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About Ralewyn

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    Redmond, WA
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    Game Design & Development, giant robots, tabletop gaming


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  1. While I found bloodied mechanics interesting in 4E, and this would offer good feedback, you have to consider that this is one or even potentially multiple animation sets added to nearly every creature in the game, which is a rather daunting task. "wounded idle" is one thing, but for it to really look right you may have to have a "wounded limp, wounded swing, wounded punch" etc. It adds up very quickly unless your animator can make it look right transitioning from the idle state to any other animation, which takes time. There's a reason DOTA 2 is the only MOBA that does this, and also happens to not have all of these animations implemented at the present time--it's a polish feature that eats a fair bit of resources compared to other forms of feedback (UI elements, sound effects, etc.) Valve just so happens to have resources to spare.
  2. It would be trivial to code, but it's less a matter of programming implementation and more a matter of UI design. Sure, it can just be tiny numbers in the corner, but those are still tiny numbers that take up some amount of screen real estate--however slight--that are not related to the actual game in any way. This makes for something extra to account for in designing and actually making the art assets for it all for something that doesn't have an impact on the game. If it was telling the game-world time, however, this would be a different story. Besides, what cell phone doesn't have a clock displayed somewhere when it's locked these days?
  3. A release date is anything but arbitrary. Release dates exist because money runs dry. A single programmer makes somewhere around $70,000 a year at Obsidian, and this is roughly the industry standard. Every single person on this project has a five or even six-figure salary, likely greater than $40,000 and Obsidian has over 100 employees. Costs add up. Very quickly. Sure there's no publisher in this equation that can get tired of incurring losses and force a game to ship so they can profit, but now Obsidian only has $4,000,000 to work with. If that dries up during development there are going to be Problems. There's only one studio that release dates truly don't matter for, and that's Valve. This is the case solely because Valve has the money to keep going without shipping a product for a good, long while.
  4. I absolutely love--and I mean love the way Fallout and Planescape: Torment handle attributes. Where the attribute scores are highly significant and core to who your character is, what your character does and how your character solves problems. Where you can make some kind of genetic mutant right from the get-go that's min/maxed to hell and back and still manages to keep the game interesting all the same while making you feel like the choices you made at chargen really and truly mattered every step of the way. I love the progression where gains are slow and plodding if any but each point counts significantly and you can use it to balance your character out or just make them some kind of demihuman monster. I love these attributes having an impact on dialogue choices and quest lines and how people react to you and everything. If a system like this makes a return in Project Eternity oh the joys it would bring me.
  5. I know I've always had issues with consumable items in RPGs, and always end up compulsively hoarding them for 'when I'll need them,' which more often than not turns out to be never. In that regard, while I'd like to see something new and exciting done with holdout consumables if the players don't want that then hey, I'll just pawn my consumables in Project Eternity like I do in Planescape: Torment. 600 copper is big money for something I'm never gonna' use. I think much of the issue with modern consumable design comes down to a bloating of variety. Skyrim's a strong example of this--near hundreds of different highly-specialized effects for a variety of situations, most of them only providing a brief boost to your abilities for lots of time spent fishing through your inventory for that one-in-forty potion that you need unless you're one of the players that are explicitly trying to crack the system, in which case potions become hilariously broken as in any Elder Scrolls game. But otherwise their variety makes them highly cumbersome for very little payoff. New Vegas, however, had a lot of consumables that were boiled down to food, drink and chems. Since there were only about ten or so unique chems and they all had distinct names, appearances and mechanical functions, it was easy to find what you needed in your inventory quickly. This didn't solve the problem of the massive hoarded list of items necessarily, but it at least succeeded in keeping that list from interrupting gameplay quite as much. If consumables are to stay in their traditional format, I would prefer a compact list of specialized items that are readily available around the game world and barely--if ever--scale up in power in the form of new and improved versions. As far as alternative consumable systems go, however, I'd like to bring up Super Dungeon Explore: A goofy tabletop wargame framed as a hack & slash RPG dungeon crawl. The game works largely like a pen & paper RPG except the DM and players are actively competing against each other under specific conditions. One thing I found really interesting about the game was that players could gain Potion and Heart tokens as they hit monsters depending on how the dice rolled, the Hearts would replenish their health and the Potions would essentially give them consumables to activate. What was interesting was each different type of hero had a specific special effect for when they used the potion. This potion could be used at any time and if I remember correctly, on any character. The paladin, for instance, had a straight healing potion. The rogue, meanwhile, had a potion that allowed heroes to teleport. The dwarven tank could spend a potion to take an attack for an ally. A system like this where consumables are a unified resource that different characters can apply in different ways seems interesting to me, and I'd love to at least see a prototype of it if the resources exist to make it.
  6. Oh, something just occurred to me. Having someone to come back to was always a motivator for me in these games. Gave a warm fuzzy feeling in most cases. I trust Obsidian's writing staff to be able to write a proper, organic romance that isn't annoying. I'm playing through Planescape: Torment for the first time right now, and though I suppose it's not the mechanically-defined romance we're used to in the modern RPG I'm finding a lot of the interactions with Annah hilarious. Granted, this is partially because since I know it has no mechanical basis I know it's no big deal that she's being catty when I'm talking to Fall-From-Grace or whoever else. This is the same reason Morte is such a fun character, because you can casually give him **** and you don't feel like you screwed up when his influence meter declines. So I guess on that subject more options to casually mess with your party members without repercussion because they can take a damn joke would be appreciated. One thing I'm absolutely against however, in any capacity, is the Bioware Sex Scene. You know the deal--fade in--ass--fade out--fade in--shoulder--fade out. It's quite possibly one of the most awkward and unpleasant things to watch in games today and it needs to stop. Please just fade to black or something. These scenes are not rewarding at all nor are they necessary in any capacity. They're really, really unpleasant. This would be fine if it was just something Bioware did but I saw it a while back in one of the Assassin's Creed and I said "Okay no this is becoming a problem."
  7. I don't really have anything meaningful to say regarding sex or romance. But as far as bro-mance goes, I want at least one character I can be genuine friends with. Though I'm aware not necessarily all of these characters end up likable for everybody, I like characters that you can have a genuinely healthy dynamic with, even if some of it is imagined. Khelgar and Morte come to mind as examples. People who through your interactions you can imagine your character sharing a beer with when this is all over. People who aren't following you because you're the hero of legend, but because they're your bro and they've been with you through hell and back. As much as I enjoyed being a great spiritual mentor to a 'flock' of characters in KOTOR II, I found interactions with party members who regarded me as an equal and could treat me as just a man at the end of the day far more compelling. One thing I would like, however, is the ability to influence any companion's character growth. New Vegas touched on this by allowing you to make one of two choices regarding their personal outlooks. This would give them some sort of significant bonus in a specific area relating to the choice you made and it would impact their epilogue. This is great, but Dragon Age--wait, hang on, hear me out here--touched on a way to take this a step further. At certain points in the game you can genuinely impact how Allistair and Leliana develop as characters. Your dialogue choices allow them to sort through some issues and they can come away either 'unhardened' (the default state) or 'hardened.' What was interesting about this is these events occurred roughly 60-70% of the way through the main story-line, and once these characters were developed in this way it would actually change not only their personality, but also how they would react to certain plot events and even certain actions you took, actually altering their approval gains/losses and even changing the events of certain key plot points in some cases. It was small, and subtle to the point that I didn't realize it until I looked it up later, but I was really impressed when I saw that. I think that designing companion interactions from the ground up with this sort of system in mind could produce much more interesting interactions, to the point where it could serve as a new paradigm in NPC interaction should it succeed. Now, granted, this sort of system would increase the resources required to make a new companion exponentially, especially if you wanted to start influencing their growth in a branching tree from an early state. However, I'm under the impression at this point that every line in this game is explicitly not going to be voice acted, meaning most of these resources would be spent on writing in addition to a little simple--if tedious game logic code. Text is the most cost-efficient asset for producing actual game content available, so if we're assuming most NPC interactions will be purely text, we can safely assume that we can have a lot of NPC interactions. Though this assumption might be naive, I would think that we would have enough to adequately support a system like this. If something like that is too high-scope, though, I'd like at the very least something along the lines of New Vegas' system as mentioned above. That being said, I'd like companion quests to be a little more obvious. I ended up having to use a guide to reach the end of most of my party members' quest lines because the events were so rare.
  8. I'm not necessarily trying to argue that there's absolutely no merit in Vancian magic, if that's what it seems like then that's my bad. I've just never liked the sort of gameplay that Vancian magic often promotes in games I've used it.
  9. [Apologies if this topic should be posted elsewhere, this was the best place I could think of for it.] I've been noticing a rather disturbing trend on this forum as of late when it comes to discussions on Project Eternity, and I figure somebody should probably bring it up. Now, I understand we all care very deeply about the success of this project and a lot of us are expecting Project Eternity to be the grand glorious return to the golden age of yore. However, a lot of people have very different and often conflicting ideas on what will make this project successful, as is obvious in the long threads about particularly controversial topics like resting, experience gain and such. While this is okay and in fact a good thing, how these conflicting ideas are being discussed a lot of the time is becoming problematic. Again, I understand that we're all very passionate about this project, and it's natural for that passion to be expressed through what we want in the game or what we think it needs, but we're going overboard and it's derailing legitimate discussion. I'm seeing civil and legitimate debates and discussions turned into really petty internet arguments where it's just a back and forth between two or more dudes trying to prove the other party 'wrong' without trying to see the issue from the other perspective. It gains the thread plenty of attention but all the new opinions and perspectives it brings in are swept away by the constant mile-long multi-quote posts that often just boil down to "Once again, sir, you're the jerk." Now I know anyone who's doing this is only doing it because they care so much about the project, but I'd like to contend that this behavior does more harm than good when a discussion thread degenerates into this state because the communication is no longer efficient or productive. We're supposed to be the Glorious PC Master Race, are we not? If this is true, can we not rise above these petty squabbles for the sake of the community and the project? Can we stop treating our opponents as though they're knuckle-dragging morons because they have a dissenting opinion? Can we all accept that sometimes we may not necessarily be correct in our arguments or assumptions, and not be afraid to admit that? Can we stop ridiculing and ostracizing the man who wants this game to work with a gamepad, even if his reasons aren't necessarily the best and he doesn't necessarily realize the implications of making an interface work on a user experience level with both a keyboard/mouse and gamepad? Project Eternity's got a veteran design team, and they're not going to listen to any arguments that were shouted the loudest, nor are they even going to listen to what arguments are proven right in discussion. They know what they're doing, and they're going to rigorously prototype and playtest every argument they can in the most efficient manner possible before any community suggestions that are beyond 'three days of work to implement vanity feature' are integrated into the design of the game at large. This means we don't have to worry about 'my' Project Eternity being hijacked by some huckster trying to sell everyone on x feature, because debate and discussion means squat when put next to hard playtesting data. The real purpose of these discussions is to bring as many perspectives and ideas to the table as possible for the design team to synthesize while allowing them to get a general idea of what this small slice of the fanbase wants, as hopefully a sample group for the rest of those who kickstarted the project. I believe these arguments getting out of hand muddles that valuable data. I don't know, maybe I'm just new here and I'm seeing patterns that aren't there or this is something that's just part of the culture around here and that's just something to accept. If that's the case, feel free to just let this thread die. But if anyone else thinks what I'm saying here has merit, can we start trying to make a better effort towards respecting each-other and and keeping discussions on track? Thank you.
  10. I'd like to bring up New Vegas' prolific list of hair and facial hair options, all majestic and complete with ridiculous names.
  11. Vancian system does't do anything of that. It's encounter balance, enemy numbers and how reconnaissance is handled in game which affects player's knowledge of how he should fill the slots. Even then, there is no problem whatsoever in creating a multipurposed set of spells. Noone forces you to memorise three fireballs, when you can memorise Fireball, Haste and Dispel Magic instead. Actually, that *is* a whole point of strategy there - balancing a battle unit (and party is a battle unit) to be multi-purposeful and able to handle what game/DM throws at them. Which means making decisions, and either making everyone a generalist or using a bunch of specialists. And it is an interesting strategic game in itself when playing a spellcaster - to create your own set of spells to match any scenario. If you just end up creating your own set of spells to make yourself useful in any situation, then why is Vancian magic being used in the first place when you could just build that set of spells as a sorcerer or something? The theory behind why it's better than just having some spells that you can cast whenever is it gives you a bigger toolbox to solve problems with, but when your response when faced with not being able to forsee a specialized problem happening is to limit the toolbox to a safe standby loadout, what's the point? This is a belief I've held for years, thank you. I accepted it when I was young because I figured "Hey D&D's supposed to be the best game I guess." Then I played lots and lots of other games with lots and lots of other magic systems, and I can say with confidence that aside from sorcery in Exalted, Vancian magic is the most clunky, obtuse and un-fun magic system I've ever personally experienced. You're arguing that other sections of the game are failing and making Vancian magic not work but you're neglecting the fact that these are sections of the game that need to work only because Vancian magic exists. "It doesn't work because encounters aren't balanced with regards to Vancian magic." Do you think it's a small task or a necessary one to balance any encounter against one or more characters having access to any possible combination of roughly half the spells in the entire game? The truth is a lot of these things the game is failing to deliver on would be non-issues with a different form of magic that would be much easier to design around. The designer can build encounters towards you having a specific rough range of spells that he can assume you have access to within specific parameters because you don't have to sleep to regain them, and doesn't have to instead telegraph every encounter to you in advance in detail so you can build your specialized set of spells.
  12. I personally despise Vancian magic for being un-intuitive, unsatisfying, and requiring heavy amounts of bookkeeping, but most of all I despise it because Vancian magic demands the player make choices about their abilities for situations they have little to no information of. A choice that isn't informed in a game isn't a choice and it isn't fun or satisfying, it's just annoying. Vancian magic explicitly punishes players for not knowing what the game is going to throw at them in a given dungeon or on a given adventure where unless they're reloading a save or using a guide they shouldn't know exactly what the game is going to throw at them. This makes Vancian magic even more of a problem in pen & paper RPGs, but I still find it really annoying in cRPGs for how its power usually scales and the kind of gameplay it generally encourages. As a 5th level mage in Planescape: Torment I've stabbed a good 200 times, and cast a good 10 spells tops. I'm not a mage, I'm a walking corpse with a knife that sparkles in a funny way every so often.
  13. I've always loved the idea of crafting systems in RPGs, but never really the implementation. There are a scant few games I could name where I actually enjoyed and was engaged with the crafting system. I'm less concerned with what it makes and more concerned with how it's made. People keep mentioning New Vegas, and though I'll admit I never bothered with ammunition crafting, as much as I love New Vegas its crafting system is the exact sort of crafting system I despise in games. I hate crafting systems that involve you having to hunt for pages upon pages of unique components and reagents that clutter your inventory and would otherwise be vendor trash and never knowing what you should actually keep because it's important or trash because it's just cluttering up your inventory and you can't make anything useful out of it. 9/10 times I went to the crafting bench in that game I realized I didn't have the components for what I wanted to make and would have to make a mental note to keep an eye out for it later, when really I wanted to be able to make that thing when I was at the base in the first place. Most of the time I just up and forgot about whatever I was looking for. Supplies for tanning gecko hides, as one example: I'd go hours at a time with gecko hides I couldn't tan because I couldn't find turpentine or horsenettles, and I believe there's still untanned gecko hides in my inventory after I finished the game. Does it impact my experience really? No, but those are gecko hides I never made profit on because I was waiting to double their whopping 10-cap-or-so value by gathering the crafting supplies that never materialized. I actually really enjoyed the crafting system in KOTOR II, personally. For its time it was quite simple and streamlined and I was genuinely engaged making mods and equipment and such for my party, especially building my own lightsaber. It's unfortunate, because all the numbers are pretty broken and so crafting numbers are broken too and even if you make really cool stuff it ends up not really mattering because you're going to be an unkillable planet-slayer up until endgame no matter what you're doing in KOTOR II, so some more stacked overpowered stuff on top of that doesn't make a lot of difference. But with KOTOR II I could get rid of stuff I didn't want in my inventory cleanly and efficiently and recycle it directly into making stuff I did want, like sweet armor inlays for all my jedi robes that buffed CON and gave HP regen, and in general I just really liked the designs for a lot of the equipment mods, how many of them weren't necessarily upgrades so much as side-grades and were mostly dependent on what you were looking for. It just never ended up shining through because the combat balance in general in that game was super wonky. In my experience, crafting systems in games have one or more of the following issues: Arbitrary: Crafting doesn't do much or is mostly used for economic purposes. Nothing you can make is better than what you're finding just playing the game normally at your current level. Arcane: Crafting is stupidly complicated to make anything useful and requires you invest a massive chunk of time to get anything good out of it while not being fun. Resource Management: The game features 50+ unique ingredients for making things, all of them having no other purpose but vendor trash while never being easy to find when you really need them to make something. This becomes especially bad when the game has encumbrance. I actually happen to be exploring the issue of crafting systems in a personal project I'm working on right now as both a design experiment and an opportunity to learn more Unity and Scaleform. I'm trying to build a crafting system that is engaging and intuitive enough in its dynamics that it can carry a game on its own. It may work out, it may not, but I suspect I'll learn a lot in the process regardless.
  14. Because it was the name I came up with at 6 AM after finishing Dishonored and I thought it was a nice name at the time before I'd actually written my post. If you take offense to this name I apologize.
  15. Second, I recognize that the primary people who care about a rogue's backstab/sneak attack are going to be people who play those characters. Other people, who tend to play other classes as their primary characters, likely won't feel too strongly about it simply because they normally don't benefit a whole lot from the sneak attack ability anyhow. They probably mostly control their own character and casters in combat, and find it tedious to position a rogue to maximize their damage output. That's fine.** I think you should be able to make your rogue the way you think he/she ought to be. I am all for being able to CHOOSE for your rogue not to have backstab/sneak attack. Perhaps make all the "rogue-like" skills be selected as feats first before they can be advanced. Create a formula to determine how many starting feats a character gets, and let them completely customize their rogue experience. In this case, everyone wins. With a finite number of feats, you could make tradeoffs to make your rogue less rogue-esque, and select non-rogue specific feats that draw you closer to another class. Not interested in the stealth/sneaking/sneak attack? Great, don't select those feats, and you can instead select martial weapons and medium armor. Now you have a second-class fighter who can pick locks and disable traps. I'm alright with this sort of system. I'm NOT ok with a system in which I get pigeonholed into someone else's idea of what a rogue should be. Give me Options or give me death. While options are good, unless we're going to make rogues a straight jack-of-all trades class they need to have a core mechanical focus, otherwise things start getting wobbly really quickly. I'd argue that this is part of the problem, as the original D&D rogue can apply to so many different roles and so many different characters because of its vague definitions and lack of focus in the design. I'm in favor of the rogue having a foundational mechanical focus and I'm in favor of that focus explicitly not being combat, but instead being utility. That being said, it's not viable to just make a class that's no good in a fight, so of course rogues have to maintain some level of combat ability, but it seems in most cRPGs this is the rogue's mechanical focus. This is problematic because this usually becomes expressed as one of two archetypal rogues: The flip-out-and-kill-people ninja with crazy powers that let them teleport and vanish in the middle of a fight and all kinds of other shenanigans, and the plotty-planny-knifey rogue that while more believable I have never seen a genuinely immediately engaging and intuitive implementation for. Though you do have a point about who's going to play it. I'm playing whoever will make the most optimal diplomat, and that likely won't be the rogue. So I'm not going to sit here and argue about something I'm not gonna' use if other people who will use it very adamantly want it one way. I mostly just wanted to bring up the thought that perhaps the combat role of the rogue needs to be re-examined.
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