Jump to content

2 Cities, a Mega Dungeon, and Narrative Design


Recommended Posts

The team has a lot on their plate: two cities around the size of Athkatla, a fifteen level mega dungeon, and all of the various towns, villages, and explorations areas. This poses some interesting design questions:

  • How will the large cities' content be structured? Most folks enjoyed the freedom and exploration in Athkatla, citing it as one of the high points of the game. While one city will likely be structured this way, opening up into another large, sandbox style city late in the game poses problems for pacing. As we approach the climax of a game, the action needs to increase and become more focused, leading to linearity. A sandbox city disrupts this flow. Do other members see this a problem, and, if so, how do we structure the game to avoid it?

  • How will the mega dungeon be integrated into the game? Watcher's keep, with it's five levels, comes to mind as a comparable "mega dungeon." It was set apart from the other content, and to some extent, themes, of Baldur's Gate as a stand alone adventure. Od Nua's monstrosity dwarf's Watcher's Keep by a factor of three, assuming each of its levels is the same length. This poses two problems if Od Nua's dungeon is a stand alone, optional adventure like WK: first, that much optional content can greatly distort the leveling curve of the game; and second, fifteen levels is far too long to keep players away from the main plot arc. With these challenges in mind, do we have strong feelings as to how the dungeon will be integrated into the game?

These are, of course, not game breaking challenges-- in fact, they might be interesting experiments in narrative! How would we like to see these big pieces fit together into a cohesive whole, and would we be willing to lose the sandbox feel of a city, break up the mega dungeon broken into discrete chunks, or integrate the mega dungeon into the plot (like Spellhold Asylum in BGII) to accomplish it?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Since this is not a sandbox game, I think the only way for Endless Paths is to lock the player in, either on level 1 or somewhere near there. It would make for a very incoherent, in fact irritating experience if you'd go back and forth between EP and the rest of the world, never sure what place you should be in at any given time.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Since this is not a sandbox game, I think the only way for Endless Paths is to lock the player in, either on level 1 or somewhere near there. It would make for a very incoherent, in fact irritating experience if you'd go back and forth between EP and the rest of the world, never sure what place you should be in at any given time.

We've had this discussion before. Do a search on the threads and you'll find this isn't a universally welcomed option.

"It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."

Link to post
Share on other sites

We've had this discussion before. Do a search on the threads and you'll find this isn't a universally welcomed option.

 

I don't expect any opinion to be universally shared here ;)

 

TBH in a non-linear game I don't know if a megadungeon doesn't add more problems than it solves. Megadungeons are great for the "take as much time as you want" style of playing, but I'm not sure it won't be a huge hassle for Iron Man games or games against the clock.

Edited by Sacred_Path
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • How will the mega dungeon be integrated into the game? Watcher's keep, with it's five levels, comes to mind as a comparable "mega dungeon." It was set apart from the other content, and to some extent, themes, of Baldur's Gate as a stand alone adventure. Od Nua's monstrosity dwarf's Watcher's Keep by a factor of three, assuming each of its levels is the same length. This poses two problems if Od Nua's dungeon is a stand alone, optional adventure like WK: first, that much optional content can greatly distort the leveling curve of the game; and second, fifteen levels is far too long to keep players away from the main plot arc. With these challenges in mind, do we have strong feelings as to how the dungeon will be integrated into the game?

These are, of course, not game breaking challenges-- in fact, they might be interesting experiments in narrative! How would we like to see these big pieces fit together into a cohesive whole, and would we be willing to lose the sandbox feel of a city, break up the mega dungeon broken into discrete chunks, or integrate the mega dungeon into the plot (like Spellhold Asylum in BGII) to accomplish it?

 

At Ulgoth's Beard I met a man named Shandalar (Don't know if original content or not) who teleported me to a remote ice island filled with Mages onto some sort of dimensional rift island that's "between" dimensions type of thing (as far I understood it). Could you be teleported into the dungeon? Being abducted by aliens springs to mind from "The Sims" haha, a random effect :p

 

Could one or more of the levels be part of the main story? Kind of "End game" you finish at Level 3, but you find a door behind it that leads into the Mega Dungeon *shrug* it's one way to make it "not disrupt" the main story. Fighting with Drizzt in Dark Alliance was awesome as end-game content. There is a similar dungeon in concept in Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix.

 

Could the mega dungeon in itself by "dimensional"? Kind of like how that "Arcane" place is in Diablo II and Diablo III in the Desert Oasis place, but you can enter it from several parts of the world?

 

Something I kind of craved and really really wanted to see in the Deep Roads was some sort of "Deeper than Deep Roads" adventure. Moria as well. How deep is Moria really? :devil:

:fdevil: :fdevil: :fdevil:

Edited by Osvir
Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say trapping player inside is the most logical choice. Although, for the sake of mental safety, perchaps every 3 - 5 levels there could be secret door out to unlock. You could always re-enter the tower, but you'd know that each time you would be locked for next 3 or 5 levels. Maybe it would be great to dedicate different floors to different quests, ones that might be tied to one large quest at the bottom. Something that would allow the change of scennery, settings, characters trapped there (if any).

The simple basics of what I am talking about would be for example:

1 - 3: Thieves Den/Grave robbers

4 - 6: Forgotten Tomb (undead party 24h)

7 - 8: Arcane Laboratory

9 - 12: Temple of <your God here, mine's Cyric>

13 - 15: ???

 

PROFIT! So we would have 5 seperate stories in this case, and at the end they could all be tied together to reveal... ??? and PROFIT.

 

 

Also, when I heard about mega dungeon/tower I first thought: "Durlags Tower again?" :)

Edited by Crusader_bin
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Where is the problem? If I want to fight in the mega dungeon with a low level character and die often and have a hard time, it is ok. When I can get a good item from it, I am maybe stronger then normal, but I fought for it. This is fine and free choice of a big game :)

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think the problem of out leveling the main plot will be as much of a problem in PE as it can be in other games (*cough*morrowindoblivionskyrim*cough*), why?

 

In IE games, levels don't make you that much more powerful. Sure, they give you abilities allowing you to handle difficult situations in new ways, opening up new strategies, but you don't start with 90hp and end up with 5000hp at the end.

 

In IE games, a regular weapon would do 1-8 damage, and the best weapons in the game would do 1-8 + 5. It's not like games where you start out doing 1-5 damage and end up doing 768-1576 in the endgame.

 

This way, while you can improve, it's never really possible to completely out level any content in the game. Some areas may be designed in such a way that you need access to certain spells, abilities, or equipment in order to take them on, a better way than simply upping enemy health & damage as you go along. You're never going to go around one hitting anything.

 

Yes, exploring before going on the main quest usually made it quite a bit easier, but it also opened up more of the alternative encountered content in the main plot that wouldn't normally be possible to beat.

 

In addition to this, experience is said to be given mainly by completing quests, not through combat. Even if the dungeon is 15 levels deep and filled with enemies, it'll be quite easy to make sure that by the end of it, you're properly rewarded, but not at an end-game level. Maybe you even have to go do other quests, to get strong enough, before progressing to the lower levels.

 

The issue with where/how the second city pops into the game is an interesting one, but I don't think this will pose too much of a problem either. We could compare it to the Underdark of BG2, a massive mid-game area that you could steam through, following the plot line, or spend a lot of time exploring.

Edited by mstark
"What if a mid-life crisis is just getting halfway through the game and realising you put all your points into the wrong skill tree?"
Link to post
Share on other sites
Since this is not a sandbox game, I think the only way for Endless Paths is to lock the player in, either on level 1 or somewhere near there. It would make for a very incoherent, in fact irritating experience if you'd go back and forth between EP and the rest of the world, never sure what place you should be in at any given time.

They've discussed this during the Kickstarter and that's not how it will work. The dungeon will be divided into sections each made up of a few floors and the enemy power between these sections will ramp up dramatically so most people will have to leave and come back when they're stronger. Of course, the truly skilled will be able to go further if they want just like people went through Watcher's Keep before going to Spellhold in BG2, but it won't be the intended path.

 

I am not sure what they plan to do with the cities. If each one is really as big and complex as Athkatla, then they are doing something that has never been done before. I suspect it will result in a longer "middlegame" since both the beginning and the ending tend to be more linear than a big city is suited for.

Link to post
Share on other sites
They've discussed this during the Kickstarter and that's not how it will work. The dungeon will be divided into sections each made up of a few floors and the enemy power between these sections will ramp up dramatically so most people will have to leave and come back when they're stronger. Of course, the truly skilled will be able to go further if they want just like people went through Watcher's Keep before going to Spellhold in BG2, but it won't be the intended path.

 

I'll have to wait and see the final product, but it does sound a bit meh. Unless, like I said I take the approach that time doesn't matter at all (i.e. first playthrough). I just think that giving free passage between the dungeon and the outside world means sacrificing its potential atmosphere. Also why even have a mega dungeon that you're not going to conquer in one sitting? In that case, splitting it up into 5 different dungeons wouldn't make a difference.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

In addition to this, experience is said to be given mainly by completing quests, not through combat.

 

For the love of...

Taking a simple sentence by a developer where he discusses the challenges of giving out XP and turning it into a certain thing just because they voted on a poll. Don't trust those people.

 

Only official statement today is that the matter is undecided and the XP granting system isn't done yet. And seeing how the game is advertised as a game in spirit of IE games I highly doubt that they will change the system that worked there.

 

Other than that - I agree with your assesment of the situation.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not seeing these features as problems myself. I have every confidence that the dev team didn't just pull these features out of thin air when they set them as stretch goals and that they had a plan in mind for them.

 

I'm not much for speculation but based on what we have heard so far I strongly suspect the two cities are going to be related to factions and perhaps we will not see too much of one when we align with the other and vice versa. They have already stated that you will pretty much be unable to do "everything" in a single playthrough and that decisions that open one door may close others. If so I am totally on board with that concept since it means replays will offer new content you have not yet seen.

 

The mega dungeon may have turned out larger than they planned but I'm sure they will come up with a great format for it. I would prefer to see exits along the way to get out and trade unless there turns out to be pockets of civilized clans of some sort carrying on business in the depths but I'm ok with getting locked in too.

 

I suspect it's also going to feature in the main plot line and not be an optional area altho parts of it might turn out to be optional.

 

In any event it all sounds good to me and I'm not at all concerned that any of them will prove to be problems for the dev team.

Nomadic Wayfarer of the Obsidian Order


 

Not all those that wander are lost...

Link to post
Share on other sites

I hope for quite the opposite regarding the cities. I really do hope that a lot of quests will focus on several connections between the two cities. Whether it would be war or alliance, trade or criminal activity (my favorite). Nothing would make me as happy as having the same kind of thieves guild as in BG2 :) I also think that two big cities operating in some proximity should influence each other a lot and should not be a seperate expirience. Than again, it is easily imaginable that during the second half of the game you are kidnapped or just need to travel very far to a faraway land. That would allow for completely different architectural designs and would keep things more simple. And would lock out the first part of the game sadly...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Taking a simple sentence by a developer where he discusses the challenges of giving out XP and turning it into a certain thing just because they voted on a poll. Don't trust those people.

You're right, it's only been suggested by the developers that they may take that route. But, seeing as this is largely the way all the IE games worked, it's not a stretch to believe it's how PE will end up. Makes it far easier to balance game progression in this type of cRPG :).
"What if a mid-life crisis is just getting halfway through the game and realising you put all your points into the wrong skill tree?"
Link to post
Share on other sites

15 mega level dungeon, 2 big cities... Durlag+Watcher's Keep are 10 levels or something?

 

We also have Nashkel, Beregost, Friendly Arm's Inn, Candlekeep, Gullykin as cities/villages, Cloakwood kind of as a "forest dungeon". If this trend is followed we could see 2 "surface dungeons", 10 villages/cities... 100+ areas that you can explore? More? (How many areas can you explore in Baldur's Gate 1 & 2?)

Link to post
Share on other sites

You're right, it's only been suggested by the developers that they may take that route. But, seeing as this is largely the way all the IE games worked, it's not a stretch to believe it's how PE will end up. Makes it far easier to balance game progression in this type of cRPG :).

 

None of IE games worked like that. They ALL gave XP for killing monsters. The only notewrothy game(maybe DS3 or Alpha Protocol had something like that, I never played them, but in any case they are not what PE is promised to look like) made by the developers currently working on PE that had this progression was VTMB. And even it was a First person shooter\ third person slasher, not an IE game.

 

But let's not go there. I stopped reading that thread long time ago seeng how people there(on both sides) won't listen to any reason. It just strikes me as odd when someone takes an opinion and posts is as a fact. Nothing personal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

None of IE games worked like that. They ALL gave XP for killing monsters. The only notewrothy game(maybe DS3 or Alpha Protocol had something like that, I never played them, but in any case they are not what PE is promised to look like) made by the developers currently working on PE that had this progression was VTMB. And even it was a First person shooter\ third person slasher, not an IE game.

Yeah, they did, but I didn't mean to suggest that they didn't at all give exp for enemies, just that the vast majority came from quests (regularly 20-50k exp per character per quest, equal to 120-300k exp, compared to maybe 20-50k exp gained from killing enemies divided across 6 party members per quest :)). Don't take this as exact numbers, but that should be a fairly accurate emulation of how xp spread regularly worked.

 

But let's not go there. I stopped reading that thread long time ago seeng how people there(on both sides) won't listen to any reason. It just strikes me as odd when someone takes an opinion and posts is as a fact. Nothing personal.
I usually abandon threads around their 6th or 7th page, seems to be the average page length of a thread before it breaks down lol :p. I am confused myself why I had taken that for granted, it took your reminder for me to remember it's not set in stone yet. Edited by mstark
  • Like 1
"What if a mid-life crisis is just getting halfway through the game and realising you put all your points into the wrong skill tree?"
Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought about it, leave the dungeon open for all I care, but make the main antagonist hide at the bottom of it. That way the point in time when to tackle the dungeon is clear, it's the final part. Also avoids any dilemmas of wether or not you should go down there.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought about it, leave the dungeon open for all I care, but make the main antagonist hide at the bottom of it. That way the point in time when to tackle the dungeon is clear, it's the final part. Also avoids any dilemmas of wether or not you should go down there.

 

I rather like this idea.

 

Though rather than put the main antagonist, I'd put the real antagonist. Maybe you hear about the BBEG's master throughout the game - and even when you beat him the game's still open - and if you go to the last level your fight his boss or something.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Make the mega dundeon optional (This is an absolute must). Make some of the city locations optional. I don't really see the problem here, as long as the devs don't feel the need to drag the story through every single location in the game.

 

Let's say they make it optional, one of two things could happen:

 

1) They make a boring dungeon. Some monsters, some puzzles, some phat lewt, but nothing that requires a building of 15 ongoing levels. With not much interesting to see and no reason to go down there story wise, it would just be a nuisance.

 

2) They make a great, lively dungeon with different factions, their power bases, and interconnecting quests that even branch out into the surrounding countryside. In other words, they fit the entire Temple of Elemental Evil into PE. Why on Earth should that much content be optional? It will take time and resources to do this, and then you give the player no good reason to tackle this thing.

 

In both cases, I would expect to get some very nice gear from a 15 level dungeon, which makes it harder to balance the game for someone who just followed the story or at least didn't do this stuff - that's bad IMO.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...