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Hi all,

 

 

My friend told me about Project Eternity because he thought I would be ecstatic to hear 'Black Isle Studios' 'Fallout' and 'Isometric' were facets of a new game. He was right.

 

I'm a little wary of getting my hopes up, however. 

 

There is one thing that I think even my most favorite games, Baldur's Gate II and Fallout II, were missing. I'm not sure what it's called in the game design community, or if it's something that can be developed in a computer game period, but it is something that I can see as being an intuitively poor idea from the design standpoint as 'wasteful' or too time-consuming. The idea is this: robust replayability.

 

By robust I have something very specific in mind: a large amount of game content and entire sub-storylines that are mutually exclusive. After having played through a game, it would be thrilling to know that if I picked a different character class or responded differently in a dialogue tree that my game experience would be drastically different. I don't think it should be possible to experience the entire game in one playthrough.

 

Sure, there are elements of this is most rpgs, but not in the robust sense that I'm intending. One weak sense of this replayability which I do not intend here is the example of multiple options in a dialogue tree which lead to the same response from an NPC. I used to save my games before engaging in select conversations just to test our the repercussions of dialogue and often found that there were none whatsoever! This is extremely frustrating.

 

A less weak example of this kind of variation is when responding certain ways in dialogue leads to certain encounters or lack thereof. This is standard in rpgs but it leaves the player with two paths: aggression or pacifism, and my idea of replayability does not include "oh wow, this time I get to fight such and such rather than avoid fighting such and such" Horray! :p

 

So in closing, I hope Project Eternity will have robust replayability which includes:

  • Genuine (course-of-the-game-affecting) dialogue repercussions
  • Mutually exclusive facets of the game such that one play through by the most thorough of players yields an experience of maybe 60-75% of the entire game content (60-75% of course feeling like a well rounded game)

I am not a game developer and have no experience in the area, so I'm not sure if my idea of 'robust replayability' is feasible. I'd love to hear from someone on Project Eternity on this point.

Edited by Ristora
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Obviously, this is possible, of course, although how economical it is another question altogether.

 

However, I think that nostalgia is getting the better of you -- there are only three quests in BG2 (which I remember best) that are mutually exclusive:

 

1) You can side with either the vampires or the thieves, neither of which has any impact on the remainder of the plot.

2) You can betray the silver dragon in the Underdark sequence or not, with no impact on the rest of the plot

3) You can side with the shadow druids in Tradesmeet or not, with no impact on the rest of the plot

 

The re-playability I suspect that you are thinking of is derived from your companions as they have different dialog and quests.  This doesn't really fit your criteria, though, because all of the content IS accessible in a single playthrough -- if you swap members in and out to get their unique content.  Not many people play like that, though, and if you do stick with a single party throughout then yes, your second play-through will be rather different than your first.  But even then, it isn't as dramatic as you are implying.

 

To the question of "Should Project: Eternity" feature exclusive content...  Honestly, it really depends on how fun the game is. :)  If the game is great, then I'll want to replay it and the extra content will make future playthroughs more interesting.  If the game is only "good", though, I'd rather have all (or the vast majority -- 95%) of the content accessible on a single playthrough.

 

Obviously, I'm hoping for it to be a great game, so I'd like to see something along these lines. :)

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All quests have to come from somewhere. If we have mutually exclusive quests, they have to be designed, fitted into the game, and tested. If we have x number of quests, the mutually exclusive quests have to come from that number. This results in the total number of quests  playable by each character being reduced by the number of exclusive quest branches. If we have 10 mutually exclusive quest branches, that means our playthrough will have x-10 quests. The more mutually exclusive quests we have, the shorter the game gets.

 

That's not to say we should have NO branching quests, just to keep it in moderation.

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Dungeon Siege 3 though linear allowed a lot of such decisions and differing consequences, as reflected in the widely varying ending slides, and though small for me they were quite satisfying. Alpha Protocol could be runthrough as totally different Michael Thorntons, with widely varying choices and consequences that defined not only your alliances but who your agent Thornton became stat wise. New Vegas I don't really need to speak about, though there were a few bottlenecks in the plot, there were a thousand different ways to approach them, making each courier a vastly different individual. Even the Sith Lords, bound  by the absurd binary morality of the Star Wars universe offered plenty of choice, so in this area I don't think you have any need to worry too much Ristora, though it's always worth championing the better aspects of rpg's in the modern age of streamlining and cinematic experiences.


Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Amberion: I agree completely. I'm hoping that the developers' enthusiasm for their production independence leads them do make a game with some much content in such a rich world that having, as your example 10, sub branches would not detract from the game but instead enhance it.

All quests have to come from somewhere....The more mutually exclusive quests we have, the shorter the game gets.

 

I might be mis reading what you've said, but do note that I don't think Fallout 2 nor Baldur's Gate 2 had the kind of replayability that I'm hoping for from project eternity.

 I think that nostalgia is getting the better of you -- there are only three quests in BG2 (which I remember best) 

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@Ristora:  Ah, I misread your original post -- my error. :)  I thought you were holding up Baldur's Gate and Fallout as /examples/ of the type of reactivity that you were looking for, when you actually meant to point out that they were deficient in this area.  My bad. :)

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It is a good thing to hope for, methinks. It's a pretty complex thing, though, dependent upon so many factors. I hope they have as much of it as they reasonably can in P:E, but it's realllllllly difficult to know and/or measure how much that is, exactly. Heh. But, I think "More than BG2/Fallout 2" is not a ridiculous proposal.

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

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All quests have to come from somewhere. If we have mutually exclusive quests, they have to be designed, fitted into the game, and tested. If we have x number of quests, the mutually exclusive quests have to come from that number. This results in the total number of quests  playable by each character being reduced by the number of exclusive quest branches. If we have 10 mutually exclusive quest branches, that means our playthrough will have x-10 quests. The more mutually exclusive quests we have, the shorter the game gets.

 

That's not to say we should have NO branching quests, just to keep it in moderation.

Not necessarily

If you have factions for which you can work, like I believe we'll have, then you can limit a player to working for just a section of these factions on any playthrough. If you base joining these factions on choice, rather than prerequisites, you'll have a significantly different experience each time you play, provided you choose different factions in different playthroughs.

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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.
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All quests have to come from somewhere. If we have mutually exclusive quests, they have to be designed, fitted into the game, and tested. If we have x number of quests, the mutually exclusive quests have to come from that number. This results in the total number of quests  playable by each character being reduced by the number of exclusive quest branches. If we have 10 mutually exclusive quest branches, that means our playthrough will have x-10 quests. The more mutually exclusive quests we have, the shorter the game gets.

 

That's not to say we should have NO branching quests, just to keep it in moderation.

Not necessarily

If you have factions for which you can work, like I believe we'll have, then you can limit a player to working for just a section of these factions on any playthrough. If you base joining these factions on choice, rather than prerequisites, you'll have a significantly different experience each time you play, provided you choose different factions in different playthroughs.

 

With all due respect, yes necessarily. I believe Amberion is simply pointing out that quests are either mutually exclusive, or they aren't. The ones that aren't include, but are not limited to, optional quests that either are or aren't undertaken by the player, purely at the player's behest.

 

X represents the maximum number of quests that can potentially be completed, rather than the absolute number of quests you will complete in a playthrough.

 

That being said, I certainly don't think the player should be able to join all existing factions in the same playthrough. Nor should all factions involve pre-requisites for joining. Just for what it's worth.


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

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As Sawyer has said, the game's primary focus is the combat aspect, so whether or not its replayability is "robust" is going to depend on how much (or little,) you enjoy the combat. That said, I do prefer that some amount of content should be inaccessible to certain character classes, builds or reputations as an incentive for replaying the game in a different way.

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I, for one, hope there aren't too many mutually exclusive areas, storylines or other content*, and if so, they can be arranged in such a way that you can experience the vast majority in no more than two playthroughs. Anything else is, in fact, forcing you to grind through the parts of the game that are mandatory so you can experience the content you were blocked out of on your previous playthrough(s).

I love playing RPGs, but I rarely play them more than once, and I don't think I ever played any more than twice. I like choosing my own way through the story, but I'd hate to think I missed out on huge chunks of content because I made the choices I wanted to make.

 

* mostly areas and storylines shouldn't be mutually exclusive - different conversation, differently played battles, even different companions and quest results/rewards for different characters are fine, since they don't mke you feel like you missed out.

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I love playing RPGs, but I rarely play them more than once, and I don't think I ever played any more than twice.

Maybe the reason for that is that there usually isn't very much interesting to do other than a few exactly opposing choices, making the experience largely the same on any playthrough.
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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.
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Pet threads, everyone has them. I love imagining Gods, Monsters, Factions and Weapons.

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...forcing you to grind through the parts of the game that are mandatory so you can experience the content you were blocked out of on your previous playthrough(s).

This would be tragic, I agree with you. But I think if implemented properly this would not be the experience of most players. Imagine that there are 4 broad possible endings to the game and 8 broad storyline pathways that lead to the 4 possible endings. As well, suppose there are multiple side quests and areas that only become available for certain characters (perhaps because of their faction affiliations as proposed by JFSOCC). Essentially, imagine that the game was an intricate computerized choose-your-own-adventure with dialogue and affiliation choices driving you through the story. 

 

The whole idea behind my 60-75% of the game feeling like a full gaming experience is meant to curb the feeling that one has been cheated out of experiencing some facet of the game during a play through. It would essentially be like a game with expansions built in to it. 

 

 

 I like choosing my own way through the story, but I'd hate to think I missed out on huge chunks of content because I made the choices I wanted to make.

To be clear, if implemented properly, there would be no feeling of any content as having been missed! That would be the magic of it. You would have a robust game playing experience no matter what you decide at certain key junctures. It would not simply be "oh, I'm an NPC and you pissed me off, so now you don't get my treasure map". Instead it would be something like "I hear you pissed off such and such NPC. That makes us friendly and I have a job for you". I'm being very vague on purpose because the way that this kind of thing could be implemented varied.

Edited by Ristora

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I look at it as "all ways lead to Rome" The Game might require you to become a powerful figure, someone of significant influence.

If there are some 30 factions and you need to become a major player/leader in 3 of those, and you can have membership in say 5, (all arbitrary chosen numbers) then you can choose how you get there. That part will be the role playing.

 

whether you're going to buy a vote from a councilman as a powerful merchant, crook, or business partner;

coerce that council member as a powerful crime lord, spymaster, whoremonger, investigative reporter/policeman;

become a council member yourself as leader of a crafting guild, as someone raised into nobility with title, or by popular support;

provide a service to society which makes councilmen listen to you as someone renown for his/her wisdom, like becoming a religious leader, head of the city watch, leader of a militia, spokesman of the farmers.

Or you could remove the council's decision making ability by taking over as tyrant, wise ruler, by killing them all(or most)

 

And whether you lobby, coerce, buy, infiltrate, instigate, set example, convince or conquer, the way you eventually get to the end goal of "Move world policy to do what I need done/believe needs to be done" is entirely up to you.

 

The bottleneck is the council decision which you need to influence. the freedom is in which factions you choose to ally yourself with to get to that point. And those factions would each have unique quest-lines. And because you have access to 30 factions, it's OK to fail them. when has that ever been the case? here, you can try your luck elsewhere. How about that, quests you can fail without needing to reload.

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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.
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Pet threads, everyone has them. I love imagining Gods, Monsters, Factions and Weapons.

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The bottleneck is the council decision which you need to influence. the freedom is in which factions you choose to ally yourself with to get to that point. And those factions would each have unique quest-lines. And because you have access to 30 factions, it's OK to fail them. when has that ever been the case? here, you can try your luck elsewhere. How about that, quests you can fail without needing to reload.

I would just add/emphasize that, sometimes, the bottleneck should be the thing that you're using the council decision to accomplish, and the council decision should be one of a handful of extensive means of accomplishing this... thing.

 

A good example is a trial. If the council decision is necessary to affect the trial, you could ALSO completely bypass the council decision and go through an elaborate jail-break for the person for whom the trial is being held. That's... pretty generic and simple, but I'm making a pretty simple point. You can't always just say "Well, there are a plethora of ways in which to affect the council decision, so that's plenty of variety in the game."

 

There should be very few "chokepoints" that don't have at least one major alternative (like a secret entrance to a castle).


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

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...you could ALSO completely bypass the council decision and go through an elaborate jail-break for the person for whom the trial is being held. That's... pretty generic and simple, but I'm making a pretty simple point. You can't always just say "Well, there are a plethora of ways in which to affect the council decision, so that's plenty of variety in the game."

 

There should be very few "chokepoints" that don't have at least one major alternative (like a secret entrance to a castle).

Agreed. And the repercussions of choosing to do a jail break should be felt by the player and evoke possibly either a sense of accomplishment in making the alternative decision and/or a sense of regret. For example, performing the jailbreak could reduce the efficacy the player character has in influencing council decisions and/or result in a fugitive status.  

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Right run away with my example, add your own ideas and make it complete opposite my point. You spend more time arguing than listening. I'm sorry I couldn't be clearer.


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.
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Pet threads, everyone has them. I love imagining Gods, Monsters, Factions and Weapons.

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Right run away with my example, add your own ideas and make it complete opposite my point...I'm sorry I couldn't be clearer.

Haha, sorry about that. I got caught up in Lephys' post and added to it rather than yours because I don't see them as mutually exclusive. It just depends on where this 'council decision' is in the storyline. I think that when quests MUST be finished, like you pointed out (I think) then there should be genuine options with lasting repercussions. The idea of fleshed out factions is a fantastic idea. But in the case where the council decision could be bypassed, well, see above.

 

Does that make it seem a little less like your idea was hijacked and adulterated? That was not my intention.

 

PS JFSOCC: I'm interested in your factions thread. Is there some recommended reading about what has already been determined for PE before contributing a faction idea?

Edited by Ristora

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I'm sorry, too, JFSOCC. I'm basically an android, so my brain just takes in your perfect sense, acknowledges it, then goes straight into option-exploration mode and starts twisting it all around like a Rubik's cube.

 

I didn't intend to hijack. Only to build upon a foundation you helped lay. If you hadn't said what you did, I wouldn't have had it as context for other thoughts and ideas regarding the topic.

 

I will try to be more "verbal" with my actual acknowledgements of good posts and ideas before I begin androidishly erecting as many lightning rods as I can for the subsequent brain storm.


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

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Right run away with my example, add your own ideas and make it complete opposite my point...I'm sorry I couldn't be clearer.

Haha, sorry about that. I got caught up in Lephys' post and added to it rather than yours because I don't see them as mutually exclusive. It just depends on where this 'council decision' is in the storyline. I think that when quests MUST be finished, like you pointed out (I think) then there should be genuine options with lasting repercussions. The idea of fleshed out factions is a fantastic idea. But in the case where the council decision could be bypassed, well, see above.

 

Does that make it seem a little less like your idea was hijacked and adulterated? That was not my intention.

 

PS JFSOCC: I'm interested in your factions thread. Is there some recommended reading about what has already been determined for PE before contributing a faction idea?

 

 

Recommended reading? well, if you want to think outside of the box, perhaps it's best if you don't. But, if you don't already, try to read the developer updates. Not only do they tell you about the world but they might serve as inspiration. It did for me when writing the customs cartel for instance, as I heard they were going to run multiple currencies. Many of the factions (and some of the gods) I've written are affected by this new-world/old world split, which was also mentioned. Apparently the game takes place in the equivalent of the "new world".

For as far as I know the thread is not even read by the devs. Nevertheless I enjoy the exercise, and I hope maybe sometime it inspires a dev should he come across it. I Also greatly enjoy seeing others post there, their ideas are so different from mine, and that's very refreshing.

 

 

I'm sorry, too, JFSOCC. I'm basically an android, so my brain just takes in your perfect sense, acknowledges it, then goes straight into option-exploration mode and starts twisting it all around like a Rubik's cube.

 

I didn't intend to hijack. Only to build upon a foundation you helped lay. If you hadn't said what you did, I wouldn't have had it as context for other thoughts and ideas regarding the topic.

 

I will try to be more "verbal" with my actual acknowledgements of good posts and ideas before I begin androidishly erecting as many lightning rods as I can for the subsequent brain storm.

Nah man don't change. It's cool you can build on the idea. Just don't ignore the point I was trying to make: There are several roads to Rome, pick the ones you like best.

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.
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Nah man don't change. It's cool you can build on the idea. Just don't ignore the point I was trying to make: There are several roads to Rome, pick the ones you like best.

This is true. Point not-ignored. There are times when it makes sense, both in the story AND in the gameplay/mechanics, to have things converge on a pivotal situation (such as the decision of a council), and you'll have all manner of ways to get between the previous pivotal situation and the current one, and even oodles of ways to tackle the pivotal situation, itself.

 

My only caution was that, sometimes, games tend to say "Well, we gave you 20 ways in which to accomplish this goal, so that should be good, right?", while failing to realize that the 20 different ways all lead to the exact same accomplishment of the goal. In the council decision example, this might be something like "Get the council to send the army to war." Then, you start asking "What's the point in so much variety in getting the council to make the decision when I can't even get them to do anything even SLIGHTLY different, or get the army to go to war by any other means?"

 

That was specifically was I was thinking of in my whole "bear in mind" caution. They are two sides to the same coin.

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

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Then, you start asking "What's the point in so much variety in getting the council to make the decision when I can't even get them to do anything even SLIGHTLY different..."

UGH. Exactly. These kinds of choke points drive me absolutely crazy. Of course, if the council decision outcome must be war, and there are 20 ways of getting it done, there should be genuine repercussions to the way in which you influence the council decision. If the war must happen, let me choose who I will fight for based on my deeds in game, and don't make my 20 options turn into the same consequence.

 

I mentioned in another post about my dissatisfaction with New Vegas's main quest line where this kind of pivotal decision occurs  late game. You get different endings, but there is no sense that your decision affected the game world in any meaningful way because the game is, well, over. 

 

Ideally, something like this council decision should occur mid game so the main quest line narrows early then flourishes again to allow for the big PC decision to genuinely affect the rest of the game, which should look notably different on subsequent playthroughs given different decisions.

Edited by Ristora
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what the decision will be could ultimately be something you decide. obviously

 

Edit: 1000th post! I feel I should go out and buy you all drinks :p

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.
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