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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:

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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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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

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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.


"Not I, though. Not I," said the hanging dwarf.

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I don't quite know where to put this, but it certainly has to do with the story and how to make you care about it, so I'll post it here. I want to talk about dialogue and choices.

 

In the update, it has been mentioned that a story can be made in different ways - that it can be an emotional, personal experience or highly political and that the difficulty is in making the player care about it.

However, in my experience there's a very simple solution to this: The player will always be interested in the story if he's interested in his character. And in order to achieve that, you simply have to give him choices that don't actually affect anything in the game, but are simply there so that the player can choose what kind of hero he wants to be.

Now this seems very obvious, but many games simply don't do this, or worse, they connect it somehow to an alignment system or to undesirable consequences. Or they don't make it clear enough when you're actually making a decision that will affect the game in a certain way so that many players shy away from "crass" lines of dialogue because they don't want to screw up their game. (I remember laughing heartily at some of the dialogue options in Dragon Age, wanting to use them but then thinking "but if I say that the game is going to assume something about my character that's not true" or "but if I say that, Alistair will hate me because he will take it the wrong way and for SOME reason there's no way to rectify that".)

 

Don't do that. Don't mix my "decisions" with stuff I just want to say because I would like my character to be the kind of person who says that. Imagine this: An NPC asks you if you will rescue his village from an evil dragon, and a choice pops up - you can either say "No" or you can say "Lol wtf herp derp okay I guess I'll help you rofl". These are your only options, and they are displayed exactly like that. (The NPC will react accordingly and, if you help him, treat you like an imbecile.)

Now as a player you're in a horrible situation: You DO want to help the NPC, but you do NOT want to say that stupid line. You're suddenly forced into a very specific character that was never what you had in mind.

 

The same thing goes for the main story, in a way. If the main story uses emotional hooks which don't work on my character because he's a sarcastic smart-aleck, that doesn't mean that you have to think of a new main story. It's actually a very cool role-playing opportunity. When my supposed best friend comes to me because he urgently needs my help, give me lines like "I'd rather drink the urine of an orc than to help YOU again". When the king explains to me that his country is in danger of being overrun by the evil Empire, give me lines like "To be perfectly honest, I couldn't care less".

And then let the NPCs convince my character somehow to still help them. The reluctant hero and the antihero are great archetypes, and I would love to play them out without having to fear undesirable consequences. The game has to help the player be the hero he wants to be, because as an effect he will be completely interested in the story. After all, it's a story that has his ideal protagonist.

 

A very good example of this is The Witcher 2, even though its hero is a "reluctant hero" by design. Within the confines of that basic archetype the dialogue allows me to play the character however I want, and when there are choices that majorly affect the game, it's perfectly clear that they are choices. Playing the game felt good because I didn't worry that I'd say the wrong thing. I played this character the way I saw him and the game encouraged me to do so, whereas your typical RPG encourages you to either play a politically correct goody two-shoes or a quipping villain.

 

And while this might not seem like the biggest problem to worry about in an RPG, it's probably the main reason why I haven't finished many Bioware games and generally just don't like them. My main characters are almost always the sneaky types, thieves and rogues, and very much influenced by characters like Vlad Taltos (of the Steven Brust novels) or Han Solo. They basically have to quip nonstop and be sarcastic and kind of annoying to everyone all the time. It's what makes them fun to play. However, the games don't allow that: In Dragon Age for example, I simply wouldn't have any companions if I did that. Even Morrigan, who enjoys quipping herself, gets offended if you try joking around with her. Instead of embracing the (in my opinion) great story of the annoying-but-somehow-lovable Grey Warden whose companions slowly get used to his constant sarcasm, the game makes them betray me.

 

So, to me, this is the single most important issue, and I really hope that Project Eternity tries something new here. It obviously depends on the other features the game has: Is there an alignment system? Will your companions have a "trust meter"? If neither of them is the case, then you're almost done; just put in enough flavor dialogue and make it clear (not by outright saying it, but by implying it somehow) which dialogue choices are actually decisions that affect the game and which aren't.

If alignment system and/or "trust meter" are in, do them carefully. Alignment should be something the player decides for his character, and doing something good or evil should be a conscious choice, not something you just stumble over because the game interpreted something you said differently than you did. And trust shouldn't be something you earn by sweet-talking somebody - quite the opposite, in fact, reasonable NPCs should start trusting you when you prove your worth to them and they should start distrusting you when they notice that you're behaving in a certain way to get them to do something.

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I just hope that you aren't forced to be the good guy, or a good guy who happens to do a lot of bad things but ultimately saves everyone.

 

What if I want to take over the world with forbidden magic? An evil ending lets you take the plot in different and interesting directions, allowing the exploration of more sophisticated literary themes and potentially doubling the replayability.

 

I feel like it can actually get more complicated than that. It's not just "Are you good or evil?" It can range:

  • Who knows you in the town that you start in?
  • What have you been doing before starting your adventure? Does that give you any advantages?
  • How much of the game world should you really know (Arcanum failed here...) about?
  • What have you been doing with your life until now?
  • Do you have a family? Wife? Children? Parents?
  • Where does your character start? Why was he/she there?
  • and so on and so on.....

From what I understood from the update, it seems like OEI wants us to be able to play as many different characters as possible from the beginning of the adventure and for us to fill in as much background story as we want to. Therefore, they can't "railroad" out characters too much by giving them too much background.

 

http://penny-arcade....ode/bad-writing

http://penny-arcade....story-structure

 

 

Wow, the video on the second link is pure troll. :banghead: At no point was it ever stated that the Courier had amnesia. The lack of a background was merely there to provide a blank slate for the player's avatar... it's a no less valid approach compared to giving the player character a background and letting him start from there. Oh , Bioshock just got mentioned. Closing. I suppose being a courier is enough personal background that you may as well throw personal characterization out the door and start the game in raider armor, according to them :yes::no:

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BG gave us a backstory, it worked because you were a demi-god in hiding with a specific destiny.

IWD worked on the other end of the spectrum because there was no story, allowing the player to fill it in himself.

the perfect balance i think was DA: Origins...your character was much like an IWD character (no one truly special) but was given a background (of choice) that made him/her feel like they were actually a part of that world rather than just "spawning" out of mid-air.

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Maybe you guys can add the Harpers in the game, a badass organization that appears out of nowhere to restore balance at a crucial point in the game ( maybe before a great villain is killed or evil is too strong and its on rampage ).

 

I've never really understood the principle of "maintain teh balance" organisations in western fiction, as they're always basically fighting evil all the time.

What if the good guys are winning? Can we then see harpers assasinate Lady Galadriel or Elrond or something? Fix up the balance?

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