Thursday, July 10, 2008

An interesting discussion, relating to Diablo

It also kinda touches upon the chat thread semi-discussion of Hellboy..

A semi-rant, about Diablo style inventory schemes and how they impact/drive play and warp story.

kinda interesting.



MA17 said...

I love how he refers to "Diablolikes". It sort of acknowledges Rogue without actually doing so.

Also, I think he's right about inventory in Diablo, especially in the context of D&D. When an RPG system is reduced to 4 stats that barely matter compared to skill levels, it seems a little silly to not use a "POTION x99" type of text-based inventory like the console RPGs use.

Roscoe said...

Well.. yes and no. It seems asinine from both ends - the story driven "Dude can't carry that many" and the game driven "That breaks the tension"

he IS right.. I'm just not sure a text based system would be good, either. the Image carries much of the interest in the item.

and for that matter, the pain in the ass organizing carries with it a sort of tensioning device of it's own. As you and the article both point out in discussions, the game is REALLY all about the loots.

If anything it's a comment on the odd join of story-reasonings and pure mechanics.

on a seperate topic... apprerently the DS has become the forgotten RPG format system du jour?

With multiple 3D first person dungeoneers like Etrian Odysseys 1 and 2, Orcs and Elves, etc, and a bloody wealth of graphical Roguelikes with the Mystery Dungeon games - Pokemon, Izuna, the Shiren the Wanderer SNES port...

and then the console strat rpg rereleases - Hoshigami, Front Mission 1, I suppose the Disgaea rerelease coming.... hmn. is neat.

_J_ said...

With regard to Diablo II the most sensible counter-argument to jackoff's stupidity is "Hardcore mode". Hardcore mode would cease to be "hardcore" if players had, on their person, access to nigh-infinite full rejuvenation potions.

Which I think is the mindset one ought utilize when assessing the situation.

Hardcore Mode without a limitation on what a player can carry becomes kill mobs, refill belt, kill mobs, refill belt, on and on unending. Which is a very specific example of a larger problem nigh-infinite character storage has.

A large component of Diablo is assessing worth, value; that's what item collection based games are fundamentally about. What has value, how is that value determined? Whether or not players are aware of it that is the fundamental question of games like WoW and Diablo II when one engages in the itemization aspect: What shit do you pick up?

The situation is made even more obvious in WoW, with "bind on pickup" items. But that is a bit of a digression.

If there were no limit to storage then that value comparison between items would cease to exist. If one could store every item they ever had? There is no need to clean out one's inventory, assess the merits of a given item. Yes, in Diablo one can make mules for all the goreshovels one amasses...but the act of making those mules is part of what the game is about: To keep a larger inventory of items one must go above and beyond the mundane approach to the game.

That was my problem with the article. Jackoff approached it from the "I don't want to have to go back to town" mindset and was completely oblivious to the fundamental gaming mechanic "going back to town" is based upon. It's about requiring players to assess value, to craft a strategy.

How many full rejuv potions ought one carry on a Hardcore Baal run? One needs inventory space in case Grandfather drops but one also needs to not die.

That's what charms were about in Lord of Destruction. It made characters assess the value of item spaces compared to the value of a given charm. Is an item slot worth 7% magic find? Are three item slots worth +1 to Fire Skills?

When a game is about picking shit up then it's fucking obvious that the storage system for that shit has to be limited.

_J_ said...

Another situation to think about is what Pokémon would be like if one always had access to all of one's Pokémon instead of only having 6 at any given time.

5 year old dipshit: GIMMIE GIMMIE GIMMIE!

6 year old scholar: Oh, that's one of the fundamental gameplay mechanics. Gimmie a Juicebox.

I wouldn't say that limitation is about creating tension. That sounds like something a person who really liked The Bonfire of the Vanities would say.

In Pokémon limiting a player access to a team of 6 pokémon is the device which makes necessary both the formulation of a strategy and an assessment of value.

It's like in WoW how players will carry multiple gear sets. But since players have limited storage they have to assess the merits of a given piece of gear and its utility to their overall effectiveness within the scope of their various sets of gear. Do they really need that fire resistant set? Ought that be left in the bank so they can carry their shadow resistant set?

That's the situation inventory limitation manifests. Without it...the games become very different things.

Certainly we can unreflectively knee-jerk our way through the discussion and say "I want more spaces waaaaaaah". But that is entirely moronic and fails to recognize what that limitation does for gameplay.

Which is interesting, because the primary assumptions used to maintain this position (limit storage) are the same primary assumptions which provide the counter-argument to my "I want to be able to move runes around" argument.

Roscoe said...

That's not the point of his article, though..

It's not that he wants more space, period. It's that there are two conflicting interests that are creating friction.

I don't think he's seriously advocating a free-text unbound inventory system, as much as he is questioning the streamlining methods in the first place. Why provide Town Portals at all, when they become ubiquitous, and turn the game into a series of back and forths?

Hardcore mode doesn't change that.

He's not a dipshit, rather, he's approaching the issue from a number of angles.. including the ones you note.

The fundamental gaming mechanic is based on going back to town? Are you high? This is where the tension between two competeing games comes into play.

There is NO need to go back to town in Diablo, short of quest resolutions taht require it, such as moving to the next act. There's no need to visit a vendor, and there's no need to hit a storage space. Just pick up the next dropped weapon and go.

The fundamental gaming mecahnic in Diablo is click to kill, avoid damage from enemies who are essentially doing the same.

The author correctly notes that all of this stems from the need for more loot, better loot. And here you're right. The inventory system and it's limitations become a fundamental MECHANIC in that game. To streamline that, you bring in Town Portals. Stacking Potions, etc.

But the Get Better Geat game pulls away from the story reasonings of the framing Kill the Demons game. That's what he's getting at. Why streamline half assed? Why not streamline fully?

You loved it when you had the Dungeon Siege Transmutation spell. That's the exact same thing as having a town portal that goes directly to the vendor's pockets or a Bling Gnome.

I'm not sure you read the article, at least not critically. You read it with an prejudice, it seems.. because you're discussing things he talks about, as you note at the bottom.. but you call him a dipshit.

Roscoe said...

I mean.. yeah, we ALL know you need limitations. I can go into the Oblivion diatribe ad nauseum..

Hell.. that's one spot the article pissed me off about - the "feather weight" spell that increases your ability to carry loot.

Which becomes literally ubiquitous and yet you have to keep casting it.

There was nothing compelling about doing that, nothing interesting...

But the bigger question is entirely encapsulated in " Is This Fun?" He doesn't answer, and I'm not sure he implies an answer, either.

_J_ said...

I think town portals are a part of that same limited inventory mechanic, in that it forces players to assess value and create a strategy.

Whenever we had Diablo II lans Kyle was always slightly ahead of everyone in XP because he sold less items and did not go to town as much. The genious in Kyle's approach was that he only picked up items to sell that he knew would sell for significant sums of gold.

That's why I can appreciate the back and forth component of item collection games. It manifests that mindset of going out and coming back and reinforces the notion of the town as a necessary home base. It also makes players assess value rather than turning everything into gold.

Aside: I enjoyed no aspect of Dungeon Siege.

If the game were constantly moving forward with all town amenities available in the field? That would fundamentally change the gameplay.

Blood Runs come to mind as an acceptable example. Players started in town, and then ran to the first waypoint in act 5, then went back to town. Then they started a new game and did that again.

I think the games are streamlined to do what they do. I don't think "streamline" in terms of Diablo II would require a removal of the "return to town" necessity. The blood run situation of leave town, kill mobs, hit waypoint, go back is a streamlined situation. If we're talking about removing that "return to town" then we're simply talking about a different sort of game.

Which is why I call him a dipshit.

_J_ said...

To use that tried and true example which we all love...what Alec Meer said was, "Wouldn't cupcakes be better if they were larger?"

To which we reply, all together now, "IF THEY WERE LARGER THEY WOULD BE CAKES, DIPSHIT!"

Roscoe said...

But that's the point!

They DO streamline it.

Else you'd be required to RUN back to town. Or to carve your way back to town.

Not Blip, Bamf, Bam, in and out.

Roscoe said...

He's literally asking what you do every day....

Which is.. Why stop there? What do we gain, and what do we lose?

What, precisely, are we doing with this?

You're doing what you'd accuse me of doing with anything else.. not reading him, but hearing him criticise something you like.

You're responding to what you thought he said, and not what's being raised.

_J_ said...

"Which is.. Why stop there? What do we gain, and what do we lose?"

The problem with asking those questions, within the context of Diablo, is that asking them belies a fundamental lack of understanding about the thing about which we're talking.

It's like asking why cupcakes are smaller than cakes. The answer is gesticulation and smacking.

The reason we have finite inventory, the reason we have to go back to town, is that those structures is what makes the experience a game. It's what invokes the strategy.

What would Diablo be with unlimited storage and no need to ever return to town? It would be kill, loot, sell, repair. It would completely remove the illusion of there being something more to the experience than random loot generation.

The difference I would point to is that we can ask these sorts of questions about reality because reality simply exists as it is and we can question these fabrications we layer over reality to make it more interesting.

When we do that same sort of thing with Diablo? It doesn't work as well. Because the entire experience of Diablo is a fabrication. If we keep digging through Diablo eventually nothing is there... but in a much different sense than, say, a nihilist would say that if we keep digging through reality nothing is there.

So he's either asking a stupid gaming question about a Diablo, or he's asking a stupid philosophical question about Diablo. Pick whichever you like; he's still being a dipshit.

Roscoe said...

No, actually, Jay, you're being a dipshit.

a big, pain in everyone's ass, dipshit.

You need to get around people again. Isolation hasn't done you a single fucking favor.