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Default Mass Effect 2 - Editorial Discussion RPG or Not @ Bitmob

February 15th, 2010, 19:26
Bitmob has an editorial discussing whether Mass Effect 2 is an RPG or not. The author starts out by asking whether Bioware sold out or just streamlined the genre.
Here's part of the conclusion:
That's what I've been trying to explain. I don't think that ME2's skill system is too simplified, I think that the typical leveling systems used in other RPGs are overly complicated!
Do you agree with this statement?
More information.
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February 15th, 2010, 19:26
Well, that's the part where the author just begs for being called an idiot. It must be hard life, being that much mentally inferior.
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February 15th, 2010, 19:32
I don't think that ME2's skill system is too simplified, I think that the typical leveling systems used in other RPGs are overly complicated!
Originally Posted by aries100 View Post
Do you agree with this statement?

I won't comment on the first part of that statement because I haven't played ME2 yet, but the second part is just absurd.
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February 15th, 2010, 19:38
With bs like this ME2 may become the next Oblivion for RPG players.
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February 15th, 2010, 19:46
They (the developers) could always include a skills that mattered in combat. One of the things that defined a RPGs are about more choices, not less. ME1 already very much streamlined or simplified compared to typical RPGs, why even need more simplification? What is so complicated about ME1?
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February 15th, 2010, 20:18
Originally Posted by Daddy32 View Post
Well, that's the part where the author just begs for being called an idiot. It must be hard life, being that much mentally inferior.
Actually, no. I often think that life has to be one hell of a lot easier for the stupid and ignorant.

Anyway, haven't read the article. The conclusion in the summary, however, is just an opinion. If he thinks that levelling systems in other RPGs are overly complicated, that's fine. Plenty of people do like them complicated, plenty of them don't. The scary thing for the latter group is that they are in the minority and as a result are seeing less and less big-budget RPGs that speak to them.

I, admittedly, don't spend the time and effort to dive into deep RPG systems, anymore, so I'm fine with it. But whatever, what are we talking about, anyway? It's the same discussion over and over. Yes, it's an RPG. No, it's not Baldur's Gate. Boohoo.
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February 15th, 2010, 20:28
If you read the article, you see that he's got a point. Whether he sums it up well with this quote is a different question though.
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February 15th, 2010, 21:03
Well I think I have said all I need to about this issue. Frankly, at this point, I don't really want to spend anymore time playing or discussing this game. Fun little shooter, but its nowhere close to an RPG IMO in any way that matters to me.

The fact that alot of others feels justified in arguing otherwise declaring the bold new future of "rpgs" is disturbing to me, just doesn't seem worth wasting anymore time. I'll just support the games that I like, and will likely not purchase ME3 just as a way of registering my vote. Other good shooters I can play to scratch that itch.
Last edited by dagoo7; February 15th, 2010 at 21:12. Reason: Not a directly reply to any previous post, did not mean to quote.
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February 15th, 2010, 22:56
Well, he may have a point that some of us are not quite getting.

Consider the following statement:

RPG leveling systems are to complex.

Now, that is an incomplete statement. There are two obvious implications that come to mind that could be added. Consider, again:

RPG leveling systems are too complex for me to understand.

This is how many of us are interpreting it. However, consider this:

RPG leveling systems are to complex, they could be simpler while still offering meaningful and interesting choices.

I believe that the second implication is true. I also believe that one should always be charitable when summarising the argument of someone else. Otherwise one risks becoming a habitual strawman-pusher.

So, perhaps the point here, is that ME2 is able to offer meaningful choices with a less complex system. It strips out filler skills, leaving the player with what is hopefully a more difficult choice between which useful skill to level up. Beyond that, there is the choice of how to evelove each skill, whether it's better to spend 4 points on the final level of a skill, or split those points to upgrade multiple skills that are at lower levels, and finally, which extra skills you wish to bring in the form of Allies.

You end up with a system that can be very simple, but also offers quite a lot of choice. Consider that Ally skills are on a seperate cooldown timer to Sheppard's and you have the potential for some very significant strategic choices about how to setup your squad.

In conclusion, suggesting that something is more complex than it needs to be does not make one stupid. As a corollary Liking more complex systems than someone else does not make one intellectually superior. I think it could be argued that if a comparison of two systems showed one system to be simpler than the other, while both systems offered the same amount and quality of choice, that the simpler system was the superior one. What we want, is the choice, not the complexity that comes with it. If the choice can be presevered while the complexity reduced, I would have thought that is a good thing.
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February 15th, 2010, 23:06
Originally Posted by Badesumofu View Post
In conclusion, suggesting that something is more complex than it needs to be does not make one stupid. As a corollary Liking more complex systems than someone else does not make one intellectually superior. I think it could be argued that if a comparison of two systems showed one system to be simpler than the other, while both systems offered the same amount and quality of choice, that the simpler system was the superior one. What we want, is the choice, not the complexity that comes with it. If the choice can be presevered while the complexity reduced, I would have thought that is a good thing.
Understood and I don't disagree with your premise, although I personally feel that complexity in leveling leads to significantly more variety and enjoyment from an rpg as long as different paths are balanced.

However, the point that we have been debating with respect to ME2 is whether there is really any "meaningful choice" here (whether in regard to story/narrative or meaningful character build/playstyle options). I and some others feel, and have argued accordingly (ad nauseum in my case), that there is only the illusion of meaningful choice (and IMO frankly not even a really good one) layered on top of a pretty basic cover shooter. That being said, I really am done.
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February 15th, 2010, 23:20
That is a perfectly reasonable argument to make. Whether or not I agree with it not being relevant, I won't go into it.

I will say this - I'm not enjoying ME2 for it's RPG mechanics and systems. I am enjoying it for it's narrative, characters, role-playing, and quest design. Also the Voice acting is hands down the best I have ever experienced, I find myself almost never skipping dialouge, and seriously considering turning subtitles off. Jennifer Hale is superb as ever as Female Sheppard.

All the voice acting during
Spoiler
loyalty mission is just amazing. That is among the best 'scenes' I have ever seen in a computer game. Voice acting-wise, probably the best. Shohreh Aghdashloo was really, really good. 'Twas a bit weird to hear Morrigan and Logain both pop up, and in the same scene, though.
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February 15th, 2010, 23:35
Originally Posted by Badesumofu View Post
What we want, is the choice, not the complexity that comes with it. If the choice can be presevered while the complexity reduced, I would have thought that is a good thing.
WoW, which I had played for quite some time, was interesting in this regard. Blizzard kept dumbing down the game significantly throughout the years, but at the same time they introduced new features, keeping the overall complexity at about the same level.

In ME2's case the question is whether the choice was also reduced on top of the complexity (or if there ever was any significant choice in ME1 to begin with).

"Mystery is important. To know everything, to know the whole truth, is dull. There is no magic in that. Magic is not knowing, magic is wondering about what and how and where." ~ Cortez, from The Longest Journey
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February 16th, 2010, 00:40
I didn't have much energy to write the whole argument, so I am glad that Badesumofu did such a good job at it. I am not saying that simpler is better, and definitely disagree that a game like Fallout is too complex. But considering that the RPG elements in ME1 (I am referring to levelling and inventory) were not interesting or even a chore, the streamlining of ME2, which did not come at a cost of player choice, is a very good thing. I would not agree that ME1 was a better RPG than ME2, not at all.
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February 16th, 2010, 01:29
I could be wrong but the article wanted:
  • Highlight not about complexity but about abstraction.
  • It's also not about ME2 itself but about the direction took by ME2.
  • And it's not about CRPG but about action CRPG.
But I think he miss the point because:
  • He didn't realize fully that complexity and abstraction aren't the same things.
  • He didn't saw the power of symbols.
  • He focus too much on using ME2 as the key example.
  • He didn't realized that not all CRPG are action CRPG.
Other than that, I think he gets good points, but shape them badly.

His first point is in fact that power increase of a same talent could not be the best gameplay value:
  • When playing DAO I said myself it was more cool to have to choose another spell or talent than just increase the power of a talent. In this case the player trade an abstract number with a concrete power.
  • That's where the ME2 approach is still wrong in avoiding abstraction. Get power level 1 and then with lever 2 get 45% increase is still abstract. It seems less abstract than 7% increase but it is as much abstract. If enemies resistance against this power increase by 100% the 45% means nothing, it's just an abstract value because it is relative.
  • The problem of DAO approach with talents is to require more design. Myself I consider this simplification quite excellent.
  • There's in fact another problem with this simplification, it's the scaling up of opponents strength and level increase. If your opponents get stronger and not your talents you could end with some useless talents. DAO skip that problem, through various points:
    • Some talents aren't scaled and this works roughly because the max level is limited.
    • Many talents increase in some way through base attributes increase.
    • Some talents keeps their use despite their power don't increase because those talents are unique enough to still be useful. Have them somehow less efficient proportionally contribute to build the feeling of facing stronger oponents.
The section about Tiers is one I don't fully understand because I don't see what are Tiers in Oblivion or DAO. But the article got a second good point here, even if again not well developed:
  • He is right that get int of 33 instead of 30 is very abstract and not very fun by itself.
  • DAO partially dodge the problem by making attribute levels requirements to be able to get some talents or to use some items. It's a good approach in making more concrete those attributes levels. It's not fully good because some players will felt it as less freedom to build their character, I tend disagree with that but there's arguments.
  • Another way, very classical, used by DAO to make attributes more concrete is to inform the player about easy to understand effects on elements that seems more concrete to players. For example 1 STR gives 1 damage for some weapons. In fact like any numbers it's abstract because it's relative. But it speaks more to players than more complicate computing sometimes even hidden partially to players.
  • But the point he doesn't see is the symbolic values of those attributes. You don't increase the Strength from 30 to 33 but you patiently and persistently build a strength of nature, a warrior with an incredible strength. That will work on most players and that's where this article is wrong about attributes.
Another good point of this article is about xp:
  • He is right that it's tedious to do xp farming and that's exactly why most JRPG bored me.
  • He is also right that bother get more xp through more killing is a bit basic.
  • But again he is wrong because he doesn't see the symbolic value. XP is a very abstract number but a totally concrete symbol of the patient power increase of the player character.
  • Myself I remember only one game not providing xp for killing stuff, a NWN mod series, but the author was still providing xp through quests and through progression in the main series, this was overall a somehow linear CRPG. I enjoyed it a lot because sneaking path could provide as much xp than killing all. But it didn't work well because most often killing all was a way to get some more bounties.
  • I think that even for the masses this article is wrong about xp and xp through combat because the symbolic value of power increase will work very well for most players. But myself I'm shared, I don't feel bad the idea to tune down xp use.
Another point highlighted by this article is that it's not good to oppose players skills with characters attributes:
  • It's right that for an action RPG it's not the perfect idea. But for non action RPG it's a quite more complicate equation.
  • Also the example took is about the chance to hit, well it's clear that it's not the way to go, but if it's about the damages done, or by the area affected and more, his assumption is less obvious.
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February 16th, 2010, 01:44
Very well stated Dasale …

While I like ME2 quite a bit, I think that there are too many articles that appear to think that merely scoring the game 22/10 stars wasn't enough, they need to amp up the hyperbole about how the game is so awesomely awesome that its' awesomeness has changed reality so that Baldur's Gate and Wizardry are no longer RPG's …

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February 16th, 2010, 02:15
Well, you've got a dozen characters in this game. If they made a hard core system of stats, players would have to manage that hard core system over a lot of characters. Dragon Age was targetted at a "less actiony" audience and had fewer characters so it could get a bit more complex. In MMOs you normally deal with just one character (at least over the span of 40 hours or so - you may have a lot more characters after 400hrs) so they can get very complex. The Last Remnant is on the other end of the spectrum with very little input for character development but allowing you to develop 20 characters at once.

Oh, and I definitely like Mass Effect 2's system of giving you xp for getting a job done. I despise having to kill off everything in a mission just to maximize xp and I think it's silly that I purposely set off ambush traps so I can get more enemies. It's good to have a game that doesn't punish me for sneaking by some enemies. Now if only it would let me sneak by some enemies…. (Hopefully Alpha Protocol will do better.)
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February 16th, 2010, 02:52
Originally Posted by Kostaz View Post
With bs like this ME2 may become the next Oblivion for RPG players.
I don't know. I really enjoyed ME2….and I spent over 100 hours on Oblivion…I liked both games just fine, do they have areas that can be better? Sure. But lets not be hypocritical and say other games are so much better. I think every game has something that can be better, but as long as you are having fun what differance does it make?
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February 16th, 2010, 09:58
I wholeheartedly agree with Badesumofu's statements in comments 9 and 11.

I've always wondered why the 6 basic AD&D stats didn't change from class to class. I mean no-one other than a Sorcerer or a Paladin would spend any points on the charisma stat and only a Mage would want to invest in intelligence.

Don't get me wrong. I know why the stats are there and I don't mind at all, but a system with fewer yet different stats depending on what class you chose to play would make just as much sense …. unless of course your game makes use of all the stats like the Fallout games.

And THAT's is the main issue: If a stat/skill/talent/whatnot is actually USED in the game then it has a right to be there, but if, let's say, Endurance is just for determining the amount of hit-points you have, then it might as well be left out of the game entirely. A PnP session is NOT the same as CRPG game and it never will be, so I say: don't try to be.

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February 16th, 2010, 10:26
I agree with fatBastard(). While I prefer the approach of PS:T/FO, where stats really have a meaning, I see no problem with simplifying stats if they're only used to determine single stats (i.e Constitution or Endurance granting hitpoints).

That being said, I do feel that ME2 is too streamlined, as I've pointed out numerous times before.

Also, his example of Throw is fairly bad. While he is entirely right that 12 ranks vs 4 ranks is irrelevant, that was never the problem. The problem is that ME1 Throw at the highest rank is capable of annihilating armies, while the ME2 version is still perfectly mediocre; something to use for fun or to take out Husks (at least on Hardcore/Insanity where all enemies have armor/barrier/shields).

Basically, when you increase something big and powerful by X%, the effect is much bigger than when you increase something small and insignificant by the same %.

In my opinion, the streamlining was never about reducing the number of ranks - it was a matter of reducing the importance of skills, replacing more or less all character skills with simple shooter elements.
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February 16th, 2010, 11:49
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
In my opinion, the streamlining was never about reducing the number of ranks - it was a matter of reducing the importance of skills, replacing more or less all character skills with simple shooter elements.
Exactly … I don't think most of us have an issue with a shooter-RPG, but these changes make it a SHOOTER-rpg

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