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Everything posted by Micamo

  1. I could get behind that if the project had an utterly massive number of companions to work with, but last I checked we're only getting 8 (not counting the generic faceless ones you can build yourself). That's not enough to even have one of each class. That means the team has to be economical with what they choose to do with the companions. Honestly, my only request is no token evil companions. If your character concept begins with "I'm chaotic evil" then stop, burn your character sheet, and start over. There's a reason why any sane D&D table will hang a player who tries to act like this and yet somehow every CRPG seems to have to have at least one. If P:E has one then for me it will effectively only have 7 companions instead of 8, because I refuse to interact with them in any way except what's absolutely required of me.
  2. The problem with survival mechanics is in order for them to work well the game's pacing has to walk in complete lockstep with them. If the cycle of food acquisition/depletion isn't done very carefully, it becomes nothing but an immersion-breaking pain in the ass at worst (New Vegas hardcore mode in the first few levels) and a non-issue the player never thinks about at best (Hardcore mode after the player is swimming in more caps than they could ever possibly spend). Honestly, it seems like an awful lot of work where a billion and a half things can go wrong just to add something that's not even thematically appropriate. If this were Dark Sun or something I could see it being a worthwhile addition, but the Dyrwood does not seem like the right place for this. It'd be simulation for simulation's sake.
  3. Only if you confuse quality with quantity. It wasn't super-complicated, but it was a lot more effective than the plots in a lot of games that were far more complex (Modern Warfare, Indigo Prophecy, Assassin's Creed, etc.). It does exactly the job that it was meant to do.
  4. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who hated Jade Empire.

  5. The specifics are hard to describe, so I'm going to give you a frustratingly vague answer instead: Some of my favorite parts of fantasy novels are those maps the really good authors put in the front pages of the book. If you do it right, you don't even have to do any work in trying to get the reader to care about the place. They just look at interesting spots on the map and say to themselves "Wow, I want to go there!" They're already invested and engaged in the work before even reading the first sentence. The best maps don't need a story to justify them; They justify themselves. Likewise, the best settings in video games are the ones where I don't need a quest giver telling me to go visit someplace or talk to someone: I'm interested because it's there. The setting justifies itself. Now, I'll be the first to admit, I'm a rather easy gamer to please. Give me a good setting, and I'll love your game in spite of basically all else. Bugs? Not a problem. Terrible gameplay? Don't sweat it. Vomit-inducing dialogue and voice acting? Meh, not a big deal. So long as you manage to keep me interested in what's over that next hill, I'll keep climbing over it no matter what it means I'll have to endure. It's why I'm such a rabid Elder Scrolls fan in spite of the series's mountain of flaws. And the worst settings in games are the ones where the writer comes up with a plot line in their head, then everything in the setting is built purely in subservience to that plot. No place exists unless something important happens there except to provide a buffer of endless mooks for the player to wade through as they move from A to B (or worse, back from B to A). Nobody exists unless they have some piece of exposition to deliver about what you're supposed to do next. Everyone just apparently stands around all day waiting for the player to show up, and nobody ever has any problems unless they're somehow directly relevant to whatever storyline the writer has intended. And everything matches convention unless the plot specifically requires otherwise, or the writer is trying to be clever by "subverting" a convention with something just as played out as the default, or just using the default with a different (usually stupid) name. Honestly? I'm worried this is the road Project Eternity's headed down. Maybe I'm being unfair because we really don't have that much info on the setting/story yet, but most of what I've seen so far has been a bad sign. The creative spark behind the Dyrwood seems to be "Well, 4/5 of the IE games we're using as inspiration were Forgotten Realms, so our setting can't be too different from FR. Also, there's guns, souls work different, there are cat people, we call bards 'Chanters', psions 'Ciphers', and Planetouched 'Godlike'." We're also told that the plot will have a big emphasis on "Moral Dilemmas", a fad that should have been discredited with Jade Empire. Furthermore pretty much all the updates we've received about the game, especially since the kickstarter ended, are about the mechanical and technical aspects of the game. Those are nifty and all, and it might just be that it's what they're focusing on in development right now, but I'm worried the reason they aren't talking much about the setting is because they think that nobody really cares about it. That's not to say it's all bad news: I think the colonialism angle has interesting potential. I'm also happy to hear they're implementing these "dilemmas" through a reputation system where you choose between multiple factions to support rather than a morality meter: I think this worked out really well in New Vegas. Also: I thought Planescape: Torment had an amazing setting. In fact, it was one of my favorite parts of the game. You don't have to be a TES/Fallout/Arcanum-like complete wide-open world game to have an interesting setting.
  6. Personally, my big worry is, linear or not, Obsidian will focus too much on forcing a great big "epic" plot chock filled with "moral dilemmas" and "philosophical ideas" and "choice and consequence." All I want is to just be dumped into a well-crafted setting.
  7. I don't think pacifist vs. murderhobo is the heart of the issue here. Personally, I'm the type who doesn't take sides and likes to make everyone satisfied when a dispute happens, even if I have to go an extra mile to pull it off. Even when it's not possible (and it often isn't) I'd rather try my hardest and fail. This is also the type of character I like to play in RPGs (both computer and tabletop). This leads to me generally picking "pacifist" options, not really because I have any aversion to killing when it needs to be done, but rather because "find a solution that satisfies everyone" rarely involves combat. I think a better description of the things I like to do (when I have the ability to do so) in an RPG would be Idealist options, not "pacifist" per se. I have a strong feeling that when a lot of people say they'd like the ability to do a pacifist run, I think having these idealist options available to them is what they mean.
  8. Pfft, screw that. Don't even give us any journal at all, a REAL old school game should require you to keep your own journal with a pen and paper. Don't have an area map either, we should have to draw our own. I also want the inventory to be like the old Ultima games where every party member has dozens of bags and you need to keep track of which items are in which bag on which party member. Automatic sorting is for lazy, illiterate wimps! REAL roleplayers need it not!
  9. Dragon Age combat wouldn't have been that bad if they hadn't abused ability cooldowns as a cheap design tactic. Anyway we already know the broad outline: Real time with pause, original mechanics. Though what we know so far sounds like a random homebrewer's attempt at "Fixing" D&D 3rd edition, truth be told...
  10. I prefer that settings be either: A. All humans or B. No humans Humans mixed in with other species generally doesn't work out as well. Humans always end up as generic and faceless with nothing to define them except "they're the generic ones with nothing special about them."
  11. Loghain has great characterization. Issue is all of it is at the very end (literally becoming available for the player to explore at the exact same time the point of no return becomes available), all of it missable depending on the player's choices, and most of it in DLC! Most players never get to see Loghain's real character in-game unless they've been spoiled and know exactly what to do to get to see it. Look up a transcript of all of Loghain's dialogue in the game (including the missable stuff at the end) and I'm sure your opinion of him as a person will change. Loghain really could have been a great RPG villain if only he were presented more effectively.
  12. its hard to really pin it on one side. Did writers get lazy because gamers weren't reading what they wrote or did gamers stop reading what they write because the writing got lazy? I'm sure its a lot of each. It's partially because of the rise of fully voiced dialogue. Voice acting, especially professional voice acting, is really, really, really expensive. Explaining directions is a lot of extra lines, and most importantly directions are the lines most likely to change. Let's say a quest NPC wants you to get the Amulet of Plot Device that rests within the Forest of Elvenbath. Then the developers decide they want to put the Amulet of Plot Device at the bottom of a dungeon, the Ruins of Narn. But the line explaining where the amulet is has already been recorded, so now they have to bring in the voice actor/s for another session and have them record the new line. When you're making dozens of changes to the game every day, re-recording dialogue gets expensive fast, especially because most games now have full 3D cutscenes to coreograph around the dialogue, for which the dialogue needs to be finalized before production on this can even begin. Costs for this should come way down, however, once speech generation software comes around. It's not quite perfect yet, but it's getting there. A lot of exciting possibilities open up when this gets good enough to be an acceptable alternative for a human voice. The another reason is the switch to full 3D environments. Making a clear, easily navigatable 3D level is actually ridiculously difficult, especially in a video game where we only have sight and sound to help us figure out where we are: The other tricks we humans use to get by in the real world don't work when deprived of most of our senses. This is part of the reason why 2D platforming is so much better than 3D platforming, and why first-person platforming flat-out fails. Artificial visual aids, like floating arrows and top-down minimaps, are easy and extremely effective solutions. The final problem is, yes, the "dumbing down" but I think this buzzword is thrown around too much without really understanding what's going on or the reasons behind it. In order to make enough money to turn a profit with a multi-million dollar project you need to have a really broad appeal. The issue is not, I repeat, not that most people are stupid, but that people have different tastes, and even people with the same tastes play games for different reasons. People like to talk about "Gamers" as if they're this nebulous thing you can pin down, but that is not the case. Some people are the type of people like to lock themselves up and binge on games for weeks at a time, others like to play for an hour or two on the weekends. Some people like listening to/reading lots of dialogue and lore, others like to just skip the talky stuff and move on to the action. These categories are in no way mutually exclusive, by the way. A game that has to make that much money has to somehow appeal to all of them. It's like trying to write a comedy intended to appeal to people who get angry when they hear jokes. It's not that anything's wrong with them, it's that the only result you can come up with for a problem like this is something that comedy lovers will hate. When you make an RPG for the masses, of course RPG lovers aren't going to like it as much. EDIT: That said, I should add I do think there is one very positive thing that comes from having quest markers, even for us RPG-lovers: It exposes awful quest design. Think about the complaint someone made earlier that in Skyrim almost all quests are just "Go here, kill this, loot this, take this to there." Most of the quests in the old IE games were exactly the same. The quest markers change the way the content is presented but doesn't change the actual content itself. Quest markers expose the boring, formulaic structure of these quests and forces the designer to make quests more varied and interesting to make up for that.
  13. The problem with stats is they're a false choice. There's a mathematically optimal point distribution for every build, and there's no way to change this. The player's real choice is in which build they want to play. I'm all for choices but they should be real choices, and stat systems are not only lazy but entirely ineffectual ways to accomplish this.
  14. The opposite is true, really: Permadeath makes you ultra-conservative and extremely afraid to take anything resembling a risk. This works with the tone and atmosphere some games try to present, but it doesn't mesh very well with high fantasy.
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