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

trouble_gum

Senior Member
May 8, 2011
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Would I play one?

Yes.

Do I think that it'd work out especially well on any video-game platform? Maybe.

Do I think that, in the above context, it would allow for more ROLEplaying over ROLLplaying...? No.

At least, not so long as hiding the stats is the only change made.

Yopaz said:
Definition of a RPG video game right here.
Role-playing video games (commonly referred to as role-playing games or RPGs) are a video game genre with origins in pen-and-paper role-playing games[1] such as Dungeons & Dragons, using much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. The player in RPGs controls one character, or several adventuring party members, fulfilling one or many quests. The major similarities with pen-and-paper games involve developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. Electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.
It doesn't say anything about stats... What to make of this?
Pretty much nothing. This defines what the genre name means, not what individual parts make up the workings of an RPG. Stats are implied in "same...game mechanics." Especially when the definition cites D&D, traditionally an extremely stats heavy pen-and-paper RPG. THAC0s anyone? Stats in Computer RPGs obviously encourage and reward munchkinism and powergaming. But, the real question is less "Would removing stats mean less gaming the numbers?" and more "What else is missing from Computer-based RPGs that causes this kind of reductivist gaming?"

Most RPGs that get the label attached, like DA:O, TES series, Mass Effect, etc., are RPGs because they use those similarities to tabletop RPGs listed in the definition above. TES, Witcher, Two Worlds: they all happen in "that timelocked portion of Medieval England that all fantasy RPGs take place in as inevitably as the fucking tide," to quote Mr. Croshaw. Most of the older PC RPGs were direct translations of D&D to the PC; Pools of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Wizardry! and so on. They existed primarily to provide the experience of plying D&D, creating your character; having a party, wandering dungeons, slaying monsters and taking their stuff. And, of course, levelling up. Most importantly, both the old and the new existed to provide the experience of playing D&D WITHOUT having to have at least one other person to play it with.

So, when you play a CRPG, nine times out of ten, you're not actually playing a genuine roleplaying game. No matter how much you try to force elements of it on yourself, whether this through dialogue choices, eschewing heavy armour as an Elder Scrolls magic user as though you still had the Old School class restrictions for Mages, or through not allowing yourself to run all day and all night without sleeping or eating. These are artificial, cosmetic things that you, the player, choose to engage in. The game doesn't care one way or the other. Computer RPGs are action-adventures who, sometimes, frame the goblin-skewering with an interesting and compelling story that makes you want to follow it through to the end.

Simply hiding the stats wouldn't change this. What makes for interesting, genuine roleplaying is not not being aware of how powerful your character is, or how to improve them, it's other people to play that character off of. Unless there's either at least one real person to react to and observe your character's character, or some NPCs who can react at a level WAY beyond the NPCs of today, anything you do in most computer RPGs is meaningless or at best, mechanical. There's the 'good' path and the 'evil' path. Occasionally, there might just be a "selfish" path, too. But you generally only get to see the results of these either as a part of the ending of a game, or as relatively minor effects such as one NPC refusing to speak to you or your in-game Karma rating being lowered.

Until computer RPGs can genuinely react to HOW you play your character, as opposed to the numbers used in his or her stats by giving you more choices, more reactive NPCs and making your decisions and actions genuinely mean something to the wider world you're effectively playing very pretty Space Invaders with goblins and dragons instead of UFOs.

tl;dr If you want to roleplay, well that's what pen-n-paper and MUDs are for.
 

Sixcess

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Feb 27, 2010
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No, because for such a system to work I'd need to have complete faith that the game's systems was perfect and logical, and none of them are.

I also like being bale to tell the difference between when my gear and/or build is letting me down, and when the random number generator just hates me.
 

Yopaz

Sarcastic overlord
Jun 3, 2009
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trouble_gum said:
Would I play one?

Yes.

Do I think that it'd work out especially well on any video-game platform? Maybe.

Do I think that, in the above context, it would allow for more ROLEplaying over ROLLplaying...? No.

At least, not so long as hiding the stats is the only change made.

Yopaz said:
Definition of a RPG video game right here.
Role-playing video games (commonly referred to as role-playing games or RPGs) are a video game genre with origins in pen-and-paper role-playing games[1] such as Dungeons & Dragons, using much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. The player in RPGs controls one character, or several adventuring party members, fulfilling one or many quests. The major similarities with pen-and-paper games involve developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. Electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.
It doesn't say anything about stats... What to make of this?
Pretty much nothing. This defines what the genre name means, not what individual parts make up the workings of an RPG. Stats are implied in "same...game mechanics." Especially when the definition cites D&D, traditionally an extremely stats heavy pen-and-paper RPG. THAC0s anyone? Stats in Computer RPGs obviously encourage and reward munchkinism and powergaming. But, the real question is less "Would removing stats mean less gaming the numbers?" and more "What else is missing from Computer-based RPGs that causes this kind of reductivist gaming?"

Most RPGs that get the label attached, like DA:O, TES series, Mass Effect, etc., are RPGs because they use those similarities to tabletop RPGs listed in the definition above. TES, Witcher, Two Worlds: they all happen in "that timelocked portion of Medieval England that all fantasy RPGs take place in as inevitably as the fucking tide," to quote Mr. Croshaw. Most of the older PC RPGs were direct translations of D&D to the PC; Pools of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Wizardry! and so on. They existed primarily to provide the experience of plying D&D, creating your character; having a party, wandering dungeons, slaying monsters and taking their stuff. And, of course, levelling up. Most importantly, both the old and the new existed to provide the experience of playing D&D WITHOUT having to have at least one other person to play it with.

So, when you play a CRPG, nine times out of ten, you're not actually playing a genuine roleplaying game. No matter how much you try to force elements of it on yourself, whether this through dialogue choices, eschewing heavy armour as an Elder Scrolls magic user as though you still had the Old School class restrictions for Mages, or through not allowing yourself to run all day and all night without sleeping or eating. These are artificial, cosmetic things that you, the player, choose to engage in. The game doesn't care one way or the other. Computer RPGs are action-adventures who, sometimes, frame the goblin-skewering with an interesting and compelling story that makes you want to follow it through to the end.

Simply hiding the stats wouldn't change this. What makes for interesting, genuine roleplaying is not not being aware of how powerful your character is, or how to improve them, it's other people to play that character off of. Unless there's either at least one real person to react to and observe your character's character, or some NPCs who can react at a level WAY beyond the NPCs of today, anything you do in most computer RPGs is meaningless or at best, mechanical. There's the 'good' path and the 'evil' path. Occasionally, there might just be a "selfish" path, too. But you generally only get to see the results of these either as a part of the ending of a game, or as relatively minor effects such as one NPC refusing to speak to you or your in-game Karma rating being lowered.

Until computer RPGs can genuinely react to HOW you play your character, as opposed to the numbers used in his or her stats by giving you more choices, more reactive NPCs and making your decisions and actions genuinely mean something to the wider world you're effectively playing very pretty Space Invaders with goblins and dragons instead of UFOs.
My discussion was not about if stats was a part of RPGs. I was debating his claim that stats was the single feature that makes up an RPG. If stats was the only thing that makes a real RPG as he said it would be mentioned in the definition. Or do you disagree with me there? Do you agree with his claim that role playing is a minor part of role-playing games? Do you agree that all games that makes you find out stats are action games?
 

Disgruntled_peasant

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Jan 13, 2011
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Tin Man said:
Disgruntled_peasant said:
RPG's have become too much about number crunching, it just doesnt feel very dramatic that I kill the big bad because my sword has an extra +10 damage more than his and i am level 98 in swordplay. it just doesnt make sense to have such things be represented by such arbitrary numbers.
What?

I'm not going on at you dude, but RPG's have ALWAYS been about the number crunching, right the way back to the original D&D and Ultima days. The entire point of them was that your avatar gets fundamentally better the more you play, meaning that greater challenges can be accomplished by doing the exact same thing, and you get a sense of achievement from having built a strong character/team. The diametric opposite to that is the action game(Megaman being one of many examples), which force YOU to be a better player in order to finish it, rather then have a strong avatar.

So yeah, what RPGs are you playing? It sounds like what you want to do is kit out your character in an action game with chat options rather then play an RPG... Which is cool, I just want people that clearly don't actually like RPGs to leave my numbers alone! =p
Sure the numbers have always been in the background, they NEED to be- the computer needs something to calculate. my point is that games too heavily rely on arbitrary stats that dont make any real world sense, and they make the entire point of the game to be getting the next best equipment, rather than any kind of advancing plot.

It seems like lazy game design. Look at the old Forgotten Realms games, Baldurs gate, planescape ect. sure they had the number crunching going on, but the game was about advancing the plot and character development, there wasnt really all that much equipment in the game compared to newer titles.
Now look at something like skyrim or WoW, the entire game just seems to be about getting a sword with 1 extra damage, or getting the next few points in your 'pointy stick' skill.
 

nuba km

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Jun 7, 2010
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I would give it a go, but I like seeing stats, I love games were I can see how much damage my attacks do by the numbers that pop out of them, I love trying to figure out what minor tweaks to my stats could change my fighting style.
 

Ledan

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Apr 15, 2009
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Has everyone forgotten about minecraft? Its a role playing game, arguably, with no stats. You don't know how powerful your iron or gold armour is, but using logic you can deduce that the gold armour is crap.
 

Disgruntled_peasant

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Jan 13, 2011
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Tin Man said:
Disgruntled_peasant said:
I just dont understand this... the numebers are still there- you just cant see them. you play the game EXACTLY as you would otherwise, you just dont have the magical ability to anyalise every aspect of everything in matrix-vixion.

Arent RPG games about going on epic quests, meeting intresting characters, making important decisions and facing off against the big bad? when did they become a maths puzzle?
I'm not gonna lie, I've exercised some girlfriend driven restrain in not completely taking the piss out of you for thinking that RPGs can in any way be described as a maths puzzle. Is number A bigger then number B? Yes? Use that one. I had to say something, but DAMN dude...

Anyway, what you lot want is a dress up action game. Numbers are there and present in every game ever. Seriously, how do you think things like hit detection, range, bullet drop, fire speed, reload times etc are handled in cod games? Every gun and every perk comes with it bundles of stats. Fighting games: every move has very specific warm up/block impact times, hit boxes and numbers attached to it. EVERY game has numbers attached in big ways. But in an RPG, I want to see how I'm affecting my numbers, I want to be able to visually monitor growth and fine tune my character to do exactly what I want, and I can do that most efficiently when numerical values are attached and clear.

Besides, playing an RPG without knowing what you're equipping and what it does would be horrible gameplay, and It's very clear that very few people on these forums have any idea in the slightest what game design is all about. In RPGs you have to factor in things like resistances for example. That awesome looking armor you have has a weakness to fire damage, or isn't good against blunt force or ranged weapons. Without knowing how you're equipping your characters and what elements you need to be particularly aware of, you're inserting nothing but trial and error as the core of your gameplay, which is just bad.
-_-
I stated that of course the numbers need to be there, obviously the computer needs something to calculate. My point is: a role playing game should not be about "my number is bigger than your number" hell, it shouldnt revolve around just getting bigger numbers all the time.

RPG's should be about plot, character, setting, motives and not 'wow i cant wait to get a sword with +5 damage, then i can really pwn those level X critters".
I do NOT want a 'dress up action game', i'd ask for LESS equipment that is actually better designed (with more function that just 'this is better than X but weaker than Y'), I want a real Role Playing Game for once.

Nobody is saying you will be equiping yourself without knowing what it is, you simple wont have the ability to look into the matrix and anylise everything about it, you will need to apply some actual common sense.

Also my point about it being a maths puzzle- i never said it was a HARD maths puzzle. my point was that its just a number game, nobody cares about motivation or plot, its just "im going to go kill loads of stuff with my numbers so i have better numbers".
 

WanderingFool

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Apr 9, 2009
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From a Pen-n-paper RPG outsiders look, Stats are vital to those games as they allow the GM and players to determine an action's probablility of success. In computer RPGs, the computer can do this almost instantly. So in theory, it would be possible to "hide" the stats, and rely on observation and common sense to choose armor and weapon and such.

But to make a game like that, it would need to be built from the ground up under this idea, and may even need to do away with other particulat elements in order to make it easier for players as well. So while it is theortically possible, but if it would be any good or not is still in question.
 

trouble_gum

Senior Member
May 8, 2011
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Yopaz said:
My discussion was not about if stats was a part of RPGs. I was debating his claim that stats was the single feature that makes up an RPG. If stats was the only thing that makes a real RPG as he said it would be mentioned in the definition. Or do you disagree with me there? Do you agree with his claim that role playing is a minor part of role-playing games? Do you agree that all games that makes you find out stats are action games?
I disagree with your use of that definition to rebut the argument that stats are what computer RGPs are about and that roleplaying of the type that many wish to see in computer RPGs is best carried out within the realm of pen-and-paper or it's virtual equivalents, such as MUDs. The definition making no mention of stats neither proves nor disproves anything.

I disagree that roleplaying is an important part of COMPUTER RPGs and would go so far as to state that Computer-based RPGs of the types that I mentioned in my post aren't really Roleplaying Games. For the simple reasons that a) the stats are what drives them and b) whether you choose to roleplay in them or not makes virtually no difference whatsoever to the game overall.

We label certain videogames that use particular settings, characters and things that we recognise from pen and paper RPGs as RPGs, but they do not behave in the same way as a pen-and-paper RPG and the consequence of roleplaying within them is minimal.
 

Yopaz

Sarcastic overlord
Jun 3, 2009
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trouble_gum said:
Yopaz said:
My discussion was not about if stats was a part of RPGs. I was debating his claim that stats was the single feature that makes up an RPG. If stats was the only thing that makes a real RPG as he said it would be mentioned in the definition. Or do you disagree with me there? Do you agree with his claim that role playing is a minor part of role-playing games? Do you agree that all games that makes you find out stats are action games?
I disagree with your use of that definition to rebut the argument that stats are what computer RGPs are about and that roleplaying of the type that many wish to see in computer RPGs is best carried out within the realm of pen-and-paper or it's virtual equivalents, such as MUDs. The definition making no mention of stats neither proves nor disproves anything.

I disagree that roleplaying is an important part of COMPUTER RPGs and would go so far as to state that Computer-based RPGs of the types that I mentioned in my post aren't really Roleplaying Games. For the simple reasons that a) the stats are what drives them and b) whether you choose to roleplay in them or not makes virtually no difference whatsoever to the game overall.

We label certain videogames that use particular settings, characters and things that we recognise from pen and paper RPGs as RPGs, but they do not behave in the same way as a pen-and-paper RPG and the consequence of roleplaying within them is minimal.
So what you're saying is that the only thing that matters in an RPG is stats? That definition never include what defines a genre?
I have checked the difinition of role-playing games as a whole. There's no mention of stats. No mention of it in table top. Yet you agree that it is the only feature that defines an RPG?

In that case Mass Effect is an RPG rather than an action game with RPG elements. The X-men games are now RPG games because they feature stats, level up, customization and that stuff.
Call of Duty features stats level up and customization so following that definition almost every bloody game released in 2011 is an RPG because by the definition I am arguing against stats is the only part that defines an RPG.
 

Smertnik

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Apr 5, 2010
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The thing is, though, you do know your abilities.
If I had trained with a sword for while I'd know how good I am with it. I already know how much I can lift, how far and how fast I can sprint, how much I can influence other people, etc. I don't need to use a shield to find out that I'm rubbish with it, if I hadn't any training with it, I'd know that. And stats represent just that, your current knowledge of yourself.
Your suggestion would imply that in the game you "possess" another person's body, so you have to "test" it in order to know what you can and can't do with it, which is the opposite of immersion, in my opinion.

As with items' stats, it's about in-game and out-game knowledge. A medieval fighter would certainly know just by inspecting how good a shiled blocks various types of damage, or how sharp a sword is. Me? I don't have a clue, I've never seen a real shield or sword in my life (ignoring the fact that you can't see the sharpness of a pixel sword anyway). I guess you could tell during gameplay how good or bad an item is, whether it deals much damage, or blocks most blows, but in real life you'll get much more feedback. The stats show exactly this.

If anything, this idea would break the immersion even more, as far as I'm concerned.
 

Zipa

batlh bIHeghjaj.
Dec 19, 2010
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Most MMOs do hide the true numbers of what is going on under the hood of the game so to speak.
 

Scars Unseen

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May 7, 2009
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After some thought, I've decided that I don't really agree that stats themselves are a vital part of a crpg; they are just the easiest way to represent what separates an rpg from an adventure game(Myst, Shadowgate, and the like): character growth. Now if you define a "stat" as any variable in the program that governs your character's capabilities, then yes, crpgs need stats simply because you can't change things in a program without using variables. But as far as obvious attributes that the player can manipulate outside of character actions go, I don't see that they are really needed(though they are obviously desired by quite a few, myself included).

The only type of rpg that really requires stats to be enjoyable is the traditional D&D model with classes and levels. But if you don't have visible stats, something else has to be able to hold the player's attention and interest. Action RPGs have... umm... action. But what if you had a game that had as much obsessive detail put into the world's physical properties as Dwarf Fortress, but was an RPG instead of a... Dwarf Fortress game. Imagine that you could pick up any object like you could in more recent TES games, but each object actually obeys the physical properties you would expect(or come withing reason of what you would expect, anyway). A game where you could build things, erect barriers, craft weapons, engage in alchemy more interesting than Ham + Aloe Vera = heal potion. A game where that fireball you just cast is going to burn the damned inn down around you you crazy bastard!

Now imagine that you could get better at things, but only during your character's down time. Meaning that you had to take time(game time, not real time) to practice with your sword, study forbidden tomes, weave some baskets, etc. So when you are playing the game itself, you aren't worried about ability progression, you're thinking about how you can interact with the world. And because this game has such detail put into it, there is a lot to think about. There is still that strategic element that traditional RPGs have, but it isn't about stats. It's about trying to guess whether or not you could use that inn-destroying fireball to start a wildfire that the goblins are coming at you from without accidentally torching yourself as well... again.

*goes off to play ToEE again*
 

Fishyash

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Dec 27, 2010
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I would prefer to play an RPG that hides stats.

Stats are a pain IMO, however it does attract people who like to see numbers go higher. The number crunching gets in the way of the roleplaying. I just assumed they were in the tabletop games for the sake of coherency and depth. Shouldn't it be ideal for the GM to do all the number crunching (in a video game's case [i guess] the computer)?

But here are the things I would think make hiding stats interesting.

Since it promotes experimentation, people are going to go crazy testing everything to come up with their own stats. Street fighter is a nice example (despite not being an RPG), with people coming up with frame data to get the best combos possible, find out what move is safe against who etc... This could be considered a downside since people will be able to calculate the most efficient way to play possible, and can spoil it for other people if they come across it.

Secondly (and this is my favourite bit) people are more likely to roleplay than pick the thing that apparently has the best stats (hello world of warcraft). It will more likely come down to preference rather than calculations.

Doing what you want is the best thing about RPGs. Blurring the line between choice and calculation is a great way to do that.

The only question would be, how would character creation work?

On the flipside, statistics give you a bit of control over the situation. The more you see, the more you feel under control. It brings a tactical scope into the game that most games don't have.
 

Zhukov

The Laughing Arsehole
Dec 29, 2009
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SirBryghtside said:
Zhukov said:
Sure.

Although I'd rather they just get rid of the stats altogether.
You mean an action game?

Stats are how they define character skill. Taking them away removes any character advancement, ergo you get a basic action game.
Only if your definition of a RPG amounts to "leveling up".

I play RPGs for the story, characters and (sometimes) the gameplay, not so I can experience the thrilling rush of adding +2 to strength.