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241  Development / Mechanics / Re: Inventory and Encumbrance on: March 06, 2009, 06:24:59 PM
ie In PARPG setting we might have a pouch for the local currencies, a leather box for the cigarettes, also a tube for important documents, a keyring for keys (like in Arcanum, loved that - later you could see what keys you have in your Notebook/Diary menu).
I agree that having single-purpose containers that automatically organize your stuff like that is a good, player-friendly thing.

It's containers you must shuffle stuff between that i object to.  Buying a backpack to gain more space and/or decrease encumbrance is fine, as long as the player doesn't need to care where exactly an non-equitable item is.


+ a button in the inventory menu that randomly optimizes your use of the available slots to 'free' space (ie stacks stackables, if for some reason they were separately just taking up space)
What does "randomly optimize" mean?

And what does it optimize for?  This concept has three possible qualities that could be optimized for weight, bulk, and encumbrance.  It seems to me with a setup as you are zenbitz has described i the difference between optimizing for either of these could be significant.

In working on other projects, i've come to consider this the sure sign of a bad game mechanic: where you try to keep an overcomplicated mechanism that the player often won't want to deal with by making an AI to effectively make judgment calls and manage the thing for the player.
242  Development / Mechanics / Inventory and Encumbrance on: March 06, 2009, 05:23:35 AM
The following is in reference to this wiki page:
http://wiki.parpg.net/Zenbitz:Thoughts_on_Encumbrance_and_Equipment


Disclaimer: Personally i'm ambivalent to realism.  I don't care if the rules are realistic as long as they are understandable and fun (or at least avoid being non-fun).


The page linked above is great if your primary concern is realism, but i don't think the playability aspect has been considered.  Not to put too fine a point to it, the system described sounds like a potential micromanagement nightmare.

I do agree that it's reasonable to have a limited number of "slots" where things can be put for quick access in battle.  That involves some significant strategic choices, but for everything else, i don't see why the player would ever care if a non-combat item is in the PC's backpack, pocket or stuffed in his hat.

Measuring items by bulk and weight and giving the PC various containers (each presumably with their own bulk limits) and slots to store stuff  would make it a very non-obvious what the best way to distribute things would be.  Thus it could take quite a bit of time to organize your stuff for optimum encumbrance.  I believe switching major items or gaining new ones would often require a major reshuffling of your gear. Inventory management has always struck me as an chore in RPGs.

"Realism" is after all simply a continuum, and while this proposal is far more realistic than most RPGs, it is also grossly simpler than actual reality.


I would suggest that are only measured by one quantity, either "weight", "bulk", or some conceptual hybrid of the two-- which would make the understanding much easier for the player.  "Bulk" after all is a rather generalized concept anyway-- why not generalize it a little more?

Similarly, with the exception of quickly-accessible combat items, the specific location of an item is of no interest to the player.  IMHO It should be obvious to the player how much he can carry and what the encumbrance penalty will be of of carrying a particular amount.

Do we really want inventory management to be an involved mini-game?
243  Development / Mechanics / Re: Ruleset/System ideas #2 on: March 06, 2009, 04:36:17 AM
Basic skills would mean those skills, rudiments of which might have almost every regular individual (for instance, Haggling, Outdoor Survival, First Aid, Repair etc.). PC will get a penalty when trying against these skills, if he doesn't have them checked.

While Advanced skills are those which require specific education and/or training, and could not be "tried out" if the PC doesn't have them. These might be: Picklock, Surgery, Computer Hacking, Nuclear Engineering, History, etc.

Ah, it seems like you are dividing the world into "things with defaults" and "things without defaults"   ... This is a perfectly reasonable division - but there is absoultely no reason why need a single clean division.

A mechanic that we considered for silver tree had a similar distinction.  The practical difference was that you could simply dump points into "basic" skills to gain them, while "advanced" skills required a teacher or a how-to book (how-to books would become extremely valuable) for the player to gain these skills (if he didn't get them at character creation).

Also "basic" skill could default to the applicable stat like charisma for bartering, if you didn't have any points in a barter skill.
However "advanced" skills rely on special knowledge, it's simply not possible to use only "common sense" and successfully perform surgery or computer hacking.



I also dislike D&D style class systems, they always strike me as artificial, nit-picky and un-fun.
244  Development / Writing and Quests / Re: Setting Ideas: Brainstorming on: March 06, 2009, 04:12:34 AM
I would put "Age" and different backgrounds on the second tier of needfulness.

It's not a core feature that the game can't be without.

But it's something pretty cool that shouldn't be unreasonably hard to implement.
245  Development / Mechanics / Re: Trading and haggling, bartering and bargaining on: March 06, 2009, 04:08:01 AM
Add my vote to the "Don't make trading a complex mini-game list."

As to what the currency could be, cigarettes is one good option.

Essentially "money" needs to be something:
* that lots of people want
* of limited supply
* easily portable
* easily divisible
* relatively non-perishable

One-on-one barter is very limiting since it's entirely possible that while Bob wants to sell a horse, and Sam want to buy a horse, that Sam doesn't have anything that Bob really wants.  So some convenient commodity becomes "money", thus Sam can give Bob 10 pounds of salt for the horse.  Bob doesn't need that much salt, but he knows that it is easy to carry, won't go bad, and it will be easy to trade the salt for something else he wants.

Things that have been used as money include the obvious precious metals, and cigarets, coffee, drugs, salt, spices.

Since we are dealing with a cold area, i think tea/coffee might be a slightly more plausible candidate for money status, unless there's something local that is an equally good substitute?
246  Development / Mechanics / Re: Actions have consequences: Reputation & Alignment on: March 06, 2009, 03:42:56 AM
Heh, remarkable three of those correspond very closely to my scales.  I don't have anything that corresponds to Foolhardy/Cautious.

If you read closely, I say that "a PCs actions could be graded on this scale".  But I am actually not sure of a great way to implement this at the "location and quest" design level.

How do you decide where an action falls on the moral scale?  I guess you could restrict it to "quests"
Well, one of my goals was to choose scales that would be pretty self-explanatory.  I don't think there would be too much confusing as to which end of which scale the PC should move towards for any given action.

 Additionally different actions would have different effects of a different magnitude.  Killing someone who attacked you would move you less toward "Violent" than purposefully killing someone who in no way threatened you.  Similarly giving away a small trinket would move you less towards "Generous" than  giving something very valuable.

Most of these (as i see it) would be written in as results of different choices in the dialog tree.  But i think it would be good to make non-dialogue actions add up towards "violent" and "thieving".


Also:

* I consider "promise keeping" <-> "promise breaking" to be part of the "Honest/Deceptive" scale.

* zenbitz: "The people he might will react to him based on these scores - and how they compare to their own scores. (It might be a stretch to say that Greedy people like each other... but hey)."
I'm not sure we need to rate all the NPC's actions on these 3 or 4 scales.  Maybe those who join your party would deserve that treatment.  But in general, what we care about is how the NPC will react to the PC.  This might be a calculation (as a merchant offering a better or worse deal depending on how well he likes your alignment), or in many cases it would be a threshold for different dialog possibilities.   A crooked leader in a certain town would only hire you to frame his opponent if you had a sufficiently high tendency towards "Deceptive".  The same leader might be paranoid and cut short any conversation if you had a strong tendency toward violence.  Generally it is left up to the writers how any given NPC will respond to the PC's alignment, though we might need generalized responses if we have randomly generated characters.
247  Development / Writing and Quests / Re: Setting Ideas: Brainstorming on: March 05, 2009, 11:12:44 PM
The game starts 20 years after the war. Thats fixed now, yes ?
 Will you be born into the post-apoc world or will your knowledge and skills come over from your 'previous life' like in Mad Max ? Then you'd have to be around or close to 40+ to actually have any detailed knowledge of something (depending on your background) or a meager views and not fully developed attitude toward life and world and politics in general if you're <30. If you're <20 then wouldn't we need semi-fixed background stories for the new characters ?
I think the PC's age could provide some very interesting choices for the player  There's lots of stuff that simply wouldn't make sense to someone born after the BOOM.  But then they would be young and not totally freaked out since the world is the way they always have known it to be.
248  Development / Writing and Quests / Re: Setting Ideas: Brainstorming on: March 05, 2009, 09:19:57 PM
but if were Soviet tanks driving through Germany following tactical & strategic nuke strikes, I think anyone watching the news for a couple of days might now what happened.
It's generally believed in a cold-war or post cold-war type scenario that once nukes start flying, there's a very short time frame before most of the nukes have been launched or neutralized.

So while the people would have good reason to believe that a struggle over germany was the issue that escalated into nuclear war, they wouldn't know who fired first, since all parties who had a chance to fire would generally have fired within minutes of each other.

Besides in a topic like a recent apocalypse, passions will run hot, and people will generally be most interested in blaming and demonizing someone than figuring out exactly how it occured.
249  Development / Writing and Quests / Re: Setting Ideas: Brainstorming on: March 05, 2009, 06:47:54 PM
I don't know if any of you are familiar with The Road by Cormac McCarthy, but it has a post-apocalyptic setting although the cause is unknown and it really works well.  Rather than dwelling on why the world is in such a bad way he just lets the reader form his own assumptions and focusses solely on portraying the vestiges of humanity as they cope with it.
It seems to me, most likely that after even a modest apocalypse that almost no one would really know who started it.  Of course, everyone would have a theory.
250  Development / Writing and Quests / Re: Development of a Story-Oriented RPG on: March 05, 2009, 06:39:43 PM
If this was done then the individual story units would need to be organized in such a way as to ensure continuity, or else an over-arcing storyline would need to be retroactively written into them. 

Without this continuity/main storyline you'd be dealing with a set of unconnected 'adventures' which may not be a terrible idea; it could be used as a basis for an easily augmentable game with multiple plausible endings.
The thing is with an "episode" model where a character goes through multiple "episodes" in sequence, there's no reason that an individual episode can't be huge.  But there's no expectation that every episode must be "full game length".

Dividing things into episodes could actually be pretty realistic in a fractured Post-apocalyptic world.  It's quite possible that for instance people in Sweden have almost no contact with Lithuania, aside from infrequent travelers, and the indirect commerce of merchants trading with merchants who trade with other merchants, etc.
In other words the PCs actions could realistically have little or no effect on someplace 100 miles away.  Communication and social structures could all be local.  In such conditions traveling to a new land, is much like starting a new episode.  The only things that carry over from the previous land are what you bring with you.



Quote from: Dubaian:
In my experience, not many people care to read all of the dialog you place before them. They would much rather skip it all so they can get straight to the point/action...
Quote from: Barra
I _personally_ wouldn't even mind the masses of (really well-written) text that can be found in Planescape: Torment. Of course it is not realistic but I certainly enjoyed the long dialogues with a lot of choice and consequence.
I guess i was under the impression that this was already nailed down.

Anyway, the point can be made that it is relatively easy to make a dialog-heavy RPG where the PC can be someone without verbal skills, who avoids much of the dialog and diplomatic branches and mostly kills stuff.
FO was supposed to be playable with a PC that couldn't do much more than grunt, but i never tried it.
251  General Category / General Discussion / Re: What are your favourite cRPGs? on: March 05, 2009, 08:27:42 AM
My selection is sorely limited to what will run on my Mac, or long ago, on our Amiga.

Amiga:
Pirates!
Hero's Quest (by Sierra)

Mac:
Avernum series
Deus Ex
Fallout 1 & 2
Baldur's Gate 2
NeverWinter Nights (especially player created scenarios)
Knights of the Old Republic


The common thread is character development beyond simply becoming more deadly, and a strong story.  The interaction between the PC and his party members is the highlight of Bioware games.

I always wished there were more like them, especially ones that would run on my Mac.


The thing i hate about several of these games is tedious inventory management, especially in the BioWare games.  I feel like 25-33% of my time was spent moving items back and forth between people/slots trying to get things to fit together.  Bleh.  IMHO identical items should always stack, and the player should not need to play "Tetris" with his inventory to maximize space.


*Arcanum is one of the top ones i wished i could have played.

*Freedom Force, is a very different type of RPG, but is a lot of fun
252  Development / Writing and Quests / Development of a Story-Oriented RPG on: March 05, 2009, 08:18:02 AM
This is a response to several of the threads in this sub-forum, but it didn't really seem to belong in any of the threads.

First off, while i'd love to see one, as far as i know there's not been a successful open project to finish a grand story-oriented RPG.  That doesn't mean it can't be done, but it does indicate it's not an easy task.  As i think i mentioned somewhere, i was involved in the (now inactive) Silver Tree RPG project, and i thought over some of these issues thoroughly.

The basic problems is that it's a huge amount of work for one or a few people to write a long, dialog- heavy RPG.  But a large number of people are unlikely to want to tell the same story, or to have the capacity to collectively write a coherent story.

On the other hand, writing a huge world involves an awful lot of delayed gratification.  Will people be interested in testing and developing an RPG when they cannot get to the end for several years at best.

There are two methods that IMHO could deal with these issues and leverage the advantages of a community project to produce a dialog-heavy, story-based RPG:


1) Start in the center and work your way out.
Don't try to produce a whole world at once.  Start with a relatively small region such as a town, or a couple villages and the surrounding countryside.  Include story-lines that can be brought to a satisfying conclusions without leaving that region.  When that area is sufficiently done, start work on an adjacent area, and add some tie-ins.  If the project grows enough multiple regions could be under development at the same time.  Maybe there's an idea for a grand, over-arching quest, or maybe that emerges or is added later. The main point is to have something that works and is fun and playable as soon as possible.


2) Loosely connected Episodes
Consider PARPG more of a platform for a series of episodic stories with the same basic setting.  There may be no grand, overarching story, but the advantage is that each "episode" can be the concentrated work of fewer people, so the quality is higher, debugging is way easier, and something finished is produced much faster.  The PC's stats, accomplishments, and equipment would carry over, but each episode would be a self-contained story set in a different part of a PA world.  This is roughly similar to After completing one episode the player would choose another.  Many (and eventually most) would be player created, and probably have advisories indicating what "level" of character they are designed for.
And to tie it all up, we could have the PC eventually grow old, so the multi-episode gaming goal (like in Pirates!) might be to "retire" having accomplished the most of whatever it is you wanted to do: get rich, establish a small kingdom, reach a high level, whatever.


I sorta favor #2, because it seem more practical, and the idea of playing a character through multiple adventures until they grow old seems like a nice poignant, realistic change from the normal RPG mechanic of grinding to reach a very high level to be able to complete the big quest.
253  Development / Writing and Quests / Re: World map on: March 05, 2009, 06:48:41 AM
Here's a candidate for the final map. If enough people agree we can set this in stone and upload it to the wiki (but not for promo purposes barra, it's simply a concept)

Hmm, seems to me that a "final map" is not really necessary at this point, and could be harmful.  Saying something like, "the location of PARPG is centered around the Baltic Sea" is plenty specific for now.  You don't have a story yet, so why carefully circumscribe exactly where the unknown story can take place.  Exactly how big an area is needed will become clearer at a later point of development.
254  Development / Mechanics / Actions have consequences: Reputation & Alignment on: March 05, 2009, 06:24:31 AM
I've just discovered this project, and from my initial examination it looks like you want an "actions have consequences" type of RPG.  The following is adapted from something i worked up for the now inactive Silver Tree project.


One of my major interests in role-playing games is not how the day/kingdom/universe was saved, but what kind of Hero the player was as he worked to achieve the greater cause.  You're probably familiar with a StarWars game's Light/Dark scale, and D&D's Good/Evil & Lawful/Chaotic scales.  Unfortunately, it is often non-obvious which actions will effect which (if any) scales, since the definition of "Good" and "Evil" have been long contested.

I have a strong belief in specific definitions of good and evil, but rather than expect game designers to fit in with my ideas, (or the concepts of other players) games could be designed that measure and respond to the PC's "ethics" on several tanglible scales. This would allow the player to create a more distinctive types of Heros, or play the game according to his particular ethics.  In order for these choices to be interesting the game should not only measure, but "reward" constancy on either end of these scales with logical beneficial and harmful results.

These scales are not intended to be a deep representation of morality, but to recognize several basic ethical issues that could be readily incorporated in an RPG game.  These are also scales that would tend to illicit different responses from NPCs depending on the PC's "alignment".  Most of the kinds of choices players make in RPGs would advance the PC in either direction on one of these three scales:


Pacifistic <—> Violent
Generous <—> Thieving
Honest <—> Deceptive

Of course a much more complex system of ethical/behavioral scales could be constructed, but i think this hits the sweet spot between detail and obviousness.

As the PC does the sort of things that get talked about, his "Reputation" goes up, in other words, he becomes more famous.  This doesn't mean people will like him/her.  It simply means that the NPCs increasingly believe that the PC is a significant person.  Weather a very famous PC is the most hated enemy, or most honored hero would vary depending on the NPC's faction (probably but i'm not addressing that here) and NPC's preference.

Hearty, straightforward warrior type NPCs would tend to respond positively to a Violent & Honest PC.  Merchants (and NPCs in general) would naturally dislike Thieving PCs, while someone looking to employ a thief, would consider a history of theft a prerequisite.

A system like this where most of the NPCs would better, worse, or not at all to the PC based on his history would go a long way toward creating the illusion of a living world.
255  Development / Mechanics / simple implementation of "conference calls" on: March 05, 2009, 04:58:06 AM
Quote from: the wiki
"Pie-in-the-Sky" features
This is low priority stuff that someone, somewhere thinks might be cool. I would not implement anything past "hooks" for anything here.
"Conference calls" - where PC converses with multiple NPCs. Such a mechanic can be found in Planescape: Torment where you could initate dialog with one of your party NPCs and other party members suddenly join the conversation.
http://wiki.parpg.net/Proposals:Dialog_Specs

I came across this, and though i haven't played Planetscape, i'm familiar with Baldur's gate, which IIRC used the same engine.

I don't think this "feature" is really as complex as it may seem.  Generally I believe the effect of a multi-person conversation is achieved by clever ordering of lines.

When the protagonist talks to NPC1, any other NPCs who might butt into the conversation have their lines written in order.  However, their lines only appear if the speaker is present.  The clever writing comes in by making NPC1's reply to the protagonist make sense weather or not NPC2's intervening comment ever appeared.

At the very least this is a pretty simple way to include these kinds of conversations without endlessly branching dialog trees.
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