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Default Rampant Games - Character-Building Excercise

October 11th, 2010, 23:34
The Rampant Coyote writes about the move away from full character creation at the start of an RPG so gamers can get to the "fun" stuff quicker:
Modern CRPG design philosophy, at least so far as I can grasp from interviews and games, seems to hold that it is a sin to make a player wade through the character generation process prior to letting them get to “the fun part.” Character generation should be as streamlined as possible, minimized, and preferably delayed until after the adventure started. Players want story and action, not to be confronted with statistics.
Hey, I get it. It makes sense. You are promised on the box a game of adventure and discovery. But it starts out with a screen of numbers and unfamiliar terms that you are somehow expected to assign, balance, and not shoot yourself in the foot by making a magic user with an intelligence so low he can only cast the beginner spells. Oh, and rolling dice to create a character? Letting chance dictate that your character may be underpowered? Extra bad with bad sauce!
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October 11th, 2010, 23:34
I should probably note that I'm not necessarily advocating one way over the other - I mean, I'm a fan of the minimalist-creation mid-era Ultima games, after all. Just wishing that more designers would filter for babies before throwing out bathwater.
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October 12th, 2010, 00:44
I like games with deep character building systems like Wizardry or Avernum.

For me character generation is a big fun part of playing crpgs.

The best way to satisfy casual gamers and crpg veterans alike is to let them chose between:

a) deep character generation/customization by the player and optional: dice
b) predefined characacters + optional: automatic-skill-advancement at level-changes

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
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October 12th, 2010, 00:59
Creating the character/party to me is like half the game. Salivating over what race, what class, stats, skills, it just helps build the moment when you actually start the game. On the other hand, when a game throws you directly in, with only choosing cosmetic stuff like appearance, is such a letdown. It also helps with my roleplaying. When I'm setting stats, I'm imagining the character… Strong, low int, or agile with high INT, or charismatic but weak… it helps starting to flesh out in my mind the character(s) I'm going to be playing.
I do agree in removing chance from the equation. Point based system all the way!
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October 12th, 2010, 01:05
I spend a ton of time in character creation as well - one of my favorite parts. Sometimes it is my favorite part! I prefer the style of quick play for those who want to jump in and the option for others to go advanced
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October 12th, 2010, 01:58
First thing i thought was: "but character creation is the fun!". I loved it to spend my first nights with wizardry 6 or 7 just with party creation.
What a bland experience this has become in modern games.. choose your hairstyle and you are good to go.. bah.
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October 12th, 2010, 09:16
Hey. First post here.
I'm glad the author of the article was pro-creation(Ha. Ha.) I think it adds a lot to be able to create a single hero, or- by the GODS!- a team before the gameplay starts. It's interesting that games like Dragon Age have an origin, but you can't form the team you want. You have to have each class or character added one by one. How about a game like Dragon Age that let you create a party all at once. I know, that is SO 1990, but It's become ridiculous. If you want a certain kind of party, you have to check guides to tell you where to find party members that fit what is needed..
I know a lot of RPGer's feel that story is most important, but I am a role player who thinks character creation and development is the real fun. I've spent hours creating a party or a hero. The more the developer lets us experiment with character builds the better!
Anyway, hello fellow CRPGer's.
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October 12th, 2010, 11:50
Hello to you too!

Personally I enjoy quite a few different systems. I think my favorite non-P&P (D&D etc) system is actually the one in Arcanum. I loved that one. I also enjoy the one in Gothic 1 and 2 a lot, but that's mainly due to the factions (joining/making progress), and not really the character building system.
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October 12th, 2010, 12:00
Oh, and rolling dice to create a character? Letting chance dictate that your character may be underpowered? Extra bad with bad sauce!
This - dice rolling vs. nin-rolling - is a regular source of heated debates among TDE fans.

Because TDE 3rd edition and earlier *had* dice-rolling. TDE 4th edition (and 4.1 and the Myranor spin-off, don't know about the "Dark Times" setting box yet - it's simply too expensive for me right now) have something that i know as "purchase system". Yiou get a fixed amount of so-called "generation points", and with them you can build your character. You can get a few more (points) with chosing "negative traits" (like for example the negatives *every* hero had in TDE3), or less if you chose a "positive trait" for the hero/character. "Positives" lways cost something, for "negatives" you get your money back, so to say.

People are just used to it, and in all discussions I witness the overwhlming majority says that dice rolling is just rubbish. "Purchasing" is much btter, they say.

Me, I'm an alien in that I'm still for TDE3 - and my reasoning behind that is that I come from board games. In board games, dice rolling is the norm, not the exception. And I had always regarded TDE 2 and 3 primarily as a kind of "expanded board game", so to say. Like with the classic of Talisman, which I unfortunately never played so far. And Talisman is primarily kind of a board game.

With TDE 4, the "simulationist" concept came into the game. According to role-playing theory, there are different kinds of players and therefore different approaches in terms of playing style.

There are (as far as I know) :

- simulationists
- story-tellers
- err … I forgot what the thiord was. Sorry.
- and probably even a few more

The simulationist approach tries to handle an role-playing game as kindof a world simulation. Including combat, which lead to very compleyx combat rules in TDE4.

The "story-teller" isn't much interested in rules at all (that's me ! ). He or she is much more interested in the story of the adventure, and is therefore much more intrested in the adventure becoming a thrilling story or so. There is not much combat simulation, for instance, because the combat is just … one step among many. Therefore, I rather guess that "storytellers" prefer to use dice for combat, and simple rules. Whereas simulationists calculate a lot.

Some say that TDE 3 and prior to that tended to rather be "storyteller-systems", and with TDE 4 , TDE has become rather kind of a "simulationist system", especially if you look at how much there is to be calculated in the background.

Now, what my really personal impression is that even rule systems have kind of fashions. The current fashion in role-playing rules systems is the simulation. And the "purchase" element in character creation instead of dice.

Hence the current fashion kind of "dictates" that using dice is "un-cool". Like every fashion just kind of "dictates" that only the current fashion is "cool" and everything else is "un-cool".


Role-playing theory at Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Role-playing_game_theory

Forge Theory (I don't know it under no other name, bit Wikipedia calls it "The Big Model", yes, everything HAS to be BIG … *sigh* )
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Model

Now, the uestion is : How much do designers of RPGs actually know of these theories ? And are they interested in them at all ? (Me, for example, I don't want to meddle with it too much, because I fear too much "theorizing" could hurt my "natural approach" kind of thing.)

“ 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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October 12th, 2010, 21:01
Character creation is where it's at. Easily the best part of the Wizardry 7 & 8, I immensely enjoy planning a party to cover all the skills & spells or making the trade offs to go without.

To me playing with the numbers min/maxing a character or even better a group of characters is the best part of a game. Getting equipment and watching those numbers go up is the second half.

I very much prefer a purchase character system to dice rolls, I like to plan my characters in advance and plan on getting certain skills at X level. I don't like randomness in my character creation or development. I've spent hours & hours theory crafting NWN characters, probably more hours than I've spent actually playing the game.
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