Some thoughts on Statistics

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Crooked Bee
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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by Crooked Bee » March 10th, 2012, 12:52 am

DeusExNoctis wrote:too many stats leads to min/maxing or people spending waaaaay too much time on trying to make the most efficient possible character.
But... but... that's one of the best things about this kind of games! If you get rid of min-maxing and powergaming, you get rid of 99% of fun.

You see, the more attributes there are, the more options you have, at least in theory. If character development is too streamlined, the number of options get limited severely. If you only have 3 attributes but a party of 6, where is room for variety? You could answer, "in skills", but to that I'll answer, "why not have both?" Having both a good number of attributes and a good number of skills would be better than having to rely entirely on skills if attributes are too limited.

But the attributes must be as well-balanced as possible and each stat must make sense. That much I can agree on.

(As an aside, I wonder how Ken St. Andre's Tunnels & Trolls handles all this attribute thing.)
Tanglebones wrote:if the system is so complex that it becomes annoying to figure out whether a certain stat, or a certain kind of character build or whatever is better than another, that can turn a lot of players off.
What is annoying to some is fun to others. After all, what is "too complex"? Are Paradox strategy games too complex? Despite their complexity they have a strong niche following, and I'd rather have an "old school"-style CRPG aim for that kind of complexity than go down the Skyrim path (which brought the industry to where we currently are in the first place).

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by Tanglebones » March 10th, 2012, 4:38 pm

Crooked Bee wrote:What is annoying to some is fun to others. After all, what is "too complex"? Are Paradox strategy games too complex? Despite their complexity they have a strong niche following, and I'd rather have an "old school"-style CRPG aim for that kind of complexity than go down the Skyrim path (which brought the industry to where we currently are in the first place).
I wasn't trying to push for a Skyrim system (as much as I like it for that game, I don't think it'd work well at all in a party based game). I guess what I'm trying to say is that complex interaction between skills and stats are important in an oldschool RPG, but that complexity for the sake of complexity is bad. The system should be streamlined in that it makes sense as a whole, but complex enough to differentiate characters and allow multiple solutions to problems. As someone who enjoys min-maxing, I'd like to see a system that "makes sense" even when min-maxing (one of the weird things in Skyrim is that my mage character has to practice swinging a 2 handed sword around in order to get to max level), and a system that allows a lot of freedom to play around with how different skills or stats interact, but at the same time, it shouldn't be so complex that it's going to turn off people who don't enjoy number crunching.

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by Crooked Bee » March 11th, 2012, 12:56 am

Tanglebones wrote:I wasn't trying to push for a Skyrim system (as much as I like it for that game, I don't think it'd work well at all in a party based game). I guess what I'm trying to say is that complex interaction between skills and stats are important in an oldschool RPG, but that complexity for the sake of complexity is bad. The system should be streamlined in that it makes sense as a whole, but complex enough to differentiate characters and allow multiple solutions to problems. As someone who enjoys min-maxing, I'd like to see a system that "makes sense" even when min-maxing (one of the weird things in Skyrim is that my mage character has to practice swinging a 2 handed sword around in order to get to max level), and a system that allows a lot of freedom to play around with how different skills or stats interact, but at the same time, it shouldn't be so complex that it's going to turn off people who don't enjoy number crunching.
Fair enough. Ideally, though, I'd like as many stats/attributes/skills as possible -- provided all of them make sense, of course.

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by mbpopolano24 » March 13th, 2012, 3:13 am

Statistics and character customization are essential in a good, old-school RPG. It is not by chance, I believe, it has been mentioned Skyrim as an alternative (which I consider the pinnacle of the anti-RPG, a simulation (?) or a shooter but not a RPG). I am all for innovation and making stats useful and interesting, and above all a good game need to force you to make difficult decisions: you really need that point in strength, but you also really, really need that point in speed… and what about luck (which, as we all know, makes all things better even in real life), you really need that too. This tension motivates to level up and keep going in the adventure. It even makes you want to do ‘tedious’ things, like killing re-spawning enemies or attempt impossible tasks (like hunting a death-claw).

In sum, these are the essential components of a good old-school RPG, in my opinion: (1) a good story, (2) interesting / believable interactions with the world, AND (3) an excellent stat/leveling system. Case in point, one of the best ever devised: the SPECIAL system in fallout. Together with the setting, is probably the #1 reason I enjoyed all incarnations of the series.

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by Tanglebones » March 13th, 2012, 5:13 am

mbpopolano24 wrote:Statistics and character customization are essential in a good, old-school RPG. It is not by chance, I believe, it has been mentioned Skyrim as an alternative (which I consider the pinnacle of the anti-RPG, a simulation (?) or a shooter but not a RPG). I am all for innovation and making stats useful and interesting, and above all a good game need to force you to make difficult decisions: you really need that point in strength, but you also really, really need that point in speed… and what about luck (which, as we all know, makes all things better even in real life), you really need that too. This tension motivates to level up and keep going in the adventure. It even makes you want to do ‘tedious’ things, like killing re-spawning enemies or attempt impossible tasks (like hunting a death-claw).

In sum, these are the essential components of a good old-school RPG, in my opinion: (1) a good story, (2) interesting / believable interactions with the world, AND (3) an excellent stat/leveling system. Case in point, one of the best ever devised: the SPECIAL system in fallout. Together with the setting, is probably the #1 reason I enjoyed all incarnations of the series.
Skyrim still forces you to make difficult decisions about how your character develops, it just does so without using stats. Now, I fully expect InXile will use some kind of stat mechanic, since that's pretty iconic for an oldschool RPG, and, to be clear, I think this is a good thing. But I think in a more general "theory of what makes a game an RPG" sort of way, the fact that you make difficult choices about how your character develops is more important than the specific mechanic of how those choices are implemented.

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by Eich » March 13th, 2012, 9:34 am

If I were to make a RPG I would prefer a Trait based approach. Like the Fallout perks. After Lvl-up you should be able to choose among various perks. Like e.g. rifle specialist, brawler or scientist. These traits influence your stats directly. For example everyone starts out with 5 points in every stat and a perk will increase or decrease a stat. This way you could create a very personal and individual character without worrying about cookie cutter stats.
I think it would be best if the plain numbers would be hidden from the player. But I'm not sure about that.
Of course the perks should build upon one another. If you choose e.g. rifle specialist you unlock the next tier. Maybe even branch out some trees. Not all of them may influence stats (just increase chances for something to happen or unlock skills) but I think you get the picture.

And the most important thing is: dice rolls. Games without luck and dice rolls are just boring. If I can predict every outcome in advance it's just not entertaining anymore.


___

To the Skyrim topic. I really hate the Skyrim system. You can basically unlock everything there is because there is no lvl cap whatsoever. You character will be everything and nothing in the end. It's not individual.

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by Lirpakkaa » March 13th, 2012, 10:53 am

Crooked Bee wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:I wasn't trying to push for a Skyrim system (as much as I like it for that game, I don't think it'd work well at all in a party based game). I guess what I'm trying to say is that complex interaction between skills and stats are important in an oldschool RPG, but that complexity for the sake of complexity is bad. The system should be streamlined in that it makes sense as a whole, but complex enough to differentiate characters and allow multiple solutions to problems. As someone who enjoys min-maxing, I'd like to see a system that "makes sense" even when min-maxing (one of the weird things in Skyrim is that my mage character has to practice swinging a 2 handed sword around in order to get to max level), and a system that allows a lot of freedom to play around with how different skills or stats interact, but at the same time, it shouldn't be so complex that it's going to turn off people who don't enjoy number crunching.
Fair enough. Ideally, though, I'd like as many stats/attributes/skills as possible -- provided all of them make sense, of course.
Actually for the base attributes, I think less is definitely more. With GURPS for example having only 4 attributes (strength, dexterity, intelligence, health - and health and strength would be pretty nicely combinable too, I think) and it works really well. It gets harder to pick a dump stat that way to boost the others, not saying that you couldn't or shouldn't do that but it has more consequence than having all but one of your party have minimized charisma in a D&D game, for example.
I also think that the base attributes shouldn't change at all during gameplay besides in some rare occasions, like in Fallout for example where only drugs or implants could do that. So you have some baseline for each guy that you gotta live with.

From then on just have a lot of skills to pick, plus interesting traits/perks/(dis)advantages/feats/whateveryouwannacallthems, to further customize your dudes. Those should be as numerous as makes sense and is sensible to balance well, I agree.

Fallout had 7 stats, which worked ok in a single PC game since every stat had some use (not to say that some weren't much more important than others), having a low attribute would actually show itself during the course of the game.
But in a party based game, it's much easier to min/max stat values and not have a proper negative effect from those low attributes, when your other members cover the weakness.
Not to say that minmaxing like that can't be fun, but it's pretty boring compared to a more tighter balanced system. Every base stat there is, should be useful for every character type.

And definitely DON'T have randomity in the char generation, let me just allocate points which is a thinking process, instead of rolling for them which is just random and monotonous.

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by ctankep » March 13th, 2012, 6:04 pm

I think the best approach is to keep the attributes few and make them govern a wide set of stats skills, preferably skills that are governed by more than one attribute.

For example, do you NEED Strength and Endurance to be separate attributes? Wouldn't it be better if Strength and Agility governed Endurance as a stat? Should Intelligence and Wisdom both be attributes, or should Int simply govern wisdom as a secondary stat?

Alternatively, instead of a d&d style system that promotes pumping primary attributes to get ridiculous bonuses to make you hilariously powerful compared to a level 1 commoner, take an approach more like RuneQuest where you determine your attributes at character creation and after that focus shifts to improving the wide array of skills the game has to offer. Isn't that more exciting when levelling up? Rather than deciding on putting one point into dexterity or charisma you have a choice of two dozen something skills. Picking between more experience in brawling, improvised weapons, animal tracking or traversing rough terrain is a lot more fun, at least to me.

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by Roger Wilco » March 13th, 2012, 7:51 pm

I don't want to see stats culled and I doubt they will be. It seems to go against their stated goals- to create a game that somebody that hasn't played crpgs since the 90s would step in and feel like they are in their element.

The culling of statistics is one of the changes of the genre I do not enjoy. I hope Wasteland 2 has as many as the RPGs of the 80s & 90s had

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by Lirpakkaa » March 13th, 2012, 9:21 pm

I don't see why a more GURPS-like system with fewer base attributes which are not as no-brainer to min-max (but still a lot of everything else to customize with) would not feel good to oldschool RPG players?

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by ffordesoon » March 14th, 2012, 3:36 am

A good stat system is transparent, easy to understand, and impacts moment-to-moment play in a measurable way. Skyrim does it reasonably well for the type of game it is, but as has been mentioned, the system there is far too simple for a party-based RPG. You also need more stats in general in a turn-based system. SPECIAL is probably the smartest base stat system of which I'm aware, as it covers all the necessary basics while still allowing for a lot of flexibility. I'm sure I'm forgetting something, though. I don't think you really need any more base stats than the ones in SPECIAL. I'd like to see a much wider variety of derived statistics than those in Fallout (which is the closest thing to Wasteland proper I've played, so you'll excuse me if I rely on it too much), however, and Charisma being pretty much for bartering and immediate positive reactions never sat well with me. I think it would be cool to see a marked difference in the replies available to a suave character, an intelligent one, and someone with high stats in both. There's a big difference in being charming and being intelligent, you know? Additionally, an Intimidation check should maybe look at my Strength stat as well as my Charisma. A wiry dude isn't going to be a credible physical threat, and I'd like to see the stats reflect that.

Really, though, as long as there aren't three stats for every one appreciable attribute (the Speed/Agility/Dexterity thing the OP mentioned being one example of that approach), it's all good.
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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by blacklightofday » March 14th, 2012, 11:47 am

When it comes to statistics, I personally can only imagine SPECIAL, or at least some slightly modified form of it.

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by Namfoodle » March 15th, 2012, 2:28 am

Crooked Bee wrote: Fair enough. Ideally, though, I'd like as many stats/attributes/skills as possible -- provided all of them make sense, of course.
I'm with you. Not only does it bring differences between the characters, it also adds more chance to roleplay a spesific type of characters and adds replay value. Something like SPECIAL is what I'd hope for also.

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by alex » March 15th, 2012, 9:12 am

As I see it, stats are a great way to guide development of the game to tackle characters in certain ways. They give the devs a platform through which they can challenge the characters and how they can challenge the players. So, if we have dex, int and str as attributes, that means that these are the basic types of character skills that will be challenged. Characters will need to do feats of strength, intelligence and dexterity to survive, the game will be about these feats.

Now, the fun thing is that attributes also help sort what should be done with player skill, instead of character skill. Wasteland had 4 physical stats, 2 mental ones and luck. The game wasn't an action RPG by any stretch, the physical part of the characters was completely controlled by the numbers. Physical challenges were challenges in that they required you to build a good character to face them, not that you needed good reflexes or coordination to complete them. Int and Cha, however, where used only as an interface with the world. The player still needs to think for himself, solve puzzles and figure out how to interact with other characters. This isn't a test of character skill, but player skill.

The luck stat is also much reviled, sometimes because it seems so useless by itself. But Tunnels and Trolls showed how it could be an important part of the game. In T&T, it is common for the characters to end up in trouble, triggering deadly traps, falling through holes and what not. This is expected, and luck helps determine how badly these things are going to affect you, it is the "saving throw" to see how hurt you are by your mistake.

So, what I hope W2 do is keep those attributes, or do something similar. The variations of dex are more than justified, in my view. Since the game aims to challenge the player's wits and creativity (or so I hope, anyway), it should keep the diminished number of mental attributes. It should take care to make sure that there are plenty of situations where each attribute is important, where different combinations are important, and so on. Not only by simple tests when situations arise either, but also by the mechanics of combat and skill use. As I see it, the reason newer games can do with less attributes isn't because we had too many to begin with, but because it is harder to make a game where the differences between attributes matter. But though it is harder, it also can yield a better game.

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by Crooked Bee » March 15th, 2012, 11:42 am

^^ Agreed.

Also, the way Luck works in Tunnels & Trolls sounds good. I hope Ken St Andre implements something like that in Wasteland 2.

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by brishingr01 » March 15th, 2012, 11:53 am

Hmm...
Camp A MOAR stats the better.
Camp B stats are great but to much is going to be over the top.

Coming from a gamer in the 90s I hated the fact you could spend hours trying to find the combo (which is not a bad thing).
But have some non-stagla would mot be bad by any means.

Luck sould be in this game....but...but its reduccent...well it better your chances.
More stats in a party-based fgame sould be there, but I dont want to waste serval hours trying to understand what does this and that.

To be percise, make the stats complexing enough but still easy enough to understand.

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by Dionysus » March 15th, 2012, 12:49 pm

my humble personal opinion on this:

I want stats !
I love stat !

I love to sit down and plan out my character 20 levels in advance ... I'm not necessarily minmaxing, it's just how I play the game, I love to plan, take some hardship during the early part of the game, and then slowly grow my character exactly into the type of character I want him to be.
Because I think there's nothing worse than playing your character and realizing you can't advance or can't do/get/achieve something because you lack a certain skill.
Taking Skyrim as an example ... my very first character was a mage, and as it turns out ... magic sucks in Skyrim, at least without mods or exploits (talking about these -100% spellcost armors), so while it certainly was a challenge it was just no fun because it felt so wrong. And I couldn't just respec because the perks you get are set in stone as soon as you pick them.
So I started from scratch and planned my character out, did some meta-gaming (knowing where to get some nice stuff) and had a great time.

I'm just the type of player who can sit down for hours trying to figure out the best way to get the character I want.

I also like the luck state if it is done right, in some games it's useless in other games gamebreaking. But if you're able to manipulate the luck stat you can avoid using it after all.


Maybe as a compromise there can be two different modes of gameplay ? Casual and Hardcore ?
In Casual several stats are auto-managed or dumped together into one stat. In Hardcore you have access to the full range of options to tweak your character.
I mean ... that's not even like creating a completly different gamemode, it just that in one mode the game doesn't display all the information and auto-manages some. Hell, even the windows calculator has a "casual" and a "scientific" version.

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by Crooked Bee » March 15th, 2012, 1:03 pm

I really dislike the idea of having a separate "Casual" mode. Reminds me of Mass Effect 3: story mode, action mode, RPG mode. :lol:

Why should it be there anyway? A bunch of pre-made characters for those who don't want to bother with stats should be enough. In a well-balanced system, a clever player should be able to figure out for herself what to invest in on level-up anyway. And... this is going to be a game for clever players, right? Right? Pretty sure we're all clever players here. This isn't Bioware Social Network.

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by Jasede » March 15th, 2012, 1:49 pm

This isn't a casual game! Away with casual mode!

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Re: Some thoughts on Statistics

Post by Lirpakkaa » March 15th, 2012, 1:59 pm

Sure, have autoleveling schemes avalailabe to those who want such. That's not really at all related to how complex the system is or how many primary stats it should have.

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