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Well, I realized a simple thing when I was reading another thing: whenever you manipulate someone to get stuff done, you only get to fool the punck clock worker, the random mook or the drunk idiot down the street. Even if you get to lie to a real villain, main or not, it never get very far. The story won't evolve according to your gambits. As far as I know, everyone know choices and conséquences as they're provided in games like, say, Alpha Protocol, but what if they were more subtle? For example, let's say a recurring side quest involves the party tracking down a serial killer. He's smart, cunning, arrogant and like to troll the bejesus out of them. Now, go for the direct approach and you will only finally catch him with a huge body count, if you get him at all. But play with his expectations, find out about his personality, select the answers that are the most likely to make him react the way you want, and suddenly, he's less efficient at his job. His murders become sloppy, the pleasure he get for dominating his adversaries crumble, afraid he is to get caught by the likes of you. And finally, once he feels like your breath is down his neck, he does a huge mistake, maybe allowing you to devise a cool enough plan to get him with the hand in the cookie jar, if we admit we need to get proofs). That's the kind of mighty satisfying quests I'm expecting from such a smart game as Project: Eternity. Maybe it's too late to design quests But I think I got a good point. Players don't just want to act smart, they want their smartness to get results. As cool as the Silas quest was in New Vegas, the only thing a player had to do to manipulate Frumentarius Douchebag was to click on the line with a big fat [iNTELLIGENCE 8] written right before it. It was satisfying, but only as a watcher, not as a player. The only equivalent I can think of is getting so much under Marburg's skin in AP, he drops his cool to have a chance to get Thor(n)ton.
So after debating a similar issues on another topic, I thought I would bring this here. I am curious what people think, even though I know we wont have "fixed morality" in this game like previous IE titles.
One common bug-bear of mine in PC games (not just cRPGs) is how picking the Good/Correct options always leads to good rewards. Sometimes, the reward in terms of XP or loot is even better than that where one takes the selfish/evil route. Is it possible for certain quests (where it makes sense and fits in with the lore), where choosing the Good/Correct action leads to significant loss to the PC. Good actions are supposed to be selfless ones where the PC makes great personal sacrifices for the common/greater good. However, most fantasy games/novels don't really reflect the gravity of such actions or sacrifices. An example: A number of villagers in a remote village has be afflicted by a strange illness. No one knows its' method of transmission. All they know is that it causes a painful death in a few days. These villagers have been quarantined and are awaiting death. There are a a few that have survived the disease but they are terribly weakened by the disease. One of them is the doctor at the outskirt of the quarrantine area. After talking to him, the PC discovers that there is a possible cure but he must risk his own life to enter the village as the cure requires a sample of boils on the villagers. Doing this noble task should (realistically): 1. Increase one's fame (slightly) and strengthen one's soul; but... 2. Such a selfless act is not without its' consequences. Depending on the PC's resistance and constitution a random roll can be made. Effects could include: (a) Permanent loss of constitution as the PC is sickly for a large duration of the game; (b) Temporary loss of constituion but PC recovers slowely over the course of the game; © Permanent loss of charisma as the PC is disfigured whilst fighting of the disease... The main idea is for the Good/Correct choice to carry some adverse consequences. Just like in real life, being selfless and noble may be good for everyone else, it may not be the best choice for the PC. The PC's companions should also weigh in on his decision. Would they follow him into the village or sit this one out?
This was originally a response to the thread of "Urgency: please have it" (link: http://forums.obsidian.net/topic/60235-urgency-please-have-it/), but it went into a whole 'nother direction, so I choose to make a topic of my own to potentially discuss it. So keep that in mind as it starts out with the 'urgency' topic and then moves on. Mmk? :D Honestly, I like urgency. I somewhat loathed Skyrim (for example) for not being urgent: you're the chosen one, you have to save a world from impending doom. So if I choose instead to join 10.000 guilds and do even more 'find my lost jewelry' quests, why hasn't doom impended yet? What did the evil dragon of evil do all day? Sit on his arse? Some doombringer... So urgency would be a 'must' for me, if the story lends to it, which I very much support (as opposed to 'here, go play in this sandbox world!')... On a related note: consequences when you're not urgent could potentially be very interesting, and if they choose to not railroad/script the consequences (i.e. make the consequences specific to the missed quest, for example, instead of making it an unchanging part of the main plot), or instant-game-over it, could lend to a lot of replayability. E.g.: Well crap! The village you were supposed to go to, to save from the Evil Bastard, has vanished from the map (apparently he did his Evil Bastardly job well without waiting for you to show up to thwart him) because you loitered around too long somewhere else... Incidentally, you weren't around to find out the next step in his master plan. Now how do we further the plot? What's his next step? How do we find out the next step of his master plan? How cool would that be? It could potentially involve a whole new gameplay mechanic of chasing down leads and investigating, setting up an intel network across several cities, etc etc. This could make the possibility of parallel missions interesting as well: instead of the Mass Effect 2 style of 'here are 9 missions you can do in any order you like! With no consequences if you choose 1 instead of the other, YAY!', you can have 2 or 3 missions that can happen at the same time, but you can only choose to chase down 1 lead, choose to do 1 mission (which you may or may not find out after the mission is over; as in: hmmm, let's do the investigatory mission first before going to the village where Evil Bastard has been spotted --> Well crap, apparently the Evil Bastard destroyed the village, but at least I found a piece of vital information that might come in handy later, or that unlocks some other important mission; and vice versa, of course: let's go save the village --> you have saved the village, but at the expense of some vital piece of info). Again, it leads to replayability. That could take a lot of work, granted, but hey, that's what additional stretch goals, or possibly mods, can be for, right? ;p (no offense to game makers if that comment is just plain wrong, though... O_o) So... Ideas? -Tim