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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Modify existing systems vs. creating new ones : any ideas ?  (Read 3797 times)
TroyLovesRPG
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Posts: 150


« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2006, 07:47:06 PM »

This thread is making me think seriously about what it takes to actually role-play. I've always found it difficult to start with stats and numbers to create a character. Its very impersonal and forces the player to "max out" just for survival purposes. Looking at it from the perspective of the hero's struggle, gives a new meaning to character creation.

Maybe that's where many games fall flat. I see many players thumb through the resources looking for the right combination of stats and feats to create a killing machine. They don't want to read the background or the motivation of the class. So, hiding that may be a great solution, especially in a computer game. Just choose the life-path and the computer will do the rest, including throwing appropriate adventures and antagonists at you. This doesn't really keep the players in the dark, conversely it keeps the player in tune with the character.

If the player chooses a path that involves politics and intrigue, then the computer may generate encounters with government officials and spies. Choosing religious path may lead to knowledge of corruption within the church, etc. As a GM that's what I do with the players. I don't pick an adventure off the shelf and run the party through it. The players create their characters and must write a background involving their origin, motivations, possible relatives and important goals. I use that to create reference to their characters within the adventure. Also, knowledge of the player helps to generate interest. Some want heroics, others want treasures and a few just want their egos stroked. Everyone has a different reason to roleplay and that will ultimately determine what stereotypical character they choose.

Approach character creation from birth. Were you born on a farm, in a city, hatched from an egg, etc. Introduce astrological significance. Ask about parents, family, community. Let the player choose the broad environment and specific character traits. With the computer it is possible to crunch all that information quickly to form a very unique and attractive game just for that player. If you have a multiuser environment, then the world grows and players encounters very unique characters that come from no known mold. Now that's a CRPG I would play!

Brain cells are rubbing...
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David Artman
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« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2006, 07:43:04 AM »

Approach character creation from birth. Were you born on a farm, in a city, hatched from an egg, etc. Introduce astrological significance. Ask about parents, family, community. Let the player choose the broad environment and specific character traits. With the computer it is possible to crunch all that information quickly to form a very unique and attractive game just for that player.
Ultima VII, if I recall correctly, did something quite similar. Every character began the game in a gypsy's caravan, answering somewhat tricky moral questions. Based on the answers, the character was designated with three (?) out of seven Virtues that defined that character's general play goals. Then, each quest in the game had clear indicators as to which Virtue would be pinged by the quest, so a player could "play to type" and "win" at the Virtue-game, or "play against type" and see how screwed their character could become.

I think that is a STRONG character motive generator, with Bangs included.

Now, consider also the oft-quoted Bartle Quotient, which purportedly will tell you what type of gamer you are based on a series of moral/interest questions. If one also folded such a series of questions into the above Bangs series (Virtues), then one could generate the character's mode of play (techniques, methods, "abilities"), in conjunction with the motivations.

With mode and motive, you have a LOT of guidance for a quest generator. And clues as to what would make up positive rewards and negative punishments, for that character.

So THEN, you need a means of generating quests that takes motive and mode into account. No point in offering sneaker quests to the player who has answered all his mode questions with the direct, forceful options. The player probably would not like it, and the character would probably not have the skill set, either. These quests could be just about anything, unless you want to fit them into a larger story arc.

As to how to write a quest generator that will take into account motives and modes, while driving forward an overarching story arc... well, that's the tough part, eh? Grand Theft Auto didn't even try: it has epiphenominal, opt-in mini-quests allover the world, sure; but there's pretty much just a railroad to follow, if one is to engage the main story. What a good "open but aimed" quest generator would do is try to hit major story plot points, using the character motives and modes as guides. Maybe each major plot point is scripted so that it will be "triggered" by any one of several conditions... and those conditions could be engaged by one or more modes, each. Then, the player can pretty much opt-in to the main story arc, or not, and wouldn't really even be able to tell: the difference between an epiphenominal quest and one which will lead to a trigger could be nill, from the player's percspective. E.G. Just another day of pickpocketing the townsfolk could lead to a trigger of the Mayor cracking down on crime... which opens up the main plot of corruption and social disparity, perhaps. The player, merely going about the "low level" business of raking in cash and practicing skills, is now hunted and is slowly being drawn into the larger story. The next trigger might be something that drives him or her to find out more--maybe a false accusation and imprsonment?

Anyway, I'll stop rambling, with those thoughts. Creating an engaging, multi-option single player CRPG is no mean feat: AAA titles need scores of people and nine-figure budgets. Every decision that extends play options and replayability threatens stability and delivery. And your endeavor to find a ready-to-run system is a good one, to mitigate design needs. But I am concerned that you won't get at your real goals of play, unless you let every element of the system emerge from play style needs, interface choices, and service to the story arc.

HTH;
David
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