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Poll: Favourite RPG element?

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Favourite RPG element?

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February 20th, 2008, 23:21
We've done this before at RPGDot but it's time to update and see if things have shifted.

What is your favorite single gameplay element in an RPG? Yes, we realise a great game is a synthesis of many or all of these elements but we want to separate them out to find their relative importance. Note that things like "story" have been left out because we're looking at active gameplay - doing something.

Some of these are difficult to define, so here's a rough guide:

Exploration - most designers would argue that interaction with a game is really an exploration of its system environment. In this case, we mean the player-driven discovery of new territory, places and objects; not so much when the game funnels you directly to a new specific location or goal but when you have some discretion (it may be a lot or a little) to uncover new things yourself.

Character interaction - usually dialogue but encompassing everything from quizzing quest NPCs to party banter.

Combat - getting down and dirty. Assume a combat system you really enjoy.

Character development - creation, growth and equipping all rolled together. Putting those extra points in those little boxes. This could be the simple act of increasing power with every level to the meticulous design of plotting out and executing a superior character template to admiring your pimped out dude (or dudette) with their fancy armour and stylish purple cloak. Yes, purple. I like purple, OK?

Questing - has elements of all the others but is more focused. Having that specific task, pursuing it to its heroic conclusion, getting the reward for killing the rats in the basement and ticking it off the quest list - a job well done. One more safe basement in a crazy, dangerorous world.

Puzzles - from subtle how-do-you-discover-the-hidden-thieves-den to those mages that lock the door to their tower with a silly math puzzle and then have a trapped tile pattern in the hall. Are there carpenters out there that specialise in this stuff? Traps-R-Us?

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Last edited by Dhruin; February 21st, 2008 at 06:39.
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February 20th, 2008, 23:59
I vote for questing -> When it's done right, you will have lived trough a great story. I think, bkrueger, that this is the option you want. Questing is the story imo.

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February 21st, 2008, 00:43
I'm intentionally ignoring "story" and trying to focus on the things you actually get to do. It' s an imperfect poll but it can lead to discussions such as (just for example), why do we spend so much time in combat if it's well down the list of player preferences (there are good answers for that question, by the way, but this discussion is the precursor).

The points you are talking about (story, immersive world) are features rather than player/game interactions. Go with questing or exploring for you.

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February 21st, 2008, 06:36
NPC interactions is my fav rpg element. And exploring is prob the least. Hence I love bg2, and dislike morrowind..

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February 21st, 2008, 06:44
First choice: Exploration, with NPC interaction a close second.

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February 21st, 2008, 07:38
For me playing a crpg is questing - all other elements are important, too. but without questing a crpg is no crpg.

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February 21st, 2008, 08:06
Npc interaction gets my vote.

For a moment I had tough time choosing between npc interaction and exploration, but suddenly it came to me as clear as the midday sky that exploring beautifull, unique and enormous gameworld without memorable npc personalties and chance to interact with them isn't much of a gameworld at all!

Take the two worlds for example. The world is in every way huge. Heck sometime this vastness is such incomprehensible that you'll get lost in there. Its part of the fun because this straying from the known paths leads often to a discovery, an unique place where you had never gone unless getting sidetracked. Last time I accidently found a beautifull village near the sea. Sadly this fragile illusion was shattered when I approached one of the npcs living in that lonely seaside village.

It goes without saying how badly storyline suffers because of this or why quests lack focus and substance. If they rarely happen to have some sort of consequences I couldn't care less, because npcs are all equally forgettable The game just doesn't feel intresting no matter how hard I try to play it.

Simply because of this sole reason the whole exploration thing feels as fake as the rest of the game. The main character's unability to create relationships with the npcs destroys the immersion for me. I felt like all the npcs were only there to serve him someway: as traders, questgivers (not real persons) and trainers. Rest of them were only there for the sake of holy EXP. When I begin to think the great rpgs I've played till this date. One thing which they all have in common are memorable npcs whom a player can interact with.
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February 21st, 2008, 08:44
Exploring is king. If i have a vast world to explore, I'm in heaven.
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February 21st, 2008, 08:54
I voted "Questing" because in my opinion that option covers both "NPC Interaction" and "Exploration" in one go
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February 21st, 2008, 10:14
NPC Interaction wins out in the end. Without the banter from Baldur's Gate and Jagged Alliance 1 and 2, they wouldn't be some of my favourite games to play replay. The interaction makes the world more fleshed out and real.

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February 21st, 2008, 11:12
My favorite isn't on the list — "choices and consequences." That's different from "story" since it's about the non-linear, character- and player-driven aspects of the story. So I'll vote "present."
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February 21st, 2008, 11:32
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I'm intentionally ignoring "story" and trying to focus on the things you actually get to do. It' s an imperfect poll but it can lead to discussions such as (just for example), why do we spend so much time in combat if it's well down the list of player preferences (there are good answers for that question, by the way, but this discussion is the precursor).

The points you are talking about (story, immersive world) are features rather than player/game interactions. Go with questing or exploring for you.
Ah bugger, in that case I'd have voted for character development or exploration, I voted for npc interaction as the closest to overall story.

Depends on the game though, they're all good routes into storyline and atmosphere. If character development means expressing something through a unique character that's my favourite, if exploration means uncovering a living breathing world that's my favourite, if npc interaction means discovering believable people with a realistic place in the world that's my favourite, if the quests are convincing and meaningfully embedded in the world and the narrative arc they're my favourites.

Combat and puzzles are generally the least interesting though, although they have the most potential to ruin a game if done badly.

Taking out all story aspects though the most meaningless and geeky pleasure I get is from tweaking stats and allocating skill points.
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February 21st, 2008, 13:02
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
My favorite isn't on the list — "choices and consequences." That's different from "story" since it's about the non-linear, character- and player-driven aspects of the story. So I'll vote "present."

Isn't that interactive storytelling? The very heart of role-play in my opinion - theatre on the fly so to speak.
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February 21st, 2008, 13:29
Exploration is my choice here, in the sense that I usually enjoy RPGs most that are good in that area. However that alone is not enough either, as Oblivion nicely illustrates. I find the choice "questing" somewhat problematic - as you said it really is a a combination of exploring, NPC interaction, combat, puzzle solving, so I can't really see it as a separate element in the same sense as the others.
Collecting / Loot gathering might have been an interesting additional choice, crafting another.
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February 21st, 2008, 15:25
Toss up between questing and exploration for me. It seems to me that questing that is very linear driven boars me, but open areas with weak quests bore me as well!

The funny thing is I didn't even consider Character Interaction, even though one of the things that makes me love BGII so much is how your party interaction determines the ending for each character!

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February 21st, 2008, 15:36
Exploration short before character development in my case.

A game without exploration is definitively less interesting for me.

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February 21st, 2008, 15:47
I felt the need to vote for *something* despite my 'fave' being some sort of balance between story, interaction, choices, consequences, character development and combat … there is no 'magic formula' for me, as my fave RPG's have very different mixtures of those elements …

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February 21st, 2008, 15:49
I must admit that I missed the element "story".

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February 21st, 2008, 15:53
Hard choice for me between exploration and combat, but chose the former with questing a definite third. They're all pretty inter-related, as questing leads to exploring in many cases, and exploring almost always leads to combat, so its all part of the same ball of wax to me.

Still, combat is a very important facet of RPG's for me, as it's both enjoyable in itself and the framework that experience-based leveling is hung on, and so bolsters the other aspect I wanted to pick, character development. (Too many choices! Probably just as well 'consequences of one's actions' wasn't listed or I would have agonized over that as well.) I would say you couldn't have a successful RPG without any of these elements, for me , anyway.

Least important for me are puzzles and NPC interactions. I don't mind them when they're done well, but most times they're more of an annoyance or a cliche.

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February 21st, 2008, 17:14
I presume we focus on CRPGs here? So I vote questing for the story, with NPC interaction being close second, as I prefer to play thieves and diplomats in CRPGs. Exploration is the least favored for me. It's sure great and important element for a good CRPG, but I hate it when they FORCE me to explore by making a pause in the story and giving a wide area to roam, do random quests and find loot until you occasionally stumble upon trigger to continue story.

Situation is quite different for JRPGs, apart from following their usually linear stories, the best thing is to study their always peculiar systems, build up your characters and see how they perform against tough bosses. No option for questing or NPC interaction as it is not that much of a gameplay element for JRPGs.
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