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Game Mechanics - Unneccesary Taboo
rant thread which will fall off as usual

I will go ahead and say, I already know I'm not gonna change any minds, which is unfortunate. But I make this post so you know the distaste I have.

There are a plethora of RP game mediums that have cultivated large communities. A very blatant example would be Dungeons & Dragons.

Now to the point, Dungeons & Dragons does not omit its game mechanics from player knowledge. But it still successfully creates a medium for RP.

So what if players know the mechanics? There are always going to be players that game the system. Sindome clearly has these players, those who have tinkered and experimented to learn a grasp of it, obtained first hand knowledge by being a GM, or by other circumstance of leak.

So don't think for one second the playing field is even from a player standpoint.

There also comes the problem that an ignorant player, one who hasnt the advantage of understanding game mechanics invests points into a skill they believe should compliment a certain action their character takes, only to NEVER find out that in fact does NOTHING in the situation. This right here is the biggest problem for me.

Why do you believe the game can not succeed if game mechanics are explained, when there are hundreds of examples where this is not the case in a RP environment?

I do wonder if veteran players and GMs may have a biased perspective on this? Since for example I personally don't have any issue on having to figure things out for myself, but that may be because I have been playing for a while.
I get the problem people have with it but I've personally found the FOIC thing to have driven so many cool scenes and mentorships. Staff has been really upfront about heavy weapons and decking in documentation which seem to be the primary offending "ue wastes".

It can be really hard for newer players. It was hard for me. I feel like that difficulty curve is what makes gaining ground so much more satisfying though.

I would say it was after 5000 hours so that I no longer really remembered what the new player experience was like. I had forgotten how much I learned.

I do think there is value in a partially obscured mechanical system, and I like that players never really have a perfect omniscient understanding of anything, and that player mentoring is so encouraged, but I think it also means that the new player experience must be always actively tended to and that players have to make an effort to teach others.

It's up to the players and staff to always keep in mind the perspective of those starting out, not always changing to every whim, but also not just assuming more experienced perspectives are better ones. Fresh perspectives seeing issues otherwised overlooked is a cliché, but it's true.

I do feel personally that things have generally become better documented in the last few years, and there has been more effort to make mechanics more intuitive to learn, but I also read every help file and patch note and forum post, so again, biased perspective.

I feel like if the mechanics were pretty transparent and numerical, it's not gonna really become an RP game anymore. You're going to have the people who will minmax like crazy (and unrealistically too) and basically game the system without really RPing. There are obviously going to be players who do RP no matter what but then that would create another divide between the hardcore gamers and the RPers. I like the fact that it's more nebulous and obscure just because you don't know the risks. If you're not sure if you can do something or not you can just ask someone, and if you feel like you -should- be able to do it (as long as it's not too self serving) you can slap it onto the ideas board and see if it can get implemented or not.
"I feel like that difficulty curve is what makes gaining ground so much more satisfying though."

Its a redundant time curve. So after a year you learn, "Ohhhhh, so this stat benefits this skill." And then you know from then on. But why create this waste of time? There is nothing that is gonna prevent mentorship RP from knowing stat mechanics.

Let me make it clear:

Having to learn all the ins and outs of say a decker or a security technician is something that should NOT be shared. That's the kind of stuff you -actually- learn and FOIC.

When talking about stats, we don't know how obtuse the devs designed skills, stats, and actions to function with one another.

"I feel like if the mechanics were pretty transparent and numerical, it's not gonna really become an RP game anymore."

DnD's mechanics are transparent. Its not an RP game anymore?

All the countless RP servers and online tabletops, no longer RP games? All of these have explicit information about classes, feats, armor class bonuses, spells, etc. Do I need to link you a highly successful DnD RP server to solidify the point? (it even has the slow turtle progression sindome has - a good thing)

Consider that DnD provides an agreed medium (the game format which includes all the mechanics) for players to RP about. This is quite analogous to the community of players on Sindome, the game server and its mechanics are the agreed medium to express their RP. And DnD has a DM who much like Admins on Sindome can "puppet" npcs, provide plots, interactions, and emulate events.

Speaking of knowing which stats go for which skills and that kind of info, you should check out the archetype page. All the basics parts of the mechanics are laid out there for you to read up on.

Rest is again, up to you finding out in game.

Also do remember that this is inherently a PVP game. DnD isn't really PVP (or at least as far as I know) so there isn't really a need to obfuscate things like stats, skills and other mechanics. I think this type of murkiness helps to create a more dangerous calculative approach to PVP, there isn't really a way to compare your skillset against theirs unless you directly gain that information from your encounters with them, either by actually starting conflict with them or by experimentation or whatever.

Sindome also likes to take a more realism approach, IRL you wouldn't be going up to someone and telling them 'I got 20 charisma' or 'my heavy weapons skills is 132'. Just doesn't make sense.

And also- just because it isn't a set mechanic in game doesn't mean you -cannot- do it. With GM support anything is possible, hell an entire archetype was based purely on GM support and had no proper mechanics whatsoever.

I'm going to agree that Sindome goes to unnecessary and annoying levels of obfuscation of game mechanics. I get the desire to keep the focus on RP and hide some of the number crunching, but this can be taken too far.

At the very least, there should be a bit more transparency on how both stats and skills interact, and which stats and skills affect what actions. A bit more information on which skills actually have decent code support and purposes in game as opposed to which ones have little they can actually do would be helpful. It is incredibly frustrating for a new player to try to pick their starting skills and not have any of this information. I know the response here will be "your starting skill levels are worth practically nothing, so don't worry about it." This idea flies in the face of the whole RP concept though; your starting skills should reflect your character's background and abilities, and can do a lot to shape who they are. Getting a good ways into the game before discovering something you geared a character toward is practically useless, or that a particular combination just doesn't work, can be devastating for someone dedicated to character concept.

I'm not asking for hard numbers and formulas here, just a little more info up front to help guide starting characters. Barring that, I'd honestly prefer that characters start with no points for skills or stats at all, so that you don't have to start investing in anything until you've had the chance to learn how some of it works. it still makes a mess of crafting a character at the start, but it would feel better than investing in something only to find you'd been wasting your time so that you want to trash the character and start over with something different.

And as to the idea that Sindome is a PvP game, that's an even worse justification for obscuring this information. For PvP to be engaging and fun, there needs to be some balance, but players who have been at the game for a long time will undoubtedly have a better understanding of the mechanics (and how to abuse them) than a new player, which makes it even harder to get to anything close to an even footing in PvP. A PvP focus is even more of a reason to be transparent about mechanics; otherwise newer players will feel they are being intentionally disadvantaged in a metagame sense.

Just a quick aside, but I think it's an important one: DnD doesn't obscure its mechanics because a game like DnD doesn't have an immersive way to let you experience them right off the bat. I know MOO command structure and such takes a bit to figure out as well, but a MOO gives more space to actively work things out and experience what does what. It's worth understanding that the philosophy is that if possible, it's better to learn through experience and mentorship than it is to just have everything spelled out on a wiki.
I hear what you are saying. I think it's important to remember that other games doing something successfully doesn't mean we have to. Sindome is a game where you find things out in character. Over the years we have heard the feedback and increased the transparency around what stats and skills do, and what uses what to bridge the gap between new player and long term player.

We have also, as promised upon release on Grid 3.0 contacted players and had them write guides for various professions that ICly teach how to do various things. We also have IC trainings offered by NPCs for certain jobs. This is how we want people learning the game and their characters roles.

There is no interest from the staff as game creators to make the mechanics more transparent on an OOC level than they are now. We are focusing efforts in this area on making it easier to ICly learn because we believe that's a great way to create roleplay and foster a sense of accomplishment.

The thing I think gets lost in these posts is that the staff have a vision for the game we want to create, and have been creating for over two decades. That isn't going to match what everyone wants and that's okay. Not every game is everything you ever wanted. But the decisions we make are intentional, and not without discussion or thought, often times those discussions happen over and over and over year over year both with the staff and with the players on the BGBB. While we welcome feedback and threads of this nature, I do want to be clear that I see this as an ideological difference in how games are created and learned. There is room for many different kinds of games in the world. We've chosen to make ours this way.

"Over the years we have heard the feedback and increased the transparency around what stats and skills do, and what uses what to bridge the gap between new player and long term player."

Wait; the current level of "transparency" is an increase over what it used to be???

With the levels of frustration in understanding anything now, I can only imagine how futile it was before. I understand you have a vision for what you want the game to be, but I do think you are taking things too far and this will actually hamper your vision.

Not so futile, thousands of players managed it.

I'm one of the most vocal proponents for the new player experience, but keep in mind you've only just scratched the surface of what is explicitly documented at this point, let alone the subjective depths of IC learning. It is no different than learning any deep game, even one with perfect information like Go.

It takes a lot of time and effort to become well-versed in something, even if it's very thoroughly described in some text help file somewhere. In any case, for most characters knowing specific stat or skill weightings are largely meaningless in comparison to knowing how to roleplay effectively -- not roleplay well, but effectively.

Knowing where to spend time and energy, and what is likely to bear fruit, and this is something that only develops with time and experience regardless of what is documented or not. Give it time, it does come, and in my opinion the immersion of that experience is worth the process.

People have made waves IC without knowing what any stats or skills do. I can assure you, you don't need to have mechanical knowledge of anything in order to get ahead in Sindome. Focus on roleplaying, and bring your plot hooks to the barbecue.

(And no, you don't have to sleep with anyone IC, either.)

"Focus on roleplaying, and bring your plot hooks to the barbecue."

Believe it or not, it's actually the roleplaying I'm most concerned about. Stats and skills form the foundation of a character. We are told to RP our stats; the most frequent example given in help files and such seems to be Charisma - i.e., don't play or describe your character as attractive if they have low Charisma. But the same idea applies to all stats; these numbers shape who the character is, their background, knowledge, experience, aspirations, etc., all have their roots in the selection of stats and skills.

When I make a character, I try to first set out with a picture of who they are, then fill out the stats and skills to support that idea. I also have a general sense of who I want them to become, of what direction I want to develop them, which also dictates which stats and skills I will focus on upgrading over time. But if it's unclear how those stats work, what they mean, or how useful they actually are in the game in terms of what mechanical opportunities they are afforded, then it can be difficult to know whether chosen stats are an accurate reflection of the character I want to build, or if the concept will be viable at all. It can be devastating to pour months of effort into a character to try to shape them into your ideal only to discover that you've been doing it all wrong, or that the idea you chose may technically work, but has so little opportunity to make use of their abilities that they are completely boring and uninteresting to play.

While I'm on the topic, I'll add to this that I think the system of substats is another unnecessary obfuscation and complication. If substats are going to exist, why don't we get to choose where these points get allocated instead of having them randomly assigned? The way they are described, these substats have a distinct effect on shaping who a character is. To continue the Charisma example, shouldn't it be my choice if I want a character who may not be the best looker, but happens to be rather eloquent? More than this, even if they must be randomly assigned, why aren't these numbers visible anywhere? We are repeatedly told to play our stats, but we can't even know what these stats are, so how do we play to them? My opinion, substats should either be transparent and selectable by the player, or they should be removed. Barring that, just remove any mention of substats' existence from the help files, because if players can't choose how they allocate points to them, can't know what they are, and if the random distribution is supposed to keep them pretty much even anyway, then they really have no purpose from a players perspective, and knowing that they exist but being completely locked away from them is another frustration and roadblock to crafting the characters we want to play. In their current state, substats should just be an invisible mechanic under the hood that players don't even need to know about. It's not how I'd like to see them used, but it's likely the cleanest and simplest solution.

It really just seems like this game obfuscates details where it should be transparent, and is semi-transparent where it would be best to obfuscate. What I really want to know (when first creating a character, not finding out IC weeks or months later) is 1) which stats influence which skills, 2) which skills have cross interactions or inter-dependencies, and 3) which skills have more and which have less functional/mechanical support in the game, or more/less frequent opportunity for use. I don't need to know numbers, I don't need to know formulas; just a basic coverage of the overall structure and opportunity. I really don't think that's asking for too much.

help stats and help skills and help using skills and @stats --defined pretty much entirely cover what you're interested in, and like the files say, how stats and skills interact is often pretty intuitive and generally works as you might expect it to work.

Players don't have perfect information about their characters or the world, because people don't have perfect information about themselves or about reality. They can do what they think is right, or learn from others, and experiment, and see the results.

To allay your concerns, it's really not possible to significantly misallocate stats. Any type of player will need all of them, and players will have months, if not years, to learn in the process.

Also honestly it's pretty common sense on what each stat and skill does. And if you don't really know theres a brief description you can find on it by doing help [skill name].

Also, archetype pages. It's a great help.

"help stats and help skills and help using skills and @stats --defined pretty much entirely cover what you're interested in,"

If that were accurate, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

"Also honestly it's pretty common sense on what each stat and skill does. And if you don't really know theres a brief description you can find on it by doing help [skill name].

Also, archetype pages. It's a great help."

I've read all of those pages thoroughly, and frequently refer back to them and re-read them. Unfortunately, my experience in the time I've been here has been that they do not adequately explain things, as I've encountered instances where the answer was not instinctive nor did it seem to be "common sense," and questions raised could not be answered due to "FOIC," even though they were things that should either be known to my character due to their background or should have been a natural part of the character, but were withheld from me due to an OOC obstacle.

over the time ive spent in sindome, the level of obfuscation definitely feels unnecessary sometimes - and it *always* feels awkward when you try to squeeze info out of people ic about how certain skills or things work (cue newbie me spending forever trying to figure out why i couldnt uninstall a fucking cabinet)

trying to figure basic things out never really improved my experience, but rather took me out of the game. really only feels like the obfuscation benefits players who've been around longer by giving them the upper hand on newer players

i think a poll for players who've been around for less than a year (at least) to gather info on their experiences with this would be good

Blackbird, chummer. The best thing to do now is to get out of your own way.

Get off of OOC Chat, Game Help, and the BGBB, avoid getting hung up on details and naming and whatever else and go into things with an immersive in-character stance where you are learning along with your character, because as it stands you're taking an entitled perspective on what you should know and how things should be that is not going to help you learn at this early stage.

How things should work is an on-going discussion to be had but I can promise you the changes that will happen are going to be far more gradual than even the slowest IC learner, and the best predictor of success is going to be immersing yourself in your characters and letting the rest come when it comes.

If your character should know it, then you can simply walk up to someone and ask, "Withmore technology is different than where I'm from, how do I ____?"

Here are some suggestions for each skill.

Bio Tech, Medicine, Chemical: Ask about Withmore's medical equipment.

Forensics: Ask about Withmore's forensics equipment.

Rigging: Ask about Withmore's robotics.

Cracking, Systems, Programming, Electro Tech, Secure Tech: Ask about the many technical systems of Withmore, including the Grid, Cameras, Installation Equipment, and so on.

Artistry: Ask for tips on where to get materials for art, clothing, or any of the many RP jobs that require Artistry as a soft skill.

Disguise, Stealth, Thievery: Ask about how best to be undetected in Withmore.

Aero Tech, Auto Tech, Driving, Piloting: Ask some gear head to give you a crash course on how to handle the most popular vehicle models in Withmore.

Explosives: Ask about available incendiary supplies in Withmore.

Combat Skills: Ask for a mentor who can teach you what you need to know on the streets of Withmore.

Trading: Ask about the markets and other places of Withmore.

Heavy Weapons: Wait until vehicle combat is released.

There are characters who offer hands-on lessons for a price. There are Grid nodes that hand over tons of information.

Learn it all IC, so you can RP it IC.

Which reminds me: Tutorial 26: Finding Info Out In Character

Really every video tutorial from Slither is a good starting point, and not only is it good guidance but it's also guidance from the top, which has the additional perk of giving some sense of what staff look for and expect from players.

Let me say this, as a new player.

Nothing so-far, as of playing for 2 weeks, has been difficult to find info on. I understand enough to be functional in the game world and am enjoying my time there. The opacity of the game's math seems frustrating for good reason. It keeps Munchkins who only want to be 'mister powerful' away. Everyone I've met so far has been compelling in their dialogue and emotes. Having played many online RP's, I can speak to the all-too-present min-maxing throughout this genre.

I also have quite a bit of experience as a GM for tabletop D&D, which again has frustratingly prevalent min-maxing as a constant theme amongst it's player-base. Min-maxing is why I DM less now, because characters made for RP pale in comparison to that 'one guy at the table's character who is well built. It makes creating challenging encounters that don't rofl-stomp the rest of the party a nightmare.

I, for one, am glad for the opacity; and think Sindome really has something special going for it.

Cheers,

Prysm

It is very rare that I log in to post something like this. As I have very little interest in the immediate times of playing this game, presently. But as it is, I still love the game, and so I will say this,

The Oofuscation of substats, specifically, is a malus to roleplaying a character. This is a definitive fact and cannot be disproven.

it is impossible to play a character to their stats and role when you cannot know what those stats actually are except in a vague fashion, or through ridiculous amounts of trial and error.

Lack of an immediate way to remind yourself of how your character is built, is not an advantage to roleplaying. It is a disadvantage that leads to confusion, and playing the wrong character.

You do not need to give someone control over those statistics. You simply need to give them the ability to see a vague indication of their leanings within substats, and suddenly that obscurity is gone. You can suddenly roleplay as highly coordinated, or highly speedy, without having uncertainty on which direction your character lies.

As a reference to how this can impact you, roleplaying wise, one of my characters in the past was heavily bias'd towards one end of the spectrum, and it basically crippled them from high level combat because of vulnerabilities to specific tactics. I didn't realize this for a long long long time, and really only in retrospect did I sort this out. During the time that I was mostly playing this character, I tended to RP them as the otherside of what they actually were. Meaning I was, statistically, factually, playing my character wrong.

As another reference to how this game can be difficult, especially for a new player. And how you could solve it is thus.

When I am say, hiding, I have no feedback on what is required to be sneaky. This prevents me from, without advertising myself as a sneaky individual, and hopefully finding someone who gives a shit and knows what they are talking about. A simple way to address this. Is when you -fail- a roll specifically, IE you walk past something that sees you while you are sneaking. A message indicating the failure in a way that dictates a certain aspect of the skill that you -might- need to work on, could be sent. IT doesn't even have to explain the full details, just a little message, like, "Fuck wasn't fast enough." or, "Should have seen that coming." Just enough to give the player the ability to see where they can improve in a rational perspective on their own. And it doesn't even need to call out that you've been seen or anything like that.

Just my extended 2 cents. Be well everyone.

I want to share something that was said on OOC that I feel applies here.

Your stats are not your character's ability. You are. Your character's stats are a potential of what your character can achieve in a mechanical sense.

Someone could have the highest stat possible in wrenching. They'd have the potential to be a great mechanic, but to realize and utilize that potential, they need to invest in learning how to apply that potential.

I'd recommend thinking about it in those terms, rather than "My character knows more than I do because they have this letter grade."

I do think the skill tests in the game could be better defined to help in RPing a character. Pool is vague, could be an easier test. Add a weight rack object in the gym that gives how much your character can lift by running a skillcheck. Have something that compares stamina to toughness to see if we should play our character as shrugging off pain more or going forever. Have something to do this for all substats and give an idea of their personal flavor through a comparative estimate.
Your stats are not your character's ability. You are. Your character's stats are a potential of what your character can achieve in a mechanical sense.Then who's role am I playing? If I am my characters ability, fuck, I'm a sad sack of shit, so I guess they are too? or hell, the opposite may be true, I could be the most fucking fantastic weeaboo martial artist IRL, buff, chad type, with rippling muscles, a doctorate in business studies and a 22in hyper evolved pentapenis... But want to play an 18 year old medical prodigy. Saying this means there is no definition there between character and player... Stats representing potential and not facts about your character is a ludicrous concept. And okay get this... Which is the point to the thread... Leads to misinterpretation. I get what you are going for kind of. But also think bluntly it's stupid. If stats do not define facts, then the systems break down.

Someone could have the highest stat possible in wrenching. They'd have the potential to be a great mechanic, but to realize and utilize that potential, they need to invest in learning how to apply that potential. Okay, but that's not at all what I was talking about, skills are skills, stats are stats, and substats are substats, this is a very weird way of trying to talk around my point without actually addressing any of it.

A note, the person with the highest stat possible in wrenching would as a point of fact, be a great mechanic. They may not know the commands, but the point of a roleplaying system is to abstract the requirement to know the field of study, and allow you to place yourself into the role of a character without it. By using simplified rules that rely on statistics being facts.

Even a roleplaying system like FATE, which has close to no numeric stats, still relies on your character sheet representing both your potential -and- your actuality.

I'd recommend thinking about it in those terms, rather than "My character knows more than I do because they have this letter grade."

Okay, so I'll go study for a 10 year university doctorates degree and then come back and play an int based character. Because without myself having the knowledge to apply my characters potential knowledge given by said letter grade, there's no point in my character having it. According to the logic you've used here.

This is not how a functioning roleplaying system works, hell, it's also not how a functioning rollplaying system works. Both of these things depend on clarity. Which making a statistic represent purely potential would do.

The point of mechanical systems here are to encourage people to roleplay together, and to provide means of conflict resolution. It's on the front page of the website.

Your response was also very passive aggressive to what was an honest attempt to try and provide an alternative perspective. You're free to have a different opinion, but please be respectful.

-snip-

(Edited by MirageGM at 5:03 am on 10/2/2021)

-snip-

(Edited by MirageGM at 5:03 am on 10/2/2021)

TLDR: In my opinion, "Your stats are not your character's ability. You are." is somewhat true and helpful but also somewhat dangerous as stated as it makes it sound like you don't have to respect tanking stats like INT or CHA. Obfuscation isn't the only way to reduce min/maxing and may not even be the best way - though I get that major the changes to Sindome's mechanics needed to make transparency possible are unlikely to the extreme.

A few thoughts here of my own...

The concept of your character's numbers being their potential and that your ability as a player to use them is what really sets ability is interesting and, in my opinion, partly true. But I also think that it's not, on it's own, enough to say that SIndome couldn't be improved on in terms of helping players build the characters they want to play and helping them realize where their PC stands in most areas.

My biggest concern with "Your stats are not your character's ability. You are." is that this, in my opinion, devalues stats like charisma and intelligence. It makes it so much more reasonable and easy to tank these stats.

Sure, there are some rolls that will happen and fail because you tanked these stats but those are minor hiccups at best in most cases where a PC might want to tank these stats. Because they can have them be just as personable and social and convincing and prepared and knowldgeable (or more so) than a PC with high CHA or INT.

I really feel that players should respect their choice to tank a stat like INT or CHA and this statement suggests that it's fine to tank them and still have your PC act super smart and suave as long as they are willing to absorb the occasional failed roll. ANd to be honest, the ability to plan and gain allies (which should, in theory, be hard for characters with low INT and/or CHA) is FAR more impactful than the occasional failed roll - especially if the build is one that doesn't much care for those rolls in the first place.

I also think that Staff often forget what it was like to play without their 'staff-vision. Again personal opinion. As staff you can learn SO MUCH about the system without even trying to. Things that most players will never really accurately learn. Like what what stats are considered important to what skills. Or clever tactics. Or interesting ways to tackle a problem. Or how to handle NPCs in a way that tends to result in more favorable results. And much, much more.

I am not saying that any staff member would intentionally use this info in an abusive way but just knowing some of this changes your play and gives you an edge. And I honestly think it is possible to share SOME of it. Like listing supporting stats for each skill in 'help skills' or something.

Lastly, I do want to say that while I hare min/maxing, I do not feel that hiding mechanics is the best way to reduce min/maxing. It can help to a degree but in the end players will eventually figure out how to min/max anyways and any player that spends time on staff will figure it out much more quickly and, while I know they would not abuse it, it would affect their character builds.

I personally think that a better way to deter min/maxing is to build/adjust your mechanics so that it is harder to do. There are so many ways to do this, and while none of them are perfect, many can be very effective and allow a person to know all the mechanics and still make it next to impossible to min/max.

The issue I see here (and I totally get that this was probably not planned and won't be changed) is that Sindome uses mechanics that are quite suited to min/maxing but doesn't want players to do it so obfuscation seemed the most reasonable approach to making it harder - for those who never get a peek behind the curtain at least.

I want to expand on my "You are" comment, I meant it in the most literal sense.

A player cannot be better than their real life experience. You cannot say something more charismatic than you are in real life. That's just a limitation of the roleplaying medium. And in this case, the way that the mechanics are set up and how information is propagated in the game means if you don't understand the mechanics for a system, you probably won't be as good at that system as someone who isn't.

If you sit here and think "man my character is a B in this thing and I just don't get the thing" you may be shorting yourself thinking you're too good to seek out help from other players. It's a disappointing mindset that can make you feel like you have analysis paralysis. I'm suggesting leaning into it and letting go. If you think about stats less as definitive, and more as a potential for discovering those systems, it helps curb that negative experience.

Edit: Just fixing a typo

(Edited by MirageGM at 8:12 am on 9/30/2021)

The Oofuscation of substats, specifically, is a malus to roleplaying a character. This is a definitive fact and cannot be disproven.

Sure it can; also, am I being parodied?

A person doesn't know their own "stats", they may have some idea of their strengths and weaknesses but just as often they will lie and misrepresent these to themselves, be taught badly, learn poorly, fail to really understand the world around them, and end up being less than their ideal self.

It's realistic to have characters who may have less than complete self-awareness and self-actualization, who do not all progress to level 20 perfection, who are average in many ways, even in the things they want to be exceptional at.

Even still the system doesn't actually conceal to that degree, and player can check their @stats at any time and get a specific ranked descriptor for their characters strengths and weakness. That the player, no matter how desperate for control and exactitude, doesn't have the unfuzzed breakdown of all their substats for every dice roll is I think, pretty far from a malus of anything. It's really making a novel of a molehill to argue otherwise.

Really the only thing that is well and truly obscured is stat weights on skill rolls, which makes complete sense. A person doesn't know that being 10% more agile will make them 25% more effective at underwater basketweaving. They improve where they feel they may be lacking and may or may not notice an improvement in their outcomes. They may be convinced they are correct, and yet be wrong. This is how people are.

Some types of roleplayers seek an extreme need for control and character specificity and want to roll for religion check on everything, but I think it's dubious whether this approach actually ever produces better roleplaying.

I'll admit I skimmed over some of the larger posts in this thread and don't have much to add, but for for the sake of weighing in I will say I built my character around certain skills early on only to later find out they needed an additional stat I'd neglected entirely. Nowhere in the help files was it hinted at, and to this day I'm still not fully sure if what I'd been told IC was true or not because even the PCs giving the advice didn't seem 100% confident. It's not a situation that ruins the game for me or anything, but it was and can still be frustrating some times.

With another skill that I continuously fail, some indication of why or where I would need to improve as someone suggested would be extremely useful too.

First, I want to point out the apparent mixed messages being given to players. We've been told many times that we should "play our stats," and not RP our characters as having abilities/knowledge/characteristics beyond what their stats, substats, and skills allow. From the "help stats" file:

PLAYING TO YOUR STATS

On Sindome, your stats and skills play into what your character is capable of doing in character. First and foremost, Sindome is a roleplaying game and you should endeavor to play to your stats and skills. This means that if your charisma is really bad, your character shouldn't be super friendly or really likable. Playing a likable character without decent charisma is ignoring that your character doesn't have that stat.

Now here we are told "Your stats are not your character's ability. You are." This is a seeming contradiction to the "play your stats" message, not to mention the fundamental essence of roleplaying, i.e., playing a character different from yourself.

With all due respect, I think the staff members need to sit down, talk, and get on the same page about how they really expect players to play this game. Are our characters' abilities and characteristics defined by their stats, or are we supposed to just play them using our own IRL (and potentially OOC) abilities and knowledge?

I am also going to wholeheartedly disagree with this statement:

"A player cannot be better than their real life experience. You cannot say something more charismatic than you are in real life. That's just a limitation of the roleplaying medium."

I do this in RP all the time. For Charisma, I can draw on my imagination, and I can use inspiration and examples from movies, TV, and other media to come up with things for my character to say that I personally would never have the confidence or skill to pull off IRL. But when I slip into a character, the lines come easy and I can pull it off. There is so much more to being charismatic than just knowing what to say; a lot of it is in the delivery, the body language, etc. I can't do it IRL, but I know enough to write for a fictional character who can. Not to mention that in this game, half of the Charisma stat is the Appearance substat, and it's very easy to make a character with a better (or worse) appearance than myself IRL.

And the same thing is true for Intelligence. I don't have to be super smart to play a character who is. No one is asking me to write a master's thesis as my character. Usually it just takes a few creative phrases and comments to convey a character's intelligence, and then the skill rolls do the rest as their actions back up the RP and demonstrate the intelligence. At worst, I might have to do a little bit of online research about a topic related to what my character is supposed to know, just enough to have a rough idea of how things work and to be able to make up a sci-fi/cyberpunk equivalent (which is the beauty of the setting; how things work is all made up anyway, so it's usually not too difficult to make up something else plausible that my character is knowledgeable about, even if I don't have a clue how it works).

So no, I do not believe that a character is limited by their player's real life experience. They are limited by their player's creativity, but that's different. The whole idea of roleplaying is to step outside yourself and play a character with a personality, abilities, skills, and experiences different from your own. Stats and skills are a mechanic most RP games use to help shape and define those characters, and to provide a means of acting beyond a player's own ability; it's their whole purpose. My characters are not me. In some ways, they know more than me, in others they know less. There are things they can't do that I find easy, and feats I could never do that are daily activities for them. Character stats are the guide for this, and creativity is the means to play to those stats.

And on that note, I will reiterate the difficulty of "Playing to Your Stats" as instructed when a major part of those Stats, the Substats, is unknown to the player. Is my character a great looker but can't string two sentences together, a great orator but ugly as sin, or somewhere in between? Whatever they are, I'm supposed to play to it, but I'm not allowed to know it. The end result is I just ignore that those substats exist and play what I want, because I can't possibly act according to something I don't know.

Substats are randomly fuzzed but will still end up relatively comparable when enough UE has been spent. Not to mention the fact that Appearance isn't obfuscated, so it's kind of besides the point to take issue like it is. I doubt most players could even name which of their substats are obfuscated and which are not.

If a player knows their character's Perception to an exact degree but doesn't know their numerical Outlook, are they really so hobbled they can't even imagine how to inhabit that character? If someone doesn't know the exact percentage which their Coordination is higher than their Quickness, do they cease to be able to do anything?

We manage every day to do things with imperfect information about ourselves and about the world, that is not a failing, that is reality.

If players didn't know substats existed at all, they would still have all the information they needed to roleplay their characters anyway. This feels less like a true impediment and wanting to define a character exactly out of a need for control and for having the expected outcome from choices before they are even made. Characters develop through blind cartography, a player can have a plan but where they end up may be somewhere very different. Again: Realistic.

Players can attempt to play characters smarter or more charismatic than themselves, the caveat being that if other character don't experience them as smart or charismatic, then the responsibility lies on the player attempting. It's a player's responsibility to play to their stats as best they are able, and ultimately up to them to get other players to play along with their character.

If someone else thinks they are a talentless blank when they're nothing but a pile of INT and CHA, it's not the system that's at fault for it.

So I don't end up writing five rebuttal novellas I will just write this to summarize my own position: I see everything to do with numbers and dice rolls and all of that as a misstep in roleplay gaming history. Far from something necessary, it became typical because much of the tabletop community was better at math than they ever were at writing.

Now with this being a player versus player experience at times, an impartial system to judge outcomes is sometimes very important. Players need some kind of idea how they are evaluated by this system so that they can participate in it, even if the outcomes are not always what they expect.

However this partial understanding is, in my opinion, a necessary evil. Players are not omniscient in their understanding of themselves and the world, and in many cases the less they know to a certainty about how it works, the better. This creates spontaneity, discovery, novelty, immersion; not the artificial kind where a player pretends to be surprised or immersed, but the real thing.

There is no rule book, or monster manual, or campaign add-ons. Players live alongside their characters and experience and learn about the world through them. So often in MMO communities players will complain that the best times were had before everything was figured out, and simmed to perfection, when it was all new and about finding out and it didn't matter if everyone was doing it perfectly so long as they were having fun. I think it's very difficult to provide something like this that lasts, and I see it as something special that stands apart from other available experiences, and worth preserving.

"If players didn't know substats existed at all, they would still have all the information they needed to roleplay their characters anyway. This feels less like a true impediment and [more like (sic)] wanting to define a character exactly out of a need for control and for having the expected outcome from choices before they are even made." -0x1mm

This.

Min-maxing. Players not wanting to embrace chaos for the sake of their character's well-being and wealth, damned be everyone and everything else. No plan in real life is ever as perfect as it could be if you could quantify everything about yourself.

And for those saying, 'In real life, you don't die in the process of getting an idea.'

Are dead wrong. People overestimate or underestimate themselves constantly in the real world, and obfuscation of stats simulates this very well.

For me the obfuscation would be fine if the failure feedback was in general better.

If I were shooting someone: "Your aim is not steady enough"

If I were playing pool: "You just chose the wrong angle"

If I were fixing something: "This is too complicated for you"

There was a very large and AMAZINGly(tm) cool system just introduced that I assumed my character would be good at. It turns out I was likely missing some skills. However, as I was doing things it would have been good for me to get messages as to why I could not do the thing instead of just not doing it. They were vague enough that I could not learn my doing and the things I could do with it random enough to not give me a pattern of why I could not do more.

Now, the answer is, RP, ask people. Which is fine... until for whatever reason you either can't find anyone who either knows or will tell you. Then it just becomes a frustration. Because I likely would be able to know why I can't do a thing. Or have a pretty good idea. I know I'm not athletic enough to dunk a basketball. I don't wonder why I can't do it. If I fail at calculus IRL, I know I'm probably either not smart enough, or just bad at math. Either way, life gives me feedback all the time as to what my shortcomings are.

I think that would go a long way to solving the issue while keeping obfuscation and mystery. I don't need the numbers because now I have an idea of what is wrong. Perhaps it doesn't give you everything. Perhaps it gives you just a small idea of why you failed each time. But, if you keep working at it, you'll get a picture of where your deficiencies are.

We've talked this topic to death at this point, both in this thread and in a number of other threads over the years. I won't speak for the entire staff here but instead for the Senior Staff. We feel that the obfuscation we have currently suits the roleplay we are looking to nurture. On our end, we've talked about this issue for hundreds of hours over the years. Where we are now is the result of the collected input from a number of staff members, and players. I am personally satisfied with where we are, the help files (many of which I've written or pushed to be written) and the feedback provided in game when players attempt various skill / stat checks.

The way we do things is not going to please everyone, and attempting to please everyone just results in oatmeal. A fine thing to eat when you have nothing else, but generally just mush. We are opinionated, and not everyone is going to agree with our opinion. There isn't a right and wrong answer, generally, for this.

I've played plenty of games where the mechanics were transparent, and plenty where they weren't. I, like many of the people developing this game, prefer games where they aren't entirely transparent and that's the game we choose to spend our spare time developing. We've chosen the path we're on. It isn't something we haven't given due thought to. It isn't an accident. It's purposeful. It's the game we want to create, because it's the game we want to play.

(Edited by Slither at 9:01 pm on 9/30/2021)