Devilish details

Yesterday’s post got some interesting replies, not the least of which is this post over at KTR. It got me wondering if I just over-focus on some things, or if other MMO players don’t see them or don’t care about them.

Zubon says you can play DF:UW’s prowess system in Asheron’s Call 1. Here is the quote:

“So if you like Darkfall’s prowess system, you can go play that right now in Asheron’s Call 1. Seriously, that system existed in 1999…”

(Note: the 1999 part is important, because that’s basically the version of AC I’m talking about. It’s been more than a decade since I last played it, and for all I know the game today is completely different.)

As I pointed out, yes, certain aspects of the AC1 system are similar on paper to DF:UW; primarily the act of spending points to increase skills. And I don’t want to get into a debate about what percentage of the systems are similar, because I see little value in that here. Whether it’s 99% different or 1% different, the two ARE different.

What I do want to point out is how these differences ultimately matter.

For example, DF:UW does not have levels, while AC1 did. Zubon talks about this in his second paragraph, but misses or does not address the main point; without levels, you don’t ‘progress’ through areas/zones. Without that progression (and other factors), you don’t fall into the themepark trap and instead create a virtual world. It’s the classic difference between UO and EQ, and while AC is in many ways the odd man in the middle from the big three era, in terms of progression and world feel it’s very much EQ and not UO.

The reason? It’s character progression system.

DF:UW? Far closer to UO in terms of world feel. The reason? It’s character progression system.

To me, that’s huge. Apples to oranges huge.

And yet Zubon made the post he made, and others made the comments they made. I respect Zubon, I know he knows MMOs, so I don’t think it’s a case of not getting it or not seeing how the pieces add up.

I’m left with the fact that to Zubon and others, maybe they don’t care? Maybe a virtual world or a bunch of connected zones is just shades of gray?

38 Responses to Devilish details

  1. John says:

    “And I don’t want to get into a debate about what percentage of the systems are similar, because I see little value in that here. Whether it’s 99% different or 1% different, the two ARE different.”

    In what percentage of similarity we call a game as wow clone?

    “It got me wondering if I just over-focus on some things, or if other MMO players don’t see them or don’t care about them.”

    this is what people was wondering too when their favorite game called “wow clone” by other people who could not see the differences.

  2. sid6.7 says:

    I commented on Zubon’s post yesterday but I think I got moderated :( Anyhoo… my issue with the comparison is this..

    Just because Vodka is a primary ingredient in a Screwdriver, it doesn’t mean that all cocktails that include Vodka are Screwdrivers or should even be compared to a Screwdriver.

    In the same way, comparing a feature that exists in AC1 to another game and then implying that the game is the same because of it is a logical fallacy and very poor trolling attempt (IMO).

    I’m not agreeing with you that the prowess system is “new” idea — but it’s certainly unique in implementation. And when combined with the other moving DF:UW parts, it certainly does make for a 1-of-a-kind game.

    • sid6.7 says:

      BTW – as cited above by John, you commit this same logical fallacy all the time when referring to other games. And I’m pretty sure I’ve called you out when you did it as well…

      WoW clones, indeed. Themeparks,,, :)

      • SynCaine says:

        I was actually going to address this in the post, but wanted to keep it focused.

        IMO, a WoW-clone is a WoW-clone, in part because themeparks tend to be a collection of games rather than one highly-interconnected virtual world. So you might have a few unique side items, but the core is WoW reskinned, and you spend a large portion of your time in said core.

        I mean, do you really play LotRO/Aion/WAR/Rift/EQ2 PvE questing differently than WoW? I don’t think you do.

        • sid6.7 says:

          Again, citing a specific feature of a game does not make all games which have that feature the same.

          It’s entirely possible, for example, to level up in WAR without PvE questing at all. If played entirely that way, it’s not much of a clone IMO.

          I just don’t like to think of it as that black & white. It’s more of a sliding feature scale and different games can fit in different spaces.

          That said, I do think all the games you named (including WAR) fit in the same space or genre. Not solely because of the questing progression but because they share multiple features (like 20+).

          So different? Yes. Different enough? Probably not.

  3. kalex716 says:

    In the information age, people still think its relevant to point out where and from what certain things were appropriated from. Like this somehow discredits or diminishes current interpretations and implementations.

    Informed discussions can continue if we could all ever admit that everything already comes from something. Its not that big of a deal to expose this as fact.

    Hell, the smut people were writing and drawing on pompeii pub walls were the exact same things you see in seedy dive bar bathrooms to this very day.

  4. Rammstein says:

    Yay semantics! Never a better use for spending time was found, except for any other alternative one could name.

    “In the same way, comparing a feature that exists in AC1 to another game and then implying that the game is the same because of it is a logical fallacy and very poor trolling attempt (IMO).”

    This would only be a logical fallacy if Syncaine had sincerely stated at some point that he believed that any game which he categorized as a Themepark is indistinguishable from any other Themepark, exactly and 100% the same. Unless you can provide such an example, than the fallacious argument is yours. Putting A and B into the same category of items is not the same as saying A = B, in general.

    The issue at hand between Syncaine and Zubon is not that each is mistakenly believing that two different games are the same game. Neither one is committing that strange error. Instead, each has different categories into which they place various games, defined based on characteristics which each find important; and each one is finding the other’s category system to be strange and unintuitive. One category system emphasizes the surface UI, the other deeper interrelations among the various objects in the virtual world.

    Luckily, there’s no need for these 2 category systems to duke it out in a rugged deathmatch. They can coexist without any problems; as abstract systems of concepts, they are in fact unable to battle. Only humans enamored with them can battle, should they feel the desire.

    “As I pointed out, yes, certain aspects of the AC1 system are similar on paper to DF:UW; primarily the act of spending points to increase skills. ”
    “Informed discussions can continue if we could all ever admit that everything already comes from something. Its not that big of a deal to expose this as fact.”

    they certainly do…in fact: Spending points to increase skills and attributes = character development method found in multiple single-player CRPG titles released by EA (acting as distributor for Interplay) in 1988-89, which is the first time I saw that concept; although for all I know that usage was inspired by some pen-and-paper RPG from 1972 informally distributed by underground xerox mailings between hobbyist groups. The fact that this extremely basic and obvious method has been used multiple times over the ensuing decades(many times by a little known gaming company named after a snowy weather system) seems rather unimportant to me. How well this system is implemented in a particular game is much more important, which was how I interpreted Syn’s original post.

    ps: “Levels are (were) estimates of relative power, not like in most MMOs where you must fight within the range of a few levels or there will be massive penalties that mean instant death. Level 30 archers can (could) hunt level 100+ monsters just fine with the right preparation.”

    Being able to kill/fight/die against monsters of vastly different levels is not all that unusual. Level zoning isn’t just what you can possibly kill, it’s what gives you best xp, what gives you useful item drops, what positions you for the next zone best or not-best. Never having played AC–or DF2 for that matter, I have no idea how any of that worked in that game; but I know that a discussion of how ‘zoned’ a world is that omits topics such as these is necessarily incomplete.

    Seriously though Zubon, this ‘mention a 14 year old game and claim it’s exactly the same as a new game in terms of character advancement, then when pressed for details claim that it’s the responsibility of people who disagree to provide details of how it differs’ strategy, is pretty lame .The average reader who never played AC isn’t going to install the game just to verify your claim, which leaves the claim in the default position of ‘no details were provided, therefore, the claim is not accepted’. I certainly wrote this comment without playing either game, but I didn’t make an affirmative claim about the two either. Have you ever played DF2?

    • Zubon says:

      This is a better post, but you are conflating the signifier with the thing signified, which is why you are not seeing the connection.

      If the character progression system matters at all, there will be de facto high and low level areas, just with the level numbers filed off. If you need a sword skill of 60 to hit the ogres consistently, but only a 5 to hit goblins, goblins are low-level content and ogres are mid-level content. Taking the levels off the characters and monsters does not change that. EVE does not have levels as such, but there are certainly activities you cannot reasonably do without a million points under in your skills.

      You do progress through content, even if you stop calling different degrees of power “levels,” even if you don’t call them “zones.”

      (Oddly, I already responded to some commenters back in 2008.)

      • zubonganai says:

        That was meant to be a comment on the base post, not a reply to an existing comment. I don’t see a button to change that.

      • Rammstein says:

        “You do progress through content, even if you stop calling different degrees of power “levels,” even if you don’t call them “zones.””

        Again, as in your past comment, you’re looking at only part of the equation. You’re analyzing progression based on difficulty and character power, only. You’re leaving off progression based on reasons for visiting those zones, what do you gain by visiting that zone, not just when can you accomplish it. In EVE online, the MOST COMMON usage of blinged out PVE ships is not to do difficult PVE content which requires blinged out ships to accomplish, but to do easier content faster(not me, since i live in a WH, but in highsec and sov nullsec, yes). The real limiting factor on blinging out ships to do this is the prospect of suicide ganking one’s missioning/incursioning ship becoming profitable if you overbling it. I do play EVE, unlike AC and DF2, and in virtually every PVE activity that I do, decisions on what PVE activity to do, and what ship to do it in, depend much more on my anticipation of possible interactions with other players and on whether the rewards justify that possible PVP exposure, than with the details of the pve mechanics themselves. These factors help make EVE a virtual world, not a zoned themepark.

        • Swoo says:

          “Feats are like questing now? Come on. Sure, zoom WAY WAY out and yup, both have you killing mobs I guess, and if you want to just leave it at that to make a point, cool.”

          That is exactly what people that don’t like Dynamic Events said: “in the end you doing the same activities – killing, escorting, collecting”.

      • SynCaine says:

        “If the character progression system matters at all, there will be de facto high and low level areas, just with the level numbers filed off.”

        This part is wrong.

        In DF:UW, you can and do have goblin spawns within eyesight of ‘end-game’ mobs. Newbies can be farming next to vets (if we assume noobs farm goblins and vets farm end-game mobs, and that’s not always the case). In a PvP game, that’s massively important for many reasons, and its made possible (in part) because of the prowess system. If DF:UW used AC1’s system, player behavior would be very different.

        It’s also why I bought up seiging on KTR. The value of a holding is in part based on the mobs near it, and it’s not as simple as “higher mobs, higher value”. If AC1 had holdings and a siege system, cities in low-level zones WOULD be worth considerable less than ones in high-level zones. (This happened on AC-DT with the npc cities, if in a less formal way)

        “You do progress through content, even if you stop calling different degrees of power “levels,” even if you don’t call them “zones.”

        No, you don’t. In EVE 10m SP pilots run lvl4 missions next to 100m SP pilots. Solo bling ships run them next to a noob Corp event in T1 cruisers. In a wormhole a 5b ship flies next to a 10m ship against sleepers, and those sleepers get killed by that Corp for YEARS, all while everyone is gaining SP and ISK. The value of a module from 5 years ago is about the same today, despite dozens of expansions added to the game.

        In DF1, clans farmed the mob spawns near their cities, whether they were maxed characters or fresh recruits. At no point did anyone ‘progress’ through that content to higher stuff because of character power, visible or not. In DF:UW you might finish feats associated with a mob type, and that might motivate you to move, but feats aside you still can and likely will farm that spawn for prowess and wealth. If someone takes your holding, only part of their motivation will be the local spawns.

        Again, the basics of a virtual world break down in AC1, with the root cause often being the progression system. That does not happen in DF:UW or EVE. That’s very significant when the goal is to create a virtual world rather than a series of connected zones.

        • Azuriel says:

          In EVE 10m SP pilots run lvl4 missions next to 100m SP pilots.

          And who is running Level 1 & 2 missions, still?

          I am with Zubon on this being a distinction without much of a difference. The progression might be flatter, especially given it must overcome the risk aversion of the player in total-loss scenarios, but it’s there. Even if you aren’t flying in 5b ships due to it being unnecessary, the range of available options increases as your ISK levels increase; concurrently, the activities in which you originally participate begin to become less of a percentage increase to your total worth (and thus less worth your time, unless you simply love daily quests or whatever).

          I will admit though, that I never understood the appeal to this version of a “virtual world” in the first place. Planned obsolesce is a tragedy when the content is good, but what is truly gripping about the thought of killing the same goblins for the next X years? If there is no rational reason to leave the starting areas in search of greater challenge for greater rewards… well, why does the rest of the “virtual world” exist in the first place?

        • SynCaine says:

          Lvl 1-3 missions are basically an extended tutorial (or the first steps of a faction grind), and not part of the ‘real’ game IMO. Very different from the 1-cap progression in other games..

          The appeal is exactly what you said; you don’t want to be forced out of good content by the game. UO was exciting for Ultima fans because finally you could play Ultima ‘forever’, rather than just to the end of that game’s story. If killing goblins forever is not your definition of good content, you make that choice, and either do something different in-game, or quit. In WoW, Blizzard tells you when 40 man raiding is going to end, whether you want to move to 25 man raiding or not.

        • Rammstein says:

          In a themepark, you outgrow lower level content, some of which you are glad to outgrow, and some of which you are nostalgic for and wish that the themepark hadn’t made content outgrowable.

          Lvl 1-4 missions are all exactly the same content. As syn says, lvls 1-3 are just tutorial mode easier/less rewards. They are literally the same content, as virtually all level 4 missions even have the same name/structure as a level 1-3 mission, just at a mature level of difficulty and reward. No one gets nostalgic for level 1’s while running level 4’s, because they’re the same content. I DO sometimes get nostalgic for level 4’s while living in a wormhole, at which point I can take a pilot out of the wh and go run some level 4’s if I want, because moving to a wh doesn’t mean I’ve ‘outgrown’ level 4’s, because EVE is not a themepark.

        • Rammstein says:

          *In a themepark, you can generally go back and run non-level appropriate content simply for nostalgia, but you gain no experience/poor rewards for it. What I meant to say above, but failed to make clear, was that I can go run level 4’s now, and they are still giving the same ISK rewards/faction standing boosts as they always did. I will never ‘outlevel’ them.

          The point being part of the larger point I was making in earlier comments… that content includes both story/difficulty/reward, in their proper balance. if the rewards change over time, then the content is changing over time. This is why people in a themepark make armies of alts instead of just playing through the content with their main at will–because a key factor of a themepark is that character power grows so fast over time that today’s content with a certain mixture of story-difficulty/reward will be inappropriate the next day, so much that the devs need to install strange mechanisms to keep people from finding exploits in old content. This isn’t a new observation, but as people in these comments keep analyzing progression merely in terms of difficulty of content, it keeps being the proper reply.

        • sid6.7 says:

          “Lvl 1-3 missions are basically an extended tutorial”

          Yeah.. so the feat system is very similar to questing… It’s pretty darn linear as well with unlocks leading to other things.

          This is such a silly discussion. Progression is a defining trait of any RPG style game. Just stick to that statement. LOL, Don’t try to defend EvE or DF:UW by saying they reinvented the wheel. They didn’t.

          In the same train of thought, it’s idiotic to compare “levels” – a very vertical style of progression, with “skills” a very horizontal style of progression. Sure, there might be effective barriers to entry for content but that’s what makes these games RPG.

        • Rammstein says:

          “LOL, Don’t try to defend EvE or DF:UW by saying they reinvented the wheel. ”

          Someone doesn’t know what the idiom ‘reinvented the wheel’ means. It’s a sarcastic and derisive attack, not a defense.

          “This is such a silly discussion. Progression is a defining trait of any RPG style game. Just stick to that statement. ”

          Progression is not a defining trait of any “RPG style game”[sic]. Traditionally, Themepark vs Sandbox is linear vs nonlinear progression. People like to progress, therefore progression is designed into most leisure activities. Monopoly, Hamlet, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Golf. This doesn’t make progression a defining characteric of RPG’s, it in fact has the opposite effect, it renders it less useful as such. If you designed an RPG without progression, it would still be an RPG, but it would be difficult to do so and attract a large audience, just like a version of golf where you played the holes in random order and with varying goals for scoring that weren’t revealed until after the round was completed would probably not find many players.

        • sid6.7 says:

          It’s a sarcastic and derisive attack, not a defense.

          Exactly. That’s why I told him NOT to use it as defense. That he tries is the laughable part. Calling something new when it is NOT new is akin to reinventing the wheel and then saying “No no, look,,, this wheel is all different, it rotates. It doesn’t spin.”

          And the whole conversation goes into silly-mode because then someone says — wait, isn’t spinning rotation? Either way, it’s still a wheel.

          On the progression topic, I’m specifically talking about character progression which is a key defining traits of RPGs (if not THE key defining trait). Can an RPG exist without character progression? No. MMOs can, RPGs can’t.

          At it’s core, every RPG is about the evolution of your character. Whether it be through actual RP (like old pen & paper games) or game mechanics that provide a more linear path.

          And where progression exists, someone can always argue that advancement can be categorized. So try as you might to state that levels don’t exist, some nimrod can always come along and say “well, in a sense, there really are levels…” and the silliness begins again.

        • Swoo says:

          “*In a themepark, you can generally go back and run non-level appropriate content simply for nostalgia, but you gain no experience/poor rewards for it. What I meant to say above, but failed to make clear, was that I can go run level 4′s now, and they are still giving the same ISK rewards/faction standing boosts as they always did. I will never ‘outlevel’ them. ”

          Except for the themeparks that do allow you to go back, mobs aren’t 1 shot kills and you actually get appropriate level rewards.

          Any progression not based on player skill doesn’t change because you are hiding the character level or gear level or whatever.

        • SynCaine says:

          Feats are like questing now? Come on. Sure, zoom WAY WAY out and yup, both have you killing mobs I guess, and if you want to just leave it at that to make a point, cool.

          But we both know quests influence player behavior very differently than feats, so yea, they’re not that similar at all.

          I feel like at this point, your argument is based around zooming so far out that its down to “game X has progression, game Y has it too. The wheel!”

          So yea, you’re right. Both games have progression. Time to leave it at that…

        • sid6.7 says:

          You don’t have to zoom very far out to compare feats and quests. Go kill 5 undead, unlock skeleton feat to kill 30 skeletons, unlock skeleton feat for 150.

          They both drive the same exact behavior. Even at the micro-level, I see absolutely zero difference between this and the standard Kill Ten Rats quest.

          The difference between us is that I’ve never been outspokenly against questing in any form. I think it’s useful and keeps people logging in.

          And in DF:UW, it also serves to create these PvP hotspots of sorts. (Black Knights have some crazy PvP).

          To which I would say that UW could even benefit from (gasp) some kind of daily feat that draws people into the same area for the purpose of creating such PvP hotspots long after the Kill feats are completed.

          I know I know, radical ideas for a “sandbox” game, right? Which is more or less than point I making about stepping back and not putting games in these boxes (themeparks, sandboxes, etc etc).

        • SynCaine says:

          Kill ten undead feat can be accomplished on a wide variety of undead, across any number of spawns all across Agon. A kill ten undead quest sends you to a specific spot, usually for a specific reward, sometimes part of a specific chain.

          If that’s a minor difference, adjust your zoom level please.

        • sid6.7 says:

          I see… so by your logic, because skeleton spawns exist in multiple places in Agon, this is a radical shift in the questing paradigm. Umm, no. Wheels are still round.

    • Xyloxan says:

      I enjoyed reading the exchange between Ramstein and Zubon. Good job guys.

    • sid6.7 says:

      Rammstein wrote: “Seriously though Zubon, this ‘mention a 14 year old game and claim it’s exactly the same as a new game in terms of character advancement, then when pressed for details claim that it’s the responsibility of people who disagree to provide details of how it differs’ strategy, is pretty lame .”

      All that about fallacies and in the end you pretty much agreed with what I was saying. Love semantics. :)

      On that semantics note, I never claimed that they literally stated the game was the exact same. That would be ludicrous. I said Zubon “implies” the game is the same which effectively leads to the same conclusion you are drawing for our “average reader” who never played AC.

      I just tried to say it in far less words. :)

      • Rammstein says:

        “All that about fallacies and in the end you pretty much agreed with what I was saying. ”

        I don’t agree that I pretty much agreed with what you were saying, sorry.

        “I just tried to say it in far less words.”

        The argument I actually made against Zubon is that he was omitting too much of his argument, an argument which you have agreed with in his case, even though that destroys your defense of your own post above. Surely you see the irony there? Sauce for the goose is good for the gander.

        “On that semantics note, I never claimed that they literally stated the game was the exact same. That would be ludicrous.”

        Yes, it certainly would, whether you claimed they literally stated it, or claimed they implied it, the ludicrous part is the “exact same”.

        “implied the game is the same” –your argument=/= ‘put the game into the same category — my argument. It’s not even that close.

        If you’d changed “same” to “similar”, then you are now no longer making that ludicrous claim. This is only 4 letters longer, if you made that change to save 4 letters, then that was a bad choice. However, if you change “same” to “similar”, then your example of a fallacy is no longer a fallacy. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Either your claim that the games are referred to as exactly the same is ludicrous, as you state, or your claim that there’s a logical fallacy occurring is equally ludicrous. In either event, your claim that you used “same” instead of ‘similar’ to save letters is ludicrous.

        • sid6.7 says:

          I’m not buying what you are selling. Zubon “implied” the games were so similar they were the same. He did not outright say it, but he absolutely implied it – to the point which I agree with you that someone unfamiliar with AC1 may even download it to draw their own comparison.

          Inferences, implications, back-handed compliments — these are the tricks of the trade for people looking to “suggest” something while being able to hide behind the defense of never actually outright saying it.

          My point on us agreeing is simply that we both take issue with the same point: Zubon is being disingenuous and making inferences that would lead people to wrong conclusions.

          What makes it a troll (IMO) is that he clearly knows there are vast differences and wants to play a game of ignorance to continue making that inference.

  5. Rammstein says:

    “is simply that we both take issue with the same point: Zubon is being disingenuous and making inferences that would lead people to wrong conclusions.”

    I never said that. Consider spending more time reading the posts of the person you’re replying to to see what they actually said, and less time accusing them of lying without any sort of evidence or rationale.

    “I’m not buying what you are selling. ”

    since I don’t gain anything from convincing you of anything, this idiom thus translates to simply “I don’t believe you.”

    Surely you understand that this statement ends all logical discourse–so why write 4 more paragraphs after that?

    • sid6.7 says:

      Your right.. you just said…

      “Zubon, this ‘mention a 14 year old game and claim it’s exactly the same as a new game in terms of character advancement, then when pressed for details claim that it’s the responsibility of people who disagree to provide details of how it differs’ strategy, is pretty lame .The average reader who never played AC isn’t going to install the game just to verify your claim, which leaves the claim in the default position of ‘no details were provided, therefore, the claim is not accepted’.”

  6. Rammstein says:

    I wasn’t going to reply again, but Syn’s posting comments again, so here we go, longest blog comment ever:

    Comparing kill 10 undead feat to kill 10 undead quest: This is another example of comparing actions/difficulty alone, instead of comparing actions/difficulty/rewards/story. If you repeatedly commit the same mistake, you’ll keep coming up with the same mistaken conclusion. This isn’t about zooming in/out to the wrong level, it’s about zooming in one one feature, out on another feature, and completely ignoring another feature, all in the same argument. The feat is driven by a completely driven story. The feat is part of a completely different reward system. The actions are broad instead of limited. The difficulty is roughly the same, although you have more choice in the feat. If you ignore the first two factors to focus on merely the act of killing monsters, then yes, quests are pretty much the same as feats–also the same as EQ-style grinding, and basically the same as watching an action movie, given the challenge level of most PVE MMO play.. These four things are actually not the same, if you take your blinders off.

    Everyone is perfectly free to only personally care about some of those things, and make that private judgement for themselves in their own game choices. If you talk to other people about games while ignoring half the factors that go into game design, you’re not going to come off as a reasonable or intelligent person. It’s just not possible, sorry.

    swoo: “Except for the themeparks that do allow you to go back, mobs aren’t 1 shot kills and you actually get appropriate level rewards.”

    Did you forget some words for this sentence? I’ve played many many themeparks where you could, and did, go back, get 1 shot kills and not get appropriate rewards; which completely falsifies your sentence there, as written. If you added a few words after “go back” , such as “but dynamically adjust the earlier content for level”, then you’re referring to a recent change to themeparks. I haven’t played any with that feature, yet, although on first glance, it seems like a case where the cure is worse than the disease.

    syncaine: “I feel like at this point, your argument is based around zooming so far out that its down to “game X has progression, game Y has it too. The wheel!””

    More central than choosing unintuitive and internally inconsistent levels for comparison is the flaw of putting whatever words in other’s mouths that he feels are necessary to prove his point. Difficult to imagine why anyone would engage in that particular time-waster, and yet so many do.

    sid:”On the progression topic, I’m specifically talking about character progression which is a key defining traits of RPGs (if not THE key defining trait). Can an RPG exist without character progression? No. MMOs can, RPGs can’t.”

    Everway. Deluge. Diaspora. These are (pen and paper) RPGs with no character progression. They are games, with role-playing, thus RPGs; but have zero progression. I found them in about 15 seconds by going to RPG.net and searching the forums for zero progression rpgs. RPG.net is a site about role-playing games, in case you weren’t sure whether these were RPGs or not.

    I propose a different set of defining traits for a role-playing game:

    1. It has to be a game.
    2. It has to center around role-playing.

    I know that these seem to have come out of left field, but if you stop and look at the name, the origins of these conditions may become clear to you. With your “key defining trait” of “character progression”, the vast majority of RPGs in the world would be novels, films, or plays. This is, to use your term, ludicrous. You may notice that with my alternative definition, novels do not qualify as RPGs.

    “At it’s core, every RPG is about the evolution of your character. Whether it be through actual RP (like old pen & paper games) or game mechanics that provide a more linear path.”

    No, at its core, every RPG is about role-playing characters in a game. Characters don’t have to evolve, they can stay static, or devolve, or go crazy, or pretend to be something they’re not, or go in circles. As was stated earlier, the typical character usually tends to evolve; but this doesn’t reflect a condition of RPGs, but merely an aesthetic preference found in most humans. The majority of movies start with a likable and extremely attractive character who’s otherwise relatively nondescript, who suffers illogical and artifical difficulties throughout the movie(possibly with an island of romantic happiness in the middle which is then lost due to a ridiculous plot twist), then in the last 10 minutes overcomes them all(by evolving or progressing in a completely obvious way)for a completely surprising (yet totally predictable to people who’ve watched even one movie with this formula before) happy ending. This does not make this formula a core definitional trait of a movie, although if you’re watching a movie without it you’re likely watching an indie movie.

    The basic extensibility of this condition, where the personality traits shared by most humans are not definitional traits of humans, is a fundamental fact of humanity. Most people are quite average, and humans do not tend to exclude from consideration those who are not average, but to focus on them with great interest. Those whose difference tends towards the great and admirable are venerated and given great attention and wealth–those who differ in the sick or criminal direction are given even more attention, although less in the way of material reward. We remember Jack the ripper but not those who caught him. There are dozens of TV shows about crime, and none about people deliberately choosing to follow the law. The necessary counterbalance to all those Hollywood movies where the hero “evolves and progresses”, is that in so many of them, the villain who refuses to evolve and dies tragically in the ‘happy ending’, steals the show in every scene he’s in, and drives the action in the scenes he’s not present(batman trilogy is a great example of this. Avengers is an amusing exception that proves the rule, as the villain doesn’t steal the scenes too much, but the heroes evolve and come together only by evolving from insulting each other to insulting world leaders and being insulted in return, fulfilling the role of flawed meta-heroes defeating a flawed meta-villain). Games where you role-play a character who runs around committing crimes and doing whatever he wants aren’t commonly called role-playing games, just action games, but they exist all the same, and are what they are(and seem to sell more units than ‘traditional’ rpgs). I can’t say that I’m happy that you’re wrong about RPGs being about progression, perhaps it’d be better if they were. But that’s not how the world is.

    • Rammstein says:

      p.s. It’s been pointed out to me that somewhat hilariously, I chose as a random example one of the unusual serial killers who was never caught; although the fact that I’d forgotten this only serves to prove my point, in a way.

    • sid6.7 says:

      Wow. You win. :)

    • Xyloxan says:

      Impressive essay, Rammstein. Nice. Are you a philosophy or math major or something?

      • sid6.7 says:

        Impressive is not the word I would use.. pedantic, that’s more appropriate. And to be honest, coming from me, that’s saying A LOT. :)

      • Rammstein says:

        “Impressive is not the word I would use.. pedantic, that’s more appropriate.”

        And thus, the nearly inevitable end of any discussion which begins with an application of formal logic to a soft subject such as this is reached.

        Step 1: Someone, doubtful of his ideas, decides to cloak them in formal logic to make them ‘irrefutable’.

        Step 2: Someone points out that literally any conclusion can be reached via formal logic with the astute choice of assumptions, and also that the assumptions chosen were so chosen and don’t match the actual situation.

        Step 3: Since correctly describing the flaws in multiple assumptions is a long and involved process, whereas merely baldly stating these assumptions was quick and easy, the doubtful assumption-maker declares that his opponent is ‘pedantic’ and quits the field, blissfully unaware of the irony of starting an argument under the cloak of formal logic, then later fleeing the field under cover of an ad hominem.

        This is exactly why formal logic has such a bad name, these days.

        “And to be honest, coming from me, that’s saying A LOT.”

        No, it follows the script exactly and therefore carries no informational value.

        • sid6.7 says:

          If we are calling out fallacies, let’s not forget the bread and butter of the pedantic: Argumentum verbosium: Proof by verbosity

        • Rammstein says:

          “If we are calling out fallacies,”

          No, we’re not playing that game. Sorry to disappoint.

          “let’s not forget the bread and butter of the pedantic: Argumentum verbosium: Proof by verbosity”

          Now you’re just repeating yourself, in a quite ironic fashion. You could keep insulting me here all day, as far as my part is concerned; but perhaps out of respect for our mutual host you might take your insults to your own blog, where you can be as verbose on the incredibly worthy subject of my alleged verbosity as you please? I look forward to your continued and repeated lengthy comments on the topic of verbosity there; they will fit very naturally there.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 167 other followers

%d bloggers like this: