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What mold should be broken?

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#121
Theobeau

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Late to this very interesting thread but my 2c:

Make culture matter. The roughly equivalent period of time that PE is supposed to be set is the 14thC which witnessed the decline and fall of Byzantium, the rise of the the great Islamic powers, nation states in Europe asserting themselves against the papacy, the overthrow of Mongol rule in China, the Black death and the beginning of the renaissance.

A grand sweep of history that is filled with cultures and civilisations of different levels interacting with, trading with and in conflict with each other. Draw on some of that culture and history in the world of PE.

Imagine what it would have been like to travel from Constantinople to France; through a decaying Empire, feuding proto-states in middle Europe, the papal states of Italy and up into the supposed safety of a more civilised French state but only then to encounter a group of marauding English knights.

Give us a real sense that the cultures and places are different in their dress, their language (idioms, accented text etc...), their cultural mores and importantly in how they view and treat you rather than presenting it as some generic Middle Ages-lite culture. After all, this is a world of dwarves, elves, god-like beings and unknown other races. Their cultures should look and feel as different as it did during the period when you could have lived in the era of the Ming Dynasty, the Ottman Turks or under Plantagenets Kings of England.
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#122
IndiraLightfoot

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Okay, I just had a wild idea: What if you could toggle some kind of good/lawful mode for your character's combat so that if the PC vanquishes a monster or an enemy of whatever kind it can be "incapacitated" instead of "killed". No need for fancy new models for incapacitated vs dead I reckon, just a mouse over and you'll see the message. You can still mug them/loot them. This function could also be turned on and off for different encounters and different environments (like a town). And through some variable/flag incapacitated enemies can later come back for revenge ("See what you did to my malar bone! Now I'm gonna crush your face, maggot!") or unexpected thank yous ("Now I am a reborn troll! I just kill elk and deer. No humanoids at all, unless wendersnavens count as humanoid as well."

#123
Malkaven

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I always loved how in Witcher/Witcher 2 they were able to break the mold using Tolkienish races. Elves were not hanging around bragging about how old and beautiful they were. They were sent to ghettos to live like scum because humans were in general racist. The younger ones were considered terrorists because they fought against the humans.

I’m not asking for terrorist elves (sounds weird but lorveth was the man) but the amount of passion that they had was amazing. I haven't seen that in a game before. The elves were affected by what was happening in the world. They didn’t have a choice to stay neutral.
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#124
Falkon Swiftblade

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I'm just seeing this thread, but I tell you what, I'm so burnt out on vampires and zombies over the past 20 yrs, if I never see one again I'll never miss it. I'm sure for you young kids they're cool and awesome but let me tell you if you had to eat the same meal every day for a decade or two I'm sure you'd get really tired of it too.

I'm also tired of Dragon's being the ultimate bad guy/boss. Sure they're cool, but lets make their encounters interesting. How about a final boss fight not in the tallest mountain or deepest dungeon? How about that just unleashes the beast so to speak, and you spent 20 hours hunting him down think you're about to fight him, only to find out, "Oh Crap, I just let the dog's out..." and the actual encounter takes place across the over world and you have to chase the boss down, and trap it before it destroys a town or something in x amount of time. All the while he's hellbent on destroying his objective until you piss him off enough he notices you to attack and fights back, but the whole time he's dead set on destroying his objective. You and your party have to keep chasing him or running him down trying to mobilize him and whittle away at his health while the boss is just destroying everything. You could run this scenario in many ways, but the point is lets have some combat that uses the environment, and we're not all locked into a tennis court whacking attacks back and forth inside a 10X10 box...
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#125
timobkg

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Resting
I always thought that resting kills the momentum and flow of the game. It's realism at the cost of fun and enjoyment. I'd much rather have cooldowns, or a regenerating mana bar, or even a stamina system where stamina gradually recharges over time and more powerful attacks decrease your stamina by greater amounts - where you could use the same powerful ability over and over (unlike cooldowns) but it would leave you fatigued for some time.

Guiding Hand
This is largely a result of moving to 1st / 3rd person RPGs. Navigating in an isometric game is easy, as you're always aware of which direction you're going and north is always up. Navigating in a 1st / 3rd person RPG is significantly more difficult, and it's easy to get turned around after an encounter. If I didn't set a target marker in Witcher, I would constantly get lost running through the city or the swamps. To keep the player from getting lost in 1st / 3rd person games, or from having to constantly open the map, you either need to make linear tunnel levels (KOTOR, Mass Effect) or you need guiding hands and quest markers (Fallout 3, Elder Scrolls).

I'm ok with getting rid of the guiding hand so long as you build the game around that. This requires good directions, and built-in careful note-taking. If you get rid of the "go here, do this" quest log, replace it with a note log - "I heard a rumour about a slave camp. Some said it was in the woods north of town, while others claim seeing slaves by the caves at the southern tip of the mountain range to the west." I should be able to pick up the game again after a few months away and be able to figure out from the in-game notes what I was working on and where I need to go to accomplish them.

#126
Wombat

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Late to this very interesting thread but my 2c:

Make culture matter. The roughly equivalent period of time that PE is supposed to be set is the 14thC which witnessed the decline and fall of Byzantium, the rise of the the great Islamic powers, nation states in Europe asserting themselves against the papacy, the overthrow of Mongol rule in China, the Black death and the beginning of the renaissance.

A grand sweep of history that is filled with cultures and civilisations of different levels interacting with, trading with and in conflict with each other. Draw on some of that culture and history in the world of PE.

Imagine what it would have been like to travel from Constantinople to France; through a decaying Empire, feuding proto-states in middle Europe, the papal states of Italy and up into the supposed safety of a more civilised French state but only then to encounter a group of marauding English knights.

Give us a real sense that the cultures and places are different in their dress, their language (idioms, accented text etc...), their cultural mores and importantly in how they view and treat you rather than presenting it as some generic Middle Ages-lite culture. After all, this is a world of dwarves, elves, god-like beings and unknown other races. Their cultures should look and feel as different as it did during the period when you could have lived in the era of the Ming Dynasty, the Ottman Turks or under Plantagenets Kings of England.

Again, I could only imagine quite monotheist dominant societies, either Christian or Muslim. I wonder how "deities" play their roles in such a world. I know it's a fantasy setting after all but...

It also should be noted that the pleague hit Central Asia terribly due to the expanded economy through the rule of the Mongol Empire and the lack of medical knowlege to prevent them from spleading. The PE world may be composed of relatively isclosed cultures. Then, again, in that case, travelling would be rare and the languages must vary (the PC will often come across with the languages he cannot understand).* I'd like to see some real-world historical influences, too, but have to adimit that a certain things are hard to get together.

*Some people tried to do a Gloranthan campeign in which the PC backgrounds are way too various and the GM let the PCs communicate through gestures. I cannot remember the details now but it's one of the hardcore campeigns I've hard of. :lol:

#127
septembervirgin

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How about harvesting the brains and bodies of slaughtered animals for their glands to use as drugs. Once refined, these glands can be fairly strong ethnogens and serve medicinal purposes as well.

Also, on the other end of the moral spectrum, how about a culture that uses brainless sea fauna (like some sea urchins) as its primary meat supply?

Edited by septembervirgin, 08 October 2012 - 06:44 PM.

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#128
crazyrabbits

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I'm liking this. My thoughts.

  • Resting
Spells/abilities regenerate instead of becoming unavailable after use until the party rests. The party acts at 100% efficiency when well rested, but gradually becomes more vulnerable and loses effectiveness in all skills when tired. Spells not only cost mana, but tire casters independently. The same holds true for physical skills without consuming mana. The party can rest anywhere to regain up to e.g. 50% efficiency, but can only recuperate to 100% in designated resting areas.


I don't think that would be apt for an RPG, seeing as it would put most parties at a power loss for most of the game, and would waste a lot of time. If I had to go to an inn every...let's say 30 minutes to rest and boost my efficiency back up, that wastes precious time that I could be out doing other things - advancing the story, exploring a dungeon/region or managing my party. I don't want to be constantly checking my efficiency rating - I just want to get lost in the story and advance at my own pace.

Maybe if you had something like a background timer that indicated your chance of being waylaid or ambushed by enemies, based on the time spent since you last slept. If you slept within the last...let's say 24 hours in-game, your chance of being ambushed is far less than if you've been going nonstop and aren't alert enough to notice an encrouching enemy.

  • Familiar:
As a tactical asset, it can spy, explore, steal, poison, play tricks etc. either on enemies/neutrals or companions. It's got character (I always thought Morte was a good familiar, if overpowered as a fighter.)
It's not an ugly beetle.


Thing is, you can also do the same thing with just about any character (barring a rogue/thief, which could hide in the shadows and backstab/poison/scout/etc). About the only advantage I see a familiar having is a flying ability, which would allow it to scout regions quickly and effectively. The only game I've seen where an animal companion worked really well was in Fable II, and I don't see that level of characterization or detail being applied to an animal when it could just as easily be applied to a full companion with a storyline. As a cosmetic bonus, I don't mind it, but I don't think it should be the be-all, end-all unless someone can assure the gamers that it would have more complexity than normal.

  • Dialogue
Regular people share parts of a huge knowledge pool. Besides the traditional dialogue window, a kind of "google autocomplete searchbox" displays possible questions relating to the key words typed in.
E.g. "Mr. X" would permit the questions: "What do you know about Mr. X?", "Where does Mr. X live?", etc.


Wouldn't that require additional resources/planning? Typically, the only function I've ever used a keyboard for in-game are console commands. You can accomplish the same thing with a standard response selection interface. What Obsidian should focus on is rewarding players who opt for alternate/harder solutions to gameplay elements with alternate dialogue reflecting their non-descript actions, and/or rewarding them via more conversation options or extra goodies.

  • Choices
Some painful, some impossible, and some to be proud of

Example: "You paid dearly for doing the right thing. As a child slave, you decide to help a friend avoid punishment. You get caught and your hand is chopped off in retribution. Later on, you can't use bows and 2h-weapons. Furthermore, the wound is a stigma of a caught and convicted petty thief."
In the later game, those friends' actions have special significance to the player, and create immersion. If later on a magic liquid metal hand that restores lost abilities, can shapeshift and execute killmoves happens to be found, it'll be enjoyed all the more.
On the other hand, any injury can be avoided by not helping the friend in the first place.

Not paying attention makes it easy to inadvertently go down the wrong path. You want to be a good guy? Be prepared to swallow rage and forsake the satisfaction of vengeance. Vigilante killings are recognized as such by society. It's not easy to be just, and almost impossible to entirely avoid being manipulated. Prudent choices such as "bringing someone in" instead of killing them outright are available. It's impossible to succeed every time, and players are confronted with moments of intense frustration.


Agreed. Obsidian has made a career of having choices not just be black-and-white, but have complex and varied outcomes. I hope they can accomplish that in-game. I'd go even further and say I hope they can make a true branching storyline like The Witcher 2 (have locations and situations change dramatically based on a couple of early decisions, and have it stay that way through the game), but that's a hopeful wish.

  • No guiding hand
An immersion breaker in modern games is the relentless pace. Not in Project Eternity. Here it is important to pay attention to the dialogue. Little is gained by following quest markers or checking objectives. Facts are recorded, but the player jots down his/her own conclusions in the journal next to them, and chooses his/her plan of action. The minimap is not a substitute for looking at where you are going, players need to familiarize themselves with the game world. Help is readily available by talking to people, but the right questions need to be asked. Superior solutions to quests apparent only with understanding and immersion are available next to regular endings.


Agreed. I've been playing BG2 recently, and I've noticed how the plot just seems to drive you nonstop, when sometimes all I want to do is just "relax" and take the side missions (and mods) at my own pace. You should be rewarded for going off the beaten path and doing objectives/quests that may have repercussions/rewards later on.

  • Mystery
The player is placed in a wondrous place, and is not all that powerful nor important. He/She isn't able to battle everything, and might need to run from a conflict without ever having a chance of besting an opponent. In PST the lady of pain set a great mood. Beating everything into submission does not solve anything, nor does it even seem a worthy endeavor.


This is why I appreciate Obsidian's method of letting players approach encounters/dialogue situations with different solutions. You can grow as a character throughout the narrative, craft your own destiny, and approach new and mysterious characters (hero/villain alike) with dialogue/intelligence/skill checks that influence the situation. I am sure there will be a lot of mystery in this game - I'm excited to see how I can approach in the way I see fit.


  • Romance
During the last years games have opened up a lot in this respect. We saw more LBGT friendly interaction, and a lot more skin. Since all bases are covered in Project Eternity, a large cast of characters is needed. Most characters are regular boring heterosexuals, not that much interested in sex in any case, because immersion doesn't permit otherwise.

A true romance (and with good reason not everyone wants to go there) seeps out of the confines of dialogue. Combat changes, as do expectations from partner and party. Interaction is more frequent and natural. A darker side of romance is the power to influence/manipulate/control one's partner, and some evil bastards take advantage of that.


Agreed with this one. Most of Bioware's output in terms of romances have been heavily homogenized over the years - it's the same "sex is the culmination of everything, and nothing else" plotline that they've used in most of their games. Thing is, they've only recently introduced LGBT romances into their narratives, even if it's at the cost of established characterization (see what happened to Kaidan Alenko in ME3).

I've said before that I would like to see a "reward"-based romance system, where the successful culmination of a romance would give you access to something like their loyalty power, a new skill for the player or even something as simple as additional dialogue - it can vary. As long as it feels like every relationship has different (and far-reaching) consequences, and isn't the same "every squad member says an alternate line at the same fixed point", it would be a very unique gameplay mechanic.

Those are my thoughts.

Edited by crazyrabbits, 08 October 2012 - 08:27 PM.


#129
septembervirgin

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Good point, HarHar! That reduces the feel of running between question marks and exclamation marks on some FedEx-quest galore or something.


Actually, running between punctuation marks reminds me of nethack. Question marks are scrolls, exclamation points are potions. Cash Taxi Question: "In the game nethack, what do quotation marks represent?"

This brings to mind that there really should be a Kickstarter program, by Obsidian or a fan, to make an ANSI rogue-like based on their game Eternity.

#130
Ignatius

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If there is a way to avoid making half of the strategy of most battles involve you casting every buff known to man, then I would like to see that taken care of. (But that's more a design thing, than a mold thing, isn't it?)

However, I think that there's a reason these IE games were so well loved, and it's important to not deviate from that too much just because we feel like we should. A lot of innovation sounds great on paper, but then you end up with Diablo 3. Which is a smooth game and plays well and is all kinds of neat, but at the end of the day, just doesn't feel quite right.

But that being said, we can definitely get rid of resting as a mechanic important to player success. It's silly and breaks immersion and just feels plain cheap. I always felt terrible resting in the BG2 games, so I never did it. I'd just marathon through dungeons.

Edited by Ignatius, 12 October 2012 - 10:20 PM.

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#131
agewisdom

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Agreed with this one. Most of Bioware's output in terms of romances have been heavily homogenized over the years - it's the same "sex is the culmination of everything, and nothing else" plotline that they've used in most of their games. Thing is, they've only recently introduced LGBT romances into their narratives, even if it's at the cost of established characterization (see what happened to Kaidan Alenko in ME3).

I've said before that I would like to see a "reward"-based romance system, where the successful culmination of a romance would give you access to something like their loyalty power, a new skill for the player or even something as simple as additional dialogue - it can vary. As long as it feels like every relationship has different (and far-reaching) consequences, and isn't the same "every squad member says an alternate line at the same fixed point", it would be a very unique gameplay mechanic.

Those are my thoughts.


I believe Bioware did a very good job at romance and influencing companions in Jade Empire. If I remember correctly, the PC could heavily influence his romance interest to the dark side, even though she was heavily resistant at first. It was quite well done. Perhaps something along those lines.

#132
Kevadu

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First of all, let me say that I'm new here but I loved what I read in this thread and registered just to share my two cents. There are some really cool ideas, but here are a few that I don't think have really been touched on:

Non-traditional uses of attributes
If D&D has done one thing for roleplaying games it's instilled this idea that warriors are strong but stupid, mages are weak but smart, etc. It really doesn't have to be that way. Check out some old fantasy literature, pre-D&D, such as classic Conan the Barbarian novels. Conan is unquestionably a warrior type, but he's not just a dumb guy with a sword. He's smart, he's clever, he's charismatic, he's a leader. He spends as much time fighting using his brain as he does using his sword.

The problem with D&D-esque RPGs is that they don't reward intelligence in a warrior class in any way. Sure you could put points into it purely for roleplaying, but you're basically just punishing yourself if you do so since you'll have fewer points to spend on the things that actually matter. If a warrior doesn't have any skills or abilities that use intelligence is it really surprising that nobody puts points in intelligence?

But why shouldn't warriors see a benefit from intelligence? Do you really think it doesn't matter in combat? Of course there are larger-scale uses as well, like tactics and planning, but that is usually the player's responsibility, not the character's. But there are still places that should see a benefit. For instance, higher intelligence should mean better perception and an increased ability to spot ambushes, traps, and hidden doors. (I sincerely hope you're not limited that sort of stuff to a thief/rogue class, because that has always been just plain stupid. Even D&D itself stopped doing it.) Even in combat itself, higher intelligence should make it easier to study your oponent's moves and learn to anticipate them. In game terms that could correspond to bonuses to certain kinds of counterattacks, that sort of thing.

Note that I don't want to make dumb-guy-with-a-sword unviable. Strength certainly should matter in combat, and some people like playing that kind of character. I'm just saying that there should be more options. And of course the above is just one example. I would really like to see that sort of thinking applied to all classes.

Magic should feel magical
In your typical computer RPG, the mage is just somebody who shoots fireballs from behind a row of meatshields. He does a lot of damage but is weak in melee. What's the practical difference between a mage and, say, an archer? Not much, really. The mage usually does more damage, is weaker in melee and more easily killed, and has to quaff mana potions from time to time. And that's about it.

I want magic to feel like magic. You're bending the laws of nature with your mind. It should be something unique. I want to see spells that take time, preparation (possibly including material components, which is rarely done in CRPGs), and strategy to use but can have potentially enormous consequences when pulled off. Successfully pulling it off should be a challenge, though. This means not only do you have to avoid having your ritual interrupted but also there should be forms of countermagic that other mages can do, whether it be counterspelling or some sort of temporary defensive barrier, etc. There should be real strategy in terms of magic. Wait for the right moment, coordinate with your other party memers to keep enemy mages tied up, etc. But again, the result has to be worth it. Magic should be something spectacular to behold, not just another ranged weapon.

I want to know what I'm actually going to say
This is a small one, but I think it's important. There is this disturbing trend in modern RPGs to have extremely simplified dialogue choices. Bioware does it, but they're not the only guilty party...Alpha Protocol was pretty bad about this. The problem is that this results in either over-simplistic, one-dimensional choices (obviously good, obviously evil, etc.), or worse the player doesn't actually know what he's really choosing. Sometimes the dialogue goes in a completely different direction than what you thought you were selecting.

It's OK to actually write out what the character is going to say in the different choices. It may not be as cool or trendy as a dialogue wheel, but it sure as heck works better. We can read, you know.

Morality systems need to die
AKA, "Well I might have burned down that orphanage but afterwards I did some nice guy quests in a completely different town so nobody actually cares."

Consequences for your actions are great. I see a lot of people stressing consequences and it makes me happy. But how consequences are implemented matters a lot. I've never liked these overly-simplistic morality systems in which you're either the patron saint of do-gooderer or you're a complete psycopath who brushes his teeth with the intestines of murdered children just for kicks.

But the worse part is that in a lot of games trying to walk the middle ground results in something that makes no sense. Rather than feeling like a normal, flawed human being you feel completely bipolar. You're murdering townsfolk just to watch them die one day and then rescuing hostages the next...who I guess you're going to murder the day after that.

I dislike simplistic moral systems. I dislike the fact that 'evil' choices often border on cartoonish supervillainy and aren't something a sane, rational person would ever choose. I want to see more gray choices, with no obvious correct response. I'm probably preaching to the choir on this, though, since that's something Obsidian is pretty good at.

While we're on the topic, it ought to be that you can be the nicest guy in the world and still piss people off. And I don't just mean self-proclaimed 'evil' people. What about somebody doing something moraly gray but not necessarily evil who gets put out of business by your righteous actions? Really, being too much of a goody two-shoes should be an easy way to make enemies.


Wow, I wrote a lot.





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