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View Full Version : Human skill development vs Transhuman skill development



mad_red
21st Jun 2010, 14:37
So far as I know, It seems that the only way Adam Jensen can improve his abilities is by upgrading his augs. Since skills have been removed, he doesn't appear to be able to learn and improve as a human being.

What do you think about this change:

1. Gameplay: Would you rather have skills too?
2. Immersion: Would you feel alienated from Adam because he's not like other people who can actually learn?
3. Philosophy: Did the devs consider that making this decision in a DX game - to some people - amounts to a philosophical statement or even and endorsement of transhumanism? Should the devs consider that - to make DX a better, more rich and meaningful game experience?

Kodaemon already brought up the possibility that the DX:HR story takes place in too short a time-frame for Adam to learn any new skills. I had already thought that through, and here's what I figured:

1. Realism, gameplay, and immersion are not the same things. Even if the game took place in one day, it can still be fun to have skills.

2. In reality, I do learn new things and get better at what I already know do every day. There's tons of stuff you can pick up every day: a new way to throw things (or people), a new heart/liver/lung/etc. movement (a body movement that affects an organ or other part of your body), etc. etc.

3. Here's an example if you don't believe me:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/07/090706-humans-bats-echolocation.html


After just a few days of training, the students had all acquired basic echolocation skills, the scientists report in the March/April 2009 issue of the journal Acta Acustica.



Personally, I think that skills were dropped to streamline the gameplay, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but that it kind of slipped their mind that with Deus Ex, the whole tends to be greater than the sum of its parts.

Urahara
21st Jun 2010, 15:51
I never played Deus Ex 1 or 2, so I have no clue really to what it was like before and really don't care. I'm interested only in what I'm seeing with Human Revolution, and I like the fact that you improve by augmenting rather then skills.
I expect Adam to be skilled from the get go, otherwise he wouldn't have his security job to begin with- or be able to do much of anything. He's a man, not a child, so I'm glad I don't have to waste time with skills and micro managing all the damn time. With Augmentation I know what I'm getting and I get to see the results with each upgrade. So I'm happy with the system the way it is proposed, to me it is more satisfying to see things improve in a superhuman/transhumanist way quickly rather then a slow skill method.

Keiichi81
21st Jun 2010, 16:46
Keep in mind that there's more to improving your character than just purchasing new augmentations. You can also use XP to "level up" the augments that you currently have, which can be seen as a form of "human" skill development as it's been described as Adam learning how to more efficiently and effectively make use of his new augmented abilities.

MaxxQ1
21st Jun 2010, 17:19
Keep in mind that there's more to improving your character than just purchasing new augmentations. You can also use XP to "level up" the augments that you currently have, which can be seen as a form of "human" skill development as it's been described as Adam learning how to more efficiently and effectively make use of his new augmented abilities.

The problem with that is that there are some folks here who will play without augmentations at all (aside from the initial arm augs you're given automatically - but they may opt to not upgrade those), as it's been stated already that you will be able to complete the game that way.

So basically, you have all these XP sitting around, doing nothing. It would be nice to have a choice of applying them to either your augs or your skills. It would definitely make for a more challenging game to play, like those that play a no-items, no augs run of DX.

Point is moot, though, since skills are out and it's too late in development to add them back in.

Keiichi81
21st Jun 2010, 18:56
The problem with that is that there are some folks here who will play without augmentations at all (aside from the initial arm augs you're given automatically - but they may opt to not upgrade those), as it's been stated already that you will be able to complete the game that way.

So basically, you have all these XP sitting around, doing nothing. It would be nice to have a choice of applying them to either your augs or your skills. It would definitely make for a more challenging game to play, like those that play a no-items, no augs run of DX.

Point is moot, though, since skills are out and it's too late in development to add them back in.

If that's how people choose to play then that's how they choose to play. I don't see how it's an oversight of the game that people who choose not to purchase new augments or upgrade those that they already have are going to accumulate excess XP. If I go through the game without ever buying anything, I'm likely to have tons of excess cash as well but I don't think anyone would call that a design problem. Unless I'm misunderstanding you...

I'm certainly not saying it wouldn't be nice to have skills and/or other options for spending XP and upgrading your character (more variety is always better after all... at least until it gets into the realm of ridiculous triviality like the "swimming" skill from DX1). I just don't see that it's an especially big issue.

II J0SePh X II
21st Jun 2010, 21:05
It seems to me like augs will have the same role in DXHR that skills do in in other RPGs, they will improve as you make progress through the game. A recoil dampening aug would have the same gameplay effects as becoming skilled with guns, ie bullets come out straighter.

MaxxQ1
22nd Jun 2010, 07:45
If that's how people choose to play then that's how they choose to play. I don't see how it's an oversight of the game that people who choose not to purchase new augments or upgrade those that they already have are going to accumulate excess XP. If I go through the game without ever buying anything, I'm likely to have tons of excess cash as well but I don't think anyone would call that a design problem. Unless I'm misunderstanding you...

I'm certainly not saying it wouldn't be nice to have skills and/or other options for spending XP and upgrading your character (more variety is always better after all... at least until it gets into the realm of ridiculous triviality like the "swimming" skill from DX1). I just don't see that it's an especially big issue.

No, I didn't mean it as a design oversight. However, I'm sure that if I'm correct about people choosing not to purchase additional augs, and if I'm correct that the XP will just be sitting there doing nothing, then most likely, there will be some people here who will complain about it.

Like you, I don't really see it as an issue worth worrying about.


It seems to me like augs will have the same role in DXHR that skills do in in other RPGs, they will improve as you make progress through the game. A recoil dampening aug would have the same gameplay effects as becoming skilled with guns, ie bullets come out straighter.

Not to be nitpicky... well, okay, I'm being nitpicky. <grin> But a bullet *always* comes out of the barrel straight. The problem lies in keeping the barrel pointed in the direction you want the bullet to go.

pringlepower
22nd Jun 2010, 08:07
Definitely the new xp system is appealing to a wider audience, but "appealing to a wider audience" isn't necessary heresy in the deus ex world. It does help with believability and immersion. I want to play a security specialist with experience in his field, not a twelve-year old who got his first water gun.

If that makes DE:HR inherently easier than DE, that's fine, because i'd prefer a streamlined system than "challenge" coming from artificial difficulty. Adam at the start can probably shoot like a proficient marksman. Remember, Adam didn't get Delta Force JTF2 or SAS training. It's later, with the arm augs that reduce recoil and targetting augs that he really becomes a powerful, elite commando.

mad_red
22nd Jun 2010, 16:13
Everyone can learn new things every day. Nobody is perfect. Even if Adam is proficient with weapons, he can still improve his skill with them.

The point is: Without skill advancement, Adam appears less human.

And yeah that matters. Adam got augmented without his consent: "I never wanted this." If he decides he resents this augmentation and improve his natural skills as best he can... the game simply says "You'll never find them!".

They're not even behind proxy soldiers :(

So what I'm saying is that the gameplay isn't the only thing at issue here.

Oddness
22nd Jun 2010, 18:09
Just another way in which HR loses the spirit of the first game.

Jerion
22nd Jun 2010, 18:18
I think that "Augs are the new Skills" isn't doing anything to 'dumb down' the game. It's keeping the gameplay ceiling just as high while lowering the floor a bit, making it easier for new recruits to grasp the system.

Does it remove some of the player fantasy? Maybe, it certainly does eliminate some redundancy. That's really an eye of the beholder thing though, and a pill RPG purists are going to have a tough time swallowing.

jamhaw
22nd Jun 2010, 18:40
I had been hoping that you would not have to be augmented at all. But I suppose that may have led to forcing Eidos to make two rather different paths to the game so I can see why they did not go with that.

Daedalus CiarĂ¡n
22nd Jun 2010, 18:49
I think that "Augs are the new Skills" isn't doing anything to 'dumb down' the game. It's keeping the gameplay ceiling just as high while lowering the floor a bit, making it easier for new recruits to grasp the system.

Does it remove some of the player fantasy? Maybe, it certainly does eliminate some redundancy. That's really an eye of the beholder thing though, and a pill RPG purists are going to have a tough time swallowing.

It does dumb the game down. Not necessarily in terms of gameplay, almost certainly, as you said, in terms of fantasy, but most especially in terms of philosophy. When DX tells you about fully mechanically augmented Gunther's feeling outdated and useless, Helios' potential godlike potential to achieve a perfect world, Morpheus' spying and Tong's vision of the future you're inticed to question the relation between human and machine, do the potential risks outweigh the potential benefits?

The augmentations also, entirely in the original, give you unnatural abilities. You become more than human, yet on your first meeting with Manderly he tells JC even he would be nothing without drills and honing his skills. And to an extent, that true. You need to learn to hack, lockpick, load faster and fire more accurately. Whether or not technology is a bad thing, good thing or anywhere in between is left up to the player's mind because of the ambiguous (sp?) light in which the game portrays that technology. You and I could have a long discussion on whether or not the game argues that augmentation is a good thing.

In DX:HR, Adam can only get skills through augmentation. He can't learn without augmentation. Thus the ambiguity that the original had is lost since DX:HR basically says the only way to improve is through transhumanism, through augmentation. Human potential mean nothing because skills can only be achieved through augmentation (see martial art take downs, hacking et al) Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mind that being the message or philosophy behind the game and the story. But it is a more dumbed down approach compared to the original where there was room to believe and argue either way.

lon3cybern3tic
22nd Jun 2010, 19:02
I had been hoping that you would not have to be augmented at all. But I suppose that may have led to forcing Eidos to make two rather different paths to the game so I can see why they did not go with that.

i agree with this, it would be great if you were given an option to be as human as possible, or to thoroughly rely upon the augmentaions you recieve and upgrade within the game.:thumb::thumb:

Jerion
22nd Jun 2010, 20:22
It does dumb the game down. Not necessarily in terms of gameplay, almost certainly, as you said, in terms of fantasy, but most especially in terms of philosophy. When DX tells you about fully mechanically augmented Gunther's feeling outdated and useless, Helios' potential godlike potential to achieve a perfect world, Morpheus' spying and Tong's vision of the future you're inticed to question the relation between human and machine, do the potential risks outweigh the potential benefits?

The augmentations also, entirely in the original, give you unnatural abilities. You become more than human, yet on your first meeting with Manderly he tells JC even he would be nothing without drills and honing his skills. And to an extent, that true. You need to learn to hack, lockpick, load faster and fire more accurately. Whether or not technology is a bad thing, good thing or anywhere in between is left up to the player's mind because of the ambiguous (sp?) light in which the game portrays that technology. You and I could have a long discussion on whether or not the game argues that augmentation is a good thing.

In DX:HR, Adam can only get skills through augmentation. He can't learn without augmentation. Thus the ambiguity that the original had is lost since DX:HR basically says the only way to improve is through transhumanism, through augmentation. Human potential mean nothing because skills can only be achieved through augmentation (see martial art take downs, hacking et al) Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mind that being the message or philosophy behind the game and the story. But it is a more dumbed down approach compared to the original where there was room to believe and argue either way.

This is true.

However, your post appears to me to be based on the preconceived notion that all challenges, puzzles, etc. are based on what augmentations or weapons you have. This could very well be the case in HR- I simply don't know- but puzzles etc. could also be done in such a way as to rely on reflexes and thought, both of which are skills the player develops, not the character. Many games have done this, Portal as an excellent recent example. RPG is all about building a character besides yourself, so like I said it will be a tough pill to swallow.

In fact, if many challenges and puzzles are built to be solvable simply by thought and reflexes alone (augs would simply be aids), then player improvement becomes the new skill(s). A bareaugs run would be possible, and a challenge. You challenge yourself by not accepting the enhancements. It's true that on a philosophical level you really can't opt to be completely human- Adam never had a choice in what happened to him- but on a player fantasy level of all things, you can act in the game as though you desire to be completely human. You can project that and proceed through the game that way.

Decay
22nd Jun 2010, 20:40
To complainers: if you could add skills, which skills would you like to add? I mean, what would the difference be between augs and skills? How would you like to divide them? If we have 40 augs, than i guess nothing was left to be used as skills...

Deus_Ex_Machina
22nd Jun 2010, 20:51
I call bull **** on the "you don't have to use augs" argument.

Regarding Splinter Cell: Conviction, Ubisoft said that the gameplay would allow you the freedom to play SCC with either a combat approach or a stealth approach. However, in truth, there was no freedom as the combat approach was forced upon you time and time again in the form of forced encounters that you couldn't sneak away from or avoid whatsoever.

I reference SCC because I already forsee a similar issue in DXHR. Augs are optional? Fine. What if, during a STORY mission, you are required to use a certain aug to advance? Not really freedom, is it?

gamer0004
22nd Jun 2010, 20:59
I think that "Augs are the new Skills" isn't doing anything to 'dumb down' the game. It's keeping the gameplay ceiling just as high while lowering the floor a bit, making it easier for new recruits to grasp the system.

Does it remove some of the player fantasy? Maybe, it certainly does eliminate some redundancy. That's really an eye of the beholder thing though, and a pill RPG purists are going to have a tough time swallowing.

Remember Invisible War? That game did EXACTLY the same. And in IW I really missed the skill system as well and IW also felt dumbed down.

Irate_Iguana
22nd Jun 2010, 20:59
I reference SCC because I already forsee a similar issue in DXHR. Augs are optional? Fine. What if, during a STORY mission, you are required to use a certain aug to advance? Not really freedom, is it?

Besides the Arm Blades I don't think they can rely on you having an augmentation. The augs need to be bought from vendors or found in the levels. Even then they can't know for certain which aug you put in the slot. The Arm Blades are given at the start of the game so those are all Adam must have at all times. That's probably part of the reason why they added in several infiltration options per objective.

Jerion
22nd Jun 2010, 21:43
Remember Invisible War? That game did EXACTLY the same. And in IW I really missed the skill system as well and IW also felt dumbed down.

The "Anything But IWar" mentality?

I don't remember much of anything about that game (repressed memories?) so I couldn't offer a rebuttal to you here, nor am I going to consider HR from the IWar standpoint.

IOOI
22nd Jun 2010, 22:12
I expect Adam to be skilled from the get go, otherwise he wouldn't have his security job to begin with- or be able to do much of anything.

Oh, really!? :rolleyes:


This would work so well in HR because *we all know* that Adam just received the augmentations in the beginning of the game *meaning that* he wouldn't be used to them (Breaking glass, anyone?) and would need a period of time to develop his skills again.

Jerion
22nd Jun 2010, 22:26
Oh, really!? :rolleyes:

You'd think he'd at least know how to fire a pistol. :rolleyes:

KickStart
22nd Jun 2010, 23:34
when upgradeable skills were required in deus ex it didn't mean JC didn't know how to fire a pistol. he was a field agent, he clearly did. upgrading skills was about refining, not learning, and it helped with immersion. it was quite refreshing to fire at a target you were aiming at and still miss (in real life theres more to guns/shooting than aiming and pulling the trigger).

i love human revolutions idea of using xp points to uprgrade augs, but i just wish there was another way to use xp to advance your character. as mentioned many times above, by making xp only useful for augs, the game takes a transhumanist standpoint. it reduces choice, and even runs the risk of making the philosophical debate in the game irrelevant. advancing in the game = xp. xp = aug upgrades (only). aug upgrades = transhumanism.

the developers have a fantastic opportunity to force players to have their own internal debates surrounding humanity. it's such a shame that this design choice forces a bias upon them.

IOOI
22nd Jun 2010, 23:43
You'd think he'd at least know how to fire a pistol. :rolleyes:

At least I hope he misses some shots at the beginning. He just received a new pair of arms! It should be strange to him (Does he have any sensors in the arms, can he feel anything?).
Getting used to them should take a while. Don't you agree? ;)

Skills are more justified now than before. :hmm:

Fluffis
23rd Jun 2010, 00:16
At least I hope he misses some shots at the beginning. He just received a new pair of arms! It should be strange to him (Does he have any sensors in the arms, can he feel anything?).
Getting used to them should take a while. Don't you agree? ;)

Skills are more justified now than before. :hmm:

This is very true. In all his efforts requiring manual dexterity, he'd be on a very basic level.

That is: if we start out right at the beginning of his augmented life.

Pretentious Old Man.
24th Jun 2010, 07:49
It's actually more plausible that Jensen would fail at aiming than Denton, due to the new arms.

Upside though, people: at least the shrinking cursor is still there! Don't be too defeatist, hope still burns its flame.