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February 10th, 2013, 14:05
MigRib, kudos to you for keeping a level head and giving thought out responses to the people who don't agree with you. I am one of those people, but it's really nice to see a forum discussion that doesn't turn into a flame war just because your opinions differ.
I don't try to be popular, but always try to be polite and maintain a reasonable argument. Otherwise it's pointless…

I do have one question though, you mentioned that you wanted games to be more like PnP RPG's, but also seem to prefer more action combat. To me Pen and Paper RPG's means Turn-based, skill based, RNG and probably tactical combat. What did you you do, whack your DM on the head with a stick?
Well, yes it's true that in PnP you do must have turn based combat and skill based characters. I would never contest that. The tactical combat bit I disagree. When playing PnP (where I was usually the GM, so I would be the whacked in the head one!) I - and most of the people I played with - tended to keep the combat as quick as possible, with much more description of what is happening than actual dice rolling. I am not against rules (or dice rolling), but I do believe that rules are very nice and good, until they start getting in the way of the role playing. Then, out they go, and things are decided by common sense (when in doubt, always benefiting the players and not the rival NPCs, of course, or I'd be whacked in the head with a stick, probably).
But this was all about PnP. I know that it is tricky to adapt the rules of a PnP to a cRPGs. Although game design is an "occult science" to me, I do believe, by experience alone, that is possible to adapt those rules without turning the cRPGs into strategy-like games. Let's exemplify, then. Fallout 3 and FONV had the VATS. You may not like the fact that they turned an isometric, turn-based franchise into a first person view game. It's a question of personal taste, I guess. But they kept the rules, they kept the skills and quirks and above all they kept the universe and the atmosphere (in my opinion in a much better way, because the music and voice acting added to the immersion in the Fallout universe). But I digress… The VATS is, I think, a fabulous trick to still use the action points and maintain a bit of the game mechanics of the original games, based on the GURPS rules set. Of course the tactical aspect goes out the window, but that's a part of being first person (much more immersive, in my opinion, of course).
Another example, and almost a classical one, is Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines (and I know that Fallout 3 and FONV might not be appreciated by a lot of people in this forum, but Vampire is). The PnP rules are all there, 'till the point of having a Vampire the Masquerade character sheet! I suppose the mechanical part is happening under the hood, but what I see is a first person cRPG with a fabulous story, great dialogues, good voice acting, adequate soundtrack and immersive as Hell. One of the best, despite all the bugs. I suppose Deus Ex is another one in that category, although less role playing, more stealthiness.
Well, this is my take on this tricky PnP to cRPG rule adaptation. I like having it under the hood, and looking like a modern game, without too much strategical planning going around.

As for the dumbing down, I think the term is a bit too widespread and not properly used. Like someone mentioned maybe streamlined is a better word. Take voiceovers for example, if you want complete voice overs you have to seriously cut the amount of dialogue options in order to make the game with a reasonable budget. Games like Planescape or the original Fallouts would probably never had been made if there had been a demand for full voice overs. The amount of text in those games (especially torment) is staggering. And as a sidenote, if I had been forced to listen to all that instead of reading it it would have taken me at least five times longer to play through the games. I'll take added content, more dialogue options, more C&C and more everything else every time before voice overs.
I agree that the dumbing down is way too widespread, and despite being insulting, it is also incorrect in most cases (well, maybe some shooters are dumbed down, but that's another story). Streamlined might be a proper word, but I don't think it will be used more often, "dumbing down" is a good sound byte…
So, voice acting. Yes, it's expensive, it's time consuming and it forces that choice of cutting down on the amount of text. That's a price I gladly play for having voice acting. And yes, in the time of Planescape and Fallout that would have been even worse, and that's why I don't blame them for that. But, a few years latter, games that are considered classics by now, like Deus Ex and Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines were fully voice acted and there's not so many people bashing them for that. What did they loose because they were voice acted? A lot of text content in dialogues? Maybe, but there's always ways to compensate for that, like in-game newspaper articles, diary entries, book excerpts, computer files (even the old school cRPGs used this kind of text based information). Of course I would also dislike having to hear a five minute monologue from some NPC, but if I'm really into a game I don't mind reading all bits of information that appear in text form (I did that in Dishonored, which is not a cRPG, anyway, but has a lot of book excerpts and notes lying around).
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