In response to "Method and Madness" from The Escapist Forum: Hey, guys. Did you read the same article as I did? Because I read an article about trying to place real experience into a game. You seem to have read some other article about realism in games.
It's interesting the two things would be confused. Many developers, I think, confuse them as well. Now, I think that the methodical, realistic game has its charm, but the gaming companies have come to rely on them too much. A Call of Duty style game will play on a completely different set of emotions than a Serious Sam game. And I agree with guy over there ^^ who says that sometimes being able to conquer the small bad things about an experience enriches that experience; for a dumb personal example, I always played racing games with automatic gear changing because I thought it was boring, but when I first tried playing it with manual gears being able to change that felt very satisfying.
And no matter how unrealistic a setting is, it will only be successful if it manages to evoke familiar emotions on players/watchers. A zombie apocalypse has never happened (yet!) but if the piece done in this setting is done well it will show feelings of dispair, isolation, constant danger, that are certain to resonate with people. If it's really well done, you're essentially stuck in a place, surrounded by things that look like people but care nothing about you, always surrounded yet always alone, clinging to the ones that aren't like the others with the fear they'll be taken away from you - it's everyone's life.
Unfortunately, I am not, and do not intend to be, a game designer, so this read was wasted on me. Good one, though. Cheerio!
In response to "Roleplaying: Evolved" from The Escapist Forum: I'll with others that the article was kind of a letdown... I expected 3 or 4 more pages considering its pacing.
But I think -- and it's hard to say without the article being "finished" -- that Jeff's suggestion was not the elimination of stats from the game's mechanics, but rather that the stats should not be at the surface as part of the player's experience.
I have to agree with that sentiment, in so far as I'd like to see more RPGs that can convey my character's "growth" and change through "softer" or "fuzzier" means. If I need to know that any specific stat is greater than an opponents stat in order to make a decision, I'm not really playing a role as much as I'm crunching numbers. In other words, I think stats are a *crutch* that we rely on to convey information we're not confident enough to express otherwise.
On the other hand, I agree with an earlier commenter's point about Type-A folks and numbers. So, I wouldn't argue that with or without numbers is a question of better or worse, just that it'd be interesting to see what game designers could do without having to show the numbers to the player.
After reading this article, my problem is that I don't see what the problem is. Three pages, and no clear definition of why stats and levels are such a bad thing. I may be a bit biased as an old time AD&D player (1979 until today), but I think that levels and stats work quite well. You have to define the character somehow. If it's not levels and stats, you have to use something else. For example, in the game Over The Edge, you defined your character by using descriptive traits rather than stats. No levels, and it worked, but you couldn't use a system like that for a CRPG. You need a guiding intelligence in the game master, and no computer can provide that yet.
Personally, I prefer systems that don't use levels as such, but I've never seem an RPG without stats of some kind that worked. Even most of the diceless RPG's (Amber, for example) have stats or traits of some kind. Your character has to be defined in relation to other characters and the world in some fashion or another. How are you going to do that without defining such basics as how strong or how fast he/she is? You have to have something to work with, or it's just narrating a story with friends. Not really an RPG then, that's becoming something else, in my opinion.