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Found 5 results

  1. This is weird. I feel like I'm violating some unspoken taboo here, so seldom do we see anyone--in the community, in the media, in the industry--talk about western RPGs and their Japanese cousins in the same breath. Anyway, I'm excited for Deadfire, and I'd like to discuss some very special JRPGs that I think could provide interesting and valuable examples for the overall design of Obsidian's impending epic. I hope you'll indulge me on this journey. First, a quick refresher on Deadfire's premise: In Deadfire, we'll be captaining a ship and exploring the Deadfire archipelago. There will be an active world map (similar to that of Fallout 1/2, or more recently Wasteland 2) for us to explore, discovering and visiting the islands we find in whichever order we want. Presumably this will allow for some nonlinear storytelling, as the narrative beats we encounter will depend on the order we visit each island. To use Lord of the Rings as an example, something like saving Theoden from Saruman's curse might be accomplished *before* meeting Elrond in Rivendell. That kind of thing. So, on to the JRPGs. Dragon Quest VII follows a similar premise--the story begins with you discovering a sailing ship and exploring a world that consists of many islands of varying sizes that have been isolated from one another for centuries. The over-arching story is pretty simple: long ago, the Almighty fought a pitched battle with the Demon King and was defeated. Your task is to travel to each island and save them from the Demon King's minions (there's also a big time travel element, where you go between past and future states of the world, but it's not relevant here) and eventually find and defeat the Demon King himself. But that's just at the macro level--each individual island has its own story that is very self-contained. These stories are never about the demon king, but rather the specific demons plaguing each islands, and the often tragic fates of the people living there. This makes the game feel more like a collection of loosely-related short stories than a novel. Each island offers a new, self-contained story with a new cast of characters. When you land on an island, you get a *new* story, and when you leave the island, that story is *resolved.* And this is an approach I hope Deadfire takes as well. I'm not saying we should *never* end up having quests that send us from island to island, but rather that I hope those quests are not the norm. Baldur's Gate II took a similar approach, making each region feel like a self-contained D&D module. Romancing SaGa is the other game I want to look at. To date, it remains the *best* example I have ever seen of non-linear storytelling (multiple protagonists, multiple story routes for each protagonist, and a persistent world where big events will happen even if the player isn't there to affect them). There's a whole heckuva lot I could say about it, but for now I'd like to focus on just one aspect: location. in Romancing Saga, there is a "world story" that plays out--various events happen in each of the major cities and nations at various times. If the player is present--at the right place, at the right time--he or she can participate. For example, City A could be attacked by pirates. If the player arrives in time, he or she could fight off the pirate attack, save the city, and be rewarded by the king; but if the player arrives too late, he or she could arrive to find the king missing and the city destroyed by fire. No, I'm not suggesting Deadfire try to make a persistent world narrative to the same degree--that's be waaaaaay too much work--but wouldn't it be interesting if the player's starting position were--at least to a degree--randomized? So that, for example, the first two or three islands the player discovers once he or she starts exploring the world aren't always the same two or three islands? Like, there could be a starting island to serve as the tutorial area to introduce to players to the setting, and have the initial narrative beats (where you acquire your own ship) and then once you leave, you could encounter a "storm" that deposits you to a random or semi-random part of the world-map (depending on how combat leveling/scaling works, I suppose). This starting island doesn't even have to be in the Deadfire--it could be a port city in the Dyrwood, as you make your hasty escape. Alright, one last game I want to point at: Total War Shogun 2. Also known as the last great Total War game (sigh). Don't worry, I'm almost done here. Specifically, I want to point out Shogun 2's world map: https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/896638219564697346/E49088D8C1C92ADC60ADCFAD370F1185EF660F9A/ That's the "fog of war." Rather than a simple black background indicating the "unexplored" regions of the map, they have a hand-drawn map. It's a really cool effect, no? And I'd love to see Deadfire go in a similar direction. Medieval and Renaissance maps are, well, really cool looking. Especially sea maps! It would be really cool to see something similar in Deadfire--an imaginative, hand-drawn map of the "world" that fades away to the "real" world map as you explore it. And, well, yeah. That's it. Those are three games I hope Obsidian takes some inspiration from. What about you? Have any games (aside from other, similar CRPGs) that you think could be valuable to look at going into a game like Deadfire? Before I leave, though, have some awesome old sea maps: http://public.media.smithsonianmag.com/legacy_blog/Whales-Olaus-38.3.jpg http://images.faena.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/07/hic-sunt-dracons-interior-2.jpg http://www.cvltnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/SeaMonsterCvanDuzer017.jpg http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-s04GCvW4O80/Ugf0g5w3zGI/AAAAAAAAI1g/sQpIwDR-LI0/s640/Sea+Monsters+(C+van+Duzer)+016.jpg https://img.purch.com/h/1000/aHR0cDovL3d3dy5saXZlc2NpZW5jZS5jb20vaW1hZ2VzL2kvMDAwLzA1Ni82MTAvb3JpZ2luYWwvc2VhLXNlcnBlbnQtYXR0YWNrcy1zaGlwLmpwZw==
  2. After years of silence in which I have played games casually while studying philosophy I think it is evident that some problems may be persitent or it may be, that what I think is problematic and a flaw in the design is not something the community or the designers feel urgent to correct and change. Many things can be said to strengthen such a view, but I will leave it at that. I will in the following make a comment to the combat system and how it handles the translation from program structure (mechanics or systems) to meaning for the player. Pillars of Eternity is a game I backed from the beginning and I played the beta a little while, but soon found that the game was a dissapointment. Beeing a game made by my childhood heros of sorts I did not give it much thought and was sure that in time things would come around and the game would ship in perfect order. Struggling to make a character with a historical depth due to my age mostly (39) I managed in the end to come up with a roleplaying idea of no small measure. I am playing an aged and tired Korgan Bloodaxe. Yes, the Dwarf from Baldur's Gate. A retired mercenary that no longer have the taste for blood and axes and just want to settle in a new land away from the problems of the world and the men and organizations that tend to hunt him for his past deeds. Korgan is now a greyhaired stoic and deceptive dwarf and he refuses to get involved in the world around him, but as the story goes, beeing a Watcher, he soon finds that one last involvement becomes a pressing matter. Before Korgan Bloodaxe, I played around with forty different avatars trying to get a sense of the mechanics and power of the different defenses, classes, weapons and so forth. This is probably due to my current studies and the fact that I have played games for over 20 years and is hard to please. I attend a master at a local university studying games. The only university in fact, that has such a program. I am from Denmark, Copenhagen and have a bachelor in philosophy. Design is all about creating structures that gives the player a good sense of depth and meaning. In games such as this one, structures should support and account for pyschological depth and philosphical thoroughness both formal and non-formal. What is a beeing you could ask? It does not matter whether such a beeing is an elf, dwarf or human. They can all be mercenaries and originate from the same region so all races should have a generic pychological potential and therefore be restricted, "controlled" (Foucault) and moved by the same cultural instituitions and phenomenons. The question of; what is a beeing, comes down to the question of; what we as humans are, since whatever races or other beeings we "construct" are mediated by the way we see ourselves and have seen ourselves throughout history. There is nothing else. Everything is first and foremost humanoid no matter what horrors or extraterrestial creatures we construct. A ghost is a memory, a horror is a nightmare and so forth. Nothing otherworldy can be created in reality and what is otherworldy to us, is only our way of making a thing obscure, secret and dramatic. This is the strength of art. In fantasy video games specifically, we can make a magic system and by so doing say something about the existence of Man in subtle ways. Combat I see a string of questions. The first one is whether it is possible to play Pillars of Eternity without a some way besides defenses of surpressing afflictions? I will see past difficulty. The normal difficulty should be the only difficulty in my opinion. Here the game should be perfect and should tell the story vivdly and make the right challenge appear at the right time all the time. Korgan Blood axe is a physical powerhouse of proportion. He has poor reflexes and not much brawl in him any longer. He is old and the passion for war and his fearful demeanor has all gone. Korgan is a troubled man now with countless of deaths on his conscience. He has super strength (21), super constituion (18), high dexterity (16) and high intelligence (16). Perception and resolve is rock bottom (this is how i translated and made him). As such, his reflex and will defense are poor, but his fortitude defense is extreme. He is basically a fighter made as if he was a barabarian (Berserker in his case). I looked forward to see how such an avatar, the famous Korgan Bloodaxe would fare in-game and I was stunned.. Example 1 Ghouls (weakness) Korgan fights a single ghoul and is almost killed. How is this possible? Well the ghoul has a high attack speed and can reaaply the weakness affliction permanently. Korgan hits the ghoul 4-5 times and it dies, but Korgan is hit maybe 10-12 times and looses 100 health and almost goes down. Is Korgan tough? Do I feel a sense of power as the player playing him? I most certainly do not. The entire battle gives me sense of a flawed combat system and Korgan Bloodaxe is nowhere to be found. Example 2 Mushroom cave (prone) So I venture into the cave to collect mushroom samples for a cure. Three sentient mushrooms attack. Korgan is surrounded, but a battleworn mercenary like Korgan will surely just dispose of theese neutral enemies defending there mother hen. Korgan is prone. Korgan is down. A flawed combat system? The combat system does not commute to the player how things should and would be in real battle, but tries to uphold a structure or mechanic. This is a serious issue. A mechanic should serve an intellectual purpose or meaning and never rule. If the combat system begins to repair itself just so it can exist, then the combat system is flawed (Nietzsche). It should not be possible to knock a character like Korgan on his heels and then pound him to grinded meat with 6 attacks dealing +15 damage. Korgan has ONE defense and my entire roleplaying idea hinges upon this defense. When both a ghoul with indefinte weakness apllication and a few sentient mushrooms just pummels him to dust, something is wrong. The problem can be corrected. To make apparent my point and not to give technical recommendations, it is done by resolving how afflictions work in relation to GRAZES. A graze should not be able to knock Korgan out for 3 seconds! This is contraintuitive, it kills the mood and the battle realism. My story crumbles and I am lead to believe that this game can not be played without a priest or by drinking potions. Hence I reload and begin with the spell "suppress affliction" and set Korgan loose. The battle is over in seconds. But if this is inteded, then it is no longer Korgan I am playing - it is nothing but a damage MACHINE with an immunity field! It kills the "person" Korgan Bloodaxe (commuted in combat primarily through attributes and defenses) or at least I have to "repair" him with another story to justify such a flaw. Obviously this is not a solution. This then, in turn, removes the impact and cultural meaning of the entire defense system. The pyschology, history and any philosphical notion about our existence, that such a system should serve and support, is removed from the game and this can not be intended. If in stead, Korgan would have resisted all but very few seconds of weakness and perhaps 1 sec of prone, then Korgan as a "person" would have been present. I would have felt his presence – attacks grazing, strengt applied, damage soaked, vicious damage dealt etc. Combat systems CAN NOT remove the historical fleshy personality and replace it with a mathmatical structure like an ORC in Warcraft or a Hydralisk in Starcraft you just need to buff. The stuctures we program to commute personality should serve and never rule. What I experience should be "Korgan Bloodaxe" and hence his defenses and attributes, not the fact that he is some-thing that needs a buff or a potion to modify a number or else he will stop operating. The numbers and structures should be invisible and serve a well thought of intellectual scheme. In a game where an avatar is core such flaws are just not welcome. It reduces the combat system to the systems known in real time strategy games. I do not want my avatar to be a piece in a puzzle, I want my avatar to be special and want my choices in character creation to have a huge impact on how I experience the game. M
  3. I'm a huge fan of this project and unfortunately discovered it after Kickstarter was finished. The games that inspired the creation of this game are among my favorites. I'm a 40 year old professional senior designer with game design experience, and I'm not asking how I can sneak into the beta or anything I do not deserve. Based on things I'm seeing in beta videos and designer/developer videos, I have some concerns that hopefully the team may consider? 1 - I thought I saw that there was no fight experience, just quest experience. With exploration and leveling up games like this, a lot of fun comes from users "outsmarting the developers" and getting advanced levels ahead of where they "should be" in relation to the quest. It can be fun for a lot of people to "farm up" and then blow through a few extra levels of your super dungeon before they should be able to. Getting experience from random encounters or clearing every room and "getting ahead" caters to a certain play style and other gamers do not HAVE to do this. They can proceed through the quests in order as quickly as possible. 2 - If combat is challenging and difficult, it is dangerous to make combat a waste of time. (no experience) 3 - D&D 4.0 balanced all their classes... essentially, there was no return for level of effort... the time required to make a good wizard was the same time required to make a good fighter, and both classes had special abilities that did some level of target or area damage for roughly the same amount. This was a huge failure. People still figured out how to NOVA certain character classes, but if you didn't, combat was long and boring. Gamers switched to Pathfinder in droves because people want to be able to make a class that is potentially game breaking at high levels. Pathfinder still protects the GM and has rules in place, but all the classes are NOT perfectly balanced. In this typical old school 3.5 D&D system, you can still make an effective Monk or Fighter if you want that challenge, and you can choose to put in the homework needed to make an uber powerful Cleric or Mage or Barbarian. As a GM and former indy game designer, I have players who don't want complicated class concepts and are happy playing a slightly less min/max concept. I also have players who want to play a min/max concept. Allowing players to min/max without breaking the game... but making it "easier for them to be godlike" than players who don't do that research... this is something people enjoy. What I'm saying is that some of the old school experience did not need to be fixed. When a fireball became so lame it couldn't clear a room in D&D 4.0, there was no joy in casting a fireball or grabbing a handful of D6 dice with a wicked smile. If I'm stuck only advancing through quests, and combat is not a means to advance, and I can't build world-beating characters (balanced but not perfectly balanced), it takes away a big incentive and enjoyment for me. You'll find players working very hard to share "best builds" online and "how to maximize their weapons and spells" and as long as there are ways to max out most of the classes in different strengths, the game will have a lot of legs. You guys seem great, and I'm eagerly awaiting dropping my money on this game and trying to recruit friends to buy it. Please consider the things I've said above, and best of luck clearing the bugs and issues in your beta. Had I been aware of your Kickstarter, I'd be in at about the $200 range. I'm now on your email list so I'll be aware of future stuff. Best of luck!
  4. By Brandon Adler, Producer Hey, everyone. As you know, over the past six weeks we have been working on our first production milestone - the cleverly titled Production 01 milestone. Our first target has been Defiance Bay (our first BIG city) and the team has been busting their collective butts to get as much fantasy roleplaying goodness as possible into the city. In George Ziets' own words, "Defiance Bay is the capital and largest city in the Dyrwood, gateway to the riches of Glanfath, teeming with adventurers and explorers from all over the region. Defiance Bay is a city of the common people, where the most prominent and respected citizens are self-made men. It stands at the forefront of experimentation in soul magic and exemplifies the age of discovery." A ton has been accomplished in a pretty short amount of time and we would like to share some of it with you. New Hires April Giron April is our new Art Intern. She has been doing an amazing job in creating the interiors that populate Defiance Bay. Holly Prado Holly is an Environment Artist that joined us about a week ago. She has already made a large contribution in filling out the existing areas with new props. Matt Perez Matt is a new Design Intern. Along with creating NPCs, quests, and blockouts, he also does maintenance work on areas (hooking up transitions, loot passes, encounters, etc.). Ryan Torres Like Matt, Ryan is one of our new Design Interns. He also creates dialogues, quests, and blockouts. Brian Macintosh Brian is Project Eternity's Programming Intern. While he has been implementing many features, he most closely works with the Concept Artists to get our UI to Alpha. Areas Art The Environment Artists have wasted no time in constructing an expansive Defiance Bay. For this first milestone our target was to get three of Defiance Bay's districts to Alpha level quality. It was a little ambitious, but the team did really well. The city feels full of life and character. I am pretty impressed with the speed that the team is able to get all of this together. Design While the Environment Art team is busy filling out the visuals, the Area Design team is meticulously planning and executing quests, NPC dialogs, and other goodies throughout the city. They were able to get three of the city's districts completely blocked out in under a week. Considering the size of the city, it is a pretty good accomplishment. Two of those districts are now at an Alpha level and even at an early stage, are a lot of fun to play. In addition to that, our two new Design Interns - Matt and Ryan - have been filling in the areas with smaller quests and NPCs. It is really starting to make the city feel alive. Characters Creatures The Concept Artists, Animators, and Character Artists have been burning through our creatures. We are taking a different approach in Project Eternity than we have on other projects. Instead of taking a creature from concept to a final, polished product, we have been taking creatures to a blockout stage before moving to the next. This allows us to get creatures into the game much more quickly. It also lets us be more flexible with how we spend our polish time. Overall, we think it will lead to a better experience. Even with this short amount of time, we have been able to get about eight different creatures into the game. Since it would be pretty mean of me to talk about the creatures without showing one, here is a small taste of one of my "favorites" - the wicht. I think Josh's description says it best: "Wichts are the bodies of children that were born without souls, grew to adolescence, and were then possessed by a malevolent lost soul or soul fragment that has been artificially inserted through animancy. This process arrests their physical development and transforms their outward appearance, leaving no doubt as to what they are." Items In addition to the creatures, our Character Artists have been filling out the remaining armor sets that are left. We have all of our basic armors in place for all of our races. This is a pretty significant feat this early in the project. Now that we are done with the base item and armor sets, we can focus on making magic and unique variants. Features Journal We now have a fully functional quest journal in place that allows players to see their quest progress. The UI is currently being implemented, but it is looking great. Conversations While we have been getting more and more Alpha UI into the game, I was particularly happy with how the conversation UI came out. Take a look for yourself, though. Even though this is still a work in progress, I think everyone did a great job. Let us know what you think of the conversation UI in our forums. Stronghold Tim went on a tear and got most of the backend systems for the player stronghold in place. There are a ton of really fun things you can do with your stronghold like sending companions on missions, buying rare loot off of merchants, building upgrades, and even purchasing hirelings to defend your keep from attack. Watching Tim's stronghold get robbed blind because he has low security and high prestige never gets old. World Map Eternity now has a fully functional world map. When the party enters a qualifying transition, the world map appears. Players can then select to travel to a location by selecting that icon on the map. Fog of War One focus for this milestone was to get our Fog of War system in place. Beyond a few tweaks, Adam is pretty close to slaying that beast. It's a really robust system he created that takes some inspiration from rogue-like games. Using Adam's tool, designers can quickly create a fog map, edit it, and set locations that should only be revealed at specific times. AI Steve, our AI Programmer, has been putting work into spellcasting AI this milestone and it is coming out nicely. Enemies are more crafty than they were now that they are casting spells intelligently. There's going to be even more AI work - roles for our enemy AIs, for example - put into our next milestone. 10k Backer We had our first $10,000 backer, Timothy, come for a visit. We all had a blast and it was great to meet one of our fans and show him the game. We even have a picture of Timothy preparing for Josh Sawyer's inevitable betrayal. Josh Sawyer on Game Design Lastly, I will leave you with a video that Josh put together about the importance of real-world knowledge in game design. Take a look. Well, that's it for now. See you guys again in a couple of weeks.
  5. Hey guys, you might know me from the Project Eternity forums. My first few threads were a bit of good-natured trolling, but I would hope that since then I've proven that I'm very interested in discussing games on a deep and serious level. Like many of you my gaming background includes playing classic RPGs by great developers like BIS and Obsidian, and I've played more recent RPGs as well in addition to other genres of games. In an age of blockbuster titles with huge budgets, it's remarkable what Obsidian (and several other studios including inXile) has achieved via Kickstarter, and I believe that this bold and innovative move on the part of the developers has great potential to benefit gaming in general. However, I think that if progress is to be made, we can't simply rely on the production end; the consumers must make efforts as well, and there are many ways to do this, ranging from talking with one's wallet to simply creating and sharing new ideas. In fact, I think that activists, critics, designers, and theorists all have a part to play in the progress of gaming, and I want to foster these efforts by creating a common home for them. The level of discussion in the Project Eternity forums has been very inspiring to me, and I've actively participated in a lot of exciting discussions. I suppose I can only speak for myself, but in my eyes the thing that tends to happen is that, in the course of giving suggestions specific to Project Eternity, we reference other games, and then we find ourselves making theoretical statements about RPGs in general, and finally we end up dreaming up cool stuff that is probably beyond the intended scope of Project Eternity. While I'm ultimately sure such ambitious suggestions don't hurt, it's got me thinking about whether there might be a better place for some of the brainstorming. Project Eternity will be a great game, but it's obviously not going to include all of our crazy ideas. However, that doesn't mean that the ideas that are left out aren't great ideas, and I think it would be a shame for such ideas to languish, buried by tons of other Project Eternity-specific stuff. Needless to say, I'm not proposing a replacement for the Project Eternity forums, but I think all parties stand to benefit from there being a place where broader discussion can take place among like-minded individuals, and to promote other games similar to Project Eternity. To that end I've been doing some searching for a gaming community based around discussing the theory of game design and ideally also promoting more grass-roots development and consumer activism. The thing is that I have not really found anything that entirely suits these purposes. RPGnet seems to be the place to go for tabletop RPGs but it's a bit lacking in video game-related content. The Forge used to be another popular place for such things, but now it's closed. Gamasutra has some quality blogs, and there are a lot of other cool game design blogs out there, but ultimately I don't quite think blogs achieve the objective. I'd like to see a place where everyone, not just the minority who are committed enough to run their own personal blog, can share their ideas about game design and promote projects they feel are worthy. I just don't know of such a place currently, though feel free to correct me if you do. With this in mind, I was just like "what the hell, I'll give it a go". Yesterday I started messing around with creating a free forum, and I'm a complete noob at it, but I'd really like this to succeed because I think something like this could greatly improve the gaming experiences of those involved. If any of this resonates with you or you've always wanted somewhere to post your ideas about RPGs or gaming in general, I encourage you to come visit what I've got so far. As you can tell the work has only just started, and there are plenty of opportunities for anyone to help out and have their own influence on this endeavor (nothing's quite set in stone yet, especially the name). Please feel free to post in there or on this thread if you have input or suggestions, or if you feel like this is enough of a worthwhile endeavor that you'd like to assist me. -mcmanusaur
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