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Update #31: Enter the Story Zone

Story Josh Sawyer Chris Avellone Project Eternity

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#61
Monte Carlo

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Oh ****, Sawyer has declared war on the dolphins.

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#62
yog-sothot

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One thing I want to say about the universe/plot is that I'd rather have a universe where death is not trivialized. Our mortality is one of the things that defines us a humans. In a world where people know (and not just believe) that death is not the ultimate end (because there is paradise, hell, reincarnation, whatever), they do not fear it, and hence cannot act as real human beings... I know that Project Eternity will have to tackle that issue for its story and "soul" system, but I do not worry as you guys managed to do an amazing job with Torment on that matter

#63
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My players [...] prefer obvious moral delimmas (opportunities to behave good or evil) to moral delimmas where the outcome is ambiguous. They dislike choices between two or more equally bad outcomes (you can save the father or the mother but not both).


I don't really see where this statement fits into the rest of your post which seemed to root for taking the game in mature and unexpected directions.
I for one, and the same goes for my players - prefer moral ambiguities, hard choices and adventures where their path is not laid out for them. Like yours, however, they enjoy political themes and intrigue - even opportunities to betray or trick each other. Personally, I would like to see PE step away from arbitrary notions of what is right and wrong.
Do the unexpected, play with the player's assumptions and expectations. Have far-reaching consequences that aren't immediately clear to the player.
Maybe that slave you freed takes revenge on his old master, who just happens to be an important quest NPC much later in the game. Surprise the player.

Edited by Isamael, 17 November 2012 - 08:04 AM.

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#64
Keyrock

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Well, I remember in an earlier update, way back during the Kickstarter campaign, one of the devs, I forget who it was, mentioned that the game will be less about alignments and more about factions. I hope that the way the factions are written makes them a bit morally ambiguous and it's up to the player to decide which faction is right or wrong or worth supporting. Rather than just having a faction that's "Grrrrrrrr we're a a bunch of psychopaths and we slaughter innocents for fun and drink their blood" and another faction that's "We're the noble elves of the woods, keepers of the light, defenders of justice", I'd rather that there may be a way of looking at things where both factions (I'm only using 2 for example here, I hope there will be more than 2 sides to some conflicts) could be right and both sides could be wrong rather than the aforementioned clearly evil faction and clearly good faction. For example there may be a religious faction that may look saintly on the exterior but when you delve deeper there is corruption within the organization, misuse of funds, mistreatment of people, cover ups, shady dealings with less than spotless individuals and groups, and so on. Still, not everyone within the faction is corrupt, some really do mean well, and the group does provide worthwhile services to the community. There may be another faction of brigands. When you delve deeper you find that the leaders are the remnants of a family of nobles that were brutally slaughtered and chased off their lands. They are stealing from and attacking those that deposed them as revenge and just as a means of surviving. Still, innocents often wind up as collateral damage from their raids and their actions cost the kingdom in blood and money, as well as destabilizing an already precarious political situation that can send the whole kingdom into chaos. Also it seems some of them are more interested in bloodshed than justice.

Edited by Keyrock, 17 November 2012 - 09:19 AM.

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#65
Isamael

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Just so, just so!

#66
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One thing I would warn against is the idea of complete and utter moral ambiguity. First of all, on practical grounds, the people in the world will have ideas of morality and ethics. Those ideas might not be right from our standards, and might not be right from the perspective of the player, but those grounds will exist. The PC's actions within that world might be an exercise of surfing the waves of moral greyness, but not every, and probably not even most, of the NPCs will see that as a good thing. Some may be susceptible to what the PC may variably feel is reason or jadedly considers persuasion, but most will have different degrees of moral certainty, from absolute to change on a dime. That's where faction comes into play. Some people of a faction will have absolute moral certainty on an issue. Hell, maybe they're right.

On maybe less practical grounds but still a necessary consideration, is that most players will have some idea of morality themselves. That is, most sane players will have some grounding in morals and ethics, even if they would rather not put those ideas in those terms. A charity will always stand on firmer moral ground than a group of brigands. Sure, introduce moral ambiguity by having some corrupt people in the charitable organization. Have some noble bastards in the band of brigands if it suits the story also. ...But the idea of charity is still, at its heart, better than the idea of stealing. So muck up the puddles of grey if you want, and I agree that it's good to do so, but you're going to end up just as cliched if every charity is a front for evil ends as if you'd made every charity squeaky clean and above reproach. These morally grey themes are generally (not always) played out in individuals rather than organizations. ...And, remember, sometimes a brigand is just a brigand, and his motive is to kill you, rape your wife, and take your belongings to sell for more rum.

Finally, there is the ultimate of practical grounds. There *will* be some degree of 'good' and 'bad' morality and ethics in the game. It will not, as a practical matter, be entirely without some amount of societal assumed morality. That's because, while we might not always know it and we might not always care, often there really is a good decision (either wise, moral, or simply practical) and even more bad decisions.

I'm not putting you down, Keyrock, or you, Ismael. I actually agree for the most part. I want there to be morally grey areas because otherwise good or evil (or ethical and unethical) (or decent human being or complete and utter despicable wretch) becomes completely meaningless. You're not really making any meaningful decision at all if the 'good' moral decision is readily apparent, just as lavishly rewarded in practical measures, and costs you absolutely nothing to make. The vast majority of players would probably go that route if so. I want those grey areas and I'm with you 100%. I just don't want them to dwell on the grey so much that we lose any of those finer shades of black and white.

In particular, I agree with Isamael in an earlier post where he doesn't want the consequences of our actions to be known right away. You do some terrible thing because your only choices are terrible things and you commit the act because you think it's the best choice in a bunch of bad. As it turns out, you did that terrible thing for nothing, maybe even worse than that, more people suffered than if you'd done nothing. Don't do it too often or you're going to royally piss off most of the players, but every now and then and it really adds a little piquancy to the experience.

Edited by Cantousent, 17 November 2012 - 11:48 AM.

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#67
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I agree, Cantousent, not everything in the game needs to be morally ambiguous, there will be some people or groups that really are greedy or even evil while there may be some truly good groups and people. Like you, I don't want everything to be so cut and dry. I want shades of grey as well as some black and white.

#68
Hormalakh

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One thing I want to say about the universe/plot is that I'd rather have a universe where death is not trivialized. Our mortality is one of the things that defines us a humans. In a world where people know (and not just believe) that death is not the ultimate end (because there is paradise, hell, reincarnation, whatever), they do not fear it, and hence cannot act as real human beings... I know that Project Eternity will have to tackle that issue for its story and "soul" system, but I do not worry as you guys managed to do an amazing job with Torment on that matter


there is no resurrection in this game (permadeath) and healing science is poor.

#69
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My players [...] prefer obvious moral delimmas (opportunities to behave good or evil) to moral delimmas where the outcome is ambiguous. They dislike choices between two or more equally bad outcomes (you can save the father or the mother but not both).


I don't really see where this statement fits into the rest of your post which seemed to root for taking the game in mature and unexpected directions.


Yah - sorry - it was late. I started to ramble there towards the end...

#70
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I really dislike one dimensional morality or two dimensional ethics (D&D's cardinal alignment system) as they are hollow when it comes to perspective. Take for instance, an assassin killing the founder of an empire. To the perspective of a guard within that empire, that assassination is lawless and evil, yet to the assassin killing a single man to stop the bloodshed on both sides of an entire war with a threatened nation, it was for upholding the greatest amount of order at the cost of the least amount of lives necessary to attain that cause (as ironic as a "lawful good" assassin sounds, it still qualifies as such from that perspective). One person is simultaneously "lawful and good" and "chaotic and evil" given two valid perspectives.

Another thing I dislike in a game is when it forces you to betray your motivations in order to advance the story line. For example: Skyrim and Jarls. To advance the game past a certain point, you either have to have pick a side in the war and take the line beyond Whiterun, or make concessions at a ceasefire negotiation. My character didn't want to enter the war, as it hurt Skyrim's populace, and preferred leaders that took care of their people rather than serving their own needs before the people. The very first concession asked for is that a good leader is replaced by someone from a family that uses killers to maintain their power hold over the town. I did not see a way around granting this concession without failing the task and then being forced into the war. Maybe I should have saved and explored every option, but I tried to just look at the dialog options and make a judgment from there. There was no option, "I don't mind you having military control of that town, but there's no way I'm going to let that family rise to power - pick someone else." In the war lines, each side has leaders that take care of the people, and the other side has some shady character they want to supplant the current leader with. I don't know if the main story can be advanced with the war story only partially complete, but that would mean that in order to not replace leaders that care for their people with self serving leaders, you would have to pick one specific side for the war, and carry it just far enough to advance the main quest line, then carry the war quest line no further. That's a lot of metagame acrobatics for trying to maintain a character that cares about the general populace, especially considering you didn't want to enter the war to begin with for that very reason. "Tough" choices are fine, but false "tough" choices (either you pick this side, and a decent leader gets supplanted with a self serving one, or you pick that side, and the same thing happens, but somewhere else) are not.

Using multiple "ethical" dimensions in characters like self vs other (egoist--"clan-centric"--utilitarian--altruist), conflict approach (aggressive, assertive, passive, passive-aggressive), respect for others (manipulative--indifferent--respectful), and various viewpoints on different concepts like death, trust, profit, sexuality and ownership could make for a wonderfully varied set of individuals to interact with. Far more realistic than white-grey-black. Likewise, allowing for more response options to demonstrate those themes instead of black or white, or for or against this faction, without equating any of the dimensions under a single label (like having egoist, aggressive and manipulative always lumped into the same response type and calling it "evil" would make sad pandas).

#71
Cantousent

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I see this sort of attitude quite a bit, Seeker, and it provides a basis for real discussion, of course, but it ignores two things. We might, as we do, argue about whether we should have morally grey areas or simply boil it all down to 'no morals exist' or even that it's all about 'various viewpoints.' Personally, I think the comment that morals are 'one dimensional' is prejudicial in the first place. Multiple causality is common in even the most ancient of literature, so the idea that morality must be confined to one dimension is erroneous. Now, to be fair, morality within one belief system tends to be an 'either/or' proposition, but no single belief system has ever existed in isolation anywhere on the planet in recorded history. If it did, it would not be questioned at any point and yet morals have always fallen under question. I don't care if folks are dead-set about avoiding the use of the term 'moral.' Sure. I guess the common replacement term of 'ethics' has shown its shortcomings as well. Likewise, fair enough. We can dump both terms in order to use the next term, whichever one you want to use, that will, in turn, show its shortcomings because, when it comes down to brass tacks, there will always be a point at which the majority of people within a society will say "this choice is good" or "this choice is bad."

Now, I'll admit that I've been httting the vino as I often do on Saturday nights, so I don't want to puff up like a message board cowboy. I'm not calling anyone out nor am I trying to outdraw anyone. I'm perfectly willing to use whatever terms on which folks agree. My real point is that there will be a perspective on the part of every person involved and it won't matter if we call it moral, ethical, relative, or self v. other, most folks will fall into common categories based on all sorts of factors. If I were a jaded hater of moralists, I would try to find a way of explaining things outside of morals, and that's fair enough. ...But what is, is. The truth is, no matter what we discuss here, the sides will remain largely the same, no matter what we call them.

That being said, I want real dilemmas that entail multi-faceted approaches. So, in my wine soaked brain, while I might have taken a wee bit of offense at the other parts of your post, Seeker, I am nonetheless completely on board with providing as fully fleshed out approach as possible. Even a goody two shoes, golden haired savior wannabe like me can agree with that. After all, in real life, there're a lot more 'bad' answers than good ones. The worst thing in reality isn't that the bad guy sometime wins. That's been true forever. Worse than that is that sometimes you've made some ugly decisions trying to be the good guy only to find out that you were really the bad guy all along.
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#72
Keyrock

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What I'm looking for is for the characters in Project Eternity to entail the full spectrum of attitudes, motivations, reactions, justifications, and prejudices that people have in the real world. There are very few, if any completely "good" and pure people in the world, and very few completely "evil" people. Most people lie somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, and where that lies is often up for debate. Even people that are mostly kind and generous are prone to give in to vices or temptation sometimes or even lash out in anger given the right circumstances. There are people with good hearts deep down, but that are driven to commit deplorable acts because they have a substance dependency and are desperate to get their fix. There are individuals that had noble goals and ideals, but in the face of resistance and difficulties they turned to more and more extreme approaches to achieve their goals with the "ends justify the means" thought. Along the way they gave in to power lust and their original ideal got lost. Some people may have been lured to a life of crime at an early age by the thrill and easy money aspect of it. As they got older and matured they tried to turn their life around and turn a new page but their former life keeps seeking them out and pulling them back in.

I know those were a bunch of cliches I just listed, I just pulled stuff out of my backside for sake of example. My point is that I want the individuals and groups in the world to have real, complex, justifiable motivations for why they act the way they act. When things are cut and dry choices don't present much of a dilemma to the player and thus are not very memorable or exciting. When you really have to rack your brain over a decision and even after you make it you have doubts in the back of your head like "did I really make the right choice?" or "should I have backed this person?" or "I fear when they come to power it may be even worse than it was before", those are the type of choices that you wind up remembering. Sometimes it may be "better" to side with a deplorable noble who mistreats his subjects because he keeps things in order and the economy booming. The alternative may be people with great ideals and noble goals, but they have no idea how to effectively rule the region nor the political or economical ties to keep commerce flowing. Sometimes seemingly "good" acts can have negative consequences and sometimes you may have to get your hands dirty or deal with insidious individuals to get things done.
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#73
BMacklin

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Loving the updates!

#74
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it provides a basis for real discussion, of course, but it ignores two things.


When I was referring to "1 dimensional morality" and "2 dimensional ethics" I wasn't referring to morality in general being single faceted, but the specific type of black vs white spectrum morality (well, I guess now I put it that way, it really does become all morality as morality is the evaluation on whatever level of right and wrong, good and bad), and the 2 dimensional ethics is the one I discussed - D&D's cardinal alignment system. So I wasn't intending to say anything about morality or ethics in general, other than that those two specific systems are oversimplified. For example, the idea posed in the post following yours - that there could be a completely good or completely evil person (even though it is phrased as "few if any") boggles my mind in "what exactly does that mean?" Sure, people might agree to varying degrees that concern for the welfare of others is good. They might argue about how that is best obtained (let them get their needs on their own because helping them will only hurt them in the long run butterfly cocoon argument vs help those in need directly), but someone who has absolutely zero concern for the welfare of others may be seen as generally evil or sociopathic. But take the other side of the coin, "looking out for one's own best interest" is pure white to egoists and pitch black to altruists. And to the utilitarian, it's neither until acting on that is compared with the best interest of the population at large. What then, does it mean to be "pure good"?

So while any given population may have a majority consensus on some things that are considered "good" and "bad" because of unrecognized presuppositions acquired from indoctrination, those change over time and vary between different populations because of being rooted in indoctrination - what is valued and taught is different. The problem is when a game comes forward with a universal system of "good" vs "evil", and it conflict's with the player's own, it then becomes a "cramming down the throat" style of indoctrination. (In contrast, at least SW:TOR's light side vs dark side is a fictional creation, so if it doesn't match up with with your own notion of right and wrong, that's fine, because it's a fictionally creation about jedi behavior, not what is specifically right or wrong.) For example, the Sword of Truth series, the author wanted to be a modern fantasy Ayn Rand, preaching over and over the virtue of egoism, cramming it down the throat of the reader. The "good guys" were egoists, and the "bad guys" were abusing the concept of utilitarianism for an overlord's ultimately egoist desires. The "victims" were the people caught up with the bad guys trying to sacrifice their own needs for the needs of the many - utilitarians. To me, reading those books was almost torture, but I wanted to "see how the story ended" because the first book or two weren't really dogmatic, and I tend to like finishing series, although this specific series has had me reevaluate that.

So rather than subject players to a moral indoctrination, the choices should never be labeled objectively "good" or "evil" on either side of the development. People act toward specific values that they may use to create their concept of morality, but when the concept of morality is directly applied without thought of the underlying values, it's blind, and often only used as a means of manipulation to control others. Sure, let some manipulative self serving force say they're the good guys or that those they oppose are the bad guys, that's fine, it happens a lot, but I don't want to be evaluated by the game on what is "good" or "evil" as I have my own concepts and values.

Also, if it's written (the other side of development I mentioned above) with a standard of good and evil in mind instead of a value based system like the one I mentioned, it loses potential. My favorite example is the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R R Martin. There is "an evil" because it can't be communicated with and is hellbent on killing the living, but we don't know its motivations. The humans may try to be "good" people, or may not, or may change over what happens to them (Jaime). Tyrion tries to do good for the masses when he's hand in spite of what is said of him, yet he schemes and manipulates those in court (I suppose in order to avoid "pulling a Ned"). Joffrey might be called evil by some, or Theon, but they are just products of their environment and upbringing (and genetics). The child raised by a king with a HUGE sense of entitlement and a scheming, self serving Queen with an arrogant, overconfident biological father becomes king- how do you expect him to behave? People's love or hatred is based on stereotypes (the imp, the bastard), and their past perceived slights or benefits (starving in need of food, the other person made them feel embarrassed in front of an audience) more than any sense of specific morality. Granted, people loved Ned, but that was more of northman pride and years of good service and role in the war against the mad king than it was his sense of honor and tradition, and some only feigned support because of past slights between houses. The series hugely benefits by not clinging to some specific concept of morality or ethics.

Now I know a video game will never have an equivalent amount of writing to an entire book series, and that the writing done is choose your own adventure style reactive. But the more options that are considered and written in, the more sense of freedom people have in the game. Writing to values (serve yourself - seek profit, fame, boons, revenge; serve the people at large - just the locals, the nation, all nations, all races; serve those who have done unto you - reward, repayment; revenge - for percieved slights, for being manipulated, for betrayal, for your family/race/all the innocents) allow for more options than writing to black and white or side vs side. To me, Skyrim was terribly written - 2 opposing factions you can avoid but not leave untouched (empire vs stormcloak) and two opposing factions that one forces you to be with or against (blades vs greybeards), and you can't even kill the blades at the end to prevent their jihad which would likely spark a future dragon war. I tried playing a "for the people" type hero, and the writing simply did not let me uphold that. I either had to side for the war (which I was avoiding because it would hurt the people in general), or allow a family that utilized murderers to keep their family hold to power become a ruler of that town. At the peace talk table, I should have been able to bring up the corruption of the Silverblood family and insist they name another leader, or at least been able to kill the whole corrupt family off, but no, their jarl plant was "essential". Skyrim's choices are grey, but they are so few, it is still shallow even though it avoids black and white.
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#75
alanschu

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They prefer obvious moral delimmas (opportunities to behave good or evil) to moral delimmas where the outcome is ambiguous.


Just to nitpick, if a player is at any time able to deduce "This is clearly the best solution for me" (which I find is often the case when choosing between "good" and "evil" then it's not really a dilemma at all.

In order to be a dilemma, no choice can be considered to have a practically acceptable outcome. You may have lesser of evils, but ultimately if you could have neither outcome occur, that'd be preferable.

#76
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Even a goody two shoes, golden haired savior wannabe like me can agree with that. After all, in real life, there're a lot more 'bad' answers than good ones. The worst thing in reality isn't that the bad guy sometime wins. That's been true forever. Worse than that is that sometimes you've made some ugly decisions trying to be the good guy only to find out that you were really the bad guy all along.


I suppose it's worth mentioning that the characters I play would typically be called "good" by someone who uses that word. I simply don't value spitefulness, wanton destruction or hurting innocent people, and I don't really enjoy playing that in a game. It's simply that other people like my values in terms of being good for social order, and in general people call good what they wish to reinforce, and evil what they wish to condemn.

As for the "made some ugly decisions trying to be the good guy only to find out that you were really the bad guy all along" - that can only happen when you attach a specific meaning of good guy and bad guy. If you're trying to uphold some value and fail, you feel bad because you valued the value, and failed your attempt. I would say, more often than not, it's someone else getting you to do something that is telling you it must be done for the good, and in doing so you will ultimately be the good guy, but really, he's just using moralization to manipulate you into actions that benefit him some way. If you're the king, and you out of the blue make a pact with the overlord of darkness and suffering to "help make your kingdom a better place," you're just plain stupid. But if you're the desperate king, and the overlord of D&S is telling you that it will solve your kingdom's problems and you will be doing the right thing, then you are being manipulated. The overlord is only evil in this example because he's fictionally created to be the supposed embodiment of evil. I've seen people that I've dislked everything they stood for and things they've done, but I'm not sure I can point to someone and call them "evil." The bad guy is only the bad guy in real life because people don't like him or what he does. In your own example, you are only the bad guy because you didn't like what you had done. To me, it's just simpler to skip the moralization and just go to the like or dislike and values.

Gah, that was me just trying to slip in a comment that "I play what you would call good guys," and it turned into paragraphs. Sheesh :grin:

#77
Cantousent

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To be honest, Seeker, I feel a bit foolish for being rude to you about your first post, so I'm going to say that I think most of us here really do want the same thing. What we're really discussing is how to handle it around the edges. I guess my point is that there will be times that we see the biases of the writing team and we shouldn't be angry about it because, if they completely took out all bias, the game would probably be too sterile for most folks' taste. Of course, I'll use the words 'probably be too sterile for most folks' taste,' and someone usually comes around and asks essentially, "how do we quantify that?" I ask, in English, how else do I express the idea. I'm proposing my views. Some come from experience, some from study, and others from my own personal instincts. I present it for you to take or not as you wish. ...But I still believe, from experience and instinct, that we won't have a game that doesn't let some sort of value peak through on the part of the developers. I don't think we should ask for a game that doesn't. It's okay if they have a particular bent as long as it isn't didactic and doesn't prevent them from making compelling NPCs of various outlooks.

In our world, there is a wide variety of views, and some of those views exist in essentially constant conflict. Take for example religion v. atheism. Now, if we put aside our own biases, it's easy to see that both sides present an appealing argument to people, and some of those people might at different times fall into either camp. Sure, if you're a snide overbearing Christian, you might depict every atheist as a wretched hater who doesn't value anyone but himself. Some Christians are snide in such a way, to be sure. Likewise, if you're a smug superior atheist, you might depict every Christian as an ignorant backward fool. In reality, some atheists act in such a way. ...But some Christians will have congenial conversations with atheists and some of these Christians will present compelling arguments on various grounds, from logical to emotional, that can sway the other side. Ditto for the atheists talking to Christians. Some people might appeal to prejudice or some other baser, lower instinct, which is fair. Heaven knows, sometimes prejudice can carry the day. ...But most lasting movements have proponents who can create a compelling argument to defend their base philosophy. Even if I disagree with the proponent, the argument, and the philosophy, I have to concede that it's viable if it exists with a significant number of followers. That's what I want in the game.

I will take issue with a couple of things you said. First of all, while 'good' and 'bad' do tend to fluxuate around various issues, there's a lot more in common with what societies have sorted into either side than different. If you focus on the differences, those differences will seem greater, but the bulk of philosophies, especially philosophies that have existed for a substantial amount of time, have a great deal in common. ...And these philosophies sometimes even blend together. Take your egoist, who proposes self-interest is best because it leads to competition, but the same person is also a Christian and believes in helping the poor. That's just one example. How about folks who are socially 'liberal' while being fiscally 'conservative?' So, we can beat around the bush about what we call things, and I'm on board with not using terms like 'good' or 'evil,' but those ideas exist whether we use the terms or not and it just seems desperate not to use them.

Which takes me to the second thing. The people in the world will undoubtedly believe in good and evil. Humanity, from anyone in the world in recorded history, has called some things good and some things evil. These concepts are by and large pretty damned similar by the mass, but even if we say they aren't it doesn't matter. If the design team wants to sort it all out based on relativism and say there is no good or evil, fair enough. ...But it's going to be odd if the NPCs of the world desperately try to avoid using the terms for what undoubtedly exists in their minds anyway.

At any rate, I apologize for being snarky before. You've got great ideas and you present them well and I respect. Really. It's just that the story is the most important thing for me. I think the classes and races and spells and combat are all cool, but it's the story that matters, so I'm probably overstating my arguments for that reason. Like I said above, I think what a lot of us want is by and large the same.
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#78
Game_Exile

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I hate what Brennecke's post says, because it is pretty much telling me that the devs just plan to go with tacked-on XP , and all the other same old ****, for the long term logistical part of their game. And the story will end up suffering for this as well.

the player needs to be able to define his or her own motivations, attitudes toward others, and ways of resolving problems in the story.

I mean, look at this ****. Is this game going to have any challenge whatsoever?!? Lol at "the player needs to be able to define his own ways of resolving problems in the story." If everything the player does outside of combat is just going to be customization, meaning inconsequential short range choices, then the only problem is guessing which option is going to yield the best XP or gear reward. Read my excellent (slightly edited) post from the insightful "Should P:E have time limits?" thread:

No overarching limit. FO1 limit was *easy* and it still annoyed me to no end.
Clock is ticking and you have no way to know how much you still need to accomplish.

The problem with Fallout 1 isn't that it has the overarching time limit. The problem is that the entire long term logistics part of the game and most other CRPGs is dumbed down to ****, so that everything is either too easy, meaning the player's choices don't matter in the long run, or too unpredictable and random, so that the choices amount to guessing what the game's content is. Seriously, "choice" in these games doesn't even reach the Facebook Farm level of meaningful complexity.

It's not difficult to understand why Star Control 2 was being promoted by the thread starter. It is a good logistics game (leaving aside the fact that most players on their first playthrough won't even suspect there is a hard time limit until it is too late to prepare for it), and it has all its relatively simple elements, including story/setting, beautifully integrated. Obviously, with a CRPG that has a much more complex setting, you will probably need to implement an "overarching" timer and its effects in much more complex ways than in SC2 if you want it to work with the story. Still, something as simple as spawning increasingly difficult monsters/battles at certain time intervals would make the logistics part of the game much more interesting by giving you more reason to get all the great XP/gear/allies/strongholds, while on the other hand making you weigh this against the need to do things like travel more efficiently, and avoid resting needlessly.

...I don't want things to be timed I want to be able to explore at my own pace if I wanted a linear corridor game that hurries me a long to the next objective I'd go and play COD.

Here is the other way of looking at the "problem" with the timer in FO1: it suddenly doesn't make sense to do all the stuff in the game that is unrelated to getting that water chip before time runs out, and you end up having a lot of superfluous setting or "content". This is what people are actually complaining about when they say they want to play "at their own pace" (Seriously, what the f*** else is "at the player's pace" supposed to mean? That you want a really easy game?). It amounts to a "story" complaint, and every other poster in this thread has to some degree or other suggested that the "solution" is to more sensibly integrate the time limits with the story/setting. For a so-called "overarching" timer like the one in FO1, this means you simply make the main quest "goals" much broader so that they encompass many more quests and actions, i.e. much more of the setting/story, thereby making it appropriate for the overarching time limits and their effects to appear in the story no matter what the player chooses to do. And obviously you design and balance it so that it doesn't suck.

Look at the two faces of the "overarching" time limit problem, i.e. 1) having (better) logistics integrated with your story vs. 2) keeping (bad tacked-on) logistics from hurting the story, and you get an argument for moving more of the game's long range choices from the character sheet into the "world", meaning into things like gear/strongholds/faction relations/allies and overarching timers(!)/money/stamina(?). It gives you opportunities to better integrate your central logistical elements to parts of the story and setting outside of tactical combat WHILE better showing the probabilities for long term decisions that the player makes, all within the context of "exploration". Designing the logistics more broadly into the setting will, anyway, at least make the game more interesting than just tacking on XP as a quest reward.

And as far as short term timers or time limits go, there is no reason not to have a timer in every single instance where it is appropriate to have a timer. Besides flat quest deadlines, you should have things like enemies reinforcing their ranks or retreating, things that appear in night day cycles, etc. Much of this has been done before, anyway.

I love getting stoned and then getting lost in the world, just doing whatever my heart desires, catchin butterflies and dragonflies, killing npcs, enjoying the scenery.

You really can't please everybody. At some point the devs have to decide whether they want to make a game about gettting stoned and getting lost, or make a game about adventuring and overcoming challenges. You can't pretend to do both at anything but the most superficial level.


What I'm basically saying is that the player should have to do more than haphazardly collect XP, hit a few main quest triggers, and win a final battle in order to reach his actual goal (winning the game). What the player actually does, i.e. the strategic part of the game, is more interesting when it is more complex and challenging. As a result, all the meaning attached to what the player is doing, i.e. the story, becomes more meaningful when the game is more complex and challenging. So the story will be crap unless 1) it reflects what the player is actually doing, and 2) what the player is actually doing is interesting. For ****'s sake.

Edited by Game_Exile, 20 November 2012 - 08:58 PM.


#79
Game_Exile

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Double Post. Sorry bout that.

Edited by Game_Exile, 20 November 2012 - 08:49 PM.


#80
Faerunner

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Not to be sentimental, but watching this update made me so happy I almost started to cry. I love classic RPGs that let the players design their own characters to immerse in the world, but this has become so increasingly rare lately. I know that creating a central plot that is wide enough to include different characters from different racial, cultural, socio/economic backgrounds and with different alignments and worldviews is challenging, but I'm so happy that the folks at Project Eternity are willing to give it a try.





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Story, Josh Sawyer, Chris Avellone, Project Eternity

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