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Everything posted by Azarkon

  1. Indeed. Will this be a sneaking/diplomacy simulator or a game that's advertised to have tactical combat as one of its main strengths? why no xp for killing has to mean no reward for combat? if you kill Drizzt in BG and get his super gear but no xp, will you feel like you gained nothing out of it, even if you have taken items that are as rare as they can be? the same goes for PE. you may not get xp, but you get loot for combat. and loot means items you may not be able to get in any other way or extra money to buy that nice armor that the pacifist cant afford All combat encounters have exp rewards. Not all combat encounters have loot rewards. The principle behind granting exp for combat is to ensure that there is an incentive for tackling every combat encounter, thus obviating the need for a 'loot pinata' design to encounters. In effect, it is to prevent requiring every wyvern you slay to drop +1000 coins' worth of loot just so players feel rewarded for fighting wyverns. The basic principle applies whether the rewards are exp / loot.
  2. Again, it comes down to what the game wants itself to be. Classic RPGs are games in which you build a character by simulating tactical combat. All the Infinity Engine games that people remember fondly are games of this sort, though I accept a case against PST. Is Project Eternity the next Infinity Engine game? Is it the next Alpha Protocol? Is it a hearken to the days of classic RPGs? Is it an attempt to experiment with a different type of game? This question has to be answered before a satisfactory decision is able to be made.
  3. Right. Which is why people favor removing xp from killing monsters - to stop encouraging such a thing. Games encourage you to gain XP. In fact, reason people like you are upset is because the game won't give you xp for this. To then say that only matters for munchkin players - are you lumping yourself into this category? Now, just because the game encourages you to do something doesn't mean you have to. I don't farm herbs in ADOM because I find it tedious, even though the game encourages it. But just because you don't have to do it doesn't make it good design. I don't need XP as a reward for killing monsters. You're saying you do. There are plenty of games where you can grind as much as you want. Not every RPG has to allow unlimited grinding to be good. In fact, I'd say that in a story focused game like this, they're better off removing grinding. A RPG based around combat and progression through combat - which describes all the Infinity games except for PST - ought to reward people for combat. Removing exp gain from combat, except when that combat serves a specific objective, contradicts this principle. Removing exp gain from combat does not just affect 'exploitative' situations, it affects every combat encounter, every dungeon crawl, and the very mindset you bring to the game. In a game that does not reward combat, but in which combat still carries risk, I am encouraged to avoid combat except when necessary. In that case, the game has better have the bulk of its gameplay in out of combat situations. Provided that's the game PE wants to be, I'm fine with removing exp from combat. But a game that wants to capture the experience of the Infinity Engine games and classic RPGs has to have combat as its primary gameplay. In that case, this design only serves to weaken the overall game and I won't support that.
  4. I think they're talking about people doing it not because they want to, but because they feel they should get the XP. As it is now, games often encourage you to do these things, like going back to kill monsters you've sneaked past for XP, or killing someone after you've solved the situation diplomatically. We're not talking about discouraging you from doing these things - if you want to, fine. We're talking about keeping the game from actively encouraging you to do this, even if you wouldn't on your own - that's the degenerative behavior that's being talked about. The game only encourages those scenarios insofar as it encourages gaining exp for killing monsters in general. Provided the game is balanced for parties that haven't 'maximized' their exp gain, the option remains just that - an option for min/maxers who care about that sort of thing. Leaving the option open to munchkin players does not make it necessary for other players. For that matter, just by engaging in it you are basically saying that you're a greater munchkin than you are a 'roleplayer' - in which case, isn't it just a case of not understanding who you are? Players ought to be allowed to police themselves. Care about the story / characters / roleplaying? Then don't slaughter townsfolk for exp. Care about building the biggest badass conceivable? Then do it and don't complain about being forced to do it.
  5. I'm not sure how not giving XP for killing the townspeople is saying its proper / degenerate gameplay. Or putting a value judgement on it at all. I was responding to Sawyer and Cain's quotes from the first page. Yes, well, unfortunately, the Forgotten Realms is not a very well articulated world in terms of its thematic drives, so at times you get contradicting signals from the designers who created it. Generally, the idea is that subvering the gods is bad / futile. But because of the need to sell new material, FR designers have a habit of having these 'times of trouble' in which all the laws go kablunk. This is not solid world design. It is, however, necessitated by D&D commercialism. Mask of the Betrayer, however, is fairly well articulated in terms of its themes, and in the context of the D&D world presented in MOTB, what I said stands.
  6. Against. One of the gaming principles I abide by is that it is not up to the developer to decide what 'degenerate' - and for that matter, what 'proper' - gameplay is. That decision falls to the player. The player decides whether slaughtering townsfolk after saving their town for exp is 'degenerate.' The player decides whether resetting an area over and over again for monsters and loot is 'degenerate.' I don't say this just to be dogmatic, but it needs to be stressed - how the player plays the game is up to him / her. It is not the place of the developer to take away options. Wherever the choice exists, give additional options. The sole caveat to this rule is when taking away an option serves an artistic / thematic goal. For example, at the end of Mask of The Betrayer, you are not given the option to fight Kelemvor over the wall of souls, despite violence being a solution to every quest up to that moment and despite the crescendo of violent struggles leading up to it. The contrast serves to drive home a theme of the Forgotten Realms, which is also MoTB's leit motif - that attempting to subvert the gods is futile and only leads to tragedy. This is why Akachi's crusade failed, and why Dove's quest is tragic. Such caveats are not, however, a license for creating superficial lore artifices to justify every little design decision. An exception, such as the above example, is only useful for conveying meaning when it subverts the normative behavior of a game, and in so doing causes cognitive dissonance from the player - ie 'WHAT? Why don't I get the option to kill Kelemvor?!!?!' It is through reflecting on that dissonance that players come to understand the thematic principle behind it, and in doing so, obtain a greater appreciation of the game. For Project Eternity, I don't see how designing 'not giving exp for kills' into the basic mechanics of the game serves the same thematic end. Yes, we don't know enough about Project Eternity to declare its themes, but given the reference to Infinity Engine games such as Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate every other line, and given the 'Huge Mega Dungeon' stretch goal, it is safe to say that there is going to be a lot of combat in this game, and that this is going to be a focus of its gameplay. In which case, 'not giving exp for kills' is not a subversion of the game insomuch as it contradicts the very foundations upon which classic RPGs - including the IE games - were built: character building through combat. You heard me. It's not the plot. It's not the character interactions. It's not the romances. It's not the choices-and-consequences. It's not the exploration. Classic RPGs, including the Infinity Engine games, were designed, from the ground up, to be combat simulators. This manifests in the way you design your character, the classes, the stats that he / she has, the equipment system, the magic system, the NPC / object interaction system, the isometric 'tactical' view, the amount of time you spend in the game killing stuff, the rewards you get for killing stuff, and so on so forth. This is why D&D manuals spend hundreds of pages on combat rules, stats, and mechanics, and only a few dozen on lore. The breakthrough of classic RPGs over Action / RTS games, which also revolve around combat, is the addition of character progression - the granting of an advancement carrot that incentivizes combat beyond the love of combat. This feature of RPGs allows them to provide a form of psychological reward beyond the sheer enjoyment of the combat itself, and in doing so increases the player's tolerance for repetition. Where Action / RTS games have to exert the entirety of their design on coming up with innovative combat encounters and situations to keep the player's attention span, RPGs get it a lot easier - RPGs are allowed to have repetitive combat because they reward players for grinding through them via exp progression. Exp gain through combat is thus one of the basic principles underlying the design of RPGs - a tried-and-tested system for improving player experience in them. Psychologically, players want to be rewarded for the activities in which they engage, and because combat occupies the bulk of activities in classic RPGs and easily becomes repetitive, they have to be rewarded. Fail to do so, and what you have is a game chock full of repetitive activies that the player has no incentive to engage in, which leads to tedium, frustration, and is a sure way to make a game a chore, rather than entertainment. Theoretically, there is place for a RPG in which combat is not rewarded, in which the basic activity the player engages in, and which occupies the bulk of his time, is not combat but roleplaying - a catch all word for other activities found in RPGs. Of all the classic RPGs clinging to a modicrum of success, Planescape: Torment came nearest to achieving this goal - largely by substituting combat with dialogue. Yet, PST was only able to achieve this by sacrificing combat itself - which was by far the worst feature in the game, and one criticized to no ends. From what I've been reading, Project Eternity is not the game for this sort of experimentation. It is a game that tries to harken back to the Infinity Engine games, the Icewind Dales and the Baldur Gates. It is a game that tries to recapture the classic RPG experience of adventuring, treasure finding, and character building. In that case, combat is not just a feature but the foundations upon which player experience is built. In that case, it has to be rewarded.
  7. Bioware fans have ever been a bit more fanatical than usual - Volourn being a good example - and Mass Effect fans are fanatics among Bioware fans. With this, they've finally gone over the edge.
  8. Used to trade blows with Hades as well. He was an interesting fellow and fun to have around. RIP
  9. The assumption here is that things will be better in other "developing" countries. If it were so simple, I think the West would've switched a long time ago. There is no shortage of investment in places like India and Indonesia, but often times, the infrastructure simply isn't there for the kind of profits you see in China. Of course, product quality and accountability is a huge issue when doing business with China, but the case is overstated. The media would have you believe that if you buy a Made in China product, it'll blow up in your face 50% of the times. Yet, most of what you use is Made in China. How does that jibe?
  10. A step towards cybernetics, actually, though this particular robot seems to have been designed to advance neuroscience.
  11. I agree that it's not a given. But there's a good argument behind it: market capitalism requires that you open up your country, and once you open up your country and your people see how other people in the world live, they begin to yearn for those benefits. At first, they'll focus on the material difference, and aim to achieve living standards close to that of the West's. Material wealth, in turn, is a form of empowerment, which generates a well-educated middle class that is no longer content with bending to the government's will and whim. This is followed by the gradual liberalization of society, which might see several setbacks as the government attempts to hold onto power, but having experienced greater freedoms, people will not want to go back. China is still at the material wealth stage. The emerging stage, if Korea and Japan were of any indication, is the nationalism stage, during which the government whips up a fever about the country's unity and greatness. Not properly controlled, this could lead to expansionism and war, but at the same time, it could also lead to greater internal cohesion as national identity becomes an alternative to class identity. Should China get past this stage, then its people will begin to realize that in a capitalist world order, the world's interests are also China's own. This could then lead to globalism and further liberalization. The biggest risk right now, imo, is the collapse of global capitalism. If the Western world order disintegrates, then there'll be a free for all in the resulting vacuum. That's when Chinese nationalism can get really nasty and dangerous.
  12. Ah, so you're saying capitalism doesn't lead to liberalism. Well, that's yet to be seen. China's only been at this for 30 years, and the cracks are already showing.
  13. It doesn't, but it raises everyone's standards. If you want more equality, you have to go down the socialist route. Socialism inevitably leads to bigger government, and bigger government leads to the risk of tyranny.
  14. Like Walsh pointed out above, "international waters" do not have the same significance today that it did fifty years ago due to improved tracking techniques. Moreover, laws regarding proper conduct in international waters is a relatively gray area with regards to spying/surveillance. In practice, there seems to be a lack of consensus. China disagrees with US surveillance near its coasts, and the US disagrees with China's disagreement. I should note that China's "sensitive military installation" is not constructed in international waters, but in its territory, and that the "row" is over how near it the US should be able to conduct military intelligence gathering (since even if the ship is not physically within range, tracking equipment can bridge the distance). My point is that it's an international relations issue, not a moral issue. China, like the US, is a sovereign state that can choose to abide or reject the US's interpretation of the UNCLOS, provided that they are ready to face the consequences and do not adopt a double standard when some other nation acts up against Chinese surveillance. For these kinds of issues it is typically more appropriate to examine the underlying relations (ie why would China suddenly challenge the US) than to say things like whether "the Chinese were way out of line," because that doesn't say anything. By what standards do you judge China? The US's? But why should they accept the US's standards for them? Being morally outraged about China's actions, given that there was no material or human loss of any kind on the part of the US, seems like a knee-jerk reaction to me. I just can't see what's so morally abhorrent about this given that China clearly doesn't accept the US's right to conduct military intelligence operations in their EEZ, and has made that clear for years. Going ahead with these operations against that background shows that the Pentagon has no regard for China's disagreements in this area, and so these sorts of confrontations are almost inevitable. If the US and China really want to work this out and respect world opinion, they can take it to the international court. Their mutual failure to do so tells me that they don't really care about international opinion, and are satisfied with acting unilaterally at their own discretion.
  15. Good analogy One thing to keep in mind is that while international law doesn't explicitly prohibit military surveillance in another country's EEZ, international law doesn't explicitly permit it, either. Intelligence gathering has always been a somewhat gray area in terms of legality, and I don't think most countries actually believe that it's okay for another country to park "military surveillance" ships a dozen or two miles off their naval bases, monitoring everything that goes on, even though that's technically "not prohibited." Of course, belief and reality are two different things, and in the end it's what you do about it that shows your posture. The US has tons of ships "surveying" China's coastal areas, and the Chinese don't usually act up; this latest challenge was designed to test Obama's mettle, I think, and it could also be that the US got too close to the Hainan submarine base.
  16. Problem is, that's not possible. The US has strong economic, political, and military interests in East Asia. It was the US that originally "forced open" Japan's ports. It was the US that encouraged free market & trade in the region. Taiwan, Japan, South Korea... All US allies. There's no way the US can leave East Asia alone, and therefore there's no way the US can leave China alone.
  17. They've probably already done so, and if they stayed in international waters we would have watched them like a hawk. We wouldn't have had any legal right to do anything else. Every country on this planet gathers intelligence, and if you think the Chinese haven't put a priority on gathering intelligence from America... even by downing our surveillance plans in international airspace then stripping them down, as they have done already... then you're woefully misinformed. But it seems as if you think what China did was okey-dokey, so long as it was doing it to big bad America. I guess we'll just have to disagree. Countries, including China and the US, spy all the time. When they get caught, there's some media fanfare, and then the novelty fades. The point is that they do get caught, and that's one of the risks of spying. There is, in some sense, an unspoken agreement between countries that "spying is fine so long as you don't get caught, but if you do, don't expect us to sit quietly if we could do something about it." Chinese spy ships caught off Japan's coast will be warned by Japanese war ships to leave, or else. The same happened here - the Impeccable was warned, refused to leave, and that's why the Chinese sent a few ships to block it. As far as whether I think it's okay, I think it's a matter of interpretation. That it's America has nothing to do with it. The real question you pose is whether it's "okay" for China to block US ships from entering sensitive military areas. Well, the problem with this question is that this is not a moral question, it's an international relations question. Whether it's okay for China to block US ships is a matter of what the two countries agreed to. As far as I know, there are no such agreements, which is the true issue here. Indeed, the moral question is eased by the fact that there was no loss of life, no damage to property, and nothing more than a stern warning on the part of the Chinese. If the Impeccable had been shot at, things would be different, but since it was only prevented from going further into Chinese territory, all we can say is "oh well, we were caught, but isn't it okay to spy so long as we aren't affecting economic activity?" and maybe "but China really shouldn't be trying to physically block us from entering; that could result in an accident like the spy plane incident." The latter has some moral weight, yet if the Chinese had sent a destroyer and warned that the ship must leave or be boarded, would that have been preferred? There are only so many ways you can force a ship you don't want to enter your territory, not enter your territory. Again, if the Chinese sent a spy ship to "survey" Pearl Harbor, I don't think the US would've just let it through. But that scenario has never been tested, as far as I know, because the Chinese operate a brown water navy that isn't capable of going much past their coast.
  18. They've probably already been there. International waters, don'tcha know. The USA doesn't own the international waters closest to its borders, and the Chinese don't own international waters close to theirs. It sounds as if you think the (mostly civilian and unarmed) ship deserved it simply because it was an American vessel. China was out of line here. Way out of line. You should read the above article I cited. Some select quotes: "The latest incident had overtones of spycraft, but the U.S. ship is not, strictly speaking, a spy ship. It maps the ocean floor with sonar, compiling information the Navy can use to steer its own submarines or track those of other nations. Two U.S. defense officials acknowledged Tuesday that the Impeccable is equipped for submarine-hunting work and was part of a calculated U.S. surveillance operation." My guess is that it was a military intelligence operation. The Pentagon is clearly not going to admit it outright, but given where it was (right off of China's Hainan island, home to its new submarine base) and its equipment, it's pretty obvious that this was an operation designed to probe China's submarine base. The Chinese caught wind of this, and sent some ships to intercept it. No one was hurt in the process, which is good. The US's argument is essentially that with regards to the sea, it can spy anywhere, anytime, so long as it's not disrupting economic activity. The Chinese argument is that the US shouldn't be conducting surveillance operations near China's sensitive military assets. Both have defensible, yet irreconcilable positions. I think the US position requires that you accept the US as the world's police and to trust that the US will never threaten you militarily. Given history, I don't think China is going to accept that. Me, personally, I think military transparency is a good thing, but I wonder what the US would've done if the Chinese sent surveillance vessels right up to our coast.
  19. After reading this article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...9031000126.html, it seems to me that China is testing the waters, so to speak. It wants to know what this new US administration is all about, exactly. Hillary Clinton's visit seems to suggest that the US wants good economic relations with China. But economics isn't everything. There's also politics and military relations. The "spy ship" incident is a way for China to declare what it wants (US military activities out of China's EEZ), and seeing how the US responds. Given how the US responds, the Chinese will know what to expect with regards to the new administration's military doctrines.
  20. Still, there's a reason why we trade with China and not "any other poor nation". It's all got to do with economy. If there was a better deal elsewhere, you'd trade more with "any other poor nation". Still assuming the reason we trade with China is based on rationality, the trade exchange is a mutual relationship where both parts are equally dependent upon each other. China's dollar reserve is an example of this. China has a national reserve of about two trillion dollars and the US has a national debt of 11 trillion dollars. From these numbers, it would not seem that China should be the exporting nation. And yet they are, and they also do everything in their power to sell as much as they can to the US. If China stops selling (and stops buying US debt and storing US dollars), the US will get increasingly hard to get both imported goods and raw materials. If the US stops buying and investing in China, China's money supply will be stifled. Either way, both lose. It is silly how people today look at the US and China as potential enemies. Of course they both definitely have the means to hurt each other, but a conflict would be futile and it wouldn't benefit anyone. In the end though, I think it all boils down to whether the rest of the world continues to trust the dollar or not, because neither China nor the US would change the current status quo. The US does not "only trade" with China. It trades with tons of other nations, including poor ones. The problem with many poor nations, however, is that they either have strong protectionist barriers or lack business-friendly environments. The attraction of foreign capital to China is a deliberate consequence of Chinese policy, which since the 1980s has been based on rapid export-led growth modeled on the East Asian Tigers. Labor is cheaper in places like India, Burma, and probably much of Africa, but those countries lack the infrastructure to support significant FDI (though India is catching up). In many parts of Africa, for example, if you want to build a factory you have to deal with what are often dysfunctional legal systems full of corruption, and after that you still face inadequate infrastructure (including things as basic as roads and electricity). In China, there are already factories and agencies in place to support recruitment and the legal system tends to be functional (at least with regards to the business sector, except for maybe IP protection). Moreover, China's banks actually have money to lend, and the government provides preferential treatments in foreign taxation with many countries (including the US). Combined with a large private sector, this means that China is a very business-friendly place, and intentionally so.
  21. Are you saying that a person who volunteers to serve their country and ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for the good of his or her country has no more value than a welfare mom with 8 kids, bleeding her country's resources dry? But what if those kids grow up to be soldiers?
  22. The problem with meritocracy is defining what merit means.
  23. I don't think regional trade will replace global trade. Regional trade is the elephant in the room, so to speak - people don't talk about it but it looms at large. Look at the US's trade with Canada & Mexico, for example: http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/top/ds...11/balance.html. For all the attention the media pays to China, it's with the countries closest to us that we trade the most. China has a similar pattern (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and HK are major trading partners) but because those countries do not have the capability to absorb its export-based economy, it turns to the US. In the future, as China's economy modernizes, it will probably not depend on exports as much; consequently, as its development level reaches that of the US's, there will probably be less trade between the two countries, as China turns to more convenient partners close by. The thing to understand is, transport fees do matter, especially in a world where everyone is competing for limited energy resources. As far as the use of the term "bloc" goes I was more referring to, I suppose, the "hubs" of economic power in the foreseeable future. I do not see Africa as a short-term hub because it has systematic political and infrastructural problems. It's like North Korea vs. China - sure, the former has even cheaper labor and is strategically positioned to take advantage of the East Asian trading game, but it's got a regime that is, for the lack of better words, anti-business. By contrast, even though China has a repressive regime, it is very business-friendly. Politics, social organization, and even culture do matter - it's not simply a dogmatic process by which the whole world invariably rises, one after another, like some tuned clockwork, and that's part of what I was trying to say through "it's not certain, but it's not arbitrary, either." Consider this: from the Wikipedia page I linked, India, China, and Europe comprised some 70-80% of world GDP for the last two thousand years. By contrast, Africa, despite its vast continental area and role as the cradle of humanity, comprised around 10% on average or less. Why is this, and how can it be fixed? Those are the questions African leaders must answer if they are to become a major economic hub in the coming years. It's certainly possible for Africa to rise and take India and China's place as economic powerhouse, but in the short-term (ie next fifty years), I doubt it's guaranteed. (At the same time, however, I don't expect India & China to depend on cheap, export-driven labor forever; both of them are developing technology-based economies, and will eventually be competing with the US & Europe, not Africa.)
  24. Famine-related riots are unlikely to occur in China these days because of two things: 1) China is self-sufficient with regards to food and 2) it's got a lot of treasury reserves to buy food with in case harvest fails due to natural disasters. The greatest risk for food problems are actually places that are isolated from the world, like North Korea. The threat of the financial crisis comes in two forms: 1) less food aid from developed countries as they cut back and 2) protectionism, which has serious consequences for world trade & therefore food security.
  25. The future most definitely does not belong to China, or India, or America, or anybody alone. In my view, regional economic blocs are likely to arise, based on the principle that trading between countries near one another is easier and more profitable (less transport fees, etc.) In my view, there are four geographical blocs that can rival one another in the near term: Europe, with the EU at the center East Asia, with China at the center North America, with the US at the center South Asia, with India at the center Of these, the top three are already very powerful. If you combine the GDP PPP of China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan you'll get a number that's comparable to that of the EU's and the US's. China (and North Korea if it ever reforms), of course, still has a lot of potential for growth, so this bloc will likely become more powerful barring major political and/or environmental disasters. South Asia is not yet there, but they have good demographic profiles and recent growths. South America is another potential bloc, but its ascension seems even further in the distance. And then you have the swing states - places like Russia, Turkey, Australia, even Vietnam. They don't quite belong to any one bloc, geographically, but are not strong enough to be blocs in and of themselves. These states will likely continue to "swing" from side to side, depending on their own interests and situations. What's interesting, however, is that these blocs do not necessarily correspond to political blocs. China, Japan, and Korea do not get along with one another. Neither does Britain and the EU (though the conflict there is more tame). The US may very well court India as a counterweight to China and Pakistan. Meanwhile, tensions within the EU prevent the formation of a common foreign policy. So, what does all this mean? To me, it means that you can't judge the politics of the future based on the economic powerhouses of today. Geographically, it is likely that the aforementioned blocs will be the centers of economic power; politically, however, the situation is much more complicated. Militarily - well, let's not even go there. Still, the lesson to take away from all this is that things change, and yet, paradoxically, things also stay the same: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_regio..._past_GDP_(PPP). Regions like China and India have long been powerhouses - for thousands of years, they comprised a huge percentage of the world's economy. Yet, within a few centuries, the rise of the West eclipsed them all. But this spurt, though it was world-changing, was also transient - it was only a matter of time before other centers adopted the lessons of the West and embarked upon their own modernizations. And so, we're moving back towards the old paradigm of Europe, East Asia, and South Asia being major centers. But as if to insist that change is possible, the colonization of the Americas resulted in the emergence of another mega-bloc, and the decline of the Middle-East resulted in the loss of a mega-bloc. The future is not certain, but it is also not arbitrary.
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