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Respec in CRPGs - Am I alone?


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#1
Hazmy

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Hello fellow forumers!

Prologue:

 

I have been playing a new CRPG called Pathfinder: Kingmaker extensively recently, and I am really liking it, I spent a lot of time making builds and testing characters and roleplaying them on top of it. It's definitely a game that needs lots of work but I think it's really enjoyable and does things right.

The game get's lots of criticism and people are asking for features in it. This is where the topic comes in. One of the features people are asking for is : Respecialization - at any point in the game, that can change even your class.

Topic: Respec in CRPGs - Am I alone?

 

(Clarification: The topic is about FULL respecialization that allows you to change your characters Attributes and even Class later on in the game, any time.)

I've been discussing this request for respecialization with many people, and I quickly recieved lots of feedback that I am a minority in not wanting somthing like that in the game, especially if it's optional.

As you probably have guessed I am against any feature like this in heavy RPGs - I'll get to my own reasons below - but what surprised me more is that most of my reasons were recieved as "unreasonable" and silly to most of the people I've discussed it with.

So here I am, as a last effort, I'd like to share my thoughts and listen to what you all have to say about it aswell, so that I can change my view perhaps on the matter.

My Opinion:

 

So as I have mentioned I am greatly against anything like that, as I think it overall just degrades the game in different aspects and encourages people to play in a way that these games were probably not designed for. ( I understand this is thin-ice I am walking here, everyone should play how they enjoy games most importantly, but I think there is a point where some changes greatly affect an experience for a game. )

Game Design: From development point of view first of all I think, allowing the player to respecialize at any point puts a great focus on the fact that not every part of the game has to be properly balanced and designed as the game allows players to change their build at any point. This specifically comes to my mind in situations like, not every class or character being able to survive the lower levels of the game or specific difficulty even. With respec this is easily bypassed by just starting as a EASIERCLASSNAME and surviving the early sequence to later respecialize into HARDERCLASSNAME that is significantly stronger when it reaches higher level, such as Wizards. This brings me immediately to the next point that is :

 

The Journey: I think it is very important in RPGs, just like in real life, the journey to an achievement is just as important if not more important than the achievement itself. If you can just avoid the hard part of a path, to just walk back onto it when it fruits - removes the importance of the journey that is fighting for becoming strong. I personally think it also degrades the accomplishment itself, as it becomes significantly easier to reach that point after that. While you can still say that you have reached that feat fair and square, it still leaves a sour taste behind that, it's way easier now to achieve that.
 

Builds/Guides: This is a short and not so important part - it's more so for forums and communities. By adding a feature such as respecialization into the game, it also makes it "mainstream" in a way and more builds/guides will include respecialization in it, this way removing lots of theorycrafting and the joy of actually making builds that bypass the difficulty of not being able to respecialize. Less and less builds will bother focusing on not using respec, since the game allows you to do it way easier now. Bringing up issues with your builds will just prompt answers as "Well just play as EASIERCLASSNAME and respec into HARDERCLASSNAME later!". My personal opinion for this in CRPGs: If it can't level from 1-X level without respec, I just feel it's not as enjoyable.

Roleplaying: This is an important part I think. I like to roleplay and min-max all the time, moreso I usually combine the two. Make a good story, follow really cool restrictions to my characters lore and min-max and powergame that. But somehow respecialization is just a complete immersion break, you can just delete everything your character has been and make up a completely new identity, it's just everything that is against roleplaying I think. If I want a new class, I multi-class into it and accept the consiquences and penalties that come with it. If I have a new idea, I make a new identity and a new character for it. Each character is a unique journey. These are RPGs afterall.

Mentality: I think from all my points this is probably the most subjective part. For me respecialization in games is killing the "effort" part of games, where if you come up with a good idea you have to still work for it to reach it. Your mistakes matter and thus future attempts will make you more cautious and research more each part of your builds and playthrough. Having to fully consider your whole playthroughs for each character makes you respect the whole content in the game aswell instead of just focusing on later parts where the builds matter more. I consider full respecialization as a cheat really that is completely accepted now by the gaming community, but I understand that's just how it all evolved, so I  am trying to train myself to accept it more aswell.

Why does this all matter to me? I just feel more and more features are added into games that are making them less complex and less enjoyable to achieve goals and enjoy hard content. Maybe I am just having a bad day, who knows?!

Final Thoughts: Well here we are. If you have read my thoughts I thank you for it, I appreciate it, I really do! Please do not think of anything I said as arrogant, that is the last thing I wanted to sound like. I just wanted to share how I feel, and I am interested what others think about this so I can learn to cope more with my feelings about it. Now I ask you to share your thoughts with me, as I am really interested to hear what others have to say about this!

PS.: It's quite a massive post so excuse me if I have made errors! I hope I gathered my thoughts well structured.

Thank you!

 


Edited by Hazmy, 20 October 2018 - 11:47 PM.

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#2
Sharp_one

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"My freedom is not your sin".

I don't see how would this affect a single player experience.
Just don't use it.

Personally I like to have an option to tweak a build especially in games that somewhat require heavy specialization or min/maxing.
There is nothing worse than to end up with unplayable character after 20+ hours.
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#3
neotemplar

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I "have been playing a new CRPG called Pathfinder: Kingmaker extensively recently" too and very often I remembered, how good it is to have a respec tool.

 

I left the game due to critical bugs, my party was not perfect, but able enough, but I left with bold belief that respec is a MUST.

 

Look. I'm not a minmaxer or powerplayer, I see system mechanics only as a tool to somehow represent fighting, communicating etc. Yes, I have some good RPG background so I am able to stay my ground on Hard, but I am not interested in reading tomes of rules and searching for guides, then restarting over and over, repeating the same parts of the game.

 

Any episode that forces me to restart or even brings a serious thought about restarting I see as developers failure. And I have every right to do it.

 

There is no more boring and frustrating thing than dejavu syndrome, caused by restarting, it simply destroys any immersion and stops the suspension of disbelief. And disbelief means that you don't see art form before you anymore and remain with mathematical simulation matrix only.

 

I don't play RPGs to tune and tweak mathematical matrixes. It is nice to get well with the system, of course. But for me the system is just "inside gears" providing the storytelling and roleplay.

 

So, a good game tries to prevent the player from getting into dead ends, no matter how we whine about "handholding", it must be done somehow.

 

Respec option is one of the greatest ways to do it, why not use it? Especially if you use something like DnD 3.75, it's not the easiest system in the world.

 

Old games didn't have respec options because it was technically impossible at that time, not because they were "true" and "old school  hardcore". If they could do it at that time, they would. Lack of respec is a flaw of old games, not a benefit.

 

My personal "perfect" way of handling this is smth like

 

1) devs explain everything at character creation, provide pre-build chars, you can use them or just see their recommended build for most archetypes

2) your companions may have a pre-defined class or classes and stats, but their progression in their classes can be respec-ed

3) i don't see any reason to add any census for respec - moneycost, losing something, limiting it in any way

4) from artistic point of view, respec is a pit-stop, doing it you automatically stop your belief, i don't see any need to explain it from narrative or lore point of view. Respec is like a menu - no one cries that "game menus are breaking the immersion".

 

***

TL;DR - Respec is #1 anti-frustration feature


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#4
uuuhhii

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spend hours looking at the skill description

but can't test any build because it doesn't have respec or console command



#5
Orogun01

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I like respec, even if you have an optimized build there are points where you might be not be optimal to take out a particular enemy. Is because of that that I like respec, it lets you test out different builds without having to run into dead ends.

Honestly the Pathfinder video game is just awfully vanilla, even if it had come out during the height of CRPGs it would still be a bland forgettable experience.



#6
Fenixp

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An infallible developer can afford to not have a respec option in his game.

In other words, if you can guarantee that I won't hit a dead end with whatever wacky build I come up with, you don't need to include a respec option in your game. However, game design that purposefully has me wasting dozens of hours of my life just so I have to repeat them is poor design. A DM will make sure that the obstacles you will face are honed to your characters - a static game won't.

So yeah, just be on the safe side. Put a respec option in. People who want to ignore it will.

Edited by Fenixp, 21 October 2018 - 01:57 AM.

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#7
IndiraLightfoot

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@Hazmy I get where you're coming from, but one of my favourite games of all time - the NWN2 series - it didn't have any respec option in-game. However, in my scores of playthroughs, there were a few cases pretty early on where I had forgotten 1 skill point for some build or picked a weird feat by mistake. And then I went ahead and used a character editor to adjust so that I keep playing the game the way I liked.



#8
neotemplar

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One of the most canonic examples

 

In Fallout 1-2 you need a certain STR to operate certain weaponry. And while you may suppose, that heavy weaponry requires high STR, you will never suppose or learn from the creation screen that sniper weapons require STR 6. 

 

Numerous people have reached dead end with sniper builds just because they needed to adjust one of their stats, but they couldn't.

 

For me lack of such option is way more immersion-breaking than any respec option. Because such things basically burn down all the stage decorations, all belief, and you find out that you are inside a boring calculator.



#9
Fenixp

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In Fallout 1-2 you need a certain STR to operate certain weaponry. And while you may suppose, that heavy weaponry requires high STR, you will never suppose or learn from the creation screen that sniper weapons require STR 6.

I actually kinda dig how Fallout (partially) got around this issue by allowing player to find ways to increase base stats - in case of strength significantly so.
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#10
Chilloutman

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One of the most canonic examples

 

In Fallout 1-2 you need a certain STR to operate certain weaponry. And while you may suppose, that heavy weaponry requires high STR, you will never suppose or learn from the creation screen that sniper weapons require STR 6. 

 

Numerous people have reached dead end with sniper builds just because they needed to adjust one of their stats, but they couldn't.

 

For me lack of such option is way more immersion-breaking than any respec option. Because such things basically burn down all the stage decorations, all belief, and you find out that you are inside a boring calculator.

 

There is powerarmor with added str and there are perks to add str and there are operations to add str, I mean you can start with 3 str and end up with 10, i dont understand this point at all



#11
Hawke64

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I prefer limited and optional respec, like it was in Dark Souls II-III, because on the first run, when you don't know the game's mechanics and available equipment, you're likely to make a not-optimized build. And if the game takes more than 20-40 hours to complete (and/or not interesting), the first run is likely to be the last. On the other hand, I agree that it can be slightly immersion-breaking, thus the function should be somehow explained in-universe.



#12
neotemplar

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Of course you can buff your stats. But what about a first-time runner in 1997 with no internet?

 

And even so, when you get your first .223 sniper rifle in the Hub the only option is constantly do expensive buffout or restart.

 

You don't need any STR at all to operate a 3 kg sniper rifle. There is absolutely no logic behind that. 



#13
Wormerine

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I overall agree with OP. I am believer that it is up to designer to provide experience, which they believe is best for gamers - while some flexibility is a nice feature, it is not a requirement. I don’t believe difficulty options are a must have - if designers believes the game must be played at certain difficulty to be engaging, they should commit to that. That’s the “ideal” though. Business wise it’s a good idea to make game reach as wide audience as possible.

When it comes to RPG I find respecting to be somewhat against the game’s nature - it is about crafting/defining your character. If you can change some key things about your character midway through experience that somewhat goes against, what I believe cRPG should be about.

How much of that is actually true depends on how cRPG is defined. Ideally, different character builds should provide characters with different advantages AND disadvantages, and player should have do deal with both throughout the game. Not being able to pass this one diplomacy check, should be balanced with passing this other check with an ability, which came at the cost of lower diplomacy skill. In an RPG which is reactive (not just gauntlet of unchanging quests and combat encounters) being able to respect your character would have made those win-loose scenarios based on your character build irrelevant. Because we always want to win, even if loosing can be more memorable.

That said, RPGs don’t really come close to that kind of design, and many don’t event attempt it. Personally never used respec and never will. I don’t find cRPGs to be complex enough in design and reactivity to really impact different character runs that much. Wider audience means more money, and some people prefer to win over having fun (at times me including).

#14
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A DM will make sure that the obstacles you will face are honed to your characters - a static game won't.

 

Indeed. In tabletop players can also make informed decisions because rules aren't obscure or outright hidden—you can just crack the Player's Handbook or whatever open and find out exactly what is the required STR to operate that +8 vorpal spoon. In CRPGs this is rarely ever the case, even less so with the disappearance of manuals.

 

There is also the "ongoing development" problem. It has become an accepted practice that for the first year or so, games are released in what amounts to a beta state, subject to substantial changes in mechanics and balance. Oh, you found this sweet build that devs didn't think about but now regard as imba? Sorry, your character is now good only as comic relief because the designer is channeling his inner Thanos. Feel free to reroll.

 

Having the option to respec in CRPGs is good and respectful of players' time. As someone with rather poor impulse control I say, learn to control the impulse to abuse the **** out of it.


Edited by 213374U, 21 October 2018 - 07:16 AM.

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#15
IndiraLightfoot

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Yeah, some kind of respec option is courteous nowadays in a CRPG, but I'd say it should be restricted and almost a "hidden functionality", and not a simple mainstay feature like in Grim Dawn, D3 or AC:O.



#16
Melusina

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Yeah, some kind of respec option is courteous nowadays in a CRPG, but I'd say it should be restricted and almost a "hidden functionality", and not a simple mainstay feature like in Grim Dawn, D3 or AC:O.

 

 

+1, except not every crpg should have respec. Restarting and planning isn't the end of the world.



#17
HoonDing

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Yes, you are alone.



#18
Fenixp

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Restarting and planning isn't the end of the world.

Can't plan with imperfect information. Can't restart with insufficient time. I'm sure ignoring a respec option costs people with time to spare a lot less of it than restarting does people without that time.

You see, time is an actual resource people have to contend with on daily basis. Imaginary points in a videogame... Well, aren't.

Edited by Fenixp, 21 October 2018 - 11:52 AM.

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#19
Manveru123

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Very RP approach, but this is a single player game and someone else's experience does not affect your own. Do not force your views on someone just because you don't like a feature. Instead, don't use it.

 

There's currently a mod for Kingmaker that can reset your character (or a companion if you want) for 1k gold. You can't use it to change gender or name, but everything else is fair game. Highly recommend.


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#20
Hawke64

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Complete and unlimited respec might affect the design, though. If the developers know that you can change your character's stats at any point, combat encounters and skill checks are likely to be (un)balanced accordingly. But it might be more about the skills of the devs, than the respec function itself.

 

On an unrelated note, is it possible to change character's appearance (not stats) in Pathfinder: Kingmaker without mods?






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