certainly be discovered and still continue the game in Thief. In fact, you can kill pretty much anyone/everyone in most levels if you want. You can also selectively take people out of you want to. As long as you hide the bodies well, you're good to go. The Thief designers developed an extensive perception system so that AI was not omniscient and did not automatically detect cries for help from allies. And just like Sam Fisher can select his load-out at the beginning of each mission with a stealth or assault load in mind, so too could Garret in the very first Thief.

    Well, to be honest, that's totally different from my style and probably I missed something. However, there are hostiles which cannot be gotten rid of in Thief series and, generally speaking, Garrett is often described as "puny" when compared with Sam Fisher. There is a more professional analysis on this topic. I wonder if Obsidian hires static analysis company but I think some of bigger companies must be doing something like this. There are too many games to play and they must need more statistical analysis to organize subjective opinions. In any case, if you haven't read this already old article, please read it or, if you have read it, take a look at the figure 3 on page 3, where you see comparison of four stealth games: Splinter Cell, Deus Ex, Metal Gear (Solid and Acid) and Thief. "Attacking" has the lowest score but, at the same time, the differences are relatively small like you wrote. However, rather than backing up my point, I'd rather like to hear your opinion about the analysis.

     

    Also, I think your logic doesn't hold water about computer vs human GM. It must be much more difficult for computers to replace human GM in NPC reactions rather than in action scene you described. In fact, it was not physical but psychological reaction of the NPC what Mr.Beach did well in his GM session. So, the example is rather weakens your point.

    My point is that when you have a GM, a GM can adapt to whatever goofy stuff you try to do. This is why tabletop experiences can be fun in spite of the fact that you're just rolling dice to simulate everything. A computer simulates exactly what it is made to simulate. Truly "randomized" simultations that are based on a number give terrible feedback and give the player less control over influencing the outcome of any given contest.

    Then, a clearer example would have been an open-dice session. However, computers have reload function if things were messed up only because of the randomization. You say you have less control because of the randomized factor but you have more control on the stats of characters. Some tactical RPG fans are unhappy with real-time micromanagement since they don't regard these physical manipulation as a fun game-play. Simply, they are different types of controls, means, whether you have control on each action of a character or more generalized action and resource management of characters. If you are unhappy with proximity, you could remove all the randomness from "rule-sets" but this would be an unpopular game design decision. Nobody would be happy with total randomization but a spoonful of randomness is a different story. As I wrote in my previous post, this is a game-balance issue rather than a defect in mechanism.

     

    For example, Hitman: Contracts used this wavy-gravy mechanic for seeing through disguises where it was "kinda sorta" based on proximity, but sometimes guys would see through your disguise from across the room and other times you could walk right next to them with no problem. It was literally a randomized chance, and the solution wasn't to behave differently, but to reload and try walking past the dude again, which is pretty lame.

    Haven't you played games outside of action games recently, have you? A part of Oblivion's success is that it gathered people from various genres such as action games, SP/MMORPG and even sims. We know what is fun for ourselves but as a professional game designer, isn't it important for you to know what is/can be fun for other people? Even if you wouldn't like to play other games, you can still listen to other designers and look into statistics. Anyway, you must be talking of the coordination between what offered by modern psychics engines and "rule-set" simulation. Means, what you see and hear can be different from the outputs of "ruleset". Indeed, the difference becomes hardly ignorable in first person view. I haven't played Hitman but I don't know why developer made disguise-check based on "rule-set" while it is a near-first person action game with a predefined character. In fact, many people complained of the believability of stealth in VtM. You probably need someone specialized in the job like Emil Pagilarulo (as you probably know, a Thief II designer hired by Bethesda for Oblivion, in which he designed stealth in general and the series of Dark Brotherhood faction-based scenario.) in order to make stealth believable when making a (near) first person action RPG, where character stats and intuitive believability need to be come together.

     

    In Hitman: Blood Money, there was very clear feedback about what sorts of actions provoked suspicion and could break your disguise. In addition to this, being reckless on previous levels could raise your notoriety. This could cause you to more easily raise suspicion, but it was a multiplier, not some sort of random chance or value. There was a very specific action > response mechanic. If you played like a careless, bloodthirsty psycho, it became very difficult for you to go anywhere without people catching on quickly. If instead it was something like, "There is a 2% chance that every time you come within 10' of a character that he or she will recognize you as the notorious Agent 47!" that would be lame and terrible.

    You know you don't see such kind of information even in Fallout. In fact, NPC interaction showed almost no progress or even digress thinking of Oblivion. BTW, talking of NPC interactions, I heard SC: Double Agent has a newly implemented faction-based reaction system but I don't have time to put my hands on it.

  12. The mechanics are what makes the application of stealth in a level a game as opposed to random trial and error or a flat check to see if you have enough points in a skill. Especially in games where you can reload, trial and error and flat stat checks are pretty lame. The former can often be surmounted by reloading (e.g. trying to disintegrate a dragon) and the latter often cannot be surmounted at all; it's checking against choices you made hours or days ago (how many points you put into X skill) with no recourse.

     

    In a tabletop setting, such mechanics are totally fine. There is a DM present to moderate the situation and (unless you have a memory-eraser) no way to reload.

    If tactical games are cleared by simply reloading, it is the problem of balancing - not the game-play itself. Of course, trough trial and error, the players should maximize their tactics like they improve physical manipulation in action games.

     

    In a stat-heavy CRPG with "a bird view," I'd rather want to see more tactical aspect of stealth. For example, the skill would work better in darker places even if character's level is low and the players need to think which is the safer route for their characters. This would make maps and NPCs on them as interactive puzzles. What players need to do is to decide which route their characters should take for the best bet. Of course, the game-play is more of resource management and deployment like in computer tactical simulation games, which is undoubtedly the kin of this type of "RPG". Comparing stealth in this kind of game with that of action stealth game is rather awkward.

     

    As for your argument on Oblivion and other games, you mixed up a lot of aspects ranging from fixed/customizable character, learn-by-doing/experience point, real-time/turn-based and (near) first-person view/a bird view system. For example, even in Oblivion, it is tough to go stealth if you haven't developed your character in that way. Thief? You have already chosen stealth character when you bought the game. If you are found out, you are out - you need reload. This type of stealth heavy action game had difficulty in adding variety of game-plays, which probably lead to the demise of Deadly Shadows. This is why some more popular implementation of stealth action games are more forgiving like Splinter Cell, where you can normally choose assault or stealth anytime when you feel it fits your style. This can only be done well when the developers took balance really carefully. Reading this article, I think at least you need to talk with developers of stealth action games about the mechanism... Of course, (near) first person-view and real-time interaction would be good for immersion and I understand its popularity but why should you mix up things in a so unorganized manner?

     

    Also, I think your logic doesn't hold water about computer vs human GM. It must be much more difficult for computers to replace human GM in NPC reactions rather than in action scene you described. In fact, it was not physical but psychological reaction of the NPC what Mr.Beach did well in his GM session. So, the example is rather weakens your point.

     

    That said, however, I agree with you at that the computer RPG doesn't need follow the mechanic of PnP RPG since a mere physical simulation doesn't make any type of role-playing game. Likewise, even if the physical simulation is replaced by computer-based one, it is still possible to make an RPG. In fact, Fallout is not a mere tactical simulation game but an RPG which enables players to make "meaningful choices with regards to their character and role in the story. For me, it's just a question of if Obsidian could do much better than what Troika did with VtM.

     

    Sorry to post rather critical comment on your brand new blog and good luck on your work.

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