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TrashMan

Mantaining the risk and unpredictability

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Do you know what makes great quests and decisions less great? Predictability. Peeking at the guide and doing a second playtrough and all the mistery is gone.

 

What I propose is to have consequences be somewhat random (when appropriate of course).

 

Let me give an example:

 

 

REDCLIFFE from DA:O

 

You got 3 choices of which one (getting help from mages) is superior because there is no danger in it. You KNOW nothing bad will happen when you leave. Something that is a risk, a chance, ceases to be.

 

But what if you didn't know? What if - no matter how many guides you read, how many times you play - you can never be certain that everything will be OK once you get back?

 

 

Basicly, when approprite - usually when events are outside of player character control - have the outcome randomized to a point.

 

Now, if you had a great victory at Redcliffe and prepared everyone, chance of something bad happening is 33%

If you had a good victory, chances are 50%

If you did bad, chances are 77%

 

If the bad consequence happens, even the extent can be randomized.

If all knigts survived - high chances of Teagen being alive, but some knights died protecting him (for example)

 

 

 

This makes unpredictable things unpredictable. Taking a risk is always a risk - you can increase your chances, you can take some precautions to reduce the fallout - but you will never KNOW. You will enver be sure.

 

 

***

 

Now the question is - what is stopping the player from reloading?

 

That depends on whow it's done. When is the roll determined? Once rolled, does it become static?

 

So let's say the roll is made the second you head out towards the Circle Tower.

 

Let's also say it's not static. You'll have to re-do the Broken Circle quest (unless you did that already) and travel there and back for a CHANCE to change the outcome.

 

Let's say it is static. Roll sez Teagan dies. Too bad. No re-loading will help you now, Teagan dies.

 

Unless maybe, you load an even older save and change some of the other variables (like how well the Redcliffe milita is equipped). In this case, a roll would be static UNLESS some variables change. In which case it would be rolled again an then become static again.

Which would make it both fair and at the same time incredibly frustrating to save-scum.

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* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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I do like the idea!

 

As long as the chances of the "bad stuff" happening is not ridiculously high even with proper preparation.

In your example I think that if you did great and prepped the militia well, a 33% chance of the bad stuff happening anyway is a bit high. I would look at it more like "there are no guarantees" (5-10% chance in this case would be better)

A 33% chance would be more like your average result, if you did average at battle and threw the militia a few decent pieces of equipment.

I would say it would also be rolled semi-randomly. You could see a news board in town a few days later with an update, or here some gossip from a peasant, or get an urgent message to return to the castle and arrive too late.

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Random rolls are bad and should not be a part of any game.

Having said that - it would be nice to have some Kobayashi Maru quests.

 

It depends on the kind of game. Randomness works extremely well in roguelikes or other procedurally generated game. In a more story-centric game increasing the randomness of outcomes makes it increasingly more difficult to create a cohesive storyline with continuity. That said, there is still randomness involved. You roll the digital dice constantly throughout combat. Whether dice rolling is part of skill results is a design decision, and I can see the arguments for either side.

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Do you know what makes great quests and decisions less great? Predictability. Peeking at the guide and doing a second playtrough and all the mistery is gone.

 

What I propose is to have consequences be somewhat random (when appropriate of course).

 

Let me give an example:

 

 

REDCLIFFE from DA:O

 

You got 3 choices of which one (getting help from mages) is superior because there is no danger in it. You KNOW nothing bad will happen when you leave. Something that is a risk, a chance, ceases to be.

 

But what if you didn't know? What if - no matter how many guides you read, how many times you play - you can never be certain that everything will be OK once you get back?

 

I actually thought that - first time I played DAO - that there was going to be risk involved in getting the Circle's help to save the kid (instead of the options available when you first get to that point). In fact, since I hadn't cleared the wizard tower I was sure it was going to fail because of the time it'd take to clear.

 

While I'm not crazy about timed main quest objectives, this would have been a situation where I'd have really appreciated a timer on it.

 

Now the question is - what is stopping the player from reloading?

 

What's not to stop the player from saving before every dialogue, before every choice, before doing anything. I think you can't prevent this kind of thing. I'm not sure applying a certain degree of consequences would naturally lead people to gambling on reloads (ie I'm not sure it encourages the behavior anymore than any other choice/consequence in the game).

 

Random rolls are bad and should not be a part of any game.

 

*ring ring*

"Hello?"

...

"Hey its Backgammon, Dungeons and Dragons and Craps calling, they want to have a word."

Edited by Amentep

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I agree with Kane_Severance, while it would be nice to have randomness in storylines it will soon result in an exponential increase in possible paths making the task of writing the story a massive undertaking. In my experience, when developers decide to do this it usually results in a lessening of overall story quality in favour of quanitity. They start having to make assumptions in order to bring the story back on track that leave the player scratching their head wondering what just happened.

 

If you want to peek at a guide and evaluate all the paths necessary, and that is fun for you, then by all means. You bought the game, play it however you like.

I don't think it's a good idea to try and introduce randomness to try and "thwart" those that use game guides to pick the "best" options. Like a little evil gnome in the code that pops out and randomizes events to say "Ah ha! and you thought this was going to be the best option! Now all your plans are ruined!"

 

I disagree that "all the mystery" is gone once you play through the choices the first time. I usually do multiple play throughs with different characters that make different choices and get to see how the other paths develop. Like the time in "DA:O" when I killed the bartender at Redcliffe with my evil character and got access to all his store inventory, that was fun possibility I didn't know about until my second playthrough. Little moments like that are littered throughout the game and together make the replaying fun.

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Roll to have unchickenator succeed?

 

It was funny, but you have to be really careful how you implement it. Baldur's Gate's bizarre transformation quest did not do it terribly well.


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I'd hate if the game relied on luck in such important matters. First of all guide reading people are spoiling the game themselves, they are adult people and we shouldn't try to make them play the game the right way. The game should rewards players for being smart not lucky. The way I'd see randomization would be slightly different. You get the choice and some clues that would suggest which option is better. You can always make the best decision if you are observant. Here's the catch. Clues are shifted around every time you start the game and the best option is different. If you are investigeting something, the clues and real killer are also shifted.

My other idea. In BG2 many times you had to fight enemy exactly two times, first time you see what the enemy's weakness and lose and the second time smash him while being protected from the spells he cast and being prepared to counter his defenses. You could shake things up. Let's say you are fighting the boss. You cannot save after entering his lair and every time you enter the battle is a little bit different. He starts casting different spell, he's protected from magic instead of weapons, his minions are no longer ogres but goblin archers etc. This would make the battles much more challenging.

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The mage solution is terrible not because it's predictable, but because it is superior.

 

They should be equivalent. Like, maybe you go to get the mages, and the boy kills his own mother. Hey, your hands are clean and you didn't have to kill anyone. And the boy may be yet saved! But... hoooo boy.

 

I mean, that brings up a lot of interesting questions. Is it okay just because your hands are clean? Do you want to burden a child with that knowledge? etc. If it's predictable, then you have to take responsibility. You can't just blame it on randomness.

 

Random outcomes to choices simply have no power. Because the player can dismiss them. "It's not my fault." They take the risk because the random element is to blame, not their choosing. If you want consequences, they need to be assured and known.

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

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Do you know what makes great quests and decisions less great? Predictability. Peeking at the guide and doing a second playtrough and all the mistery is gone.

 

What I propose is to have consequences be somewhat random (when appropriate of course).

 

Let me give an example:

 

 

REDCLIFFE from DA:O

 

You got 3 choices of which one (getting help from mages) is superior because there is no danger in it. You KNOW nothing bad will happen when you leave. Something that is a risk, a chance, ceases to be.

 

But what if you didn't know? What if - no matter how many guides you read, how many times you play - you can never be certain that everything will be OK once you get back?

 

 

Basicly, when approprite - usually when events are outside of player character control - have the outcome randomized to a point.

 

Now, if you had a great victory at Redcliffe and prepared everyone, chance of something bad happening is 33%

If you had a good victory, chances are 50%

If you did bad, chances are 77%

 

If the bad consequence happens, even the extent can be randomized.

If all knigts survived - high chances of Teagen being alive, but some knights died protecting him (for example)

 

 

 

This makes unpredictable things unpredictable. Taking a risk is always a risk - you can increase your chances, you can take some precautions to reduce the fallout - but you will never KNOW. You will enver be sure.

 

 

***

 

Now the question is - what is stopping the player from reloading?

 

That depends on whow it's done. When is the roll determined? Once rolled, does it become static?

 

So let's say the roll is made the second you head out towards the Circle Tower.

 

Let's also say it's not static. You'll have to re-do the Broken Circle quest (unless you did that already) and travel there and back for a CHANCE to change the outcome.

 

Let's say it is static. Roll sez Teagan dies. Too bad. No re-loading will help you now, Teagan dies.

 

Unless maybe, you load an even older save and change some of the other variables (like how well the Redcliffe milita is equipped). In this case, a roll would be static UNLESS some variables change. In which case it would be rolled again an then become static again.

Which would make it both fair and at the same time incredibly frustrating to save-scum.

 

F*** that. Just have a timer on the quest instead. If it's a random I'm just modding the game to do what I want then.

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I like the idea, but I agree with Halric that it would likely put too much pressure on the devs to account the story for every concievable path a series of quests can take. Perhaps only in a few sidequests? Ones with little real reflection in the rest of the game.

That aside, it may be conceivable to have quests not with randomized outcomes, but with randomized content. Fetch / rescue quests don't always have to send you to the same places, for instance.

 

Or, side quests can have slight, maybe even quirky, variations in presentation depending on choices the player has made in main quests. If you let a bandit leader live early on for example, you might find later that he has kidnapped a couple's daughter for ransom, and you'll be hired to get her back. If you killed him, his sister and second in command has taken his place, and you find that the couple's son has been kidnapped because this young new bandit leader found him dreamy and intends to marry him.

In this scenario, the structure and outcome of the quest doesn't change, but it's presentation cannot be predicted by those without a strategy guide. Is it fully deterministic? Sure; but it does I think add an illusion of randomness, or at least random consequence, to a campaign.

Edited by Pipyui

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Not everything has to be a dice roll to be fun, interesting and replayable.

 

I mean, if we are going to start adding random chance to quest outcomes, how about we add random chance that your character contracts a terminal illness and you don't notice it till you're dead two days later. Then, unless the player is really diligent they can't even save scum out of it! Yay! I mean, hell, this even fits in with the theme of this game world not having developed medicine.

 

The only games that need random outcomes on events/quests are Roguelikes, FTL being a prime example of where it's okay, because basically the whole game is built upon everything being a dice roll. This game is not.

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I'm not sure that DA:O mage/Redcliffe example is a good one for where more randomness to the outcomes would have improved the quest I actually think that quest is a perfect example of how actual consequences for your decision would have improved it more than anything else.

 

As for the topic as a whole, I'd be okay with it in certain situations. For instance, by luck of the roll perhaps sometimes a castle you're trying to siege is fully guarded, and sometimes the reinforcements have been delayed and you'll only have to take on a half-guarded castle. It's a random event that the player had no part in creating, but can either help or hinder the player.


"Console exclusive is such a harsh word." - Darque

"Console exclusive is two words Darque." - Nartwak (in response to Darque's observation)

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I'm not sure that DA:O mage/Redcliffe example is a good one for where more randomness to the outcomes would have improved the quest I actually think that quest is a perfect example of how actual consequences for your decision would have improved it more than anything else.

 

As for the topic as a whole, I'd be okay with it in certain situations. For instance, by luck of the roll perhaps sometimes a castle you're trying to siege is fully guarded, and sometimes the reinforcements have been delayed and you'll only have to take on a half-guarded castle. It's a random event that the player had no part in creating, but can either help or hinder the player.

 

Agreed, randomness has it's place but this is not where it is appropriate.

 

<rant>

What is actually needed is more of a risk vs reward trade-off. If you don't think you can handle the hardest option, pick an easier one that gives less rewards (these can be loot or plot rewards). The game should do things like put you in a situation where you've just run the gauntlet and where anything less than stellar performance means that you are now badly in need of rest - then throw a plot related event at you with options to allow you to pick how you want to handle it (if you pick the hardest, there's a real chance of death but the best rewards).

 

What the OP is describing are situations with no risk, not because a particular choice always results in a predictable set of events, but because those events themselves pose no risk. Making the risk random doesn't really help because then your choice might as well be random (it effectively takes choice away from the player). The risk should be constant, the reward should be constant, but the highest reward should not be given to the lowest risk task. In situations where cleverness yields the best results, the task need not be easy (ex: "oh that's a great idea!" *instant victory*) - clever answers often involve compromises and sacrifices, and sometimes only put off the conflict. Additionally, in dialog option (clever or otherwise) might require preparation to be available, and accomplishing those preparations can be challenges themselves - The final option you pick may not entail any risk, but that doesn't mean the event's that make that choice possible will be risk-free.

 

For example, the way DAO handled the mage tower and saving the boy, you should have had two options. If you went to the mage tower first then you should have been lacking something vital that would have made the tower more difficult. If you went to the castle first, you should have been on a timer to complete the tower in order to save the boy, but the tower itself should have been easier. A good way to accomplish this would have been to have the blood mage (who's name I cant remember) accompany you to the tower as a temporary companion (making fights easier / faster and potentially countering the bosses blood magic with his own, but introducing some serious conversation checks with the Templar's). You now have the option to Prepare, Race the Clock, or Sacrifice in order to save the boy - the first two options would probably both qualify as "Best" (technically the timer one is the true risk - so that one probably should have the best reward, but it would depend on relative difficulty), and of course you could let the boy die as well. You could also go pure villain and take your blood mage "friend" to the templars, let the templar's kill all the mages (including him) and leaving the boy possessed - this should be a deal that the PC can make with the boy/demon (even if not a Mage) for some sort of reward. This last should be at the same difficulty level as "Prepare", since you wont have the blood mage to help you - I've got a great cut scene in my mind where you arrive at the tower claiming/pretending to have "caught" him and say you are taking him to the Archmage as an excuse to get him in the tower (where presumably you'll explain what's going on with the boy and get him pardoned). Instead when you are told of the situation in the tower you get the dialog option to turn him over to the templars for real, and if you do they summarily execute him - to underline the point one of them should stab him in the back while he stands there looking shocked (You have gained a level in Heartless Bastard!).

 

As far as I can remember, all of these would still resolve to the same number of exit paths as the actual game has, and does not invalidate any of the choices that were in the game - it just introduces a trade-off where before nothing you did there in any way changed how the game played. Sacrifice remains a no/low risk option, but has negative plot implications (and Sacrificing your friend wouldn't work without some more tweaking). The only thing that remains to be solved is the fact that siding with the templars has few benefits compared to saving the mages, but I think I've tried to fix DAO enough today so I'll leave it there (not that this is perfect, but you get the idea).

 

Here's a great example of doing it right from Obsidian: In NWN2 early on you get the option of going to a bandit camp or a graveyard first. The bandit camp is much easier, and will level you before you finish. However, if you do the graveyard first, rescue the commander, side with him against the usurping officer, and finally talk to him about the bandits (he asks you to do something about them as well), when you get to the bandit leader instead of him instantly attacking you, you get the chance to talk him into joining the Fort's (recently reduced) guard company and are rewarded with extra XP for your trouble. It requires no skill checks to talk him into enlisting, but you have to be very careful what you say to him, else at best you can choose to let him leave alive and promise not to return to banditry. Doing this also automatically frees the prisoners he is keeping, so that you don't have to fight for their release while they run around like chickens with their heads cut off and dying in three hits. This is by far the best option, but it's not easy to do (though you can cheese it by getting Elenee to join your party early - without doing this I've had every party member but Kelghar at 1 Max HP by the time I got out of the crypt once or twice, and Neeshka unable to untie her shoes, let alone pick a lock, all due to crazy disease spam).

 

Risk Vs Reward and incompatible objectives are the way to go, not random responses to choices (random events are fine). You shouldn't be able to get every companion in one play-through nor see every area, nor experience every plot twist. It's not just for replay value, it's also to keep the story interesting - if you can do everything, flawlessly, then who cares about even trying? If I wanted that sort of story I'd read a book (not to say that characters in novels have it easy, just that it's a totally different sort of story). Make me work for it, or make me sacrifice something meaningful to get it (even if it isn't clear that it's a sacrifice).

</rant>

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I do like the idea!

 

As long as the chances of the "bad stuff" happening is not ridiculously high even with proper preparation.

In your example I think that if you did great and prepped the militia well, a 33% chance of the bad stuff happening anyway is a bit high. I would look at it more like "there are no guarantees" (5-10% chance in this case would be better)

A 33% chance would be more like your average result, if you did average at battle and threw the militia a few decent pieces of equipment.

I would say it would also be rolled semi-randomly. You could see a news board in town a few days later with an update, or here some gossip from a peasant, or get an urgent message to return to the castle and arrive too late.

 

 

Well, "bad stuff" was a bit non-descriptive from me.

You can do this in many ways.

 

For example, there's 50% chance Conor will flip out. You have NO control over that.

so it's:

A) Connor flips out

B) Connor behaves

 

However, you have control over the state of Redcliffes defenses.

So regardless if A or B happens, you can have damage migation and some buffer.

 

So let's say Connor does flip out.

If you posted guards, equipped the milita, made every preparations before departing - Connor gets contained and only a few soldiers die.

 

And the worse you prepared the worse the bodycount becomes.

 

If you didn't prepare at all, half of Redcliffe lies in ruins.


* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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I agree with Kane_Severance, while it would be nice to have randomness in storylines it will soon result in an exponential increase in possible paths making the task of writing the story a massive undertaking. In my experience, when developers decide to do this it usually results in a lessening of overall story quality in favour of quanitity. They start having to make assumptions in order to bring the story back on track that leave the player scratching their head wondering what just happened.

 

I don't see how. Where is the branching storyline here?

 

In the Redcliffe example, no matter what, you still end up with Earl Eamon and the story goes on.

The damage to the town, the number of dead NPC's changes.

Maybe even Teeghaaan kicks the bucket.

 

But overall, the plot continues as normal.

 

 

 

I don't think it's a good idea to try and introduce randomness to try and "thwart" those that use game guides to pick the "best" options. Like a little evil gnome in the code that pops out and randomizes events to say "Ah ha! and you thought this was going to be the best option! Now all your plans are ruined!"

 

That is not the purpose. The purpose is to have actual risk in risky decisions.

Heavy Risk..but the priiize.

 

Basicly, if you don't want to risk, you have 2 sure-fire options given to you (Kill Connor, sacrifice Isolde). They are both risk-proof.

 

Then you have a "risky" option that can result in both great rewards and horrible consequences.

Except there is no risk. The player knows it.


* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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If it's predictable, then you have to take responsibility. You can't just blame it on randomness.

 

Random outcomes to choices simply have no power. Because the player can dismiss them. "It's not my fault." They take the risk because the random element is to blame, not their choosing. If you want consequences, they need to be assured and known.

 

The players (or the PC) choose the risk, of course they can be blamed!

 

Most of the people od Redcliffe would blame the PC. After all, he/she had the opportunity to fix the problem and end the threat right there and then. Insted he gambled with the lives and safety of the village to save one child.

While I'm sure there are some people who's apprecite his effort to save everyone and sacrifice no one, he can and will be blamed.

HE CHOOSE UNCERTANTY. When you do that you accept both outcomes. Otherwise you shouldn't be accepting the positive outcome either.

 

 

*****

 

B.t.w. - since you people seem happy to jump to conclusions, let me make one thing clear:

 

 

THIS IS ONLY FOR SOME QUESTS, FOR HIGH-RISK OPTIONS AND WHERE IT MAKES SENSE.

Edited by TrashMan

* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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Except that what is proposed is only an artificial random element. To keep with the Redcliff example; what the program is actually doing in your example is going over checks and basing the outcome on whether or not they are met. True randomness would be if you had no control over the factors like in game such as Mount & Blade where the situation in the kingdom changes randomly and you react accordingly.


I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

village_idiot.gif

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Randomness within certain boundries.

There is no sense for EVERY quest/decision to be random, nor does it make sense for player actions to have no impact on the chances either.

 

 

Total randomness would be ...impossible to pull off in a meaningfull way.


* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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The players (or the PC) choose the risk, of course they can be blamed!
They can be. The players won't accept that blame, however. Randomness disconnects choice from consequence. Because the choice isn't the final arbiter, the randomness is.

 

What is the effect you're trying to get here? If you simply wish to make downsides for ideal options, simply include downsides. Why make it random?


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

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If a specific player won't accpet blame, why should that be my problem?

People often don't accept blame and point fingers at others, or often accept praise for things that aren't completley their doing.

 

And luck and chance are a factor in everything. That doesn't make your contribution meaningless.

The "final arbiter" is meaningless in this context.


* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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I don't like that one can "cheese" out of the bad consequences still.

 

If there are effects to doing X, the effects should be there. It shouldn't be "20% for sunshine, happiness and world peace"...


^

 

 

I agree that that is such a stupid idiotic pathetic garbage hateful retarded scumbag evil satanic nazi like term ever created. At least top 5.

 

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I think many, many players will see this as 'I did the right thing, and after 8 hours of going through the Mage's tower, I got back and everyone was dead. Screw this game'.

 

I am sympathetic to the desire for a simulated world where you have to live with the consequences of your actions, and to a game that's different when you replay it. But the way most games are designed (i.e., with reasonable save systems), random chance of suck is just arbitrary punishment. There has to be a better way of doing it. What that is, I don't know.

 

Alpha Protocol actually tried for this, with their checkpoint-only saving system. Not sure it really succeeded though. It's tough to balance Choice with I Have A Real Life and Need To Be Able to Pick Up And Put Down This Game When It Is Good For Me.

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I think many, many players will see this as 'I did the right thing, and after 8 hours of going through the Mage's tower, I got back and everyone was dead. Screw this game'.

 

But if you did everything right, everyone wouldn't be dead.

Sure, there would be casualties, but with precations you can prevent the worst.

 

Also, do people really ragequit if things in a plot don't go the way they want?

 

 

Alpha Protocol actually tried for this, with their checkpoint-only saving system. Not sure it really succeeded though. It's tough to balance Choice with I Have A Real Life and Need To Be Able to Pick Up And Put Down This Game When It Is Good For Me.

 

Doesn't Ironman mode allow you to save&quit at any time?

Edited by TrashMan

* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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I think many, many players will see this as 'I did the right thing, and after 8 hours of going through the Mage's tower, I got back and everyone was dead. Screw this game'.

 

I am sympathetic to the desire for a simulated world where you have to live with the consequences of your actions, and to a game that's different when you replay it. But the way most games are designed (i.e., with reasonable save systems), random chance of suck is just arbitrary punishment. There has to be a better way of doing it. What that is, I don't know.

 

Alpha Protocol actually tried for this, with their checkpoint-only saving system. Not sure it really succeeded though. It's tough to balance Choice with I Have A Real Life and Need To Be Able to Pick Up And Put Down This Game When It Is Good For Me.

Me doth think that modern gamers complain too much, probably the reason that games have little replayability nowadays.

Its an actual consequence that would had made players consider the order sequence in which they recruit troops, but apparently no one wants to face consequences anymore. They just rather have a mildly reactionary world rather than one with real consequences.


I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

village_idiot.gif

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