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Tuesday - September 25, 2012
Sinister Design - The Evolution of RPG Character Creation
Sinister Design's Craig Stern wrote an editorial on the evolution of character creation in RPG's, how they came about and what they mean in todays RPGs.
"Now you might say, “Who cares? I’m playing this game to role play, not to create a super character.” That’s a good attitude to have, but why don’t we really test it out? Role play someone who is not skilled in combat or movement/stealth skills. Someone who is skilled only in areas that don’t play into the game’s emergent systems. It almost doesn’t matter which game we pick to perform this experiment in. Try to successfully complete–oh, say, Fallout 2–by role-playing a scientist. Go ahead. Roll up a new character and put all of her points into the Science skill. No save scumming, now. Or how about a scientist-doctor? Maybe one who loves hiking. Stick all your points in Science, Doctor and Outdoorsman. See how well that works out.
"Better yet, don’t. I’ll save you some time: you are going to die. Repeatedly. With few opportunities to level up, your character is going to stagnate, and you are going to struggle to get much of anywhere in the game unless you are already intimately familiar with its details. (Of course, there’s no point in having a discussion about game balance using someone who knows how to speed run the game in under 30 minutes as our reference point.)
"The point is, cRPGs aren’t pen-and-paper role-playing games. There’s no Dungeon Master to appeal to with creative uses for your characters’ various skills. Every last skill check that applies to a non-emergent game system has to be incorporated into the game in advance. The average player’s skills are useful in direct proportion to the number of times the game checks for them. Skills which are rarely used may serve a role-playing purpose, but they can also completely undercut a player’s enjoyment of the game by making survival and progression extremely difficult based on front-loaded choices the player is forced to make blindly."
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