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December 15th, 2006, 10:05
There's some really interesting discussion here.
Abbaon makes a good point that a game's rules don't necessarily need to be exposed to the player in the form of statistics. As the RPG genre matures, I would prefer to see more of a move toward realism and away from statistics. In real life, if you do a favour for someone or offend a person, you don't have a number to tell you the exact effects of your actions. You have to gauge the effects of your actions by observing the person's behaviour toward you. Obviously, in a game, the numbers will still be there, but I find the world feels more natural if they are kept under the hood. The same can be applied to combat. At present, most rpgs employ a hit bar to show the damage inflicted on an opponent. A preferable way, imo, would be to get rid of the hit bar and instead have the game accurately reflect the damage onscreen, so that if a boar is attacking you and you hit it with your staff, it will limp, or stagger, or squeal and run away to show you how the blow affected it. A lot of hardcore RPGers cringe at the idea of taking out stats, but less stats doesn't necessarily mean less depth; it just means presenting information to the player in a more believable way.

On a related note, regarding rules, it would be nice to see them applied on a more global scale, not just to the player character, but also to factions within the game world. I'm so tired of the approach used by most RPGs: You're the Hero of destiny, only you can save the world, and everybody else just stands around and waits for you to interact with them. It would be nice to see more single player RPGs adopt a dynamic approach to game design, (ala space rangers 2) so that factions in the game world create alliances, go to war or take up projects independent of the actions of the player. You would, of course, have the ability to alter world events through your actions, but the world should still evolve even if you do nothing at all.
Programming NPCs to realistically respond to such changes would be almost impossible, so you would have to either sacrifice story and character interaction for unpredictability, or have major global events be scripted rather than handled by the AI. I would prefer the latter approach, since I think story and character depth are the most important elements in an RPG, and it would also be less of a programming nightmare. As long as the scripted approach still allows for a good amount of branching, I would generally prefer a dynamic world over the static model used by virtually all non-MMOGs. Sorry if I veered a little off topic here.
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