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General Forge Forums => Site Discussion => Topic started by: IdentityCrisis on August 01, 2004, 06:12:52 AM



Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: IdentityCrisis on August 01, 2004, 06:12:52 AM
New here.  I'm very impressed with the forums, there seems to be an incredible amount of thought and work on RPG theory consolidated here.  However, I note that it mostly seems to pertain to table-top games, with relatively little thought given to CRPG theory.  Is there any site similair to this (with a high signal-to-noise ratio) on single player CRPG theory out there?


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: Vaxalon on August 01, 2004, 06:44:18 AM
Are you talking about theory regarding PLAYING CRPG's (such as MMORPGs where something approaching real roleplaying is possible) or are you talking about writing them?


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: Jasper on August 01, 2004, 06:55:11 AM
Either way, this isn't the site for that (unless it also ties into a tabletop game).  If anyone knows of some, which I don't, maybe they can send you the link.


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 01, 2004, 06:58:38 AM
Hello,

IC, welcome to the Forge!

Jasper and Fred, frankly, you're not helping much. Please back off a little, 'cause the Forge has a lot to offer about this topic, if indirectly.

IC, at the top of the page, there's a Search feature. It's not Google, mind you, so you have to be patient with it, but if you run a search on the term "CRPG" without specifying anything else, you'll get four pages of thread links. Most of them probably won't help, but just going by thread titles alone, you'll get some cool discussions - and some of them include links to mailing lists or websites in which CRPGs get discussed in high-powered ways.

Good luck! Let me know if you need further help with the search.

Best,
Ron


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: Vaxalon on August 01, 2004, 07:04:03 AM
Actually, I was asking because either of the topics I was asking about could find useful material on the Forge, and I was going to make suggestions based on the answer.  Please don't be so quick to jump down my throat, Ron.


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: IdentityCrisis on August 01, 2004, 07:21:11 AM
Vaxalon: I specified single-player games; MMO games don't interest me.  And I was more interested in the design aspects, although both interest me.  Links for either would be appreciated.



Jasper: Given all the discussion on RPGs in general, I' would have expected CRPG theory to have its own forum.  The lack of discussion on it at all is somewhat surprising.  Is CRPG discussion generally discouraged here, or is there just not much interest?



Ron Edwards: Thanks for the defense, but it's okay.  Their questions/comments are valid, and even if they had been giving offense I've had to grow a rather thick skin in my lifetime.

I already did the search, and it was getting only 4 pages of hits that prompted me to ask the question in the first place.


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on August 01, 2004, 12:14:05 PM
I guess that there's just not that much interest. I'd guess that most of us don't see CRPGs as roleplaying games at all, so although we might play them, they just aren't something that would get discussed. Most multiplayer designers, on the other hand, have clear preferences in the matter - they are wedded to transferring the single player culture to multiplayer platform, not to designing anything which'd actually support roleplaying. They don't discuss their work here because we don't offer them anything they'd know how to use.

Now, I'm not against CRPGs. To the contrary, they're my favourite kind of computer adventure game, and generally the type of computer game I play most. ADOM is a great game for example. I say this to make it clear that I have no bias against CRPGs.

That said, in what way would you think that any kind of single player computer game could be said to be a roleplaying game? And don't cite the fact that they're called computer roleplaying games - that's a historical coincidence, really these games have all the qualities of computer adventure games in general, and none of the particular qualities of a roleplaying game. Multiplayer games can be defended somewhat because the players can create imaginary social forms, but single player games don't even have that. They're just adventure games with qualitative statistics, just as much roleplaying games as Monkey Island.

So, I'd say that not having a specific forum for computer games is appropriate. If somebody posits a theory under which they can be viewed as roleplaying games, this could conseivably change, but as of now I see no reason. Doesn't mean that discussing these kinds of games would be out of bounds - that's ultimately a matter for Ron to decide, probably for each forum separately.


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on August 01, 2004, 12:19:27 PM
I guess that there's just not that much interest. I'd guess that most of us don't see CRPGs as roleplaying games at all, so although we might play them, they just aren't something that would get discussed. Most multiplayer designers, on the other hand, have clear preferences in the matter - they are wedded to transferring the single player culture to multiplayer platform, not to designing anything which'd actually support roleplaying. They don't discuss their work here because we don't offer them anything they'd know how to use.

Now, I'm not against CRPGs. To the contrary, they're my favourite kind of computer adventure game, and generally the type of computer game I play most. ADOM is a great game for example. I say this to make it clear that I have no bias against CRPGs.

That said, in what way would you think that any kind of single player computer game could be said to be a roleplaying game? And don't cite the fact that they're called computer roleplaying games - that's a historical coincidence, really these games have all the qualities of computer adventure games in general, and none of the particular qualities of a roleplaying game. Multiplayer games can be defended somewhat because the players can create imaginary social forms, but single player games don't even have that. They're just adventure games with qualitative statistics, just as much roleplaying games as Monkey Island.

So, I'd say that not having a specific forum for computer games is appropriate. If somebody posits a theory under which they can be viewed as roleplaying games, this could conseivably change, but as of now I see no reason. Doesn't mean that discussing these kinds of games would be out of bounds - that's ultimately a matter for Ron to decide, probably for each forum separately.


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: Jasper on August 01, 2004, 12:39:09 PM
I can't say whether there's interest or not in general, but personally I've always been very itnerested in CRPG (and other comptuer game) design, and have been involved in those circles online.  But for me, they're almost entirely different animals, with only a few superficial similarities.  I imagine others may feel the same way.  So there's no specific reason why the Forge needs to have a CRPG discussion forum -- and if it came up, I think I'd be against it: there's no reason to be everything to everyone here.  

If you go to kanga.nu, there's a mailing list for the development of MMORPGS I know of. And while I know you're not interested in those per se, a lot of common issues to get raised, and all of the industry leaders hang out there.


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: IdentityCrisis on August 01, 2004, 01:43:42 PM
Quote from: Eero Tuovinen
That said, in what way would you think that any kind of single player computer game could be said to be a roleplaying game? And don't cite the fact that they're called computer roleplaying games - that's a historical coincidence, really these games have all the qualities of computer adventure games in general, and none of the particular qualities of a roleplaying game. Multiplayer games can be defended somewhat because the players can create imaginary social forms, but single player games don't even have that. They're just adventure games with qualitative statistics, just as much roleplaying games as Monkey Island.


Actually, I agree with you.  Aside from a relatively few games like Fallout, I don't consider CRPGs to be true role-playing games.  Hence my surprise at the lack of CRPG discussion here; if you guys are so heavy into RPG theory and some of you play (and even write) CRPGs, why isn't there more interest here in figuring out how to turn them into true role-playing games?



Quote
So, I'd say that not having a specific forum for computer games is appropriate. If somebody posits a theory under which they can be viewed as roleplaying games, this could conseivably change, but as of now I see no reason.


Not on reasons to view the existing ones as RPGs, but on how to create new ones that *are* RPGs.  I have a couple of loose ideas on the subject.


Quote
Doesn't mean that discussing these kinds of games would be out of bounds - that's ultimately a matter for Ron to decide, probably for each forum separately.


Ron Edwards is the guy in charge here, then?


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: LordSmerf on August 01, 2004, 02:32:29 PM
Ron is pretty much the moderator of the forums here...  So i guess he is in charge as much as anyone can said to be in charge here.

Your question does raise an interesting question in my own mind: How do you design a game that develops Shared Imaginitive Space without dynamic interaction?  A way to successfully do that would seem to be the first step to making CRPS more like RPGs...

Thomas


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: Vaxalon on August 01, 2004, 03:24:27 PM
Well, one way is to use a SIS that's already pretty well shared outside the RPG universe.

Knights of the Old Republic plays very heavily on the themes already established in the Star Wars universe.


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: Andrew Morris on August 01, 2004, 07:44:45 PM
Quote from: IdentityCrisis
Hence my surprise at the lack of CRPG discussion here; if you guys are so heavy into RPG theory and some of you play (and even write) CRPGs, why isn't there more interest here in figuring out how to turn them into true role-playing games?


I do enjoy playing CRPGs, personally. I also enjoy playing Solitaire on my computer. I wouldn't expect to see discussions on the Forge as to how to make either of those activities more like table-top RPGs. They are simply different activities. Playing RPGs is an inherently social activity, while playing (single-player) computer games is no more social than watching a movie by yourself. Anyway, that's my take on it.


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: LordSmerf on August 01, 2004, 08:48:48 PM
Quote from: Andrew Morris
I do enjoy playing CRPGs, personally. I also enjoy playing Solitaire on my computer. I wouldn't expect to see discussions on the Forge as to how to make either of those activities more like table-top RPGs. They are simply different activities. Playing RPGs is an inherently social activity, while playing (single-player) computer games is no more social than watching a movie by yourself. Anyway, that's my take on it.


Excellent point, Role Playing does seem to be necessarily a social activity.  That raises an interesting question:

Would it be possible/desirable to design a CRPG that somehow was not a solitary activity?  One that requires multiple players in physical (or not) proximity...

Thomas


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: Andrew Martin on August 01, 2004, 09:35:07 PM
Quote from: LordSmerf
Would it be possible/desirable to design a CRPG that somehow was not a solitary activity?  One that requires multiple players in physical (or not) proximity...


Wouldn't that just be another name for (role)Play by Mail (PBM), (role)Play by Email (PBeM) or roleplaying on message boards or Wiki? These systems are roughly equivalent to having a private bulleting board and pinning written messages on it, to be read by others and responded to by more written messages.


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: LordSmerf on August 01, 2004, 10:10:27 PM
The image i have in my head is not at all similar to Play by Post systems...  I am seeing a game in which two or three people are sitting around a computer playing a game that combines the advantages of computers (integrated video/audio, high powered number crunching, visual representations) with the advantages of table top (flexible, social).  Of course i do not know if this is possible, but the assumption would be that this is something that we could develop...

Thomas


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: IdentityCrisis on August 02, 2004, 12:46:44 AM
Quote
Excellent point, Role Playing does seem to be necessarily a social activity.  That raises an interesting question:

Would it be possible/desirable to design a CRPG that somehow was not a solitary activity?  One that requires multiple players in physical (or not) proximity...


You all seem to be defining the term CRPG right out of existence by including "involves two or more people" in the definition of RPG.  While I agree that things like Diablo II are not RPGs, I think that's going too far.

What's the formal definition of RPG that's used here?


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: ADGBoss on August 02, 2004, 05:29:41 AM
I think it is entirely appropriate for the Forge to discuss CRPG.  I think that to one degree or another, they have elements of of table top RPGs. I just opened a thread in RPG Theory because some of the ideas are not Site Discussion.  


Sean


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on August 02, 2004, 08:12:42 AM
Quote from: IdentityCrisis

You all seem to be defining the term CRPG right out of existence by including "involves two or more people" in the definition of RPG.  While I agree that things like Diablo II are not RPGs, I think that's going too far.

What's the formal definition of RPG that's used here?


The most common one is the one implied by Ron's Social Contract Theory (you can familiarize yourself with it in the Articles section): roleplaying is something which involves Exploration of Shared Imagined Space. The latter term is defined by the social situation, hence multiple players.

There are of course other definitions, and the above is not in any way formal here, but if you use another one, you should define it for others so that they know what you're talking about.

Again, what would a computer rpg look like? For that matter, what would any single player rpg look like? I have no idea, roleplaying for me is a social activity, and something done alone is either creative writing or interactive gaming, which both are so different that they aren't recognizable as roleplaying.


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: ADGBoss on August 02, 2004, 08:37:52 AM
Quote from: Eero Tuovinen


The most common one is the one implied by Ron's Social Contract Theory (you can familiarize yourself with it in the Articles section): roleplaying is something which involves Exploration of Shared Imagined Space. The latter term is defined by the social situation, hence multiple players.

There are of course other definitions, and the above is not in any way formal here, but if you use another one, you should define it for others so that they know what you're talking about.

Again, what would a computer rpg look like? For that matter, what would any single player rpg look like? I have no idea, roleplaying for me is a social activity, and something done alone is either creative writing or interactive gaming, which both are so different that they aren't recognizable as roleplaying.


If I sent you a created dungoen or world, sent you character creation rules, and said "Go play", would you consider that Role Playing? As long as we had agreed before hand that was how the game was going to played, then I do not see how it could not be.

So if in a CRPG the Social Contract is such that: We(Programmers) make the game, you make a character and go through it, then I think it can properly be called a RPG.

Sean


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: timfire on August 02, 2004, 08:58:51 AM
Quote from: LordSmerf
The image i have in my head is not at all similar to Play by Post systems...  I am seeing a game in which two or three people are sitting around a computer playing a game that combines the advantages of computers (integrated video/audio, high powered number crunching, visual representations) with the advantages of table top (flexible, social).  Of course i do not know if this is possible, but the assumption would be that this is something that we could develop...

Not that I've played the game, but this sounds like NeverWinter Nights. It's basically multi-player Baldur's Gate, except there are tools for the GM to create the dungeon, monsters, NPC's, etc.

I think this type of play could look alot like traditional P&P RPG's.

Personally, I view CRPG's as a different animal, but it's not a deal breaker.


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 02, 2004, 09:58:25 AM
Quickly, the definition of RPG has been debated a lot here. A few things can be said:

[list=1]
  • While the SIS definition is agreed on, it's not nearly narrow enough. That is, watching a movie with someone else could be considered to be an RPG by that definition.
  • It's in narrowing the definition that problems occur. So many people have used the term to mean so many things that it's hard to make any one thing stick. If you use one criteria, it makes something typically roleplaying not roleplaying. If you use another, then something else is not included.
  • Most definitions of RPGs here actually include CRPGs. We just ask that people attach the "C" so that we all know what we're talking about. This is generally held to be the case. That is, it's all roleplaying if you qualify the type.
  • No type of activity called a RPG has ever been discluded here from discussion. You'll find CRPG discussions, LARP discussions, Freeform discussions, and more.
  • Despite 4, most of what we discuss is "tabletop" RPGs (TTRPGs). Other forms are far less discussed, and often when they are discussed it's to apply theories for TTRPGs to them, or to discuss them in relation to TTRPGs. Not always, however. [/list:o]

    On the subject of using computers to play RPGs:
    [list=1]
  • It happens a lot already. That is, if you include all of the programs that exist to make characters, store them, and all of the GM tools that are available, then people do this a lot.
  • I've been very interested in this for a long time, and have a personal moniker for it (somewhat humorous) CARP, for Computer Aided RolePlaying. I've invented entire resolution systems that work on spreadsheets, for instance.
  • Outside of play, the advantages of computers are obvious to anyone who uses them. As such, I find computers getting used more and more every day. Custom character sheets, for instance. To say nothing of things like Campaign Cartographer.
  • There's a lot more that can probably be done in this area, but consider the current reception. That is, lots of tools exist, but I find that most people in play don't have computers around. I'm not sure if this is an artifact of tradition or not, but I've heard people say that they think that computers would be distracting. The point is that I think it's a hard sell for some reason (which is probably obvious to people who, unlike me, don't love computers to death).
  • Somebody mentioned NWN, already. Isn't that what the doctor ordered? For that game engine, at least? [/list:o]
    Lastly, what I think some people are getting at is that what you won't find here is much in the way of discussion about actual programming. You can probably design to the flowchart stage with what you can find here, but beyond that you'll need to consult elsewhere, probably. That's not to say that programming isn't allowed as a discussion, just that I've never seen anyone try to talk about it. For instance, I'm a programmer, and might be able to help depending on how you're putting the game together. It's just never come up before, and would have to be kept pretty RPG relevant to remain a discussion here. For instance, I think looking at an actual design for an actual game would probably be allowed...

    That all said, there's a looong thread on an idea for an MMORPG discussed recently here: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=11297

    Mike


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: M. J. Young on August 02, 2004, 12:26:32 PM
On the aside concerning why many of us don't use computers in play, I'd say in my case that the computers aren't usually in a place where it's convenient to hold the game, and it's more trouble than it's worth to move them. I did run a few games from the computer some years back, and all the kids found space on the floor in my office, but generally I was the only person paying attention to the computer.

The main issue, though, seems to be those single-player "Computer Role Playing Games". I'll admit to being a bit of a snob on these--I've been known to distinguish them from "Real Role Playing Games". I've not played any seriously since the old text-based games on the C64 and the D&D tactical games produced for the Intellivision (not at all role playing). My kids play them, but they don't think of them as "Real" role playing, and have gone so far as to tell others that these are a pale imitation of the real thing.

That strikes me as significant. I was around when both of these gaming trends were invented, but I was very much on the fringe. It always seemed to me at the time, though, that early CRPGs were attempts to emulate real RPGs for those times when you couldn't get the group together. The idea was for the computer to become the referee, telling you what you saw and adjudicating the consequences of your actions. Because of this, they tended to be very gamist--computers are particularly suited to high-structure wargame play, poorly suited to story creation. Story based games become exercises in Trailblazing--the player has to find and follow the storyline pre-planned by the referee, or in this case the game developer, often down to the details of figuring out not how "my character" would solve a problem, but how the game wants it to be solved.

Thus if what you like in a role playing game is puzzle solving, world exploration, or tactical challenge, CRPGs seem like role playing games. If what really draws you to them is character interaction, moral decision, or story creation, they don't. What complicates the picture, though, is that the CRPG not only doesn't handle these latter things well, it pushes them further into the background, leaving players with rather mechanically structured play in which characters are indeed reduced to pawns to be moved within the game world.

I suppose ultimately the question of whether a CRPG is really an RPG comes down to whether the computer can function as a player. Obviously, a computer can play games--WarGames demonstrated that, and there are thousands of games in which computers engage as players (including, most prominently, chess). Yet like all of us the computer has its strengths and weaknesses, and in its case that leads us to recognize that it can only play some kinds of games. It can contribute to the shared imaginary space from its own database, but it can't really create new ideas within it unless we make massive leaps forward in AI.

I hope that's meaningful here.

--M. J. Young


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 02, 2004, 01:29:37 PM
Yeah, there's the "Limited Action" principle. But that then gets turned on it's head if not precisely stated, and used to attack, at the very least, short form games, and, by extension, any game with rules.

Not saying it isn't useful as a delimiter, just that it's has to be handled with care.

Mike


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: LordSmerf on August 02, 2004, 01:51:17 PM
A couple of notes:

Neverwinter Nights has been mentioned a couple of times.  I would classify this under Mike's CARP heading when used as a tool and a tradional CRPG when played alone.  So i would consider this to be a different bird from the nebulous (and perhaps implausible) CRPG i am envisioning.

M.J. brings up an excellent point: in the current gaming environment computers are not often convenient in play.  In addition with current technology they are somewhat intrusive/distracting.  A solution to this comes in two parts:

1. Commonality.  As computers become more and more common, coupled with higher resolution large viewing systems (HDTVs, Projectors) more and more convenient gaming locations will have low-intrusion easy access computers.
2. Technology.  Part of computer intrusion is generated by the input/output schema currently used.  The keyboard/monitor combination is of higher intrusion than a voice recognition/audio combination.  As technology grows CARP systems will be signifigantly more convenient which should result in their use becoming more common.

However, the above seems to apply (as far as i can tell) to CARP systems as opposed to CRPGs though CRPGs will benefit from greater penetration and technology levels as well (and in fact my be precluded by the current input scheme which requires a single person to input data, usually through a keyboard).

In order to generate a CRPG of the type that is loosely floating around in my head we would need to reconsider what we can do with computers regarding RPGs.  As mentioned computers are great for handling large amounts of data (input, storage, and dissimination), but not so good at providing dynamic, adaptive additions to SIS.  With this as a limiter (at current AI levels) we seem to be left with a system that manages SIS.  Is this useful?  Are there things that we can do having an unbiased third party handling SIS visualization that we can not do with current methods?

Thomas


Title: lack of CRPG topics
Post by: Andrew Morris on August 04, 2004, 11:30:43 AM
Quote from: ADGBoss
If I sent you a created dungoen or world, sent you character creation rules, and said "Go play", would you consider that Role Playing?


Sure, as long as "go play" involves finding other humans and playing the game with them. If "go play" means work your way through a fully scripted adventure (along the line of the Choose Your Adventure series of books), then no, I wouldn't call that RPG at all. As stated, however, people have different definitions of what constitutes RPG.

Quote from: ADGBoss
So if in a CRPG the Social Contract is such that: We(Programmers) make the game, you make a character and go through it, then I think it can properly be called a RPG.


Again, no, I don't think it can. It seems like we aren't going to resolve this by discussion, though, since different people have different definitions of terminology. It feels like we have one group saying, "Term A involves B and may or may not include C," while the other group is saying, "Term A involves B and C always."