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Iron_JG

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About Iron_JG

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  1. I thought I'd add my recommendations: Durability: I think you need to cater to player psychology here. The combination of durability and crafting are, so far, perceived as avoiding a penalty rather than gaining a bonus. Players hate being penalized, but all are more likely to tolerate not getting a bonus, even if the numerical impact is the same. I'd prefer crafting went to craft whetstones or otherwise went to buff gear rather than maintain it. It's a silly sleight of hand, but it works. Given that durability seems to be a mechanic not exploitable in combat, and it ultimately bottoms out at usable but not optimized equipment, I would rework it so that the skill maintains "masterwork" status or something similar on equipment. Again, players can be simple-minded. Living without a buff is vastly more tolerable than accepting a penalty. Strongly implied in this is that I think durability shouldn't have a large impact one way or another. I also think you've not created an interesting gold sink -- and until you make an interesting gold sink, you haven't *really* solved the problem of too much gold, have you? Crafting: Inventory management and ease-of-use are key here. Crafting components should automatically sort themselves into crafting satchels or something similar, and, having no weight (like all other items, as I understand it), should be things the party can carry at all times. It also needs to be as simple as possible to know how close you are to having enough components to make something. The best items in the game should exist in the world and not be craft-able. These are your artifacts, your legendary treasures with rich lore and custom appearances that the player should highly covet. Letting players replicate them makes them mundane. I think crafting should enable all item/play styles to be viable, but not equal. A flaw in BG2, IMO, was that +3 long swords were incredibly common while other weapons were not (especially since +3 weapons were required to damage certain nasty enemies). Crafting should enable diverse gear profiles. A counter-point is, "Well, why still leave some builds reliant on mid-quality craft-ables? That's just soothing their second-class status." That's a point. But, if you're going to have a few items that really deliver that "uber" quality, you have to make them actually superior. How exciting is Carsomyr, considering how few +5 weapons were in original SOA? My one addendum is that best-in-slot items could be craft-able for secondary item types, especially ones not visible on the character. These are good targets for letting the player create idiosyncratic items that round out their builds. I also wouldn't mind unique components that added bonuses and 'flavor' to basic items. In this case, I think it should add a unique appearance or effect to the item it modifies, much like legendary armor/weapons should have unique appearances. As far as the concern of one character becoming a "crafting mule" so to speak, why not allow characters to only have one craft skill? Or force specializations to force the party to divide recipes? Both of those sound at least marginally more interesting than durability. For crafting consumables, I'm ambivalent. As to gold sinks: As I said above, if you're not giving the player interesting things to spend their gold on, you're not really solving the problem of them having too much gold. I think there should be a few uber purchasable items later in the game to suck up money -- you could make this more interesting to the player by making them have to earn access to the merchant somehow. You could also make in-game events that eat up money. Stronghold investment is one option. Finding specialized class trainers is another. Hiring mercenaries, bribing guards, and the like also wouldn't be bad. So many things would be more interesting than durability -- even buying vanity unlockables like hair styles or non-combat pets, while silly, would still be more interesting. Lastly, about the player having too much gold: I think that's something kind of desirable at end game. Mr. Sawyer said players have complained about that. I don't doubt him. But I'd ask: how strongly did they really complain about it? Is the cure worse than the (very mild) disease here? No player will think a game is perfect -- you'll never 100 % satisfy anyone with anything. But if you get them to 90 % or higher, I think most will still tip their hats to you.
  2. @Sarex Reactivity and banter are part of character depth -- I'm not sure why you assumed I was not including those. If your definition of depth wasn't including those, then it seems to me there'd be little basis on which the player could form an opinion on the character. If their back stories or side quests were the only things a player had to judge them by, if they didn't appreciate the character, they could simply ignore that content (as most games let you do). If that's how you see things working out, then basically the companions, however many there are, fall into a "Hall of Adventurers Plus" category that, it seems to me, poses little risk of annoying/turning off the player. Reactivity and banter strike me as much harder to ignore -- they're throughout the game and automatically triggered in many cases...
  3. How the "intelligence" stat was handled was one of many flaws within 2nd Edition. To address the broader point, I think every stat should have *some* value to all characters. Third edition did a much better job of this. Even fighters could really benefit from extra wisdom or charisma. It'd be cool for PE to keep this up, allowing experimentation with more diverse builds.
  4. @Sarex The analogy is perfect. If a newspaper has stories only consisting of one headline and one sentence, think of all the space it would have for more stories. By your logic, people would find that publication more fulfilling than one that has fewer, more detailed stories. That's not the case for most people. Again, a certain degree of content is needed to make the audience engage. Do you spend a lot of time reflecting over the quality time you spent with a Diablo 2 hireling? Or a pre-built toon from IWD? Is one of your favorite characters from a book or movie or whatever really one that had little dialogue or character development? I acknowledge they could add a few more characters and preserve an average level of interactivity, but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt that nine is the magic number for an above-average experience, which should be the goal. You keep saying we need to "like" party members. I and other posters have tried to explain that is a simplistic word. I would also add that it takes depth for your assessment of a character to evolve; and that evolution is often rewarding. As to "forcing" characters on a player, that same logic can be applied to any NPC in the game. When you step into an author's world, you tacitly accept playing in their sandbox. Is making a few detailed characters more of a gamble than making a bunch of superficial characters? Sure. But they're rolling those dice to make a more memorable experience. If it takes them nine characters to give you three you connect with, isn't that more valuable than twice as many characters only half as interesting? NWN2 OC v. MOTB comes to mind... As to your "RPG needing deep companions" point, I'd point out I said "story-heavy RPG." You can have a fun game with shallow characters, but a good story is less likely. The genre bears this out. BG2, KOTOR, NWN, ME and DA all are vastly more memorable and meaningful than Elder Scrolls and similar games. I say that as someone who put more than 100 hours into both Oblivion and Skyrim, along with who knows how many hours into Diablo, Torchlight, etc. Btw, was depth of characters not an expectation you had coming into this game? It seems a pretty explicit design goal.
  5. Like the title says, what do you want to see in an expansion? What are your prescriptions for future narratives, new content, game play improvements and mechanic refinements? You may say we know too little about the base game to make these comments. But I say, so what? Speculate already, dammit. My prescriptions: -- Direct continuation of main PC's story arc, with as many original npcs as possible (some might get killed off, never know...) It frustrates me when we spend 30-40 hours building up a character and his followers only to start from scratch. I also like to explore unresolved issues from the original campaign. -- Subsequent to the above, I'd like to see the level cap raised, but I'd caution Obsidian to handle "epic" levels and villains cautiously. High level mechanics can quickly get silly, and it's often contrived and non-sensical for tons of high-level villains to pop up out of the ground as soon as the player is tough enough to handle them. There should also be a very plausible reason for why they've come out of the proverbial shadows. I also think any epic enemies or factions should be properly foreshadowed, and leave the player with a powerful sense of foreboding. When the player meets them, they should say "Oh crap, I can't believe I'm expected to fight these guys" instead of "Lawl, these godspawn are teh nooblets." -- Add features that can be enjoyed throughout the entire game. This could be new talents and skills, new items (not always powerful, but interesting), new portraits, new voice work, new animations and models, new side dungeons and so on. While the new campaign should be a focus, it would be nice to see the whole experience upgraded. More party members would also be cool, but I realize that's a major resource commitment. I would recommend that, if one is created, they are usable throughout the OC. I thought Sarevok in TOB, for instance, was a cool concept, but I think the player seldom wanted to play all of SOA an NPC short or abandon another companion they'd heavily invested in. Weaving a whole new character into the main game is a major commitment, but, hey, go big or go home. Lastly, another open question, more than a prescription: How much should Obsidian reopen or refine the OC in an expansion? Any cRPG can always have more interactivity, more dialogue, more quests and more options. This has the potential to raise "retconning" issues, however. What do you think? What are examples of games you thought would benefit from reopening/modifying the original game, and what would you have done to them?
  6. I like the idea of all characters being able to inflict status effects -- aside from the more "normal" effects described above, I'd wager some of the supernatural, soul-related talents Obsidian has teased will address this. Warriors often have stun, stagger, intimidation and similar effects, so I wouldn't be surprised if those made it in there. That kind of versatility would be really cool and diversify game play a lot. Personally, I'd like for defense-oriented characters to get 'riposte' or some sort of proc-based counter attack on melee opponents. I also think it would be cool for fighters or rogues to get a "hamper spell-casting" attack which, well, hampers spell-casting. It would be cool if these and other talents started out as fairly realistic techniques, but their development could branch off into normal or magical forms. A normal rogue might refine their anti-spell attacks to be usable more often in combat, while a magic-based rogue might be able to attack in such a way that spells damage the caster (in exchange for not being able to use the ability as often, or something similar). Still, the tricky part with these nuanced abilities is that they shouldn't function properly against certain creatures. Gigantic creatures or creatures with strange anatomies should be difficult/impossible to stun, knock down, stagger and so forth. While this degree of nuance would be cool, it could also lead the player to avoid taking abilities they know won't help them in really hard fights. Woe to the rogue who expects to trip a dragon, y'know? I'm not sure what Obsidian's comfort level is for abilities easily invalidated by monster diversity, which the game should have. One last thought: It will be important for these abilities to remain useful throughout the game as well. I think that means the numbers should scale in some way and/or there should consistently be enemies vulnerable to them. Percentage based penalties might be the way to go -- a knocked down fighter loses 30 percent of defense instead of -3 AC, or something.
  7. This is like saying a newspaper can be good if it nails the headlines and writes only one sentence per article. A certain degree of development is needed to make the audience engage. Who people "like" is a very subjective thing, and not always fulfilling anyway. A worthier goal is to make characters worth engaging with, characters that contain layers worth peeling back and understanding. There are many party members in various games with personalities and motives I dislike. But working through that conflict is interesting and entertaining. If Obsidian makes a slew of superficial characters rather than a few deep ones, I'm sure that, yes, they'd have a higher success rate with favorable first impressions. But focusing on a few characters instead makes it likely something interesting will happen after their one-liners. Would I like to see more than nine? Of course. But a story-heavy RPG needs quality characters to succeed, and I have to trust they've settled on the right number for that success.
  8. I'm agnostic on whether there should be a lot of loot or not. There needs to enough loot to give diverse and cool itemization options, and a sense that you've thoroughly ransacked a dungeon with a valuable haul. This is something that takes play-testing to perfect, methinks, so time will tell if PE gets it right. However, if PE does decide to have a lot of loot, make it easy to pick up and sort. I don't subscribe to the theory that tedium should be a trade-off for thorough looting. In general, if a system is tedious or the player can easily make it tedious, it should probably be adjusted to make it not tedious. Some people might say, "Oh, hoarders deserve it for being so greedy," but the goal of the game is to be as much fun for as many people as possible. Superfluous loot should be scaled back before players are allowed/forced to waste a lot of time looting. That's kind of saying save the player from himself, and, well, it is. Find room in your heart for mercy!
  9. Following update 57, which offered much appreciated insight into Obsidian's design process, I wanted to ask a story implementation question. Basically, how do you make the ending not suck? My sense is you plan the whole story from beginning to end before doing any major level/encounter design, suggesting you come up with a fully realized ending or endings, at least on paper. I would imagine this is standard for most games, and yet designers still sometimes wuss out on implementing a good ending. I realize 'good' is a vague term, but I'm sure many people here could name endings that felt contrived and very abrupt compared to the depth of the rest of the game. My understanding is that most gamers do not make it all the way to the end of many games they play, meaning it makes a degree of business sense to cut back on the endgame first, since fewer people will see it and, therefore, judge the game on it. But this is a horrible thing to do if you expect a game to have any staying power or replayability with a customer base. It can be hard to start a game if you know it leads somewhere disappointing. Not to scratch at old wounds, but I can't bring myself to play Mass Effect anymore after the original ending to ME3. Bad endings burn out good fans. So, I'd be curious if Obsidian wants to address how it approaches designing the end of the game. Part of this includes: -- How fully written out is the ending before it goes to production? If the production gurus say the writers' preferred ending is too resource intensive to implement, do other parts of the overall narrative (like side quests) get scaled back to preserve a consistent quality throughout the main story arc? Can this occur midway through the production process, shelving non-vital content for follow-up releases to protect the main content? -- What experience do you have with games whose endings have not worked out, or almost didn't work out? Can you give us examples, and what you learned from them? -- Related to those games, how does fan reception of the ending influence decisions to expand the game in direct add-ons to the main story line and characters (your traditional expansion pack, like TOB) or to veer off in an unrelated, spin-off adventure? (BTW, I hate unrelated spin-off adventures.) To be perfectly clear, I'm not conflating "good" endings and "happy" endings. My concern is that the ending, whatever its tone and outcome, is well paced, fully realized, and meaningful. A well-executed tragic ending is vastly more satisfying than a half-assed happy ending. It should also leave some questions to mystery, so it's worth reflecting on and (hopefully) provides opening for future content.
  10. Absolutely yes to the OP. Distinct profiles save a lot of hassle, and they are a MAJOR comfort as you try to juggle multiple characters. This can't be hard to implement, every game should have it.
  11. Like others, I would rather have a few interesting, dynamic companions than a lot of boring ones. But more companions allow more class combinations and play styles. I would hope Obsidian makes it easy to respec companions and/or diversify their class roles. Dragon Age 2, which I liked overall, is an example of what not to do. Don't lock us out of certain builds and itemizations. Sooner or later, the player is going to want the make the support mage companion a nuker, or the melee assassin a sniper, or the tank an all-out berserker. At some point, the player is willing to overlook any narrative inconsistency that causes, and you should allow them to do so. Note that I'm not calling for you to let people reassign party members' classes, just let them decide their role to the extent the class allows. Multi-classing would be cool, honestly, but I understand PE isn't going that route.
  12. These are exceptionally cool and look awesome. However, given that screenshots have leaked, obviously there's no point in trying to keep secrets anymore and you should just release a crapload more information, screens and videos. You may respond this makes no sense. I don't care, do eet anyway!
  13. To add my two cents, I think we're trying to differentiate here, more or less, between sociopathy and sadism. That is to say, indifference towards others' suffering and actively trying to create it. The issue is that game developers, in creating an 'evil' path for characters, struggle to really differentiate the two. Machiavellian behavior, or doing whatever is necessary/effective to achieve a goal or personal power, is generally held as the more 'sensible' form of evil, and one that is still relatively easy to build a story around. But sometimes people do want to see other people suffer, either through verbal or physical abuse, and expecting this to be in a role-playing game totally isn't unrealistic or 'juvenile' by definition. Sometimes people do go out of their way to be cruel, even if it offsets gains they would make from amoral or immoral actions. A merciless warlord wouldn't balk at killing women and children of an enemy village, for instance. But a truly cruel, sadistic one would drag the process out and terrorize them in various ways, even though there is no material gain from doing so. Sadistic behavior then, is hard to write around because yes, it is somewhat illogical. But I think it has a place in the moral spectrum of characters we should be able to play -- I say this as someone who can't bear to play evil characters, btw. I think what most people are really complaining about is designers simply don't spend as much time and energy making it work as they do good options. Most RPGs clearly show this -- there are more good or neutral characters, heroic story lines are more common with better rewards, etc. This is detrimental to RPGs story lines, however, because good choices are more meaningful when they are clearly selected out of amoral or immoral choices. 'Evil' choices should be well developed and invested in. Some bullet point recommendations, then: -- Don't be lazy with dialogue -- aggressive does not equal evil! Many good guys can be ****, while many villains can be shrewdly diplomatic and conniving. Dialogue has to permit that degree of nuance. -- Differentiate between ruthless and sadistic behaviors. Most villains tend to just be ruthless, particularly thieves, assassins and despots. There should also be enough choice within each category of behaviors to let the player feel like they can draw the line at how evil a character is -- at least for major quests. -- Try to make 'evil' choices creative, poetic and memorable. This allows us to play truly memorable, truly loathsome villains rather than schoolyard bullies. Don't try to let us kick every puppy and backstab every poor old lady. Ask the player to play a somewhat restrained character and to accept some narrative constraints in exchange for really poignant choices where it counts. Suppose you're tasked with stealing sensitive documents (say, investigations into smuggling) from a magistrate. A 'standard' villain would take the most direct route to the documents, killing guards along the way as needed, and turn them in for an easy reward. A more interesting response would be to use his effects of office, referencing the documents, to alter the schedule of his guards' raid into the smugglers' compound so they raided it at peak hours of operation, causing a bloody riot that would make it easier to rob nearby warehouses. (The trade-off being the smugglers, being drawn into a bloody confrontation, don't reward you as if the job had gone as planned.) The cruel response here could be to insure the magistrate's son is personally leading the ill-timed raid. Maybe still a contrived example, but you get the idea. -- Make the rewards for good and evil play throughs balance out over the long, rather than short, term. It constrains quest options when the good/evil solutions must guarantee comparable rewards upon completion. I would rather one option be more lucrative than the other for most quests, provided they ultimately balanced out. Good and evil actions rarely balance out in value IRL, but this is a game and diverse play styles and character types should be encouraged.
  14. Two additional topics to follow up on my post: As to the number of summons allowed and duration: I think every summon-capable class should have a "summoning budget" which should be a simple calculation based on their caster level and the level of the summon. Let's say spells are broken into nine levels, like D&D, and, for ease of use, let's say casters can get up to level 20. Each spell could cost a portion of the budget to maintain based on its spell level. Let's say it's 1.5 times the spell level, and the caster's spell budget goes up by one per level. That would mean a caster at level 17 (the minimum for 9th level spells, IIRC) could have one 9th level summon and five budget points left to spend on lesser summons. The numbers could be tweaked, of course, but I think this gives a good trade-off between summon quantity and quality. For summons where a "battle of wills" has to occur, I think the option should be selected at casting as to control the summon loosely or completely. Loose control doesn't add to the base spell level. But complete control could add three points to the spell's 'budget level.' This would mean an 18th level caster could fully control one 9th level summon but not summon anything else -- with the benefit of being able to use all the creature's abilities and make it fight to the death if desired. Or the caster could have complete control over three summons of 3rd level, or whatever combo you prefer. Feats to increase the caster's base budget would be obvious/easy to offer. For simplicity's sake, I say don't impose a strict duration on any summon. For summons naturally occurring in an environment, I'd say they should generally not stray far from their environment. Creatures from another plane, however, should follow you for a day or less, forcing you to rest and recast the spell. To free up points in the summoning budget, I'd like wizards in particular to have two options: release (which would be standard for all summons) or return to home plane. Releasing a summon means exactly what it says -- it can stay, leave the fight, turn on the caster or whatever. It could be done instantly. Returning it to its home plane would also do exactly what it says, but take a significant amount of time (in combat, that is) to do. The upside is the caster would face no reprisals. Bonus points if the caster has to release/return the summon before it dies, or take damage. Just to spice things up. My last thoughts are on AI: To build on all this attention put into whether a summon is naturally occurring or not, I'd like intelligent enemies to be able to recognize whether creatures suggest the party's presence. For instance, a druid sending a wolf after some bandits might not tip them off that the party is present. But a wizard sending an extraplanar fire toad at them would be a dead give away, and the bandits would defeat the toad while preparing for a larger battle -- conserving their best spells, casting buffs, repositioning, etc. It shouldn't be a given that summons will immediately soak up an enemy's deadliest attacks. Bonus points if they focus on fire resistance buffs or otherwise respond specifically to the kind of summon used against them. This would offer a cool 'fake-out' option where an ice mage could use a wimpy fire summon and then freeze the fools solid. More bonus points if enemy casters, especially ciphers, can mind control the summon and then know exactly where the party is and go after them. I release all of this got convoluted -- hope the devs find something useful in it, lol.
  15. People here are describing a lot of good considerations for summoning, but I think we need to back up a second. I don't think anyone should try to set ground rules for summoning until it's clearly defined what creatures naturally exist in the world, and what their characteristics are. That might sound obvious, but I think it's a vital starting point that shouldn't be obscured. The world (and accompanying planes of existence) should be well established before we decide how 'cameo appearances,' so to speak, are handled. This establishes the cool characters and beasties that every kind of player should expect to interact with before we get to the question of how one subset of certain classes should interact with them. So, once the game is more holistically populated with cool, interesting entities, then I think we should approach who can summon them, and how. I think a guiding principle is that summoning spells should work different depending upon the likely relationship of the caster to the summon itself. I also think an important consideration needs to be: is the caster summoning a readily available entity to his/her side, or are they literally teleporting an entity in from another place/dimension? These considerations should factor into how willing and able the summon is to serve, as well as the overall power of the spell employed. These considerations will naturally inform the conditions (battle of wills) and duration of service. With this in mind, I think summoning should follow these guidelines along the classes: -- Druids and rangers generally can only summon naturally available creatures to aid them -- I don't think it's really in keeping with the theme of their magic to pluck alien lifeforms out from across continents or dimensions. In keeping with this, instead of a rigid "Summon Creature X" spell, I would prefer a summon spell present optional creatures from the setting to 'invite' to serve the caster. (I also think it shouldn't consume any resources to see what creatures are available before committing to casting the spell.) At higher levels (mainly for druids), this would present the option of summoning certain nature spirits or elementals residing in the environment. Bonus points if they reflect unusual/unnatural environmental conditions. Example: a druid is traveling through the desolation of a recently erupted volcano. At low levels, the druid would not be able to detect/summon any thing left alive in the devastation. At high levels, he is able to sense a long-dormant earth elemental, and can summon it. It emerges as an ashen or even partially molten elemental, with blinding or burning effects added to its attacks. I think higher level druids should also exercise greater control over weaker summons, being able to better direct them and access more of their abilities. I think animal summons should also have a "flight or fight" reflex that strong druids could suppress. Suppose a druid summoned a gigantic bee in some surreal forest. At high levels, he should be able to compel the bee to use its powerful stinger at the cost of its life. Overall, the versatility of a druid's summons should be highly variable depending on where they are. A druid in a castle, for instance, should have almost no options, except maybe summoning a rat for scouting or (at high levels) a swarm of enraged vermin. But a druid in a forest should be like a hippie kid in an (all natural) candy store. -- I think priest summons should be mid- to high-level spells, reflecting their need, generally speaking, to teleport in a manifestation of their god's will. This represents not only the level of divine favor they've achieved, but the power to reach across the planes. I think these summons should be in line with the general nature of the god, suggesting the kinds of niches they can fill. Priests of Eothas, god of redemption, would logically be able to summon supporting/buffing summons, while priest of Magran, god of fire and war, would be able to summon powerful offensive spirits. I think priests should be able to summon undead, but it should be easier to summon naturally present spirits (from temples and crypts and the like) than to summon them from the afterlife. And, while the game doesn't have alignments per se, I think more malevolent deities' followers should be better able to compel spirits into unwilling service, while good deities' followers should be better able to exorcise/banish summons. Overall, I think the versatility of priest summons should be low, and centered around the deity they serve. The location of summoning spells, with the exception of holy/unholy places and places plentiful in spirits, would be of less consequence than for a druid. -- I think wizards should have the most summoning options (though not necessarily the most powerful summons!), reflecting their research into the occult and more extensive understanding of the planes. I'd personally go for the idea of them not being able to fully summon extra-planar entities at low levels, but instead could bind them into 'homunculi' or other approximations of their true forms. As a wizard becomes more powerful, lower level summons could come in fully powered (a way to provide some level scaling) but at the risk of losing control of them. But 'losing control' doesn't have to mean going indiscriminately berserk. It would be nice if even summons maintained faction checks, with demons more likely to attack any heavenly/benevolent spirits present over the party, as one example. The likelihood a summon would attack the party and/or flee could also depend on its morale or hit points -- a wizard who obviously treats the summon as a meat shield would deserve more reprisal. Bonus points if highly sentient, very powerful summons plot "revenge" against the party and later summon themselves to attack the caster! With wizards more subject to battles of will with summons than other casters, I think they should be the least-dependent on location for summons and have the most versatile summons. Bonus points if wizards can take "summoning contract" feats that improve their abilities to handle certain types of creatures. -- Ciphers and chanters, I think, should have very few summons, especially chanters. Ciphers I think should have access to illusory/phantasmal summons -- hallucinations really -- rather than any tangible summons. I also think they should rely more on mind control for fodder than summoning, per se. Chanters, I think, should only get access to 'heroic/villainous spirits' at very high levels, reflecting their ability to truly make legends 'come alive.' This would offer a great opportunity for shout-outs to in-game lore, a little reward for people that read all the books sitting around. I have a few other thoughts for another post, to break up the wall of text.
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