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About slopesandsam

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  1. Having just finished The Outer Worlds today (I have two small children - managing to finish an RPG in two weeks is a minor miracle), my immediate reaction is: this is the game I so desperately wanted, and I loved it. I want more. I hope there's DLC and sequels and glory raining down on everyone who worked on it. I do, of course, have some minor criticisms. Criticisms that seem a bit silly and idiosyncratic in the face of how much I loved this game. But I have the internet, so I'm going to share those criticisms. Hopefully in a constructive manner. And, I realise, they're mostly criticisms about how this game didn't quite fit the mold of Fallout - the original two Fallouts, more than the more modern iterations - which is more about me than the game itself. First, the mechanical criticisms: I was a little disappointed that I never really felt like my character build mattered an awful lot. In Fallout 1, it's really clear that the stats and skills you choose have a significant impact on what paths through the game are available to you. In TOW, I often felt like pretty much all paths were always available to me, and it was really just a matter of choosing which one I preferred (I always felt like my choices were significant, but I never felt like any were really closed off to me). The dialogue skills, in particular, felt totally interchangeable. Persuading, Lying and Intimidating all appeared to have the exact same affect on gameplay. And it was extremely rare to find a skill-check that was so high that it was unavailable (and even when one was, I could usually use one of the other dialogue skills to achieve the same effect). The ability to initially put points into skill "branches" and have all the related skills increase was, I think, I great idea. But I think that having that go all the way up to 50 made it so all characters felt a bit generalised far too far into the game (and some felt like they were weirdly grouped - like, I always enjoyed being a sciency-type in the Fallout games, which for me included hacking, because my character knew their way around a computer, but I never enjoyed being a stealthy, lockpicking pickpocket, so having hacking grouped with lockpicking felt wrong to me). Connected to that, I really loved the Perks in Fallout that only became available if your character was over a certain stat or skill threshold. It really helped to increase specialisation. I would have liked to see some of those in TOW. I really wanted to feel more like a specialist by the time I reached the final third of the game. Second, the cosmetic. These criticisms are superficial ones really. But, I felt like TOW lacked a certain amount of...iconic imagery? I mean, that's likely an unfair criticism to level at the first iteration of a new franchise, but Fallout 1 had a bunch of stuff that was instantly recognisable as Fallout. Supermutants. Ghouls. Nuka-Cola (TOW has its share of crazy weird brands, but I can't think of one that really stood out in the same way that Nuka-Cola did). And the "War. War never changes..." intro. I mean, aping all that stuff too closely would have been on-the-nose for a game that already shared a hell of a lot of DNA with the Fallout franchise, but I'm a sucker for those iconic symbols. I feel like some sort of stylised intro explaining how Halcyon was founded and how the Hope was lost would have been cool (obviously not a black-and-white Ron Perlman narrated intro, but something that fit TOW's own style) - something that could have been iterated on in future sequels. Yes, I know, these are petty complaints. I feel a bit crummy having writing multiple paragraphs of complaints about a game I consider to be the best game I've played in many years. I could write many more paragraphs listing all the things I loved about the game. It was so good. I can't wait to see where this franchise goes.
  2. I'm gonna disagree with you there. I was hesitant to use EGS simply because, yes, I like having my games library in one place: Steam. When this exclusivity was announced, I sighed and thought to myself "Well, I guess I have a reason to install the EGS launcher." But then, via this controversy, I discovered the issues with privacy and the implications of the kinds of exclusive deals they've been purchasing, and I changed my mind. I can't support the EGS.
  3. The better question is: what is epic selling that publishers want? And the answer is: security. This is just supposition on my part, but if Epic go to a publisher and say "Okay, so, for this game, a decent number of sales is...two million unit. On Steam, at $60 a pop, minus Valve's 30% cut, you'd get $42 a unit. That 84 million dollars. So, we'll give you $84 million to make this game a Steam exclusive." Suddenly the publisher doesn't have to sweat the game flopping. (Now, chances are that it's not a direct payout. The deal is probably structured such that Epic guarantees a certain amount of profit. So, if the game falls short of $84 million, Epic would cover the difference - the game would have to literally sell zero copies for Epic to have to pay out the full $84 million. If the game exceeds $84 million, well, that's just gravy.) Again, I'm pulling this out of thin air, but it's how I make sense of these deals.
  4. "Our partners at @EpicGames have announced that #TheOuterWorlds will be coming to the Epic Games Store at launch, alongside the Windows Store. It will be released on other digital platforms 12 months later. The Outer Worlds will still release on XBOX and PS4 on launch." While I don't want to be putting any words into Obsidian's mouth, look at how boilerplate and emotionally neutral this tweet is. No "We're excited to announce" or even "We have entered into..." The tweet doesn't say it explicitly, but there's the underlying implication that the decision wasn't theirs: "Our partners...have announced". I'm sure they're absolutely forbidden from doing so, but given how refreshing the transparency from the dev team has been, it would be nice if they actually said something about how disappointed they are that this happened. (Although I'm not sure exactly how much this will hurt sales. Apparently Metro Exodus sold like hotcakes on the EGS.) On the...brighter side, it's probably that any future sequels to TOW will not be Epic exclusives, given that Microsoft will (almost certainly) be publishing them. And Microsoft just announced that the Halo collection will be coming to Steam.
  5. Then you're using reviews wrong. The whole idea of art reviews is to find some reviewer (or preferably a group of reviewers) whose preferences broadly align with your own, because then you have a pretty recent chance of learning whether or not you'll also like it. It's also good to read some opposing reviews, just to open yourself up to different opinions. Often you'll find some valid criticisms in there - or criticisms that you disagree with adamantly, and reading them actually deepens your appreciation of what you like about the game. (This is why a lot of critics hate review aggregators like Metacritic and Rottentomatoes: because they reduce a bunch of subjective opinions to a seemingly objective number. But your favourite game might only have a 30 Metacritic score, and you'd be better off just reading reviews from the critics who liked the game, whose interests align with yours, because the critics who hated the game don't care about the things you care about.)
  6. I get the reasons why pre-purchasing is not a good idea and I agree with them. But for this game, I'll probably pre-purchase purely so I can have it downloaded and ready to play as soon as the clock ticks over and it becomes available. (Although, chances are that when it is released, I won't have time to play it for a while anyway. I don't live the sort of life where I have the sort of free time that allows me to drop everything and play a new game straight away anymore.)
  7. Games by and large are at some level Mary Sue simulators. People fall in love with you because it's a fantasy and isn't at all realistic. This is also why in a game like Obvlion you can somehow be an Archmage, Arena Champion. Guildmaster of the Fighter's Guild, the head of the Thieves Guild, the hero of Kvatch and Cyrodill and lastly Speaker for the Dark Brotherhood. It's completely and utterly preposterous but it's a thing that CAN happen so I tend to just leave my brain at the door. I don't disagree with you actually but games are well, games and have to be at some level, gamey. There might be something to that. The fantasy of actually being able to do something about the fact that the object of your affections has no real interest in you is probably one that appeals to...a lot of people. I think it would have appealed to me a lot more when I was younger - but I still also think I would have found it unsatisfying even then, because I wouldn't have able to keep myself from seeing through the fiction to the gamification. (I also always had issues with the RPGs that let you become the big boss badass of every faction the way you describe. That kind of thing would also kill my immersion, to a degree. Which is why I have always preferred the types of RPGs Obsidian make, where you have to make hard choices, and certain avenues are locked because of your character build or the factions you've joined, etc.)
  8. Here is my three-point explanation of why I don't really like romances (as they've been implement thus far) in RPGs: 1. The first point is one I've already stated: the romance systems that I've encountered have always involved some sort of point-scoring system (either hidden or laid bare). I find that this causes me to cease thinking of the companion as a character in the narrative and start thinking of them as a minigame by themselves. It also will often cause me to have my character behave in ways that I otherwise wouldn't, simply to increase my affection points with the companion I decided to romance. 2. They're unrealistic. Maybe it's just me, but my real-life experience of romance has never been a situation where I was interested in someone who was indifferent towards me, and I won them over with my words and deeds. Nor has anyone managed to win me over when I was initially indifferent towards them. In fact, I've found that the opposite is usually true: people have been immediately interested in me, but I've managed to balls it up by saying or doing the wrong thing, or I've been interested in someone until they said or did something that really turned me off. 3. Romances - at least, as they've been implemented in the RPGs I've played - actively conflict with the sort of character creation systems I like. By this I mean that the romances I've encountered in games are all determined by your dialogue choices or how you choose to resolve quests. Sometimes, rarely, there'll be a companion who isn't interested in you because you created a character of a particular sex. And even more rarely, they won't be interested because, say, they're a dwarf and you're an elf. But none of them have incorporated character stats, that I've seen (in fact, I might be misremembering, but do the DA games even have stats anymore?). Why isn't one of the companions only interested in very muscular players, and will only hook up with a player who has 8+ strength? Or one who only likes brainiacs, and requires the player to have high intelligence? And what about the player who only has 1 charisma? None of the companions should be interested in that loser. All of which is to say, I could get behind a romance system in which it isn't about scoring artificial affection points, but instead where the companions are interested in you right at the outset. But where there are things you can do to turn the companions off (just as there are already things you can do in tOW to make the companions leave). And also, where the initial interest of the companions is predicated on the type of character you created, where some of the companions will like a meataxe, some will like a nerd, or various other companions of stats.
  9. I'd argue there's a difference between writing some dialogue options that might lead to a romantic encounter with a couple of the companions vs the full-on dating sim-esque mechanics that seem to have become the norm in RPGs.
  10. They go back well before that DA:O is the first RPG I played where this was a major feature (I sort of assume they appeared in Mass Effect prior to DA, but I never played the Mass Effect games). There were other RPGs where they was maybe a romance-themed quest or two, but I'm not aware of earlier games where the romancing of companions was so core to the game. However, I can't claim to have played every RPG ever, or even most of them. (Were they in KOTOR? It's been so long since I played those I don't remember at all.)
  11. I didn't get the impression that character creation would be streamlined in that talk, just that it would be presented differently - in a non-numeric fashion. Doesn't mean you won't have as much room for character customisation. Just that it won't be a wall of numbers. (I am hoping that the character stats are immutable after character creation, the way they were in the original Fallouts.)
  12. One thing I've always thought would be cool is if the character creation process in an RPG was somehow incorporated into the world and the story - in basically the same way that Fallout incorporated the game's UI into the story by making the PipBoy. So, for instance, if you're playing a game where the player character is a clone, then the character creation is presented to the player as some sort of DNA manipulation system where the clone is genetically engineered to fit the specifications (ie: the stats the player has chosen). When I watched the Outer Worlds trailer for the...twentieth time, it occurred to me that it'd be cool if the character creation in the game is presented as old guy/narrator searching some sort of catalog that lists all the passengers in hibernation, and by entering your stats (which will presumably use the new non-numeric system Tim has talked about) you narrow his search down to a single passenger. I'm not presenting this as a suggestion, just a wouldn't-it-be-cool-if type thing. I just sort of like the idea that your character is just a random, plucked from many simply because on paper they look like they suit the old guy's needs.
  13. I'll seventh this suggestion. I suspect it's already an intended feature. But if it isn't, it should be.
  14. I don't think that's a good idea. I have no love for Bethesda - I can get quite sad when I think about what they've done to the Fallout franchise - and even if, behind closed doors, the staff at Obsidian also have no love for Bethesda, I don't want to see them get into some petty fight with the other company. I know a lot of people think Obsidian have already taken a few jabs with the "from the original creators of Fallout and the developers of New Vegas" thing, but come on, as if the marketing wouldn't have stressed those two points anyway. Those are major selling points, not veiled insults aimed at Bethesda. I'd be happy if this game had a similarly iconic intro in the same vein as the "War, war never changes" thing from Fallout, but it should do its own thing that its future sequels can iterate on. Each Outer Worlds game can open with a different Spacers' Choice commercial, or something like that.
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