Using TRIZ in the forecasting of the computer role playing games evolution

 

Text written in the framework of ENSAM Angers, Laboratoire Presence & Innovation, text in blue and red was added afterwards, as an additional comment to the original article presented in the TRIZ conference in 2006 in Courtrai (Belgium).

 

Abstract

This research aims to find out the patterns existing in the computer role-playing games (CRPGs) design and to find out if the system evolution laws of TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving) are applicable to them. Only part of the technical evolution laws was explored and only on the selected subsystems of CRPGs, because the complete analysis would constitute a much longer paper. The research was essentially qualitative. In conclusion it allows to state that TRIZ evolution laws are matching to many instances of CRPG subsystems evolution paths what allows to propose directions for the future development of CRPGs.

Keywords: CRPG, role-playing game, system evolution, TRIZ

 

1. Introduction

1.1. Role Playing Game (RPG)

Computer Role Playing Games (CRPG), considered in this article, are themselves a genre of the bigger family of games, thus their origins are lying long before the creation of computers. Pen and Paper (PnP) RPGs existed before CRPGs. They appeared on the beginning of the 70s in the USA. Historically the first RPG, “Chain mail”, was created by a wargammer, Gary Gygax. The first CRPG was created approximately in 1975 by Don Daglow on the PDP-10 mainframe computers.

Role-playing games (RPGs) allow gamers to play the part of a character, or group of characters, and interact in the game world. RPGs typically send the players’ characters on a major quest, often made up of smaller adventures (quests). Players are usually able to develop their characters, earning new skills or enhanced abilities by fighting battles or completing missions. While role-playing games are traditionally associated with swords-and-sorcery fantasy, they can be set at any place or time.(). According to John H. Kim (), real RPG games can be distinguished by the fact that the player is able to “detach” himself from his real self and think as his game character, so it is very concentrated on the notion of  psychological immersion.

1.2. TRIZ and its laws of system evolution

TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving) contains, among many other tools, the laws of system evolution formulated by G. S. Altshuller () and then developed by numerous scientists. They were used in this paper to define the steps leading to the Ideal Final Result (IFR) for CRPGs and their origins. IFR fixes the terminal point in the path of the evolution. TRIZ’s technical system definition was used to describe different subsystems and to help structuring the research.

2. Defining CRPGs as Technical System

TRIZ describes technical systems (TS) as entities containing a working tool, an engine, transmission, control and casing. CRPGs can be considered a system containing software and hardware components and each of them consists of the 5 parts mentioned above. This study is concentrated on the software’s working tool and engine:

The Working tool, here, is a CRPG’s user interface. The Software part consists of the graphical and physical interface, which allows the player to control his Player Character (PC) and to have feedback on his actions. The hardware part consists of the peripherals (keyboard, mouse, screens, speakers, etc.), which allows interacting with the game using human senses and manipulation body parts (e.g. hands).

The Engine is equally consisting of two parts. Data are provided by the game engine, a piece of software that generates information, which is converted to human readable form by the working tool. However the whole system is maintained by hardware which requires electrical energy to function.

Modern CRPGs are generally composed of the following subsystems:

Quests – TS which includes the description of quests and their algorithms (script). Generally the main story in the game constitutes the biggest quest, the backbone on which other side quests are attached. The Game’s journal interface allows reading quests-related information.

Dialogues – They include the content of the dialogues, the associated scripts, organization (which describes how the player discusses with other game characters) and interface.

Characters – Entities which can interact with the player showing smaller or bigger signs of autonomy in the game world, where the most important one is the Player Character (PC), characters’ features (skills, inborn characteristics such as intelligence, strength, colour of hair, etc.) and the interface that shows them and allows their use (spell book, skill selector).

Game world objects – Objects that can be affected by the player: items that can be acquired by the player and fixed elements such as walls, containers, doors, levers, etc. This category includes also interfaces to use objects, to stock PCs items (inventory), to exchange them (buy, sell, steal, etc.) and the interface that indicates the player’s position in the game world (world map, calendar, clock). Some objects can have specific interfaces (such as interactive items which can speak with user, etc.)

Game mechanics – Rules which govern the game world (such as how much damage is done by a sword in given conditions or what is the length of one day in the game in terms of the game time and real time). This part includes also the Player Character or party control interface.

Physical system – includes the game’s graphics, music, and environment sound. It defines what the player can experience by his senses and what he can influence by his manipulations, so it describes the game’s control interface.

Introducing these subsystems is important because they are objects of the technical evolution forecast described in this article.

3. Mapping CRPGs to the TRIZ evolution patterns

 

3.1. Game population

Since 1975, several hundreds of CRPGs were created for different hardware platforms. To conduct the present study, its perimeter was reduced to CRPGs made for Personal Computers and in non-Japanese style (these games are very different in terms of gameplay, story and are generally consoles games). The Massive Multiplayer Online RPGs (MMORPGs), which are played essentially in the Internet were also excluded. The scope of this study includes CRPGs produced between 1981 and 2003.

3.2. Methodology

The quantitative research on the subject is very difficult for several reasons: according to S. Savransky (), because of the lack of time dependence in the evolution of the TS, it is impossible to predict the evolution of such systems using quantitative methods. CRPGs as a system are dependent on a very wide choice of factors, which varied in time. For example, the simplest measure of level of innovation may be the level of sales of these games, however these numbers are meaningless taking into account the context of the market () which was similar to ideal competition in the 1980s and which is restrained in the 2000s by the oligopoly structure. Quantitative research on patents in the case of CRPGs is pointless, since many of its innovations concern objects which cannot be patented (storyline, quest types, game rules – mathematical formulae, etc.)

The only way to evaluate the evolution of CRPGs is currently through qualitative research. It is based on the tests of a set of games and on the review of opinions of players and reviewers found in 5 important knowledge bases on the computer games (). Milestone games were selected to illustrate technology transitions described in the next sections.

The results of the comparison are organized by theme of several different evolution laws of TRIZ.

4. Results

4.1. How did the idea of CRPG appeared

CRPGs originate from the axiom of Technical Evolution (TE) stating that “both the quantity and quality of human needs, as well as requirements for humans, increase with time”.

gamesevol

Fig.1 – Principal TS contributing to the creation of CRPGs

Taking into account human needs, there was a strong trend in the 1970s to dream and imagine other worlds because of the sociological, political and economical context. RPGs appeared in the USA for which that time was a hard period: defeat in the Vietnam War, stagflation and high inflation rates caused by oil shocks of 1973 and 1979, increase of poverty and crime rate in the inner-city. All this generated a need to search “another better, more interesting world”: RPGs were the solution. In addition, in this period, the real world started to become “smaller” because of better communication and transport means, with the satellite systems able to cartography the Earth and communicate rapidly between continents. The appearance of personal computers allowed the emergence of CRPGs.

4.2. Ideality

The law of increase of the degree of ideality was defied by Petrov () as follows:

petrovform

<!–[endif]–>

The ideal CRPG is a game which does not show any apparent interface (physical immersion) to place a player in an infinite number of worlds and in an infinite number of contexts, which are original and allow total intellectual immersion (total association of oneself with the played character). The player has ideal interactivity with the game world, what includes also story-related elements (e.g. intelligent dialogue responses) and ideal interaction with all physical senses. In the same time, the game allows to do things that are impossible in the real world on our current level of technology (changes in physical laws, use of magic). From the point of view of engineering, the idea of “Matrix” would express very well an ideal solution.

4.3. Regularity of using space

It is one of the most visible evolution factors. CRPGs have developed from text-based (1D) e.g. “Dungeon” (1975), through different 2D stages such as pictograms tile sets in “Ultima I” (1981), top-down view with pseudo 3D in “Ultima VI” (1990), isometric view in “Fallout” (1997) to fully 3D games which feature 3D characters and items, for example in “Morrowind” (2002). Another factor which changed in time was game areas/levels construction, which has made evolution from 2D to 3D and by consequence, the game’s interface allows now swimming or levitation in the game world (for example in “Morrowind”).

 

4.4. Transition to super system

This rule was quite often a reason of major breakthroughs in the CRPG world.

Joining together into bi-systems or multi-systems, several computer game genres resulted in major advances in this field. The following cases are important for CRPGs:

Action games (with their control simplicity) such as “Gauntlet” (1985) or “Druid” (1986) with CRPG rules mechanics created the idea of Hack and Slash CRPGs, where the most famous example is “Diablo” (1996).

First Person Shooters (FPS) such as “Wolfestein 3D” (1992), “Doom” (1993) or “Quake” (1996) with their constantly developing graphical and physical engines merged with CRPG contributed to the creation of highly realistic RPGs, such as “Daggerfall” (1996), “Morrowind” (2002) or “Arx Fatalis” (2002).

Real Time Strategy (RTS) games such as “Dune 2” (1992) and “Command and Conquer” (1995) in terms of the tactical control of the units (PCs in CRPGs) resulted in the creation of real time isometric CRPGs of the “Baldur’s Gate” (1998) family that replaced most of more complicated mechanisms of party control existing before, such as the system in “Ultima IV” (1990) or “Eye of the Beholder” (1991)

Turn Based Strategy (TBS) and CRPGs created new genre of games represented by the “Heroes of Might and Magic” (1996) series.

Future evolution can be made by use of human social life simulation well known from “The Sims” (2000). Joining this type of system with CRPGs allows adding more autonomy of the game world and makes game characters act more naturally.

4.5. Super system transition to micro level

The change of scale was used in CRPGs to make the games more realistic in terms of role-playing. A good example is the game’s world map problem, where the player can see his position. In the beginning of the CRPG history, map view was basic player view (e.g. in Ultima I). Later, the map became just an additional interface of the game, which had a principal graphics interface in top-down or isometric view (Ultima VI), so it was degraded from the super system level to the subsystem status. In Ultima VII (1992) and in Ultima Underworld (1992) a map was included as an item with its specific interface that can be put in the player’s inventory, stolen by other non-player characters (NPCs) or sold.

Such approach can be used on other interface elements of the game, such as the inventory that can be just a backpack visible on the character and that can be lost, the same can concern game journal and spell book which, in most of modern CRPGs (Morrowind, Baldur’s Gate, etc.), constitute integral subsystem of the game and cannot be stolen from the character or destroyed.

4.6. The law of increasing su-field interactions in a system

Globally this law in the context of CRPG concerns the increase of dynamics of intellectual and physical exchanges. Early CRPGs, such as Ultima I, were exchanging mostly intellectual, abstract terms, ontologies (substance) using specific form, such as style of dialogues (fields).

Eventually physical interactions were developed by inclusion of graphical and physical components of  higher level (first 2D and then 3D environments). Control system development, by use of the mouse instead of the keyboard starting from “Ultima VI”, allowed including the aspect of player’s strength, agility, and precision (for example in “Morrowind” and “Arx Fatalis”). Inclusion of the stereo ambient sounds in modern CRPGs added another physical sense interaction (e.g. in “Baldur’s Gate”).

Intellectual interactions (ideas being substance) increased their dynamics by means of specific game levels design (architecture, style which can be considered as the fields in this game), which was very simple in the beginning because of the hardware barrier (screen resolutions, numbers of colours and computation power). The same situation was for game characters, items and other game elements which require graphics. The addition of music was another way to increase the intellectual and artistic value of the game. It was very simple and low quality in the beginning of the CRPGs history, often constituted of repetitive themes. In 1990s it was more advanced thanks to the use of the MIDI system. Then, in the end of the 1990s, wide access to CDs and high quality sound hardware allowed to produce music for games on the quality level used before only in the cinema or music industry (“Planescape: Torment” and “Fallout” are good examples). The drama context can be introduced using “cutscenes” (scripted starring of game characters using game engine capacities). A very good example is “Baldur’s Gate 2” (2000), which builds its ambiance on the PC’s dreams cut-scenes.

The evolution in this domain can be made on several levels: physically it can follow the development of Virtual Reality technology, gradually including new senses and body parts of the player in the interaction with the game world. A good example is the fighting and spell casting system. By using new movement detecting peripherals or cameras, e.g. Sony Playstation 2 EyeToy system (), it is possible to include the player directly into the fight. Using this system together with a microphone and a voice-recognition software, it is possible to make the player cast spells by himself by gesticulation and voice command. The first step was already done by Arx Fatalis, a game in which the player has to draw the spells symbols using the mouse to cast them.

Intellectually the interactions can be further expanded by including different types of art in different configurations in CRPGs. Actually it means that CRPGs should strive to be recognized as new branch of art. It demands to lower psychological inertia in the society, which still regards computer games as a domain of entertainment and associates it generally with adolescents and children ().

4.7. Law of increasing information in a system

This law means decreasing the degree of human involvement to the work provided by TS. In CRPGs, there exist such tendency taking into account different features such as game difficulty control, NPCs control, generation of new game areas. The following tendencies can be observed:

Totally pre-programmed (non-controllable) games similar to CRPG exist, however they belong to the domain of the adventure genre. Some subsystems in CRPG are pre-programmed quite often however, for example dialogues script read by players (e.g. “Baldur’s Gate” or “Fallout”)

Systems able to react according to certain rules are the base of the CRPG mechanics (the control over deviances). Rules are specified as statistical and mathematical relationships. The examples can be found in the battle systems for calculation of the attack success, bargaining in the shops based on the PC’s charisma characteristic and intelligence and tables specifying the experience required to reach next level, or the conditions of quest/dialogue options based on intrinsic characteristics of the PC such as intelligence, reputation, etc. Such situation exists in “Baldur’s Gate” that uses pre-coded tables containing acceptable values for various game functions and conditions in its scripts.

Systems with feedback constitute the core of the current CRPG experience: they are required to create more complicated quests and to define the choices of the player in the dialogue trees based on his past responses. In “Baldur’s Gate”, all scripts and dialogues are working with feedback, which is recorded in the internal script variables. It works similarly in other CRPGs.

Adaptive systems appeared in several CRPG games, though their wide use is still matter of future: in “Diablo” the monsters difficulty is adapted to the level of the player.

Higher levels of control over the system (self-educational, self-organization …) were not used so far. The evolution will probably appear in some of the functions mentioned above.

The dialogues’ text, which is predefined in current CRPGs and which uses in the best case a system with feedback to guide a player through the quest, can be made much more flexible by introducing semantic analysis (adaptative system) to construct automatically different response phrases, depending on the context of the environment where the dialogue is pursued and the background of the discussing game characters – from the technical point of view, it would diminish the effort needed from game developers to create dialogue tree options – they would need to create generic phrases which would be customized by the system. Technology capable of doing it already exists and is the object of Natural Language Processing (NLP) domain.

The next step can be the creation of a self-educational system, which would be able to learn about the player by discussing with him. Such systems already exist as “bots” () that collect information about the person discussing with them and that are able to respond or even ask certain questions.

Other steps (self-organization, self-evolvement, etc.) belong to the domain of advanced concepts of Artificial Intelligence science in application that would be suitable for dialogues and quests auto generation.

Apart from dialogues and quests, an adaptive system can be applied on game speech of game characters which is currently pre-recorded in studios. Text-to-Speech (TTS) systems are the branch of the NLP () which can make CRPGs speak any kind of script to the player in humanlike way.

Adaptive systems can be used equally for game area generation. One of current CRPGs’ issues is that even when the game has its game world well defined with the map, a player is generally confined to some smaller, limited areas, otherwise the designers need to predefine huge areas (as it is in “Morrowind”) and in result they spend less time on the storyline and other subsystems. A partial solution (system with feedback) exists in “Fallout”, where it is possible to choose whatever place on the game world map and enter game area, when the player is not in the localisation of some city, then he is transported to one of the random-prepared areas, based on geographical area indicated on the world map (e.g. the game loads mountain areas if the player is localised on the mountain on the world map). Adaptive solution would consist of a system where the world map information (with some additional statistical data on the climate, animals, etc.) would be enough to generate random areas, thus allowing to go from one village to another in an uninterrupted way and without areas pre-coded by developers between them.

Nota: in Diablo there exist a system generating random game maps, however it does not use worldmap for travelling. In Diablo 2 maps are also automatically generated and specific areas are inhabited by specific animals, monsters as well as they have specific style, the transition between two randomly generated maps is not interrupted.

 

4.8. Rhythms coordination and de-coordination

Coordination (or de-coordination) of the vibration frequencies of elements in TS was equally observed in the CRPGs.

Story and quests qualitative and quantitative flow is the object of such process: too many quests and story elements in bad moments of game confuses the player while not enough of them is making a short and boring game. Evidently, it is difficult to find and predict those “bad moments”. “Planescape: Torment” (1999) is regarded as a milestone of CRPGs because its quests and story flow are well balanced and coherent, causing player’s intellectual satisfaction while “Morrowind” has a main story with erratic flow overwhelming the player with hundreds of quests which do not direct him and in the end, cause frustration.

Game world vs. game mechanics coordination was decisive for CRPG success as well: if the difficulty level is not matching the player’s capacity on a given stage of the game, it can lead to “powergaming” – creating over powerful characters which destroy challenge aspect of the game, making it boring, or to the frustration of the player if enemies are far above his capacities. This problem was solved very well in “Diablo”, where monster’s force is functionally dependent on the experience-based player’s level, so it was coordinated, while before the pre-programmed approach was used. The problem was very visible in “Morrowind”, which skills system is based on the use rate – the player is able to use certain kind of skills repeatedly to increase their level, what in base is a good solution, however it allows powergaming (e.g. throwing again and again the same spell without apparent need just to increase specific magic skills). In conclusion, the system of “Morrowind” requires some kind of coordination/de-coordination.

4.9. Irregularity of system part evolution

This rule is clearly seen in CRPGs when most basic functional ideas are considered.

Games such as “Morrowind”, produced in the 2000s, use quests ideas constructed in the 1970s with only minor changes. Since 1980s, most CRPGs have such elements of interface as a map, inventory or character sheet (e.g. Ultima I from 1981). However some functions are performed much better now thanks to the accessibility of the subsystems which did not exist at the required level before. It was impossible to implement levitation, swimming or climbing in games of the 1980s and most of the 1990s. However with development of more realistic physical game engines and increase of the computing capacities of new PC, such games as Morrowind are able to allow the player to do all of these things.

In conclusion, the technological imbalances between different subsystems in CRPGs can indicate the directions of research that should be made for improvement. For example, currently most CRPGs lack important capacities in the domain of interaction (e.g. it is impossible to burn a house, cut down the trees) and experience of VR sciences could be surely applied.

 

Conclusion

It was possible to match the examples of CRPG evolution paths with the TE laws of TRIZ what allows further prediction of CRPG development.

It was equally possible to express artistic, intangible part of CRPGs in terms of substance (ideas, expressed values, ontologies) and field (form of expression) what constitutes a base for many TRIZ tools and opens this part of CRPGs for TRIZ-based improvement. TRIZ can be used by games developers to treat software and hardware problems and in addition it can treat art content and game mechanics problems.

References

“History of Dungeons and Dragons”

http://www.planetadnd.com/historyofdnd.php, last access: 1/04/2006

Altshuller G. S., 1984, « Creativity as an exact science: The Theory of the solution of Inventive Problems », Gordon and Breach Science Publishing, New York

Cook D., 2005, “My Name is Daniel and I am a Genre Addict – The impact of psychological addiction on the game industry”,

http://www.gamedev.net/reference/articles/article2227.asp, last access: 1/04/2006

Kim J. H., “What is RPG”

http://www.darkshire.net/~jhkim/rpg/whatis/ , last access: 1/4/2006

Kurela M., 2005, “Projet Teacher 3D », ISTIA Innovation

Petrov V., 2002, “The Laws of System Evolution”, TRIZ Journal, www.triz-journal.com/archives/2002/03/b/index.htm, last access 1/04/2006

Savransky S.S., 2000 “Evolution of Technique”, “Engineering of creativity – introduction to TRIZ methodology of inventive problem solving”, Chap.7, CRC Press LLC

Savransky S.S., 2000 “Forecast of Technical Systems”, “Engineering of creativity – introduction to TRIZ methodology of inventive problem solving”, app. B, CRC Press LLC

Side problems to be investigated in the research

Another interesting subject is the problem of the non-party CRPGs vs. party CRPGs. The first type is well represented FPP (First Person Perspective) CRPGs where it is not easy to implement good party control system. The second one concerns mostly top-down and isometric CRPGs such as Baldur’s Gate or Fallout. The issue is about how much of immersion and interactivity is added by the very existence of the party: it is true that in most of existing CRPGs the party was just the battle oriented feature – PC was not fighting alone against his enemies. It was the case for Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale or Temple of Elemental Evil. However, many CRPGs implement the party as very important plot element which has real influence on the player:

 

–          Planescape: Torment, with its scripted approach allowed to add deep relationship with NPCs, because of their story and good balance in story’s development (they do not tell everything about themselves at once – PC has to spend quite a lot of time and meet certain people to learn more) – the coordination/decoordination aspect is well developed in this example. PS:T includes also flirts/romances with two NPCs that can be joined to the party. It is not done in so straightforward way as it is in Baldur’s Gate 2. PS: T is much more subtle, principally because of good understanding of the characters psychology by their creators and by very well made dialogue script – it is the characteristics related to the knowledge in psychology and capacity to create dramatic dialogues. PS: T uses also extensively two means of communication with NPC in the party – NPC can address PC and PC can address NPC, it was only incidentally used in the mainstream CRPGs with the party, such as Baldur’s Gate series.

–          Fallout also uses scripted approach, the NPCs that are joinable to the party either communicate with PC or PC addresses those NPCs.

 

Not surprisingly those two CRPGs are regarded as one of the best existing in the history of the genre what may confirm the hypothesis that a party is an important element of CRPG. There are quite a lot of reproaches to games like Morrowind that they are “flat” and that they lack of emotion – and it is true, since the player is alone most of time in this game. A party is important because of other reasons too: in fantasy literature which is one of the origins of CRPG a party is very important plot element too, there are not many fantasy stories where main character is not accompanied by some friends. The best examples are classics: Lord of the Rings and Hobbit of J.R.R. Tolkien, Narnia series of C.S. Levis and then countless followers which reused the concept of the party. The idea can be generalised even more: in the global literature it is easier to read story about someone which is surrounded by social environment: adventures of Robinson Crusoe are more difficult in reception than adventures of the group trapped on “mysterious isle” of Jules Verne. Finally in real life most of people are striving to live in the community with other people: there are not many of the hermits.

 

The party-less or even NPC-less games have their place in the genre in the same way as “Robinson Crusoe” has his place in the literature, however the main trend in CRPGs will go rather in direction of increased interaction with NPCs and party-based relationships.

 

Physically realistic Morrowind-style games can be at times superior to games like Baldur’s Gate which treat party like the micro-RTS army to eliminate enemies, however when Baldur’s Gate 2 is compared to Morrowind, the result can be different. In BG2 the party and NPCs have their stories (e.g. Haer’dalis), they have adventures concerning specific NPC in the party (e.g. Jaheira’s quests) and even rudimentary romances were made to add the minimum of emotional link to PC: Morrowind has none of this – there is no party and other NPCs are using the same dialogue responses like robots – the soldier from one end of the game world describes his profession the same way as the soldier from other end of the game world. Morrowind has strong “robotic”, dehumanised aspect. Other example is Arx Fatalis: a game does not have dialogue system. Player has no control over dialogues at all and in result the general feeling is frustrating, because player is simply alone in the underworld of Arx.

 

The problem of limited and unlimited exploration seems to be recurrent in CRPGs because the creators of CRPG are capable either to provide deep story and original setting or to provide very big world to explore. The first type of game is often limited in exploration freedom (PS:T, BG series) and the second one is not (Morrowind). There are some games that are placed between two extremes: Fallout is closer to PS:T and BG however it allows to travel on the worldmap and to stop in any place giving an illusion of freedom to player. It adds also some random encounters including some hidden areas. Contrary to BG series and PST, Fallout uses tilesets for area construction.

 

It seems actually that ready models and tilesets seem to be often used in games with bigger freedom (Morrowind, Divine Divinity, Arx Fatalis, Deus Ex) while the games with more differentiated background use generally bitmaps (PS:T, BG series, ToEE) because it is easier to implement them from the artist’s concept. So the tradeoff that is made often concerns the quality of the story, game style and other added value elements versus freedom. The “density” of interesting content decreases when “volume” of the explorable world increases. If there is no balance kept the game tends to become too big and bore the player (Morrowind, Divine Divinity, ToEE), otherwise game falls into linearity leading either to adventure genre or in the extreme cases to the interactive movie (Arx Fatalis). Fallout seems to be the most balanced.

 

This theory gives the explanation why Neverwinter Nights fails as the single player game: it uses huge, not customisable and repetitive tilesets for limited freedom game what causes that whatever game made by NWN toolset will resemble globally other game and in the end it will be always boring – it does not give to player any incentive for exploration.

 

There are many reasons why in some games tilesets work better than in others :

 

–          in some games, the tilesets are a mean to maintain the style coherence, while there are many styles with common superstyle (Fallout, Fallout 2)

–          in other games there are simply a lot of polygon elements which are less “ready” than tileset and it allows creating very rich environment from quite similar basic elements – it is the case of most of 3D CRPGs such as Deus Ex, Morrowind and Arx Fatalis

 

In general, the tilesets should be not too big for big freedom games and in those which have limited freedom they should not be used in general to not cause fatigue of user.

 

 

Research methodology

 

The only information that can serve for innovation assessment of the CRPG is the following:

 

To form quantitative statistical base

 

o        Users reviews with notes and narrations – single note without explanation does not allow forming any kind of conclusion – it is generally very subjective and not justified.

o        Magazines reviews (narration + note)

o        Own review based on chosen criterions

 

To form quantitative base on game features

 

o        Previews

o        Post Reviews by authors of the game

o        Walkthroughs

o        Instructions

o        Game screens and sounds samples (direct screenshots) – this can be done as the new reviews of games are done

 

Information about user location, revenues, gender and age is not used, because even if it allows putting the game in the context, then more appropriate measure of user’s reviews should be made rather on the following basis:

 

o        Length of the review (the longer the review globally the more player had made efforts to write it – generally players write reviews from their own initiative – it is not a school homework) – easy to measure by number of words in the review.

o        Other games played by the user and their notes by this user (Diablo 2 may be very well judged by Hack and Slash player and very badly by the core CRPG player) – require to download information about games possessed by player or reviewed by him/her + notes, may be difficult to do.

  

Choice of criterions for own review

 

The choice of criterions was done after functional analysis of the different CRPG elements. It takes into account different elements which are common for most of CRPG.

 

The weights that were applied on criterions to judge the game’s innovation level/quality were chosen on the hypothesis that from 4 basic themes the story is the most important one – 40% (more important than game interface, mechanics and game world where each of them had 20% of importance). Those themes were divided into several subthemes to make the analysis more detailed – it had generated 48 qualitative functions of the game which were judged. Some of them were described as less important than others. (there was no statistical validation between user made as for weights – it is based on the expert judgement of the author)

 

Note on users and mags reviews

 

Generally they have much simpler review statistics – max. 6-7 criterions. Those reviews are used to find out characteristics of the game not detected during field test of author and to validate his subjective judgement – if the difference of notes is very big then more detailed reviews are made to explain why they exist or to correct judgement if author was wrong.

 

 

“History of Dungeons and Dragons” http://www.planetadnd.com/historyofdnd.php, last access: 1/04/2006

Definition of CRPG, http://www.allgame.com/cg/agg.dll?p=agg&SQL=GXD|||||||26, last access: 1/04/2006

John H. Kim, “What is RPG” http://www.darkshire.net/~jhkim/rpg/whatis/ , last access : 1/4/2006

Altshuller G. S., 1984, « Creativity as an exact science : The Theory of the solution of Inventive Problems », Gordon and Breach Science Publishing, New York

Savransky S. S., “Forecast of Technical Systems”, “Engineering of creativity – introduction to TRIZ methodology of inventive problem solving”, pp.347

Cook D., 2005, “My Name is Daniel and I am a Genre Addict – The impact of psychological addiction on the game industry”, http://www.gamedev.net/reference/articles/article2227.asp

Petrov V., 2002, “The Laws of System Evolution”, TRIZ Journal, www.triz-journal.com/archives/2002/03/b/index.htm, last access 1/04/2006

Petrov V., 2002, “The Laws of System Evolution”, TRIZ Journal, www.triz-journal.com/archives/2002/03/b/index.htm, last access 1/04/2006

M. Kurela, “Projet Teacher 3D », 2005