On RPG Elements

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I'm all in favor of keeping RPG out of my action beat-em-up, especially since most of the time you're not gonna get Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, but it can be well implemented. But then again, if you're gonna make an action game with RPG elements, why not just make an action-RPG?

RPG elements nominally give developers an easy way to reward players for playing, to improve the character over time so that the game feels different, to reduce frustration by letting players improve not directly through storyline progression to get past difficult parts (and enabling grinding sometimes), and to diversify characters by making them play differently based on the development choices made.

If you notice the majority of games today with RPG elements, they don't. Rather than giving a choice between rock, paper and scissors (and letting you choose only one to keep upgraded throughout the game) they give you a choice between rock, pointy rock and big rock. Either way's a trap and it shows that they've missed the point.

Normally they let you upgrade skill with weapons; frequently this is done in a way that makes the game worse because it discourages you from trying the other weapons. To legitimately improve character diversity, any choices should be a viable tool in accomplishing mission objectives - to do that well, the game needs to be deep enough to let you try multiple approaches. Most games aren't.

Another use for RPG elements is in having a large vague experience/money bar that you can expect to fill through a common set of activities like combat. When they want (or get enough exp to level up) they can spend this on abilities to improve their character, so they're always working towards a goal regardless of whether they're going forward in the storyline. This way, a developer has an easy method to reward any number of activities (like disarming mines or picking locks in Knights of the Old Republic.) Prototype did this well, giving clear and obvious new abilities to people who saved up for them. Other games castrate the point by automatically leveling up enemies to your level so you're actually punished for playing the game, but that's another rant.

Other than that, RPG elements are a fad like regenerating health or spiffy physics engines or lives in platformers or game over screens. Most developers include them because they expect them to be in a good game, not because they've deeply thought about their merits and drawbacks.

RPG elements in FPS games are pointless and retarded. Strait up do not add anything at all to a shooter. This has been demonstrated by the vast number of Quake, Team Fortress, Counter-Strike, and many of the various shooters that still gather players, if only in small crowds.

And yet, people seem to love, no they seem to NEED them. I often wonder if our Ritalin filled society has somehow gone off the deep end with our OCD tendencies that tedium and grinding have replaced fun and teamwork (skill) in order for many to enjoy a game.

When did the carrot of simple enjoyment of the game get replaced with a veritable cornucopia of cookies and reach-arounds that many gamers now feel they need just to call a game decent?

If you're going to make some kind of FPS/RPG hybrid that will take the gaming world by storm, cure cancer and reverse global warming, you've got to build your FPS around your RPG. The RPG has to be intertwined with the story, otherwise it is going to feel tacked on and useless. Put some reason for Joe Silent to be wandering around, slowly getting better at shooting whatever is trying to punch him in the cock today. Being dropped into a game as an ex-marine badass, who already has several diplomas and doctorates in destroying the shit out of things, then finding out that since your last adventure, you forgot how to hit the broadside of a barn from within the barn annoys the shit out of me.

I'm all for the Government's proposed internet legislation. As long as they use it to protect me from Bears. Bears are godless killing machines that are out to destroy Christmas.

Works better in some genres than others. I do agree on RE5 spending all that money to upgrade something, then getting a new version that starts off worse, but upgrading it to be better was rarely a fun choice to make.

Horrible weapons becoming more effective over time is kind of the exact reverse of a difficulty curve.

Nope, it's just a poorly designed learning cure that assumes all players suck.

RPG games in general have been struggling with this for ages. How hard do you make the game? Considering that players can range from power-gaming exploiters through people who press "Autolevel" all the time to those who manage to put the points in all the wrong places, how do you tune your game so you don't put players up against an insurmoutable barrier?

Usually devs assume players will not make brilliant choices, make some mistakes and not go out of their way to hunt down every last sidequest or collectable. So when someone actually goes the extra mile, he usually outlevels the game. On the other hand, if you tune the game to demand a certain degree of competence from the player, you threaten to alienate the less hardcore players. And then the terribly designed enemy leveling systems come in and make an even bigger mess by making all your progress meaningless (Oblivion, I'm looking at you).

Which is the correct choice, I do not know. But the fact that Yahtzee is discovering it only now makes me wonder what the hell he's been playing all these years. My Little Pony games?

AmrasCalmacil:
I agree, it seems ever since Deus Ex all shooters need to have a super soldier who can't hold a pistol straight without someone to pat them on the back for their creative knifing skills. I like how they did it in Arkham Asylum, reminded me of Spiderman 2 without the need to run around for ages going 'whurr spider store?'.

Good times.

Exactly. Because the skill increases where applied to a group of weapons as a whole, then it meant that you could get a new gun and still be able to use it at the same efficiency of the others. It also gives you more room for other solutions to a puzzle. You either open a door with a lockpick, blow it up with explosives, or search for a way around or the key. In many cases, finding other solutions that may be harder or require more resources to get past offer extra skill points, which in turn can be used to help you get skill points.

Unfortunately, the problem with this method is balancing out the difficulty curve. In Deus Ex towards the end you got tougher enemies that weren't supersoldiers, in Batman you got some of your previous options stripped away from you in the environment design (the explosive charges on the statues). Plus supersoldiers, that you had to develop new tactics for to defeat without dying a lot.

Uncompetative:
One of the best things about Oblivion was the character creator, I don't understand why the FPS genre doesn't support this.

Because its too hard to balance out the difficulty curve without offering a rational reason. For example, in Deus Ex, part of a mission that you have to do sees you trying to free the prisoner without alerting the guards. Now this wasn't one of the usual "they hear you, game over" stealth action. You either took them out silently, one by one, so you could get into the room, or you sneak into the room via a ventilation shaft, and you kill the guards in the prisoner's room before they exactue the prisoner. The reward being that you get a nice skill point bonus and a code to a sub you would otherwise need to search everywhere for.

But although using supersoldiers to ramp up the difficulty curve all the time is bad, placing them around the base with a larger amount of regular guards makes the game more interesting. Add in that if a guard raises the alarm the other soldiers are more perceptive, turrets become active (unless you find the panel and de-activate them) and nearby guards will rush in, guns blazing. The fact that sometimes enemies will run from fights, so other guards will join in, and they may try and attack you later, if they did not drop their weapon.

Captain Pancake:
Now I'm afraid that australia may do something stupid. Like, say, kill an archduke.

And liberate Serbians from supposed Austro-Hungarian oppression????? Actually First you ve gotta find a Monarchy there aren't that many these days....

Well Deus Ex 3 sounds great, I'm really looking forward to it.

see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deus_Ex_3

(I don't understand how your character looks in the game makes all that much difference... I suppose a Team Fortress 'Heavy' would be too clumsy and lumbering for stealth even without the minigun, but on the other hand this never stopped Riddick icing mercs.)

Aardvark:

I'm all for the Government's proposed internet legislation. As long as they use it to protect me from Bears. Bears are godless killing machines that are out to destroy Christmas.

Im sorry but.. I think i missed the episode where Paddington goes on a "marmalade" infused bloodthirsty rampage

ThePeiceOfEden:
Some RPG elements in shooters fit. Like in Ratchet and Clank

I really have to agree with you here. However Ratchet isn't your typical shooter.

Also if Yahtzee hates Australia so much why not go elsewhere...

There is always room in my house/(Nazi Free)Country for a "British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder."

Actually wait we have got the BNP ...but your still coming right??

cough* http://bnp.org.uk/ cough*

RPG elements= depth, how much depth will very on the attention span of the devs....or player....

high_castle:
It just didn't feel like it belonged in that game. And it's not like you could customize the character in other ways. Alex Mercer was Alex Mercer, whatever moves you happened to take.

That bugged me as well.

You have get plenty of points.
I rarely do events, and I've bought every skill there is.

Why not just give them to me instead?

And al--

This user has been eaten by a bear.(Permanent.)

What about an RPG with Shooter Elements?
The only one I can think of is Valkyria Chronicles but I think that's got too much J in it for you.

Who in the Australian government takes this talk of bans seriously? It's discussed in America as well but mostly by religious nuts who forget that there's plenty of offensive material in the Bible.

Fallout 3 did the RPG elements pretty well but I hated how many shots it took to kill certain enemies even towrds the end of the game. Bioshock screwed up it's RPG elements by allowing the player to have about eighty tonics/plasmids at one time, but I still love that damn game.

xXGINGERGNOMEXx:
[quote="Captain Pancake" post="6.147604.3411719"]Now I'm afraid that australia may do something stupid. Like, say, kill an archduke.

And liberate Serbians from supposed Austro-Hungarian oppression????? [quote]

Effectively lighting a powderkeg of distrust and national prejudice, starting an epic game of dominoes with the european nations?

note: "Dominoes" is purely metaphorical, britain and france weren't really toppling each other over.

"Under half of the sites on the given blacklist were related to child porn. Most of the rest were perfectly legal, normal, wholesome grown-up porn."

Not really legal. Porn is a restricted category of film in most parts of the world, and I presume that goes for Australia too. There are licenses to produce and distribute, with restrictions on the how and where. Then the internet came along and blew all that out of the water, making it impossible to enforce any of those restrictions on the local stuff, not to mention anything from abroad.

I imagine the authorities are keen to make up for their impotence hitherto.

Hmm, so I'm guessing you didn't play CoD 4's online then, huh Yahtzee?

As you play the game you get points and level up. By leveling up, you unlock better guns and even "perks", such as extra ammo or extra health. So, a person that just started would only get a pistol one grenade and a weak SMG, and a person that has been playing for longer will have a magnum, three grenades, a powerful assault rifle, double ammo, and extra health. Of course, these are only some of the perks. Some perks drop a grenade when you die, give you two rocket launchers on top of your other weapons, etc. etc.

wouldyoukindly99:
Fallout 3 did the RPG elements pretty well but I hated how many shots it took to kill certain enemies even towrds the end of the game. Bioshock screwed up it's RPG elements by allowing the player to have about eighty tonics/plasmids at one time, but I still love that damn game.

Huh? You were only allowed to equip 6 plasmids, and 6 tonics per slot. And, each tonic slot was pretty isolated; one for the regaining of health/eve, one for hacking and alarms, and one for combat. Three separate areas.

Marq:

Kenjitsuka:
I understand why the Communist government in China wants to maintain a deathgrip on their section of the Internet, but Australia? Which bandwagon are they jogging 50 feet behind this time? Maybe they want to be ahead of the curve this time and a medium told them China will dictate most issues in 2109...

Our Prime Minister speaks Chinese too. And now he's trying to do this, after promising the opposite in his election campaign. This piece of shit country voted in a goddamn communist.

Oh wow... I didn't know that! I wonder how many foreingers like myself do!

high_castle:

Atheist.:
Considering a roleplaying game consists of taking on the role of another character, I'd have to say JRPGS are no less of an RPG than the next.

I hope I don't double-post. I got Ninja'd, and I just want to respond to this.

In every game you play a role. But Western RPGs--the kind many of us gained familiarity with first--are touted on playing any role you want. You know that whole freedom of choice thing that most games tout now? That's been a hallmark of the Western RPG genre for a lot longer. But in JRPGs (at least the handful I'm familiar with, such as the FF series) provide you with a character and backstory already. You play the role they've created for you, instead of inventing your own character. And that's what bugs me about them. If I want to play an RPG, then I want to have a say in my character. I want to pick his origin, his class, and I want to create my own back story. You can't do that in a lot of JRPGs, which I think is the point Yahtzee is trying to make.

The problem with the WRPG method of character creation is that you either end up not caring about the main character because he/she has no inherent personality (and even if you pay great attention to make his/her choices in the game reflect the personality you want him/het to have, the game fails to note the details finer that saint/evil bastard, making the whole effort seem really pointless) or then the experience becomes completely based on Mary Sueism.
Granted, it's more your Sue that the author's, and when done right it can be extremely entertaining to have your avatar be the centre of the game's world, but it still is a Mary Sue story.

Uncompetative:
Well Deus Ex 3 sounds great, I'm really looking forward to it.

The lead designer on the project announced that Deus Ex 3 will focus more heavily on shooting than on the other aspects that made the original game great.

The Deus Ex sequels don't exist, because I don't want them to.

Well written, Yahtzee.

A question for you to clarify your stance on this. Would weapon customization via parts collected in the game (I.E. a grenade launcher for an M16 in a typical shooter) be a more effective way to handle this in the game?

These situation with Australian government depresses me. I hope some day those old coots will pass their seats to some more intelligent people.
P.S. I've checked the bear behind me - we get on pretty well.

Australia is trying to 'sanitize' the Internet? Ha! I find it hilarious that the both of the former British colonies that I call home either turn a blind eye to the Net (except for the more puritanical lot and their power diminishes by the day) or allows one to pay a 'fee' (bribe) in advance to get away with offending the public at large. Ah, but the sons shouldn't have to pay for the sins of the father, as it were. That isn't right at all.
Now, if they gave the filters only to those concerned parents who want to hide their kiddies from the big bad world yet don't care enough to simply remove the internet connection, that would be just lovely.
As for the topic of the main article, responsible use of 'skill leveling' such as going from Expert to Godly (in other words, where Bat-Man is normally situated in his movies and not-so-funny books)is welcome by me but if the karate master can't even pull off green belt level moves without massive grinding or a robot (for whom skills literally are programs) has to learn how to shoot it's bazooka arm harder somehow, it ruins the whole atmosphere.

Maybe if Fable had handled the aging right, this would be a perfect excuse to start game heroes off as kids who will be at least 30-something before maxing out their skills.
I agree that it would have no place in a shooter or fighting game or what have you.

Before going off to war or entering a tourney to show off one's skills, one would expect that one is either already (one of)the best there is at what one does or get eliminated in the preliminaries.

Axeli:
Mary Sue

You keep using this word and I don't think it means what you think it means.

And I've been saying this for years now - jRPGs are NOT RPGs. They are too complex adventure games. That's IT. And ya know what? That's not bad! Hell one of my favorite western RPGs - Planescape: Torment is really just a complicated adventure game and not an RPG either. Ironic how that works, huh?

Other sites added to the proposed blacklist included ones related to suicide methods, pro-anorexia, voluntary euthanasia and anti-abortion, and whether or not you agree with anything these sites promote, they all represent individual choice. They also propose to block websites that sell banned material. This would include sites like PlayAsia.com, which I frequently use to import US-released games that have been refused classification here. Attempts have even been made to ban or restrict scrutiny of the filtering proposal itself.

I didn't know Yahtzee lived in a Metal Gear Solid 2-reality.

I need scissors! 61!

xXGINGERGNOMEXx:
Im sorry but.. I think i missed the episode where Paddington goes on a "marmalade" infused bloodthirsty rampage

Suppressed by lobbyists for Harrods. Along with the resulting Paddington Action Playset, complete with the Anti-Bear Ninja Nazi Squads who were deployed to stop Ursageddon, but ultimately failed, resulting in the Bearpocalypse.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Other sites added to the proposed blacklist included ones related to suicide methods, pro-anorexia... they all represent individual choice.

To far dude. I don't agree with blocking any sites, but that doesn't mean that you can equate mental illnesses to individual choice. I mean, suicide... maybe.(chronically ill patients may wish to end their own suffering) But anorexia is a disease. I have seen first hand the destruction it can wreak.

TheDoctor455:
I can see one way that RPG elements could work in a shooter. Instead of starting off with shitty weapons, you start off with pretty good weapons. And all of the upgrades you add to it do a variety of different things at the detriment of other things. For instance, you put a silencer on your pistol. This reduces the sound and flashbang of the pistol, but it also reduces the damage and stopping-power that your pistol has. Alternatively, let's say you start putting incendiary rounds in your ak-47. Does more damage and sets your enemies on fire, but the weapon is less accurate. That sort of thing.

As for the internet ban... Actually, I think the US is already trying something similar.

Sort of like what Farcry 2 was trying to do, only instead of buying different weapons, just upgrading the ones you have?

I turned around and there was a guy dressed in a bear costume.

Back on Topic:
I got a good laugh out of this.

Half life did it best, you find weapons as you go along effectively making you mare bad ass as you go. not really an RPG element but hey it worked. (except for half-life 2 where you're expected to play the whole middle act with the gravity gun)

Kilo24:

Other than that, RPG elements are a fad like regenerating health or spiffy physics engines or lives in platformers or game over screens. Most developers include them because they expect them to be in a good game, not because they've deeply thought about their merits and drawbacks.

This. Fun fact: Activision Guitar Hero games use the Havok physics engine. WHY DOES GUITAR HERO NEED A PHYSICS ENGINE?

Back on point, I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Done well, RPG-elements add wonders to the replayability and customization of the game. Done poorly (which is sadly, more often than not), it's just another bullet point on the back of the box that does nothing useful.

I just looked up that blacklist. It's ridiculous. They want to ban Abby Winters. Abby f-ing Winters! The finest legal softcore pornography Australia has given the world. Granted, while I have only viewed their material without paying, I think it is an absolute travesty that a government would try to eliminate this wonderful business just because they don't like it. What, does one of the legislators have a rebellious lesbian daughter? There's also a bunch of individual rapidshare files listed, which have probably already been deleted. This means that someone in the Australia government is paid money to surf the web for child porn. Sickening. The Australian people would be better off overthrowing the the government and taking a crack at survival Mad Max style.

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