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Re:Poll update: Are you sick of RPGs? - 2007/07/02 22:34 While this is without a doubt the closest thing we've had to a "Year of RTS" in a long long time, I still feel that despite that the RPGs are maintaining a stranglehold on our attention. That is probably because of, as Kitty mentioned, their more universal appeal. One can start multiplaying an online RPG when they possess little skill in the title, where as being a n00b is a logical barrier-to-entry into an RTS's online space. The RTS genre has a real perceived skill barrier to it that prevents it from catching on the way RPGs and RTSes do.

It was my original intent to not vote on this poll - just leave it open and see what you guys say. I'm glad I have waited to weigh in on the topic because it's given me a chance to consider things more throughly before I make a response.

Originally I was going to say I was fed up with the MMO-model specifically. These games, in order to be more accessible, tend to remove more and more "skill" from the game play mechanic and make it more about level and/or equipment and/or character class and/or grouping in order to achieve success. I very much prefer the more action-RPG model of Diablo, PSO, or Priston Tale. These systems evoke a near-true real time combat model that allows a player's reflexes to play into the game mechanics, instead of just mashing skill buttons while leaving an auto-attack feature to do the hacking and slashing for you. The thing I find good about these mechanics is that victory becomes much much less about level and gear since in these games, even if you do have decent stuff, you will still die if just just waltz into combat and expect to just stand there and mash attack over and over. You need to know when to duck out of combat, how to time for spell casting etc.

The way I got used to play PSO Rangers is a perfect example of this and by comparison all ranged-classes I've played in every action-RPG or MMORPG are boring as hell by comparison. GW Rangers take so long to fire their bows that you can't really stop someone from reaching you without putting a "slow you down" skill on your bar. WoW Hunters are so bound by "minimum range" and suffer the same problem as GW rangers that in terms of fire-rate and post-shot cool down. Additionally, the ranged characters in each game basically only have one ranged attack: Single-shot, single target. Even if they get a different weapon, the result is still single-shot, single target. Oh sure, they have SKILLS that let them do that-- with multi-second cool downs -- but their basic attacks remain boring, removing a lot of the fun that a weapon-swapping skilled PSO Ranger has - and experience much closer to say a Ratchet & Clank style game play.

However, over this last weekend, steinst2 hooked me up with a trial key for City of Villians. This game plays very much like an MMO except it lacks a auto-attack function. Instead everything you do is on a cool-down, powers and even basic "I punch you" attacks. While this results in somewhat slow combat (by comparison to WoW which is quicker and GW which is lighting fast by comparison), it makes tactical withdrawals possible since your enemy isn't hitting you every second (and causing a daze debuff) and real-time range calculation is almost present. I have been enjoying CoV quite a bit so far, and really I think the big reason why is because it's refreshingly different from all the fantasy stuff I've been playing lately. Playing in a super hero setting allows you to create new kinds of characters, play with new kinds of weapons, explore new kinds of plots, and fight new kinds of enemies, than what GW and WoW and many before it have been throwing at me for a few years now.

So the end result is I just need something new. I still take enjoyment from the games - gameplay + progression = hyper addicting. However while I don't think I only have a heart for action-RPGs vs MMOs anymore, I do think I have a greater love for them and the reason why comes back to what steinst2 mentioned about repetition.

I hate grinding because I have to. It remains a major reason why I don't have 15k armor in GW or why I generally hate WoW's endgame. However, I can't help but notice that back in the days of DC PSO, I used to subject myself to daily partial runs of V-Hard Ruins, and enjoyed every moment of it. And I think the reason why is because the act of combat in PSO was an engaging enough process that it wasn't as repetitive as "push 3, now push 6, now push 3, now push 7, now push 8 and win" for 30 mins. I had to move around, I had to time my attacks, combing alone was not enough to win I also had to manage spells and weapons, and the level is not completely predictable as there were different schemes and spawns for the dungeon compared to the last time I ran it (not true random, but random enough to keep you on your toes).

Another reason I prefer the action RPGs is because character class balance doesn't become a barrier-to-entry in being able to play with people. In WoW, the fact I'm like the 23rd level 70 MS warrior in my guild meant that I couldn't get into an Arena Team and that the only thing I could ever do in a party was tank. It remains a reason B'harroth and I's warriors don't run instances/raids together so we don't end up fighting over gear drops. And in both WoW and GW I listen to people being forced to alter builds and such to fulfill a role they don't want to, like tank or healer, because the group demands it. In the older action RPGs, every class is soloable, and most tasks are too. Adding friends to run increases the chance for phat lewts, but also increases the difficulty as well. There was nothing wrong with running a party of 2 hunters and 2 rangers in PSO, nor is there a problem with a 2 sorcereer, 1 barbarian, 1 assassin party in Diablo II. There simply are no healers or tanks that you NEED to take with you - if everyone can play their class they'll be fine. (The saddest part about this is GW SHOULD be this way but between the community and how programs mission encounters, it's not).

As far as steinst2's comment about dynamic worlds, I think that'd be keen but also comes with problems. Yeah, I'd like if I killed "Bob the Overlord" that he'd stay dead. At the same time though, I'd also like it if I showed up brand new to a game 4 months or even years late, that this didn't mean all the cool story encounters were gone and I had to wait until the next content drop to do storyline stuff. I think the closest way you can implement something like that is if you have some sort of character-specific story progression and if you have completed some story aspect it alters the world for you but not for those not caught up to you yet. And the only way you can re-do an encounter is if you are helping someone who hasn't done it yet.

City of Heros/Villians actually has a neat way of almost doing this. The world has a persistent over-world, much like WoW, where everyone is running around and antagonistic factors fill the streets with malefactors (or do-gooders) for us to beat the crap out of on a random and repetitive basis. However, the foes we find there are but cronies, the kind of lackies you expect our enemies to be able to fill the streets with. Their leaders are tucked away in "mission" that you complete by going into a location and jumping through some sort of entrance. These missions, much like GW's, are instanced for just you or your team. It is in here that you face greater foes of story significance and, once you complete the mission, it's done: you can't go back because the guy you killed is still dead. Since the game isn't about "This guy drops this so I need to be able to go back and kill him specifically" this isn't a problem (at least that's my take on it so far).

As far as the good/evil thing, I do imagine this is where WoW's reputation system could be put to good use, as opposed to being another thing you have to grind. Make the players roll characters who are perceived as neutral upon creation. Then, as they choose which quests to do and how to end them (a-la Fable), their reputation goes up with either a Lawful Goodish peoples or a Chaotic Evilish people. As one goes up, the other's goes down. NPCs then are aligned to either the good or the evil and then speak to you as such, sometimes attacking you outright or just being rude to you. The technology exists for what you're looking for there it's just the people who use it choose not to use it for that

Okay that's long enough ^^ I'll add more thoughts if replies occur.
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    Topics Author Date
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Poll update: Are you sick of RPGs?
Kitty 2007/06/24 19:45
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steinst2 2007/07/02 12:44
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Vergil 2007/07/02 22:34
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