The loot, the crits, the blocks, and the dodges. Prayers are sent every day to the Messiah of chances and probability. Random number generation (RNG) is the central driving force for many games, especially rpgs.
In an attempt to make a game fair the creators have made a system to spread the chances of success out among the populace. Certain NPCs have a chance to drop an item or others. The armor put on isn’t invincible but isn’t feeble either. The amount of damage dealt or received is, within very structured perimeters, left all up to RNJesus.
This system is heavily favored in the “tab target” combat system. A lock target system, as soon as the player is targeted, they stay targeted. As long as there is no line of sight blockage, no matter where the player runs, no matter how fast they run, the target will get hit. So in order to combat that, Stats were needed to improve balance and player chance of survival. Base stats were given out. It now became less about what attacks were being done, and more about what gear would give better chances of success. Players needed to be smarter about what they pick up. More invested in bonuses and combinations of gear packages.
At the start this would have been a game changer, true balance is like real life, which isn’t all that balanced to begin with, filled with random chances. Of course this isn’t the case anymore. When classes became unbalanced due to player demand so did the gear and so did the stats. Some classes had more or different stats than others. Agility for some, charisma for others. Specs and talent paths were formed, and yet the changes only continued to widen the gap. Rpgs as popular as they could be were now more or less only a numbers game, and with any number game there is an a equation most players encounter. The player numbers minus the opponent numbers equals victory. Can’t beat a boss? Go back to the previous zone and grind to a higher level. Get better gear. Go back and fight the boss again. It becomes a rinse and repeat process that must be continued until the player numbers are higher than the boss numbers.
With this system in play is it any wonder casual and even some hardcore players hop from game to game, after too many losses the game gets frustrating, what with all the constant repetition of grind/attack. More than that without a constant growth of the entire world ie; patches and new game versions, hardcore players will get bored and move on to the next challenge. Multiplayer games see this in mmorpgs, where in order to add to the length of time played, arbitrary wait times for side quests, and crafting systems were embedded into everyday game play. Guides pop up to learn how to do things faster. Earn gold, level up, craft x amount of this to get that. RNG exists at the base of all of this. No guarantee as to how many of something will be created.
In the end it wasn’t the rpg that dominated the charts in popularity or gameplay. The question is left to the all of course. Not just to the elite. Not just to the casual. Given the choice between moving out of the way of an oncoming train or scrambling to gather as much gear as possible in order to see if the defense and armor points coupled with your dodge and evasion chance will be enough for you to withstand the blow, which do you choose?