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transplanar

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transplanar last won the day on October 25 2012

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  1. One of the most intriguing parts of Alpha Protocol to me was how it introduced an element of challenge into dialog. You weren't just picking the dialog option you thought sounded the most cool, reflected the character you wanted to be, or just choosing every single option until you've gotten all the lore out of an NPC (ie Mass Effect). You actually had to get a feel for what that NPC was like, and what they would like to hear, and thus were rewarded for adopting the persona they liked the most. I would really like to see PE take this concept further. As an aspiring game designer myself, one challenge I've been thinking about is, ideally, making dialog and out-of-combat situations as strategic and compelling as combat itself. How to make that possible is the real challenge, but I'd like to see someone take a stab at it. Of course, the big trick is balancing two competing aspects: role playing versus challenge. Alpha Protocol was cool and all, and changing personas fit thematically into the spy theme, but it means that the mechanics punish a player who is trying to "roleplay" their character in a certain way. What if you want to be sarcastic to the hardass character, who ordinarily is only swayed by someone who acts professional? I suppose you could make the argument that a die-hard roleplayer wouldn't care and is willing to just see what happens, but I think a balance needs to be struck. Enough wiggle room for players to be able to be the kind of character they want to be, but with some element of challenge or strategy to make players approach and experience dialog with the intensity of a good combat scene. Can it be done? Hard to say, but I'd like to see it tried.
  2. I see that I incidentally stumbled upon two different issues here: 1) Morally Gray Characters I agree that sometimes these aren't as compelling as more cut-and-dried characters. So long as they have compelling motivations, and develop in some interesting way, that's what I'd like to see. Something more like Darth Vader, with twists and turns in his morality, rather than Sauron, who is just evil and bad for seemingly no reason (note: Never read the books, only seen the movies, so I could be wrong). 2) Protagonist-Villain Relationships What I was getting at with the Tom Zarek reference is that a lot of villains I see are off far, far away from the main character and have little to no interaction with them, and thus there is no real relationship between them. I think it's more interesting to have a villain that the protagonist comes to know personally, and that they have some sort of interesting relationship arc. Like the hero-villain equivalent of a love story, if you will, with interesting twists and turns. That's the bigger thing I'd like to see more.
  3. Thinking back on, well, almost every Bioware and Obsidion RPG over the last few years, I feel like there are far too many characters that fall very sharply on the good guy or bad guy scale (with the sole exception being on particular character from KOTOR 2). This is disappointing, because I see in other media a lot more diversity of relationships between characters. Ones where people are both friends and enemies, or have strained relationships, complex histories, etc. A few that come to mind are characters like Tom Zarek from Battlestar Galactica - a man who is clearly a villain, but sees himself as a freedom fighter, and most interestingly of all, he is in constant contact with the protagonists but through most of the series their hands are tied about just killing him due to his political connections. Far too often you have villains that are far off in some tower somewhere, and you barely really get any sense of who they are or their interactions with others, which I think is a real shame. On the flip side, consider characters that are of questionable loyalty, which could tip to either side? Various characters from Game of Thrones do this very well, driven by their own ambitions. Imagine a scenario, for example, where you kill off a band of Orcs or something, but decide to spare a now-orphaned child from that tribe to raise yourself. That's just off the top of my head, but I would like to see more emotional richness between characters, and more complex relationships among characters than just the good guy bad guy thing. Above all, I am tired of the maniacal villain scheming on the other side of the planet that you get to actually talk to for all but five minutes at the end of the game. That trope has been done to death in every kind of media. Who's with me on this?
  4. (Forgive me if I'm repeating someone else's point) In my opinion, food in of itself is not an interesting mechanic. If, however, food is used as a way to guide players toward quests or interesting interactions between NPCs and such, then it could be interesting. Take for example the feeding mechanic of Vampire: The Masquerade. It forced players to have to figure out clever ways to seduce people, sneak up on them, loot a blood bank, make a deal with some shady blood dealer, etc. It was a mechanic to drive players toward interesting encounters and formulate strategies. Just having food as another sort of consumable is just boring and lame, imo.
  5. One trend that has bothered me a bit in recent RPGs is the focus on loot. I would define loot as any drops from enemies that you get pretty much any encounter, often randomly generated and about 90% of the time is just sold for money. Diablo is a prime example of a loot driven game. By contrast, I would call Planescape a more "artifact" driven game, where you get fewer items overall but those items have far greater meaning behind them and tend to be more interesting. In fact, the player learns a lot about the lore of the game simply through the artifacts, even if they don't delve that deep into the flavor text for them. In a perfect artifact game, imo, you would have artifacts that make a significant difference to your play experience, and resemble the artifacts of old fantasy myths. Cloak of invisibility, excalibur, the Ring of Power, etc. Items that aren't just throwaway junk you looted off a random kobold, but that the player recieved in some awesome fashion, and carry significant power and weight to the game world. In a less perfect artifact-driven game (like Planescape), it can be taken too far, to the point where you have items that are novel and interesting when you pick them up, but are practically useless. Bone charms were cool in Planescape, and perhaps even that weapon made of Chaos Mater that did random amounts of damage, but they weren't terribly great. So its just as easy to end up with junk artifacts. So given all that, what do you guys think? Do you like the "pinata" style gameplay of something like Diablo where your inventory is constantly flooded with items, or do you prefer your powerful items to be delivered in a more dramatic fashion?
  6. Over the years as I've experienced a number of different RPG worlds, both on the tabletop and PC/console RPGs, I've found myself drawn to the ones with more nuance and mystery, challenging the player to wrap their head around them. This is the number one reason why I loved Planescape. You literally couldn't assume anything - anything could be waiting around the corner, and mysteries were abound throughout the experience. Planescape did this by having a bizzare world that was beyond any one person's mind to comprehend. Along similar lines, one of the things I really love about what White Wolf did with their RPGs, namely Vampire: The Masquerade, is that they took a similar approach, but along a social dimension. If you think about it, a lot of RPGs, over the course of playing them, allow you to pretty much understand everything about their world from an omniscient perspective. Orcs are evil, elves are good, or whatever. VTM did something completely different though. Rather than describing their world, particularly the various bloodlines from an omniscient perspective, they gave relative accounts of how any given bloodline thought of the others. What do the Brujah think of the Tremere? What did the Malkavians think of the Followers of Set? Essentially, the world was described to you through biased, often contradictory and incomplete accounts from a variety of sources, who were themselves steeped in mystery. I feel like this kind of relative characterization, of both the world, characters, and factions, gives VTM a richness I have yet to see matched in other RPGs I've seen. I would be delighted to see a similar technique be used for Project Eternity.
  7. A spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment. No contest. Particularly, I really loved the idea of having a really unique world, where even the mundane rules of existence are different, with tie-ins to bizzare philosophy and religions, and every object and ability in the game tells its own story. Check out my full opinion of Planescape at my blog: http://glenalysis.blogspot.com/2012/01/planescape-torment-and-evolution-of-rpg.html
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