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RPG gameplay elements/habits you don't understand

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by JarlFrank, Apr 17, 2020.

  1. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    DraQ
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    Why, it's because respawning can be used to simulate or at least patch holes in simulation:
    • It can be used to simulate gameworld that is much bigger (a prominent use case with any sort of downscaling or partial representation), more open or more complex than actually implemented.
      It can then be used to simulate there being more (NPCS, resources, etc.) in the world, moving in or being recreated/procreating.
    • It can be used to ensure conservation of status quo and usually game's premise if the mechanics itself cannot do that (due to downscaling or abuse) - in a scaled down world player's actions will have more impact than they should, in a game like, say, System Shock it is part of the premise that just clearing Von Braun or Citadel of mutant space zombies one at a time and calling it a day is not a viable solution, even though it's hard to ensure sufficiently competent player's inability to do just that other than by making it futile via respawns.
    Simulation is tricky business. Even for relatively simple iterative application of well known physical rules you might discover that your simulation flies completely out of whack if you do it in naiive manner, and when you fix it you end up with some minor eldritch monstrosity like Runge-Kutta integrator.
    Sometimes you have to accept that your simulation is never exactly going to be the thing you simulate even if you get the rules right and concentrate on having both meet in the right places rather than blindly trusting rules that work in physical world because your computer is not exactly the physical world and rules must be altered to fit if they are to give the same result, even before delving into incompleteness of your simulation for practical reasons.
    :obviously:
    Dialogue trees are usually misused and abused.

    Dialogue trees are tools for handling specific flow of dialogue in specific situations. This isn't how most of player's interactions with non-hostile NPCs go - most often player approaches NPCs in highly random circumstances desiring specific information or service.
    This is much better handled by a topic system, dialogue trees only make it more cumbersome, prone to option lock-out and ultimately repetitive (since chances are you will navigate the same tree with local merchant, barkeep or some other know-it-all over and over during the course of the game).

    Ultimately the best system for a cRPG is a lawn of topics with some trees planted where appropriate. Amusingly, Morrowind had this kind of system, although trees were very sparsely used and topics often resembled a wiki.

    Some good use cases for trees include highly scripted games where there are few character interactions and they occur under predictable circumstances, allowing for meaningful and interesting dialogue. This usually implies the game in question not being an RPG.
    One of the interesting few cases of a good use of dialogue trees in a game where you mostly want information would be Azrael's Tear, where it's easy to alienate an NPC if asking or babbling about things NPC had no awareness of or considered nonsense (or worse).
    At best it would lead NPC to tire of conversation and disengage, refusing to answer further questions, at worst you might even get attacked. In AzT navigating a dialogue tree required actual navigation and sometimes resembled navigating a minefield. A fun game, if very obscure.
     
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  2. Quillon Magister

    Quillon
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    Yet in practice there usually are no explanation, explicit or implicit so "respawning is shit" is true most of the time.

    You can't really complain about overworld respawns, that's not the issue. You kill a group of enemies in a certain persistent location and they come back after certain amount of time, is the issue.

    This is especially bad in TOW that I can't even detect a pattern for how are they handling it/how the nods are structured, options randomly disappearing/appearing/leading to ending the convo. There is a structure to it in PoEs f.i., yet in TOW you have to initiate convos way too many times to be able exhaust the dialogue.
     
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  3. Darth Canoli Magister

    Darth Canoli
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    I don't think cRPG and simulations mix well together, it's like oil and water.
    Realism is only good to and extend as long as it serves a purpose and adds to the gameplay.

    That said, i'd like to see some smart "respawn" in cRPG.
    • When an area is empty, it takes time but some wildlife and monsters/bandits take over.
    • It's just natural, that's what happens in reality, young wolves, for example, can travel very far to find a new territory, men's tribes did the same and also moved seasonally, following their food.
    • It can also add some gameplay value bringing in new monsters, highwaymen when you come back an area you visited early game.
    • Add to that new quests related to the changes and it can revitalize already visited/cleared areas.
     
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  4. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
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    Sure, sometimes re-populating areas makes sense, but when you go simulationist, you should go full simulationist and put mechanics behind the respawns that go beyond "if player clears out cave of enemies, other enemies will spawn in X days". The player has to be able to completely genocide a goblin tribe, for example, because if you clean out the same cave of 50 goblins over and over again, at some point you will have cleared out more goblins than there are humans populating the kingdom, which raises several questions. Where do these goblins keep coming from?

    You have to prevent enemies respawning out of thin air. They must come from somewhere.

    Ways to do that:
    - wandering groups of hostiles can chance upon an empty dungeon and decide to settle there; wandering groups of enemy hostiles spawn from hostile settlements such as orc camps; once those camps are destroyed, wandering groups stop spawning. That way, once you genocided all the orcs in the vicinity, no more will spawn because there is no place where they could come from
    - a population counter that determines how many generic NPCs of a certain type are left in the game; you can't reasonably expect to simulate a population of 1000 bandits simultaneously moving across the map at the same time, but you can have a hidden counter that depletes whenever you kill bandits in a world map encounter; let's say there's 1000 bandits in the realm, you are ambushed by a group of 15 and kill them all, now there's only 985 bandits left in the kingdom. Once you killed all 1000, they stop spawning and you solved the kingdom's banditry problem. Now, that number can also increase based on world events or your actions: if your actions lead to a poisoning of the wheat fields or something, a lot of farmers will be out of a job and turn to banditry instead; the counter for generic farmers in the world decreases by X while the counter for bandits increases by X
    - pre-scriped quest-based respawns: you cleared out the spider cave, now a nearby bandit gang decided to take it over; happens exactly once and is connected to a quest; not as dynamic as the previous examples since it's a scripted scene, but still better than generic respawns that have no explanation

    Moreover, respawns just aren't that fun from a gameplay perspective most of the time. Cleared out a dungeon 5 hours ago but now you learned that there's a McGuffin in there that you forgot to pick up? Due to respawns you need to slay your way through the same or similar enemy groups once again just to get to that item you missed the last time! Repetitive content like that doesn't add anything to the game. Also, especially in seamless worlds with backtracking, respawns can be terrible. A great example is the first Witcher where in one chapter I had to constantly backtrack through a swamp, and each time I did the same fucking drowner would respawn and make me stop and fight it when all I wanted to do was go from A to B.

    Not having respawns is better than having pointless respawns. Ideally, you'd either have
    A) systems that simulate populations in a logical way
    B) scripted re-population of some areas that happens once or twice and offers different enemies than the first time around (Gothic 2 kinda does this with its spawning of additional wildlife after the start of a new chapter)
     
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  5. V_K Arcane

    V_K
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    I'm gonna quote myself from another thread on another subject I feel strongly about: platforming.
     
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  6. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

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  7. V_K Arcane

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    1. I'm writing that I'm fine with rooftop-hopping in the very sentence preceding the one you quoted.
    2. Emphasis on "in their right mind".
     
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  8. fantadomat Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck Edgy

    fantadomat
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    Meh,respawns are the worst shit invented in gaming.
     
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  9. Black Angel Arcane

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    That's alright, we know you don't have friends irl to play multiplayer games where respawn is a core mechanic.
     
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  10. Gangrelrumbler Arcane Patron

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    Respawning enemies are cancer in most games out there, but Might and Magic actually did it well, by making enemies come back only after a lot of time passed in the game. It made you consider time when scheduling your travels, and it made sure that the world doesn't feel empty after clearing most areas. It also helped that plowing through tons of trash was what the game was all about.
    I have the same feeling about real time with pause. In most games I've played it just downgraded the entire experience and turned combat into a bit of a clusterfuck or into a complete clusterfuck. But Freedom Force utilized it so well I just can't declare the idea inherently flawed. It's a pity that most of the RTwP haters as well as most people making RTwP games never played it.
     
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  11. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
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    I never respawned in any of my AoE2 multiplayer matches :M
     
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  12. Black Angel Arcane

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    But you still respawned the Champions/Arbalests/Hussars/Paladins/Halberdiers/Monks etc etc.

    Don't deny it, they all look exactly the same.
     
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  13. *-*/\--/\~ Arbiter

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    One more, though more prevalent in XCOMs and Heroes rather than RPGs would be the ridiculous "action cam" or "cinematic cam" or whatever is this shit called. The one that grabs your view, taking control away from you, ruining your overview of the map to ram the camera up some units arse, highlighting how ugly the 3D models are up close and forcing some "akshun pew pew" in your face, usually with some stupid bullet time as a bonus, as if the default animations weren't sluggish enough. First thing I turn off in any game.
     
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  14. fantadomat Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck Edgy

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    Well actually,thanks to corona we do get to play a few hours of Half life every day or two :). I was talking about enemy respawns in rpgs.
     
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  15. Carrion Arcane Patron

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    I pretty much don't use fast travel anymore in (open-world) games, unless the game has things like public transportation or teleportation spells that are well explained within the game world. It was probably Oblivion that popularized that instant fast-travel-to-anywhere-from-anywhere shit, and I just can't stand it. It wrecks my immurshun, fucks up the pacing, destroys whatever atmosphere the game might otherwise have had, and makes the scale of the game world seem all wrong. It might've ruined some pretty decent fast travel systems for me too — for example, Kingdom Come: Deliverance had a nice system that featured random encounters and resource drain, but I still chose to ride my horse everywhere.

    AoD gets a pass, and obviously other games that don't feature a continuous world too.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2020
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  16. Crichton Prophet

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    I have mixed feelings about companions in action games. I agree that escort missions are awful because you can't control what some idiot NPC will decide to do but I don't think I've ever played Gothic II without Diego clearing the way to the Merc camp for me. I don't know that it's brilliant design, but it does reinforce how far your character has to go power-wise and as a player, I'd be a fool not to take advantage of an opportunity like that. But importantly, a large part of his appeal is that he is never a hindrance; he can't get lost, can't be killed, won't be stopped until he's killed every last wolf and oversized chicken you can lure his way. Similarly, the one immortal amazon Nord in Skyrim (MJoll or something like that?) is a handy distraction and you don't have to worry about her because the developers (accidentally?) gave her an essential tag. I would put the Mass Effect tag-alongs in a different category since you have much better control over them (n.b. I only played ME1 and ME2).

    Respawns are similarly complicated; a literal respawn where the exact enemy comes back after a while are usually bullshit (Witcher swamp lurkers, :shudder), but the TES system of populating dungeons with whatever random crap is essential for many of the quests. For there to be an RANDOM_ANIMAL in RANDOM_NPC's house in Daggerfall, you have to spawn the RANDOM_ANIMAL. Similarly if bandits have kidnapped RANDOM_NPC in Skyrim, you need to spawn some bandits. It helps if there's enough variation to keep things interesting; not knowing what exactly what you'll find in a dungeon/random encounter/whatever gives you a totally different feeling than having to kill that same lurker over and over in the Witcher, the same cliff racer in morrowind or the same two bandits with bows in Kingmaker (although that bandit ambush where the party is surrounded by a bunch of archers and wolves in BG1 was too frightening to be boring for a long time...)
     
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  17. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    DraQ
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    It's not like he has friends online either.
     
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  18. Semiurge Scholar

    Semiurge
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    I don't need that kind of flow breaking shit, it tends to inflame my already severe case of OCD :argh:
     
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  19. fantadomat Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck Edgy

    fantadomat
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    I see that you are still butthurt over D:OS 3. No need to take it out in every thread we share mate.
    :love:
     
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  20. HarveyBirdman Savant

    HarveyBirdman
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    Min maxing. I hate it.

    Show Spoiler
    I also inevitably end up doing it.
     
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  21. Metronome Educated

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    Speaking of respawns, I hate it when games let you casually (and canonically) revive dead characters. The only time I've seen this work is in Darksouls, where it's a major aspect of the game's lore. Amulets of life-saving or something else appropriately rare also works.

    But if it's just some service the church offers for 1000 golden pieces, the implications are too great. I don't understand how you can have a service like this exist and everyone still acts like death carries the same weight as does in real life.
     
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  22. laclongquan Arcane

    laclongquan
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    Yeah, who can resist getting the most out of a deal.

    I love point allocation system because I can minmax like hell after I get familiar to it. I also hate it after a while.

    I hate point buy system because they are restricted as all hell. Yet I love it after a long time minmaxing.
     
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  23. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    DraQ
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    What about PS:T?

    (I generally agree BTW)
    Point buy isn't the problem though some randomization may still make things more interesting.
    The problem is that there are stat that are clearly optimal to put points into and max out and ones that need to be avoided.
     
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  24. NJClaw Ontopolover by choice Patron

    NJClaw
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    I really hate when a game throws at me an obscene amount of consumables like scrolls, poisons and potions, because I don't like to rely on them and, to me, they usually serve the sole purpose of clogging up my inventory. I have no problem with smaller quantities of strong/very useful items, like resins/mosses in Dark Souls.

    I also despise mindless crafting where you have to gather X, Y and Z copies of the A, B and C components, because usually there is no "hunt" for those components and you just randomly find them during your adventure. It would be cool to get the information about which components you need and where you can find them in order to purposely go looking for them.

    Oh, another awful habit is the "this npc is clearly tricking you and will backstab you later in his quest, but you have no way of confronting him right away". Fuck, I hate that.
     
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  25. laclongquan Arcane

    laclongquan
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    You can speak the same about BG/IWD/PST games. it's more a matter of game content (more quest and content use this stat) than a matter of mechanism (minmax vs pointbuy).
     
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