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Default General News - On Fantasy Economies

January 2nd, 2008, 06:50
I like loot, but I dislike lots of high-powered loot. And come to think of it, I hate lots of useless loot. I just hate ridiculous amounts of loot, period. It's compounded multiple times if there's crafting involved, it's just not fun after a while to have to sift thru mountains of loot after a few encounters or chests.

Enough to make a guy play nothing but Monks forever and ever amen ='.'=

But really what bothers me is when lots of high powered loot gets tossed to players, when we havent even began to really get a lot of use out of what we had. We havent even had time to appreciate what we have. I was raised in the kind of household where we used everything until it was worn out. Toys, clothes, whatever, it's just always been my nature to value my posessions and get the most use out of them. That's why chucking my sword every two levels is the antithesis of what I consider to be entertaining, or even realistic for me purrsonally.

Magic items are, as far as I'm concerned, something special and need to be seen and valued as such, or they lose their worth. They are rare, unique items. If youre going to have a truckload of super weapons thrown at players constantly, then in the end they really have no use other than to add a little micromanagement minigame to the proceedings. It becomes nothing more than a speed bump, an annoyance.

I remember when I was playing WoW, I would keep some substandard stuff because I liked the way it looked, or I liked the particular sort of damage that it did which complemented my playstyle or my character, or it just had flat out sentimental value. It maybe wasnt the best, but it was my special bow, or helm, or whatever. I had found it, won it, earned it, way down in the depths of some godforsaken hellhole with some friends at 4 am one night and it meant something to me. So you can keep your Hellbringer +50 to all stats, I dont want it.

Plus, playing games without the best loot tends to make the game a little more of a challenge - you know, fun.
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January 2nd, 2008, 06:51
My logic is always hard to follow

Anyways I brought it up because taking away combat from an RPG would like be taking away combat in Chess. What you have isn't Chess and isn't a RPG. Now that I've thought about it I guess there are noncombat RPGs out there like The Sims *shudder*, but to me that just is horrible and not the kind of RPG I want to play.
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January 2nd, 2008, 07:40
Originally Posted by abbaon View Post
For a motivation for taking a life, you can't sink much lower than "Because I wanted his stuff." The only reason to kill another sapient individual that could be stupider and less defensible would be something like "Just to practice my swordplay." Say what you like about "evil" antagonists, but at least it's a recognisably human idea. A crocodile could give you better excuses for his behaviour than I had for wiping the Sword Coast clean of life.
Sadly, it's a motivation that's all too common outside the realm of rpgs as well. Wars are almost always fought for materialistic aims - resources, cheap labour, 'lebensraum', etc. Labelling our opponents as evil antagonists all too often serves as the first step toward robbing them.
As far as RPGs go, I'd certainly like to see ethics take on a much more prominent role, and I wouldn't be in the least bit sad to never again see an RPG that features killing purely for the sake of looting - with the possible exception of hunting animals. But even there, the concept of wiping out all the fauna of a region and selling the parts to voracious alchemists is all too reminiscent of some of our nastier moral practices in real life. Maybe one day we'll see a design in which animals simply won't respawn if you overhunt them, forcing you to adopt more judicious 'wildlife management policies'.
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January 2nd, 2008, 10:13
Damn it, Geist. You anticipated most of my points while I was distracted by Mario Galaxy.

Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
The thread is Fantasy Economies. Not the destruction of millions of virtual lives but if you insist ok.
The title is "On Fantasy Economies", the subject is loot, and the most interesting idea so far has been the suggestion from our extra-anonymous guest that loot is a distraction from what makes a story-driven RPG great. I'd go further: I think loot and levels, as player objectives, are fundamentally inimical to the creation of a believable, functioning world. The need to drive the player on with Pavlovian rewards compromises a world's economic system, yes, but also the ecology, the motives of NPCs, and the player's willingness to play a role besides Death, Destroyer of Worlds.

Recall the early days of Ultima Online. The developers had created a wonderful ecosystem, where predators hunted prey, larger animals preyed on smaller ones, and a shortage at the rabbit end of the food chain could lead to hungry dragons attacking humans.

Then the players were turned loose on the world. Nothing survived.

You want motivation. How about they will kill you. That seems like pretty good motivation to me or they want to take your way of life and change it to theirs. That seems like pretty good motivation also.

Lets see if I remember correctly the Sword coast was infested with bandits and demi-human gangs that were burning and killing anything in their path. Isn't it a good idea to stop that?
Right. They attack on sight. They're monsters. They exist to provide me with experience points and loot. No other interaction is possible.

Besides how boring would it be if you just walked around saying "Can't we all just get along?" I think that would be more a sims game than RPG.
I HAVE A SOLUTION. Imagine an RPG with no automatically hostile people, whether human, demi-human, or miscellaneous. They might or might not like you, but they would stop short of violence until you provoked them, either by initiating hostilities directly or merely by doing something they disliked. You would choose your enemies and your reasons for making them so. Loot and levels would be but two of many possibilities.

I HAVE ANOTHER. Imagine an RPG with no power progression. You build and equip your characters, and that's it. Without loot and levels, the remaining elements have to carry the game. Tough encounters are tough because they demand more of your skills. You'll only seek out combat if it's entertaining in its own right, or you genuinely agree with the reasons for fighting which the game gives you.

Does anyone know of an RPG which attempts either of those?
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January 2nd, 2008, 11:10
Yes, Ultima 4!! There could be others, but none comes to mind.
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January 2nd, 2008, 11:26
Originally Posted by xSamhainx View Post

Plus, playing games without the best loot tends to make the game a little more of a challenge - you know, fun.
I totally agree.

If my weapon gets broken, I will always repair it if I can . And If i've decided that my character likes longswords more than claymores…heck its longsword i'm going to use. If he prefers silver over better materials so be it. I'm going to upgrade, hone or echant it to make it even more a personal and unique item..

witcher's spartan like scarce viewpoint was really refreshing after two world's stupidly unlimited loot. I totally liked the idea of unique witcher swords. They were geralt's most important possesion, much like Jedi's lightsaber.
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January 2nd, 2008, 13:29
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Yes, Ultima 4!! There could be others, but none comes to mind.
Roma Victor, though an MMORPG, looks like one of the most interesting and ambitious attempts at creating a realistic RPG world that I've ever seen - it claims to do away with the leveling treadmill, forcing players to cooperate and form communities with functioning economies in order to survive. I haven't played it, so I'm not sure how well their ideas work in practice, but reading through their feature list almost had me drooling Pavlonian spittle all over my keyboard.
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January 2nd, 2008, 18:09
Originally Posted by abbaon View Post

I HAVE ANOTHER. Imagine an RPG with no power progression. You build and equip your characters, and that's it. Without loot and levels, the remaining elements have to carry the game. Tough encounters are tough because they demand more of your skills. You'll only seek out combat if it's entertaining in its own right, or you genuinely agree with the reasons for fighting which the game gives you.

Does anyone know of an RPG which attempts either of those?
@Corwin Ultima 4 still had fighting tons of random monsters for no other reason than you were in the way, which I think she said she didn't like about Baldur's gate or any Diablo like game.

If you have the same skills all throughout the game then your talking adventure games or consoles. Example: Your avatar is from Mario. Mario has the same skills throughout the whole game. While I find that fun, it's not an RPG imo. You could argue that you are playing the role of Mario and that makes it an RPG, but it still is action.

Now that I understand you a little better I do agree with you that adding more depth and different options is a definite worthwhile thing to add into a game. Like why do I have to invade the kobolds lair other than to get loot. Maybe they have been killing cows or some such thing. Then you can talk to them or if that doesn't work, just whack his head off. I totally agree with you on that. In your first post it sounded like you wanted to do away with all combat. But you want better reasons and better ways of handling those reasons. If this is what you mean, then yes your totally right.
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January 2nd, 2008, 18:47
Originally Posted by vanedor View Post
That's one of the things I highly disliked about NWN2. First time you get to an inn…. the inn owner was better equipped in weapons than any weaponsmith has ever been in the real world. A mundame and magical version of about every weapons found in the DnD universe. It was done this way so that every possible builds could find whatever they needed… but imo, it was just plain ridiculous.
If you don't do this you can screw over the player in some games. A good example is ToEE (which I liked overall BTW, except the lame "story"). When I first got it I created a dwarven fighter and had him specialize in the dwarven warhammer. As I played I spent 3 or 4 feats taking the various weapon feats with this weapon. No masterwork or magical versions appear in the game either as loot or for sale! WTF? If you are going to let me specialize in a weapon you SURE AS HELL better have it appear!

There is a similar problem in games like BG1 and BG2. If you have never played before you may choose to specialize in the "wrong" weapons. There are certain "super weapons" in the game which if you know about before you start you can design a character around. By the time you find/make them late in the game if you choose the wrong path it is too late to adjust.

NWN2(and dnd 3rd edition) got up to a point where it's in my opinion not a good ruleset for a crpg anymore. And I understand Bioware perfectly for not using it in their upcoming rpg, Dragon Age. Now, if you make a DnD rpg, you have to include basically every races/classes/prestige classes/sub-races else the DnD fans get disapointed. That make a poor rpg. No wonder all the best mods for NWN are much more focused.
No, that's just a poor design choice on the part of the scenario designers and not a fault of the game system. Without a Real Live GM (tm) no CRPG (D&D or otherwise) is going to be flexible enough to handle an arbitrary set of character choices (whether classesm skills, or whatever) well.

A good role-playing game(and I'm not talking about the action diablo-ish ones, here) got an economy you can at least more or less believe.
A realistic economy is not a prerequisite of a good role playing game. In fact, you could do (and I'm sure it has been done) an RPG with no economy whatsoever.
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January 2nd, 2008, 18:51
Originally Posted by abbaon View Post
I HAVE ANOTHER. Imagine an RPG with no power progression. You build and equip your characters, and that's it. Without loot and levels, the remaining elements have to carry the game. Tough encounters are tough because they demand more of your skills. You'll only seek out combat if it's entertaining in its own right, or you genuinely agree with the reasons for fighting which the game gives you.

Does anyone know of an RPG which attempts either of those?
There are games like that (GREAT ones) but they are generally not considered "true" RPGs. Thief comes to mind though you don't really create your character.
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January 2nd, 2008, 19:16
Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
My logic is always hard to follow

Anyways I brought it up because taking away combat from an RPG would like be taking away combat in Chess. What you have isn't Chess and isn't a RPG. Now that I've thought about it I guess there are noncombat RPGs out there like The Sims *shudder*, but to me that just is horrible and not the kind of RPG I want to play.
You think? Some friends of mine are into live role-playing; from what I understand, combat is usually not on the menu in them. IOW, I think they would beg to differ about your definition of RPG.
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January 2nd, 2008, 21:30
I disagree with you, Bill.

Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
If you don't do this you can screw over the player in some games. A good example is ToEE (which I liked overall BTW, except the lame "story"). When I first got it I created a dwarven fighter and had him specialize in the dwarven warhammer. As I played I spent 3 or 4 feats taking the various weapon feats with this weapon. No masterwork or magical versions appear in the game either as loot or for sale! WTF? If you are going to let me specialize in a weapon you SURE AS HELL better have it appear!
Yes, I know why they do this. And this proves my other point. Dnd got to a point where it's not good for crpg anymore. So much of everything that it would require a gm to make a believable world. The Witcher proves that you don't need all of these «features» to make a great rpg.

Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
There is a similar problem in games like BG1 and BG2. If you have never played before you may choose to specialize in the "wrong" weapons. There are certain "super weapons" in the game which if you know about before you start you can design a character around. By the time you find/make them late in the game if you choose the wrong path it is too late to adjust.
BG is pretty well supplied in weapons of all type and it has no «wrong» path. In great part it's thanks to the fewer weapons supported. Sure, some weapon types offered more choices than others… but it makes sense. I don't want my rpg world to feel like an euthopian communist paradise, afterall!



Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
No, that's just a poor design choice on the part of the scenario designers and not a fault of the game system. Without a Real Live GM (tm) no CRPG (D&D or otherwise) is going to be flexible enough to handle an arbitrary set of character choices (whether classesm skills, or whatever) well.
Uhm, no. Some ruleset are better suited for crpg than others. The wider the options, the more difficult its gets for a game to deal with all of them and eventually, you have to take decisions that impact negatively on the game. Even if it's just by investing a lot of man-hours to support them. Man-hours that could have been spent on more dungeons, more dialogues, encounters etc.

Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
A realistic economy is not a prerequisite of a good role playing game. In fact, you could do (and I'm sure it has been done) an RPG with no economy whatsoever.
Seems here you are arguing for the sake of arguing. Anyways, as soon as there is loot in a game, then you got an economy. Now if you can find me an obscure rpg where no such thing exist… I would be glad to hear about it.
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January 3rd, 2008, 01:27
It's been a while and I don't remember but were there merchants in Ultima Underworld? Eye of the Beholder? Or going waaaayyyy back, Wizardry (the first one)? Yeah, there was a lot of stuff to go through but stuff != economy.
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January 3rd, 2008, 01:40
There were in UU people you could trade with. I can't remember for the others; dead brain cells!!
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January 3rd, 2008, 01:59
Actually, Ultima Underworld had even better than merchants - all the non-hostile intelligent NPCs would be willing to barter with you (a la Fallout, also). In fact, there was at least one economy-based quest in Ultima Underworld 1 - you met an NPC who was afraid of the dark. He had something you needed. I can't remember if you could kill him for it, but he was also willing to offer very generous exchanges in return for light sources. In a nutshell - he overvalued light sources, thus allowing you to do some (very low key) wheeling and dealing.

And I always thought that was fun. But I am the kind of guy who loved doing trading in the Elite-style games, too.

A realistic economy is definitely NOT the goal. Realistic often equals boring, unfun, and un-dramatic. But a good game should at least make sure what economy you do have doesn't detract from the story and reward system at the very least, and ideally should enhance both. As in the Ultima Underworld example.
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January 3rd, 2008, 02:45
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Yes, Ultima 4!! There could be others, but none comes to mind.
Yes, as you wandered the lands attacked by orcs, giants and tackled by Xorns in Dungeon Despise for the daring to get the mark of fire.

---

Regardless, I think its far easier to create an economy for a SP RPG than a MP. I do agree with PJ up to a point about a shady mercahnt selling million gp equipment (IWD: HoW gave out tons of XP just for saving a little girl in a well) but that begs the question of how do you make proper balance. In HoW's case it was a matter of marketing: players would demand to play with their already existing characters.

In NWN if you ran a MMOG you had the nice option of Item Level Restrictions. It was pretty useless after level 10 but at least it was something.

We made the mistake of keeping it off because we felt it interferred with faction gear, but after attempting to script my own I realized that players would or should likely be at the right level for their rank in the faction in the first place.

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In game design if you did not drop loot or give out experience you quickly devolve into a "pure" role playing server and quite frankly they are no fun at all. They get old quick.

You have to give players something to do and a motivation to do it. You need to give something to motivate a player in order to have fun.

That 235kgp belt of death immunity is a pretty loft goal to shoot for but if you set your eyes on it and get enough coin to get it (without cheating) it feels like a real accomplishment if it takes a few days or weeks.
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January 3rd, 2008, 03:34
D&D is simply building on the impatience and greed of the new generation of players.
A lesson well-learned by the players of action C-RPGs, imho, fuelled by the developers of these games.

Blizzard made them learn "we can have *everything* and even the coolest stuff !" in a relatively short time.

Now, the P&P RPG sector gets what Blizzard (on the C-RPG sector) etc. grew up.

If that's true, then it is a clear sign of how C-RPG can influence P&P RPG - and therefore puts much more emphasis on the need of "C-RPG marketing" to support a P&P RPG system.
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January 3rd, 2008, 06:47
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
You think? Some friends of mine are into live role-playing; from what I understand, combat is usually not on the menu in them. IOW, I think they would beg to differ about your definition of RPG.
They have the right to their opinion and so do I. Any CRPG without combat is just not a CRPG to me. I would call that an adventure or action game, but this is just splitting hairs.

P&P RPG or CRPG would be quite boring without having the added danger of battles. However, I don't go for the live role-playing (I'm guessing the game they play is Vampire) but if they enjoy it, then they truly are "role-playing".

If anyone still doesn't understand my logic or opinion just take a look at my name. I have a preference for battles. When you have to figure out a way to win the battle or figure out a way to conquer the quest. Either one is fun to me. So to each is own, as they say
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January 3rd, 2008, 18:39
Skav: To purists about Role Playing in video games I've pointed out that's exactly what Adventure games are but I tend to get kickback that they are not RPG's because there is no levelling/skill incerase. I would also mention they lack mutliple character parties which some purists also dislike in their cRPGs.

There are, of course, some games which have no combat or character sheets at all. The girls in the drama class in my High School came up with their own thing called Emming which did this. Actors workshop and improv troops do this all the time and this was the general idea in Arneson's lawsuit against TSR where he claims to have invented Role Playing as a gaming style back in his own high school days. He claimed to have done it in his history class.

I also like to point out that Colossal Caverns Adventure was developed in 1972, two years before Dungeons and Dragons was ever published (but Gygax, Arneson, Kuntz, and Co. had been playing their's for two years). However, the Tolkienesque stuff was added to Adventure later.

however, this is all off topic…
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January 3rd, 2008, 19:02
Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
P&P RPG or CRPG would be quite boring without having the added danger of battles. However, I don't go for the live role-playing (I'm guessing the game they play is Vampire) but if they enjoy it, then they truly are "role-playing".
AFAIK they haven't played Vampire; they're more into semi-historical/folkoristic stuff. I seem to remember something about a kind of murder mystery that was set on the Titanic, and something else in ancient Tyre.

If anyone still doesn't understand my logic or opinion just take a look at my name. I have a preference for battles. When you have to figure out a way to win the battle or figure out a way to conquer the quest. Either one is fun to me. So to each is own, as they say
I dunno about anyone else, but I was slightly ticked by the way you phrased your opinion: "if it doesn't have combat, it's not a RPG." Had you said "if it doesn't have combat, I'm not interested," that would not have happened.

(There's a name for that particular thought structure, btw -- it's called the No True Scotsman fallacy. The classic example is this:

"No true Scotsman puts salt on his porridge."
"But Angus puts salt on his porridge!"
"Then Angus isn't a true Scotsman.")
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