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Default Age of Decadence - Non-Combat Gameplay

February 29th, 2008, 00:56
@BrotherNone: If combat has no direct connection to RPG, then where are all the RPGs that have no combat? Where are all the developers who make those RPGs? What about those of us who played the first RPGs and remember spending most of our time in combat?

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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February 29th, 2008, 00:59
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
@BrotherNone: If combat has no direct connection to RPG, then where are all the RPGs that have no combat? Where are all the developers that make those kinds of RPGs? What about those of us who played it in the beginning and remember spending most of our time in combat?
That's a decidedly odd way to look at it, not to mention one that blocks innovation (innovation in the real sense of the word, not the PR term).

You mean that just because something has always been done, that's how it should always be done? How does the fact that everyone likes to put combat in RPGs prove that there's an inherent connection? In other words, if I made an RPG without any combat tomorrow, would you claim it's not an RPG just because it has never been done before?

PS: not sure what "in the beginning" is referring to, either, other than AD&D and - by extension - the Gold Box games functioning as dungeon crawl emulators.
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February 29th, 2008, 01:11
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
That's a decidedly odd way to look at it, not to mention one that blocks innovation (innovation in the real sense of the word, not the PR term).
Who's suggested the most innovation here? You? Or me?

Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
You mean that just because something has always been done, that's how it should always be done?
No. It just doesn't work that way (nothing works that way).

I asked those questions because they seem like the obvious first considerations. Hey, you're the one who defined the genre and insisted what you insisted. When I look for the connection, I don't see it.

I thought those were fair questions. How about answering them?

PS. About the "beginning" thing, I mean the original version of D&D (before AD&D).

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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February 29th, 2008, 01:29
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
Really? Seriously? Because this isn't like "driving cars" being a part of race-car driving games, or "a football" being a part of any NFL game. Honestly, I can understand if you're so used to combat being in RPG that you think the two are always together for you, personally, but I hope you do see how that has no wider relevance, and RPGs and combat aren't inherently linked at all.
Defensive? I'm not defensive, I just think you're on a path to cheat yourself from something you might enjoy for a totally arbitrary reason. That's disappointing, but if it's really what you want, that really is your own blistery butt.
I thought I made it explicitly clear that my comments have no wider relevance beyond my personal opinion. How many times do I have to say it?
I'd have to agree with Squeek, though - show me the rpg's that don't have combat scenarios? AoD is no different in the fact that despite the opportunities for alternate paths, combat is still a part of the game.

How exactly did you come about the authority to determine that my reasoning is "arbitrary?" That's no more relevant than me stating it's an arbitrary decision that you refuse to eat peanut butter because you're prejudiced against peanuts.

..& so they take the fiction all out of the Jabberwock & I recognize & accept him as a fact. - Mark Twain, May 30, 1880
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February 29th, 2008, 02:42
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
Who's suggested the most innovation here? You? Or me?
What? Is that even supposed to mean anything?

Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
I thought those were fair questions. How about answering them?
Why? I already noted I don't see it as a relevant consideration, so why should I answer? Not for one or the other, but you could ask a lot of questions I don't have answers for. They won't matter if they're not directly linked to my argument.

Of course, I think you're arguing that if something has always been done it is by definition inherently linked. But again, my viewpoint to that would be that this is a very reactionary attitude, very anti-innovation. The question is not "has it always been done?", the question is "what is the framework and what can be done within it?" Because honestly, is that what you're saying here? It must have been done before by someone else to be true? Well then: "No. It just doesn't work that way (nothing works that way)." right back at you.

Again: if I make a non-combat RPG, would you still consider it an RPG? If the answer is "yes", then combat is not inherently connected to RPGs. QED.

As a sidenote: I just noted you said "direct connection" above. Please note how I never made an argument about a "direct connection" and I am not even sure what it's supposed to mean (it might be connected with the history of RPGs, but in that case we're just talking past one another because that's not what I'm talking about). I also never "defined the genre". Please try to stick to arguments I actually made.

Originally Posted by Jabberwocky View Post
How exactly did you come about the authority to determine that my reasoning is "arbitrary?" That's no more relevant than me stating it's an arbitrary decision that you refuse to eat peanut butter because you're prejudiced against peanuts.
If it's not relevant than ignore it. Sorry if it offended you.
Last edited by Brother None; February 29th, 2008 at 02:51.
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February 29th, 2008, 03:00
EDIT: This conversation doesn't seem to be going in a direction that I like, so I think I'll just bow out. Sorry if my points weren't clear.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
Last edited by Squeek; February 29th, 2008 at 03:18.
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February 29th, 2008, 08:52
Just to let you know there have been RPGs that have no combat but they have their own catagory (like LARP) that is linked to RPGs. I read this in an article about the history of RPGs. (I think it was in Dragon Magazine but I'm not sure)
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February 29th, 2008, 12:58
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
Dhruin: it is my personal conviction the word "immersion" has become tainted in gaming circles and can no longer be used in any meaningful sense. So for me, any argument about the "immersive" nature of combat or viewpoints is moot to begin with.
Interesting. Would you care to elaborate?
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February 29th, 2008, 16:03
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Interesting. Would you care to elaborate?
I wouldn't know how. And chances are you'll disagree with much of the following, but bear with me…

You know the Russian word товарищ, I assume. A good old word meaning "colleague that I care a bit about". Note how no one uses it anymore, simply because it is "tainted", but not because its actual meaning changed.

The same thing happened to "immersion". "Immersive" has been used for some years now, always followed or following something like "more detailed graphics" or "first person view".

I'm not even sure what I'm supposed to imagine with that kind of "immersion". Is it just supposed to be a state in which I'm fooled into thinking that what's happening on the computer screen is real? Well, that's not going to happen, is it. Or is it supposed to be that state of absorption where you forget everything else? Well, then what the hell do graphics have to do with that, when the most immersive title I've ever played is still Fallout?

As you can tell, I have some problems putting this into words because there doesn't seem to be a unilateral definition of immersion that everyone can give me, equally. The de facto consequence of that is that "immersion" has become synonymous with "shiny first person graphics", and possibly without any annoying mechanics or loading times detracting from enjoying those shiny first person graphics.

I'm sorry, but is that supposed to be a meaningful word, then?
Last edited by Brother None; February 29th, 2008 at 16:52.
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February 29th, 2008, 18:57
At the risk of sounding like a prude (which probably everyone knows by now, I am) can we keep the foul language off the front page?

Vince makes some excellent points as usual but I had to stop reading. Its why I come here and not say, to his old site.

Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
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February 29th, 2008, 20:26
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
According to the FAQ:
A: "We have seven different endings and only two involve mortal combat."
Ah, thanks !

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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February 29th, 2008, 21:30
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
I wouldn't know how. And chances are you'll disagree with much of the following, but bear with me…
(snip explanation)

Thanks, I see what you mean. Can you propose an alternative word for what it used to or should mean? I understand by "immersion" the experience of losing yourself, however briefly, in the game so that you somehow "are" your avatar — you're in the game, you see people, things, and creatures, and you interact with the world rather than with the game. For example, when you reflexively flinch when something leaps at you from the dark, or when you lean on your chair to counter imaginary G-forces as you go into a bank or drive through a curve, you're "immersed." IMO that's a valid concept that needs a word to go with it.

For example, I've had this experience very strongly in, off the top of my head, the Shalebridge Cradle level of Thief: Deadly Shadows, pretty big stretches of S.T.A.L.K.E.R., and a whole bunch of flight simulators.

I'm sorry, but is that supposed to be a meaningful word, then?
As Humpty Dumpty put it, words mean whatever we want them to mean, it's just a matter of who's the master. I don't see any reason why we couldn't define "immersion" to mean anything we like in the context of a discussion.
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March 1st, 2008, 01:08
That's exactly the meaning I assumed Jabberwocky meant, when I replied. And I know that's what most people mean when they use it. In that sense, I don't have a problem because I understand what they mean.

The subtext of this usage infers a physicality - jumping back in your seat, to use your example. This tends to be linked to close third-person or first person views and posssibly high graphics fidelity and other technical wizardry that help players feel they "are" the avatar.

But I can become immersed in a game of chess or a book written in third-person where I feel no direct connection with the protagonist, which makes this "become the avatar" definition a bit problematic. Are they the same? Because I can become immersed in potentially anything. The word is also often used to denote some sort of superiority - game X is is better because I become the avatar, while game Y is inferior because I don't. It's obviously fine to prefer third-person action/adventures to turn-based strat wargames but the inference is often that the first is inherently superior because it can result in a physical connection and a rush of adrenaline.

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March 1st, 2008, 04:16
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Thanks, I see what you mean. Can you propose an alternative word for what it used to or should mean? I understand by "immersion" the experience of losing yourself, however briefly, in the game so that you somehow "are" your avatar — you're in the game, you see people, things, and creatures, and you interact with the world rather than with the game. For example, when you reflexively flinch when something leaps at you from the dark, or when you lean on your chair to counter imaginary G-forces as you go into a bank or drive through a curve, you're "immersed." IMO that's a valid concept that needs a word to go with it.
Yes, it is a valid concept, and the ideal word exists for it: immersion. That's what immersion is about, whether it's in books, films, computer or board games. And ideally, we could use immersion like that, but you know how it works in popular language. If I say "I think Fallout is very immersive" on the Gametrailers forum then I'll get flooded with replies that "how can it be immersive it's not first person?!!?!?!"

That's the discourse now. I don't really think I'll be able to make up a new word to better describe the feeling than "immersion", but at the same time I know that I can't use the word immersion in a meaningful way in most or much of the gaming community.
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March 1st, 2008, 10:45
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
Yes, it is a valid concept, and the ideal word exists for it: immersion. That's what immersion is about, whether it's in books, films, computer or board games. And ideally, we could use immersion like that, but you know how it works in popular language. If I say "I think Fallout is very immersive" on the Gametrailers forum then I'll get flooded with replies that "how can it be immersive it's not first person?!!?!?!"
Are you really getting these physical, kinetic sensations I described (and Dhruin picked up on) from Fallout, a good book, or Monopoly? I can't recall ever getting them from an other than first- or third-person POV.

IOW, I think "immersiveness" is a perfectly good and precise word when used to describe this physical or kinetic immersion. We should perhaps try to find other expressions that describe the feeling of losing yourself in a book or a board game. You don't normally call books "immersive," do you? They "seize your imagination" or are "page-turners" or some such thing, no?

Finally, about the value attached to the concept: IMO immersiveness in this "kinetic" sense is or should be value-neutral — it's a property; a gameplay element that may or may not be used, with varying levels of success, and a choice that always involves trade-offs. A game that succeeds brilliantly in creating that feeling may still not be a good game. For example, I found DOOM 3 a total turn-off, despite the fact that it was extremely immersive in the physical sense — I was constantly falling off my chair until I got jaded about things leaping at me.
Last edited by Prime Junta; March 1st, 2008 at 10:53.
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March 1st, 2008, 18:46
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Are you really getting these physical, kinetic sensations I described (and Dhruin picked up on) from Fallout, a good book, or Monopoly? I can't recall ever getting them from an other than first- or third-person POV.
Other than occasional nausea if the camera is too wobbly in first- or third-person POV, I have never had a different sense of immersion in those kind of games than I have in any other perspective. I had no more feeling of "being" the PC in BioShock than I did in Fallout. Nada, zilch, zip. But I have a very strong imagination, and I don't see why graphics or POV should limit my imagination, or how.

And I find any attempt to define immersive as a measure of a physical experience a bit ludicrous, to be honest. But that might just be because I don't have it myself, or it might be because I have no pity for America's visceral approach to immersion. It sounds meaningless to me, in the same sense that the shock-horror approach in American horror films is meaningless. A film doesn't become more scary if you manage to make people go "AAAAAH!", y'know, in the sense that the American the Ring is inferior to the Japanese one, which make you go "Oh my God I won't be able to sleep for a week!" instead.

If you make it perfectly value-neutral, then I don't care what you call it. Immersive is just a word, and whether you apply it to being immersed in a book or pretending to be the two disembodied hands floating on the screen doesn't matter. But it's not a value-neutral term, which is exactly why it is tainted and I prefer not to use it at all.
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March 1st, 2008, 19:46
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
And I find any attempt to define immersive as a measure of a physical experience a bit ludicrous, to be honest.
IMO that's putting the cart before the horse — taking a word and defining it. What I'm trying to do is to describe an experience and find a word to assign to it. The conventional usage of "immersive" or "immersion" match one experience I've had pretty well. The fact that you're unable to have that experience doesn't mean the term is meaningless, any more than being tone-deaf means that the term "music" becomes meaningless for people who aren't tone-deaf.

But that might just be because I don't have it myself, or it might be because I have no pity for America's visceral approach to immersion. It sounds meaningless to me, in the same sense that the shock-horror approach in American horror films is meaningless. A film doesn't become more scary if you manage to make people go "AAAAAH!", y'know, in the sense that the American the Ring is inferior to the Japanese one, which make you go "Oh my God I won't be able to sleep for a week!" instead.
That sounded awfully snobbish, to be perfectly honest.

If you make it perfectly value-neutral, then I don't care what you call it. Immersive is just a word, and whether you apply it to being immersed in a book or pretending to be the two disembodied hands floating on the screen doesn't matter. But it's not a value-neutral term, which is exactly why it is tainted and I prefer not to use it at all.
I don't think it's tainted. It just describes an experience you, apparently, are unable to have. If that is the case, your choice not to use the word is a wise one.
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March 1st, 2008, 20:22
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
IMO that's putting the cart before the horse — taking a word and defining it. What I'm trying to do is to describe an experience and find a word to assign to it. The conventional usage of "immersive" or "immersion" match one experience I've had pretty well. The fact that you're unable to have that experience doesn't mean the term is meaningless, any more than being tone-deaf means that the term "music" becomes meaningless for people who aren't tone-deaf.
(…)
I don't think it's tainted. It just describes an experience you, apparently, are unable to have. If that is the case, your choice not to use the word is a wise one.
Well, if that was it I wouldn't mind. I mean if it's just something "I don't get", but "immersive" is both synonymous with first-person high-quality graphics and a hyped term used as a purely positive word; all games have to be immersive, immersive games are good by definition.

I don't get it? Fine. It being used as some odd tool for yet another move to monodesign in gaming? Less fine. The word doesn't become meaningless just because I don't get it, it becomes meaningless when you ignore its subjectivity and hold it up as some kind of grand example of what all games should try to reach, which is what the mainstream gaming media does.

And I think we're basically agreed on that point. Though I also feel that if you define immersive as a visceral experience then it should be more about great design, i.e. great map lay-outs, great music, excellent setting, good building of atmosphere and tension, and less about bloom. I mean…did you think Oblivion was immersive?

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
That sounded awfully snobbish, to be perfectly honest.
Of course it does, it's anti-mainstream
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March 1st, 2008, 20:42
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
Well, if that was it I wouldn't mind. I mean if it's just something "I don't get", but "immersive" is both synonymous with first-person high-quality graphics and a hyped term used as a purely positive word; all games have to be immersive, immersive games are good by definition.
"All games have to be immersive" is a bit of a stretch. I don't recall anyone complaining that Civ IV, The Sims, World of Warcraft, or Medieval II: Total War aren't "immersive." They aren't, in the physical/kinetic sense of the word, but that's OK since they're not designed to be that way — despite being big, expensive, mainstream titles.

I don't get it? Fine. It being used as some odd tool for yet another move to monodesign in gaming? Less fine. The word doesn't become meaningless just because I don't get it, it becomes meaningless when you ignore its subjectivity and hold it up as some kind of grand example of what all games should try to reach, which is what the mainstream gaming media does.
I agree, if, indeed, that is what the mainstream gaming media does.

And I think we're basically agreed on that point. Though I also feel that if you define immersive as a visceral experience then it should be more about great design, i.e. great map lay-outs, great music, excellent setting, good building of atmosphere and tension, and less about bloom. I mean…did you think Oblivion was immersive?
In this physical/kinetic sense, it was about averagely immersive — not as immersive as DOOM 3 or S.T.A.L.K.E.R. but more so than Morrowind or GTA: Vice City. It failed to seize my imagination, though, just like DOOM 3, and unlike Morrowind. But that's beside the point.

We're talking about two different things — the physical/kinetic sensation of being in the game, and the emotional feeling of being deeply involved with the game. The two don't necessarily go together; for example, Fallout, PS:T, or Rome: Total Realism have none of the former but a great deal of latter (for me anyway), whereas DOOM 3 has a great deal of the former but precious little of the latter (again, for me anyway).

The latter kind of involvement is a hallmark of a good game — without it, why even bother playing? — whereas the former is merely a gameplay characteristic. It's certainly incorrect and even pernicious to equate the two.
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March 1st, 2008, 20:53
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
"All games have to be immersive" is a bit of a stretch. I don't recall anyone complaining that Civ IV, The Sims, World of Warcraft, or Medieval II: Total War aren't "immersive." They aren't, in the physical/kinetic sense of the word, but that's OK since they're not designed to be that way — despite being big, expensive, mainstream titles.
Sure, genres that can't possibly be immersive aren't claimed to have to be immersive, but let's be honest - that's a non-argument. If you look at games with the potential to be immersive in the popular sense, like RPGs, then making an isometric RPG is simply "wrong". Period. That's the popular discourse if you look beyond the Watch or Banshee.

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
We're talking about two different things — the physical/kinetic sensation of being in the game, and the emotional feeling of being deeply involved with the game. The two don't necessarily go together; for example, Fallout, PS:T, or Rome: Total Realism have none of the former but a great deal of latter (for me anyway), whereas DOOM 3 has a great deal of the former but precious little of the latter (again, for me anyway).

The latter kind of involvement is a hallmark of a good game — without it, why even bother playing? — whereas the former is merely a gameplay characteristic. It's certainly incorrect and even pernicious to equate the two.
Good points.

Is it completely personal that I can't see the use of having a physical/kinetic sensation of being in the game with having a feeling of involvement? That sounds completely useless to me. Not neutral, it just sounds purposeless.
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