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Daily Dosage 18/08

Thursday, 18 August, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Hi all, it’s your Daily Gaming Dosage with news, new releases, deals, information and our current topic; a gaming glossary!

Today I talk about RPGs (the genre rather than the rocket), and deliver a nice big smattering of gaming news from around the web.

Releases Today

There’s actually a new title for the 3DS, hopefully this marks a trend to make it a worthwhile investment! Oh wait, no, it’s an updated 3d version of an ancient title… Same old.

3D Classics: Urban Champion is out on the 3DS on the downloads estore. I’m selling it short, if you never played it it was a great little game, but this is a trend of nintendo.

Additionally, I’m starting to see pre-orders crop up on COD MW3, so go ask about it at your local stores or check online.

Deals:

Online Digital DL

Steam‘s cheap deal of the day is Gratuitous Space Battles. Good to see they’re not trying to obfuscate the content of their game.

D2D: Cities in Motion (and Mac), Hacker Evolution Duality (still), and they still have their Indie sack thing.

GoG have some discounts on at the moment, read more about it here.

Retailers

Play have a 2 things for 20 quid deal going on at the moment. I’ll admit I haven’t checked Play in a while so I don’t know if that’s a temporary promotion or just a thing they’re doing now, any clarification welcome in the comments!

News from around the Web:

MCV have an article saying that HMV think the price cut of the PS3 will boost the consoles sales. Probably, but I doubt it’ll be so significant, with the announcement of the Wii U, and the fact that most consoles are released around the same time to keep competitive, I wouldn’t be a surprised if a lot of people abstain until the PS4 comes out, whether or not it will do is another matter, but I’m just talking about peoples perceptions here.

IGN have a new vid of the upcoming Tekken x Street Fighter (despite the title on the vid saying Street Fighter x Tekken… they are different.). They’re also doing a Star Wars vs Marvel thing… why do I feel like I’m the classic playground “Sonic can beat Mario!” argument again? (totally freaking could, Super Sonic alone gives him the edge).

They also have a podcast featuring Steve Perlman, the CEO behind OnLive.

Short of it is that they’re talking about new wireless tech, which is important for OnLive because it’s all done over the internet. I’ll talk about thin client software at some point, but this all bleeds into many factors. Basically, how the internet works isn’t ideal for its current use, how wireless works isn’t ideal for its current use, how consoles are designed aren’t ideal for the current trends in technology, and everything is too expensive to implement, especially in a developing country… And they’re planning on trying to move towards new tech. Google have a similar thing going on… hmm.

CVG have an article on the cat-fight between EA and Activision, related to their two very similar looking FPS’s, COD and Battlefield…

GameSpot have some information on current relations between EA and Valve. Interesting if you noticed games like DA2 vanished off of Steam last month…

AllAboutTheGames have more stupidity by people that have no idea about games blaming the riots on them. My friends over at the Escapist, doing Critical Miss have something to say to you… By the way, as someone that’s worked in retail, I can attest that if you sell an age restricted game to someone not of that age, you can face a personal fine of up to £3k. So yes, age restrictions are pretty tightly controlled, you’d of thought a child specialist would know things like that?

Gamasutra: Some good stuff! Day 3 of GDC Europe, and the wonderful Leigh Alexander doing an article about realism, and whether or not it matters in games.

I think when it comes to a failing of realism you need look no further than Duke Nukem. Both 3D and 4ever had half-naked women, often being abducted and killed by aliens. The difference being that the cartoony graphics lessened the blow with DN3d, whereas the hyper-realism of DNF only added to the horrible alien-rape impregnation snuff-film aspect. Both are misogynistic, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a difference between murdered 2D sprite and murdered fully rendered, textured (jiggle-physicsed…) woman. One can parade under the banner of irony and satire, and the other wipes its ass with it…

Topic: Glossary

Role-Playing Game

*deep breath* ok… this is a difficult one to explain.

“Role Playing Games” might suggest a “game in which you play a role” but that’s not really what they mean. Are you not playing a role in Mario, as the chubby surprisingly athletic plumber that’s trying to save the princess? Let me give you some history…

P&P

Or “Pen and Paper” is the origins of Role-Playing Games. Think “Dungeons and Dragons” and other similar games. A group of players and a “Game Master”. The Game Master acts as a story-teller, giving a story to the characters, taking on the role as the various other (non-player) characters throughout the world. The characters tend to be your standard Tolkien-esque heros out on a quest, as told by the Game Master.

The main benefit of this is that because you’re interacting with a game-master, the world is very flexible, because someone can literally change the world depending on your decisions.

As such, it’s not hard to imagine how this could be adapted to a video game, where the games interactive nature essentially takes over the role of the game master. Sure they’re not as flexible as someone’s imagination, but you tend to be labelled less of a sad bastard for playing a video game than sit around rolling dice with a bunch of sweaty nerds.

Stats

Or “Statistics” tend to act as a limiting factor is your characters capabilities. Strength, Agility, Charisma, and then things like skills, lockpicking, swimming, first aid, even some combat skills like archery and fencing. You encounter a problem, you use your stat to try and resolve it. If you fail then you do not succeed, or maybe you only half succeed, that’s up to your game master.

As an example, you encounter a door. The door is locked. You can either try knock it down (strength) lockpick it (lockpicking) or charm (charisma) the guard into giving you the key. Failing the charm results in combat, where your various combat statistics would come into play.

XP

Or “Experience” is another common factor in RPG’s. Experience is earned by completing tasks, succeeding in battle, or generally doing things with a positive outcome. Experience is an abstract currency/reward/indicator for “got better at stuff”.

There’s different structures for this, sometimes you might gain xp in a particular skill, so the more you do that skill the better you get (Oblivion, Runescape).

Sometimes you literally spend the xp itself on new abilities (StoryTeller System), so one ability might cost 3 points and another 1, but you only have 2 points meaning you’ll have to do more quests (and earn more XP) to get both. Often you’re rewarded more the better you succeeded at the quest.

Normally however XP works towards a universal level, (D20, SPECIAL, GURPS) and at level up you gain skills, stats etc, or you can choose where to invest your “new skill points”.

These are all down to the design of the game in question and there’s merits and detriments for each.

The “spend xp on stuff” thing can lead to a character hoarding it until they get an awesome ability and then dump all their points into it. Meaning they’re weak for most the game until suddenly spiking up to unreasonable levels, but with no other talents outside that. Unrealistic in that that’s not how we really learn.

The “gain xp in skills, those skills get better” is probably the most realistic, but again it can lend to an imbalanced character. Many situations might call for a well-rounded individual, and if that guy’s only good at one thing then tautologically they’ll only be good at that one thing! Also, there tends to be little synergy between abilities. You’re really good at swinging an axe but you pick up a sword by the wrong end? Surely your combat experience alone would aid in that?

The “gain xp, level up, gain stats” model is the most commonly used, but it doesn’t always reflect logically on what the character’s done… “Yargh, I slew a dragon and now my potion-making skill has increased!”. But it’s also the easiest to balance, and the easiest to give the character choices at level up, letting them invest heavily in the character.

Mechanics vs Narrative

See, RPG in a video-games context mostly means “xp, levelling up, character advancement, loot, etc…” but this isn’t its sole defining feature… Many games have these now a days but aren’t necessarily in themselves RPG’s… Narrative, how its delivered, and your characters role are all pretty big defining features!

And I think I’ll leave this till tomorrow with “RPG Elements”, that’s right, RPG’s are a two-parter! (at least…)

Have a nice one y’all!

  1. Arathrir
    Friday, 19 August, 2011 at 7:30 PM

    I’m still working on an experience system which feels close to real, but still allows for interesting improvement in characters. The best I’ve had yet is a kind of “karma bank” which allows the granting of powers and skills by a deity or magic means. It’s hardly realistic but it allows the players to “save up” a little for a skill they think they want. They get bonuses to various things for improving non-combat skills too to help round out their characters.

    • Stephen Harland
      Saturday, 20 August, 2011 at 1:53 PM

      That’s the thing, realism tends to be diametrically opposed to a good game. Sonic ran around collecting rings and then transforming into a super-saiyan rip off but do we really care?
      As for a really good RPG system, check out Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines.
      It rewards you more xp for completing quests logically, not by the sheer number of enemies you slay. So if you stealth into the place to set us up the bomb you’ll get a higher bonus than killing everyone.

    • Stephen Harland
      Saturday, 20 August, 2011 at 1:58 PM

      Actually, related to your point, check out Desktop Dungeons. There’s an optional deity system in that, where a deity sponsors you and gives you benefits provided that you stick to their code, or detriment if you don’t. Anything from bonus xp or bonus damage, or certain spells etc can be aboon, compared to health loss, money loss or even DEATH depending on whether or not you piss them off!

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