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Direction of interaction in RPGs


bjornk
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Weird title, I know, but I don't know how to describe it, let alone properly naming it. This is not meant to be an academic discussion or anything, and I haven't done a research on it either, but I just wanted to talk about it and perhaps raise a little bit of awareness to it.

In most games, you observe basically two types of interaction:

(A) Player interacts with the game world (PC -> GW) (Examples: PC attacks enemies, PC initiates dialogue, PC does quests, etc.)
(B) Gameworld interacts with the player. (PC <- GW) (Examples: Enemies attack PC, AI or NPCs initiate dialogue, NPCs react to what you do or wear etc.)

In most games, the majority of the interactions are type (A) and besides the situations in which the game tries to harm the player, type (B) almost never occurs. Most of the (B) type interactions occur in strategy games, in which you usually have a dynamic world with AI opponents, who usually attack you, but sometimes offer help, alliances etc. However, in role-playing games where the (B) type interactions are actually very important and useful to make the player feel immersed in the game world, they are almost never used. By the way, as a side note, interactions with the environment (e.g. PC getting affected by the weather or harsh climate) may also be considered as a (B) type interaction, but as it almost always exclusively targets the PC, it introduces other problems in terms of immersion.

I believe one of the reasons for the lack of (B) type interactions is the fact that game worlds in RPGs are usually completely static. In other words, nothing actually happens in them unless the player interacts with them. This is naturally not the case for strategy games, but then "feeling immersed in the game world" isn't really a priority of or even necessary in a strategy game, as it is in an RPG. Unfortunately, games which try to combine role-playing and strategy genres (e.g. Mount & Blade series) the lack of (B) type interactions is still an issue.

So, wouldn't role-playing games be a lot more interesting if there were NPCs who do quests FOR you, or give you gifts in order to increase their relationship with you, or if there were NPCs or parties of NPCs who had heard about your good/bad deeds and wanted to join you, if the NPCs in the game actually acknowledge your presence by coming to you and ask if you needed help etc. for a change? Wouldn't it be exciting when your super attractive PC could actually attract some attention? Well, my answer is obvious.¬†This is actually one of my main criteria when evaluating a new RPG in terms of innovation and immersion. Is the developer truly trying to make an innovative RPG, or is it the same old same old... So, what do you guys think? Are you also going to be looking for plenty of type (B) interactions in future RPGs, such as CP2077? Or is it still okay for you to role-play the errand boys and girls in RPGs? "Do you need help or anything? Please do, I need the XP!" ūü§®

 

Edited by bjornk
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I believe a nice title would be "Various Interaction Types in an RPG Game".. :D  Doesn't really matter what you call it. It is all good. ;)

I would personally put the environmental interactions with the player into a category of C. personally. No reason or evidence just seems a bit more logical in my mind. The other two have NPC interactions in them. I do seen and understand the reason I believe you put them together though.

I remember type 2 in Mass Effect I.. "I will destroy you!" being constantly screamed in the same voice during combat with Biotics... There are other examples in other games that have just annoyed me all to hell.  The same when Type 1 happens with the player character. When they repeat the same thing over in reaction to an event that occurred. I really wish they'd (the developers) would add a few more different lines to the game. I understand older games had space constraints but now with most being downloaded... a few more bits isn't going to hurt if it helps the game feel more alive.

14 hours ago, bjornk said:

So, wouldn't role-playing games be a lot more interesting if there were NPCs who do quests FOR you, or give you gifts in order to increase their relationship with you, or if there were NPCs or parties of NPCs who had heard about your good/bad deeds and wanted to join you, if the NPCs in the game actually acknowledge your presence by coming to you and ask if you needed help etc. for a change? Wouldn't it be exciting when your super attractive PC could actually attract some attention?

That is the holy grail in my opinion of what a true RPG game is.  The game could even be a bit liner if it provided this. One of the worst offenders in this is Fallout 4. (out of the games I played) give you the title of General but you are the grunt going out risking your life to do task that he should have done..  this is my opinion of course.

14 hours ago, bjornk said:

So, what do you guys think? Are you also going to be looking for plenty of type (B) interactions in future RPGs, such as CP2077? Or is it still okay for you to role-play the errand boys and girls in RPGs? "

I always have that in the back of my mind.  I would love having plenty of B type interactions in CP2077.  However, it depends on the game and what is offered. If it is on par with Witcher level of story and NPC development and such.. it might be OK to be the errand boy/girl IMO however, if they (CD Project RED) seem to start slipping .. then perhaps not or at least not until it is very cheap.

TBH.. I was excited for that game and happy Keneu decided to join the project. However, with some of the interviews it appears that we will have someone talking in our ear telling us the quest and such, guiding us the entire way. This dumb down will be disappointing if it does come to pass.

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8 hours ago, endgameaddiction said:

I don't like when I'm everyone's problem solver. It just feels stupid how everything begins to change when I show up and decide to help the whole world with their problems as if I'm some kind of god.

NPCs: PLEASE, YOU HAVE TO SAVE US! YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN SAVE US!!!

PC: Okay, okay, I'll give it a shot...

*** You now have to save the world, the universe, the princess, or whatever... Yet, no salary provided, you're not even fed properly...***

NPCs: Hey I can give you a DISCOUNT!

PC: Well, thanks!

NPCs: But ONLY if you fetch/kill etc. something for me!
...

*** You save the world, the universe, the princess or whatever the fuck needed to be saved, paying for the entire war effort out of your pocket. ***

NPCs: Thanks, you've been a great help... now, fuck off...

This is the typical errand boy/girl scenario common in most RPGs, since well, forever. Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Skyrim are basically this. Of course, "saving the world" is sometimes replaced with finding a relative etc. there are variations of it naturally.

Edited by bjornk
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8 hours ago, ritualclarity said:

I remember type 2 in Mass Effect I.. "I will destroy you!" being constantly screamed in the same voice during combat with Biotics... There are other examples in other games that have just annoyed me all to hell. 

Followed by "Enemies are everywhere!", "Go! go! go!". Yes, that was bloody annoying. Enemies attacking the player is the most common (B) type interaction in games, the problem is, it is almost always the ONLY type (B) interaction. What we need more of in RPGs is "friendly" or at least "neutral" types of (B) interactions.

Surprisingly enough, or maybe not, Skyrim was a game with quite a few type (B) interactions:

- NPCs react to use of magic, shouts (Woah, woah woah watch the magic!)
- NPCs react to skills (Favor the bow, eh?, Sneaky thief! Honeyed words etc.)
- NPCs react to not wearing clothes
- NPCs react to PC race (though not gender?)
- NPCs react to what PC's doing (shooting/swinging weapons, playing with corpses, kicking/pushing things etc.)
- NPCs react to PC's condition (being sick etc.)
- NPCs sometimes say things to the PC or force greet the PC.
- Bandits and some of the wildlife warn the PC not to get closer.
- Friendly NPCs that aren't a follower helping the player in fights if they had the proper courage level.
...


The problem with Skyrim, however, was that most of these type (B) interactions were all superficial and had no impact on the game at all. Still, most of RPGs, no matter how superficial they were, don't even have any of these. We want the type (B) interactions to be a part of the actual game, such being offered help or alliances in strategy games.

8 hours ago, ritualclarity said:

I always have that in the back of my mind.  I would love having plenty of B type interactions in CP2077.

If I'm not mistaken they removed the "attractiveness" attribute of CP2020 from the game in CP2077. That might give you an idea of what to expect in 2077.

 

Which game (not necessarily an RPG) do you guys think had the most type (B) interactions? In retrospect, Skyrim actually looks like a pretty good candidate. Perhaps that's the reason why people still play it after 8 years.

 

Edited by bjornk
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I believe Oblivion had a few itself. Similar to Skyrim.

Vampyr had a few type B but it was less in my opinion than Skyrim and more along the kind of Mass Effect in quality. Mostly noises (response from the monster to let you know it was around, about to attack etc) and a few comments from the Hunters etc.  There were some NPC setups that were there to advance your introduction, (NPC interactions) but they were scripted for the game not random interactions. Not sure if that qualifies in your list. (someone was attacked)

I only briefly played Metro ... and it had some NPC interactions with each others.

Most are scripted and most become quite annoying with the repeated events. I don't know of any that reach the level that you are talking about @bjornk

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The gaming industry has a serious deficit in writers.  Wooden dialogue, shit plot lines, etc.

ME: Andromeda's main quest plot; The ME main races show up to colonize a new galaxy.  The native Kett don't like that and try to stop them.  That's it.

FO4: Baby Sean is kidnapped...but PLOT TWIST he's an old man and the main villain.  That is FO4 in its entirety.  Remove every Yes/No/Not Now/Sarcasm player response and the quest plods through in a straight line.  Removing player dialogue wouldn't affect much since all responses give the same quest stage result.

FO New Vegas: The one starting quest in Goodsprings with the townspeople and the Powdergangers has more branches and permutations than the whole main quest in FO4.

  • Side with the townies.
  • Side with the raiders.
  • Side with the townies and then betray them.
  • Side with the raiders and betray them.

I don't expect games to have depth anymore.  Devs don't need to bother when the fan base has the attention span of a goldfish.

 

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they would have been better to create a game with less story say, only a few good NPCs. Like some traders, Faction leaders and such. Leave the main story arc to the community. Create the tools to mod the game and release it at the same time as the game. The money they saved used to improve some of the tools (just a part of the cost to develop all that shit that people complain about. If they have any time left... improve the fight mechanism, and Sim tools.

They practically are just creating a world.. no story, nothing really interesting. they might as well create a sandbox where people can do what they want. When I heard about Fallout 76 being Online and being Multiplayer without any "NPCs" I thought they were going to do it. But alas .. I gave them too much credit.

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Keep in mind that in an age of intelligent AI assistants like Siri, Cortana, Google Duplex etc. "Yes/No(Yes)/(Sarcastic)Yes" was the best that certain game developers could come up with. What's worse is that there were many people (gamers) who were defending them, if you recall the FO4 announcement thread on LL, for instance. Despite the fact that it was a blatant copy of the "dialogue wheel" which was created by Bioware for their "voiced" player characters and have been plaguing RPGs ever since. Any game developer who follow the footsteps of Bioware will eventually face the same fate that Bioware now suffers from. Yeah, I'm looking at you Bethesda and CDPR.

23 hours ago, Kendo 2 said:

Devs don't need to bother when the fan base has the attention span of a goldfish.

Exactly. Their dumb audience has no interest in role-playing, they just want action, kill/shoot things. They can't be bothered with lengthy dialogues, tough choices that require thinking etc.

 

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2 hours ago, endgameaddiction said:

If games were so simple to make, we would have made our own RPG from experience of playing them.

People have. There is one on LL.. right now. It is a sex sim but still it is a game someone made.

Indy games do this as well. They have difficulty getting all the ducks in a row so to speak but they are making them. There are many that are making games now. I know a group that is working on a game right this minute. Not a RPG but still they are working on it. I believe they have 12 people in their group

21 minutes ago, Kendo 2 said:

Uhuh.  Fuck that mindset to the Moon.  'You don't like our cars so build your own'.

yes. I agree. Keep in mind the ideas being tossed about are generally well known request and desires of those that are interested in RPGs. This is something a company should want to include to attract these individuals.  However, what do I know, apparently it is the new norm to fuck over your fans and give them shit (looking at you EA, Bethesda etc) So maybe I am wrong

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16 hours ago, endgameaddiction said:

If games were so simple to make, we would have made our own RPG from experience of playing them.

Unfortunately making games today involves multiple disciplines of art and technology. A really smart and talented person with a lot of perseverance and spare time CAN build simple prototypes of games with innovative ideas, but nothing more, or he can make simple indie games just to make money and that's it. The types of innovative games that can be made by a single guy or two, have already been made.

I've seen some of the ideas I've had for years getting slowly adopted in games, such as planet sized open-world maps, but I have so many more that I will never see implemented in a game. Dialogue engines for NPCs powered by AI using personality filters and dynamic knowledge sets, semi-autonomous player characters that can take care of themselves to the extend of their skills and abilities, NPCs that are powered with intelligent agents with goals, dynamic game worlds that can build themselves etc. etc. I can even precisely visualize all of these ideas if I need to, not to mention holding a CS degree I know what can or cannot be done. Sadly, I'm taking all of them to the grave with me. I've always tried to share them as best as I could, hoping that they might inspire someone else, but people were usually not even interested in discussing.

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I really enjoy some of those simple games created by a small team.  They are great and fun. I encourage many of them in the past. However, yes, they can't compete with some studio with all those resources. They still do great work with what they have. I enjoy their works far more (in general ) than any commercially created project. even if there are some problems here and there due to the nature of the project. Often there so creative and interesting with their approach that that alone is worth the price of admission as they say.

One could hope those upgrades and concepts would be implemented as the computers get stronger and stronger and more and more capable AI can be created. One could hope but currently I am of the same mindset that this is very unlikely to ever happen even if the computers and other tech is available. On this I tend to agree with you. It is so sad. if you asked me 10 ~15 years ago I would have strongly believed this time period would have ushered in a new renaissance in gaming. I was sure I had years of terrific games to look forward to.  My current self is crushed by the fact that companies have decided to go they way they have.

 

 

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