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The shift of the powergaming paradigm to non-combat


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For anyone that doesn't know, powergaming is about achieving the best possible outcome in the game through whatever means necessary. The developers want to try and eliminate most of the 'degenerate' power-gaming from the game, such as double-experience gain and things like that. That's fine with me.

 

In most cases in the Infinity Engine games, there exists an optimal outcome which either yields you better items or more experience (or both). This usually involves killing everything, unless you are rewarded more quest experience points for a peaceful outcome.

 

With the proposed experience model and the introduction of prominent non-combat skills, and with Tim and Josh stating that they want you to be able to avoid combat with these skills, it will potentially shift the powergaming paradigm into a non-combat model.

Their aim seems to be to try and create an even reward in every situation for players of all archetypes.

 

A perfect balance between archetypes is of course, impossible (or improbable). In encounters where it is possible to avoid combat, avoiding combat will likely always be the beneficial option from a power-gaming perspective in the situation of quest-experience only, because if you avoid combat you essentially waste considerably less to no resources compared to potentially expending per-rest spells, potions, item charges and other consummables through entering into combat, not to mention your own time.

 

The only reason you would enter combat from a power-gaming perspective is if by entering combat you are rewarded some good items that your enemies had on them, that you wouldn't have been able to get otherwise (and that are actually beneficial to your party). However there are still problems with this, which I will explain later.

 

The first play through for all people will of course be trial and error. But on another play through, non-roleplayers will start to identify the most optimal solution to solving quests and encounters. Power gaming doesn't necessarily mean gaining the most experience or the best items, but to achieve your optimal goal - for instance, getting the perfect reputation with a faction or unlocking particular dialogue options that you want from an NPC to witness a particular story element.

 

I also think that to even further support the use of non-combat abilities, the devs may even make it possible to get the premium items that enemies or characters have on them through other means (such as bribery/reward for non-violence, persuasion or stealing). If this is the case that also makes violence a pointless endeavour.

 

The skill checks will probably be based on a static number rather than being random, so for powergaming purposes in the future you will know, to achieve a certain outcome, you will need X amount in the Mechanics skill to break a lock or you need X in your Charisma-type skill to unlock Y dialogue option.

 

What splits the playing field are the things that allow you to unlock these non-violent options (Tim Cain: "you're going to want to use these skills")

  • The skills you have levelled. Different skills will yield ways of beating encounters through non-violence
  • Your race / traits will probably have an effect in some instances as well, maybe even your class
  • The companions you have with you and their skills
  • The consequence of the actions that you take, reflected in your reputation with factions and the outcome of the quest, depending on which particular outcome you want to experience.

This is the direction that the developers seem to be aiming at in regards to Project Eternity. That's 100% fine with me.

 

Non-violence was present in The Witcher and you got the same experience for solving a quest non-violently as you did violently, however violence did reward you bonus gear if you took the violent route. If you killed Vincent the werewolf instead of curing him, you got a special alchemical ingredient which allowed you to brew a special potion which gave you a talent; if you killed Berengar then you got his Witcher amulet, which made the final boss fight really easy.

Even though on various playthroughs I did both options in those quests. My 'standard' option for both was the non-violent ones because the reward unto itself was the extra dialogue/scenes that you got through that and it was more fun beating the megaboss without the OP amulet.

You can't get double rewards in The Witcher though because you can only attack a hostile creature, or a neutral creature such as a dog (only when there's danger). There exists a state of which characters cannot be attacked.

 

In The Witcher, you were rewarded for doing quests. Violent and Non-violent outcomes to such were both good. However the game still had experience for kills but you wouldn't go out and grind monsters for experience because the experience you got from them was minimal. You'd certainly clear the monsters in your path for experience most of the time, but that was about it. Most monsters randomly spawned (and respawned) at night, and fighting them was usually annoying, particularly if they were tough because they forced you to spend resources - potions, health and stamina. You never walked around looking for fights with piddling monsters in The Witcher, only if it was related to quests, even though they yielded experience.

 

Monsters that yielded good experience were only found in certain locations. Echinopsae in the cave and Odo's garden. Ghouls in the crypt (and if you're very lucky, one wandering around the village at night), the boss monsters of their various archetypes. There was basically no reason to grind. You only went to areas to find items (random chests/corpses lying around) or do quests. I don't play The Witcher for the combat because it's not hard and you're not really rewarded for it. It is a means to experience the next part of the story - basically the same for all recent games.

If you took out the XP per kill in The Witcher, it would make you skip as much of the combat as possible. Because then you're not rewarded at all for it.

 

Rewards for non-violence have been in games for quite a long time. In pretty much all the games since Baldur's Gate 2 (and even including some quests in BG2) the non-violent solution has pretty much always been the most beneficial outcome compared to the violent alternative in games.

I'm 100% fine for that trend to continue if that is the developer's wish, but quest and objective based experience really takes the wind out of combat. It then becomes a chore that you have to put up with in order to get to the next piece of the quest or storyline. The satisfaction of defeating a foe doesn't really mean much unless there's a tangible reward for it.

 

Already in most games today, even with experience per kills, combat is just a chore, filler content in between pieces of storyline. Most game models seem to be objective-based these days. Quests level you up, combat is just filler. The only thing that makes it worthwhile is the experience gained from it. If non-combat options exist, especially in encounters against unimportant foes, such as a bunch of lowly guards outside the bandit camp, fighting your way in is pointless because you have to expend resources to do it. Whereas if you sneak in it costs you nothing, and you gain the same from both outcomes.

 

If you are rewarded the same experience for completing an objective through combat or non-combat means, the non-combat makes the most sense from a powergaming perspective because you have saved yourself from expending finite resources and saved yourself RL time that you can spend on getting further in the game. I generally don't think that people undertake combat because the combat is fun, the satisfaction is in gaining something from the encounter. Loot and experience.

 

This type of XP reward system works mostly ok in semi-linear objective based areas that have meaninful side-encounters. It does make level design more of a chore, and probably will change the way they are designed and the style of encounters. For instance, using level 2 of Dragon's Eye cave in Icewind Dale as an example and assume it's a map in PE, we now have to make every single encounter on the map involved in an objective. Nothing can be pointless or that is bad game design.

 

Image of the Area map with encounters marked

 

dragoneye_03.jpg

 

 

Feel free to ignore this bit - changes to the level to accomodate new XP system

 

 

 

 

Okay so you come in via the entrance in the top centre of the map, the square.

 

Wraith spiders at the top becomes an objective, perhaps put a dead body there with some loot and leave no XP for the spiders, or make it an encounter where you can kill the spiders, sneak past them or use something to make them run off to recover the dead body.

 

Bombardier beetle area becomes an objective, have to get to the dead body down the end somehow

 

Rescuing the three sections of villagers (the one in the middle left is where Conlan's son Sheemish is being kept, so thats for another quest)

 

Defeating the Talonite priestesses / rescuing the Priestess of Ilmater

 

The Sword spiders needs to be an objective, because that's just a pointless encounter if it isn't, otherwise it's even more unfair on those taking the combat route because they have to fight them for no reason while the stealthy guy or spider-smart guy can get past without a fight .. but I guess it's on the way to level 3, not in a side section of the map

 

And the lizard shaman in the middle of the map needs some loot, perhaps some health potions or something, otherwise going down there is pointless too

 

And making it to level 3 of the dungeon

 

 

 

In all instances, non-combat is beneficial because you are just wasting resources and time fighting when you could beat these encounters without fighting.

 

I don't think it's possible to prevent powergamers from being degenerate if you give no experience for kills either without taking a lot of fun out of the combat of the game. If you make sure that there are really good trade-offs for using violence, such as better items that you can only get through fighting, people can sneak by to get the experience, then double back and kill the enemy to get the item from the enemy, despite the lack of experience. To prevent this you'd have to make it so that you didn't get the items from the enemy (by either making them disappear, putting them in containers or making it a quest reward - which are all bad design decisions imo).

 

If you want to prevent this type of degenerate gaming then use sensible programming, your choice and consequences writing, and your reputation system. It's not the experience for kills that is the problem.

 

Personally I think the system that the Infinity Engine games already employs is good. XP for kills and quests, and bonus experience for non-combat/skill use that is more beneficial than violent outcomes in most cases. To prevent people from killing everything and playing degenerately - make it impossible to get double XP rewards, add consequences for violence or degenerance such as lower reputation, decreased influence with party members or world events that punish such actions.

 

 

 

Just my 2(000) cents anwyay :)

Hope you all enjoyed the read

Edited by Sensuki
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pretty good sum up, I have to say.

 

I agree, having a dungeon level with a lot of individual monsters that then need to become challanges may be a bit to much.

I guess the witcher route then would be better, having only main encounters be objective based.

Personally, I think that sneaking past an encounter should not yield experience in general, especially not if its a "filler battle" inside a dungeon that does not have any purpose - so you are right, the right balance is very hard to find. Maybe a mixture, like in BG or witcher is still the way to go for this game, so taht combat stays rewarding, but someone still has the incentive to resolve problems non-violently...maybe the rewards for such actions should simply be dialogue, alternative items or other stuff, maybe even make it known beforehand, example:

 

you get the quest to bring person X to justice, and return his head to a guardsman, reward 300 gold. If you find said person you could offer him a deal to let him live, if he gives you 300gold. The person denies saying he only has 100g, but a magic dagger. You now could choose between those 2 rewards basically, but experience should be the same in both cases.

 

I guess its the old BG design.. ^^

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As said, I enjoyed combat in the old infinite engine games. And I really hope I can enjoy combat in project eternity as well, as even if the story is more important, I liked to enjoy combat in these older games. And it would not be as enjoyable with only objective based experience, as then really watch the point to kill, when I can get past this battle that easily and only waste my time and effort with battle?

 

I know you can easily argue that objective based experience will not take you the possibility to go and fight away, but it will simply make my enjoyment of battle less. And I think that would be the case for many... Still one of the things that made me enjoy old infinite engine games as much as I did was the fact that battles were challenging and more tactical with your 6 party members and different spells you could cast etc. And if you take one of the rewards for the battle away.... Well it would also take one of the reasons that it felt satisfactory away from me...

 

I liked to challenge myself with the combat in these older infinite engine games, but it simply will not feel the same if there is less reward for doing so. And feeling something the certain way is not something you can change easily, I at least can't control how I will feel about something.

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I don't think they should take power-gamers/min-maxers, etc, into consideration when designing the game. Those sorts of people exist as an X factor, and they are going to find a way to break the game to their will no matter what the developers do.

 

Your point about certain monsters in The Witcher giving you high XP: well Obsidian can incorporate them into a quest - except with the benefit of gaining quest XP only from completing the quest meaning that both those who fought the big monster and those who found another way around it get equal xp for their individual struggles.

 

A lot of your argument falls flat because you are applying the logic of quest only XP to games that are no built from the ground up with that concept in mind.

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Snip totally untrue bits about non-violent option being more beneficial than violent option.

It's the opposite, mate. The violent option has ALWAYS been more beneficial in any kind of CRPG. There isn't one CRPG where the nonviolent option was on average beneficial.

 

Furthermore, you are still not understanding what they mean by objective-based and the goal of it. You are purely speaking of it in term of "violence" and "non-violence" when it's also in term of "helping the lizards or helping the guards" and so on.

 

Basically, you are working on the premise that objective-based will mean that the nonviolent option will be easier and more enjoyable, when the devs went on record to say that there won't be "insta-win" dialogue options. The "diplomacy" options would be about learning more about the npcs as well as minor bonuses, not for insta-win and bypassing fights.

 

What there is likely to be is 2/3 ways to resolve a quest, and all of them being roughly as hard as each others, and as time-consuming.

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What there is likely to be is 2/3 ways to resolve a quest, and all of them being roughly as hard as each others, and as time-consuming.

 

Although the idea sounds great and all, as long as there is no specific example how this would be translated into the game, I remain sceptical.

Many devs praised their upcoming game to have "choices" on how to tackle encounters, that each way was equal and so on. But I can not recall one single game that lived really up to this promise, and personally I dont think it is even possible.

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Do you ever notice in games that you stop going after creatures that have become easy to kill because they aren't worth much XP? Applying an economic model to XP for kills may reduce a lot of the so-called degenerate behavior. The more you kill a particular monster type, the lower the benefit should be in terms of useful experience. D&D does this to some degree by awarding the players proportionately less XP for killing lower HD creatures. They also don't carry much treasure, so they eventually become worthless to loot.

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I don't think they should take power-gamers/min-maxers, etc, into consideration when designing the game. Those sorts of people exist as an X factor, and they are going to find a way to break the game to their will no matter what the developers do.

 

It's still the responsibility of designers to set up mechanics that don't screw with the player's desires. BTW, this sort of XP bias can work in ANY direction, not just combat. In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, you earned markedly less XP from mission to mission if you didn't stop to hack literally anything you came across -- even terminals for which you already had the password!

 

It think it's weird to see people describe this approach as "elitist" when it's actually a response to extremely popular behavior I've seen player after player after player engage in. Complete quest via stealth, double back and kill everyone. Complete quest via conversation, double back and kill everyone. Complete quest via environment interaction/skill use, double back and kill everyone.

 

That's kind of taking power gaming into consideration. I've never actually done any of those double XP exploits myself though, didn't even occur to me to try them until I read GameFAQs guides about them haha. By the way I wasn't arguing that they should, I was commenting on the fact that there is the prospect of non-violence becoming the best option.

 

Your point about certain monsters in The Witcher giving you high XP: well Obsidian can incorporate them into a quest - except with the benefit of gaining quest XP only from completing the quest meaning that both those who fought the big monster and those who found another way around it get equal xp for their individual struggles.

 

I'm not sure if you read the part where I translated that Icewind Dale level into objective-based experience but that's exactly what I did (and what they need to do). My concern there is though, with a more open area, such as a lot of the Baldur's Gate wilderness areas, the level design has to significantly change to accomodate objective-based XP. The lesser encounters become basically pointless. That's okay in a linear game like Icewind Dale, but in a more sandbox style game it's a bit of a problem. They have said that the world exploration will be more like Baldur's Gate, but the level designs might be more linear like Baldur's Gate 2 to accomodate for the change in XP system. I vastly prefer the Baldur's Gate 1 freedom.

 

It's the opposite, mate. The violent option has ALWAYS been more beneficial in any kind of CRPG. There isn't one CRPG where the nonviolent option was on average beneficial.

 

Where there is a non-violent option given to you to beat the encounter (Star Wars Jedi Mind tricks, The WItcher gaze, certain dialogue options) you are usually rewarded more experience for beating the encounter. I'm talking about games post-Baldur's Gate 2 as well. It was even present in Icewind Dale as well. In Lower Dorn's Deep if you talk to Marketh's sister before going up to face him, and promise to spare him and then let him go, you get 150,000XP. If you fight him you get 8,000 XP and some crappy items (black dragon scale with **** AC, longsword +1 etc) - I can do the math there.

 

There's an ogre in a mill with a headache. You can cure his headache for 1000XP or kill him (270XP). Once again ...

 

Furthermore, you are still not understanding what they mean by objective-based and the goal of it. You are purely speaking of it in term of "violence" and "non-violence" when it's also in term of "helping the lizards or helping the guards" and so on.

 

Actually yes I am, I am not talking about encounters that trigger dialogue. Those aren't the problem. I stated that The Witcher handles XP for these dialogues the same no matter the outcome. It is the hostile/random encounters and side encounters that become a problem.

 

Basically, you are working on the premise that objective-based will mean that the nonviolent option will be easier and more enjoyable, when the devs went on record to say that there won't be "insta-win" dialogue options. The "diplomacy" options would be about learning more about the npcs as well as minor bonuses, not for insta-win and bypassing fights.

 

I read that very reddit comment, they said that abilities and skills will unlock dialogue options that extract extra information to help the player make a more informed decision, and then there was something about giving off how they would react to that dialogue choice or something like that. But once you've played the game a few times, you'll know how to achieve the best outcome - by having X in an ability or skill to open up a new avenue of dialogue/etc

 

What there is likely to be is 2/3 ways to resolve a quest, and all of them being roughly as hard as each others, and as time-consuming.

 

Oh absolutely. In my experience, in modern RPGs, if there's more than one side in a quest you usually go back and forth between both parties and then decide where you stand. I am talking about the encounters that where your skills and abilities save you from a hostile encounter where it would otherwise be inevitable. If you sneak past something, and get XP for it, you don't have to use any items or spells or anything.

Edited by Sensuki
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Personally I think it will be almost impossible for Obsidian to provide alternate methods of achieving an objective in every circumstance, frankly I think that would be silly.

 

Sometimes a bunch of worgs are just a bunch of worgs and you will have to kill them, there will be no sneaking, no talking, not outsmarting. You just have to kill them. I think this will be the case for many encounters in the game. In dungeons you may be presented with various types of enemies; kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, undead etc and you will just have to kill them.

 

The difference is that in an XP per kill based system you get the XP after each individual kill, in an objective based system a group may be defined and only when the group is all dead will you have achieved the objective and get XP. The objective may never be visible to you, you may not know that 5 or 6 or 4 of the enemy constitue a group and all must die to be awarded the XP. In practice you might not notice the difference between the two systems except in circumstance were perhaps groups have not been defined well and you miss one enemy because it was misassigned to a hidden area or just not spawned due to a bug etc. Then you get no XP from that group at all. Of course that presupposes mistakes and bugs across the game and hopefully that will be minimal.

 

Objectives don't always have to be some thing in the game area or some trigger on the ground, place on a map or a quest etc. An objective could just be that this room with 6 enemies must all die in order for you to receive XP, you can fight them in the room or pull them out back into the corridor you came in from or whatever, they just all have to die for the objective to be satisfied and XP awarded. The objective won't be something silly like "make it to the other side of the room" meaning you have to kill them anyway and then walk across the room, the objective is just killing them all. There may be other places were the objective is reaching a target location and might offer a choice of sneaking or fighting but I'd expect those type of objectives to occur much less often than the "kill" type of objective.

 

Anyway this is all guess work until we see it or get a much more detailed explanation of the logic.

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Well, best post pro-combat XP around, I give you that.

 

Bloodlines gives bonus XP if you stealth through. I still killed everyone. Yeah, I realise you state no one would do that. Yeah, you could stealth. But it wasn't easier, nor more fun, so I decided just not to do it. Be damned you get bonus XP for that...

TOR I ran away often from XP-giving foes (I am crazy remember). Because I don't particularly fancy respawning infinite foes. Sure, they give XP, but it kind of defeats exploring for me if everything just respawns and I have to slog back again.

Also tried the tested method of "no XP, everyone will run to the objective" in the Jekk Jekk Tar section of KOTOR2...

...

...

...

I died.

^

 

 

I agree that that is such a stupid idiotic pathetic garbage hateful retarded scumbag evil satanic nazi like term ever created. At least top 5.

 

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I think roleplaying games when made for powergamers are no longer roleplaying games. If I'm a fighter in an RPG then I'll solve my problems using a sword. If I'm a Rogue, I solve them by stealing and sneaking. I shouldn't be penalized for my roleplaying just because a powergamer can break it. There are good and novel ways to solve this problem: I'm sure OE will think of them.

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My thoughts on this come from my background in psychology. Specifically operant conditioning as it applies to reinforcement schedules. If I get rewarded for each specific action (killing something, in this case), an odd exception to normal conditioning rules occurs. I actually stop enjoying the action. Basically, I only perform the action for the reward, not for the action itself, even if I used to enjoy the action. If, on the other hand, the reward is more loosely tied to the action (in this case at semi-arbitrary "completion" benchmarks), my enjoyment of the action will not decrease, even if I receive the same reward overall. Therefore, for my own enjoyment of combat, I would much rather have objective-based rewards than kill-based rewards, even if combat ends up being mechanically disadvantaged because of it. Let the powergamers do what they will, I want my fun.

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The base of the OP's post is that since combat has a risk to it, it has to be balanced off with an XP reward. But if you give combat an XP reward, then there's incentive to slaughter everyone every time, which is exactly what we want to get away from.

 

So some proposed solutions:

 

1) Make combat fun. If combat is fun, people will want to engage in combat because they enjoy it, or it fits their role, rather than because doing so makes a number go up. Everyone besides power-gamers is now happy.

 

2) Let you loot equipment / money off the dead. If you want that shiny new sword, you'll have to kill the guy who's holding it. Now there's a benefit to combat - the loot - at the cost of the risk and resources expended upon that combat. Without rewarding XP, combat is kept from being the optimum choice every time, but it may be a better choice than non-combat if you wish to get the loot. Power-gamers will be happy for weeks compiling risk-reward spreadsheets figuring out which are the optimum combats to engage in and which to avoid.

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This is a tough one. I like the idea on paper of objective based experience, but implementation will be extremely problematic. The problem with objective based gaming is that in practice it usually yields 3-4 "tracks" that the player can select, but is this really freedom? You are still restricted to only those options. I just dont know how you can incorporate the sandbox feel while still working towards specific objectives. I tend to think that objectives undermine the sandbox experience.

 

A second problem with a game based heavily around avoidance of combat becomes evident when you consider how experience works, or what it represents. In most RPGs, leveling up tends to overwhelmingly augment combat abilities. Cooler spells and bigger hits are the rule, better sneaking or fast-talking can occur for some characters, but will likely not include the whole party. So there is something counter-intuitive to the PC fast talking his or her way out of a tough spot and a NPC warrior getting better with his axe as a result. This problem is somewhat unavoidable in a party based game, but if PE is to resemble the older IE games, I have to imagine that combat will remain the rule for most problem solving, and instances where dialouge can be used to resolve the conflict entirely will be minimal. (this is to say nothing about using sneaking or dailogue to alter the terms of the engagement in a meaningful way, such as isolating enemies or convincing some to change sides.)

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I might be missing your point but it seems like you want to eliminate or minimize the ability to power game Project Eternity?

And you don't want combat to be a chore, and for that to happen you need combat rewards?

 

Well as to power-gaming, people are gonna be people. They will power game if they want, don't make design choices based on limiting player choices.

 

Combat definitely needs tangible rewards whether it's XP, reputation, loot, or a combo of all three.

Sometimes combat will be a chore after so long, I mean honestly I got sick of fighting dragons in Skyrim but it's cause it happens so often.

Party based games have the benefit of a more tactical combat scenario.

To keep it from becoming a chore, I'd say you simply need varied encounters in which different tactics are necessary to defeat your new foe.

X-com is a good example of introducing new combat strategies all the time to keep it interesting...that coupled with heavy consequence.

 

So I suppose it boils down to:

Keep making the player use new combat tactics.

Ensure high consequence for failure or party member death.

Ensure a decent amount of difficulty so you can't just select your whole party and right click.

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I don't see the issue.

 

You are driven to enter a dungeon not because of the experience that cannon fodder gives you but because of the lore surrounding it, the quest experience probably attached to it, and the treasure to be found, etc. What you do while in that dungeon is up to you and the kind of character you want to play. If that's through non-violence then more power to them.

 

(As an aside, I really don't think a large majority of the fights will be able to be avoided/snuck past. The heart of the game IS tactical combat, it's right in the pitch/tag line, so I don't see that happening. There will be plenty of opportunities for diplomacy, yes, but to create so many classes/skills/combat, and then just let a player disregard it, seems highly unlikely. Diplomacy will likely pop up at key moments and stealth will be used where it makes sense, but not as a main component of game play.)

 

In the grand scheme of things, giving experience or not giving it for killing a measly pack of wolves really doesn't matter. People might be a bit shocked at first when they don't get their XP, but they're still going to kill the wolves threatening their party. It's not like it's a chore. It's a fight with some wolves, it only take 5 seconds at most. Unless it's the Uber Wolf, in which case there is probably an objective tied to it.

 

I just can't imagine this game being so filled with endless random pointless encounters that you'd start to become frustrated with not getting experience for it. If the game is filled with that kind of game play, then I want my money back! :p

 

Also, people keep making examples based on games with boring/non-tactical combat. I'm not saying the IE game's had the best combat in the world, but they deserve a little more respect than to be compared to the Witcher or Skyrim. Yeesh.

 

Bottom line is that if OE needs to make a ton of meaningful fights in this game in order for this system to work, then heck yeah! I'm all for it. If I wanted to endlessly kill hordes of zombies I'd go play an ARPG or grind in an MMO.

 

For what it's worth, your post was very interesting and it definitely made me think.

Edited by Ignatius
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In the grand scheme of things, giving experience or not giving it for killing a measly pack of wolves really doesn't matter. People might be a bit shocked at first when they don't get their XP, but they're still going to kill the wolves threatening their party.

 

Yep. It's about survival. I think the mindset of "I must get XP for battles" comes in part from the fact that combat in games these days is so damn easy. So you need XP to make that mindless busy-work worth your while.

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In the grand scheme of things, giving experience or not giving it for killing a measly pack of wolves really doesn't matter. People might be a bit shocked at first when they don't get their XP, but they're still going to kill the wolves threatening their party.

 

Yep. It's about survival. I think the mindset of "I must get XP for battles" comes in part from the fact that combat in games these days is so damn easy. So you need XP to make that mindless busy-work worth your while.

 

I agree with you, if the combat is fun and challenging, and incorporated into the objective based system fluidly, I don't think not getting xp for every single insignificant enemy is a problem.

fwul38.jpg

 

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Very good post!

 

The only thing I would add is...

 

"Why are we allowing a subset of Players who engage in degenerate play in a single player game to dictate the design?"

 

All of this is to stop some people from "Playing it wrong" in a single player game, which really makes no sense to me. Why design around the edge case? How does this improve upon the genre?

 

It really doesn't. The best improvement for the genre would be to give NPC's a resistance to various skills such as...

 

Bandit

xp - 100

Persuade - 1.25

Intimidate - 0.5

Sneak - 1.5

 

So...

 

-If you kill this Bandit, he gives 100xp

-He's set in his ways, if you can Persuade him to stop thieving, you get 125xps

-He's a coward, Intimidating him gives 50xps

-He's street-smart, so trying to sneak past him yields 150xps

 

Etc. At this point, you've avoided introducing nonsense systems by introducing systems that more closely represent the real world, and rewards your approach based with a scaling reward that reflects the difficulty of using it on this particular creature. From there, you can easily create critters that are more rewarding for non-combat solutions, and critters more rewarding for combat solutions. It's a flexible system that effectively rewards both combat and non-combat solutions, and rewards them both based upon the relative difficulty of achieving that solution.

 

As I said in the other thread, stopping people from completing a quest and then committing Genocide is trivial. The quest flag is already in the Player object, check it and if it's true, reward no experience.

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In the grand scheme of things, giving experience or not giving it for killing a measly pack of wolves really doesn't matter. People might be a bit shocked at first when they don't get their XP, but they're still going to kill the wolves threatening their party.

 

Yep. It's about survival. I think the mindset of "I must get XP for battles" comes in part from the fact that combat in games these days is so damn easy. So you need XP to make that mindless busy-work worth your while.

 

I agree with you, if the combat is fun and challenging, and incorporated into the objective based system fluidly, I don't think not getting xp for every single insignificant enemy is a problem.

 

I disagree. All it does is implement Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3. Killing things is a pointless chore in between quests that all reward a couple of skill points when you finish them. Every quest gives you a level very predictably, to the point where you wonder why there's even an Xp value present.

 

Further, it highlights the monotony of RPG combat since now every combat is just something you have to "Get through" to have any progression in the game at all. It's a real-time CRPG, you point your guys at the critter, and they go kill it. It's the failing of real time systems, either they're very basic, or the complexity they attempt to implement makes you pay more attention to the UI than you ever do to the actual combat. Legends of Grimrock's a great example, combat consists of you staring at the icons on the character panels waiting to press some buttons, and you can't look at the critter because if you do your party will suffer severe consequences.

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The base of the OP's post is that since combat has a risk to it, it has to be balanced off with an XP reward. But if you give combat an XP reward, then there's incentive to slaughter everyone every time, which is exactly what we want to get away from.

There's no need for combat to have risk and non-combat not to have risk (or have lesser risk) though. Consider a situation where you find a bunch of bandits, you might have the options; attack them, ambush them, talk to them or avoid them, with XP given for the objective "remove the bandit threat". So trying to ambush might use the "survivalist" or "stealth" or "tracking" skill, fail your check and they notice you and it turns into a standard attack with your characters in poorer positions or worse, they ambush you. Talk to them and you may be able to get them to leave without a fight or even something elegant like employ them for your stronghold. Or maybe they decide they really want to stick lots of arrows into you instead since you've conveniently come out into the open and talked to them. You might even have more elegant solutions- steal some stuff off one group of bandits and frame another group to get them to fight, of course if your thief gets caught in the act...

 

It's all a question of implementation really. There should be no requirement for absolute balance, as noted combat will usually result in loot that you wouldn't get for a more pacific approach for example but there ought to be situations in which the peaceful or elegant solutions do result in greater rewards. In the above situation you might get marginally more experience for successful skill use- or just an easier fight- or a different type of reward along with the base experience (more guards for the stronghold). Then again, ex bandits probably don't make the most reliable guards either, so who knows what problems might arise in the future.

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The base of the OP's post is that since combat has a risk to it, it has to be balanced off with an XP reward. But if you give combat an XP reward, then there's incentive to slaughter everyone every time, which is exactly what we want to get away from.

 

No. It might be easy to get confused by one part of such a long post but I said that if you can use non-combat to avoid combat, then you should use it (and maybe even be rewarded more XP) but you shouldn't take away the XP from killing a mob. If Project Eternity is going to be an open world sandbox kind of game like they have said, this seriously railroads quests and the level design and will probably make doing things way more linear, which isn't what I want to see as a player.

 

There seems to be a lot of people here who don't want it to be like Baldur's Gate. I don't know about you but I've played Baldur's Gate between 50-100 times since 1998 and after a while I stopped reading the dialogue, I don't care about the story after that point, but I still play it because of the combat and exploration. Those were the best things about the Infinity Engine games, not the story, and not the characters. The prospect of a game that *finally* harkens back to that Baldur's Gate feeling where you can just wander around the world map at your own pleasure is what I am most excited about, but it is my fear that objective-based XP distribution will force the devs to make maps (wilderness areas especially) more linear like Icewind Dale (and to some extent BG2).

 

In an open-world style game, objective-based XP for quests and objectives for exloration is a far clunkier solution to the XP system in which the Infinity Engine games already used.

 

2) Let you loot equipment / money off the dead. If you want that shiny new sword, you'll have to kill the guy who's holding it. Now there's a benefit to combat - the loot - at the cost of the risk and resources expended upon that combat. Without rewarding XP, combat is kept from being the optimum choice every time, but it may be a better choice than non-combat if you wish to get the loot. Power-gamers will be happy for weeks compiling risk-reward spreadsheets figuring out which are the optimum combats to engage in and which to avoid.

 

I'm ok with that being the case, but it still promotes 'degenerate' gaming that the dev's seem to be worried about. If you put better loot on enemies that you can sneak around or talk out of combat, you'll still probably kill them to get the items instead. The only way to dissuade this would be to use NPC reactions and the reputation system that penalize you for doing it, or doing some dodgy thing like making the item disappear if you already beat the encounter via other means (stupid).

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There is one major problem with your entire idea here, well two actually.

 

1: Avoiding everything by stealth, cautious play, and or implementation of character skills or "fast talking" is actually a lot more challenging than just killing everything in your way. There is a reason Deus Ex Human Revolution gave you lots of bonus EXP for clearing missions with no kills or not being spotted, it was freaking hard.

 

2: Where is the fun in being a bad ass fighter with a bad ass two handed axe if you never actually use it? What is fun about being a mage who can unleash nuclear holocaust if you well... never cast anything but charm or invisibility spells? Is it fun to be the deadly assassin who just happens to never kill anyone? Answers: Nowhere, Nothing, and No. Simply brute forcing your way past a group of horrid monsters is in general just a lot more fun than sneaking past them.

 

EDIT: It is nice to have non combat options for the players who want to choose that route and I am all for that. But the reality is that this is a game and it needs to be about having fun and rewarding you for playing well, not how you play. Most players will not use the "stealth" approach because it just is normally not as much fun and much of the time actually is the more time consuming choice.

Edited by Karkarov
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Sure, in a linear level that makes sense, as I've been saying in all of my posts. Although in an open-world sandbox game with open wilderness areas you are railroaded to specific paths.

 

I'm all for rewards for non-combat use, I'm all for non-combat being hard and challenging. But quest and objective based experience takes the free roam out of the game.

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