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Completionist vs Role Playing views.

@BelegCuthalion and @SpaceInvader had an interesting discussion going on in the Gaider needs a list thread that I think deserves its own thread.

What is a good balance between a Completionist view and a Role Players view when it comes to RPGs?

First some ground work:

A Completionist view occurs when a player wants to experience everything the game has to offer during one play through attempting to avoid that "I've missed something" feeling. When the game interacts with the choices a character makes in positive or negative ways, it can give the player a "what if i choose something different" thought, especially if that choice led to a reward. This not only breaks immersion, but can also lead to restartist.

An example of this is in our very own Baldur's Gate. When playing a thief, a majority of players will max out Open Locks first to get to that Star Sapphire gem. The lock will just taunt you other wise as you know you won't be coming back to Candlekeep anytime soon to reattempt the lock. To make matters worse, it was revealed that giving your thief an 18 Charisma and talking to the nobles in the inn, that Star Sapphire gem can turn into other valuable jewelry. I personally have not played a thief without 18 Charisma since discovering that, sacrificing a RP component (a lower CHR) for a better starting reward.

A Role Players view occurs when a player wants the game to adapt to the decisions that they have previously made. Playing as a Barbarian Half-Orc wielding a two-handed axe should be different than playing an Elven Wizard with a fondness of pyromania. NPCs should treat these two characters differently, especially in certain situations. When the game treats all characters the same, immersion can be broken. "As if the elven city guard just let my drow character walk through the gate without saying a word to me!" is a good example.

Once again, Baldur's Gate has an example (although minor) of this through it's reputation system and bounty hunters. If your rep is low enough, you get special encounters (such as Nestor in the Ankheg map) that higher rep parties do not get. The game is adapting to how you are playing and giving you a more realistic experience.

These two perspectives can clash, but both have their merits when it comes to designing compelling stories in RPGs.

So where, in your opinion is the proper balance between these two? Which play style do you prefer to follow?

How much should a player be rewarded for making different choices, especially in character creation?

Is there a way to balance the rewards without making your choices seem redundant?

Please, discuss.
4wardRavenslightdunbarmf2112JuliusBorisovAerakarGoturalSerg_BlackStridertypo_tilly
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Comments

  • 4ward4ward Member Posts: 31
    i think it‘s also a question if you have fun playing the game. We all here love playing BG2 i take it, so what does it matter if you replay it. I‘d rather play BG2 for the n-th time to discover soemting new then hop to some other xyz-game. And specifically the BG2 saga is totally different than the other party-rpgs out there IMO.

    There‘s always save/load that helps to some extent, might be a little tiresome but it‘s a solution.

    I‘d alike to add JMO which i think is also a little bit tied with the topic. Generally, i‘d hope when a game is designed that it‘s not geared towards getting all content in one playthrough. I‘m not a fan of design choices that were taken with the introduction of Kotor. Taking all recruitable chars and then on level-up going though all of them extracting info – that kind of led to completionist behaviour. It also felt very gamey, later DA would have the camp where everybody gathered. That kind of took the decision away for the player which char to take – this is a fundamental decision that‘s been taken away. You basically plan your playthrough around that. The replayability suffers. I like it how in BG saga the characters felt like individuals with their own agenda – when you add a gathering place they kind of lose that IMO.

    Another decision that was introduced in Kotor was the change of the death mechanic. Imagine that you when you start the dungeon in BG2 and you run into that first Duergar group and then you survive just because Minsc happened to barely escape and then all your party members magically get up and are ready to go. You always get away with it, no need to feel rewarded, always repeat the same procedure, somehow someone will survive and all is good. What a nonsense! That takes away from the player being rewarded from reloading, learning, changing. Reloading is a matter of seconds, takes as long as watching the other chars in Kotor get up. You‘ve got to love how designers think that majority of players are reloading and that the majority of players hate reloading and then proceed to ‚fix‘ that with the Kotor mechanic just because someone whined on some internet forum. Tragically, even PoE, a game praised as a spritiual successor to the IE games has that. Difficulty on easy in BG saga has party chars not dying, so here‘s that for the story guys out there.

    The IE games had that feeling that you really could fail, back then designers didn‘t care about convenience for the players like what any party-rpg nowadays features. But look around the internet – here we are talking about a game that exists for so many years yet still the forums are more active than on e.g. PoE – a so-called ‚spritual succesor‘ to the IE games that was released a year ago or so. I don‘t know about you folks, but again i‘d rather play a game for the n-th time like BG2, it‘s not nostalgia, it‘s superiour design decisions which generate fun.
    deltagoRavenslightdunbarJuliusBorisov
  • deltagodeltago Member Posts: 4,431
    mf2112 said:

    Even "completionists" would miss out on content normally without taking some action to change it. For instance, you can't have more than one stronghold so you would be unable to get the other ones and do their quests without Tweaks or a standalone multi-stronghold mod.

    I guess I always figured it came down to individual gameplay. Some people like to be more overpowered through the game and even more at the end, some people like to struggle a bit.

    But here is a question:

    Would you play a character class that wasn't offered a stronghold? Every class (besides the shaman) gets a stronghold. Some stronghold quests are better than others (hello thieves) and each offers its unique reward based on characters class. It balances between competionist and RP (I beat the game playing *that* class) for me, but there being a popular mod to get access to all the strongholds shows it isn't balanced for other players.

    Now compare that to something like PoE or DA:I. Those games, everyone gets the same type of stronghold. They can be customizable, but they are hardly unique in different playthoughs unless you put the effort into making them so, and then you may choose the better reward options over the RP option.
    @Mr2150 said:

    I hate missing stuff. It really annoys me knowing that I have.

    It is right that some decisions should yield rewards for some and not for others. However, I think those opportunities should (at least early on) be evened out... there are many ways to achieve the same outcome and I think that game makers should not penalise certain character creation decisions that early on (and that's how it feels). SOD did this very well at the few minor decision points.

    So as my conclusion - play the way you want to play, enjoy the game and story and have fun. Don't worry about missing content because if the game is good enough you will go back to it...

    The sapphire gem is just a minor example of RP vs Completionist.

    Have you ever played IWD2? It has been bugging me awhile of why I do not enjoy that game compared to other infinity games. And I think it is the reward system that it gives for playing certain type of characters early on. Without spoilers, different character builds get better rewards for quests than other characters. These rewards range from better XP, more insight into the story unfolding and even magical weapons.

    I would attempt to create a party that maximizes these rewards instead of creating a party I would want to play. When I did, I didn't have that connection with my characters And was less invested in the game. When I made a RP party, it felt like the game was punishing me and holding me back for making a choice that shouldn't do that. I couldn't enjoy the game either way I played.
    Mr2150RavenslightJuliusBorisov
  • FardragonFardragon Member Posts: 3,859
    But it should be possible to fail quests.

    Maybe the game simply shouldn't tell you when you have made a quest impossible to complete. Or rather than say "failed" a jounal entry along the lines of "I decided not to help Marge find her pet chicken, I doubt I will ever go back there".
    Mr2150semiticgodJuliusBorisovThacoBell
  • BelegCuthalionBelegCuthalion Member Posts: 351
    despite i took the completionist position in that other threat, i would not necessarily consider me to be one – i honestly try to roleplay my runs, not needing to take advantage of every quest reward in maximum possible way.

    But what i wanted to say was more like "if i seriously play that game 10 times through, then i want to be rather sure to have seen rather everything, because if not, it would drive me crazy knowing i may have not been able to see all of this great game".

    BG2 strongholds are a very good example here:
    No problem at all if i only can play one stronghold at a time – but i somewhat know as a player what i'm missing out and how i can see that content the next time. what i have to do to see all of them is rather clear: i just have to play the game with each class once.
    BUT: priest strongholds differenciate between good, neutral and evil ... argh ... i'll have to play 3 priests to see it all, no matter how minor the differences are, because i have to see it all!

    Now imagine it's fracutred further into different aspects ... differences in gender, alignments (not only for priests), reputation, not only for the strongholds but also for sidequests or subquests ... there can be so many combinations that i'll never be able to see all the content. That's a cool thought as the game feels deep then, but it's also frustrating someone is not letting me see all that's there.
    RavenslightdeltagoJuliusBorisov
  • mf2112mf2112 Member, Moderator Posts: 1,893

    despite i took the completionist position in that other threat, i would not necessarily consider me to be one – i honestly try to roleplay my runs, not needing to take advantage of every quest reward in maximum possible way.

    But what i wanted to say was more like "if i seriously play that game 10 times through, then i want to be rather sure to have seen rather everything, because if not, it would drive me crazy knowing i may have not been able to see all of this great game".

    BG2 strongholds are a very good example here:
    No problem at all if i only can play one stronghold at a time – but i somewhat know as a player what i'm missing out and how i can see that content the next time. what i have to do to see all of them is rather clear: i just have to play the game with each class once.
    BUT: priest strongholds differenciate between good, neutral and evil ... argh ... i'll have to play 3 priests to see it all, no matter how minor the differences are, because i have to see it all!

    Now imagine it's fracutred further into different aspects ... differences in gender, alignments (not only for priests), reputation, not only for the strongholds but also for sidequests or subquests ... there can be so many combinations that i'll never be able to see all the content. That's a cool thought as the game feels deep then, but it's also frustrating someone is not letting me see all that's there.

    I use walkthroughs for that purpose. I never took Dorn in BG2 for instance since reading his quests was quite enough to satisfy my urge without actually doing them myself. I have played female charname's without ever taking Anomen, reading through it once from a romance guide was enough without having to complete a full game for that optional bit.
    deltagokanisathaJuliusBorisov
  • AnduinAnduin Member Posts: 5,195
  • SharGuidesMyHandSharGuidesMyHand Member Posts: 2,107
    deltago said:



    Do you expect to know a game inside out, or have it surprise you every time you play it?

    The latter.

    Even with new RPGs that I play (such as DA: Origins, which I recently tried for the very first time) I insist on "getting a feel" for my character, so I will intentionally miss out on content if it means staying true to my character.

    Besides, if I "know a game inside out," particularly after playing it only once, it seriously diminishes the replay value of it for me. Part of the allure in revisiting a game is to experience something new/different.

    mf2112deltagogorgonzola
  • GenderNihilismGirdleGenderNihilismGirdle Member Posts: 1,258
    To weigh in, I'm def a role player more than a completionist...but at the same time games like Baldur's Gate lend themselves to so many playthroughs you'll accidentally find everything by the time you're on your 4th or 5th playthrough, and I'm also def a completionist even if I lean more towards role playing. I get so many character concepts it's INEVITABLE that I'll see everything once I tear through the game enough times.

    I mean, a big benefit of replaying with different RP concepts is that Evil playthroughs, for example, let you see a lot of the conversation trees throughout the game that you're probably not picking if you're doing a bunch of Good playthroughs...so it's not like a completionist can even find and see everything without additional playthroughs anyway! So, way I figure it...might as well RP each one to the hilt!

    tl;dr I am both and find no contradiction, especially not in Black Isle/Bioware RPGs
    RavenslightThacoBellgorgonzola
  • VbibbiVbibbi Member Posts: 229
    4ward said:


    I‘d alike to add JMO which i think is also a little bit tied with the topic. Generally, i‘d hope when a game is designed that it‘s not geared towards getting all content in one playthrough. I‘m not a fan of design choices that were taken with the introduction of Kotor. Taking all recruitable chars and then on level-up going though all of them extracting info – that kind of led to completionist behaviour. It also felt very gamey, later DA would have the camp where everybody gathered. That kind of took the decision away for the player which char to take – this is a fundamental decision that‘s been taken away. You basically plan your playthrough around that. The replayability suffers. I like it how in BG saga the characters felt like individuals with their own agenda – when you add a gathering place they kind of lose that IMO.

    It can be game-y to have everyone gathered at one central point. But I like to think of it as a counter to the game-y design that restricts the number of party members. There is no actual reason why the Bhaalspawn should only have five companions while traveling the Sword Coast, just as there is no reason why we only have three companions in the field with us in Dragon Age Origins since we're theoretically traveling Fereldan in one large group. We're fugitives working against the Blight, we're not splitting into multiple groups and then meeting back at camp, it's just that for game balance and engine limitations we can't have all companions in the field with us at one time.
    4ward said:


    Another decision that was introduced in Kotor was the change of the death mechanic. Imagine that you when you start the dungeon in BG2 and you run into that first Duergar group and then you survive just because Minsc happened to barely escape and then all your party members magically get up and are ready to go. You always get away with it, no need to feel rewarded, always repeat the same procedure, somehow someone will survive and all is good. What a nonsense! That takes away from the player being rewarded from reloading, learning, changing. Reloading is a matter of seconds, takes as long as watching the other chars in Kotor get up. You‘ve got to love how designers think that majority of players are reloading and that the majority of players hate reloading and then proceed to ‚fix‘ that with the Kotor mechanic just because someone whined on some internet forum. Tragically, even PoE, a game praised as a spritiual successor to the IE games has that. Difficulty on easy in BG saga has party chars not dying, so here‘s that for the story guys out there.

    I don't know why this mechanic was changed, and I do agree that having permanent death led to combat feeling more dangerous. On the other hand, I think most of the later Bioware games had party members be a more important part of the story, so if Bastila or Carth died on Dantoine then the story breaks. While Minsc dying could be upsetting to the player or mess up the party composition, none of the BG NPCs were necessary for the story.

  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 12,412
    edited October 2016
    deltago said:

    So in a new game, like the one Beamdog is working on at the moment, where is your balance? How much do you expect to experience the first time you play the game? Does too much choice hurt? Do you expect to know a game inside out, or have it surprise you every time you play it?

    Usually, when it comes to new games, I'm trying to do as much as possible, slowly going through everything. Then I usually find out I've missed something, and if this something cannot be done at the stage of the game I'm currently at, I start to think about a restart.

    Several restarts later, I see myself falling under the restartitis. Happened to me in DAI, happened to me in Skyrim. Happened to me in Pillars of Eternity. Maybe this is why I didn't finish those games.
    GenderNihilismGirdleThacoBellmf2112gorgonzola
  • AasimAasim Member Posts: 421
    Slightly off topic - For some reason, I can't force myself to go through any RPG other than BG. Likewise, I have no interest in any game other than BG and an occasional game of DoTA(multiplayer) /C&C Generals(modded skirmish).
    I tried PoE, tried DA:O; I can't find any pleasure in those games for some reason. Sooner or later, I go back to BG. I did like Fallout 2 and Arcanum, but I can't imagine playing through them again however. When I started playing them, I did "complete runs", doing all little side-quests etc. If I had to play them today, I'd probably run through the game in 2 hours. RPG indeed...
    Maybe I'm just getting old.
    BelegCuthalionGenderNihilismGirdlegorgonzola
  • JumboWheat01JumboWheat01 Member Posts: 1,020
    Fardragon said:

    DAI must be a nightmare for a completionist, with it's masses of trivial sidequests.

    Oh, indeed. I can spend the same amount of time pre-Skyhold in that game as I do going through all of Origins or II. And that's not even a third of the game!
    GenderNihilismGirdle
  • deltagodeltago Member Posts: 4,431
    Fardragon said:

    DAI must be a nightmare for a completionist, with it's masses of trivial sidequests.

    It is and most of those quests can only be done one way (fetching) and flash little beacons on both your world map and radar map until they are completed, for basically nothing.

    Most of them are tedious, time consuming and boring and tend to turn off the game after doing one or two of them.
    VbibbiGenderNihilismGirdle
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