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

Therumancer

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Brawndo said:
I was inspired to make this thread while I was re-watching Yahtzee's bit on World of Warcraft, specifically the part where he talks about games being all about numbers instead of whether your sword of doom aesthetically clashes with your elite boss clogs.

In real life, if I was trying to pull together some friends to make a soccer team, it's not like I could know that Johnny has a Strength 6 and Speed 4, and Suzie has Strength 3 and Intelligence 8. Instead, I have to make inferences based on observing and interacting with them, and even then I might be wrong - Suzie might be stronger than Johnny even if he looks bigger.

Would you play an RPG that functioned the same way?

Obviously the numbers would still have to exist to do the necessary calculations behind the scenes, but they wouldn't be revealed to the player. You wouldn't know how good your "One-Handed Melee" skill really is until you start practicing with a sword, or how high your Charisma is until NPCs replied to you in a way that suggested that, perhaps, you really are a huge dick. You wouldn't know that shield A is better than shield B from numbers, but rather from common sense and gameplay experience: "Well, everyone knows wood is weaker than steel, so the steel shield is likely stronger. But I've also noticed from playing the game that my character moves slower with the steel shield, so maybe I should use the wooden shield if I want a skirmisher-type character."

To me, this system better captures the essence of "role-playing" a character than what we currently have. Because what we currently have encourages power-leveling and max-DPS spec-builds and all kinds of other ridiculous shit, like putting together giant statistical spreadsheets and complex formulas (people do this all the time, especially for WoW). So you're not so much selling an experience for players, but more of a challenge to see who can level their stats the fastest or most efficiently by best exploiting the game's mechanics.

EDIT: my "yes - no" poll got eaten somehow
Not really, because the point of a role-playing game is to do things that you the player can't and find ways for whomever your controlling to succeed based on their capabilities rather than your own.

The issue of "hidden statistics" games has come up before, largely in PnP games to address the issue of min maxing (which is a whole subject unto itself). It generally doesn't work because it's difficult to embrace the tactical and strategic aspects of a game if you don't know what your working with. What's more people generally know their own capabilities, and RPG heroes are a cut above the ordinary people by their very nature, which entered into the equasion.

Now, it should be noted that while players DO know the statistics of their character in most RPGs they do not nessicarly know the stats of the other PCs in a PNP game and some players delight in keeping this kind of thing secret. What's more the players do not know what the stats of the NPCs are. Someone who is deceptively strong would be described in a fashion suggesting much lower attributes. Likewise a player wanting to conceal his character's abillities from the other PCs for a while for whatever reason might say describe his character moving along slowly with a limp, due to the character faking it, when the character actually has a ridiculously high Dexterity/Speed/whatever attribute... say a thief or assasin disguised as a begger, who hasn't met the other PCs in the context of adventuring yet, or knows someone else insisted on playing a Paladin and wants to try and RP in a fashion to avoid conflicts of alignment as long as possible by not making the nature of the character immediatly obvious ICly.

Occasionally you see problems revolving around that kind of thing as you wind up with some players who want the other players to know nothing about their character and yet do all this stuff, and get butthurt when things progress logically. On another version of that when you play certain games with an advantage/disadvantage system and one player takes Secret Identity as an advantage (as opposed to a disadvantage) which prevents other players from deducing the obvious. A secret identity advantage is sort of like the "Superman" version where even really smart characters like Lois Lane can't put 2 and 2 together that Clark Kent tends to walk off right before Superman appears and then reappears when he's gone (and hides by putting on a pair of glasses and a suit... and I've wondered how the cape fit under the suit jacket so perfectly... but well this is out of context, the point is nobody notices that even if it doesn't)... a cinematic advantage that belongs in certain generes but conceals a character and what it can do from other players in a way that slots them off. ;)
 

Epona

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Phoenixlight said:
s69-5 said:
skywolfblue said:
s69-5 said:
skywolfblue said:
Zhukov said:
Sure.

Although I'd rather they just get rid of the stats altogether.
Agree.

RPG's are suppose to be about talking to the characters, learning their stories, and acquiring spifftastic stuff that LOOKS cool. Stats just get in the way, making people go for ugly stuff simply because it's +1 damage. Sooner stats go away, the sooner people get to wear what they want to wear.
The go play an action game or a table top RP and leave video game RPGs alone, since stats are what video game RPGs are all about.
"Role Playing" does not equate to "Stats". Stats might be used as a tool to facilitate role-play in some games, but Role Playing without stats can and does exist.

Dragon Age, Skyrim are examples of games that are definitely "Role Playing" without having the "+1 damage" style stats that typify classical D&D.
???

While I have not yet played Skyrim (Xmas) so I'll have to get back to you on that, Dragon Age most certainly has stats/levels/numbers. In fact they are at their most anal in DA. A 4.2 armor stat versus a 4.1 armor stat!? Overboard much?

And who says D&D is the be all end all of video game RPGs?

Please name a video game RPG that has no stats whatsoever.
You're wrong, stats don't make an RPG what it is at all, it's the whole experience. If you look at RPG's like Zork you'll notice that they don't rely on giving the player lots of stats to function properly.
Yes, stats make an RPG. You can get story and action and adventure from non RPG games, what sets RPG's apart are stats that represent character progression. Take Zelda for example, it's an action adventure game with an RPG element, that RPG element would be the heart containers. You have 20 hearts at the end of the game, you can take more damage than you could at the beginning with 3 hearts. It's the NUMBER of hearts that represents the RPG element, the character progression. Granted, Zelda is very RPG lite compared to real RPG games.

Without stats, Final Fantasy would be action adventure games, not RPG's.
 

TheBelgianGuy

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I'm not going to pretend I know everything, but here's how I see how this whole "RPG = stats" came to be.

First you had the pen and paper RPG's. The only way to represent actions of the characters, is with carefully monitored statistics, and rolling dice on the table.

Then came PC games. They decided to put the popular pen and paper RPG's into video-form, copying the stats with it. After all, you only had a few pixels jumping around your screen, you NEEDED stat-sheets to figure out what was going on with your guy.

But see, the world and technology evolves. We now come at a time were computers are so powerful, and video games are so well-crafted, YOU DON'T NEED HUNDREDS OF NUMBERS TO KEEP TRACK OF YOUR CHARACTER.
With a glance, you can easily see a if a person is muscular, is agile, is beautiful,...

Stop holding the medium back with nostalgia and Stop Having Fun, Guys.
 

Epona

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Angry Juju said:
Would be a good idea, but i think in order to avoid someone creating their own statsheet the said game should have randomized stats (have some form of balancing, but still random)
I remember when developers tried to give players more and more freedom. You want developers to control every aspect of YOUR gaming experience, including trying to discourage you from taking notes on a separate piece of paper. Sad.
 

Epona

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TheBelgianGuy said:
I'm not going to pretend I know everything, but here's how I see how this whole "RPG = stats" came to be.

First you had the pen and paper RPG's. The only way to represent actions of the characters, is with carefully monitored statistics, and rolling dice on the table.

Then came PC games. They decided to put the popular pen and paper RPG's into video-form, copying the stats with it. After all, you only had a few pixels jumping around your screen, you NEEDED stat-sheets to figure out what was going on with your guy.

But see, the world and technology evolves. We now come at a time were computers are so powerful, and video games are so well-crafted, YOU DON'T NEED HUNDREDS OF NUMBERS TO KEEP TRACK OF YOUR CHARACTER.
With a glance, you can easily see a if a person is muscular, is agile, is beautiful,...

Stop holding the medium back with nostalgia and Stop Having Fun, Guys.

Did it occur to you that the reason those stat based games were so successful was BECAUSE of the stat progression?
 

llew

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sure, sounds like a challenge and thats what i like from a game, which is why recently ive spent my time playing chess on my phone instead of playing my xbox... that fucking AI is smarter than steven hawking
 

Yopaz

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s69-5 said:
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?
**points and laughs

So you cherry picked the first few lines from a full page on wikipedia, which does go on to include stats in the definition. How amusingly foolish.

Nice try though. Maybe try reading more next time, because reading is good and can save you embarrassment.

from same wiki definition:
Success at that action depends on the character's numeric attributes[...]
e. As a character's attributes improve, their chances of succeeding at a particular action will increase.

As The player grows in power, allowing them to overcome more difficult challenges, and gain even more power.[3] This is part of the appeal of the genre, where players experience growing from an ordinary person into a superhero with amazing powers. Whereas other games give the player these powers immediately, the player in a role-playing game will choose their powers and skills as they gain experience.

# The experience system, by far the most common, was inherited from pen-and-paper role-playing games and emphasizes receiving "experience points" (often abbreviated "XP" or "EXP") by winning battles, performing class-specific activities, and completing quests. Once a certain amount of experience is gained, the character advances a level. In some games, level-up occurs automatically when the required amount of experience is reached; in others, the player can choose when and where to advance a level. Likewise, abilities and attributes may increase automatically or manually.[citation needed]
# The training system is similar to the way the Basic Role-Playing system works. The first computer game to use this was Dungeon Master,[original research?] and emphasizes developing the character's skills by using them?meaning that if a character wields a sword for some time, he or she will become proficient with it.
Maybe you should look up the definition of definition? Because as you might be unaware of there's a difference between detailed information and a cold hard definition.

Also it might just be my eyes that are terrible here, but I am unable to see the point where it says the stats have to be known to the player in order for this to be an RPG. Could you kindly bold out that part for me?
 

Deacon Cole

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I had long been thinking on the role of numbers in rpgs, both paper and dice games as well as video games. I had been dissatisfied with juggling all those numbers. It seemed like a colossal waste of time to me. Some people like that kind of thing, I guess, but that only means that these games have gotten worse with the number juggling to appeal to that crowd. When you deal with a game where there is hardly any difference between a stat of fifteen and a stat of sixteen, then it's too fiddly to be functional.

I rather like how this sort of thing worked in the original Bioshock better. In that there were no stats in the traditional sense. You could not improve your strength or intelligence with experience. Instead you used Adam to purchase plasmids and tonics which gave clearly defined bonuses to your character's abilities.

My thinking is the stats to matter to a hill of beans when it's what you do that is important. This has two meanings. The first is the choices you make are more important, but this meaning is tangential to the topic at hand. The second meaning is that it doesn't matter how high your character's stats are if you keep rolling that miss, or better, constantly fumble. This is true in paper and dice games, but essential in a video game where tight controls are a must, so having low stat make poor controls does not keep a game from being frustrating. It doesn't matter how realistic its supposed to be. Not fun is no god damned fun.

Hence why I liked how Bioshock generally worked where it didn't just improve already present abilities so much as allowed you to add new ones. You could already run, jump, and had a working trigger finger, but your character improved not by increasing these abilities but by being able to shoot lightning or bees at enemies. Improving the base abilities was more about improving the player rather than the character.

This reminds me of my comment on the Jimquisition on hard core gaming. Back in the 80's, there was no such thing as a hard core game because hard core was not based on the game but the way you played it. You could play, say, Pac-Man casually by just dropping a quarter into a machine every once in a while for amusement or you can learn the patterns and strategies, to work at it to improve your performance. So by the original definition, one could play FarmVille hardcore because it's not the game that's hardcore, but the player.

I think this displacement of what is hardcore reflects the problem I have rpg stats. The character should not improve. The player should improve. You shouldn't get better at hiding in shadows because your character's stealth stat had been incrementally increased but because you the player have learned how the stealth mechanics of the game work and how to use them better to creep by undetected.

This displacement, in my view, creates a rift between the player and the character. True a character is their own entity and will likely have abilities beyond those of the player. But I think this is an area where the two should be closely tied together when it actually causes a rift, a separation. Worse it can also be a crutch for the lazy player who fails to improve, so they just wait for their character to improve instead. It's keeping the player out of the experience of being the character. I think its effects should be minimized if not completely discarded.
 

exp. 99

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Stats do not make an RPG.

Admittedly, when a developer or review mentioned "RPG elements" they mean a level up system. This is a misnomer; they took a system that often coincides with RPGs and use it as a reflection of what an RPG is.

The deal is, an RPG is in the eye of the beholder. Every RPG has a series of different facets to appeal to different players. On one hand, even the most linear RPG focuses on story elements and personal interaction. Sure, Final Fantasy is going the route of the action adventure game by getting more and more linear as time passes, but those long cutscenes and stints of dialogue remain a core focus. In games like Morrowind or Oblivion, interaction with characters is what moves the game forward, interspersed with a healthy bit of hack 'n slash to go with. In MMOs, its not just talking to NPCs and gathering quests and lore from them, but also coordinating with your fellow players. This is Role Playing, which is a perfectly viable aspect of an RPG. You can in fact make a game purely based on this, with minimal focus on mechanics and no need to keep the player in the loop so far as mechanics work. It would likely be an incredibly social game, but that's not a bad thing at all.

On the other hand, a second aspect of RPGs is character progression. Most RPGs contain a level up system, a means of pushing forward numerically. It contains your skills, your powers, the levels to which your weapons do damage and your armor protects. It is your health bar, mana bar, experience gauge, the whole nine yards. The thing is, this isn't just in RPGs, so that people name it "RPG elements" is somewhat incorrect. Every game has numerical values. Play CoD and look at the gun listings in multiplayer. Or if that is unconvincing, play the original Zelda and look at how you collect items to expand your arsenal and grow more powerful. Hell, even the original mario had a means for you to level up and grow stronger, all the way back to the NES. These mechanics are again a viable option to purely focus on in a game. These games will appeal to a different crowd; the diablo players, MMO raid fans, and the like. You slowly develop your character into the biggest and meanest stat block the game will allow, and you revel in the powers you have accumulated.

Both routes are perfectly viable, and both are "RPG"s

So, yes, I would like to play an RPG where the stats and mechanics are all back end workings that I'm not supposed to know about. It'd be difficult to do *well* in a video game, but not impossible, and I think if done well it'd be awesome.
 

Alpha Maeko

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Apr 14, 2010
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I would play this "blind" game just because it sounds interesting- can't guarantee that I'd keep on playing it, though. I'd probably get frustrated by the small rat who had giant amounts of HP.
 

Dyme

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100% stupid idea.

What would people do if it was an actually good game? Extract the numbers from the game anyways. And go for maximum efficiency.
 

Feylynn

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The problem is games don't and can't provide enough intricate information for you to tell these things. Like, you can't feel pain in an RPG, HP is the replacement for that. People tend to have a pretty good idea of when they can no longer go on.

In the same vain, I can't brush my finger across a blade or feel its weight in my hands, there is no way for me to reasonably discern the properties of a shield other then visibly.

Then to call out the actual idea, these already exist. Almost every RPG in the world already does this, just not to the unreasonable extreme you've suggested.
Let's say I have 7 strength and in this level, or by merit of new equipment that number goes up to 12. I would know that my strength had increased. It becomes easier for me to lift things, I feel like my swings are better, etc. But just because I know my own strength is probably a 12 or so on a scale, I have no way in hell (save experience) to know what effective sword fighting is. Thus things like the damage scaling on moves is usually calculated without telling the player how, or how the order of multipliers is actually being calculated. In order to figure these out the player needs to try the skill and determine that by the depth of the wound, the effect it had on the opponent's ability to fight afterwards, etc, that double strike is stronger then triple blade because he couldn't get the strength behind that third swing. This information is represented to us as a number because graphics cannot (and would be wasted trying) show us explicit wound information that is detailed enough with facial recognition and a wide variety of altered animations to physically determine this information.

But that's a lot of words to fall back on the, games that hold back knowledge of calculation just are not fun. I have played them before and they end up breaking your build and just generally feeling terrible compared to having the information and making educated decisions. Good fighters know their own body and can reasonably have knowledge that a player wouldn't in games. Numbers are the easiest way to represent this because of the time it would take to develop this system otherwise.
 

viking97

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yes, i would, but i don't think you could simply hide all the numbers in say, skyrim. the game would actually have to be designed differently otherwise it would just be in exercise in trial and error, which could certainly be a part in figuring out the invisible stats but that's not all i want to have to go on.
 

Epona

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Doing something (like hiding RPG stats) just for the sake of doing something different is an exercise in failure.
 

Ymbirtt

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I think it could be fairly interesting if it became a part of the character. If I were to take a random passer by off the street and show them a picture of a falchion and ask "What is this?", then show them a scotch claymore and ask the same question, the answer I'd get to both of them would be "sword". If I were to hand both kinds of blade to the same kind person and ask them to take a few swings with them, they'd probably figure out what kind of things they could chop through and how tricky it would be to chop precisely with each one after taking a few swings with it. As an inexperienced character, it makes sense that you wouldn't know just by looking at a sword exactly what you could do with it.

If I were to show a military reenactor a picture of a scotch claymore, they'd instantly be able to tell me what it was and what it could do from their experience of using swords, even if they'd never held that specific blade before. A character who is experienced in using swords should be able to figure out how good his blade is just by looking at it.

This isn't completely hiding all stats from the player, it's just letting the player specialise in a particular field to the detriment of certain others, then reflecting that specialisation in the way that they play, which sounds a lot like a role playing game to me.