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Unofficial P.E. Relationship/Romance Thread pt. 3

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In a role-playing game, especially one where you are allowed to fully create your own character (as PE will be, in the great IE following of the greater cRPG tradition), the game writers should almost never write the player character's reactions.

 

They should, can and do write NPC reactions to the game world and the player character, and other game world reactions to the player character, NPCs and other game world events.

 

Actually they have to write the players reactions in dialogue to other dialogue. Otherwise the game wouldn't be responsive in dialogue. So at least one situation you can't take a reaction not given to you by the devs (hence the complaints over certain dialogue systems where the picked choice doesn't match the tone/point of what is said - the devs give the players a reaction choice that they pick because its the closest fit only for it to not fit at all).

 

Arguably there is no player reaction that the game makers didn't allow via creation (either intentionally or unintentionally). To use my FONV example (because I'm tired and don't want to think of another), when Vulpes tells me to kill him if I feel strongly against what they've done to Nipton, the fact that I can pull out a gun and shoot him in the face is part of the games design. They could have made him unkillable, or scripted Vulpes and crew to leave Nipton without the PC reacting. That they didn't allows me to choose that reaction (and subsequently the world will react to that action).

 

What the game makers can't write (and shouldn't assume) is the players motive; my reason for face-shooting Vulpes will always remain my own.

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In a role-playing game, especially one where you are allowed to fully create your own character (as PE will be, in the great IE following of the greater cRPG tradition), the game writers should almost never write the player character's reactions.

 

They should, can and do write NPC reactions to the game world and the player character, and other game world reactions to the player character, NPCs and other game world events.

 

Actually they have to write the players reactions in dialogue to other dialogue.

 

Amentep, you aren't being this nitpicky are you? :huh:

 

Let me try again to explain this, and maybe you'll see where there is confusion.

 

ahem

 

So, yes, the player's options are pre-scripted. His character can only be player defined, as far the game world will react to him or her, inside of the boundaries of what the game developers made possible. There are limits to what you can create inside the game rules and options.

 

Arguably there is no player reaction that the game makers didn't allow via creation (either intentionally or unintentionally).

 

and so...

 

The game designers (for a cRPG in the style of PE, the older IE games, etc.) give you options of what you character says or does. The game world (including NPCs) should react to your characters words and actions - words and actions that chosen by the player, not by the writers.

 

What the game makers can't write (and shouldn't assume) is the players motive; my reason for face-shooting Vulpes will always remain my own.

 

Yep, hence -

uhm, I quoted it above.

 

When I say they shouldn't write the player character's reactions, I don't mean they don't write the options you can choose.

 

of course they do

 

I mean they should NOT predetermine exact reactions for the player character.

 

Major example, one that burns me to this day and I'll never forgive...

 

Mass Effect 2's DLC, Arrival. In a cut scene, with no input from the player, Shepard kills 300,000 batarians. My Shepard I had played to that point would NEVER have made that choice. My character was torn away from me.

 

Decisions, character defining or simple, should not be made for the player character. The writers can only give so many options, but hey need to let the player choose which option... in a cRPG in the style of PE which (you get the point...)

 

....

 

So I think we're actually in agreement here, right? :ermm::shrugz::sweat:

Edited by Merin
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Can't see how one could say the "in between" is the best part of the story, as it's something you're making up in your head rather than being the story crafted by the writer. Well, maybe if the writer alludes to something happening in that time and letting you finish off the rest ?

 

Meh, reminds me of people saying FO3 had awesome storytelling with the random skeletons in houses and players imagining what happened to them - so those spooning skeletons were old people that cuddled up to end their lives together or something suitably sappy.

 

Eh, well its personal taste (and there's never any accounting for that, definitely not my own! :)) However when people can see the spooning skeletons and connect to that, it brings the setting "to life" for them. Or when they can relate to a companion story and fill in the blanks of what wasn't said. Its one more way for story elements to draw players in. However your personal mileage with that may vary!

 

From a video game perspective, this might be something like in BG2 when your party is traveling for a day (or so) from Athkatla to Umar Hills (IIRC), the player might assume, conjecture or imagine that the party might have conversations, or camp, or whatever during the trip that happens between "gather your party to venture forth" and arrival in Umar Hills. The trip doesn't exist in the game, only in the mind of the player.

 

That's a pretty direct comparison to the gutter, yes...

 

I figured it was the easiest to visualize. Problem with print comparisons is that video games belong to the visual media spectrum and I think its harder to make analogies that are easy to grasp when you leave the visual.

 

One of the best examples for visual inferences is from Hitch****. Take a picture of a man grinning, then cut to a baby and back to the man. The audience has a visual story from the pictures (typically of a dad looking at his child or something along those lines - fairly innocuous). Take the SAME picture of a man grinning but inter-cut it with a picture of a sexy, scantily clad woman now gives you a different view of the man's intent. The truth is the pictures may not have anything to do with one another. They may not have been taken in the same place at the same time; juxtaposition of images and the human brain's need to create connections is what creates the narrative.

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Actually they have to write the players reactions in dialogue to other dialogue.

 

Amentep, you aren't being this nitpicky are you? :huh:

 

Maybe? :)

 

I've had to read some of these posts broken up a good deal so apologies if I've lost context.

 

When I say they shouldn't write the player character's reactions, I don't mean they don't write the options you can choose.

 

of course they do

 

I mean they should predetermine exact reactions for the player character.

 

I think we may be talking about the same things but using different terminology.

 

Major example, one that burns me to this day and I'll never forgive...

 

Mass Effect 2's DLC, Arrival. In a cut scene, with no input from the player, Shepard kills 300,000 batarians. My Shepard I had played to that point would NEVER have made that choice. My character was torn away from me.

 

Decisions, character defining or simple, should not be made for the player character. The writers can only give so many options, but hey need to let the player choose which option... in a cRPG in the style of PE which (you get the point...)

 

Right, that's railroading and generally bad (unless the entire game railroads so you know going in what to expect).

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Romances should not be in PE unless it is with the dwarf female ranger. She so H0T and dreamy. I wanna marry her, and we don't have many chances for dwarf relationships in rpgs - close was in DA1 and that was wityh two dwarven prositutes.


DWARVES IN PROJECT ETERNITY = VOLOURN HAS PLEDGED $250.

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One of the best examples for visual inferences is from Hitch****. Take a picture of a man grinning, then cut to a baby and back to the man. The audience has a visual story from the pictures (typically of a dad looking at his child or something along those lines - fairly innocuous). Take the SAME picture of a man grinning but inter-cut it with a picture of a sexy, scantily clad woman now gives you a different view of the man's intent. The truth is the pictures may not have anything to do with one another. They may not have been taken in the same place at the same time; juxtaposition of images and the human brain's need to create connections is what creates the narrative.

 

Okay, that example is better than what I've been giving. Thank you. :sorcerer:

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Eh, well its personal taste (and there's never any accounting for that, definitely not my own! :)) However when people can see the spooning skeletons and connect to that, it brings the setting "to life" for them. Or when they can relate to a companion story and fill in the blanks of what wasn't said. Its one more way for story elements to draw players in. However your personal mileage with that may vary!

 

Yep, no accounting for that - although filling in blanks like that seems to encourage madness like Bioware fans exhibited with their Indoctrination Theory nonsense for ME3, heh.


Why has elegance found so little following? Elegance has the disadvantage that hard work is needed to achieve it and a good education to appreciate it. - Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

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if they wouldn't give player any motivations to choose from how they can deal with the soul possibly influencing the choices you make?

They shouldn't. The idea of souls influencing characters should be left for NPCs. Maybe if they want to get meta, the player can be a stand-in for the character's soul.

 

If the soul is influencing character decisions, you either remove player agency by declaring it for the player. Or you're making a silly distinction of letting the player choose between soul and self which is needless complication that doesn't actually explore the theme. It's just letting the player pretend he's exploring a theme he probably doesn't even understand.

You're missing it. The player has a choice as to how and why do something. For example, save that pregnant woman or the king? You can save the woman because you save two lives and the king has more people caring after him, or you can do it because you hate the guy, and other possibilities that can be presented in the dialogue and the narrative. Some time later you learn that something similar has happened in the soul's past. At that point, we see whether the pc made the choice influenced by the past, and in which way, or not if he didn't get influenced.

I'm missing it because that doesn't make any sense to me.

 

The player already knows why the PC made the choice. In fact, you just asked him why. Turning around and saying "it's because of the past life" or "because of no reason, lol" based on a comparison against the writer's arbitrary script isn't something that sounds even remotely beneficial.

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"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."

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... avoiding the temptation to argue that themes could be presented in so many very different ways, knowing full well some sentence will be grabbed by somebody and used, out of context, to create an army of straw men that even fire could not stop ...

 

In a role-playing game, especially one where you are allowed to fully create your own character (as PE will be, in the great IE following of the greater cRPG tradition), the game writers should almost never write the player character's reactions.

 

They should, can and do write NPC reactions to the game world and the player character, and other game world reactions to the player character, NPCs and other game world events.

 

You're not seeing The Big Picture.

 

Without player character reacting to what happens in gameworld then the game and the gameworld will be like Bethesda's games where rest of the gameworld is just there for the player to play puppeteer and becomes completely superfluous and bland instead of giving impression that player character is part of the small world, it gives the feeling that world being there for the player and player character to toy with.

 

I'll give you an example from my earlier post:

Game gives you a choice to save either NPC A or NPC B, and if you didn't save NPC A and he was right-hand man of local leader such as a duke, he might send hired mercenaries after you, demand explanation, demand some sort of compensation, or something else what writer has come up with, and it might affect how the story progresses since you didn't save the NPC A thus not getting help from his master, and since you saved NPC B, he joins your group and you get help from his master who might be local thieves' guild leader which gives you different kind of help and takes you to the completely other route on how the game progresses, maybe different set of quests to progress in the story.

 

And here comes the "Player reacting to the gameworld" and the consequences-part; You get the message from NPC B's master that NPC A's master is mightly pissed off at you for letting his right-hand-man die, and he will send mercenaries after you, now you have a choice either to get the message to the Master A that you are willing to compensate his loss somehow (be that huge sum of money, you're going to work for him (doing quests), letting him to kill one of your companions etc), you can wait for the mercenaries and fight them and then deal with the consequences of that action, you can sneak to Master A's castle and either kill him or threaten him with "See how easily we got to you, now back off" and all those choices can branch to the new directions and so on.

 

If they won't write player character reacting on what the NPC says or does then you can't have well written and deep companions and other NPCs because there wouldn't be two-way interaction and the writers wouldn't be able to write good, evil, creedy, neutral and all different kind of responses to which game can then react to and keep track of what kind of character you are playing - such as in PS:T where lot of alignment shifts came from the dialogues where the TNO reacted on what the NPCs said.

 

They write that the player character makes a choice, or the player / player character makes a choice? Distinction is important.

 

You are getting caught with the words and not the meaning - English isn't my native language. I obviously meant that they give a choice for the player either to save a baby or not but that should've been clear enough from my text.

 

No, you really do mean the writers saying what the player character decided, and writing why they did it?

 

In a cRPG, especially one where you can create your character in the way of IE following the great tradition of cRPGs letting you make your own character, the writers should not be dictating to me my character or my actions. Stuff like KotOR or PS:T, in the Total Recall method of "here's a unique character born from the mind-wiped husk of a previous villain", is a special case of that's not your character the stuff they relate to you, it's the personality of whom inhabited your character's body earlier.

 

Digression aside, I reject the scenario because I don't believe PE should be dictating my character's motivations to me.

 

As I said above, the writers of the game has written a scene where the player gets a choice either to save the baby or not, after (not necessarely instantly) that they can show a "flashback" where some previous owner of the soul had to make a same or similar choice, and show his/hers motivation for the choice they made, but more on this later in my reply.

 

Let me try and pick out the salient point in here, and feel free to correct me if I've missed it -

 

How can the game writers create reactive dialog for the NPCs if they haven't dictated ahead of time the PC's motivations?

 

The same way they've done it for all the other IE games where NPCs spoke to the player's characters - by first giving the player enough options to reasonably represent where most players would like be playing their characters from (what number of options is the trick - too many and the game takes way too long to write, especially if these options keep branching.... too few and you get Mass Effect 3 where you can choose to say yes in a nice voice or yes in a mean voice) and then crafting NPC responses to those options.

 

In a perfect role-playing environment, each character would have it's own player so each character was super-realized and each character could react to whatever each other player said or did without limitations. And this is how simulations for group therapy and training exercises work, but let's not go there for now. With role-playing games, you aren't going to get that many people involved - you have a handful of players controlling their own characters, and as such their characters have the most reactivity and are the most realized... whereas all the other characters in the world are controlled by the GM, and therefore are less realized. Still, the GM can try and react to most anything the players do, so it's not so bad, just the GM can't spend lots of time fleshing out every other character in the world. Now you move to cRPG's, and the limitations grow. You don't have an active GM (in single player cRPGs), you have prescripted dialog and such for the NPCs before the player has even bought the game, let alone made a character. And because of the limitations of prescripted reactions, the player becomes limited in how many choices he or she has as well. The game developers have to prescript the options for the player.

 

So, yes, the player's options are pre-scripted. His character can only be player defined, as far the game world will react to him or her, inside of the boundaries of what the game developers made possible. There are limits to what you can create inside the game rules and options.

 

But you still create it. You still choose the dialog your character speaks. And all the nooks and crannies that aren't covered by the character creation system you can imagine to help add the height to Harry Potter or the style of shirt that Frodo is wearing (referring to books, movies, reader vs. writer vs. movie director visions of characters, etc, from earlier post.)

 

Games used to (some still do) give you bio blocks to fill in your character's biography. Clearly the designers meant these to be YOUR characters, not their characters.

 

I know the difference of singleplayer CPRG and RPG played with several players and GM very well - I played 3-4 years in the RP Server of the NWN where we had GMs/DMs - since you are so determined of playing your own character, you should try it - honestly.

 

Since they can keep track of what the player has done with numerous variables etc, they can then write the dilaogue where the NPC asks from the PC why did you did this thing, and the game gives the player several choices - if you remember from PS:T they had 15-20 choices for some dialogues, you don't think that's enough to cover most "generic" motivations given the context in the game and gameworld?

 

As I said, the game can keep track of what you have done with variables, and they can do what PS:T did that they can write the flashback in between the dialogue described as written text what the previous owner of the soul did and what was his motivation - thus they can then write the dialogue with the PC and NPC where PC says "Previous owner of the soul did similar thing for this reason" and then continue the discussion on possiblity how soul influenced the action and motivation of the player character.

 

Since you can probably choose what kind of soul the PC has, it can also influence on what the previous hosts did and it will be increasing the replaybility.

 

Yes, the player chooses the dialogue which the character speaks and takes the actions/options but you are not the writer of the said dialogue and the possible multiple actions. You are still playing the character and it's vartiations and aspects in the gameworld they have created, if it would truly be your character then you would've written the dialogue and would make completely your own choices.

 

Where the roleplaying in single-player crpg comes in are the choices & consequences - how do you react to them, what choices you make, what kind of character are you playing (good, evil, creedy, selfish, neutral, etc), how do you interact with different characters and factions - which faction do you join in, which faction are you working against, which character do you help and which not, how do you react what happens in the gameworld such as the before mentioned situation with the Master A and then the game shows in the gameworld how the story/stories, gameworld, NPCs and your character shapes up in the said world depending on what you have chosen to do - and they show how your choices changes the NPCs, gameworld and the story - that's where the roleplaying in singleplayer RPG comes from.

 

Not from the stuff you have made up in your head - the stuff what happens, happens in the gameworld because that's how games work - the player character optimally has as many choices in the game as it's possible to do and choose from, and you choose from them depending on what aspect/varitation of character you want to play from the choices/options the devs have written for you - your character can't be anything more in the game and game world what the devs have written into the game.

 

When you play a character in PNP or RP server ran by GM, it basicly happens like in the single-player RPG but the two-way interaction can just be more fluent but the basic principle is the same - you still don't imagine stuff happening in your head what doesn't happen in the game.

 

Since you brought up IE games and PS:T, do you remember how many choices it gave for the player to choose in dialogue? it sometimes had 15 or even 20 choices. As I said in the beginning, you are not seeing The Big Picture, they can now write as much branching dialogue as they want since there are no VOs - they won't have to care how much dialogue there is in the game from that standpoint since the biggest restriction on how much variability there can be in the dialogue has been VOs.

 

For every important choice you can make in the dialogue there are many options to choose from - let's say 10-15, and there is unique reply from the NPC for each of them, and then you can again choose from the 10-15 options - See now how it can work? Who's to say Obsidian wouldn't do that, or wouldn't want to?

 

What I've read about PE in the interviews and comments from the developers makes it seem that it will be closer on what PS:T and KOTOR 2 was, in KOTOR 2 if you remember at least one NPC asked from the player character why he went to the war and followed Revan and player had multiple choices to choose from - I think there were places where Kreia asked why chose to do something - and she reacted to that.

 

I think this is very important from the devs in Kickstarter page: "Project Eternity will take the central hero, memorable companions and the epic exploration of Baldur’s Gate, add in the fun, intense combat and dungeon diving of Icewind Dale, and tie it all together with the emotional writing and mature thematic exploration of Planescape: Torment.", I've bolded the important part.

 

The devs have said that player can choose from what culture the player character is from, and then the gameworld will react to it - this tells me that the player character probably won't be completely blank state like it was in Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, which you want.

 

The player character's motivations shouldn't enter into the design of the game at all, with the exception of what the player choose to have as his character's motivations.

The game designers (for a cRPG in the style of PE, the older IE games, etc.) give you options of what you character says or does. The game world (including NPCs) should react to your characters words and actions - words and actions that chosen by the player, not by the writers.

 

And why they shouldn't? They know the gameworld, characters, themes and how to deal with them better than any player would, like I said before you are playing variations and different aspects of the character (or if you prefer; possible characters), and they might want to write possible motivations for those possible characters, which then determines how the character shapes up in the story and how your character shapes up the story - as I described earlier in the post.

 

Let's say that the story they have written calls for the motivations behind the actions your player character has chosen, for example priest of the one of the religions asks from you why you stole the gold chest from the local noble when you are trying to join their order - you can choose from lot of different options and one of them has "[lie] I plan to give it to the poor", which means you're planning to keep the chest for yourself. The game can keep track of that, and later if they find out that you have lied to them, they might kick you out of their order unless you manage to fool them but some of the choices are genuine motivations behind the actions.

 

Hell, game can even keep track of that for later when one of your companions asks why did you lie to the priest, and then he/she reacts to your answer.

 

See how the motivations in game can be used?

 

I have always talked about the choices and options player can choose from what the writer has written for the player - they still do write the options for you either in the dialogue or in the gameplay itself and they choose the possible actions you can take.

 

PS. Sorry I couldn't keep this shorter but I had to be thorough in my arguments so there wouldn't be misunderstandings.

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if they wouldn't give player any motivations to choose from how they can deal with the soul possibly influencing the choices you make?

They shouldn't. The idea of souls influencing characters should be left for NPCs. Maybe if they want to get meta, the player can be a stand-in for the character's soul.

 

If the soul is influencing character decisions, you either remove player agency by declaring it for the player. Or you're making a silly distinction of letting the player choose between soul and self which is needless complication that doesn't actually explore the theme. It's just letting the player pretend he's exploring a theme he probably doesn't even understand.

You're missing it. The player has a choice as to how and why do something. For example, save that pregnant woman or the king? You can save the woman because you save two lives and the king has more people caring after him, or you can do it because you hate the guy, and other possibilities that can be presented in the dialogue and the narrative. Some time later you learn that something similar has happened in the soul's past. At that point, we see whether the pc made the choice influenced by the past, and in which way, or not if he didn't get influenced.

I'm missing it because that doesn't make any sense to me.

 

The player already knows why the PC made the choice. In fact, you just asked him why. Turning around and saying "it's because of the past life" or "because of no reason, lol" based on a comparison against the writer's arbitrary script isn't something that sounds even remotely beneficial.

 

That's where the roleplaying and dealing with the themes comes in - the player character and the NPCs can then talk about it in the game how and why the soul possibly influenced the said action and what kind of people the previous owners of the said soul were.

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Quote

 

The player character's motivations shouldn't enter into the design of the game at all, with the exception of what the player choose to have as his character's motivations.

The game designers (for a cRPG in the style of PE, the older IE games, etc.) give you options of what you character says or does. The game world (including NPCs) should react to your characters words and actions - words and actions that chosen by the player, not by the writers.

 

And why they shouldn't? They know the gameworld, characters, themes and how to deal with them better than any player would, like I said before you are playing variations and different aspects of the character (or if you prefer; possible characters), and they might want to write possible motivations for those possible characters, which then determines how the character shapes up in the story and how your character shapes up the story - as I described earlier in the post.

 

Let's say that the story they have written calls for the motivations behind the actions your player character has chosen, for example priest of the one of the religions asks from you why you stole the gold chest from the local noble when you are trying to join their order - you can choose from lot of different options and one of them has "[lie] I plan to give it to the poor", which means you're planning to keep the chest for yourself. The game can keep track of that, and later if they find out that you have lied to them, they might kick you out of their order unless you manage to fool them but some of the choices are genuine motivations behind the actions.

 

Hell, game can even keep track of that for later when one of your companions asks why did you lie to the priest, and then he/she reacts to your answer.

 

See how the motivations in game can be used?

 

I have always talked about the choices and options player can choose from what the writer has written for the player - they still do write the options for you either in the dialogue or in the gameplay itself and they choose the possible actions you can take.

 

PS. Sorry I couldn't keep this shorter but I had to be thorough in my arguments so there wouldn't be misunderstandings.

 

I have to say I agree with jarpie on this. It would make no sense for the characters own self motivations not to factor into the game world at all. In the end, whether you're playing Baldurs Gate or Planescape Torment, your character had their own self motivations that probably completely differed from the person playing that character. Especially in Torment, the Nameless one had several motivations that I could of given a crap less about, but they were interwoven into the character. Even though through dialogue, the player is given choices to choose from, there is still a very underlying concept of the character that is built into the game from the start.

 

We play the role of the character as the developers have portrayed him/her to us. Though we have many options of dialogue to pick from there is not an infinite number of choices to be made, which means we inevitably are forced to choose one of the paths that the developers have written, total free play-ability, or sovereignty in this case of a character, just cannot work in a game such as this. In order for a game to be created where the actual character's motivations were non existent, they'd have to ship us a blank game. Even in NwN if you were playing on a role-playing server, if you ignored your characters own self motivations and purely played the character based upon your own self motivations, then you were not properly role-playing Any true role-player will tell you this. Now as blunt and bold as that statement is, it's true down to its core. That is the very fundamental of role playing, you assume the role of a character.

 

Saying that motivations should be based on what 'you' the player have stated that characters motivations to be, isn't truly rping that character. Being a DM on a NwN server, we encountered this problem many a times. It's very hard to move away from something that you want your character to do, but know in your mind that your character wouldn't truly do that, so you're then forced to properly role-play that choice, by choosing the path that your character would take, or you can choose to not role-play that choice and do whatever you want. Thus destroying the whole point and meaning behind the words role-play

 

Now speaking specifically about PE, we are now taking on the role of a character in the vision of the writers. So, yes we should be forced to have underlying motivations and goals that the character has, whether we chose them or not. Why? Because, otherwise you wouldn't have a game to play at all. Though you have control over the choices and paths the character takes, the underlying ones will always remain. It's what leads you from the start of the game to the end, many choices and paths in between. Otherwise why even bother going to find Sarevok in BG? The underlying motivation for the character was to find his father's killer, whether you agreed with that or not, or no matter what options or paths you chose, whatever you did would eventually lead you to Sarevok. Unless you decided to just not beat the game. So to say that the player character's motivations shouldn't enter into the design of the game at all, really makes no sense to me. I cannot fathom how you could play any sort of role-playing game, including NwN where you are playing your own character, without having an underlying sense of the character. Especially in NwN, your character will always have his/her own motivations, it's just with PE we are now working with the developers/writers characters motivations, which is what gives us our choices and paths we can choose from in the first place.

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Obsidian ‏@Obsidian Current PayPal status: $140,000. 2,200 backers

 

"Hmm so last Paypal information was 140,000 putting us at 4,126,929. We did well over and beyond 4 million, and still have an old backer number from Paypal. 76,186 backers. It's very possible that we have over 75,000 backers if I had new Paypal information. Which means we may have 15 Mega dungeon levels, and we already are going to have an amazing game + cats (I swear I will go stir crazy if Adam doesn't own up to the cats thing :p)."

 

Switching to Paypal means that more of your money will go towards Project Eternity. (The more you know.)

Paypal charges .30 cents per transaction and 2.2% for anything over 100,000 per month for U.S currency. Other currency is different, ranging from anywhere between 2.2-4.9%.

Kick Starter is a fixed 5% charge at the end.

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To use my FONV example (because I'm tired and don't want to think of another), when Vulpes tells me to kill him if I feel strongly against what they've done to Nipton, the fact that I can pull out a gun and shoot him in the face is part of the games design. They could have made him unkillable, or scripted Vulpes and crew to leave Nipton without the PC reacting. That they didn't allows me to choose that reaction (and subsequently the world will react to that action).

But killing Vulpes can be part of ordinary gameplay. When the conversation ends, you can pull out a gun and shoot him.

 

There's no need to make that an explicit option in conversation, and there's no need to make killing Vulpes impossible if you don't happen to choose that explicit option in conversation.

 

They should give us the freedom to act as we see fit within the game's mechanics, rather than writing out specific actions for us and having us choose from a list.


God used to be my co-pilot, but then we crashed in the Andes and I had to eat him.

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I have to say I agree with jarpie on this. It would make no sense for the characters own self motivations not to factor into the game world at all. In the end, whether you're playing Baldurs Gate or Planescape Torment, your character had their own self motivations that probably completely differed from the person playing that character. Especially in Torment, the Nameless one had several motivations that I could of given a crap less about, but they were interwoven into the character. Even though through dialogue, the player is given choices to choose from, there is still a very underlying concept of the character that is built into the game from the start.

 

We play the role of the character as the developers have portrayed him/her to us. Though we have many options of dialogue to pick from there is not an infinite number of choices to be made, which means we inevitably are forced to choose one of the paths that the developers have written, total free play-ability, or sovereignty in this case of a character, just cannot work in a game such as this. In order for a game to be created where the actual character's motivations were non existent, they'd have to ship us a blank game. Even in NwN if you were playing on a role-playing server, if you ignored your characters own self motivations and purely played the character based upon your own self motivations, then you were not properly role-playing Any true role-player will tell you this. Now as blunt and bold as that statement is, it's true down to its core. That is the very fundamental of role playing, you assume the role of a character.

 

Saying that motivations should be based on what 'you' the player have stated that characters motivations to be, isn't truly rping that character. Being a DM on a NwN server, we encountered this problem many a times. It's very hard to move away from something that you want your character to do, but know in your mind that your character wouldn't truly do that, so you're then forced to properly role-play that choice, by choosing the path that your character would take, or you can choose to not role-play that choice and do whatever you want. Thus destroying the whole point and meaning behind the words role-play

 

Now speaking specifically about PE, we are now taking on the role of a character in the vision of the writers. So, yes we should be forced to have underlying motivations and goals that the character has, whether we chose them or not. Why? Because, otherwise you wouldn't have a game to play at all. Though you have control over the choices and paths the character takes, the underlying ones will always remain. It's what leads you from the start of the game to the end, many choices and paths in between. Otherwise why even bother going to find Sarevok in BG? The underlying motivation for the character was to find his father's killer, whether you agreed with that or not, or no matter what options or paths you chose, whatever you did would eventually lead you to Sarevok. Unless you decided to just not beat the game. So to say that the player character's motivations shouldn't enter into the design of the game at all, really makes no sense to me. I cannot fathom how you could play any sort of role-playing game, including NwN where you are playing your own character, without having an underlying sense of the character. Especially in NwN, your character will always have his/her own motivations, it's just with PE we are now working with the developers/writers characters motivations, which is what gives us our choices and paths we can choose from in the first place.

 

I also have to add quickly that the possible motivations you choose in the game can come up in the main- and sub-stories also and can affect how they branch out, progress and develop - No idea if PE will take this route but I'll give an example:

 

In the very end of the game it shows what happened after the game ended in the end slides like in Fallout: New Vegas for example, and it tells that this and this happened because you made those important choices for those reasons - like in the example I gave about goldchest you chose differently and gave gold to the poor people and you became to be known as a "Robin Hood"-kind of popular figure in certain part of the gameworld and you became high ranking member in the church because you did it because you wanted to help the poor people or if you chose differently and kept the chest, becoming rich man but you were thrown out of the church as a disgraced man because you lied about your motivations; if you would've kept the goldchest and said to the priest that you intend to keep it because you need the gold, your standing with the church would've been neutral and you they wouldn't have let you join in because you're not righteous enough.

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The companion interaction scenes do not write themselves and are not done in two hours in between design meetings (were they might be, if you work at Bioware). On a project like PE, with limited funding and people, effective usage of manhours is essential. But we've been over this already in this thread, several times, and we obviously do not agree with one another's premises.

Yes, all NPC interaction requires work and thus uses resources. We differ in our opinion that spending any of those resources on romance is worthwhile. You think it is not, I think it is.

I would also add that if you want to make romance as in-depth written as non-romance, then it would have to have basicly same amount of dialogue as non-romance branch or at least very close to what non-romance has, thus meaning that the amount of the dialogue would be divided for both and then both would suffer.

 

If you would give romance-branch say 10% of the dialogue what non-romance branch has then you would basicly have just about 3-6 conversations, and the romance would be as shallow as they are in Bioware games and Obsidian is not doing that.

 

Sistergoldring, don't forget that the game will be much bigger now than what it was at 1,1 million; they originally had just three races, five classes and five companions, one big city, no mega dungeon and since then they have added:

three races (six altogether)

six classes (11 altogether)

three companions (8 altogether)

another big city (plus the quests, sub-plots, etc what goes with it)

15 level mega-dungeon

one extra region (plus the quests, sub-plots, etc what goes with it)

one major plot (plus the quests, sub-plots, etc what goes with it)

one extra faction (plus the quests, sub-plots, etc what goes with it)

Expert-, Trial of Iron- and Path of the Damned-modes

Crafting and Enchanting

Adventurer's Hall with full party creation

Player House

Stronghold.

Edit: Mega dungeon with 15 levels.

 

You don't think those require quite a hefty amount of funding and especially writing since they are keeping the development time the same as it was in 1,1 million?

 

 

I enjoy well rounded and complex NPC characters and I enjoy the capacity to interact with them in multiple ways. In as much as is practical I want to have the NPCs simulate a person with a human beings capacity for reacting both positively and negatively to situations. So I want a lot of NPC reactivity in PE, in fact as much as the writers can possibly squeeze in. I believe NPC reactions are a great and relatively inexpensive way for Obsidian to reinforce consequence and difference in the world. Resultantly I will always advocate for more NPC dialogue variance rather than less as it is a part of roleplaying that I enjoy. Thus any funds spent on providing branching dialogue that expands the range of possible interaction with the NPCs is for me money well spent. I would usually prefer two shorter well written branches in which an NPC either likes your action or expresses dislike about your action over one longer well written dialogue which does not change based on the NPCs personality. It is much more meaningful to me if I for example burn down a village to achieve an aim and then face a barrage of ‘you’re a ruthless bastard’ from a companion than it is to burn down a village in an act of ruthless bastardry and have no negative reaction from a companion you would reasonably expect based on their established character to be disgusted by the action.

 

I see the potential for romance as a logical extension of a friendship type of NPC PC relationship. It is something that if the circumstances and characters would be positively disposed towards should be possible to explore. I don’t agree with the argument that a satisfying romance subplot necessitates the same level of resources that are devoted to establishing the NPC as friendly to the PC as to me romance can develop quite naturally and satisfactorily from a friendly relationship tree with minor variations. Similarly if a non-friendly or casual romance branch is also included then it really takes minimal effort or resources to type a more sophisticated version of ‘Hey babe, how about it?’ and ‘Go to hell loser!’. After all the aim of PE isn’t to write an epic love story and romances if included need to be managed in a fashion balanced with alternate NPC PC relationships.

 

Further to this point, that as the budget increased so did the scope of PE, absolutely Obsidian is now creating a larger world and more companions. They now have greater opportunity to explore different NPC character relationships without having to shoehorn any and all interactions into a very limited amount of NPC personalities. I originally expected deep and well developed NPCs with branching dialogue trees and I now see no reason for them not to be able to include a romance aspect or subplot for some of them as we have so many more characters and personalities to explore.

 

Obviously if you feel that variability in companion interactions is an undesirable feature and that you would prefer the NPC dialogue doesn’t change in response to the PCs actions then you naturally would see no value in funding an increase in the range of potential options available for the PC to explore. I have no issue with anyone who plays their game differently than I do but as I enjoy the feature I will advocate for it’s inclusion.

Edited by Sistergoldring

priestess2.jpg

 

The Divine Marshmallow shall succour the souls of the Righteous with his sweetness while the Faithless writhe in the molten syrup of his wrath.

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I enjoy well rounded and complex NPC characters and I enjoy the capacity to interact with them in multiple ways. In as much as is practical I want to have the NPCs simulate a person with a human beings capacity for reacting both positively and negatively to situations. So I want a lot of NPC reactivity in PE, in fact as much as the writers can possibly squeeze in. I believe NPC reactions are a great and relatively inexpensive way for Obsidian to reinforce consequence and difference in the world. Resultantly I will always advocate for more NPC dialogue variance rather than less as it is a part of roleplaying that I enjoy. Thus any funds spent on providing branching dialogue that expands the range of possible interaction with the NPCs is for me money well spent. I would usually prefer two shorter well written branches in which an NPC either likes your action or expresses dislike about your action over one longer well written dialogue which does not change based on the NPCs personality. It is much more meaningful to me if I for example burn down a village to achieve an aim and then face a barrage of ‘you’re a ruthless bastard’ from a companion than it is to burn down a village in an act of ruthless bastardry and have no negative reaction from a companion you would reasonably expect based on their established character to be disgusted by the action.

 

I see the potential for romance as a logical extension of a friendship type of NPC PC relationship. It is something that if the circumstances and characters would be positively disposed towards should be possible to explore. I don’t agree with the argument that a satisfying romance subplot necessitates the same level of resources that are devoted to establishing the NPC as friendly to the PC as to me romance can develop quite naturally and satisfactorily from a friendly relationship tree with minor variations. Similarly if a non-friendly or casual romance branch is also included then it really takes minimal effort or resources to type a more sophisticated version of ‘Hey babe, how about it?’ and ‘Go to hell loser!’. After all the aim of PE isn’t to write an epic love story and romances if included need to be managed in a fashion balanced with alternate NPC PC relationships.

 

Further to this point, that as the budget increased so did the scope of PE, absolutely Obsidian is now creating a larger world and more companions. They now have greater opportunity to explore different NPC character relationships without having to shoehorn any and all interactions into a very limited amount of NPC personalities. I originally expected deep and well developed NPCs with branching dialogue trees and I now see no reason for them not to be able to include a romance aspect or subplot for some of them as we have so many more characters and personalities to explore.

 

Obviously if you feel that variability in companion interactions is an undesirable feature and that you would prefer the NPC dialogue doesn’t change in response to the PCs actions then you naturally would see no value in funding an increase in the range of potential options available for the PC to explore. I have no issue with anyone who plays their game differently than I do but as I enjoy the feature I will advocate for it’s inclusion.

 

It's late in here so I'll answer one thing quickly but I can reply tomorrow more depthly.

 

WIth the exception of maybe Bioware the developers very rarely write other than possible friendship because otherwise there would be lot more writing to do. How I see the grander branching dialogue isn't that NPC reacts to something what you did, the branching dialogue is that first there's character as a tree, then there are the big branches such as "friendship", "rivalry", "romance" etc. which then divide to their own branches with their own responses on what the player does - friend would respond differently on you burning village than lover would.

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I agree with you that NPCs can't know the PC's motivations, heck I couldn't even say that I absolutely knew the full extent of my own motivations. Having NPCs react to what the PC says are her/his motivations actually happens in games, yet doesn't negate the fact that NPCs don't actually 'know' with certainty what those motivations are.

Games are sometimes written such that convincing someone of a statement becomes easier when its a true statement, even when the truth or falsehood only exists within the PC's mind. If the options "Yes, I will help you," and "[LIE] Yes, I will help you," have different success conditions, that's a problem.

 

Also, sometimes the PC claiming a preference will make that preference mechanically true, and that's also a problem. I'm trying to guard against that. I know most people, when they think about it, are aware that they can't know each other's motivations, but that doesn't help if they don't think about it.

 

Also, some players perceive the dialogue options not just as things the PC can say, but necessarily true expressions of the PC's state of mind. So, if the PC can claim to have seen something, then it is the case that the PC has seen it. These players are relying on the game to tell them about their characters, and I think that has dangerous ramifications for game design, as well.

I don't think that making the distinction between Deontology and Consequentialism was helping argue against this. However, saying that people are crazy for caring about 'the whys' seems disingenuous to me, and I don't think any branch of ethics deserves to be described as crap.

 

I don't often post in forums yet this has motivated me to respond, probably because I'm normally such a big fan of what you say ( mostly ;-) and I care about ethics. Yes ethics has epistemological problems, so does pretty much all of philosophy, hell, human rights are especially problematic, but they are valuable all the same.

Studying ethics turned me into a big logic and epistemology guy. I'm forced to ask how we know that ethics or human rights are valuable, given those epistemological questions.

 

As Wittgenstein said, "At the core of all well-founded belief lies belief that is unfounded."

And caring about the questions is hardly crazy, even if those questions aren't really relevant to the topic at hand. The only way to find that out is to ask them.

I care about the epistemological problems. Only once those are solved can the ethical questions become relevant.

* Incidentally, would it be better to role-play a character as if you know what your motivations are (because you the player have determined them), or to role-play as if the PC doesn't know the full extent of their motivations because that's not possible?

I would think that should be left to the player. I have played both, and they're differently rewarding.


God used to be my co-pilot, but then we crashed in the Andes and I had to eat him.

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Well, regarding romances, I'll try to sum up the various objections I've seen to them in these threads, the way I understood them. Long post ahead.

 

 

 

We already discussed the "how much does including them cost" argument in previous threads. I said this:

I see that there's been some discussion regarding the time it takes to write a romance, versus the time it takes to write a character. For this, remember that the process of writing a character is not just typing dialogue on the screen. There's a whole process that comes before that.

 

First, preproduction: you have to decide on the high level concept of the character, basic roles it will fulfill in the story and so on. Then you have to start designing the character, by fleshing out its personality, background, the interactions the PC will have with it, possible quests and so on. Only when you have all this nailed down you go into production, and start writing actual dialogues and actual game content, which also has to be iterated on and peer reviewed before it's considered finished.

 

Deciding whether a character will have a romance or not is a design decision, which comes before starting to write dialogues. But a well-done romance develops with time, which means that all the dialogue before the "hey, romance trigger here" moment has to accomodate for it, so that it doesn't come from nowhere. In other words, the romance cannot be isolated from the rest of the character interactions if it aims to be believable, just like a friendship or hidden guilt or other types of relationships need to have some basis to build on. This means that the decision of having romance dialogue permeates the entire character. And writing and designing all that takes much more time than the few romance-only lines would take to write.

 

Granted, the final game dialogues can be written subtly, so that if you don't choose to activate the romance the alternative route flows smoothly. I think that's the best way to go, because that way the impact of the romance can be ignored easily for those who don't want it. But saying that romances take little time to create because that small portion of romance-exclusive dialogue takes little time to create is simply not true. That's just the tip of the iceberg; everything before it has to account for the romance, and that takes much more time to write. Comparing the 2-3 months it takes to write a character to the time it takes to write a romance might be a much more accurate comparison than you think it is.

A character who is planned from the start with a romance does not need much more resources, than one who is planned from the start with an optional (platonic) friendship. The only way a an optional romance would really increase the amount of work needed drasticallly is if character interaction is set on rails and nothing you say to NPCs really matters. Because if your interactions with a companion matter you already need several dialog branches so that the romantic branch is only one amongst many.

 

Ah, but that's cheating ;)

 

There are many, many types of relationships that can be explored between the PC and a companion aside from friendship. You can have mentor-student (do you seriously want to put a romance when the characters have such a power dynamic?), or sibling-like relationships (a romance there? ewww), for example. And those are just on the happy part of the spectrum. You can have rivalries, revenge, indebtment... the list is long.

 

Saying "romances are easy to incorporate" because one type of relationship (or maybe a few types, if you want to be lenient) could be adapted to include it is not really applicable. What about the others? You can't cram a romance in many of those without coming off as cheesy, or as severely creepy, and I have some serious doubts it can actually be pulled off well without negatively impacting the non-romance route.

 

Deciding what kind of interaction you're going to have with a companion is decided at preproduction. That's why I said in my post that this kind of stuff has to be decided at the beginning. It can't be added in. It can't be "just a few lines". It simply cannot be done if you want to have a cohesive, internally consistent character.

The objection is this: romances cannot be done properly in a videogame without making serious sacrifices of character diversity and branching interactions, and they require too much development and story focus to do them justice. Thus, it's better for the rest of the content if they are left out.

 

Some people have said: well, what if romances are reduced to just a single companion, in order to allow variety for the rest of characters? In order to have one romance that is well-done, we could sacrifice breadth and equality of options. The problem is that this doesn't really solve anything.

 

The player character can be any of six races, male or female, and many other customization options that would restrict your romance options if they were to be addressed realistically. If you make an NPC companion that can be romanced only by human male mages, that leaves the rest of customization options without the ability to pursue a romance, unless they restrict themselves to playing human male mages. What about female players? Should they be forced to play males? Should they be forced to romance an NPC that goes against their sexual orientation if they want to play the romance? Should they miss out on an important relationship they care about because it revolves around a male PC? The same goes for male players if you reverse options. You don't like it when the game gives you less options for your particular roleplayed PC in comparison to other options, do you? The people who want romances are very varied, so arbitrarily saying "okay, only these PC customization options are eligible for a romance" is not going to go well. People will feel discriminated. Especially when you factor in delicate topics like sexual orientation and representation of minorities.

 

This means that making romanceable NPCs that have their own tastes and preferences is not an optimal solution. To solve this, another approach is the "loves you no matter what" NPCs. Here is where the complaints about "romances are shallow" come: the PC is a tabula rasa. An NPC that has to cover all the customization options the PC can have cannot have unique personalized interactions: no matter how you cut it, a male/female relationship between a human priest and an orlan rogue should not have the same interactions as a female/female relationship between a human priest and a godlike paladin. Trying to acknowledge all options is a combinatorial nightmare and would shorten the non-romance route dramatically, so romances would have to be very broad strokes to work for everyone. And that goes against what many people expect from romances: a special, unique link with an NPC. It cannot feel unique if it doesn't account for anything that makes your PC unique. And there's also the problem mentioned earlier of the delicate topics of sexual orientation and representation of minorities: many people are tired of the pansexual approach. Basically, it feels cheapening for many people, because it doesn't account for all the diverse nuances of sexual orientations and makes them feel irrelevant, which is not something you want to do with such a delicate topic (among other reasons). Many people are not going to be happy with this option either.

 

So this means that NPCs that cover everything aren't viable either. To solve this, another approach is having several NPCs with a romance route. Here is where the complaints about "romances turn the game into a dating sim" come: as my quoted posts say, a romance has to be an integral part of the character if it aims to be believable. This leads to a bunch of companions that have a large part of their character very similar to the others; it's a necessary evil if it aims to provide equal options for everyone. This means that you are sacrificing character diversity for the sake of a feature not everybody wants. And we only have 8 companions; accomodating enough romances to please enough people is going to affect a good chunk of the party. What if you want to have truly different relationships with everyone? Tough luck, because accounting for diverse romances to choose took that option away.

 

And if you change that and make all romances inherently different you are again sacrificing equality. If you make the straight romances happy and the gay romances tragic, get ready for the "Obsidian discriminates against the gays" complaints. If you make the straight romances tragic and the gay romances happy, get ready for the "gay agenda" complaints. If you make the male PC romances happy and the female PC romances tragic, get ready for the "Obsidian discriminates against women" complaints. If you make the female PC romances happy and the male PC romances tragic, get ready for the "feminist agenda" complaints. And they will come, I assure you; few things make people as irrational as romances, as the constant bickering in these threads can attest to.

 

Besides, there's also what Avellone said in an interview quoted on the first page:

Q: Are you looking to break any ground in terms of the design mechanics, such as moral choices or relationships? What are you looking to do that isn't generally done?

 

Chris Avellone: There's been a lot of focus with companion mechanics in terms of like "how do I romance this person?" I'd like to think that there are other types of relationships that you can have with a companion, whether it's friendship, rivalry, hatred, or revenge. Romances end up being an easy target, but I think there's a lot more you can do with companion relationships. Also, I think a lot of games have fallen into the hole of the evil choice is always a psychotic option. There's a whole spectrum of other stuff you can do in conversation that I'm looking forward to doing. Sometimes depending on the franchise it does make sense that you have these really extreme morality bars, because that's the nature of the franchise.

 

With this world I think it's going to be a little bit more subtle. The whole premise of the lore and the magic system is that souls get inherited, and then when you pass away the souls wait for a time and then come back to another body. The question is how much of your own behavior is being governed by your own free will or the influence of the soul inside you and all of its history? I think that can raise some interesting questions for both the player character and the companions.

The moment romances are included, the player makes the mental jump from "let's meet these people" to "let's see who I can bang". This is inherent to romances over other types of relationships, because of their very nature: they drain your attention and your focus and don't let it go (if you've even been infatuated, you know how it feels). They condition the way the player thinks. It gets tiring to be surrounded by people who always think about the same topic. It's one of the biggest problems of the BSN, the romance obsession many people have.

 

 

In short: you cannot include the type of romances that would please a significant portion of their target audience without making serious sacrifices in design. From what I've gathered, this is the core argument against including romances. And frankly, many people are tired of these design sacrifices. There's already a company that takes this approach of being very inclusive with romances, where are we supposed to go if we want something different? Of course there's going to be opposition to the inclusion of romances if it leads to one of these sacrifices, sacrifices that people are tired to see for the sake of a feature you can find with a lot of ease in many games.

 

 

So that's the most common criticisms I've gathered. They're not fully expanded because this post is already long enough, but it's a start.

 

And before anyone jumps on me: I'm not trying to convince Obsidian. They're grown ups, they can take decisions for themselves. But honestly, I think the people who argue for romances seriously underestime the implications needed to make them happen in the way they want. What I'm trying is to inform everyone of what having romances truly implies. I know I'm going to fail, but damn it, I want to see something different too.

Edited by Lurky
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They can do it similarly to what was done in PS:T where the player character remembered parts of his past life as the game progressed, and since PE World has different kind of souls that could affect on what kind of memories etc the soul gives to the player character - they could do it in discussion such as (this is just rough example) "I remember this and this thing from the soul's past doing for these reasons, and then I remember this other previous owner doing this for these reasons" - which would be affected on what type of soul player chose for example.

Torment never directed TNO's motives, though. At no point did Torment tell the player how TNO felt about anything, or why he had done anything.

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God used to be my co-pilot, but then we crashed in the Andes and I had to eat him.

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They can do it similarly to what was done in PS:T where the player character remembered parts of his past life as the game progressed, and since PE World has different kind of souls that could affect on what kind of memories etc the soul gives to the player character - they could do it in discussion such as (this is just rough example) "I remember this and this thing from the soul's past doing for these reasons, and then I remember this other previous owner doing this for these reasons" - which would be affected on what type of soul player chose for example.

Torment never directed TNO's motives, though. At no point did Torment tell the player how TNO felt about anything, or why he had done anything.

 

I used PS:T as an example how they can do the "flashback" to remember what one of the many previous owners of the soul did and why, if you remember they did that in middle of the conversations, so they could do similar thing in PE with the remembering what the previous owner did and why.

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Saying that motivations should be based on what 'you' the player have stated that characters motivations to be, isn't truly rping that character. Being a DM on a NwN server, we encountered this problem many a times. It's very hard to move away from something that you want your character to do, but know in your mind that your character wouldn't truly do that, so you're then forced to properly role-play that choice, by choosing the path that your character would take, or you can choose to not role-play that choice and do whatever you want. Thus destroying the whole point and meaning behind the words role-play.

I fail to see how this applies to this discussion at all.

 

Yes, if you're roleplaying then you're making the decisions your character would make, given his personality. No one is disputing this. The issue is whether that personality should be created entirely by the player, or whether it should be handed to the player by the writers. I insist that the player needs to be the one to create that personality, because that's the only way for the player to know what his character should do in any given circumstance. It simply isn't possible for the writers to provide the player with sufficient information on which to base his roleplaying decisions if the player isn't allowed to invent that information himself. Only when the mind of the character is populated by the player can the player be familiar enough with the contents of that mind to make decisions on its behalf while still maintaining character coherence.

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I used PS:T as an example how they can do the "flashback" to remember what one of the many previous owners of the soul did and why, if you remember they did that in middle of the conversations, so they could do similar thing in PE with the remembering what the previous owner did and why.

Sure they could, but that doesn't require that the PC's motives be limited by the writers. Regardless of what happens in the flashback, the player can still be free to determine why the PC is acting as he is.

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I fail to see how this applies to this discussion at all.

 

Yes, if you're roleplaying then you're making the decisions your character would make, given his personality. No one is disputing this. The issue is whether that personality should be created entirely by the player, or whether it should be handed to the player by the writers. I insist that the player needs to be the one to create that personality, because that's the only way for the player to know what his character should do in any given circumstance. It simply isn't possible for the writers to provide the player with sufficient information on which to base his roleplaying decisions if the player isn't allowed to invent that information himself. Only when the mind of the character is populated by the player can the player be familiar enough with the contents of that mind to make decisions on its behalf while still maintaining character coherence.

 

You know, no matter how you put it, a CRPG will never have the same freedom of interaction you'll have in a PnP roleplaying session. Even if you fill in the blanks yourself, the technology isn't there yet to allow your imagination to have an effect on the world. This means that if you play a CRPG, you have to get over the fact that you're playing an imperfect simulation in a controlled environment. It's just something you have to accept in order to be able to enjoy it.

 

This situation has advantages: when you have limited knowable elements, you can control all their actions, reactions and interactions with each other. You can make them interact in a way that is enjoyable to the player, and you can make them interact in a way that they tell a compelling story. The fact that the interactions they follow are familiar storytelling structures means you can guarantee the player the emotional reactions a good story can give you, in a way that procedurally generated elements cannot do. So far so good, right?

 

Here's where the division of opinion comes: should the PC be a part of this controlled simulation? Should the game give the player some limited means to interact with the rest of the simulation, or should the game leave that to your unlimited imagination? Both approaches are probably valid, but Obsidian favors the former. It's just what they do, so of course people in these boards are going to defend it.

 

Personally, I think that, if you have accepted that you're playing an imperfect simulation, you could accept that the interactions you'll get with the world and with the NPCs are only going to be "good enough": broad enough to cover as much as possible, but maybe not as nuanced as they could be if you were playing with real people. So, if you've already accepted that you're playing a simulation, why not make it as reactive as possible to all its elements, including the PC? Sure, this means that you'll be restricted to a limited array of options, but thanks to them you're going to be able to see the PC being a part of the world, causing reactions and interactions like the rest of them. Not everything is going to be there, but that's okay: you've already accepted the limits of the medium, so exploit the possibilities these limits offer as much as you can. As long as the game gives enough and diverse options to the player, this can be a good compromise between giving freedom to the player and enjoying the benefits of being a part of a world and a story, that react to you.

 

So what does that mean for the motivations and characterization of the player character? I think the best option is a compromise: the player should be offered a diverse array of options to choose how to define them, so that the game can know how to react to them. I think this is a good thing: it gives you freedom to choose (from a limited list, but if it's well done most options should be broadly covered) and it ensures that the game knows what you want, which means Cool Things* that add to the world's reactivity to you. How much impact should this choice be given? That depends on the story: if your character's motivations aren't a very important part of the game, then they shouldn't have big repercussions on it (like cutting access to quests or using autodialogue to take over the PC). If they are a significant part of the game, they should have some repercussions, which means that special effort should be invested in both giving a broad selection of choices and accounting for them all. Maybe not everything will be in, but you know, you've already accepted the limitations of the medium if you're playing it.

 

 

*By Cool Things, I mean stuff that adds to the integration of the player in the world, things like playing off your motivations and your world views with those of other NPCs, to gain a good insight into their characters and affect your influence with them (and this influence could actually have repercussions in the story, such as making easier or more difficult to side with certain factions or characters). You could also record this motivation choice in your savefile, so that the characters could bring it up later when it's relevant; for instance, if you do something that strays from what you said earlier a companion could call you out on it, which a) would be very unexpected for the player, and b) could let you build even more complexity into your motivations (were you lying earlier? did your character's views change? why?). By Cool Things, I don't mean some examples that have been given, like closing off quests based on an answer of something you were going to do without knowing that it would have that effect. That's bad design, not reactivity.

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Saying that motivations should be based on what 'you' the player have stated that characters motivations to be, isn't truly rping that character. Being a DM on a NwN server, we encountered this problem many a times. It's very hard to move away from something that you want your character to do, but know in your mind that your character wouldn't truly do that, so you're then forced to properly role-play that choice, by choosing the path that your character would take, or you can choose to not role-play that choice and do whatever you want. Thus destroying the whole point and meaning behind the words role-play.

I fail to see how this applies to this discussion at all.

 

Yes, if you're roleplaying then you're making the decisions your character would make, given his personality. No one is disputing this. The issue is whether that personality should be created entirely by the player, or whether it should be handed to the player by the writers. I insist that the player needs to be the one to create that personality, because that's the only way for the player to know what his character should do in any given circumstance. It simply isn't possible for the writers to provide the player with sufficient information on which to base his roleplaying decisions if the player isn't allowed to invent that information himself. Only when the mind of the character is populated by the player can the player be familiar enough with the contents of that mind to make decisions on its behalf while still maintaining character coherence.

 

My whole post and argument was responding to Merin's.(I quoted his post below.) Stating that the player character shouldn't have any motivations of his own, except for the one's that the player chooses for him. And I was explaining as to why this would never work. The player character should and will always have underlying motivations of his own, and since we are talking about a crpg, I don't see how my statement doesn't apply to the discussion. I think you're really grasping at straws if you believe that the entire personality of the character should be completely up to the person playing that character to decide, because that's just not possible. Not just budget wise or time wise, but physically to implement such a system into a game, isn't possible.

 

There are an 'unlimited' amount of personalities, motivations, goals, etc that a character can have. To write an infinite amount of dialogue so that each person playing the game could play the character in a way that matched their personality, just wouldn't be possible. Sure, the player needs to be given options so that they can choose which path best suits the way they are playing their character, but to have a complete independent system that allows the player to have complete control over all the characters motivations, the amount of time it would take to create that game would be abysmal. That's why the writers put in an underlying personality to the characters that they make, subtle motivations that are there whether we wish them to be or not.

 

To say that the writers/developers should have no say at all, in what the characters underlying motivations are is just crazy. They can't make a game without having the underlying motivations mapped out for the character. Have you ever tried writing a blank character? I mean sure we could play it like D&D and make our characters our own way, but this game has to be 'pre made' for us to play it. We can't play as we go, so therefore the choices and motivations that are there for us to pick from, absolutely have to be pre implemented into the game. There's no way of getting around the fact that your character will never have complete freedom. Unless you want to get rid of all the quests, dialogue, beginning, ending, middle, and yeah.. pretty much the whole game.

 

Think about it logically, the text, choices, paths the character can choose, all of it has to be pre planned and pre implemented into the game before it ships. It's literally impossible to implement these things in a meaningful way, to have a rich story, world, dialogue, without having an underlying sense of who or what the character is. Thus, the writers will have to implement their own thoughts, for the underlying motivations for the character. I'm sorry, but unless you want to play a game where all the dialogue options and choices are the exact same no matter how you build your character, so that way you can just 'imagine' in your head that you're playing the way you want to play, this type of implementation is just non existant.

 

It's the reason most games have three options, the evil choice, the good choice, and the neutral or indecisive choice. I'm glad that PE is getting rid of the stereotypical good vs evil theme. If you can, I'd love for you to explain to me how the writers could implement a system into the game that would make the character completely fit the needs of each and every person playing, so that the motivations would fit exactly the person playing the game. How they would go about making the choices and dialogue so that the character always feels like he/she is doing exactly what you want them to do, and how to completely ignore any conflict of this within the game's world itself. Because, I personally don't see how this can be accomplished.

 

The player character's motivations shouldn't enter into the design of the game at all, with the exception of what the player choose to have as his character's motivations.

The game designers (for a cRPG in the style of PE, the older IE games, etc.) give you options of what you character says or does. The game world (including NPCs) should react to your characters words and actions - words and actions that chosen by the player, not by the writers.

Edited by Loranc
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Obsidian ‏@Obsidian Current PayPal status: $140,000. 2,200 backers

 

"Hmm so last Paypal information was 140,000 putting us at 4,126,929. We did well over and beyond 4 million, and still have an old backer number from Paypal. 76,186 backers. It's very possible that we have over 75,000 backers if I had new Paypal information. Which means we may have 15 Mega dungeon levels, and we already are going to have an amazing game + cats (I swear I will go stir crazy if Adam doesn't own up to the cats thing :p)."

 

Switching to Paypal means that more of your money will go towards Project Eternity. (The more you know.)

Paypal charges .30 cents per transaction and 2.2% for anything over 100,000 per month for U.S currency. Other currency is different, ranging from anywhere between 2.2-4.9%.

Kick Starter is a fixed 5% charge at the end.

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If you can, I'd love for you to explain to me how the writers could implement a system into the game that would make the character completely fit the needs of each and every person playing, so that the motivations would fit exactly the person playing the game. How they would go about making the choices and dialogue so that the character always feels like he/she is doing exactly what you want them to do, and how to completely ignore any conflict of this within the game's world itself. Because, I personally don't see how this can be accomplished.

 

I think the only solution for this would be modding. Create your own character in your head, and make a Story Overhaul Mod that lets you add the character's reactions and the reactions of the NPCs and the world just the way you see it. If you want the game to react exactly your way, you'll have to do it yourself.

 

Also, that way you might learn a thing or two on just how much work this sort of thing takes. You know, for all the people who say that writing stuff doesn't take a lot of effort :biggrin:

Edited by Lurky
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