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Hey everyone, in here I'd like to discuss the quest design of the main quest of the backer beta. There are some things that I find questionable in the quest "The Storms of Poko Kohara". Two things mainly come to my mind, both concerning Beza's Pages: 1.) To whom I can "show" Beza's Pages 2.) I cannot just "show" Beza's Pages, I can only hand them over Let's assume I decide to destroy the adra pillar. First of all - How does the chieftain immediately know upon my return what I did to the adra pillar? Was that mentioned? Did I miss that? I haven't found any explanation for that in the game. The chieftain is VERY upset with me if I have destroyed the adra pillar. So why can I not "show" him Beza's Pages as an explanation to why I think the Vailian Trading Company means ill to his people? And here comes the thing, I can ONLY "show" him the pages when I did NOT destroy the adra pillar. Why? Why only then? Of course then I get to know that he doesn't understand the language of Beza's pages - but I should have at least had the opportunity to TRY to show/give him the pages when I destroyed the adra pillar. I cannot know at that point that it would be pointless. This is a flaw in the quest design that I have witnessed in Pillars 1 several times. Sometimes that game simply does not offer some options in a dialogue because they would be fruitless (which you do NOT know at that point!). The thing is, you should let us try. And then fail. I would like to try and see that I fail. Please, do not just remove an option in a dialogue if it would at least make sense to try that option. If I destroy the adra pillar I have no way of knowing in advance that it would be pointless to "show" Beza's pages to the chieftain because he wouldn't be able to understand the language anyway. He can only rely on his trust to me which is gone if I destroyed the adra pillar. So let me try to "show" the pages to him and then fail because he doesn't trust me anymore. Another point. Why have I written "show" in quotation marks so far? Because it simply is NOT possible to just "show" the pages to someone! WHY NOT? That doesn't make sense to me in any way. Why can I only "show" the pages to someone by giving the pages away to them, by handing them over? What if my character would have liked to show the pages to several characters first and see their reactions and then decide what to do with the pages and to whom they should be given? This reminds me very strongly of Pillars 1 when some obvious choices in dialogues were simply not there. Please, don't do this in Pillars 2. If I destroy the adra pillar, then Beza's pages become all the more important, crucial even, to TRY to make the chieftain understand my motivations for doing so. And that is my big complaint. I cannot even TRY. I cannot know in advance that I would fail - so let me try and fail!
Hi again guys! So, after the cooldown thread(s), I thought I should breach the subject of what bothers me about them more broadly, instead of focusing in a simple mechanic or implementation. You see, one of the reason I dislike seeing PE move away from the importance of resting isn't that resting was well used in BG. Or IWD, or PS:T, or any of those titles. It is because I think it is a bit of a missed opportunity. By the way, I know we are getting resting after all, and that is great news, but I think resting can be made more interesting, by seizing an opportunity lost by these previous titles. Mr. Gygax used to say that tracking time in the dungeon was critically important. Things didn't stay static when you retreated or moved away. The reason resting is important is because few dungeons were supposed to be cleaned by the characters, much less so in a single go. I think I made myself clear how I think time could be an important resource in other threads. How I think quests and encounters can respond t the party taking too long by changing and complicating. But time is not the only long term resource that can be used. There are many resources you guys can use to keep track of the party in the longer game, and give us players though choices to decide on. Here is a small enumeration: Money. Gold is a joke in many RPGs, and the infinity engine isn't much of an exception. People will usually complain the reason for this is that there is little control of how much money you can make in the game, but I think the real problem is that there is little options of where to use it. Give the players interesting possibilities during the game. Give him opportunities during quests that will make people try to actually build up money. Make sure a player has enough things to do with his gold he is very unlikely to be able to do everything he wants to. Fame. Reputation is something Obsidian did well in the past. But still, your reputation is something that is hardly "at stake", and very rarely something you can use to do things. Fame has mostly opened doors in other games, like New Vegas. But it could be built upon. Make certain options easier or harder to achieve depending on how well known you are. Having a reputation of being a merciless killer can make threatening others easier, but it can also mean people won't trust a more pacific deal you might propose sometime, or that people who you have helped fear you just as much as the people you delivered them from. Power. XP doesn't need to be a straight jacked formula. Give people incentives to both accumulate a lot of it and to try to avoid getting more of it than they need. Also, I always loved the level draining idea of undeads. Maybe they shouldn't be able to rain it directly like in D&D... Maybe they could drain a set XP amount instead (though this makes them less scary). But still, it was interesting that they made undeads scary in D&D by allowing them to hit where it hurts most for the players. Also, you can have not so long term resource, but ones that still last more than one battle like: Spell memorizations. This one seems to be, thankfully, in! Selecting what spells to bring in to a dungeon and how to use them. I would, of course, like it more if this aspect was more emphasized, but at least it is there, right now. The thing about spell memorization is that you want to make it a hard choice, to know what to bring to a dungeon and the how and when of its use. Stamina. Fighting all day in heavy armor, trudging through group after group of hostiles isn't easy. Everyone needs to rest eventually, and having trouble doing this can be a great source of conflict and tension. Also, knowing when to use your reserves of energy and when to take a more calm, if slower, approach can be fun. This really would work best if time is an actual resource too. Logistics. I think there is little hope of seeing this kind of concern here, but I thought I should bring it up anyway. Part of the fun in old D&D was planning an expedition to somewhere barren and dangerous. You brought in people to help you, vehicles to bring back all that loot with you, materials to renovate safe areas of the dungeon, people to put there so it would remain safe, food for everyone, climbing gear, and a lot more. I think it would be nice to at least have some use for old favorites, like door spikes, chalk, torches and food. Specially if, rather than simply being limitations, these things can actually be used intelligently. Like burning a jelly type of monster with lantern oil, but them not having enough to go around in the dark for much longer. Have the orcs in the dungeon be willing to trade the PCs for their rations, possibly paying a good price for anything that isn't yet more mushrooms. We also have long and medium term resources that, rather than being universal, are situational. there is a whole lot of stuff here that frequently isn't ever used in CRPGs. Time. I've talked enough about it, but make it matter! Make it matter in timed quests, in encounters that change, in combats that have consequences according to how early or late they end, etc. How time will affect each part of the game depends on that specific part. For some things, time matters little. To others, it is of essence. Reactions. Most CRPGs have character reactions to your PCs scripted in. So and so is a villain, and will try to rob you bling. So and so will be a stalwart helper, no matter who you are. It would be more interesting if reactions were more up to the situation at hand. I think Obsidian has done some nice work here, Raul and Dog come to mind here as examples of companions who will change a lot depending to how you treat them. But at the same time, I think this could be nice if it was done to smaller NPCs in some simpler ways. For example, any dragon might attack you on sight if you use dragon scale armor, while goblins who would otherwise attack you might welcome you if you have the head of a bugbear visible anywhere in your person. Likewise, allow this to be used as a resource. If the goblins like you, use their good will to get a favor that will solve a quest in a different way than if you had just slaughtered everyone. Many, many more. In a certain quest, the number of votes you have in a council might be crucial to the next quest. Manage to get enough votes and you will get to coordinate an attack. Don't and they will put a bumbling fool in charge, who will cause the death of several NPCs. In another quest, a cemetery may be haunted by troubled souls. Problem is that, in the coming equinox, they will be able to wreck chaos into the living world. So maybe you want to calm them down, so when the equinox arrives, nothing bad will happen. But then again, maybe you want them to suffer. It is the perfect opportunity to get a new necromancy spell! Maybe putting the souls to rest may cause problems to people you like in the city, or take away one of your contacts to jail. So, I exposed all kinds of different resources here. What is the point of it all? My point is that you can make a game really interesting if you take these various resources and tie in them to the resolution of conflicts in the game. Don't have conflicts be binary! Or worse, unary (as failure in most RPGs mean you need to reload). Instead, make conflicts where you can use these resources to solve, or at least work on. Make it so that doing things differently lead to different outcomes. Bribing the orcs to leave instead of exterminating them doesn't mean you just lost money. Your reputation may be changed in a lasting way by choosing such path. Likewise, the orcs are still live out there. Maybe they would even look forward working with you! On the other hand, maybe the city up north, the direction they fled to, won't like that you didn't end them when you had the chance. All things I am talking about here I have seen in some manner in Obsidian's games. Mask of the Betrayer had a lot of this stuff. So did New Vegas. But frequently, it is done as part of a larger, more static, story line. I really would like to see as more part of the little things going on. Because, being so tied to the storyline, those things don't seem to be using resources. It feels more like I am just advancing the quest. Like they are the absolute exception and not the rule. I think it would maybe pay out to have more of these interesting choices to small things, like side quests and little encounters. The repercussions, of course, would need to be less drastic. But it would, I think, go a long way making the game feel more like the result of your actions rather than an arbitrary story written by someone else.
It's not a new idea, and I'm pretty sure it has been discussed here somewhere (a search saw me return empty-handed). I've seen many discussions about how could be defined a "mature game", and people usually agree about the fact that it's not about boobies. That boobies may even actually be a sign of immaturity. There's also the question of the topics used in the game, and the morality when it comes to choose and to live by its consequences. "Being bad/evil" in many RPGs for instance, is often playing an (uninteresting and not "mature") "psychopath". I remember this question being brought by Peter Molyneux. Something about "being good is the hard path / you can be good and save the persecuted, it is an available option. But it will cost you an eyeball". I like the idea that being bad is not being a psychopath. It's being greedy, lazy, or a coward. It works the best when it appeals to the player behind the PC. If you must permanently lose 1 point of strength to save someone (who won't even give you a kiss), will you do it? I like that because it's challenging you as a (role)player, not just your character (I think it's used in Divinity 2 to some - scanty - extend). Would it be punishing? Rewarding? Hey, it would be optional, you could choose to be a ****. Being a hero is not that easy, it would cost you. Actually, there is no real value to "being good" if it does not cost you something. Is there?