Originally Posted by MigRib
Well, in my opinion, and based on my experience as a pen & paper role player it isn't that hard to emulate the RPG experience in a computer game, even with the limited AI of today. Why do I say this?
Because, again in my experience, the average pen & paper gamer rarely speaks in-character. He indulges in long discussions about rules with the GM, he makes thorough plans to steal keys from guards, to bribe city officials and to storm heavily guarded compounds to loot money and (maybe) rescue a damsel in distress. The average gamer does all this off-character. He doesn't mind spending hours pondering about the pros and cons of mystical claymore swords versus enchanted scimitars, and if this or that spell will be better suited for his purposes. In my experience, the average pen & paper role player likes to discuss every combat to the most boring detail - before it even begins. After that, it's just the rolling of dice…
On the other hand, in modern computer RPG games the average NPC has dozens of scripted lines, usually voice acted by professionals. The player character, normally, has a few scripted responses to those dozen of scripted NPC lines. Sometimes this exchange, and the characters actions, brings some choices and, latter, consequences to the game world. Sometimes the choices and consequences are very limited. Sometimes they don't exist at all, but there's (almost) always an illusion of choice and consequence. If the player is not obsessive compulsive, and if he does not test all the options available to him, he will probably never break the illusion of choice and consequence. If a game is well made it will even have a generous dose of the replay factor. But not to the obsessive compulsive gamer, of course.
In my experience (unfortunately, of course) my most gratifying role playing moments were spent playing modern day computer RPGs, and not around a table with the average pen and paper role playing gamer (to explain better, I'll say that, in my experience, 4 out of 5 average pen and paper role players are "old school geeks" who lack the social skills to interpret a character, with no real interest in exploring anything else but the evolution of the character - rules wise, only -, and looting and amassing gold coins - or credits, or whatever is the game's currency. In my experience 4 out of 5 P&P RPGers lack the imagination, but have a very cunning analytic thinking and like to indulge in strategic approaches to solving problems. They hate talking in-character, but love solving intricate puzzles. They have very little interest in literary fiction, except for a few choice high fantasy and hard sci-fi writers, have very little interest in other arts, except for a few choice fantasy and sci-fi cult movies and heavy metal bands from Nordic countries. In my experience 4 out of 5 pen and paper role playing games should have another hobby - maybe playing MMORPGs - but definitely not playing pen & paper RPGs).
That is why, in my opinion, and based in my experience, modern day computer RPGs are doing a good job of adapting P&P RPGs. It's damn easy not to do worse than what happens around most RPG gaming tables!
Even not being perfect, usually they convey a sense of immersion, a degree of entertainment and an illusion of "being there" (reinforced by the gradually perfected graphics, voice acting and musical score) that the average pen & paper game session does not have. So, CRPGs are not perfect, but people are not perfect as well. Both of the Witcher games do, in my opinion, a very good job and I would like very much to see a 3rd one.