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Old 11-05-2004, 08:48 PM   #1
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Default If the RPG and the Adventure Game made love...


L to R - Knights Of The Old Republic; Fable; Deus Ex: Invisible War.

....what kind of child would they produce?

I'm currently quite deep in Knights Of The Old Republic (Xbox) and had recently completed Fable, resulting in this question poking around in my head for the past few weeks. What if there came a game that took key core elements of the roleplaying game - character development, side quests, multiple controllable characters, levels and levels of side stories - and combined them with a rock solid main story, multi-scaled puzzles adapting themselves to the level of character progression, and a very deep, rich world to explore?

Take out the severe linearity and predictability of the adventure game. Take out the action, extreme stats management, and overcomplicated systemizing of the RPG. Instead, put in puzzles that, according to your character's developed skill (your choosing) shift themselves accordingly, each puzzle solved adding to your character's progression, replacing combat and action with intellectual challenges. Put in optional puzzles (replacing the RPGs side quests) that, if solved, allow you more glimpses into a character's personal history or a new but marginal angle into the main story. Put in a complex inventory system based on items you collect on your journey, to keep for possible puzzle solutions or to sell or trade for other items.

Let's talk.
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Old 11-05-2004, 10:09 PM   #2
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Can't we all just play Quest for Glory and be happy?
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Old 11-05-2004, 10:18 PM   #3
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Ah that, yes! Reading a review of it right now, hadn't played it (I came into modern gaming late, so don't have the track record).

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Quote:
The combat is also quite arcade based, and quick reflexes are the order of the day if you are to see your next one. The final, and perhaps most interesting, arcade sequence is the mages duel with Erasmus. This "board game" involves casting magic spells to move ladders and boulders to create a safe path for your creature to get from one side of the board to the other, all while your opponent Erasmus, is doing the same.
The game I had in mind has no action/combat sequences whatsoever. Instead there are quests and puzzles. Some puzzles, depending on your character stats, open themselves up for challenge, otherwise they're indecipherable until later, if your character develops the skills particular for that puzzle. Dialogues and interaction with NPCs can also be restricted/accessible depending on your class and level. Items can be stashed or sold, but if you come across a[n optional] puzzle you may or may be out of luck if it needs a specific item.
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Old 11-05-2004, 11:25 PM   #4
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I'm with ya, Trep.

As a (lame) example, in the basic Neverwinter Nights, there were a couple of puzzles that were class-specific. For instance, there might be a puzzle that applied only to thieves. In order to have solved the puzzle, your thief needed to have completed some earlier tasks and be of sufficient level to survive the puzzle. Solving this puzzle led to a whole unique encounter and a chance for bonus EP.

Unfortunately, the "puzzle" consisted of an incredibly easy "riddle" that was made glaringly obvious if your thief had done his job of checking out earlier areas for traps.

But.... it was a step in the direction that I think you are talking about... and one I would encourage wholeheartedly.
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Old 11-05-2004, 11:47 PM   #5
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If the RPG and the Adventure Game made love... they would have beautiful babies Seriously though, the one genre has what the other is missing, usually (although I'm not big on RPGs, yet). Adventure games put emphasis on puzzles and narrative, but often seem to lack freedom of choice or movement. RPG's feature strong freedom of choice and usually span a diabolically vast world, etc. And hey it's the age of hybrids, so why not try matching these genres up? Or what trep said, yeah, that.

*has a sneaking suspicion that somewhere, in a murky basement, someone is developing such an idea as we speak..
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Old 11-06-2004, 12:17 AM   #6
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Well, I got the idea because, as I played KoTOR and developed an attachment to certain characters through optional side quests and dialogue branches, I thought, Why in hell has the adventure game genre been lacking this kind of depth and complexity all these freaking years?! But that instead of combat, you gain experience points for your characters through solving puzzles and negotiating complex dialogue options?

For example, let's take that hypothetical game idea I had where a vacationing group of your characters is trapped in a huge sinking cruise ship, and the main story consists of trying to escape. Each one represents a character class - say, policeman (soldier/scout), scientist (mage/demolitions), con artist (rogue/thief), computer geek (lockpicking/hacking), etc. The ship would be a veritable labyrinth of potential environmental traps, inaccessible rooms, and mechanical and electronic puzzles to maneuver. There would be optional puzzles here and there, and they can only be solved by specific members of your party. With each puzzle solved you'd gain experience points to spend on your party members' skills upgrades. The main 'quests' would further the central story, but the optional quests would gain you insight into each character's personal past, or even smaller stories pertaining to the history of a person/place/thing.

Think about it.
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Old 11-06-2004, 12:38 AM   #7
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"negotiating complex dialogue options"

This is not a puzzle, and the downfall of your paradigm. I have only EVER played one game where "negotiating complex dialogue options" was an actual puzzle, that being Salammbo. It has been attempted in various games, and generally leads to either the "go talk to every person about every possible topic after you find each item or piece of information" flaw of Black Mirror and Sherlock Holmes: Rose Tattoo (this is not a puzzle) or the "keep restarting the conversation from scratch until you finally cover every possible conversation path" tedium of Mystery of the Druids.

I would love to see dialogue better integrated as puzzling. On the other hand, I know there are a LOT of adventure gamers who get pissed if they don't get to read every possible dialogue response. (I believe this may be a holdover from the MI games in which almost every response was funny and it was occasionally possible to shut off some comical dialogue choices by choosing the "correct" one.)

I'd also toss out Blade Runner as a game in which dialogue was almost sorta kinda like puzzling. But the fact remains that this is one aspect in which game players are desperately waiting for game designers to catch up to their demands. Dialogue exchange simply has not ever been REALLY well done as an actual "puzzle" in an adventure game that I know of. Like I said, the best example I can think of is Salammbo. Unless you want to go back to the text games. (Bureaucracy, H2G2 and the Legend games actually had dialogue puzzling.)
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Old 11-06-2004, 03:26 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TigerShard
Can't we all just play Quest for Glory and be happy?
Hehe, yeah, the Quest for Glory series is a fantastic example of how a mix between adventure and rpg can work very, very well. The QfG-games have a start and a goal, but other than that you're mostly free to do as you please. You have to keep your character alive, and you have to increase his stats so that you can solve the more difficult puzzles and stand a chance against dangerous foes. I feel that the rpg elements made me identify with my character - he wasn't just some puppet who solved puzzles, but a real person who had to eat, drink and sleep.

The puzzles were also very well done, and most of them had multiple solutions (just like in real life, there's more than one way to do things). An example from very early on in the game:

Spoiler:
You have to find something in a "birds" nest, but you can't reach it. If you're a strong character, you could try climbing the tree to get to the nest. If you're a weak magician, you can use the fetch-spell on the nest, and if you're good enough, it'll come down. If you're agile and good at throwing, you can throw a rock or something (just ask your character to find rocks) at the nest, and if you manage to hit it, it'll fall down. There nay be other solutions too, but these are the ones I'm aware of.


I fell in love with the Quest for Glory games, and everyone I've shown them to have loved them too. They're really must-play games, and if possible, play the original version of the first game (not the VGA-version).
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Old 11-06-2004, 03:38 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Intrepid Homoludens
For example, let's take that hypothetical game idea I had where a vacationing group of your characters is trapped in a huge sinking cruise ship, and the main story consists of trying to escape. Each one represents a character class - say, policeman (soldier/scout), scientist (mage/demolitions), con artist (rogue/thief), computer geek (lockpicking/hacking), etc. The ship would be a veritable labyrinth of potential environmental traps, inaccessible rooms, and mechanical and electronic puzzles to maneuver. There would be optional puzzles here and there, and they can only be solved by specific members of your party. With each puzzle solved you'd gain experience points to spend on your party members' skills upgrades. The main 'quests' would further the central story, but the optional quests would gain you insight into each character's personal past, or even smaller stories pertaining to the history of a person/place/thing.
Sounds like a combination of Maniac Mansion, In the 1st Degree, Blue Heat and Quest for Glory.
 
Old 11-06-2004, 07:41 AM   #10
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Nah. I'd rather just play a straight adventure than worry if stat A is high enoguh to solve puzzle C.
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Old 11-06-2004, 08:06 AM   #11
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There actually is a fairly new game that marries RPG and adventure genres, called The Fifth Disciple. In it you gain experience not only from the combat but from solving adventure puzzles, sometimes even by simply picking up an inventory item. The combat is turn-based; I don't recall any instances of needing fast reflexes. The Fifth Disciple is, granted, a "B" game, and it is weighted more toward adventure than RPG, but nevertheless the combination worked out pretty well. It was a blast to play!

Gooka: The Mystery of Janatris is another "B" adventure game with RPG-style turn-based fighting. The combat in that game, though, is a flaw, not an enhancement.

It would be nice if some of the "A" game developers from both genres would get together and have babies.

With games like KOTOR, the adventure parts are too simplistic. It did have a couple of good, meaty puzzles but for the most part it was step 'n' fetchit.
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Old 11-06-2004, 08:29 AM   #12
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You'd get something like the Gothic series...

If, that is, you leave the combat in.
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Old 11-06-2004, 08:31 AM   #13
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I think the ideal RPG or Adventure/RPG would have completely invisible stats, that you don't need to consciously build, but that simply naturally evolve with your style of play.
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Old 11-06-2004, 10:26 AM   #14
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to answer the original question.......it would be called Planescape Torment
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Old 11-06-2004, 11:34 AM   #15
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Intuitive levelling up? That could work. But, why not at least double the potential market for those interested and allow players the option of levelling up automatically or tweaking their characters painstakingly? That way more hardcore adventurers (and whoever) needn't worry so much and harcore RPGers can have detailed fun. In KoTOR I hand tweaked everyone's stats initially, and when Sienna (my rogue/Jedi sentinel character) reached the Academy I just auto levelled.
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Old 11-06-2004, 11:35 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Intrepid Homoludens
Intuitive levelling up? That could work. But, why not at least double the potential market for those interested and allow players the option of levelling up automatically or tweaking their characters painstakingly? That way more hardcore adventurers (and whoever) needn't worry so much and harcore RPGers can have detailed fun. In KoTOR I hand tweaked everyone's stats initially, and when Sienna (my rogue/Jedi sentinel character) reached the Academy I just auto levelled.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sirus
Nah. I'd rather just play a straight adventure than worry if stat A is high enoguh to solve puzzle C.
Auto levelling would solve that worry. All you need to use the right character on a puzzle.
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Old 11-06-2004, 11:45 AM   #17
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I really don't think that the two genres merge well. Whilst there are certainly aspects of each that the other can learn from, I really, really don't like the idea of statistics affecting the puzzles. If you do this, then you remove the tight focus that good adventure games have, where everything has been designed down to the last detail. If the puzzles had to tailor themselves to the character, then I suspect it would encourage designers to have more of the riddles and code-breaking style puzzles of games such as Knights of the Old Republic - which have their place, but would make for a pretty boring game if they were the entire substance.

For those wanting to retain statistics, you also have the issue of quite how many statistic types you could actually have if you removed combat from the game - whilst you could split up the intelligence, wisdom and charisma statistics found in RPGs, I'm curious as to how, specifically, people feel that this could be done.

It is important to realise that many of the ideas you suggest, Trep, have already been done in the adventure genre - if not necessarily within a single game. There have been optional puzzles and alternate methods of solving them; there have been games in which you control multiple characters; there have been very good games in which we learn a lot about the character. As for 'levels and levels of side stories', this may simply confuse gamers rather than help them, as they would then be unsure of what puzzles they actually need to be solving to progress.

However, my biggest gripe would be with the inventory system. It isn't a conincidence that I can't think of a single true adventure game developed since the mid 1990s that hasn't featured a mysterious, bottomless inventory, and there's a good reason for this. People don't like having to go back and pick up items, aside from the design problems that can be caused if the player is able to drop objects. As for trading objects for other objects, this is already done in the context of some game puzzles, and if taken further, surely it would end up being a relatively pointless exercise. What would you trade them for, if there was no combat, and therefore no need to expendable items?

In conclusion, I'm all in favour of genre-combining - despite what I may have stated above. There are always things that designers could - and should - learn from those working in other fields (and I mean both other types of game and much more broadly). But I'm not sure that combining the RPG and adventure genres in the way that you have suggested would work. Not only are there many people who play RPGs specifically for the combat, who might be disappointed by a game that didn't have any, but there might also be adventure gamers who dislike the freeform nature. Despite what people have suggested in the past, I remain unconvinced that the RPG and adventure genres are any more closely related than, say, the FPS and the adventure game, or the strategy and adventure game...
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Old 11-06-2004, 12:14 PM   #18
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If the puzzles had to tailor themselves to the character, then I suspect it would encourage designers to have more of the riddles and code-breaking style puzzles of games such as Knights of the Old Republic - which have their place, but would make for a pretty boring game if they were the entire substance.
Not exactly what I meant. The puzzles would be extremely varied, that is, there would very many different kinds, and not just typical adventure game puzzles. If the player had the policeman try to solve a cypher puzzle inloving a security code and numbers, he naturally couldn't do it. But the computer geek could access it and the puzzle would open up to be solved, the challenge is still there. Also, not all puzzles would be inventory based or stereotypically adventure-ish. There could also be mysteries to solve based on hidden clues found in people (dialogues), places, and things.

Quote:
For those wanting to retain statistics, you also have the issue of quite how many statistic types you could actually have if you removed combat from the game - whilst you could split up the intelligence, wisdom and charisma statistics found in RPGs, I'm curious as to how, specifically, people feel that this could be done.
I'm curious myself. Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines will reward you based on your mission accomplishments, not your combat skills. I plan on getting it when it comes out.

Quote:
As for 'levels and levels of side stories', this may simply confuse gamers rather than help them, as they would then be unsure of what puzzles they actually need to be solving to progress.
Well, I'm playing KoTOR right and it is not confusing me. In fact, I'm treating those side stories precisely as if they were mini adventures. Why don't you have Bioware make an adventure game just like KoTOR?

Quote:
However, my biggest gripe would be with the inventory system.... People don't like having to go back and pick up items, aside from the design problems that can be caused if the player is able to drop objects. As for trading objects for other objects, this is already done in the context of some game puzzles, and if taken further, surely it would end up being a relatively pointless exercise. What would you trade them for, if there was no combat, and therefore no need to expendable items?
Well, I don't mind travelling back and forth, and I'm sure some others feel similar. In fact, sometimes when I do I discover something new that I missed the first time. That's the thing, allow the game to be subtle enough so that you have these options, that you could have a reason to go back and look harder, have the game reward you for that. Besides, you could do it like Fable and have the option of warping back instantly to key places you've already been to.

As for trading and selling, that would depend on what kind of gameplay and story setup you have. With my example of the characters trapped in a sinking ship, a trader or store would be silly, of course. Instead, the game allows a limited inventory system, it would be up to the player to scout the environment, map (ship's blueprint), and potential explorable areas to gauge what items s/he could do without.

Quote:
I'm not sure that combining the RPG and adventure genres in the way that you have suggested would work. Not only are there many people who play RPGs specifically for the combat, who might be disappointed by a game that didn't have any, but there might also be adventure gamers who dislike the freeform nature. Despite what people have suggested in the past, I remain unconvinced that the RPG and adventure genres are any more closely related than, say, the FPS and the adventure game, or the strategy and adventure game...
I disagree. I think that there are people out there who would enjoy this fresh take on the genres. I for one happen to love the story heavy adventure, but the [Action/]RPG gives me the free form flexibility of exploration I crave that typical adventures can never offer. So a hybrid seems natural enough for me. I mean, hey, Deus Ex did it by combining all 3 (adventure + FPS + RPG), so did Beyond Good & Evil. And of course, the classics like Quest For Glory as TigerShard mentioned. In fact, I feel like I'm playing KoTOR very much like an adventure game, I want to find out my teammates' personal histories, and I even feel I'm being the 'Mom' or therapist to them by listening to them.

The thing is, once you combine the two, STOP THINKING OF IT in typical conservative adventure game mindset. It's practically a new subgenre of adventure.
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Old 11-06-2004, 12:26 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Intrepid Homoludens
The thing is, once you combine the two, STOP THINKING OF IT in typical conservative adventure game mindset. It's practically a new subgenre of adventure.
Oh, I'd be interested to see it done, but there are so many potential problems that I can think of.

Incidentally, I don't actually believe that I have a 'conservative adventure game mindset' (whatever that may be). I play a lot of games, of which more are not adventure games than are. I played, and thoroughly enjoyed, both Knights of the Old Republic and Deus Ex: Invisble War, and only haven't played Fable because I don't own an XBox. I enjoyed Beyond Good and Evil, even if I felt that the sneaking mechanics were fundamentally flawed. What you suggest is certainly an interesting idea, but your comments on the 'conservative adventure game mindset' have me confused. Who is this game supposed to be appealing to? The adventure-orientated market? The RPG players? Or simply to you?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Intrepid Homoludens
Well, I don't mind travelling back and forth, and I'm sure some others feel similar. In fact, sometimes when I do I discover something new that I missed the first time. That's the thing, allow the game to be subtle enough so that you have these options, that you could have a reason to go back and look harder, have the game reward you for that. Besides, you could do it like Fable and have the option of warping back instantly to key places you've already been to.
You've missed my point. It's perfectly fair that you should enjoy discovering optional things. But if you allow people to drop inventory items, then you limit the number of situations open to the designer without making the game impossible to solve. You can forget about jailbreak situations, or being temporarily stuck in one area, for instance, unless all the objects can be found within that area.

I'd love to be proved wrong. I'd love someone to develop a game like this that both worked and appealed to adventure game and RPG players. But there are some really serious hurdles to get over first.
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Old 11-06-2004, 12:40 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Who is this game supposed to be appealing to? The adventure-orientated market? The RPG players? Or simply to you?
No, people like me. Your interest in this certainly indicates such. I've met others in various gaming forums who love both genres, and play one to satisfy the desires that the other cannot. Like I stated, I feel like I'm really playing those RPGs as if they're complex adventure games. Others here have been talking about the Gothic series and Planescape as if they're more adventures.

Of course, I imagine many hardcore adventurers would refuse to deal with a stats management system and prefer to focus on the puzzles. But that would be why auto levelling could work. The game would ask you at key points if you want to do that (like KoTOR does) or just manually tweak the stats. Besides puzzles, there could be other factors involved that would make character strengths crucial - environmental hazards, key character interaction effects, supply shortages, etc.

If this kind of game were designed to be as elegantly intuitive as possible, it could work. It could still have relatively high learning curve, but patience has its rewards, and the game's deep, rich universe would crack open for those willing to go forth. And those who don't have the patience for it.....well hey, they can choose not to play it, right?
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