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  1. <blush> Thank you for making my day. With that completely wrapped up, then , now we just need to hear from Obsidian!
  2. Being able to save manually is by far the more important, but quicksave is a welcome convenience. (I used the word "quicksave" because it implies manual saving and is a little faster to type. ) I agree with this as well. It feels wrong to gimp the PC version of a game just to minimize code differences between the PC and console builds so that the code's a little easier to maintain. So far, I haven't described why I'm asking about this feature, but I see there are some "what is an RPG?" questions, so maybe now's a good time. I like to explore game worlds. I'll spend many hours engaging deeply with not just the level geometry, but with the game's aesthetics and (especially) dynamic systems -- not to try to break them, but to understand them and enjoy the effort the developers put into them. At-will saving helps me do that because it reduces the risk of my losing progress when I poke around into places and try experiments. Design elements that penalize exploration, such as timers (including both mission timers as well as QTEs as in Alpha Protocol), unkillable enemies, and checkpoint-only saving, are signals that the developer wants to cater primarily to the many gamers who enjoy action-oriented challenge and intense sensations -- not to explorers like me. That's fine, if that's the kind of game the developer is trying to deliver. Challenge and sensation are both 100% valid ways of having fun, as is emotionally deep storytelling. But so is knowledge-discovery: collecting information to generate testable theories about patterns. That may not sound like fun to you, but it's also 100% a valid kind of fun for other gamers. I'm very familiar with the argument that "save-scumming makes the game too easy." But that's not a strong argument: 1. In a single-player game, how I play doesn't affect you. If the most important thing for you is an exciting challenge, no one can make you save manually; but if that feature's not implemented, an important tool for my fun is taken away. 2. Preventing all players from saving when they want is a terribly lazy way to artificially increase the challenge of a game. It's useful as an optional feature for the players who want it, but most of the challenge of a game ought to be designed into the (character-side) content of the game world itself, not managed via an external (player-side) function. 3. Twitch-style challenge is important for some people, but not as important for others. Understanding systems is also a kind of challenge, but it rewards thinking deeply over thinking quickly. It's OK for games to serve both kinds of fun. 4. Being able to save in a CRPG gives me more RPG, not less, because by exploring different alternatives I can ensure that my character is built to suit the role I'm trying to play. That's not about min-maxing tangible (power-progression) results; it's about finding the most accurate way of expressing the nature of the character I'm roleplaying. Not being trusted with the power to save at will can mean the developer wants to rush the player past one pretty but shallow fa├žade after another (yes, I'm looking at you, Bioshock Infinite). Being trusted with the power to save at will sends a better message: the developer understands the pleasure many gamers feel at engaging deeply with a game's content. Every time I've said, "Well, they refuse to let me save manually, but this game looks like fun otherwise so I'll pay to try it," I've regretted that decision. I'm really hoping Obsidian will implement save-anytime in The Outer Worlds so that I have no reason to pass on it.
  3. Nobody likes Nazeem. This is known. One thing, though -- I just fired up Alpha Protocol, which I played all the way through a number of years ago, to refresh my memory. What I found was that it was third-person only, and it didn't offer a proper save-anytime function -- it was checkpoint-only. The third-person thing seems to have been cured for TOW, if the demo footage is any indication. I also saw a checkpoint save happen... but I haven't seen the player execute a quicksave. So that leaves me still looking for an Official Comment: regardless of what the console versions do, will the PC version of this game allow players to save when they want?
  4. So far I'm liking most of the things I've seen and read about this one. (Falling back on the "evil corporations" trope is the one exception.) But I haven't yet heard any official confirmation of whether quicksave will be supported for the PC version. Is that being implemented, or will the PC version only get console-style checkpoint saving?
  5. PoE is repeatedly appearing to lock up at exactly the same moment in the game, preventing a critical plot action from completing. However, after some troubleshooting, I've found a solution. I'm posting it here in case anyone else might be affected. [spoilers follow.] After entering the Ducal Palace for the Crucible Knights, and following my character's dialog exchanges with the Duc, PoE enters a sort of cutscene mode. The animancer is possessed; the Duc is killed; the Dozens leader kills the hapless animancer, the speaker for the Crucible Knights runs over to the dead animancer and shouts (in an on-screen text blurb) "Stop this at once!" and is hit -- and at that moment, every time, the game seems to lock up completely. "Game paused" is displayed at the bottom of the screen, but nothing I do in the game can un-pause it. My version of PoE is the physical DVD-ROM version, patched to 1.06. ---------------- As part of typing up this note, I've been Alt-Tabbing out of the game, typing here for a bit, and then going back to the game. I've discovered that doing so will let the "cutscene" progress a little further, with various moments of NPC carnage, before freezing again. As I do this, I notice that my CPU (a dual-core E8500 @ 3.15GHz from 2008) is running at 90-98% utilization. After doing this several times, the cutscene finally progressed to my interaction with Thaos. After that, the game ran normally. So, to anyone seeing what appears to be the game freezing toward the end of the animancy hearings: try Alt-Tabbing out and back several times.
  6. 1. Will item repair components have weight/encumbrance? Obviously this will determine whether we can be effective at repairing degraded items in the field or have to make frequent trips to the nearest cache of supplies. 2. Will crafting skills and other skills pull from one pool of available character skill points? Or can characters (possibly of only certain classes) maximize both crafting and non-crafting (i.e., combat) skills at the same time? (I know this was hinted at in the conclusion to today's update.) I could argue this one both ways. Allowing fully separate tracks lets players enjoy more of an RPG's expensively-created content. But pulling from the same pool sends the important message to players that non-combat content is considered as important as the usual destructive skills -- the same cost implies the same value. 3. As some others have said, I think I also detect a whiff of MMORPG conventions here. Item degradation is sometimes applied as an economic whip, and potions-as-buffs is also popular. (I personally have zero use for buffs; they are the crack cocaine of RPGS -- it's best never to start using them so as to avoid addiction.) On the other hand, both item degradation and temporary skill enhancers have appeared in single-player RPGs I've enjoyed (System Shock 2, Skyrim). So these may be coincidences. But my antennae are up; I truly did not like the skills system in Dragon Age that was obviously copied-and-pasted from MMORPG conventions. I'm not convinced that PE is going that route -- it's just a small concern. 4. The most important note I can offer about crafting systems in RPGs is that they're nearly always designed solely around game mechanics. More specifically, crafting is usually treated as nothing more than a secondary support system for the all-important killin'-and-lootin' gameplay. I have more than once read reports of crafting being handed off to a designer whose experience and preference were in designing combat systems; little wonder that crafting often feels perfunctory, or that it's interpreted as mass-producing junk to beat other players in an economic competition subgame. I long for an RPG in which "crafting" is designed to be about "craft" in all the original connotations of the word for that concept: handcrafting, craftsmanship, craftiness. Crafting as an RPG system (particularly in a semi-medieval setting) ought to be designed by someone who understands the pleasure in the skillful personal fabrication of things that are both functional and beautiful. *That* is what "crafting" ought to feel like in an RPG. If not, then it's just a timesink and doesn't need to be implemented. (Note: I have a similar rant on how the joy of "magic" in RPGs is always sucked dry by being implemented as a mechanical science, rather than as a wondrous and terrifying power. I suspect that this and the tedious, grindy, gameplay-uber-alles concept of crafting are closely related.) In short: crafting-as-fixing-broken-stuff feels a lot less interesting -- maybe not even worth doing -- than crafting as the perceptive and creative fabrication of individual items that are highly functional and artistically appealing. To the extent that crafting mechanics in PE tend toward the latter definition, that's the extent to which I'll *want to* craft in PE rather than the not-fun feeling that I *have to* craft. Again, though, I know that designing any system in an RPG is tough, and people will aways be unsatisfied. I appreciate the effort that Tim & Co. are putting into crafting and everything else in PE.
  7. Very nice to see design thoughts being exposed for discussion. Armchair designers, ho! Armor design, I'd suggest, needs to hit several goals. It should be: simple (both to implement and to understand/use), consistent with other core systems, evocative of the lore, and generally reasonable as a system for gear-based personal defense. Lore guidance is a little tough to see, but from what's been revealed about the world so far it sounds like its objects are meant to feel physically plausible (leather, chain, plate, etc.). They should also help tell stories about the places and people of the world and their histories. All these things taken into account, I suggest the following as high-level design policy: objects should should be usable by anyone, with two types of modifiers: * current quality (poor/good/fine, etc.) alters effectiveness * special benefit(s) dependent on the stats or skills of the equipping character 1. This would apply to all objects, so it's gameplay-consistent. A specific weapon's base speed and damage could be reduced by poor quality, but it might be improved by a bonus to damage against chain mail if the equipping character has a Strength stat of 12 or higher. A pair of plate mail gloves might confer a bonus to spell-casting speed for characters with the Acrobat skill so that a magic-using character who emphasizes dexterity might want to wear them. An important element of this design is that objects don't impose negative effects. This isn't necessary as (after the early game) there will be "opportunity costs" applied in choosing one item over another. Wearing plate gauntlets with a speed bonus means you don't get the damage bonus from a pair of leather gloves. That's enough to create interesting choices for players, and helps to keep the implementation and usage of objects reasonably simple. Another point is that this system doesn't impose class restrictions. A restriction system says, "O foolish wizard, your Strength is too low to even equip this claymore!" A benefits system says, "Sure, you can equip this sword... but you won't get the cool damage bonus because your Strength isn't high enough, and you won't get the efficacy bonus for your spells that you'd have if you equipped this staff instead." In the latter system, anyone can use anything (which satisfies both the simplicity and plausibility design goals), but in practice they won't -- they'll pick the objects that best match the attributes of their character. It's worth noting that this approach could be applied to magic use as well (as implied above). Some objects could enhance spellcasting. And spells themselves could be both usable by anyone regardless of class (which seems to be a design choice already made) and could have bonus effects determined by the stats or skills of the casting character. Other modifiers are possible: bonuses in particular locations (underground, cemetaries) or environmental conditions (nighttime, raining), or against particular weapons/armor or enemy types. It's a judgment call whether these would add value beyond the increased complexity to implement and use. Finally, I note that the bonuses model aids in roleplaying by keying game objects and mechanics/actions to character attributes. The kind of gameplay a character experiences will be conditioned by his personal development choices -- what happens to you depends on who you are. Isn't that what a good roleplaying game should offer? Thanks for taking the time to consider these ideas!
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