Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Level up! Press Select. [english rehash]

In addition to all those pet peeves, let's bash some more skulls. Hi Bioware. Please die in a fire. Your latest games do NOT deserve the title of RPGs. Certainly NOT. You've been making bullshit for a while now.

I know that'll get me some backlash and flame. Please go ahead. I'll explain for the others.

Evil <----------------------------> Good

That's the Role in ROLE playing according to Bioware now.

 Lawful Good   Neutral Good   Chaotic Good
 Lawful Neutral     Neutral     Chaotic Neutral
 Lawful Evil       Neutral Evil        Chaotic Evil

And that's the Role according to D&D (and Bioware not SO long ago, by the way). Not that it's the most obvious, effective, or transcending example but... seriously. Look at it again. Who the hell are we kidding here?

Either we continue to glorify this crap, or wake up, move our asses and found something else. I've had enough of characters with a number of dimensions found somewhere between 0 and 1. Enough of the clichés. Of the nonsensical stat levelling. Add the various constraints due to facing a digital medium in the mix, and the solutions are that much harder to find. Yet... how about trying with what we do best? The most simple, direct and ridiculous method available: multiplication?

I mean, we can multiply scores, lives, enemies and bugs (and Mojang won't prove me wrong). I think we can multiply the XP points. In another way. Now to stop beating around the bush. It's a stupid, simplistic and ineffective idea, but it's better than no idea at all. How about multiplying everything?

Let's first multiply the dimensions of the character. That's what the Role is about. Let's draw something halfway between those two diagrams up above, so as to stay agile in our doings.

  /          |        \
 Good --- + --- Evil
   \          |        /

 Yup, it's ugly. Sue me. Now let's be clear about it: it's just a basic diagram with simplistic traits that do not even make sense. But those four features are replaceable and recyclable. In other words: the diagram is multiplicable in size and in quantity. Nothing prevents us from creating another diagram besides this one and using Playful/Serious on one axis and Patient/Impatient on the other. Or from adding those as new dimensions in the same diagram. Go ahead, blow your own poor brain yourself: add, say... 8 more dimensions. Tell me: doesn't it start looking like a personality? Like a role?

Back to the point. What do we see usually? There are two big trends: either you follow the path that's been laid out for you like a sheep, with very often a single, simplistic choice between good and evil, or you have to do it all by yourself. Which is already boring grunt work. And none of it is rewarded. There is no reward in playing whatever role YOU chose for yourself in Morrowind, Oblivion or Skyrim (and don't get me wrong: I'm a HUGE Morrowind fan). There is some personal satisfaction thrown in, but it doesn't compare to the kickass little side conversation with the DM when he's bloody impressed by your play. He doesn't give a fuck here. It's even more simple, in fact: he isn't even there, he gave you the whole campaign book to play by yourself, which amounts to playing with a sandbox. A scrapbook. Trash.

It's probably the hardest constraint to lift in a CRPG: The DM is NOT here. Mind you, there are occurences when he is, but even then it's a gamble. That's multiplayer. And it takes a good DM, good players and a good campaign to have fun. Neverwinter Nights did it right in its own way. But then again, we're talking about MULTIPLAYER. Which isn't so often found in CRPGs, let's face it. Anyway, let's just take it for granted: the DM knows what he's doing and hopefully, manages to have everyone have fun. Everything's going to be fine. And even if it turns wrong... Blame it on the DM. That's not what I'm ranting about here anyway.

So let's close this parenthesis and get back to single player. The mode which I prefer, to my dismay. Not that I hate multiplayer inherently. But there's the godmoders, the noobs, the cheaters... Gets ugly pretty fast if you ask me. Anyway. Some of the ideas below still DO apply to multiplayer. It's obvious enough that I don't have to say it again.

Press start. Know what bothers me most about THAT? Even when there IS some supervised training... Just... Just do it, will ya. Fire up the first game you know does it. Go see a trainer and pay him.

Go ahead. Do it. One hour has passed. Consistently across ALL CRPGs. Tirelessly. Inexplicably. ONE. HOUR. In other words: get yourself 100 hours of training, and you're THE grandmaster of X (say, Alchemy). You'll never have to collect plants for years, analyze them, experiment, train. You'll never have to put your life on the line while playing with unstable components. You'll never have to follow lengthy courses and boring lectures. In just one week (sleep included), you're the alpha and the omega of the frigging thing and can easily dismiss the most advanced theories from any master in the world... Makes sense? Heh.

Don't believe me? Read it again. Compute. Test it. Whatever. One. Hundred. Hours. And that's not even counting your base stats. 100. While others won't have completely mastered this delicate art and will still marvel in front of nature's mysteries in one hundred years, you will be BORED with it. There. There's no other way to put it.

If a character has an Intelligence of 100 (of 80), I can understand. More or less. But even then, all he can get is such a short time is theoretical knowledge. He's big mouthed for sure, but when it comes to the real deal... He'll be in for a hard time.

Not sure there's a clear solution either. We would either have to drastically lengthen the duration of training, of drastically diminish the potency of the characteristics and... add perks. No Skyrim bullshit. REAL perks (see previous post). Stuff that will be deeply engrained into the personality of the character. Memorable encounters and decisive events. And most important of all - Related to what he has witnessed and lived. Or just take the best of both world. Do it all. Lengthen the training AND nerf the characteristics.

(To be followed soon. God I hate long, boring stuff. :3)

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