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Rampant Games - Attrition and Resource Management

by Dhruin, 2011-05-13 01:12:11

The latest CRPG design piece by the Rampant Coyote discusses Attrition and Reource models. It isn't really an opinion piece but he finally concludes both high and low attrition models have a place. On traditional systems:

The traditional model is based on Dungeons & Dragons, which is in turn based on wargaming of the era. In these types of games, attrition is a significant factor, even though the actual loss of characters might be (relatively) uncommon. Health and special abilities (typically spells) don’t automatically regenerate between encounters. If you hit a trap which damages the party in room 1, then they will be wounded going into the battle against the guards in room 2, and they’ll carry the injuries and fatigue with them in the battle against the baron and his thugs in room 3. Expend your best spells sweeping room 2 clean means you won’t have them at your disposal in room 3. You are likely weaker when encountering the final encounter than you were when you started.

Technically unrelated but I thought Rock, Paper, Shotgun's article A Death Is For Life, Not Just For Quickload covered bordering territory:

People often discuss the importance of “immersion”. It’s a pretty silly word. But while we at RPS like to tease those who claim their game will have “more immersion” than others, the core concept makes sense. It’s wonderful to get lost in the moment, carried away by the fiction. To physically dodge as the fireball comes toward you. To groan in pain as you land on a spike. To care when an NPC friend is in danger. And it’s obviously a widespread frustration when that “immersion”, that suspended disbelief, that embracing of unreality – whatever you want to call it – is broken. So I have a question. Why are we so quick to accept death?


Of all the things you’d imagine would break our concentration the most quickly, it would be death and resurrection. We scream in horror when there’s a logical inconsistency, when an NPC walks through a crate, or when the physics AI bugs out and a chair wobbles insanely in the corner of a ceiling. But when we get shot in the face, see the screen go red, and collapse to the ground, dead – meh – hit quickload. I’m the last to campaign for bloody “realism” in games (I find going outside offers me quite astonishing levels of realism), but I do like a notion of congruence in my games, and I think dying might stand out as an unlikely thing to get better from.

But we’re a community of nonchalant Lazaruses, unsurprised at our returning mortality, happy to leap back in time to before our mistake and carry on, slightly the wiser. It strikes me as a tad silly. It has, of course, always been the case. In fact, if anything it was more starkly daft in the early days of gaming, where we had “lives”, a finite number of reincarnations before we’d finally snuff it for good. At least there was some degree of finality back then, I suppose. No more. At a certain point all of gaming entered a cosmic cheat code and added infinite lives to every game ever.

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