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Author Topic: "Pre" setting, How to Play the Game  (Read 10702 times)
zenbitz
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« on: July 17, 2009, 09:45:25 PM »

So, I wrote down some basic thoughts on what game play should be like... it's not very detailed, so don't assume omission means anything.   Like there is no mention of dialogue - that just means that I didn't write it here, not that there is no dialogue.  It's more of a "stuff that should be in" not "only stuff that should be in.

Would be really interested in hearing comments, I think this is an important prerequisite for "setting" which is in turn a prerequisite for actually writing.  It's also important for Mechanics, so this topic is cross-posted there.

http://wiki.parpg.net/Zenbitz:HowToPlayTheGame

We can add to and change this as necessary, and put it into a more permanent wiki spot.
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Sirren
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« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2009, 06:54:42 PM »

I think this sets the game mood in stone, at least the bulk of it.
 A question about professions: are you planning to make them choosable or is it just about definitions? I mean, will the player able to choose amongst traits/backgrounds giving advantages and disadvantages?
One thing I think will need some balancing: PC time. If the PCs have to unveil the main plot they'll probably be detoured from their normal lifestyle. I'm not saying I don't like your idea, I think it will spice things up.
That's all I can think about here on the spot.
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zenbitz
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« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2009, 12:19:31 AM »

the professions are not really meant to be character classes.  They are just "ways to survive" in the game while you are not actively questing.    So, you don't really CHOOSE a profession, or if you do it's non-binding and non-permanent.   

Let's say you want to travel.  Maybe you have some quest to do far away, or maybe you are just bored of your area, or maybe you are being run out of town on a rail for some "anti-social" behavior.  You will need to travel several days (maybe even a week or two) in the wilderness. 

 If you don't have good "survival" skills and tools, then you are in trouble (all characters should have some "basic" survival skills, like for a couple of days) ... you need to find some civilization.   If you have a proper vehicle, then maybe your travel is faster and you need less food.    If you find a town - you need to pick up enough rations / fuel to carry you through to your next way point.   Basically, you need money.    The "professions" listed there are just ways where you can make "money" (or whatever the equivalent) - essentially by selling your skills (or stealing, or living off the land).  Now, most characters will be pretty good at only a couple things, and depending on the needs of the community, you might have to take your 2nd or 3rd (or 4th! favorite job for a bit).

Reminds, me, I should add "day laborer" to the jobs... and actually I will add that whole explanation.
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timong
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« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2009, 01:46:32 PM »

EDIT: nevermind, just got the wiki that goes into details about my questions.
Nice summary there!

After reading the following replies two question raised in me: when you start a game you always start the game with a vanilla character or will there be some attribute/skill point slots to divide? Will it be like "use your skill to raise its level" or a leveling type of game when you can chose how you spend skill points?

« Last Edit: July 20, 2009, 01:49:58 PM by timong » Logged

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mvBarracuda
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« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2009, 11:40:30 AM »

Any comments from the other writers? I would propose to set a deadline of two weeks for additional feedback on the topic. If nobody has any proposals for changes, we should declare the content of the wiki article linked above as agreed upon canon of the game.
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Gaspard
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« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2009, 09:11:43 PM »

I went over it again and can't come up with anything I'd want to do differently. Not at this point at least. I'm sure more questions will arise when we delve more deeply into things like combat, skills, etc
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Dave Matney
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« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2009, 03:17:41 PM »

No complaints here. Smiley
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zenbitz
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« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2009, 09:11:31 PM »

This pre-proposal has been promoted to a Draft: http://wiki.parpg.net/Drafts:HowToPlayTheGame
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Luftzig
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« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2009, 01:12:07 AM »

This reminds me of game called Darklands. In this game you've got a group of medieval like heroes in "mythic" germany (that is, the game is very historically accurate, but has a lot of mythical aspects). Your character's while mostly busy being would be heroes, can also make a living, which turns in some money. The game is very interesting, but it's main problem is the lack of a plot, something to make you expect for the next encounter.
So, while this professions are interesting concept, I must say, it's somewhat boring. I mean, I would have liked to play with some ordinary life (even in a post apocalyptic universe), I would just hope for "The Sims: The End of the Fucking World" or something.
But those professions can be used as a plot driving tool. Let's say it will work somewhat like in "DarkLands" - you arrive to a town, you find a place to live (like a tavern, or a squat) and then you have the campsite menu. In this menu you choose your daily activities, and press "Next day" or something like that. In Darklands those activities depended on your skills, which sounds just fine, but...
Let's get those abilities to depend on something that you do, in the ordinary adventuring game view. So, when you arrive somewhere, you'll need to do a lot of mini-quests in order to find a place to stay, find a job, et cetera. Some of those things will be trivial and be just for the flavor, other will have some plot significance.
Another use of those skills or professions can be in having small perks that make playing some tedious part of the game more fun and easy going. For example, in many games you have some aspect of trade, that is, certain NPC's sell and buy stuff, and they might do that in different prices, so you can to some trading. I hate this part. On the one hand, I do think it should be something that is played, not just choosing activity for the day, as trading requires moving around, talking to characters, some small talk, some rumors, getting the info, hearing who's got the goods. But it also require remembering all this stuff, and I have no reason the remember a lot of details concerning a computer game.
We can use the profession mechanism to make that fun. Let's say that you have some profession skill that will allow you to keep a log of some kind. You don't get that for free! Don't forgot that a PC might be illiterate, and unable to count more than 10, surely not to remember conversion rates and prices of goods. But if we choose the merchant skill, we get a log. The better our skill is, the more detailed our log will be, or rather, more easy for the player to use. For example, low skill keeps track of basic info, mid-skill keeps track of detailed information, but very high-skill can summarize the log, finds the best prices you encountered, maybe even include predictions.
And still, that doesn't save you from playing that stuff. You might know the best prices in town, but you'll have to talk to the merchant, and who knows, maybe she's got something interesting to tell, and that's where the charm is.

Regarding combat, I like the idea of having a deadly combat. As martial artists and roleplayer, I was always upset with the fact that in the pen & paper games good realistic combat mechanics slow down the game. There's no reason why that should be the case in computer RPG's as the computer handles all the boring mechanics in the background.
Combat, especially hand to hand combat, should be diverged. I would like to see character swinging their weapon every turn while the opponents Hit Points go down. That's boring. I would like to see combat composed of the ability to make a lot of different actions, all with tradeoffs. I want combat where PC uses dirty tricks like throwing snow into the opponent, where you need decide when to go in, and when to back off. I don't know how this could be done, but surely be novel.
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zenbitz
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« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2009, 07:45:17 AM »

Yes, I have heard of darklands but never played it... I think there are some similarities.

Quote
So, while this professions are interesting concept, I must say, it's somewhat boring. I mean, I would have liked to play with some ordinary life (even in a post apocalyptic universe), I would just hope for "The Sims: The End of the Fucking World" or something.
But those professions can be used as a plot driving tool. Let's say it will work somewhat like in "DarkLands" - you arrive to a town, you find a place to live (like a tavern, or a squat) and then you have the campsite menu. In this menu you choose your daily activities, and press "Next day" or something like that. In Darklands those activities depended on your skills, which sounds just fine, but...
Let's get those abilities to depend on something that you do, in the ordinary adventuring game view. So, when you arrive somewhere, you'll need to do a lot of mini-quests in order to find a place to stay, find a job, et cetera. Some of those things will be trivial and be just for the flavor, other will have some plot significance.

The professions are not the "game" game, it's just what you do to keep yourself alive while you are not "adventuring". 
So, basically, if you were stuck somewhere doing something, or needed to save enough food (or trade goods) up to move on you could just "park" and spend some time "working".   

I think what you suggest - to make the day-to-day stuff based on mini-quests could be OK, but it's an awful lot of mini-quests to write.  When in the end, you are not really DOING anything.

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shevegen
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« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2009, 11:37:50 PM »

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I want combat where PC uses dirty tricks like throwing snow into the opponent, where you need decide when to go in, and when to back off. I don't know how this could be done, but surely be novel.

I believe the game itself should not be too opinionated. Or in other words, not everyone should be forced to rely on "dirty tricks" in order to achieve something in combat.

If such complexity remains optional I have nothing against it at all, but it would be annoying to need to fight dirty all the time, instead of just powering your way through (if your stats/skills allow you to do so)
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skymandr
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« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2010, 10:18:42 PM »

I believe the game itself should not be too opinionated. Or in other words, not everyone should be forced to rely on "dirty tricks" in order to achieve something in combat.

I would like to go even further, in saying that an idea that is very attractive to me, is the possibility of finishing the game without being a fighter at all. It doesn't have to lead along the exact same tracks, and maybe (in a violent wolrd) it is more difficult, but it would, I think, add an original touch to have that possibility.
I'm not saying it should lead to a "better" more "politcally correct" ending or anything like that. Indeed, just because you don't use your fists, you don't have to be noble: trickery, subterfuge, diplomacy, cheating, lying, laying, thieving... These are all ways of accomplishing even grand goals, without resorting to force.
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maximinus
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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2010, 08:40:37 AM »

I believe the game itself should not be too opinionated. Or in other words, not everyone should be forced to rely on "dirty tricks" in order to achieve something in combat.

I would like to go even further, in saying that an idea that is very attractive to me, is the possibility of finishing the game without being a fighter at all. It doesn't have to lead along the exact same tracks, and maybe (in a violent wolrd) it is more difficult, but it would, I think, add an original touch to have that possibility.
I'm not saying it should lead to a "better" more "politcally correct" ending or anything like that. Indeed, just because you don't use your fists, you don't have to be noble: trickery, subterfuge, diplomacy, cheating, lying, laying, thieving... These are all ways of accomplishing even grand goals, without resorting to force.

I too would like multiple paths in every quest. But that is hard worl to design.
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shevegen
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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2010, 09:28:57 AM »

Quote
I too would like multiple paths in every quest.

One obstacle, in my opinion, so far are the dialogue files of the quests.

If we will have multiple ways for quests, then we need to make the dialogue files more complex. I am not sure that this is easily possible. It seems to require too much effort to keep on maintaining the .yaml files, if quests would become more and more complex. Sooner or later we should abstract, and unify some things.

NPCs in a certain area should know about specific topics. We could have common knowledge of the NPCs.

And at the same time the format will become more complex. How many project members are able to easily write dialogue files so far? The only one that really seems to know how to do it right now is Zenbitz.

And we haven't yet included stats or skills in dialogues.

Last but not least, after techdemo, I really think we should reevaluate the dialogue format as well. Perhaps I am wrong but I see problems the more complex things become, the more NPCs we have etc...
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maximinus
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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2010, 02:08:54 PM »

Quote
I too would like multiple paths in every quest.

One obstacle, in my opinion, so far are the dialogue files of the quests.

If we will have multiple ways for quests, then we need to make the dialogue files more complex. I am not sure that this is easily possible. It seems to require too much effort to keep on maintaining the .yaml files, if quests would become more and more complex. Sooner or later we should abstract, and unify some things.

NPCs in a certain area should know about specific topics. We could have common knowledge of the NPCs.

And at the same time the format will become more complex. How many project members are able to easily write dialogue files so far? The only one that really seems to know how to do it right now is Zenbitz.

And we haven't yet included stats or skills in dialogues.

Last but not least, after techdemo, I really think we should reevaluate the dialogue format as well. Perhaps I am wrong but I see problems the more complex things become, the more NPCs we have etc...

The problem is not really the dialogue format, but it is in the placing of code into both a) a YAML file, and b) not into the quest file. I mean, look at the quest yaml files and compare with the amount of work zenbitz put into the dialogue. Also, yaml is structured as a data format. As the quests get more complex, so will the python code that we put into it and then it will undoubtedly start to look ugly. My basic idea is:

  • Put the code part in the quest file and talk of code 'fragments' that we can swap in and out.
  • Use a different, more programmable format.

As I suggested on the programming forums, I think we should use a S-expression format. Easy to parse and can be used to hold data and code. Also, really easy to extend.

But one must be careful in the approach. I mean, after all, the current code works and some good work was put into it.
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