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Storyline divergence, significance of choice, and effect on future games.

choice lore world building expansions sequels

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#1
Giantevilhead

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Obsidian has said that there will be many complex and difficult choices that can make significant changes to your playing experience. So what is everyone's opinions on how big of an effect these choices should have? And how should they carry over to future expansions/games?

Should you be able to cause major changes within a society? Perhaps by helping to liberate an underclass, or change their system of government, or maybe even set a civilization on a path to destruction?

Should you be able to change the course of nations? Should you be able help an occupied nation overthrow its invaders or convince a nation to invade someone else?

How should that play out in future games? If you help one nation or one major faction defeat another, then that has the potential to cause huge changes in a future expansion or game even if a sequel takes place in another part of the world.

How fast should you be able to cause these changes? For example, if you're trying to help an occupied nation overthrow its invaders, you might not be able to completely succeed in one game. Maybe you can help liberate one city in the first game, then you can spread the rebellion throughout the entire nation in an expansion, then you can fully liberate the nation in a sequel, and in the third game, you can help that nation either rebuild or perhaps launch a counter-attack against their invaders.

I would of course also love to hear how far the developers are thinking in terms of all the potential ramifications of the player's choices, their effect on the game world and future games.

#2
IndiraLightfoot

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Deep, far-reaching consequences are the ticket, I reckon! This encourages trying out new parties and a new game. "Yes please" to the expansion and other sequels keeping track of choices my pc has made, the more, the merrier!

What I really disliked with a game like Skyrim was that you could complete all the "class"-specific quests in one character, coz that put a big damper on the replayability of the game. I knwo there are completionist gamers out there, in many ways I'm one of them, as I frantically and nosily scour even the mots meaningless cul-de-sacs for more lore and experiences, I'm obsessive that way - the same goes for character creation, I love taking that to the extreme as well. Both these aspects are like games within the game for me. However, completionist in the sense that everything should be completible in one playthru is utterly absurd. The consequences should continously block out all sorts of exciting aspects of the game (including duengons, lots of lore, a great number of NPCs, etc). CRPGs are not sightseeings for me, it is more like being an active part in a fantastic fantasy novel.

#3
BSoda

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Whatever they do they better give us choices that actually have weight.

I'm currently playing The Walking Dead and after being told that my choices would be important to the plot I felt very letdown when I found out that they really don't matter at all...it's the same with the ME series from Bioware. They had a save game import and advertized that your choices would carry over from the first game and help shape the ultimate outcome of the series...which turned out to be a blatant lie.

A choice that leads to the same result is no choice at all. But I'm actually a bit confident this time around. Not having most of the dialogue voiced will make things more managable for Obsidian.
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#4
C2B

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Agree on everything. Choices should vary though between deep/far reaching and short/immediate effect.

There also should be a lot of them and they should change details too. What I wouldn't want them to do is *simple* branching like Witcher 2 did it. I mean it's a novel and cool thing to do, but it uses too much resources and through that lessens the possible reactivity of the game (also ability to mix thing up).

Edit: ^^^^ Like BSoda said. They should nearly all have actual consequences.

Edited by C2B, 09 October 2012 - 02:42 AM.


#5
DocDoomII

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I just hope that they will be able to integrate choices well in the sequels.

I don't want it to be like importing from DA:O to DAII, or ME+ME2 into ME3.
Teh Horror.

#6
Wombat

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I'm currently playing The Walking Dead and after being told that my choices would be important to the plot I felt very letdown when I found out that they really don't matter at all...it's the same with the ME series from Bioware. They had a save game import and advertized that your choices would carry over from the first game and help shape the ultimate outcome of the series...

I hope this will be able to be done with possible PE successors, too. Surely quite tricky but if they plan carefully in advance... :ermm:

There also should be a lot of them and they should change details too. What I wouldn't want them to do is *simple* branching like Witcher 2 did it. I mean it's a novel and cool thing to do, but it uses too much resources and through that lessens the possible reactivity of the game (also ability to mix thing up).

Yeah, reading earlier posts in these boards, some people don't seem to be aware of what they lose in return for modern graphics and full voice-overs. Considering the restrictions, I think CDPR did quite well but the game was one of the causes which made me aware of the fact that AAA game making process is not suitable to the games I'd like to play.

#7
Jarmo

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I'm pretty indifferent overall and find it hard to believe it'd be worth the effort to make the sequel show major differences.
But if the impact shows, I'd like the "good" option picked in the first game, not always lead to "best" result in the second.

An example.

You find an elven and human village at odds, with a full blown war as a possibility. You can:

1. Side with the Elves, help defeat and drive away the human settlers.
2. Side with the Humans, help defeat and drive away or enslave the elven settlers.
3. Discover it's all a plot of a major trading house wanting to drive the elves away so they can build a lumber mill in the sacred grove.
You reveal the plot and settle things between opposing parties. Everybody's happy, the best XP, the best outcome.
4. Discover it's all a plot of a major trading house wanting to drive the elves away so they can build a lumber mill in the sacred grove.
You agree and share in the profits. The most profitable outcome.

In the next game these would result in:

1. Elven village prospers and hail you as a hero, free lodging and magic rewards.
2. Human village is now a prosperous town, you are hailed as a hero. Key to the city and a bar full of willing wenches.
3. Villages are still at odds, nobody prospers. Nobody is happy. Everybody is still alive though.
4. Human village is now a prosperous town, you are hailed as a hero. Key to the city and a bar full of willing wenches. Your (large) share of the profits awaits.

Not worth the effort in this scale, but I'd like to see similar through other missions.
Sometimes the short and long term have different outcomes and I'd like to see that reflected somehow.

Edited by Jarmo, 09 October 2012 - 03:34 AM.


#8
Giantevilhead

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The obvious disadvantage of having too many significant choices is that things can get too complex, especially when you combine various elements together.

For example, when you're dealing with a nation that's being occupied by an invader, there are many different ways things can play out. You might help that nation fight off the invaders, you might help the invaders pacify the populous, you might work for another faction that's trying to weaken both sides, and you might stay out of the whole conflict all together. That's at least four different outcomes that could impact future expansions/games. Depending on how you manipulate the situation, you could end up with completely different quests and stories in a future game.

Not to mention how there could be differences in how you go about trying to achieve your goal. The occupied nation may have some kind of caste system that influences the rebellion. The lower/oppressed class might not want to help the upper class fight off the invaders since things are bad for them either way. The upper class might choose to flee the country rather than let the lower class have more rights. So you can either keep the caste system and retain the support of the upper class, promise to break the caste system to gain the support of the lower class, or come up with some kind of compromise.

That would mean within each of the four major ways in how you deal with the original problem of the occupied nation, there would be many significant choices in how specifically you achieve those goals. The choices could branch out by huge amounts, resulting in a huge amount of work for the developers if the choices were to carry over to future games.

#9
Shadenuat

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Give a game satisfying ending and players will oppose the sequel with all their heart. It's better your choices would matter in that one game, than developers sitting on a cluster**** of plot lines from previous title after and try to pander to every player out there, but still fail, because you just can't make everyone happy.

Edited by Shadenuat, 09 October 2012 - 03:55 AM.


#10
RiceMunk

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Big effects can be big fun. I see no reason to limit (aside from the limits of plausibility) how the player can impact the history of the world.

As for how these effects show in the next games, you can handle smaller stuff by savegame importing and adjusting dialogue etc. as necessary. Alternately go with (e.g.) KotOR2-like leading questions to make the player tell the next game how things happened in the previous game.

Any huge changes in the game world can be more problematic though, as far as sequels go. If you can make an entire empire either fall or prosper in the first game and the second game takes place anywhere near said empire, the second game can end up being two entirely different games based on the outcome of the first. Implementing something like this is not really plausible.
As I see it, to get over this (while still keeping big changes a possibility) you need to do one of the following:
a) Make the second game take place in an entirely different part of the world or several hundred years after the first one. Then you can simply handwave any of the choices the player made in the first game by making a couple of historical references etc. to that era. In the example case of the empire falling/prospering, it might have eventually fallen anyhow. Then, in the distant future scenario, you can just refer to the empire in history books and either mention an era of prosperity or the actual fall caused by the player.
b) Decide that only one of the possible outcomes actually happened. The player's actions in the previous game "don't matter" in this case but hey, at least you got to stir up some proper fecal matter instead of being forced to do silly small stuff.
c) Do a (Darth) Revan. Doesn't matter if you decide to save the Republic or destroy it. You still skid off before the next game and end up with a kind of averaged outcome of the two possibilities. It actually worked surprisingly well, imo.

Edited by RiceMunk, 09 October 2012 - 03:57 AM.


#11
Aedelric

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Bioware through all their faults did create an interesting mechanic with importing saves to affect the game world. Unfortunately they were not good at it, either forgetting obvious consequences or outright ignoring them because it would be a hassle.

Obsidian love their choices, unfortunately they have not had a regular frachise to show if they can have cause and effect also, this is a great chance. Project Eternity has an advantage over the likes of Dragon Age/Mass Effect, they can plan ahead and avoid writing themselves into a corner. True that we do not need every single action to have cause and effect in the future, but as for big events it really would be great. I would not say such consideration would not cost much more to make for each sequel, but definitely would require a lot of thinking and planning rather than running with fun ideas for the sake of it.

If I kill off a race, I expect it to stay killed off! Not bring them back because you thought they "Look cool", damn you Bioware!
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#12
Shadenuat

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The only way to create a SIGNIFICANT consequence from one game to another, is to create two games instead of one. It's really simple. You take your chalkboard and draw a plot point. Then draw two lines from it, and write every major change which separates one from another.
Now multiply/broaden this by number of races, then classes, then every if/then like joinable companions deaths, and you already need another two chalkboards.
That's why I'd better take "100 years later" game. Because I, uh, care for Obsidian's sanity.

Edited by Shadenuat, 09 October 2012 - 04:35 AM.

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#13
Metabot

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The problem comes from too heavy of an emphasis on narrative rather than systems.

#14
Bos_hybrid

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Obviously choice is important, I would like to have different paths to chose from in the story. Rather than it being just a singular path. As for consequences in sequels, I've yet to see this done well. So I will remain cautious in any expectation.

#15
C2B

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Obviously choice is important, I would like to have different paths to chose from in the story. Rather than it being just a singular path.


You know, as I mentioned before I'm not really fond of *paths*. Path's are still linear in their own sense, even if there are multiple of them. I have nothing against them if it's multiple smaller ones that are still well done (and overlap to each other so you can mix things up). Two big paths that are vastly different take too much time and resources, and due to the big differences its even more impossible to account for everything.

I want a lot more reactivity in the detail. I want to influence, manipulate charachters and the world. I want to experiment with it. Not just follow it.

Edited by C2B, 09 October 2012 - 06:09 AM.


#16
Tale

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I don't think it should play out in future games. Just move to new regions each game. And don't bring it up. Each game should be a self-contained adventure on its own. I'm actually hoping they don't even bring the companions through each sequel.

The need to constantly reference older games simply shouldn't be there.

I'm getting a little annoyed by it, in all honesty. For Mass Effect, some of the things made sense. The Rachni promised to help against the Reapers. But that was because the Reapers were a multi-game arc, they weren't self-contained in only the first game. Everything else just makes the world feel smaller. Like the setting revolves around only 20 people.

Take Ilium in ME2, for example. It's only a tiny little port. You go there for two new characters. But in this little space that's not even a square mile of an entire planet, you bump into no less than FOUR characters from Mass Effect 1. With a new character that is sending messages from a fifth ME1 character. Then you go off to run into a sixth who just happens to be connected to a mission you're there for, by complete coincidence.

Inside the game, reactivity should be high. Between games, it should be irrelevant.
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#17
crazyrabbits

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Whatever they do they better give us choices that actually have weight.

I'm currently playing The Walking Dead and after being told that my choices would be important to the plot I felt very letdown when I found out that they really don't matter at all...it's the same with the ME series from Bioware. They had a save game import and advertized that your choices would carry over from the first game and help shape the ultimate outcome of the series...which turned out to be a blatant lie.

A choice that leads to the same result is no choice at all. But I'm actually a bit confident this time around. Not having most of the dialogue voiced will make things more managable for Obsidian.


You have to have limits in games. While I'm sure that everyone would love to see a balls-to-the-wall series where every minute choice you make has far-reaching consequences three or four games down the line, you need a lot of funding (all that additional content takes time to create, animate and write, and it's not a given that all of the player base will see it) and/or you need to be absolutely sure what you're going to do across the whole franchise.

TWD was never going to have Carley/Doug stay with you for the entire series, not only because a majority of players picked one over the other (rendering the other a virtual non-entity and a waste in terms of budget), but that was development time going to two separate characters with their own unique dialogue and mission options. I doubt they could keep that up indefinitely, given the relatively short development time and budget. They've done well with giving the player just enough flexibility (cosmetic changes, moral decisions) to make them feel like they've made an impact on other characters.

ME3 is a different case. While ME2 handled importing well (the game notably changed, most in text updates and extra snippets of alternate dialogue), the designers either lost their scripting maps or just didn't want to bother with creating all that extra content with a limited development time, because it homogenized every choice in 3 into the same outcome (and same ending), regardless of what you did throughout the series. There is little benefit to a person who played the entire trilogy (vs. a new player) besides an extra outcome in the Geth vs. Quarians plotline.

If Obsidian is going to handle the concept of choice, they should (as others have mentioned) make it so that future installments run on a standardized set of choices (a la BG or Deus Ex), or in the event that they're planning alternate content and extra material for different choices, relegate to a handful of major instances that pay off down the road, without going into too many variables.

Edited by crazyrabbits, 09 October 2012 - 06:23 AM.

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#18
Milten

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Excuse me for being boring, but some questions in OP post are too rhetorical.
Would you like choices with a great impact? Oh, heck no! Why would I want such thing?
On a serious note. There is one thing I don't want. Consequences in sequels. Why? Because it's additional headache for devs, potential plotholes, and just illusion of meaning, which leads only to disappointment.
Do you think those 'consequences' in ME were made like that only for sake of Great Evil? Possible content grows with geometrical progression (and budget doesn't) so either you work for free or make it isolated tiny encounter. I'd bet Bioware would like to stop it, but they couldn't, because it became 'innovative feature' and part of marketing.
Make choices mean in this game, not promise me to make them meaningful sometime in the future.

Edit. Nnja'd by Tale.

Edited by Milten, 09 October 2012 - 06:24 AM.


#19
Bos_hybrid

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Obviously choice is important, I would like to have different paths to chose from in the story. Rather than it being just a singular path.


You know, as I mentioned before I'm not really fond of *paths*. Path's are still linear in their own sense, even if there are multiple of them. I have nothing against them if it's multiple smaller ones that are still well done (and overlap to each other so you can mix things up). Two big paths that are vastly different take too much time and resources, and due to the big differences its even more impossible to account for everything.


I understand where you are coming from, but I like be given multiple scenarios, with different outcomes. I'm not talking about TW2 Roche/elf level. Closer to NWN2 thieves and guards choice. I also just don't want to be forced to be the hero. So I normally just repeat myself about multiple paths, in order to avoid that happening.

MoTB was one however, that had just one singular path, but your choice defined what that path was, if they did that again, I would be very very happy.

I want a lot more reactivity in the detail. I want to influence, manipulate charachters and the world. I want to experiment with it. Not just follow it.


Same, I want to tell the story. If you get my meaning. Rather than just being told the story.

#20
Metabot

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Whatever they do they better give us choices that actually have weight.

I'm currently playing The Walking Dead and after being told that my choices would be important to the plot I felt very letdown when I found out that they really don't matter at all...it's the same with the ME series from Bioware. They had a save game import and advertized that your choices would carry over from the first game and help shape the ultimate outcome of the series...which turned out to be a blatant lie.

A choice that leads to the same result is no choice at all. But I'm actually a bit confident this time around. Not having most of the dialogue voiced will make things more managable for Obsidian.


You have to have limits in games. While I'm sure that everyone would love to see a balls-to-the-wall series where every minute choice you make has far-reaching consequences three or four games down the line, you need a lot of funding (all that additional content takes time to create, animate and write, and it's not a given that all of the player base will see it) and/or you need to be absolutely sure what you're going to do across the whole franchise.

TWD was never going to have Carley/Doug stay with you for the entire series, not only because a majority of players picked one over the other (rendering the other a virtual non-entity and a waste in terms of budget), but that was development time going to two separate characters with their own unique dialogue and mission options. I doubt they could keep that up indefinitely, given the relatively short development time and budget. They've done well with giving the player just enough flexibility (cosmetic changes, moral decisions) to make them feel like they've made an impact on other characters.

ME3 is a different case. While ME2 handled importing well (the game notably changed, most in text updates and extra snippets of alternate dialogue), the designers either lost their scripting maps or just didn't want to bother with creating all that extra content with a limited development time, because it homogenized every choice in 3 into the same outcome (and same ending), regardless of what you did throughout the series. There is little benefit to a person who played the entire trilogy (vs. a new player) besides an extra outcome in the Geth vs. Quarians plotline.

If Obsidian is going to handle the concept of choice, they should (as others have mentioned) make it so that future installments run on a standardized set of choices (a la BG or Deus Ex), or in the event that they're planning alternate content and extra material for different choices, relegate to a handful of major instances that pay off down the road, without going into too many variables.


Every choice you make in a strategy game has far reaching consequences. It just needs to be incorporated into rpgs.





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: choice, lore, world building, expansions, sequels

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