Jump to content

Avoid making a encyclopedia lore book about every single thing.


Recommended Posts

I find it boring in games like skyrim and dragon age. Where the lore is thrown in your face in loading screens and codex entries. How to put it, takes the fun out of exploring fantasy worlds where everything is written in stone. I want to explore places no one has heard of before and fight enemies nobody has a clue about. Fight enemies whose magic is magic to the world and its inhabitants etc. I don't want to know everything. I do not want the games loading screens and there to be index entries that are equivalent to a omnipotent scholar that knows the multiverse and everything within it lol.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find it boring in games like skyrim and dragon age. Where the lore is thrown in your face in loading screens and codex entries. How to put it, takes the fun out of exploring fantasy worlds where everything is written in stone. I want to explore places no one has heard of before and fight enemies nobody has a clue about. Fight enemies whose magic is magic to the world and its inhabitants etc. I don't want to know everything. I do not want the games loading screens and there to be index entries that are equivalent to a omnipotent scholar that knows the multiverse and everything within it lol.

 

This game may not be for you. I recommend looking away whenever words appear.

Edited by rjshae
  • Like 1

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This game may not be for you. I recommend looking away whenever words appear.

 

I like reading words - my most favorite game is Planescape Torment, and it contains lots of words.

However I also agree with the book issue. Putting everything into books is a lazy business. What makes the Torment as a good game, is feeling, exploring, experiencing, interacting, talking, discussing, fighting, hearing, seeing. You taste everything first hand. I want to learn the lore from people, discuss the issues with them, not grinding books to learn a simple fact.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the point is, and I agree to some extent, that a lot of mystery should be preserved until the player gets to a certain location/ faces a certain enemy.

 

I think the easiest way to do this is to make short flavour texts. Like Herodotus describing Scythia as a place where gryphons live; it may be true, or it may be a euphemism for well-bred horses (better yet if the player doesn't even know what a gryphon is).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love collecting codex entries and the like, but I can see the OP's point. I don't think the issue is codex entries per se, but how they're presented to the player. The OP's main complaint seems to be focused around the distribution of lore in a way that overrides character knowledge. I think there are ways around that problem that don't involve ditching the codex entirely. I don't have the time to enumerate them at the moment, but I will write a follow-up post proposing some solutions soon.

 

@Bonecrusher:

 

Funny you mention Torment, seeing as how it has an in-game bestiary and NPC guide. :p

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Bonecrusher:

 

Yes, which is exactly how they do it in Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect, and basically every game that has a codex. You have to encounter the thing before it's added to the codex; that's how the system works.

 

The thing that no game with a codex of any sort does is integrate character knowledge and player knowledge, even though that's clearly the best way to do it. What annoys me in games with codexes is that they are clearly written for the player rather than the character, which means that I as a player learn stuff that my character never gets to bring up in the game.

 

An admittedly extreme example: I might meet a merchant who seems shifty, at which point I'll get a codex entry that points out he was accused of murdering someone. Even if I read that codex entry, I'll never be able to ask that guy about the murder he may or may not have committed, because the writers have decided it's a background detail unworthy of further exploration. That's when codex entries can feel unfair.

 

So it seems to me that simply letting the PC ask about relevant information only found in codex entries would eliminate the empty feeling you get from them in games like Dragon Age.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think it will be THAT over the top, considering the approach Sawyer has mentioned on many occasions. They have mentioned quite a few times that while they might be creating a lot of the lore and background information, players will not have access to all (most?) of it, as the inhabitants of the world themselves may not know. The Update George Ziets wrote also hinted at this approach, which I think is good.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The thing that no game with a codex of any sort does is integrate character knowledge and player knowledge, even though that's clearly the best way to do it. What annoys me in games with codexes is that they are clearly written for the player rather than the character, which means that I as a player learn stuff that my character never gets to bring up in the game.

 

You can't avoid that; the player is a stranger to the setting so they need some background lore. If you don't like it, don't read it. Others enjoy that type of lore and I think it helps to breathe life into the setting. It'd be a pretty disappointing effort for a RPG if there wasn't background material.

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pretty much everything in Skyrim is in books. It's entirely optional save for one or two quests, and even then all you typically need to do is "activate" the book. You never have to read any of it regardless of where it's inserted. Nobody's forcing you to click on a codex menu in any Bioware game, either.

 

Anyway, like Sensuki suggested, vagaries and mystery are better than detailed biographies of every daedric prince.

Edited by AGX-17
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's great that the information is available to you (when it makes sense to be), but trivia-knowledge doesn't need to be integrated into the core game. I'm not even one of the "Quantity of words I have to read = directly inversely proportionate to my enjoyment of the game" people, but I don't need some guy I ask a question to say "In the year 503ZF, on the 12th day of the month of Svelleth, when the two suns were at exactly a 35-degree angle from one another, King Argonius IV -- who, of course, was a direct descendent of Emperor Thirgonius, also known as the Threll Lord -- issued the Decree of Coramarr. At precisely three hours past noon that same day, the Mergorian Council held session in order to address this decree, which increased the taxes in the regions of Thessen, Forig, and Malium by precisely 3.7 percent. You see, the taxes were already extremely high, having been raised by Emperor Thirgonius just 173 days and 4.7 hours before that. In fact, many factions at the time..."

 

Ohhh my crap... I don't NEED to know the exact amounts of time, and everyone's names, and everything about everything that's mentioned, unless it's directly pertinent to what you're telling me. That information is nice, when I'm reading about all those individual things in detail in an encyclopedia or historical book of lore because I happen to be super interested in such info.

 

Otherwise, just tell me "He was a great king, about fifty years ago. Probably one of the only kings who kept this land from war. Didn't always treat everyone very well, though. That led to him having a lot of enemies, including some members of the Mergorian Council, the kingdom's advisors. This guy you've been seeing around town? His grandfather was one of those councilors."

 

Ahhhh... Now I know kind of who the king is, and how the council relates to him, and that they sort of didn't like him, AND that some guy pertinent to the present is actually relevant to the motives of the council. Or, possibly. Maybe something else has to do with the king's lineage. *shrug*. If I want to ask more info, I can. But, some random guy just filling me in shouldn't quote history text just because I've never heard of someone. Heh.

 

Granted, I can't really think of many games that do that to quite that degree. Well, also, my example was a little exaggerated, for equal parts humor and emphasis. 8P

Edited by Lephys
  • Like 3

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A good example might be the Song of Ice and Fire books by George R. R. Martin, where you hear different accounts of events from different people, and it's interesting to hear the different sides of the story and the inclusion/exclusion or outright lies about various information from different people.

 

They (Obsidian) mentioned that exposition will be handled in a similar manner

Edited by Sensuki
Link to comment
Share on other sites

No one has touched, yet, on WHY new games have things like a codex.  With-out actually asking the developers directly it seems to me the logical reason would be because modern games are entirely voice acted.  All NPCs have a voice these days.  It's what we as a gaming community expect. 

 

So they would have been faced with a problem: 

 

  • Do we give the lore to the NPCs and pay through the arse for the voice acting?  That much voice acting would cost a pretty penny.  Not likely.
  • Do we give the lore to the NPCs and just have it as text?  This is certainly not a hard thing but brings with it other questions.  Does the lack of voice acting break immersion?  Are the players going to read it anyway?  Do the players want a massive list of dialogue options to sift through?
  • Do we just house this information in a codex and let the players that are interested read it at their own will?  Seems the logical winner when creating an 'accessible' (we all love that word... -_-) game.

From a personal stand-point I did not real a single piece of the codex from DragonAge: Origins and that was without my favourite game of its year (and probably the year after).  I love lore.  LOVE IT, and yet I didn't read a single piece of it from my favourite game.  Even in Mass Effect I only listened to the voiced codex entries.  Yet in older games with no (or very little) voice acting I read EVERY SINGLE bit of text I can get my hands on.

 

That is me personally, but I think it's all about the game and how the game presents the information.  Codex doesn't work for me, but at the same time I don't want to lose that immersion that voice acting brings by having pages of text from NPCs that would otherwise have a voice.  The advancements of gaming have certainly brought some negative side effects with them that threaten some of what we as gamers hold dear.  That's for sure.

 

My personal solution to the matter would be that every town/city has a library of some sort, whether it be an actual city library or the personal library of the town scholar.  This library has different sections of lore.  A section of the people of the town.  A section on the surrounding lands.  A section on the history of the place.  And so on.  This could be set up in a dialogue box, just like normal conversations.  This OR a you can just talk to a town scholar for all the information.  Either way I think the information should be found in the world rather than in a codex, but not overly scattered.  You keep the immersion this way and your characters gets to learn this information and maybe even find some hidden quests from it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@rjshae:

 

I'm not sure I see your point. Either that, or you don't see my point. One of the two.

 

I do understand the purpose of codex entries, and actually quite like them. The codex entries in Dragon Age: Origins were my favorite part of the game, in fact. My point was that it always irritates me that codex entries aren't integrated meaningfully into gameplay, which is especially troublesome in examples like the (half-assed) one I gave, where information I as a player believe is pertinent to my current predicament is unavailable to me because the game expects me to play it a certain way.

 

In fact, let's go back to that example and add something to it: a shifty-looking merchant I meet on the road is, according to his codex entry, suspected of a murder or two. While that information is perhaps worth keeping in mind when I talk to him, it's not necessarily essential. What if I'm looking for a murderer in the immediate area, though? Suddenly, the knowledge that a suspected murderer is in front of me is very pertinent indeed. But if my character is not permitted to know what I as a player know, then I get frustrated, because that guy could be the murderer I'm looking for.

 

Now, if the game's writers have any respect for the player at all, the guy probably isn't the real murderer. There aren't many writers of RPGs who are that bad at their job. But what if he knows something about the real murderer that I can use to my advantage? What if he knows the murderer holds a grudge against one of my party members? What if the real murderer is his twin? There are so many things I should question this man about, and yet I don't get to do that until the Dramatic Reveal that the real murderer is the guy's twin? It's stuff like that I find actively unfair, and although I've never been railroaded to that extent, I have played Bioware games where I knew what would happen before it happened because of stuff in the codex.

 

One series of games that actually did codex entries right, BTW? The Witcher games.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't explain everything.

 

The world should be there to be explored and it should have some misteries left in it.

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

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

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know whatcha mean, Pintash. Of course, ever since voice-acted video games (and the extreme cost in resources for voice acting), we RPG-lovers have gotten pretty used to the partial voice acting that we all know and... think things about. :) P:E is going to be doing this, if I'm not mistaken.

 

So, one could always provide lorestuffs in the form of optional, text-only dialogue options (when it makes sense), AND in books and things, AND/OR in the form of "automagically" recorded information. i.e. "*The man tells you everything he knows about the fallen kingdom*," or "*after a couple of hours, you've copied down all the script carved into the stone throughout this chamber*," etc. Now, you have that info.

 

Here's where it gets tricky, though... I really think we (the players) should be told it's purely lore, somehow. And before you get out the pitchforches (those are combo pitchfork/torch weapons for the efficient angry peasant in YOU! 8D):

 

1) That doesn't mean lore can't be pertinent to actual stuff in the game (help you solve a riddle more easily, or locate a secret room, or figure out additional paths in a quest, etc.).

 

2) That doesn't mean all the non-"lore"-marked options/texts are GUARANTEED to automatically accomplish something or pertain directly to a quest/objective/game-ity-thingie.

 

Basically, it would ONLY be a distinction between things that are necessary for SOMEthing, and things that aren't necessary but could still be useful.

 

It's kind of like the concept of a quest item. Sometimes, you have no idea if something's useful or not, and you just hang onto it for eternity. It may even have a sell-price, and be fully sellable, and you'll think "Oh, then that's what I should do, since I can't equip it, or craft with it, or use it in any way that I know of, and I've spoken to everyone, and no one's even mentioned anything about this at all." Then, 30 minutes later, "Hey, I'm searching for my long lost (insert item-you-recently-sold-off's name here). Have you seen it?". You: "... *siiiiiiiiiiigh*..."

 

Granted, there are probably more elegant ways of indicating things than plastering "quest item" or "[lore]" on things. But, I really don't see any harm in it. Some would say "But that's detracting from the effort of finding out whether or not it's a quest item!" But... not really. I mean, even if you know something's a quest item, you STILL have to figure out how, where, and why. That's like saying "If you tell people someone was murdered, that'll ruin the mystery of who did it and how! They should have to figure OUT there's a murder to solve!"

 

If some information is literally just for poops and giggles, there's absolutely no need for everyone playing the game to read it just in case it isn't, simply because they do not have any indication of whether or not the information is even important (and not simply interesting to the curious player).

  • Like 1

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah I get a lot of what you're saying.

 

The whole 'threw away the quest item' thing happened to me when I played Planescape: Torment.  After carrying some item around forever I finally decided it wasnt of use and chucked it in a random box somewhere...  Took me 2 hours to find that damn box again.  It sucked, but it was good at the same time.  The relief I felt when I found the item was a much bigger emotion than you get from other games.  I made a mistake, I had to take responsibility for that mistake and fix it myself, not have the game automatically hand me a replica quest item, or not let me drop it in the first place.  I was treated like an adult.  If I lose my keys, no other bastard is gonna find them for me.  I stuffed up, I fix it.  Honeslty, I hope we have consequence like this in P:E.  If not, then at least in new Torment.  That's you, inXile.

 

I just think the lore needs to be in the world.  Maybe even offer exp for finding lore like DA:O did.  It was a good idea but not executed well.  It encouraged finding it, but not reading it.  I feel like the people that actually take the time to read the lore are the ones who should be rewarded.  Not the ones that only click on a useable object.

You know how in fantasy stories there's almost ALWAYS a scene where a wizard or scholar or something has to find some dusty old tome he has hidden away and it tells of a prophecy or some such.  I like this idea and think it should be used a lot more in gaming.  Why not give us a bunch of quests that REQUIRE us to sift through lore - from a library or a wizards collection of old tomes - to find the information we need to advance in the quest.  If the lore is elegantly presented it would not be a chore to do and it would be a great way to encourage the reading of lore.  You give the player a choice of books and from the title they can more than likely decipher the book they need, then all they have to do is flick through until they find the relevant information.  I know your average COD/WOW gamers aren't going to like a concept like this but then P:E isn't being made for them now is it?

 

I guess the trick is; let US the players decide what's important to us.  If someone decided a piece of lore isnt important and ends up missing a quest because of it - BAD LUCK!  His problem.  If the inquisitive among us get that quest because we wanted to read the lore - GOOD ON US!  Also... if I see one pop-up on the screen related to a quest I'm gonna flip.  I know I just finished the damn quest.  Alright?  I just played it out!  Don't need some shiny arse crap on the screen to tell me!

Edited by Pintash
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@rjshae:

 

I do understand the purpose of codex entries, and actually quite like them. The codex entries in Dragon Age: Origins were my favorite part of the game, in fact. My point was that it always irritates me that codex entries aren't integrated meaningfully into gameplay, which is especially troublesome in examples like the (half-assed) one I gave, where information I as a player believe is pertinent to my current predicament is unavailable to me because the game expects me to play it a certain way.

 

In fact, let's go back to that example and add something to it: a shifty-looking merchant I meet on the road is, according to his codex entry, suspected of a murder or two. While that information is perhaps worth keeping in mind when I talk to him, it's not necessarily essential. What if I'm looking for a murderer in the immediate area, though? Suddenly, the knowledge that a suspected murderer is in front of me is very pertinent indeed. But if my character is not permitted to know what I as a player know, then I get frustrated, because that guy could be the murderer I'm looking for.

 

Now, if the game's writers have any respect for the player at all, the guy probably isn't the real murderer. There aren't many writers of RPGs who are that bad at their job. But what if he knows something about the real murderer that I can use to my advantage? What if he knows the murderer holds a grudge against one of my party members? What if the real murderer is his twin? There are so many things I should question this man about, and yet I don't get to do that until the Dramatic Reveal that the real murderer is the guy's twin? It's stuff like that I find actively unfair, and although I've never been railroaded to that extent, I have played Bioware games where I knew what would happen before it happened because of stuff in the codex.

 

The real world doesn't hand you exactly the information you need, and only that information. You get bits and pieces of data, some of which may be relevant, some not. But I do know that feeding you only the information you need to play the game isn't a sign of respect from the writers. It's a sign that you're being treated like an idiot who can't filter the information.

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The point of lore was always to give knowledge that is not directly related to the main quest but gives breath to the world. Sometimes it was justified and sometimes not but it was made that way so 1) its not a chore finding all the information about every single creature the game has 2) you still have access to that information that its not all that relevant to the main quest.

Having that in mind I don't feel it was really badly used. Still, like someone said before it could be made better if some quests, events or gameplay mechanics made actual use of it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would love something like Ni No Kuni's Wizard Companion, but let's be realistic.

 

That game (most likely) had a HUGE budget compared to this one. Studio Ghibli is a big name, and they spent 2 years localizing it for America (and did a fantastic job!)

 

As much as I'd LOVE something that detailed, I'd rather have more time and effort spent on the core gameplay, story, and side quests.

 

But please, don't take that to mean I don't want anything like a detailed codex at all, it's a balancing act really.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A good example might be the Song of Ice and Fire books by George R. R. Martin, where you hear different accounts of events from different people, and it's interesting to hear the different sides of the story and the inclusion/exclusion or outright lies about various information from different people.

 

They (Obsidian) mentioned that exposition will be handled in a similar manner

That's... not really analogous.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with OP. For some reason people wrongly think that explaining everything makes a world deeper.

 

And they are completely wrong, because when everything is defined, there is no more mystery, no more "beyond the horizon". A horizon which could be filled with dragons and treasure and magic and strange cultures. If you leave nothing to the imagination, well, what is there left to imagine? It puts borders (or a frame, if you will) on the experience, and that in turn will make your world seem small.

 

A world with little explained lets you think about things more, Where do they come from? Why does it work like that? What ever happened to him? Who is behind all this. It allows you to speculate and theorize and that can keep you going forever. It allows you to see a world beyond what has been presented to you in the game. Of places and people and ideas unexplored. Ready for the next time.

 

If you create an index entry on every little previously unexplained thing found in the game, rune stones, magic circles, organisations, you'll quickly kill what made the world interesting. Because hey, it's that, and that's the way it is.

 

It's about curiosity. A good teacher/storyteller doesn't explain but lets you find out for yourself.

I hope there is a lot of alluding to things beyond what the player will see. That'll keep you going, and provides a rich soil from which a sequel or expansion might grow.

Edited by JFSOCC

Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
---
Pet threads, everyone has them. I love imagining Gods, Monsters, Factions and Weapons.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well... I'd like to like journal entries and codex chippets more than I do, but despite having played through both ME1 and DA:O a couple of times, I've probably skipped about half of codex entries, at least half.

 

If they're so interesting and neat, why give them so little love as to force them into tiny notepad window and do them entirely plaintext? Boggles the mind, or would, as the answer is most likely the way the publisher doesn't give a crap, nor the product lead, so neither do I really.

 

Elder Scrolls series tried to do a bit better, and did, kind of. The journals are at least large, they attempt to look like real books, there's clearly some effort in there. Too bad the fake handwriting font and paper texture attempts serve only to make them that much harder to read. So I don't read them much either.

 

The best codex entries were in Fallout NV, the great khan wallpaintings of their battles against new reno families. Or the wall mural in Boomer base telling the boomer story (though that had spoken explanation as well).

 

And that might illustrate something many historical journals and books have in common, and something codex entires and game journal books usually lack. Meaning pictures and presentation. It's only after Gutenberg that books got really dull, medieval books were full of illustrations, travel journals and such even more so. But at least give the books some love.

 

Might sound a lot of work and diverting resources?

But I've also heard concept artists and such don't really have much to do during the actual production stage.

(Beside spending their enormous fees on whatever morbid way.)

 

And even if it's diverting resources? Isn't doing background lore properly for a change a good enough target to divert at?

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Codexes are lazy, particularly for fantasy games where printing press is usually not invented, and books should be scarse. If you'll remember Tolkien, aside from some written chronicles, he used folklore to tell about history of his world. Fantasy characters should sing songs about heroes and villains, about historical events and about fantastic places they have seen. They should have tales and fairytales to share. World's lore should exist in those, as well as in architecture, clothes and food.

Edited by Shadenuat
Link to comment
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...