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The good ol' big city... Will there be one?

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You know, if it hadn't been for Athkatla in BG2, I would have had pretty much zero interest in the game. I didn't care enormously for the story, there weren't many interesting choices to make. But Ahtkatla. Exploring Athkatla was enormously fun. And it showcased that, maybe, just maybe, an isometric game that "abstracts" a lot of its world is the best way to bring a city to life in an RPG. It had character (it almost *was* a character), it was atmospheric, it was dense, it was occasionally dangerous.

 

The same goes for Sigil in Planescape: Torment of course. How exciting it was to explore just what lies in the city's various districts. How awesome was it to leave the slummier and dirtier Hive Wards and Lower Wards behind and find out that, yes... There is another goddamn district waiting to be explored in the Clerk's Ward, this one with a completely different flavor.

 

Basically, Athkatla and Sigil were a really big part of BG2 and Torment. A lot of the games revolved around those locations, and it didn't feel like the games sold the idea of a big city short. They felt big and lively.

 

Now, including such big areas in a game is obviously not an idea to be taken lightly. Would you like for there to be a big city in the game which "dominates" much of the gameplay? Would you rather have more, medium-sized settlements (that may differ more culturally speaking) to explore?

 

I wouldn't be disappointed if we got smaller settlements. But I *would* definitely love a big city that you can really dive into.

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I want at least one big settlement. It always feels weird when a game has no big population center, it makes the world seem somewhat dead. Big cities are also great for having faction bases, shops, quests, and people to talk to all in one central location. Plus, big cities are great for allowing you to see the culture of the society you are currently in.

 

That's why I loved the Imperial City in Oblivion, or Denerim in DA:O. Hopefully Project Eternity has a big, explorable city as well!

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Add Vizima into the mix from the original Witcher as well, each of those cities had a very striking cultural identity. Simple things such as the cant in Sigil or the town criers of Athkatla, they added so much to the feel, even the merchants wishing, "a pearl to you." Hope to see something like this, but I can understand if it's too much of an endeavour.


Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

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I did not care much for the cities in Oblivion which managed to feel... not real and not dense in every way possible. The Imperial City in particular felt really empty and plastic.

Denerim had promise I think but didn't love up to its potential. A *lot* could've been done with Kirkwall in DA2 (especially since the game centered around it) but they really failed to rise to the challenge with that. It felt dead.

 

Vizima is probably the best "fully 3d" city that I've seen in a RPG so far. Also a good example of how the city almost became a "heart" of the game, and really was a huge part in me actually finishing the Witcher 1 (did not enjoy the game that much outside exploring Vizima).

There is also a NWN1 module called Almraiven which features a wonderfully realized city (though it does so in a different way, splitting it up in many different areas that are small, often confined to very specific locations in the city).

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I could easily imagine a good RPG set entirely in a massive, enormous cityscape. I can't say that I care too much about this, but if there's cities, I hope they remember to make them city-like.

 

Hope so. Loved the cities in Oblivion and Witcher.
Oblivion? For real? I would think that Oblivion and Skyrim would be textbooks in how to not do immersive cities.

 

Five-ish houses and a castle does not a city make. Hell, you could have 20 houses and it would still feel smaller than a small village.

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Could do worse than go back and look at Britannia in Ultima 7 as well.


Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Add Vizima into the mix from the original Witcher as well, each of those cities had a very striking cultural identity. Simple things such as the cant in Sigil or the town criers of Athkatla, they added so much to the feel, even the merchants wishing, "a pearl to you." Hope to see something like this, but I can understand if it's too much of an endeavour.

 

Yes, Vizima we excellent in terms of atmosphere and little details. It really added a lot to have the locals run for shelter when the rain started, or having the group of pigeons go flapping off the ground as you approached. The architecture felt very medieval.

 

Another couple of cities I enjoyed for their architecture and atmosphere were Nadoret from River of Time and Ferdok from Drakensang. That old style European atmosphere really adds a lot to the game.

 

The cities in the Baldur's Gate series, while enjoyable, didn't feel authentically medieval. They were too clean and modern looking. I like to feel like I'm strolling through narrow medieval streets with overhanging, half-timbered buildings, inadequate lighting, scruffy looking characters, and slop being tossed out the upper windows. :)


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I am sincerely amazed that anyone has actually liked Imperial City, for it was miniscule, ugly and badly design. Imperial capital that has twenty citizens? Six "districts", of which half is uninhabited? Please.

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Not one mention of Khorinis? For shame.

 

And for people mentioning Oblivion: Just no. Imperial City was a disgrace design wise, content wise and lore wise.

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I agree that Oblivion didn't have good cities but to be honest I didn't find Vizima to be much either.It was... not interactive enough?Aside from talking to quest givers(wich weren't many)there wasn't much to do.Anyway a city that feels big,alive and with lots of things to do would be welcome.

 

EDIT:DAO/DA2 cities sucked too ofc

Edited by Living One

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I am sincerely amazed that anyone has actually liked Imperial City, for it was miniscule, ugly and badly design. Imperial capital that has twenty citizens? Six "districts", of which half is uninhabited? Please.

 

Different strokes, *shrug* I'm not a big fan of oblivion, but I loved the Imperial City water front area; I spent a lot of my time there while in the thieves guild. I also like the big sewer system underground, and I used to spend a lot of my time exploring them.

Edited by Bill Gates' Son

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I'd love to have a big city to explore, if possible. The cities Starwars mentions are great examples.

 

In 3D games, my favorite cities are from 2 Japanese roleplaying games: Final Fantasy XII and Xenoblade Chronicles. I was amazed the first time I entered a city in these games. They felt big and alive.

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Found that Baldur's Gate far outshone Athkatla as far as well-realized cities, go. Sure, it was a sanitized version of a medieval city, but then... the game as a whole wasn't all that gritty either. The quilt-like nature of the overhead maps and how they all stitched together helped tremendously, but the thing that really sewed it all together for me was the sewer and how you could literally move from on area of the city to any other using nothing more than the sewer system.

 

Will definitely agree that a bit of abstraction to its presentation can really bring out the character of a town, to the point where it almost becomes a character in itself.

 

Kuldahar achieved that level for me in the IWD series, only not through abstraction but through the consistent level of detail: you could literally see it grow from one game to the next, with buildings being added or destroyed, with the tree either thriving or being hacked to bits, and a story large or small revolving around each change. That kind of existence -- the kind that transcends any one game -- really brings a city to life for me in a way that doesn't happen when the city changes too much from game to game. Neverwinter in the NWN series, for instance. The Neverwinters were just too different for me to feel I was in the same place. Kuldahar, though? The implementation of that town in the IWD series was brilliant, I thought. Kirkwall might have had the same potential with the Ten Year Span, only in one game instead of across a series, but by all accounts that didn't work out so well.

 

Is not about the sheer size of the place, though: the larger they TELL me the city is, the more I'm likely to notice that when you get right down to it, there really aren't that many people living there, nor all that many buildings. Towns and villages, I think, tend to come across better rather than massive metropolises in this respect. The "district" or "ward" model seems to work better for me, rather than a continuous/seamless environment; that's where the abstraction comes into play. A certain level of abstraction to its presentation can make me accept a few relatively small areas as being part of a gigantic hub of civilization whereas in a seamless 3d world where I can see from one edge of the city to another, I might start asking all those uncomfortable, illusion-breaking questions.

 

So yes. I like cities. Wilderness too, but this thread is about cities. Gimme. Pack it with detail, make it consistent enough to be used by the player instead of the other way around, provide a reason for me to play, and let me "go to town"... so to speak.

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Athkatla was probably my favorite part of either of the BG's. A lot of it had to do with ambient sound and other factors, but the way that a 2d map could lay out a sprawling, tangeled city was just really appealing.

Edited by happyelf

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The game could be fantastic even without a big and well done city, but I loved Athkatla in BG2 and I would welcome something similar.

Also Vizima was a good city in TW, while I wouldn't go for Imperial City or Denerim, since they were not that good at all.

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Can I also suggest keeping the big city far away from the player at first?

Personally I hate if I play Skyrim or Morrowind and then my first playthrough I think "wow, Whiterun/Balmora is so awesome! Can't wait to see more cities" and then I find out those are easily the most convenient/accessible/interesting cities in the game by far and other cities struggle to compare.

 

On the other hand in New Vegas, my first playthrough I loathed Freeside, I loathed Novac. I wanted them to get the hell out of the way so I could go see Vegas. But later? Later I realized how cool they were. They were towns that, after reaching the "big city," I was able to look back and appreciate more.

 

I just prefer finding a surprise awesome city later to having the awesome city thrown at me ASAP and then later having my hopes smashed and dashed when I slowly realize I've already seen the best city in the game.

Edited by Longknife
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Just been reminded by Industrial Spy's character creation thread, there was a great city in the old White Dwarf magazine, think it was called Irillian. It appeared in issue number 42 and onwards as I remember, each issue covering a section of the city and the adventure unfolding in it. Real masterwork, the language of the place was a version of old english that one soon got their tongue around, and the detail was amazing. If you ever want to run a pen and paper city campaign, might be worth chasing that up.

 

And Thrud.

Edited by Nonek

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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