Poll: Would you play an RPG that hides stats from the player?

remnant_phoenix

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s69-5 said:
"Should" denotes an opinion.
You accuse me of not reading, but then you seem to go without reading the part where I said "Again, just my opinion, just like everything else on this thread..." and went and told me that I was expressing my opinion, and you say it as though that de=bunks my point.

s69-5 said:
Again, there are no RPGs that do not use stats. There are plenty that do not offer character choices. Tell me again which aspect defines RPGs in terms of video games.
I understand that there are tons of games called "RPGs" that feature no character choices. I understand that the industry and the player base at large defines RPGs by stats. I understand that my crazy idea that actual "role-playing" should be what defines a "role-playing game" is weird and deviates from the normal, accepted definition.

I understand all that, but that doesn't mean that I agree with it.

To me, character choice is what defines role-playing games, whether they are video games are otherwise. I believe that we could have (and maybe should have, for the sake of variety and innovation) an RPG without stats, such as what the OP suggested. Or, there could be a game similar to Mass Effect 2 where the stats are removed entirely and the systems of play revolve around standard third-person shooting combat and action-adventure style exploration; at the same time, all the characterization, plot, and dialogue choices...wait, what do you call that...oh yeah! "role-playing" would remain intact. And that, to me, would be an RPG.

I'm not really interested in changing the genre labels and I don't expect people to change their perceptions. My grief is this: The assumption that "stats are what make an RPG an RPG" paves way for certain problems:

1) Lousy storytelling. I know too many people who are into tabletop not because they are interested in actually role-playing and crafting meaningful stories, but because they love the number-crunching and power-gaming, "I'm gonna make my character the most badass of all badasses!" If that's what some people like, I'm fine with that. My issue is that RPG developers see this behavior and assume that players care more for numbers and system than story and pathos. I've heard people rave about Demon's/Dark Souls, yet I've heard nothing regarding the quality, good or bad, of the game's story.

To me, the best RPGs will have a great system AND a great story. It's disheartening to see so many of those who are more interested in systems encourage developers (through buying power) to make games for people who are more interested in systems when RPG devs could be pushing the development of amazing game stories. When I was younger, the RPGs I played had the most interesting game stories. Recently, the most interesting game stories I've experienced have been outside the RPG genre in games like Red Dead Redemption and the Assassin's Creed series. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that focusing on system over story has contributed to this trend.

2) Unfair expectations. A game like Mass Effect 2 comes out, and some people go as far to argue that it's not an RPG, but a third-person shooter with some RPG elements. On the contrary, the role-playing remained intact. It was the lack of stats that broke genre conventions. Why can we not have a role-playing game (a game where you play a role in a story) without a stat-focused system? The underlying assumption that an RPG must have a stat-based system is an arbitrary social construct, but people treat it like inviolable law.

3) Stifled creativity and innovation. In the tabletop world, there was a game that came out called Nobilis. It had an extremely simplified system. Each character has four attributes that are ranked from level 0 to level 4 (or 5, can't remember). The emphasis was on player/storyteller creativity and crafting fantastic stories that required creative thinking from everyone involved. The game did not sell well at all. Games like Nobilis and Mass Effect 2 try to stir the pot and do something different and they get turned on because "an RPG HAS to have a detailed stat-based system." It's frustrating.

And, again, all this my opinion. Just as the idea that "the industry defining RPGs by stats is a good thing" is your opinion.
 

remnant_phoenix

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s69-5 said:
remnant_phoenix said:
My issue is that RPG developers see this behavior and assume that players care more for numbers and system than story and pathos. I've heard people rave about Demon's/Dark Souls, yet I've heard nothing regarding the quality, good or bad, of the game's story.
Because there is little story to speak of in that game (though the story is told through atmosphere and through tiny fragments of information).

The story is secondary in that particular RPG. What it does contain though is a wealth of stats/numbers/equipment combinations which all come together quite exquisitely. I've not met two players wth the exact same build in my travels online.

Hm... little story, little/no characterization, abundant stats - still an RPG (and one of this gen's best)... interesting...
See, to me, Demon's/Dark Souls are not RPGs...they're "Dungeon Crawlers."

Just my opinion, but I think it's a little silly to call a game "role-playing game" when it features no actual "role-playing."
 

Epona

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Hyper-space said:
Crono1973 said:
There is so much wrong with this post but calling me "BOYO" just lets me know that it isn't worthwhile to waste my time explaining it to you. Let me just say, you wanna play a game without stats, go play one. Don't waste your time telling me how the games I have been playing for 20 years aren't immersive enough for you because they have fuckin' numbers.
I don't think you have an argument, seeing as you are getting all pissy because I called you boyo (english/welsh slang for friend or mate), which of all things is pretty harmless and friendly.

I mean really, you had enough time to write your response, why not bring up some FEISTY new points instead of just "it is how it has always been".
Yeah, THAT must be it. Nevermind that I have been putting my argument out there since yesterday. I don't see the need to repeat it all to YOU, BOYO. I can understand wanting to get immersed in a game but if numbers break immersion for you then you are too picky. Remember, it's a game first and everything else comes second. Those numbers are there for gameplay purposes and without them it would just make playing an RPG more frustrating.

Actually, I guess if immersion is a requirement then real life must be a sad place for you.
 

Hyper-space

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Crono1973 said:
Yeah, THAT must be it. Nevermind that I have been putting my argument out there since yesterday. I don't see the need to repeat it all to YOU, BOYO. I can understand wanting to get immersed in a game but if numbers break immersion for you then you are too picky. Remember, it's a game first and everything else comes second. Those numbers are there for gameplay purposes and without them it would just make playing an RPG more frustrating.
Having no numbers doesn't immediately make the gameplay frustrating, but more challenging. Knowing that Sword X can kill the bad guy in Y amount of hits renders any sense of fear and challenge moot, as you know that you are going to win.

Actually, I guess if immersion is a requirement then real life must be a sad place for you.
What class! Petty and insulting.

Protip: If someone doesn't attack your personal character based upon something as irrelevant as forum posts, don't herp the derp by assuming shit. This is bullshit that you would expect from a 12-year old, not an adult.

So please, look at how insanely petty and bullshit that last statement was, then come back to the discussion.
 

Epona

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Having no numbers doesn't immediately make the gameplay frustrating, but more challenging. Knowing that Sword X can kill the bad guy in Y amount of hits renders any sense of fear and challenge moot, as you know that you are going to win.
You haven't played many RPG's if that's what you think the numbers do. No one sits around trying to figure how many hits it will take to kill something.

Having no numbers would make the game more frustrating as you would never have an accurate picture of your stats or the stats of your gear. Have you ever played an RPG without the numbers?
 

Fappy

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I am all for D&D number-crunching, but that doesn't need to be an essentially part of an RPG for me to enjoy it. I love the Mass Effect franchise and most of the statistics in the game are displayed as bars and percentages... sometimes with nothing but inference.
 

plugav

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I remember playing a game that did something like this to a small extent. That game was Silent Hill 2 and it was pretty brilliant.

Would this work in a typical, combat-oriented W-RPG? I doubt it, it sounds really frustrating. But it would be great for a more story-driven game. Also, I think you'd have to do away with standard skill raising.
 

Brawndo

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Axyun said:
I really, really like this suggestion and it's something I've been looking into myself for a long time. I'm actually in the process of designing something similar (but not identical).

A stat-less RPG would definitely be fun to play. It will have some design challenges to overcome which will probably require some ingenuity and innovation.

The reason why stats are so prolific in games, especially lengthy ones like traditional RPGs, is that they fool the player into a false sense of progression and difficulty. A bunny you kill at level 1 is not much more difficult than a demon you kill at level 50 or whatever. The difficulty in the challenge lies solely in the difference of numbers but the execution (ie. the skill required by the player) remains the same: choose an attack that will efficiently deal lethal damage to the enemy.

Sure, some games do genuinely become tougher over time as enemies employ more complex tactics but it is those tactics that make the encounters difficult, not the numbers. A demon that only auto-attacks is easier to kill than a demon that knows how to flank. Given the same tactics, the demon and the bunny are no different in difficulty, stats not being a factor.

On the player's side, some sort of progress indicator still adds value because people do become more skilled at a task over time. But, in the real world, a skilled swordsman is better than a novice not because he can take in more blows (bigger HP bar) or deal 5 times more damage, its because he knows how to avoid taking lethal damage and can employ skills and tactics out of the reach of the novice. Therefore, an RPG of this nature should emphasize skill progression on level-up instead of attribute progression.

Going back to our demon, a low level player will fail against a demon because his reaction time, speed of execution, and limited skills and tactics are not sufficient to overcome the threat. A high level player, on the other hand, has an array of offensive and defensive skills at his disposal to handle the situation, couple with faster execution time and more stamina (not HP). However, even though the player is more skilled in-game, the encounter is still more difficult than taking on a simpler enemy at low levels because it requires the player to execute a more complex strategy, making the encounter truly more difficult instead of falsely difficult by just making the creature have bigger stats.

Now this does not exclude stats altogether. A bear is definitely stronger and heartier than a mouse. This approach should attempt to model relative strengths through more than stats alone (hidden or otherwise).

The downside to this approach, and the reason why it's probably not more prolific, is that there is a soft cap for how long the game can extend this concept. Traditional RPGs can last forever since it just boils down to making the next set of tougher creatures have bigger numbers and requiring the player to level up to the point where they can match said numbers. This system will cap on the player's ability to execute on complex strategies expeditiously with a razon-thin margin of error. That cap is variable per player, variable for the enjoyment of the player, and has a definitive ceiling.

Very good post, and right on the money of what I am looking for in an RPG. You people continue to amaze me in your ability to say exactly what I am thinking but make it sound so much better.
 

Akisa

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Zachary Amaranth said:
Akisa said:
King of the Sandbox said:
Of course. RPG's are about role-playing, not roll-playing.
Tell that to JRPG.
Tell that to RPG players in general, for that matter.
Nah it's only games like Diablo and Borderlands. Seriously they need to separate genre so I can play games that at least attempt to role-play.
 

LBringer

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The idea of stats is to see who your character is and how they develop and interact with the world. (and believe it or not, the world and humans CAN be broken down into numbers quite a bit with percentages, odds, and quantifiable stats as long as it's specific enough)

If you take all the numbers out of what you see, it is definitely more immersive, but gives you really no good idea of certain things you can miss. When you play games, you get sight, sound, (and in sometimes a rudimentary form, touch), the stat numbers actually help give other things to you as a player that your character may have over you (increased perception), and when interactions are heavily based on these stats (perception to see a trap, speech skill to interact in a certain way), all that gives you is a LOT of frustrating trial and error and saving/reloading to get the desired result.

Should the numbers go away completely? I'm going to go with 'probably not'.
Should they be simple to interpret, sure. Even if 50 strength is 'Average', that gives a general range of numbers to know what you have to increase to get your desired result.

Oddly, when I read this, I immediately thought of Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines and the awesome way of interacting with characters in that game.
 

Something Amyss

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Akisa said:
Nah it's only games like Diablo and Borderlands. Seriously they need to separate genre so I can play games that at least attempt to role-play.
And the aforementioned JRPGs, and MMOs, and....
 

vivster

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w00tage said:
vivster said:
w00tage said:
vivster said:
no i would not
it pretty much undermines the main gameplay mechanics and one of the big reasons why RPGs are so addictive
it's all about progress... seeing progress activates the reward receptors in your brain which makes you happy
and by seeing ever higher numbers you get the shots you need to keep playing
Dude, the progress that should be triggering the reward is the accomplishment of a purpose like "I saved the kingdom!". Not the counting of the beans that you've gathered.

The fact that these people have to resort to substituting bean-counting for adventure and accomplishment means they have FAILED YOU as game designers. Please, consider trying a game where actually making a difference provides you with a feeling of accomplishment. Play games, don't let game companies play you.
it comes down to immersion then
when i wrote this i was mainly thinking about jrpgs
i will never be able to feel like that I accomplished something in that bizarre world of scripted events
the things i can see and grasp however are how my stats increased and that is something I did
i beat the games' challenges and was getting better and better
i look at the number of increased strength, i look at the number of defeated monsters, i look at the number of items i have collected and i look at the number of steps i made
those are all numbers that show me that i have accomplished something, that i have progressed
some saved world in a distant fantasy will never be as real to me as the numbers i directly influence

it's a bit different in wrpgs though
i'm a lot more immersed in them and all i do is for me and my character and the numbers are but just a little indicator to me on how i can progress further
Fair enough, but look at what you said - "i will never be able to feel like that I accomplished something in that bizarre world of scripted events". That's the fail I was talking, and it's totally on the game company.

I found myself in the numbers game trap for years, and escaped at a substantial cost to a friend relationship. I tried to help him out but he just stayed stuck in that world that he'd mastered with math, because he'd mastered it. Eventually he did mostly leave, and we did hook up in other games which were about adventure and accomplishment, and we did start having some good times again, for which I'm very glad.

So it IS possible to get out of the math trap, and while it can definitely be a journey, it opens up a world of new fun to have. Plus, you're in control then, not the game company. You can always play the math simulators again, but you can also play anything else you want, because your reward center works with more than one kind of game.

Sorry if it looked like I was lecturing you, but I really see that kind of addictive mechanic as harmful and want everyone to at least be able to have a choice.
i think you're reading too much into it
if i can't identify with the characters on screen or don't acchieve a certain level of immersion that's not the game's or company's fault

i don't play often but when i do it's for fun
i'm an explorer type player and the world is as important to me as the little number that says "100%" when i cleared a map
it's not addiction but convenience... or else i wouldn't know when to stop looking

games are games, they need numbers and they need boundaries to make it more accessible