# Nerei

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1. ## Units, anyone?

Actually the metre is currently defined based on the speed of light and before that the krypton 86 emissions, that silly platinum-iridium stick has not had any significant scientific value for over 50 years (yes I know about the origin of the metre as 1/10^7 the polar/equator distance but today it has no relation to earth). Okay admitted I would be surprised if they somehow defined a second around 9.192.631.770 state transitions of the 133 caesium atom like we do and then decided that the distance light travels in vacuum in 1/299.792.458 of that is a meter. As for the other very relevant unit, mass that would be fairly believable given that it is basically just "this lump of platinum-iridium is a kilogram" Yes I grew up with the SI system and have used it quite extensively. Really my point is that finding a method not related to planet Earth (or advanced physics) to define say a length and calling it a meter is very much possible, and given that the imperial units of lenght are (generally) derived from the human anatomy, the in-game lore could make them just as unrealistic as playing with atoms and photons. Consider if humans did not invent the units of measurement, why would an elf, dwarf, orlan etc. use the human anatomy for his units? Really just having humans (and likely a plethora of other terrestrial animals) in the game is darn unrealistic in the first place, just ask someone that have read a bit of astrobiology All that said I tend to agree with you, having some simple archaic units would be good. The trick though is to keep the number down, 1-3 for mass and length (short/medium/long style) at most with a simple conversion. Having the game feel like a modern day science book (which SI would likely give it) would really hurt the suspension of disbelief. Imperial is fine and all if kept really simple (it is fairly oldschool to say the least), however I will riot if I have to learn the relation between inch, foot, yard, mile, nautical mile and league just to be able to keep track of the distances npc's in the game might throw at me. Okay this got a bit long, and a bit off topic maybe, so in short a system that is simple and fits within the world. Should such a system derive the names from the imperial units effectively making it a near imperial system, that would be fine. It should however be easy to keep track of no matter if you grew up with SI or imperial
2. ## Defeating linearity in one sentence

Simply focusing on the entry is not all there is to making a game non-linear. If that was all there was to it I could say Dragon Age Origins was one of the most non-linear game ever. It has what? 5 ways to enter the “game”? That it does pretty much nothing with those entries literally 2 minutes after dropping you off at Ostagar is another story... That is an extreme case yes, but it still highlight the problem of just focusing on the entry, it is not the entire game, with all likelihood it is a very little part of it. It would not matter much either if teleporting to or sneaking into Ostagar as also an option if it still just said “welcome warden” when you got there and dropped you into the main plot. Neither would it mean much if I could take the scenic route to Lothering if that part was still pretty much identical no matter what route I took. ABE, ACE, ADE, they all end in E, that part means it is still partly linear and no matter how much you focus on B, C and D, it will still be that. You are still on the plot railroad to point E you just take some detours be they minor or not. Actually just focusing on the entry to each area could then easily be little better than the train taking track 1, 2 or 3 through each station and then claiming the next 40Km of track is “non-linear”. That is what DAO did. To me it matters just as much what I can do inside a room/area as how I entered it, more actualyl considering I will probably spend more time on it that just entering. If you just focus on the entry you are missing all the other parts. You are not going to keep my interest in a second playthough by allowing me to get to somewhere in 3 different ways if it means nothing when I get there. If you on top of that makes each scenario of the story disconnected from each other then I personally feel it as being little more than rubbing into my face how little it means if I pick B, C or D on my way to E. I might try them all out, but if 90% of the game is still the same (or completely unaffected by my actions) I will just load savegames and try different options, not play though the game again and marvel at how I can pick which doors to enter the huge dread-fortress of the big bad (or which one of them I picked when I left again). That is not to say the entry has no value, but if that is all you focus on you are getting a bit close to Mass effect 3 where apparently you had choices: Do I save the Geth, the Quaren or both? Do I cure the Genophage or not? etc. Those are chapter endings yes, but if it is the entry or exit that is slightly different is fairly irrelevant. What matters is that all the other parts in between is not. You cannot solve that just by having people crawl through the ducts, cut their way through the main door or go though the sewers. People will still notice that the majority of the game is identical to their first playthough. So focus on the entries to the areas yes, but also the exit and everything in between. Allow me to have multiple ways to deal with the boss, the henchmen etc. Have the way I treat people in town have an effect on their lives other than “and they lived happily ever after” and allow me to decide which of these it is. Have what skills I have have an impact along the game. Have my actions actually matter in the game-world and the central story being affected by it. The entry to an area can do part of it, but not nearly all. Try and make all parts of the game as non-linear as possible.
3. ## Proyect Eternity

uhm, SWTOR sold something around 2.1M units which had dropped to around 1.7M subscribers in february (just under the 3 month mark and beyond the 1 free month) and 1.3M in May with the August report saying well above 500K. Those are numbers from EA press announcements related to their investors meetings. From what I remember SWG never broke 500K. As for the profitability of SWTOR lets assume 800K subscribers on average (which might be somewhat of an underestimate) paying 15\$ (europeans pay that in euro) each month for 12 months and on average 20\$ for those 2.1M units, that is 186M\$. From that I remember L.A. Times took flak for overestimating the cost of making it when they assumed 200M\$. Again that is not to say I would call it a great success but calling it a failure is not really true either. Also with regard to technology SWG is from late 2003, WoW is from late 2004 (and almost broke 1M before 2005 despite not even being released outside the US, it also hit around 3.5M 2005). I really cannot see all of the blame going to technology. Okay this is starting to get off topic so I think I will keep it at this
4. ## Proyect Eternity

It is not impossible no, but considering that ToEE was not really a financial success selling 128K units (according to wikipedia) and it being radically different mechanically to the current MMO market I really would not count on it. MMO devs are not very likely to throw millions at a project where the prospects at best is uncertain As for SWG lets be honest, it was never a very large success. From what I remember ToR got several times SWG's peak subscribers sortly after release and unless it has dropped significantly since I last checked is still ahead. NGE was not really a success either and lets face it, there was a reason for them to try and overhaul the mechanics. Not going to say ToR is a great success (although from what I have heard it is the 2nd largest subscription MMO, atleast in the west) but aiming for the success of SWG would probably not be advisable either.
5. ## Proyect Eternity

MMO? This game will AFAIK not have any multiplayer component at all so you are really far off then. Also I would be quite surprised to see ToEE mechanics put to MMO format. Maybe from a small indie company (though naturally then without a D&D license), but the large AAA publishers will not touch it with a 10 foot pole, the record is just not appealing to them. Also got a feeling they would be on to something, I really do not think the majority of ToEE players are also MMO players. You can look to games like the Kotor series transitioning to the MMO market and how a large part of the old guard complained about it. For D&D MMO's there is D&D Online and apparently also soon a D&D: Neverwinter but those are far from ToEE style mechanics. If you just want TB mechanics I would recommend looking at Divinity original sin, not exactly D&D mechanics but in 2012 you can not be picky when it comes to western style TB RPG's
6. ## Proyect Eternity

Well one thing they do take from ToEE is the Ironman feature, lets just hope it actually work this time... Also the artwork is going to resemble ToEE a bit more than the IE games from a technical standpoint, 3D models on a 2D background.
7. ## What could have been...

From a computer game perspective the stories are bad simply due to them being horribly linear. I remember running through the knight storyline with both a pure light and pure dark character and I hardly noticed any difference (killing a character is not really a difference if you never see them again anyway). For the Victory scene I noticed one different sentence and that in a situation where the extremely anti sith jedi should have been putting my darkside monstrocity to the sword. Add to that that something like 90-95% of the questing/levelling content is identical for all classes for the same faction and levelling is suddenly very repetetive. That makes it extra problematic that a major part of their endgame content is rolling another character to see their story.
8. ## Solution for random chance events and reloads

Could also be that it is based on D&D 3rd edition and that game included a mechanic called "taking 20" Basically it means that in a situation where you can continually repeat a check you will eventually get 20 on the D20 (just like repeatedly trying to unlock a door in BG where if you can succeed you sooner or later will if you roll a good enough result, here it is just automated). It does not do it for say pickpocketing, even if it is outside combat as it is a skill where you cannot casually repeat it. Also you could still fail out of combat actions if the check was higher than 20 + you skill, try recovering a deadly trap, the check is something close to 50. Technically according to the p&p rules it also takes 20 times as long, something NWN did not simulate. Having something along the lines of this mechanic would be fine with me, it would also make sense that if I take my time I would be able to get a better idea of how to solve the problem. That is actually also a reasons why I dislike the locking the seed approach to things like lockpicking. I prevents simulation of such a scenario unless it always assume I take 20 minutes picking a lock. That said I will still say that having the "option" to reload and try again does not mean that the RNG the game comes with has been taken out of action and the player dictates the outcome. For one the people that does not reload it will work just as it has always done. Only to the people that do it will it have less effect. You also got a problem if you implement such the mechanic like you suggest. Going back to the pickpocketing, using that logic if I have any chance of succes it should always succeed. For the people reloading that is great, more power to them. For those that do not they suddenly have a 100% succes rate they might not like. I remember playing some well-made rogue/city adventure modules for NWN where one of the mechanics for pickpocketing was if it failed you should run, hide and wait for the danger to pass. I really liked that, it made sense that the entire city was not out for my blood due to the 2 coins I stole. Being able to casually rob the 2 major towns blind at first level would be a pretty terrible design.

10. ## What could have been...

I would also have preferred it to have been a single-player game. Be it related to the KotOR games or some completely unrelated SW story. As one that have tried the MMO I will also say that in many cases it felt like a single player game. I sure could get through the good parts without talking to any other human being. That said I am not sure how much we should blame the MMO for the situation with Revan and Meetra Surik. Much of it is from the book Star Wars: The old Republic: Revan which was actually released before the MMO. Both are probably written in conjunction given how deeply some of the characters from that book is tied into the MMO story but the blame might be on Drew Karpyshyn and not Bioware. It could also just be that they where trying to match Lucas writing of Anakin That is not to say I cannot say a lot of bad things about the MMO (I wrote 3 pages to bioware in my "why did you stop your subscription" reply), but I will let that rest, no need to start an hour long rant. I will however say that I cannot remember how many times I have thought "had this been a good RPG I would have had option X". A MMO just feels like a bad place to tell interactive stories. I am not sure how I would have written the stories had I been in their situation. There could probably have been made something interesting with the storyline they have. The result they delivered however is something I would consider great, it is way too linear. At least we can hope that There will be some decent CRPG's set in the SW universe, but until that happens I guess we will have to stick with the ones we do have.
11. ## Solution for random chance events and reloads

Personally I am not too much for minigames. If they are optional and fit into the world as a whole and at least are moderately fun (and does not take too many resources from the core game) fine, but mandatory minigames please no. That is not to say I dislike them as such, I just rarely play them. One of the few I liked was pazzak, it was fast, moderately fun and within lore of the game. I would however be irritated if I had to play pazzak 5-10 times in a row, which could happen in such a system even if I was not constantly reloading to get a successful roll. A hard part of the game could result in me dying regularly and thus would also trigger it. If there where to be a penalty like this I would rather go with the style that New Vegas (IIRC) had where you could not play in the casino for something like 1 minute after reloading. A similar system could be made for skillchecks. That is not to say I liked it, but I would prefer it over many other options.

13. ## Solution for random chance events and reloads

That is probably solved just as easily with the trial of iron (ironman) difficulty option that is already going to be included, unless you copy your savegame you pretty much have to accept all results you get there.
14. ## Physixs?

From a time/cost vs result I really do not think this is worth it. In an ideal world sure, but this is a project with limited time and resources. First off given that backgrounds are going to be pre-rendered 2D images if the art posted so far is any kind of reference it would make it hard to do anything worthwhile with a physics engine. Pictures like those from mafia requires collision boxes to work well be it from the ground or world objects. An image does not have this naturally, it is flat and dynamic calculations on a flat plane is fairly boring and in most cases not very accurate. Characters or objects would just fall down and not tumble down stairs etc. It would be possible to define the collision boxes sure, however that is extra work and we still got the problem of the game-world being 2D images. Damage also require additional renderings (and post rendering touchups). Just making a house in a pristine and burnt down condition is pretty much twice the work for the art department. Less damage could require less work by reusing large parts of a model, problem however is that 2D images are not really a dynamic media and could make it labour intensive (consider being able to dynamically burning down part of a house). That is not to say that having minor pieces of the environment destructible is impossible. Such a thing can be done by having chairs/tables/barrels etc. as 3D models witha a "death" animation as have already been suggested. Having major parts of the environment dynamic on the other hand would be a quite big task with fairly limited payoff. After all should the limited resources be diverted towards making it possible to torch a village or collapse a bridge? Maybe burning a random patch of trees or grass? Remember that even with reused 3D models there is still post rendering touchups (and likely adapting the model to the scene). I would so much rather see those resources go towards a better core game. This does not mean that major parts of the world cannot be destroyed, but it would likely a) be required by the plot and b) be done offscreen. A bit like Saradush in ToB Ragdoll physics to me also seems like a bit of a waste, the chance that we can do much more than predefined attacks are slim making predefined animations just as good, especially in a "flat" world. That is not to say that I would not like to see a completely dynamic game environment, but I just do not see it as important enough that this amount of resources being diverted towards it and setting fire to the village with a fireball due it being wood only to come back later and find it in pristine condition would bother me more than the game ignoring the fire in the first place.
15. ## A New Difficulty Idea: Continues

In an ideal world where there is no restrictions in time or money I would say why not. However with limited time and budget I would definitely prefer resources being dedicated towards making a better core game. Those features personally give me nothing, I tend to agree with Hormalakh that features like ironman are generally a waste, especially if it turns out as "great" as the ToEE Ironman feature....

17. ## Kiting enemies or "How not to do AI"

The AI might not be "human" level, but we can do a little better than "IF (see X enemy) THEN (attack X enemy). " Throwing in a few more possible actions would be nice. Allowing enemies to communicate with each other can do a lot to make combat more interesting. My comment about the great AI is really more directed at the talk of kiting (and other more complex situations the AI might have to handle). You can add a lot of fancy mechanics, but if the AI fails to handle them properly (which it likely will) it is just more likely to fail completely. Take the IE games, they actually had a morale check. However it usually just resulted it enemies running a bit away and then standing idly waiting to be put to the sword. For complete hilarity you could have the lone kobold end his morale failure check and charge the 6 bloodstained adventurers that had just butchered his 20 friends. The IE games have fairly lousy AI, improving on it is certainly possible and naturally should be done to the best of Obsidians abilities. I agree that the tactic of pulling 1 enemy away from the group of 3 and killing it alone like you could in BG was silly, cheap and borderline an exploit (and as mentioned fairly easy to solve given that modders could do it). You can add all the cheap ways of killing Drizzt to the list of examples of bad AI exploits. However changing that does not make the AI a tactical genius. It pretty much just means it has advanced past the "too stupid to live" point. Making the AI handle things like kiting properly (or any other complex strategy for that matter) is something else completely, it is far more complex that pulling. If the AI cannot handle the situations presented to it properly I would never label it as better than "adequate". That is really why I say I do not expect it to be great (and why I in general never really expect complex games to have a great AI).
18. ## Kiting enemies or "How not to do AI"

I'd argue that kiting is actually the end result of RT implementations. The AI has to compete with player input, game state checks, some degree of sound/graphics processing* for a slice of each second. Each unit representing it's own AI. AI requires complicated algorithms to achieve good results, complicated algorithms require time and horsepower. So the AI in any RT system is going to end up with deficiencies simply because it's severely resource limited. Tossing some more processors at it helps, but ultimately, you end up bound by the amount of processing that can occur in around 1 second. Which isn't nearly as much as people think it is with AI, since AI generally consists of NP-complete problems. *While GPU's and hardware sound chips handle most of the processing on their own, the CPU still needs to process the triggers for the graphics at the bare minimum and depending on the implementation may process part of the job as well, older GPU's and on-board sound often require CPU resources during processing. So what you are saying is that the computers we have today cannot handle the AI effectively in realtime due to a lack of basic processing power?! If that was the case I really wonder how the fossil computers that ran games like Dune or C&C (or Baldurs gate for that matter) could handle anything then. The laptop I am typing this on has a CPU that at the basic level is something like 100 times stronger than what I originally ran those games on! In many cases when I run RTS games on my desktop they do not even all my system resources. Claiming that AI deficiencies is then down to my CPU not having the power to run those scripts effectively seems a bit strange. http://en.wikipedia....ions_per_second Yes I know MIPS is not an entirely accurate measurement of the power of the computer, but it really does paint an interesting picture of the increase in processor power over the years does it not? The limitation for the AI is in the programming, not in any way related to the actual power of the CPU (it might have been at some point though, like back in the 1990's). Making an AI that can do as complex things as a skilled human being is technically just about impossible. That is the limitation. Personally I do not expect the AI to be great mainly due to it not really being possible to make an AI that can use 100 different abilities or tactics effectively in a multitude of situations. No scripting the events does not count.

20. ## Party member power should make sense

The problem I see with this is that you either have to restrict the developers to create characters with fairly even backgrounds, which in turn can lead to uniform characters or they would have to create completely useless/overpowered characters. If Nalia really was that bad, how many people would take her? If Anders really was that OP, would he be fun to have in the party when he completely overshadow and outdoes everyone else? The majority would probably answer "no" to both questions. If we take this approach then the player in BG should also be completely useless compared to Khalid and Jahiera (and most other characters for that matter). They have experience (years worth in some cases), the player just has a bit of training. That could easily lead to a seriously boring game if the protagonist basically is junk. It is fine to create a realistic game and I agree that as far as possible it should be realistic. However if realism gets to the point where it breaks gameplay or makes the game bland/boring, the devs have made a mistake. If the characters in BG/DA/ME should be balanced according to this I would say they should have their background made to fit this, not made completely useless/OP. That however might in some cases be too restrictive for storytelling/gameplay.
21. ## Solution for random chance events and reloads

Basically what you want is the game to save the random seed. That is a fairly common method actually, Firaxis did it in the 2012 Xcom game and from what I remember have done it in basically all Civilization games since III (or allowed it as an option) The problem I see with it is how to do it effectively in a very freeform game. Either you have to write it into the savegame post creation, which I would say will likely increase the chance of corrupting it, especially if you save infrequent. I still remember trying ToEE ironman 3 times and all 3 failing due to corrupted savegame files so I am quite paranoid with tampering with them, be it me or the game doing it. Also it would just mean that players would have to create more than one savegame (say save + quicksave to keep it fast) to cheat the system and if it is that easy to beat, is it even worth it then? Naturally you could write to all files, but that could be a real mess. If you take the Xcom approach and basically roll a huge number of virtual dice then the player just need to go pickpocket a random peasant (or whatever activity would use that variable) to burn that bad roll and it is back to square one. This approach (which IMO is by far the better as it does not tamper with files post creation) is fairly bad for freeform games. That said I really do not understand this obsession with such systems. I really think it is up to the player to decide how to play the game, not the devs or other players. If you want to have such restrictions, I honestly think you should impose them on yourself (or at the very least have it as an option) instead of imposing them on everyone. Had this been a MMO or a competitive multiplayer game I would understand it, there it spoils the game for other people if you do it. However for a game that are very unlikely to even include multiplayer so it would just affect the player. It really feels like imposing something on players needlessly (and not even that effective a system either) and wasting limited resources doing so. If there should be a feature to save the random seed it definitely should be optional. There is also the Ironman (or trial or iron as they call it) mode that pretty much prevents all kinds of reloading, with that already there I do not see any reason to create another softcore ironman mode.
22. ## How Independent Do You Like Your NPCs?

While I would like to have NPC's as independent as possible I really do not think it's practically possible to have the AI handle characters as well as it should for it to work in a game as open as PE will (likely) be, especially not with a total budget of 4.1M and less than 2 years of time. Making things like combat scripts that can handle all the characters even remotely effective in all the situations that they can/will encounter is not really going to happen, and given the limitations of the AI I would expect it to mainly end up being cursing at the screen and constantly reloading after it commits suicide (permanent death would likely kill all but the PC in a few hours). That said during dialogues/events it is much easier to work with given that pretty much all of it being pre-made (writing a massive BG style dialogue tree would mainly be a matter of time) and really this is where the characters personality should, and with the limitations on AI technology, can shine. This is also where I hope the game will shine and make the characters feel alive, not during combat as odds are that will pretty much just be them demonstrating a complete inability to sustain life. So yes to extremely independent characters during conversation and general character development and no to the AI controlling them during combat. For vote that is pretty much all (sharing loot, having an opinion, leaving the party etc.) except the AI controlling combat of #1 but I will go with #2