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RPG Superstar 2015

Why realism?


Pathfinder Online

Goblin Squad Member

I see a lot of people talking about wanting PFO to be realistic. What are the reasons why?

In my opinion, it doesn't need to be realistic to be fun. Games can still be T-rated and be fun. I'm looking at all the games out on the market that are M-rated and hyper-realistic. Sure they are fun, but it's the same thing over and over. That doesn't require a lot of resources, which most of which have been aimed at trying to make it as realistic as possible (looking at you, Frostbite 2.) It sounds like PFO will be heavily reliant on game play, and for MMOs, that's a good thing. If you dedicate more resources to realism, you don't have as much for game play. I'd rather have cartoony graphics and great game play rather than great graphics but poor game play (Particularly a big fan of the way they did graphics on Borderlands.) Plus, with more realism means requiring more processing power, which in turn, requires a better computer. What's the point of a game when a portion of your targeted audience may not have the capability to run said game. That said, I hope they do have a wide variety of graphic settings, both for low end mainstream computers and high end gamers, but it isn't high on my priority list for this game. I do have a high end computer to handle modern games at high graphic settings, but they shouldn't be focusing on high end PC gamers.

Goblin Squad Member

The only times I've argued for "realism" is when a particular, commonly-used mechanic seems outrageously unrealistic - so much so that it's silly, even in a fantasy game.

As far as realism in graphics go, I generally agree with you that it's much more important that the animations flow smoothly, and that the game play flows smoothly, than it is that the character models or even the environment look super-realistic.

I think LOTRO did a great job with environmental graphics, but their character models leave a lot to be desired, and "flows smoothly" is completely missing.

Vanguard and WoW are fantastic models for game play smoothness.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

When most people use the word "realism" in reference to games, what they mean is "verisimilitude", the appearance or semblance of possibility.

Goblin Squad Member

It's all about Suspension of Disbelief.

I'm happy to suspend my disbelief and accept that a Wizard can cast a Fireball spell.

Other things are a lot harder to accept.

Goblin Squad Member

Yeah, I think when you read "realism" mentioned in the discussions here.... what people are talking about, for the most part has nothing to do with Graphics or how the game is depicited. It's more about what the rules mechanicaly represent.

For me, when talking about games or game systems or settings, one of the important points I use to evaluate them is what I like to call "World Logic". That is, the Universe/World doesn't have to function like ours...but it does have to function in an at least semi-rationale internaly consistant manner. It also has to have at least enough of a VERY LOOSE resemblence to our Universe/World, that I as a player can relate to it to some degree.

So, to use Nihimon's example, I don't have a problem that a Wizard can cast a Fireball...and I don't need an exact explanation of the meta-physics of exactly how that works, just the understanding that there ARE meta-physics of how that works.

However when fireballs burn enemies but not friends with NO RATIONALE explanation of why that difference exists in the game-world...or even worse they burn friends SOMETIMES but not others, with no explanation as to why.... then that really starts to bother me.

Of course that's not the only factor in consideration....and sometimes playability will trump such considerations if there is a good enough reason for it... but it definately IS a factor. The world/universe/mechanics have to make "sense" to me on some level in order for me to get into it. Graphics, however, I could care less about...I'd be perfectlty happy with 16 bit graphics in 16 colors.


Everything requires balance. You want players to be able to immerse themselves within the game world while not suffering unnecessary hindrances.

Imagine if you had to clean your settlement every week in order to avoid plagues or if you had to sleep or your character would hallucinate. Usually, things that piss you off in real life won't work differently in a game, and should therefore be avoided for maximum fun (subjective, of course, but I'm willing to bet only an extremely minute percentage of gamers would find enjoyment out of sleeping for hours in a game or cleaning their houses.)

On the other hand, things like mounted travel versus instant teleportation via the world map greatly adds to an online game, especially a sandbox, where businesses related to travel can develop and forge a stronger community. General physics such as momentum, gravity, inertia, acceleration, friction, etc. also make for a more believable game.

Goblin Squad Member

Good mechanics is one thing. Realism in the game will not always be noticed or get any recognition, but lack or realism will. A game is a lot more enjoyable for me if there is physical and visual realism. Most people won't notice it, and i have found that the older crowd that started with text games is effected by it even less. But the younger gamers such as myself are more drawn to games that look good.

SW:TOR is a good baseline for where MMO graphics should be. Though I would turn up the high end some more.

The biggest hit for realism, which SW:TOR utterly failed to do is:
Physical actions(weapon swings) should not feel like spells. Which is why i like the DCUO system so much(it's just a horrible game in other aspects). If weapon hits must be tied to abilities, they should have ZERO cooldown time, or require another attack to be used first.

Goblin Squad Member

@Valkenr, can you describe in a little more detail what you're talking about from DCUO? I've never played the game, and can't figure out what you're saying.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

DCUO has a split combat system: 'abilities' use 'power', and have various effects that cannot be prevented or actively mitigated. 'Power' is gained by connecting with attacks, which are performed by l/r mouse button combos.
Typical attacks come at about 3/second, and a good chain is 20-30 in raid PvE or 5-10 in PvP. There isn't the feel of "I attack this round, wait until next round, and attack again."

I disagree with "I can swing a sword constantly without tiring out" as a basis for gameplay decisions.

Goblin Squad Member

Gameplay wise, I think realism is great. There are a lot of good ideas in real life that could enhance games if implemented there. Like hunger systems, or the realistic wound system from Wurm were two great examples of things that are really fun and realistic. Dungeon and Dragons as a game tends to be more realistic than most MMOs. The D20 system is not ultra realism but compared to your general theme-park MMO it sure as heck is. I would love for this game to try and stay as true to the D20 system and the realism present in D&D/Pathfinder as possible without getting in the way of making a fun MMO. There should be reasons to make camp and sleep, bring food and clean water, and they should try to put some emphasis on preparing with the right gear before setting out on an adventure like there is in the Player's Manual. Half of the fun of D&D was finding creative ways to use the items in the manual. I always found a purpose for that chalk, signal whistle, lantern oil, and rope. Boy did I ALWAYS find a use for the rope.

I would really like to see as much of that as is feasible transplanted over into Pathfinder Online. People still play D&D today because pen and paper RPGs offer the most freedom and creativity of any game on the market. That is probably THEE single biggest reason anyone cares about games like Pathfinder. Pathfinder Online needs to offer as much of that as possible within the limits of an MMO.

As far as realism in graphics... Like I said. I played WURM ONLINE. Make the game mechanics good and I will play it, as long as the graphics aren't insufferably bad to the point I wonder if I am playing on an N64.

That said overly cartoony graphics do detract from a game a little. They need to go through the Pathfinder books and try to give at least that level of realism to their art. I personally really like that whole art style and wouldn't mind seeing 100% of the games graphics based off the art in the Pathfinder books.

If they decide that they need blood and gore to make that art-style work, then I'm all for it. If they decide they can pull that off with a level of gore appropriate to a teen rated game, then I am all for that. Really doesn't matter to me.

Goblin Squad Member

DeciusBrutus wrote:

DCUO has a split combat system: 'abilities' use 'power', and have various effects that cannot be prevented or actively mitigated. 'Power' is gained by connecting with attacks, which are performed by l/r mouse button combos.

Typical attacks come at about 3/second, and a good chain is 20-30 in raid PvE or 5-10 in PvP. There isn't the feel of "I attack this round, wait until next round, and attack again."

Well, having combos build up power that can be used for other, stronger attacks is nothing new in MMOs.

Maybe what Valkenr is protesting against is the slowness of the 1.5 second global cooldown?


Andius wrote:
I always found a purpose for that chalk, signal whistle, lantern oil, and rope. Boy did I ALWAYS find a use for the rope.

Boy do I hear you. Chalk and rope every time...

I have to admit, one thing I find really irritating about MMOs in general is the lack of flexibility that is offered in tabletop games. Really, in your average MMO, if you have a sword, bow, and arrows, you are set. You don't need camping gear or food. What would you do with them? Game play allows for running, jumping, swinging, and shooting. Maybe a heal potion, once and a while.
My point is, I would like to throw my weight behind more stuff I can do with my rope and chalk.

Goblin Squad Member

I am usually at the front lines on the pro-realism faction, but I actually do not care at all about realism. What I want is non-combat challenges. I want to fall prey to my own stupidity. I want stupidity to matter period. I do not really care if there is darkness, I would like to give a small portion of the game an opportunity to survive off of making torches. So I support darkness for the economic additions to the game. I would also prefer the challenge of dealing with my own stupidity if I forget spare torches including the heart tearing feeling of having just found the "ultimate treasure of uberness" only to realize I still have to survive the trip out of the cave...and my last torch is sputtering. I want people to logically make inns because it is actually not safe to be out after dark. I want roads to be the necessarily guided by the desire to move cross country swiftly and safely...before dark. I want to feel the thrill of accidentally staying out too late and running through the dark woods, knowing something I cannot see is stalking me just as I see the lights of town ahead -- will I make it or not? I do not care about darkness, but I do care about all the stuff that emerges from a system with darkness. Without such, all the thinks based upon it become non-existent or arbitrary. The location of towns, roads, and hotels becomes more a matter of predefined locations out of player consideration than an honest calculation of threat versus profit on the part of the player/character(as any construction should be).

I just used Darkness as an example, Heavy Armor and swimming? I feel limitations of that sort offer balance that allows characters in no armour to be as useful as those who wear heavy armour...in the correct circumstances. I want myself and others to actually have to weigh the cost versus benefit in everything...and have enough variation to allow all combinations between max cost and max benefit.

I, as my characters mind, would like behaviours I know, understand, and empathize to emerge from the overall system. This requires challenges to exist for our characters that we as the players can relate to...hence realistic. Forcing a mechanic to dictate something, does not offer understanding, it only necessitates acceptance...or at least compliance.

Goblin Squad Member

Forencith wrote:
I would also prefer the challenge of dealing with my own stupidity if I forget spare torches including the heart tearing feeling of having just found the "ultimate treasure of uberness" only to realize I still have to survive the trip out of the cave...and my last torch is sputtering.

And this my friends, is why you always want a dwarf in your party. Beyond the awesome beards and the fact they are so much less of snobs than elves.

But in all seriousness darkness can be taken way over the top. Generally light sources are too hard to get your hands on or not effective enough. Most PVPers change their gamma so it isn't so big of a deal, and if you have a computer/monitor that just doesn't allow the gamma to go as high as you want it (like mine) you end up squinting at the screen until you decide it isn't worth it.

If darkness is included in game, it needs to not be absurdly dark when you are out in the open world to the point that without a light source or creative gamma usage you decide you might as well just give up and go do something else for awhile. Caves and such can have utter darkness but there needs to be a wide array of things like spells, potions, lanterns that actually DO something, and racial abilities that people can use to negate this.

Goblin Squad Member

I agree about the dwarf/elf. Challenges of this sort allow every specialty to be useful at least part of the time...and an absolute lifesaver others.

Cheating of the sort argued as the primary reason not to have darkness only points out to me that the current method of implementation is flawed, not that it cannot be done successfully. Anyways, I did not intend to make this another darkness debate...as if I have any choice, I agree to comply with the lack of meaningful darkness.

Lantern Lodge

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@Darkrunner, look at mabinogi, camping sets, food, resting, bandages, all were useful and had a place. Actually mabinogi is what i will continue to play if PO flunks out. probably alongside PO unless PO suddenly sees my genius and changes certain already decided aspects.

Goblin Squad Member

Nihimon wrote:

Well, having combos build up power that can be used for other, stronger attacks is nothing new in MMOs.

Maybe what Valkenr is protesting against is the slowness of the 1.5 second global cooldown?

GCD is a must, it is there to simulate the delay between actions, and prevent things like spamming frontloading damage attacks.

From a realism standpoint, i don't want to see cooldowns. I would go for a cooldown if it was a cooldown for a set of abilities, representing the user exhausting them selves in a single action. But something like "shield bash" should not have a cooldown of its own, and be spammable if desired, and have a cost attached to it. I like how SWG handled it, a few things such as burstrun and medicineuse had a cooldown time simulating exhaustion and preparation/administration time, but other than that, every ability had a HAM cost associated to it.

I want to see costs, not cooldowns. They can drain life bars, or consume/use materials. Every cooldown should have a logical reason behind it.

To me logical is not when you can cast Fireball, Ice blast, and Acid Spray, (which all do equal damage) in succession, but if you want to cast fireball twice you have to wait for a cooldown timer specific to that ability. If one ability makes me unable to cast it again due to some sort of 'mental exhaustion' i shouldn't be able to use other similar abilities(spells of greater or equal 'level', in this case) for the same period of time.

I'm not a huge fan of the spells/day system. I much prefer a mana-type bar to give a cost to abilities.

Goblin Squad Member

Valkenr wrote:
I'm not a huge fan of the spells/day system. I much prefer a mana-type bar to give a cost to abilities.

I fully agree. Spells per/day makes rolling a caster seem like a gamble. If you encounter a few enemies in a day you are super powerful. If you encounter a ton of enemies you are screwed. Mana means you can't go totally nuts in a single encounter, but you aren't entirely useless if you run into too many encounters/encounters that go on for too long. Especially if you have some low mana consumption/no mana/mana recharge abilities you can use for fights you know will take awhile.

Goblin Squad Member

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@Valkenr, I see. And I agree for the most part. I actually would prefer a system where attacks had set starting positions and set ending positions, and if you chose an attack that required a starting position of your axe over your head, and your axe was currently down by your feet, there should be a time-cost to ready that attack. However, if you chose an attack that started from the same position your previous attack ended at, then you're good to go.

As for magic, I actually really, really like the spells/day with a slight variation: basically, your chance to forget the spell is based on your skill in that spell, so that you've got a good chance of forgetting a spell you just started learning, but other spells you never forget, and can cast at will from then on.

[Edit] Obviously, spells/day won't work in an MMO. I mean to say I'm a fan of preparing and forgetting spells. I think it should be a fairly trivial thing to take a few minutes while out of combat and prepare spells.

Goblin Squad Member

Nihimon wrote:

@Valkenr, I see. And I agree for the most part. I actually would prefer a system where attacks had set starting positions and set ending positions, and if you chose an attack that required a starting position of your axe over your head, and your axe was currently down by your feet, there should be a time-cost to ready that attack. However, if you chose an attack that started from the same position your previous attack ended at, then you're good to go.

I'm not a huge fan of comboing through abilities, that's why i like DCUO's weapon system. You didn't have 20 different buttons to press/click, you had 2 and each responded differently to a hold or a tap. You still have to remember what the different combos do, but they are much easier to execute, and you don't need to memorize a web of abilities, or constantly watch your bar to see what lights up. I had ability comboing in COH with a dual-blades scrapper, and to me it wasn't much fun.

Goblin Squad Member

@Valkenr, that sounds like you'd rather be playing with something like a PlayStation controller. I'm not at all a fan of that play style.

Among other things, I am very attached to using my mouse buttons to move and look around in the game world. If I suddenly can't do that, I'm going to be very frustrated.

Goblin Squad Member

Great discussion. This is definitely an area we'll have to do a lot of work in. I like the OP point that we're more focused on gameplay than trying to get every bit of realism we can out of the world.

Sovereign Court Goblin Squad Member

Realism in this context is, I believe :

Wow, this can in the real world CAN do that... and I CAN beat him (with a good chance).

Silly is : Wow, this guy in the real world CAN do that ... and I will beat him, even if I don't try really that hard.

Now there is the thing about leveling up. Of course, when you are level 15 +, or maybe 5+ ... realism is really, really relative. After all, if I am level 15, I am already quite well on the path to godhood/sainthood/herogod/whathaveyou.

In the end my point is : realism is all and well at low levels, and should be enforced, just to show how good you are afterwards, and how well you can ignore those pesky mortal problems.

Goblin Squad Member

@Stereofm, 15 isn't really going to be "well on the path to godhood/sainthood/herogod/whathaveyou."

I don't think that's accurate.

Ryan has talked about how, in general terms, you could break the tabletop game down by levels. My paraphrase of that is:

1 - 5 is beginner stuff (kill a goblin).
6 - 10 is heroic stuff (build a kingdom).
11 - 15 is grand-stage epic stuff (save the world).
16 - 20 is godly stuff (save the universe).

Ryan then went on to talk about how PFO will mostly be the heroic stuff that you'd typically find in tabletop adventures for characters level 6 to 10.

While it's true that level 15 in the tabletop is close to godly, I don't believe there will ever be anything in PFO that is "close to godly".

Goblin Squad Member

Mark Kalmes wrote:
Great discussion. This is definitely an area we'll have to do a lot of work in. I like the OP point that we're more focused on gameplay than trying to get every bit of realism we can out of the world.

Yes, in the beginning focus on building the game structure, but keep in mind that there are millions of potential gamers that won't play your game if it isn't on par with newer game's realistic quality. People don't buy $1000-$2000+ game rigs to play games 5-10 years behind the times.

These people that want better looking games aren't those that frequent forums, they are the players that you hardly ever hear from, but provide the largest chunk of income out of the player base.

Only sacrifice realism when you are about to go over budget and have to release the game in a month.

And don't pull an earthrise and make a horribly un-optimized system full of memory leaks.

Goblin Squad Member

Valkenr wrote:
Mark Kalmes wrote:
Great discussion. This is definitely an area we'll have to do a lot of work in. I like the OP point that we're more focused on gameplay than trying to get every bit of realism we can out of the world.

Yes, in the beginning focus on building the game structure, but keep in mind that there are millions of potential gamers that won't play your game if it isn't on par with newer game's realistic quality. People don't buy $1000-$2000+ game rigs to play games 5-10 years behind the times.

These people that want better looking games aren't those that frequent forums, they are the players that you hardly ever hear from, but provide the largest chunk of income out of the player base.

Only sacrifice realism when you are about to go over budget and have to release the game in a month.

And don't pull an earthrise and make a horribly un-optimized system full of memory leaks.

I think the nice part is the first 4500 is likely to be the diehard fanboys who will accept the bugs of a release. They'll have time to iron things out and tighten down the game a lot before they release it to the general public.

Goblin Squad Member

Andius wrote:
I think the nice part is the first 4500 is likely to be the diehard fanboys who will accept the bugs of a release. They'll have time to iron things out and tighten down the game a lot before they release it to the general public.

Yeah the first group will be fine with it, but after a while less and less people will be able to overlook a lack of realism. And you don't want to shoot low, because you will have to potentially tell players that they can't play the game they have put money into, because the minimum specs are going to be raised to account for a more system taxing mechanic put into the game.

I have a feeling a lot of the people that don't care about graphics also those don't keep their systems updated.

Goblin Squad Member

Valkenr wrote:

Yeah the first group will be fine with it, but after a while less and less people will be able to overlook a lack of realism. And you don't want to shoot low, because you will have to potentially tell players that they can't play the game they have put money into, because the minimum specs are going to be raised to account for a more system taxing mechanic put into the game.

I have a feeling a lot of the people that don't care about graphics also those don't keep their systems updated.

Well they can't set the bar TOO low, but they don't need a super awesome release for anything other than good press. For all intensive purposes it could practically be an extended beta and they would probably get away with it as long as they generate a large enough following to have 4500 committed fans.

I have the feeling most MMO gamers don't update their system much more frequently than new gaming consoles are released. People with top end systems basically is limited to ultra nerds with a fair amount of money to spend, and young males in the military. Most other people will settle with a fairly modest system every few years.

Goblin Squad Member

If you bought a high-end system in the last 5 years, you probably won't need to replace it for quite some time. They're just not improving that quickly anymore.

I bought a high-end system in 2006 from newegg. I upgraded the video card a few years ago to a GeForce GTS 250, which is about 19 releases behind their current top-of-the-line video card, the GeForce GTX 680. I've never had a problem running any MMO on max video settings.


The cost of computer gaming has gone way down since consoles got so popular. The desire publishers have to capitalize on cross-platform releases have drastically slowed the industry's progression. Beyond that the "good enough" point was reached a few years back, where you can't get much better without moving into the uncanny valley. Art direction is worth 100X more these days than it used to be, and that's a good thing.

I snagged this laptop a few years ago on Newegg for $600 and the only thing I can't play on High/Ultra at the native resolution is Crysis 2, and to be honest my eyes can't really tell much difference between that setting and the lower one. Quite a few of the "effects" that have been added in recent generations, like Depth of Field and motion blur actually decrease my enjoyment of a game.

To me something with wonderful art direction like Trine or Skyrim which has realistically proportioned characters but doesn't attempt hyper-realism, is more visually pleasing than something like Call of Duty XX: Extreme Edition.

Goblin Squad Member

Valkenr wrote:
Mark Kalmes wrote:
Great discussion. This is definitely an area we'll have to do a lot of work in. I like the OP point that we're more focused on gameplay than trying to get every bit of realism we can out of the world.

Yes, in the beginning focus on building the game structure, but keep in mind that there are millions of potential gamers that won't play your game if it isn't on par with newer game's realistic quality. People don't buy $1000-$2000+ game rigs to play games 5-10 years behind the times.

These people that want better looking games aren't those that frequent forums, they are the players that you hardly ever hear from, but provide the largest chunk of income out of the player base.

Only sacrifice realism when you are about to go over budget and have to release the game in a month.

And don't pull an earthrise and make a horribly un-optimized system full of memory leaks.

If we are talking "realism" in the context of visual quality as opposed to "realism" in the context of mechanics, then alot is going to depend upon the art style chosen for the game.

If they go for a hyper-realistic style (e.g. near photographic quality) then tolerance for deficiencies in presentation will likely be low. Important to note that games do NOT have to go for hyper-realistic styles in order to be popularly accepted. More stylized art direction can also be a popular choice and places lesser requirements on the clients. WoW is the 800 lb guerilla example...as it featured a stylized approach that was rather modest for it's day, but inargueably was acceptable to a large number of gamers. More recently if you look at games in production like Wildstar and Firefall (and I would argue even TOR), they also seem to have adopted a more stylized art direction and don't seem to be suffering inordinately for it.

Personaly, in terms of visual presentation, I prefer something akin to LOTRO. It's stylized to a modest degree but not in such a fashion to make it appear cartoonish. It goes for a more natural style without attempting to be "photo-realistic"...it's modest enough that it's doesn't strain system requirements, yet it's high-rez client with maximum settings provides pretty decent eye candy.

To some degree, I think that a "photo-realistic" style might be a little jarring for a high fantasy setting like Pathfinder, a certain degree of stylization (without being overtly "cartoonish") would seem a better fit. YMMV.

Goblin Squad Member

I totally agree about the environment in LOTRO, but their character models are pretty bad - especially elves. It reminds me of some pre-Renaissance art, where they hadn't really figured out perspective yet.

Goblin Squad Member

I definitely hope the environments are entirely realistic within the framework they have already suggested(such as horizontal distance shrinking), but not so much in graphics. I agree that I want realistic proportions like LOTRO or Skyrim.

Scratch all that, I want PF art proportions. I would be happiest with the decreased system requirements for something like SEED, but with PF art instead.

My desire for realism is not in the art, I much prefer the world/environment be realistic in causal interactions.

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