Role-Playing Support

For what's not in 'Top Priority Game Design'. Post your ideas, visions, suggestions for the game, rules, modifications, etc.

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Geoff the Medio
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Role-Playing Support

#1 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Feb 03, 2005 10:24 pm

It occurs to me that some people might like to role-play their empire and/or its ruler to some degree. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what sorts of things could the game design or interface do to support or attract this sort of player?

My thoughts...

Having identifiable empire rulers with well-defined personalities would provide interesting roles to play. Alternatively, completely undefined ruler personalities (at least optionally) would let the player create their own character...

Keeping the role-player in the mindset of their role, or immersion, could also be achieved by presenting information, or the interface in general, in that context. So reports could inform the player of the gamestate in the second person whenever possible, so: "Sire, your magnificent fleets were been victorious at the Pholox system! The vile Glubars were repelled." rather than "Battle in Pholox System (Victory)". This also ties into the first point, with appropriate in-context diplomatic messages from other empires according to the character.

I'm not a role-player, so don't know what else or more specifically could be done... Any ideas? The discussion is rather abstract at this point, I realize...

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#2 Post by Velizar » Fri Feb 04, 2005 12:17 am

As a guy who participated in the famous 'Orion Senate RPG' on Atari boards, I wholeheartedly agree.
It isn't hard to allow players to roleplay. All it takes is the game to be immersive enough. Maximum racial character, great story, intuitive, yet stunning UI, well defined diplomacy, interesting events, heroes, that sort of thing...(I have answered a few threads about immersion, but am too lazy to dig them up right now). Good multiplayer options help a lot, too.
As for the leader, you're right, it could be done two-ways: either you have the player as a leader, without any personality besides imagination. Or, hopefully, it could perhaps be done in an RPG character creation fashion (appearance, some personality, backstory, you know), though it might be too much.
And the ''Sire, your magnificent fleets were been victorious at the Pholox system! The vile Glubars were repelled.'' is waay cooler than the other one and should go without saying.
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#3 Post by Ablaze » Fri Feb 04, 2005 3:47 am

Well, for most people role playing is about character building and collecting. Neither of these concepts fit well into freeorion as it now stands. In order to attract some of the RPG crowd, it would not be enough to implement a version of character building or collecting just within a single galaxy. The game would have to provide tangible and permanent benefits that could be acquired and then would give the player and advantage in all subsequent arenas.

Obviously this would completely change the feel of the game, and it would destroy the idea that all empires start a galaxy on an equal footing. I had to re-evaluate the entire plan for my game in order to incorporate role playing concepts, and I think it is far too late for freeorion to do the same.
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Geoff the Medio
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#4 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Feb 04, 2005 6:25 am

I get the impression there is a type of role player who enjoys playing a character for more limited periods of time, like a leader the duration of an empire-building game, or playing the same character in different situations that have no coherent continuity between them, like the same leader of the same empire in several different concurent universes in an empire-building game.

Playing a role doesn't necessarily mean the role has to change and grow in a persistant and logical way... "Role Playing" is never going to be the main focus of FO, to the degree that we worry about redesigning the game around persistant characters and character growth, but we can still try to facilitate role playing within the game we do have...

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#5 Post by Bastian-Bux » Fri Feb 04, 2005 7:14 am

Ablaze, your definition is what the computer gaming industry wants to make you believe is role playing about.

I'm a roleplayer by heart since 15 years. I can play a character without having any attributes or skills. Just a scetch of paper outlining its habits and whereabouts.

Roleplaying is a kind of art very similar to improvised acting.

This "level grinding and UBER item collecting" is just what happens if you take a "cheap" roleplaying sytsme like D&D, translate it to a computer game, and iterate that formulae again and again, till every stupid l33t kid thinks he is roleplaying.

So real roleplaying in FO doesnt need benefits. It just needs hooks. Like a character generation, which can be skipped and instead a "default empir leader" for that race is used). And following that a way to either write your diplomatic messages by your self (to human players), or let they sound different (fe. pompous, matter of fact, "darth vader style" and so on).

Again, no boni should come forth from this, and it should be circumvental. So why add it? Because with this hooks a roleplayer can "show" his character to others, which heavily increases the fun in multiplayer.
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#6 Post by Daveybaby » Fri Feb 04, 2005 1:05 pm

Hmmm.... as a real life emperor, you would only have so much time available to spend on managing your empire. I propose that, to facilitate roleplaying within the game, we apply a limit to how much you can do per turn. e.g. you have a number of 'points' to spend performing your imperial tasks each turn, which represent what aspects of your empire your role played character chooses to focus on that year.

We could call them.... Imperial Focus Points.
Yes, that sounds good. I like that name, its kinda catchy.
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#7 Post by noelte » Fri Feb 04, 2005 1:19 pm

Daveybaby wrote: ... Imperial Focus Points. ...
Troll? :P
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#8 Post by skdiw » Fri Feb 04, 2005 2:57 pm

Daveybaby wrote:Hmmm.... as a real life emperor, you would only have so much time available to spend on managing your empire. I propose that, to facilitate roleplaying within the game, we apply a limit to how much you can do per turn. e.g. you have a number of 'points' to spend performing your imperial tasks each turn, which represent what aspects of your empire your role played character chooses to focus on that year.

We could call them.... Imperial Focus Points.
Yes, that sounds good. I like that name, its kinda catchy.
lolz. You know you meant to say AP right :p



The only role-playing I know in 4X games is good or evil. If you are good, you keep your words and reputation so other players rely on your aid when your allies need you. Evil players make treaties, but breaks them at an advantages times. If I remember from game theory, most players play as evil.

As for RPG, I guess we can have some events where you might have to save a ship from attack, or go exploring an anomoly that pop up.
:mrgreen:

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#9 Post by Impaler » Fri Feb 04, 2005 4:01 pm

The pinacle example of this kind of Role Playing was of course SMAC and its 7 great leaders supported through copius voice acting of mind-blowing good lines and a detailed back story. It might be interesting to write a back strory for the "Emperor" of each race, esentialy making it an additional part of the race history and description. I can't realy see how a SMAC like backstory could be done though.

Another issue is if we realy want to Imply that the Emperor is esentialy Imortal as they were in SMAC. If we imply an imortal Emperor/Ruler then we realy should not include them as a tangible game asset like a Moo2 Hero which could be killed (or if they are included they should atleast be unkillable like in StarWars Rebelion). If one is actualy able to control and change Emperors though the couse of the game then it implies the player is some kind of super-humans "spirit" that guides the whole race (this is probably less run to Role Play as you cant even visualize yourself)
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Geoff the Medio
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#10 Post by Geoff the Medio » Fri Feb 04, 2005 4:34 pm

skdiw wrote:The only role-playing I know in 4X games is good or evil. If you are good, you keep your words and reputation so other players rely on your aid when your allies need you. Evil players make treaties, but breaks them at an advantages times. If I remember from game theory, most players play as evil.

As for RPG, I guess we can have some events where you might have to save a ship from attack, or go exploring an anomoly that pop up.
Galciv-like events in which you have to chose between the good/neutral/evil options are fine for single player, but I think the main attraction of roleplaying is in multiplayer...

However, if we did want to have more single-player "roleplaying", some more morally ambiguous events would probably be helpful. Rather than having obvious good/bad/neutral options to simple situations, we could have a more KOTOR-like set of options where the "right" choice isn't always obvious. We can also branch out from right/wrong = good/evil to some degree, like B5's chaos vs order fight, or other moral dielemmas... This *is* supposed to be space opera (= fluffy), but I don't think that means we can't add in some of the near endless supply of ethical questions on which many great SF stories are based...

Edit: Also, for both multiplayer and single player, some seriously different ways to "win" might be in order... Rather than conquer everyone else, get elected or transcend, perhaps some empire / race has some religious prophesy that requires it to build temples on a certain set of planets, or a race has a huge desire to (as someone was suggesting) uplift as many pre-sentient races as possible. And I do mean for these to be actual ways to win... not just ways to get some bonus that makes it easier to get elected, kill everyone or transcend. Having significant different goals from other players might be condusive to playing characters in significantly different and interesting ways. (We might also want to consider moving beyond the standard paradigm of only having one winner, which is the first to achieve any of the possible victory conditions... why not have a game where several different empires win?)

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#11 Post by Velizar » Fri Feb 04, 2005 9:44 pm

Completely and utterly agree both with Bastian-Bux and Geoff's last messages. The game needs hook ups and immersion. It would be above and beyound cool or great for GalCiv-like events, but KOTORlike ethics....AWESOME!!! That way, FO, besides being fun, can even have some educational values (insert snicker here).
Different methods of winning? Great! Even more immersion!
In multiplayer its even easier than in singleplayer, you must only produce the means to roleplay. The players' imagination takes care of the rest. So, a good chat system might be the only thing you need.
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#12 Post by Daveybaby » Mon Feb 07, 2005 10:45 am

Okay, on a more constructive note than my IFP windup... BOTF had some (admittedly pretty simplistic) roleplaying elements, e.g. if you played as federation your people got irate if you started unprovoked wars, whereas if you played as klingons they got annoyed if you were at peace all the time.

Ray Kerby is attempting something similar with his Java MOO clone - he is going to try and implement an approval/unrest system to try and constrain the player's behaviour when playing a certain race, just as the computer AI is 'forced' to roleplay that race.

It should certainly be very possible to implement something like this, i.e. build in racial preferences for honourable/passive/expansionist/aggressive etc, and set up some initial interracial likes/hates as opposed to everyone being fairly neutral towards each other at the beginning of the game.

Obviously this could be take even further and implement something like the abandoned ethos system from Moo3.

However, its important to keep the balance just right in these things - you dont want to constrain the player's behaviour too much. If the player wants to play the game in a style against the race's natural tendencies, then they should be able to - as long as they can deal with the consequences.
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#13 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Feb 07, 2005 11:37 am

Daveybaby wrote:...if you played as federation your people got irate if you started unprovoked wars, whereas if you played as klingons they got annoyed if you were at peace all the time.
That's an interesting idea, but it suggests to me that we might want to make a distinction (in the game and in this discussion) between different types of player "roles" that can be "played". Specifically, worrying about and conforming to racial tendencies of your empire is (arguably) in the realm of Player-As-Empire, whereas in-character diplomatic exchanges and in-character SitRep entries are more in the realm of Player-As-Ruler. Yes, a hypothetical player-controlled leader could be said to be making these decisions, but the character of the leader need not be defined at all for this type of decision to be included in the game... The decision of whether to follow or ignore an empire's racial tendencies isn't obviously linked to the personality of the leader, so isn't particularly compelling leader role-playing material.

Almost all empire games have an implicit Player-As-Empire system, occasionally with trivial references in-game to the leader of the empire the player is controlling, but generally in my impression, the player isn't actually playing the role / personality of the leader in question. When I started this thread, I was thinking of issues relating to adding more Player-As-Leader, rather than Player-As-Empire. The latter seems to be generally already well-represented, in what's designed and planned for this game and others.

So, ideas like racial predispositions and tendencies are great, but unless the hard-core role-players also have this sort of thing in mind when they talk about "role-playing", it should probably be discussed in another thread...

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#14 Post by Velizar » Tue Feb 08, 2005 8:59 pm

You could argue that a Player-As-Leader (Emperor) has to obey the 'will of the people', and that he guides his empire accordingly. Not too far-fetched.

As for Player-As-Leader...

Factions. Managing empire/faction relations and influencing faction/faction relations. Exploiting them for your own EVIL gains or honoring your word as a GOOD person should.

Advisors/Councilors/Heroes. Their personalities, relations with the emperor figure (it doesn't have to matter whether the emperor is a character himself, or the player). Their motives/allegiance/alignment/ideas...

Diplomacy. Anyone here done the Arcanum (yaay Troika!) Caladon Membership in Unified Kingdom Quest? It could be done through 'mediators' (there was a thread about a 'diplomacy game' somewhere), or the emperor himself negotiates, yet diplomacy can be arguably the most immersive element of a game like this and should be dealt with extreme thoughtfulness.

Espionage. Missions, their risks, rewards (depends on the way its done).

Leader&Empire Personality(an offshot of Diplomacy). Think about it. Works better if there was a character emperor, but fits with the 'invisible sentience that guides us all'. Maybe the Sleksix are predestined to hate the Rassak, but why wouldn't they get a tolerant leader and options to better that relation (like Thrall/Jaina relation in Warcraft)? Or, you might have two races that work well with each other, but player/emperor hates their guts because they have killed his son/betrayed his trust/helped an unpopular faction/are too cliche/smell bad. ''My people might LIKE the Ashak naturally, but didn't they blow us off at Pyrexia?'' Why shouldn't he have a multitude of options to express that dislike? Perhaps certain diplomatic options would have to be unlocked by certain conditions, similar to what ablaze stated about civil unrest, but expanded even more. An honor system? Similar viewpoints/alignments? Will of the people (high morale- finally has a use!)? Type of goverment and emperor and through it, his influence (so, while a leader has great influence in a monarchy, in democracy, the people have the upper hand), and through it, personal preference? Possibilities are limitless. And fun.

And these are just the top of the ice berg...Picture receiving a diplomatic memo like this:

Our current relation with your empire is <benign>, and our people are <cordial> with each other, but you have <betrayed> us at <Pyrexia> and our glorious monarch <does not like you> because you <are infidels>. We go to war unless you <surrender planet: Remmnar III>!

Isn't that better than Stop provoking us (WHAT?) or we go to war!? ;)
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#15 Post by Bastian-Bux » Wed Feb 09, 2005 1:17 am

Well, moo3planet.de, the fansite that localized MoO3 into german has also a project, which has RPG support build in from the first line of code.

Muside, one of the guys from that project floods my PM with german mails, trying to get my support for some cooperation.

Well Muside, go on, explain us how you do the RPG part in your project. Don't be shy anymore, we won't eat you (well not all of us will) ;).
Wenn du die Macht hättest die Geschichte zu ändern, wo würdest du anfangen. Und viel wichtiger, wo aufhören?

If you had the power to change history, where would you start? And more importantly, where would you stop?

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