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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Rampant Games - Character Skill vs Player Skill

Default Rampant Games - Character Skill vs Player Skill

July 1st, 2011, 09:59
The Rampant Coyote raises an interesting issue - Character Skill vs Player Skill:
The mix of player skill and character skill is a defining element of an RPG. In an RPG, you are playing one or more characters Ė characters who have defined (but dynamic) abilities and limitations that change over time as you make progress through the game.
If success is principally dictated by your actions and skill as a player, then itís not an RPG. So if your character is supposed to be a mediocre shot, but as a player you are lining up and endless stream of head-shots for critical hits, then chances are that at least that aspect of the game is really not very RPG-ish. An RPG may blend the two elements by making your hits based on player skill and your damage based on character skill to try and strike a balance, which may satisfy many players. But there has to be some kind of cooperative give-and-take going where the actions (and skills) of the player are filtered by the characterís abilities and limitations.
These days, thatís a really, really fuzzy area, and not much of a dividing line. Are better weapons and armor an attribute of your character? Many games include ďRPG elementsĒ including some kind of upgrade mechanic. Itís not a hard-and-fast delineation. Itís a spectrum.
On the flip side, a game canít be all about character skill either, or itís not a game. Itís Progress Quest.
More information.
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July 1st, 2011, 09:59
The effort put to maintain the RPG elements story is impressive. Done the fish bowl way, without considering what happens when validated through application to other genres.

I already noticed the story about gear in another article that aims to achieve the same in terms of RPGness because one game, a shooter, had a developped weapons system customization. So as the game was definitively not a RPG, it means that gear customization was not that RPG element.

Very funny. Yet evolutive gear has been part of RPGing for a long time now, with enchanted weapons, poisoned weapons, crafted weapons etc

When reading this kind of articles, always the same feeling: it shows a deep contempt for other genres, implicitly stating that RPG is kind of the mother of all genres and other genres are unable to evolve without borrowing from RPG.

Assisted aiming exists for other games, it is old. Playing a shoot'em up from the 1990s and they probably feature homing missiles.
A beat'em up like The Warriors feature differences between members of the gang.
Some excell at thrashing, others at thugging, others at robbing etc…

It is the same mix between players skills and characters skills. Thugging a dealer with Rembrant is hard, easy with Ajax.

Same goes for a series like ISS Pro, it is easier to score a goal with good finishing rather than poor. Yet it can be bettered by the player's skills.

The non sense keeps going. The mix between characters' skills and player's skills is no more a defining element for RPG than it is for a football series like ISS Pro.

Again, big confusion between means and ends. The character skills system allows to represent what the character is supposed to be. Well known issue in RPG. If the player is a physician and his character a first year student in medecine, poor RP leads the player to transfer knowledge unknown to the character. Stats allows to correct this by forcing a dice roll (unneeded if the RP is good)
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July 1st, 2011, 10:17
This is an area we struggled with a lot on our NWN persistent world.

The article seems to mainly discuss physical skills (accuracy etc.), but we had the largest debate about intellectual skills. It seemed quite easy to come to an agreement (for Thain at least) that one of the differences (though not the major one) between an action PW and a RP PW was the role of character skills in determining combat outcomes as opposed to player skills. For physical skills that was fine - the NWN engine isn't particularly great for twitch skills anyway, and combat/area design can help weigh it further towards character skills with player tactic choices and judgement calls.

But what happens when you're trying to RP an intelligence stat? If your character has low intelligence, does that mean you shouldn't be utilising combat tactics and you should just charge in/let the computer sort it out?

Worse is during quests, especially those of a research/investigation type, which we had plenty of: notably the 'main quest' which had a particular choke point in progression that required characters to successfully be 'interviewed' about their knowledge of the Island's lore, history and the ongoing situation. We didn't want it to be just flag based (ie, visit location X and your character automatically knows the answer), instead the lore and clues were available from a large number of sources and could be inferred from ways we didn't want to restrict to simple flag setting options (talking to other player characters, for example!). Is it now metagaming if you can remember the lore/picked up on the clues, but your character's stats suggest they wouldn't be able to easily? What about the other way around - your character has great intellect and reasoning etc., but you as the player haven't picked up on the clues/can't remember the answer?

It's a tricky one - that quest had to be able to be progressed, so we didn't want to enforce penalties for bad stats, and though there was some debate as to whether to drop hints for characters with higher stats, I was aware that ultimately the goal of the game is for the players to have fun, not run a fantasy simulation exercise. The player would have more fun by doing the investigation and finding out the answers across the whole game. Working with other players was encouraged, though not necessary, and a whole party only had to go through the 'interview' once as a party, so different people could contribute to the answers (provided people in the party were at that stage of the quest). In the end we used stats to add flavour and value, rather than help or hinder progression.
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July 1st, 2011, 10:37
These concepts are kinda misleading.

Player skill shouldn't exclusively be about the ability to move/aim/react. Player skill also has to do with strategic and tactical ability. In CRPGs - the first is typically about character development, and the latter about combat.

I most definitely prefer player skill be given the most weight, but what KIND of player skill depends on the kind of CRPG I'm playing.

For immersive games like Oblivion/Gothic/Witcher - I love to feel engaged during combat, and I love to have my own personal ability to move, aim, and react be important to the outcome. It's part of being immersed and challenged. But I don't want that to mean that my strategic/tactical choices matter any less.

Essentially, I want both to matter equally.
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July 1st, 2011, 15:48
I found back the article pointing at gear customization
http://www.rpgsite.net/articles/292-…fect-3-preview
Bioware seems to hope that the addition of proper weapon customization and the beefed-up levelling mechanics will go a long way to make RPG nuts happy. While we're eager to dive a little deeper into the game to see exactly what the score is here in detail, what Bioware showed off left us excited with Bioware's vision for the RPG side of the game.

Some might argue that weapon customization is not an RPG feature, though, and it's something we've thought about. At E3 we saw a super-deep weapon customization feature in Ghost Recon, for example, and that is most certainly not an RPG. The manner in which you build and spec your own personal Shepard in every way, though, certainly is.
A dead end.
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July 1st, 2011, 16:03
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
I found back the article pointing at gear customization
http://www.rpgsite.net/articles/292-…fect-3-preview


A dead end.
That's surely making the point that the RPGness comes from the way you level shepard (beefed up levelling mechanics, build and spec your own personal Shepard in every way), rather than the gear is RPG (they indeed point out GR as a non-RPG).
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