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May 13th, 2021, 09:51
Hello everyone,

excuse me for that strange sounding title - but I just wanted a full alliteration with it !

This morning I was reading "The Kobolds handbook for plots and campaigns", which is a very good book for any one who wants to be a DM / GM / SL etc. .

While reading it, I realized what … makes my play in video games, in C-RPGs so much different from other players :

I am … basically - a pen & paper role playing game player
who is playing a C-RPG.

If you have ever played a pen & paper role play campaign, you might understand what I mean.

For every one else : It basically means that I'm focusing so much on immersion, on characters and on the story -
- simply because that's what pen & paper role-players do !

For a table pen & paper role playing group, the world and the characters - inclusive the non-player characters - is EVERYTHING !

This is hard to explain for me … It is clear, however, that the own experience is so much RADICALLY DIFFERENT from those who merely see "a few pixels".

Now, I finally am able to understand why people say on conventions : "CRPGs are no role-playing games!" ( I once actually heard that during a discussion on/in one RPC convention in Cologne, Germany. )

In the end, it finally makes it clear for me - on a deeper level of understanding - where my aversion of Action-RPGs actually comes from :

(I'm currently having a mental image of a wilderness part in Blizzards D2 in mind.)

They do not show my ANY kind of immersion.

None. Nothing. Nada. Rien.

But pixels.

For me, as a pen & paper player, to whom immersin is EVERYTHING,
Action-RPGs are the direct opposite of pen & paper play. The direct opposite.

It feels so empty.

Almost like a void.


Players who are used to play RPGs on the PC and on other platforms, but have never ever played pen & paper role-play, these players ( or, "gamers" ) are used to live in that void. It's like the deepest regions of the Sea, or like living in the vast emptiness of deserts , with almost no nutritious value, no food, nothing, only water, water, water, or sand, sand sand - and they are accustomed to that life !

Action-RPGs, for example, do not transport ANY kind of emotion.

But adrenaline. That's the only nutritious thing in the whole desert or super-deep sea.

And they are used to that. They feed on that.

Playing C-RPGs is like eating pizza : Low cost, tasts good, but doesn't have that much taste or nutritious value.
Pen & paper role play on the other hand is to me like eating in a French Restaurant. Really good tastes ! Plural form ! With LOTS of different herbs and spices ! LOTS of them !
And it doesn't go into the mouth and then into the belly, no, it goes into the nose as well !
It provokes emotions ! Like "This is hot !" "This tastes like that and that and that !" "This tastes like my grandmothers finest recipe !"



And that's why I also often react very much against "story decisions", "plot devices" etc. which i don't junderstand.

I especially do not want to be forced to see an NPC die, when I can clearly see behind the curain and realise that both NPC and the death are merely plot devices used to provoke an emotional reaction by the player ( the end of the prologue of Pillars Of Eternity I, for example, which made me nearly stop playing the whole game. Its grim "real" beginning actually made me stop playing it, because i absolutely HATE grim settings, but the designers decided to force that upon me.)



tl;dr : The way of playing C-RPGs is imho fundamentally different from playing table pen & paper role (not roll !) play.


Alrik

Edit : For reference : This is how a pen & paper role player sees the world : https://www.ddo.com/forums/showthrea…I-feel-bad-now
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May 13th, 2021, 12:14
I get where you're coming from, I have the same. Same general aversion for Action RPGs vs CRPGs, and going deeper into that, I much prefer turn-based over RTwP, because in my RPG education, actions are divided in turns, and it just so happens that I have a very good strategical/tactical sense, but my general awareness when things are happening at the same time is not great, and much less my twitch reactions.

So when I have most fun, when I truly enjoy a RPG is when its story is deep, rich, engaging, emotion-rousing, and also when in combat situations I can sit back, look a the battlescape and make use every of my actions in the most optimal way.

I do enjoy action RPGs now and then, if they are good, though.

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May 13th, 2021, 13:19
I agree with some of your points but you must not have played D&D in the beginning. Look up the phrase, "Murder Hobos." D&D was born from wargaming and early modules like Keep on the Borderlands are mostly hack and slash.

My D&D group is mostly about strategy and battling. We take power and all that cross us shall know the wrath of the Grey Hills Brigade. We do light roleplaying.

I don't like action crpg's either.
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May 13th, 2021, 14:02
Yeah, I think it's very much dependent on your Dungeon Master.

I had one who was very much into letting us do what we wanted and continued the play that way. There was no combat until the last hour of play and it was a short skirmish.

I played with another DM who almost immediately threw us in sewers with some Grey Dwarves and had to fight.
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May 13th, 2021, 15:55
Yes, my group was always deeper into story. My first system was TDE (The Dark Eye - Das Schwarze Auge) and this is no wargame. It focuses very much on story and on immersion, as far as I can tell.

Fun fact : The founders of TDE were people who were translating (A)D&D for the German-language market, originally. Out of that, their idea was born to make their own system.

What also distinguishes TDE from most other systems i know of is, that it has a big foot into "fairy-tale".

There are sub-setting of that, and even sister (or brother ?) systems (like Myranor), so everyone can play what he or she wants. But its focus is - as far I can tell - mostly *not* on war gaming.
You can sense that in a way in the Drakensang games as well.
There even have been 2 Adventure Games for that setting - something I do not think I will ever see for (A)D&D.

Although there does - or did - exist a tabletop variant for that. The first one was called "Armalion", named after a sacred sword of the war goddess Rondra. I forgot the name of the second one.

That's my background.
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May 13th, 2021, 16:58
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Playing C-RPGs is like eating pizza : Low cost, tasts good, but doesn't have that much taste or nutritious value.
Pen & paper role play on the other hand is to me like eating in a French Restaurant. Really good tastes ! Plural form ! With LOTS of different herbs and spices ! LOTS of them !
Perhaps that CRPG is akin to eating alone, too.

I have never played P&P, I'm used to RPGs - coming from adventure games and pure arcade games, since those were my first contact with computer games.

Action RPGs and arcade games are really just for casual fun and adrenaline. With RPGs, it's what you make of it, but it's more in the imagination than in what you are actually doing. There are no other friends you're playing with, usually. Except in co-op, I did that a little with a friend in NWN, and we roleplayed a bit.

So it's either how you use your imagination or how you roleplay within the game with other friends in co-op. Or what you tell if someone is watching. At least that's how it is for me, coming from the other side. I suppose it's shallower than a genuine good tabletop experience, but not everybody is ready or able to commit to that.
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May 13th, 2021, 21:52
If I had access to the same people that I used to play pen paper games with back in the seventies and eighties, I'd have very little need for a computer, other than paying bills and reading articles online. Those were the glory days, sitting around with mates, weaving long, involved tales, sharing that world and exploring everything that we could find. A solid DM was worth their weight in gold. Computer games are, at best, a poor substitute, yet we use what we have.
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May 13th, 2021, 23:42
Yeah, it's cool that the group you play/have played with is focused on story and role-playing, but that is far from a constant. In some groups I've been in, the contrast has been in the opposite direction. A lot of people just want to roll dice and kill things. I've played with at least 20 different people at this point, many of them in different friend circles, so I'm working from a not so small sample size.

Even in CRPGs, there are those who skip through text and are pure gameplay driven. Then there are those (like me) who value the story elements much more and also enjoy games like Tides of Numenara where the story is paramount and combat barely occurs.

So basically I don't think it's a divide betwen P&P and digital games at all. It's down to individual players and GMs, and the goals of a development team.
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May 14th, 2021, 00:12
I spent a solid decade running p&p games from 86-96. Everything from D&D, Cyberpunk, Vampire:TM, GURPS, Rolemaster (my favorite) and more. So much so that it ruined my life ( I got kicked out of university for non attendance). I was trapped in a pleasure/responsibility to players loop. With singleplayer CRPGs I can just play when I have the time. I miss p&p but it was a habit I HAD to kick.
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May 14th, 2021, 10:19
I already wrote that ages ago :

Reading, and playing p&p role play - this is about imagining things
I call that "head cinema", coming from nthe German word "Kopfkino", which means the same.

TV and video games present everything … already .. like a pre-baked bread or a pre-cooked meal, so to say.
There not not much own work with it anymore.

My fear is that modern video games lead to some kind of lack of ability to imagine things. It's pure training - or the lack of it, imho.
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May 14th, 2021, 10:55
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Reading, and playing p&p role play - this is about imagining things
I call that "head cinema", coming from nthe German word "Kopfkino", which means the same.

TV and video games present everything
A good CRPG presents the situations and obstacles to face but does not present the potential solutions, the party owns a set of skills, spells and items and the player needs to come with its own solutions based on those, the game needs to acknowledge many of those and the player creates his own story in the process, Wasteland and Dragon Wars especially are entirely based on that philosophy.
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May 14th, 2021, 11:38
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
I already wrote that ages ago :

Reading, and playing p&p role play - this is about imagining things
I call that "head cinema", coming from nthe German word "Kopfkino", which means the same.

TV and video games present everything € already .. like a pre-baked bread or a pre-cooked meal, so to say.
There not not much own work with it anymore.

My fear is that modern video games lead to some kind of lack of ability to imagine things. It's pure training - or the lack of it, imho.
Perhaps it's a personal preference on what you like to imagine and in this case I can't really discuss it. But if not, you could see RPG video games like a tool to imagine your stories about what's happening and what you decide to do, even if the graphics have been created by someone else. And actually, you can often upload your own avatar and customize the 3D models quite a lot.

Granted, the main story is somewhat limited to what has been programmed, they try to put more and more choices but it's not a full freedom. It's pretty good though. Open-world games that allow some degree of interactivity with the environment and a good choice of side quests, make a good job of reducing those limitations. Larian's games are a good example, even if the combat system has its flaws (use the story mode to reduce that to a minimum).

Then, you can build your own adventures, like in NWN. It takes time though. And it's still lonely except if you play it in coop which is a lot of fun.
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May 14th, 2021, 13:18
Originally Posted by CryptRat View Post
A good CRPG presents the situations and obstacles to face but does not present the potential solutions, the party owns a set of skills, spells and items and the player needs to come with its own solutions based on those, the game needs to acknowledge many of those and the player creates his own story in the process, Wasteland and Dragon Wars especially are entirely based on that philosophy.
I don't think you understood me. Sitting on a table, i have to imagine EVERYTHING !

The look of the characters, the look of the road, the look of the plants in the woods, the facial expressions, the look of the adversaries, the look of the monsters, the look my my character's own clothes, the look of the buildings, the look of the spellbooks, the look of the weapons, the looks of the herbs, the look of the spells when cast, the sound of the wildlifem the sound of the leaves, the sound of warcries, the sound of birgds, the laughter, the gossip in the tavern, the smell inside that tavern, the shadows made by flickering candles in that tavern, the shadows made by flickering torches in a dungeon, the smell of rats in a dungeon, the squeak of rats in a dungeon, the sound of footsteps in a dungeon, the whispers in a dungeon, how the stone of the walls feels in that dungeon, how the traps in that dungeon look like, which colour the inscriptions on the sarcophagi or coffins have, the smell of the zombies, the moaning of the zombies, the sound of the footsteps of skeletons, the sound of gnawing coming from ghuls, the feeling of a gust of fresh air on the face when going past a secret wall, the smell of burnt torches long before you see them, the light coming into that almost complete darkness from a gap in the stones above, or from a dungeon window, the smell of fresh air coming into the dungeon through tiny cracks in the stone, the sound of grinding stone when a secret door slides aside, the cry of surprise when you see that necromancer, the colour of his spells he casts, the muffled footsteps of the zombies rushing at you, the different sound of the footsteps of skeletons rushing at you, the sound of metal swords against metal shields, the soft sound of a zombies' arm falling on the ground, the sniffing sounds of rats rushing to this unexpected piece of food, the half-finished curse of the necromancer when you slay him, the sounds of exhaustion when you are exhausted from the battle, the sound of pain from injured party members, the sounds of rats gnawing bone …

All of this must be imagined.
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May 14th, 2021, 13:41
I think it's just about taste in general, and I wouldn't elevate one taste over the other. I for example despise sport games and most shooters, yet for other people they provide countless hours of entertainment, and while we all like to feel superior about our tastes, they are all valid.

Funny enough, all groups have an extremist "elite" that like to place themselves over those with different tastes. And so those who play FIFA or CoD, people who play DnD games are "nerds without a life". For DnD players, those who play FIFA or CoD are "brainless buttonmashers". It's always a very pejorative, blanket generalisation that rarely actually defines anyone at all in any of the groups. The only person it defines in a way is the one making such statements.

And that applies to about every social group in life. Every tribe, every religion, every sport/club supporter has the perfect be-all-end-all argument to place themselves above those who chose differently. We do this as humans, we like to emphasize that what we do is the best choice, and those who make different choices are well… making the wrong choice, because something is wrong with their head.

I'm happy with the way I enjoy and appreciate things, and also happy to see others enjoy and appreciate other things, as long as they force upon me their beliefs on what is right and what is wrong, or tell me that what I like is wrong and I'm a lesser being, since I enjoy different things than them.

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May 14th, 2021, 14:41
@Nereida exactly, it's such a narrow way to view the world. It's mostly insecure people who do this, in my experience. They can't see themselves having any flaws so things they like must be "objectively" the best because if they are not, they themselves are not the best. They label stuff they don't like as wrong or negative without ever producing any evidence for it. When you press them about it it boils down to "I don't like it so it must be wrong"

I see it a lot in Alrik's posts. He doesn't like violent and dark games. We get it, and it's OK. But it's not enough for him to say "I like colorful and non-violent stuff, I wish there was more of it.", it has to be an essay about how everything is dark now and how everything is going wrong and how people who don't share his views are somehow lesser. He then oversimplifies stuff he doesn't like to absurdity to show how it's bad.

For example, ARPGs to him are just "cheap adrenaline" which is wrong. They are much more than that. They test the reflexes, much like, say, ping-pong. Is there something wrong with ping-pong? They test your pattern recognition. Is there something wrong with pattern recognition? And with the most competitive layer of players, players who try to perfect their builds to the absolute maximum, min-maxers if you will, it tests some serious math and cost and effectiveness skills? Is there something wrong with math?

And even if his oversimplification was true, is there something wrong with cheap adrenaline? One of the first games children learn to play is "tag". Admittedly, I haven't played it in 20 years, but I vividly remember having an adrenaline rush when I barely escaped the chaser, and it felt great. I think I turned out fine, or at least not worse because of it.
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May 15th, 2021, 00:15
i'll just say that i feel it's important to come to terms with your own likes and dislikes and also other people's without looking down at them. it's important to say - my way is okay, and your way is okay, too. otherwise u will always be frustrated, sad or depressed because you are convincing yourself your way is the best and other people are wrong, stupid, whatever because they don't feel like u do. u just have to understand that all paths are viable, all are walks with God, and no one is better than another. the sooner u accept other paths that are not your own are okay too, the sooner u can go with the flow of life and get rid of any victim mentality, depression or frustration. just my 2. i hope i explained well enough. much love to all of u here, take care guys. <3
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May 15th, 2021, 02:07
Great post and I agree and disagree on some things, which shows this topic isn't simply about pen and paper versus a computer game that determines immersion but also the person/people involved.

I grew up playing pen and pager dungeons and dragons. Played it from 12 - 16 years of age then a few years in college. I also play CPRG heavily.

For example the OP wrote they have to imagine everything with pen and paper (mostly true although we had books, metal figures we would paint, large grid paper, and props but get the idea).

Yet I also do that playing computer games. I don't play computer games by simply existing with what is on the screen as pixels. I do extensive writing and story telling for all my characters. I imagine all kinds of things going on.

Now it is very true that it is one sided. Meaning with pen and paper you can go back and forth with other people dynamically which is way more flexible. How immersive depends on how immersive the other players are.

I would use my imagination in pen and paper similar to a computer game though. You simply add on to what is in the game itself and avoid the trap of limiting yourself to only what the game can provide.

So that is where I disagree. I consider a computer game not a lesser food but simply another kind of food. Its apples and oranges, not home made pizza versus frozen pizza.

Many computer games have been full of emotion for me as well and sucked me right into the stories and world.

Anyhow always cool to see how different people view the same things differently and I think it shows a lot of this is dependent on each individual and how they approach and experience different mediums (i.e. pen and paper or computer simulation in this case).

EDIT: Wanted to add I do agree 100%, of course, that without the computer simulation there is a lot more you have to imagine in pen and paper but that doesn't mean you can't imagine while playing a computer game.
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May 15th, 2021, 02:23
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
I am € basically - a pen & paper role playing game player
who is playing a C-RPG.

Edit : For reference : This is how a pen & paper role player sees the world : https://www.ddo.com/forums/showthrea…I-feel-bad-now
You do realize you linked a mmo?

I am more interested in your feelings toward singleplayer games.
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May 17th, 2021, 20:46
Yes, I do realize that I linked towards an MMO, but it is very solo-friendly, and gives me a lot of immersion.
My personal problem ist, that most games I know of - and which meet my design & graphics taste - are so much focused on either war or something dark.
Which I don't like.
DDO, on the other hand, is an often very lighthearted adventure, and it has no war and no factions, which I like very much.
In short, I wish there were more games like DDO.
And, besides, did you actually read my linked article there ?
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May 26th, 2021, 02:10
Hmm, I have a slightly different take. While I definitely tend to prefer proper cRPGs, I don't think there's anything inherent in Action RPGs that prevents them from being just as immersive and deep as far as role-playing goes… the developers just tend to focus a lot more on the combat and loot, etc.

The Witcher series is one of the rare "Action RPGs" I enjoy because aside from having an engaging story, setting, characters, etc. that is often lacking in ARPGs (and most RPGs in general IMO), they also give you a lot of meaningful choices that help you shape Geralt's story. The main limiting factor is of course that you are always Geralt. Your backstory is set in stone, your ability to shape his personality is rather limited, and the customization & building is pretty shallow; how you build Geralt doesn't really affect gameplay all that much.

Skyrim had almost the opposite problem. Tons of customization; though still rather shallow build mechanics that won't really affect gameplay that much, especially considering aspects like enemy scaling and that you can basically grind to increase skills & become a godly jack of all trades. But even more so IMO because most of the quests are pretty generic (kill this guy / monster and bring me his stuff). Sure you can maybe do stealth, but most of the time you're just deciding if you'll blast the enemy with a fireball, shoot them with an arrow, or hack them with a melee weapon. It's not a very deep roleplaying experience IMO.

But a lot of cRPGs have many of the same shortcomings. They may have a lot of dialogue, but it often amounts to flavor text with the illusion of choice. The mechanics & rulesets tend to be deeper so how you build your character matters more, but it's often limited purely to combat. When social skills like diplomacy & bluff are used in a cRPG, it's often just a way to cajole a bit of extra coin out of your quest-giver and maybe (if you're lucky) talk your way out of some fights. Still a far cry from the roleplaying potential of a PnP game where you can try to do almost anything (as long as the GM deems it sensible).

Of course it's not possible to make a computer game with the limitless possibilities of PnP game. And it is probably financial risky for developers to make a game where players will miss a large portion of content due to choices they make or how they build their character. Taking dozens of hours to complete an RPG is such a selling point, and RPGs like Age of Decadence that are extremely replayable receive a lot of negativity due to their brevity. But I think there's a lot of uncharted ground left for an ambitious cRPG developer to make them more immersive and deeper as far as role-playing goes.

But again, nothing's technically stopping some developer from making an "Action RPG" where you have the meaningful narrative choices of the Witcher with the level of customization of Elder Scrolls and mechanical depth approaching that of a pen & paper ruleset. For ex: Though I doubt will happen, I'd love it if CDPR's next foray into the Witcher universe, (rather than being a fixed character) lets us choose from a variety of classes and backgrounds. Imagine, a game where you can play as either a Witcher, a Sorceress, a Knight of the Order of the Flaming Rose, a Scoia-tel, and maybe a vampire or other intelligent monster.
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