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My hope for project eternity


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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.

One thing that made me play certain games again and over again is a game's ability to surprise me.

 

The following games might not be comparable to PE but those aspects could be implemented I think.

 

Everybody knows about the randomness in Diablo 2 for instance. You'd have different monsters, resistances, Chapion monsters or groups that attack sometimes alone, in another game in large numbers, sometimes from this direction sometimes from that direction. It is a simple feature (or is it? or is that hard to program?) that has a terribly great impact on the replay value.

 

Random dungeons that look different each time you play.

 

What I also really really like is that in games like system shock 2, bioshock and prolly a bunch of other games you'd have areas that are populated with monsters once more when you travel back to them. It is not nice, in my opinion, to clear an area and to never see monsters again once you travel back to them. You could even have the area "react" to your previous intrusion. So if you wiped out an army of goblins, then the next time they have built trenches, defenses and have an even larger number. Give that feature some randomness as well. Say you go back to an area because you have to travel through that pass to reach the city. Yet again you see some goblins and once they spot you they all flee as you have dealt such a devestating blow to them previously.

 

You cleared some maps easily? At the next scene let somebody approach me and tell me "We have monitored your progress and you should know that we have seen through your attacks and have prepared for you." You barely managed to clear an area? Let the area adress your almost defeat by sending somebody who tells me "We know that you almost died back there...you are almost done as we are legion."

 

I dont know. Things like that. Make the encounters dynamic and unpredictable to some extent. As all of us here prolly enjoyed the combat of the infinity engine games, give the combat more dimensions like randomness. You are a melee heavy party with only one mage? Then give the goblins an army of wizards the next time you run around that area. You have a lot of cash? Then let those hired mercenary wizards approach you secretly when entering the map, offering you to stand down if you pay double the money the goblins payed.

 

There are endless variations which would change each encounter.

 

I could think of a dozen more ways, and you all together of 1000 more ways which are even cooler.

 

Even if each single class has their one exclusive quest line which also depends on allignment youd have run through them quite quickly considering that your party prolly encompasses a variety of classes and allignments already.

 

Features like those mentioned above on the other hand would provide 'fresh' situations again and over again.

 

Combined with the ideas mentioned in your first post, Ristora, that of course would provide an even better replay experience. If some of those things would be present in icewind dale 1 &2 or baldurs gate then i wouldnt have played them around 4 - 6 times but prolly 20 times.

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One thing that made me play certain games again and over again is a game's ability to surprise me...

 

Features like those mentioned above on the other hand would provide 'fresh' situations again and over again.

 

Combined with the ideas mentioned in your first post, Ristora, that of course would provide an even better replay experience. If some of those things would be present in icewind dale 1 &2 or baldurs gate then i wouldnt have played them around 4 - 6 times but prolly 20 times.

I think your ideas are very relevant given that the PE devs are focusing heavily on combat. You may have implied this already with your comment, but just to be clear, when the main quest line is over, I think the PC should still be able to roam the world, and random encounters (even as simple as those found in Fallout 2 when fast traveling) in addition to what you explicitly mentioned, namely areas that refresh and react to your party, combined with a game that doesn't kick you out of it when you defeat it (which fallout 3 did well with) would certainly enhance replayability. 

 

What's more, when I finish a good game, like, something that I am intensely immersed in, I hate seeing an outro, credits, then main menu. The reward centers in my brain by this point are expecting a fix and cutting off the game abruptly is like getting someone addicted to heroin and then taking away their money and stash, (haha, maybe not completely analogous   ;)) What I'm getting at is that the game should ease you out of it and having re-visitable areas like you mention oneda, allows for post-game withdrawl to be minimal and detox gradual. 

Edited by Ristora
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I agree to all of it. If the main quest is over, like in diablo 2 you defeated bhaal or diablo, you could go back to areas populated by very strong demons, monsters or what not. And since you never know what or who you will face u won't get bored.

 

The only thing that I really don't like is a game that focuses almost exclusivley on an open world while neglecting the 'main' quest. Oblivion and Skyrim where praised again and over again for their open worlds, yet I was bored rather quickly because I never had the feeling that there are really epic things going on like a wizard trying to steal your soul, or a mad pretty girl wanting to become an evil god. I may be oldschool, but I need a reason to be in that world.

 

Most games with open worlds like gta, or oblivion simply didn't captivate me which is why I never understood the appeal of open worlds. Why are open worlds so great. A really awesome, scary, threatening and original story like in matrix, star wars, system shock, bioshock, planescape, baldrus gate, is what I want, what I love and what creates an epic experience for me.

 

If both can be combined: epic story and an open world, then by all means Im all for it as long as the story wasnt neglected just so that I can wander all over the place.

Edited by oneda
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If both can be combined: epic story and an open world, then by all means Im all for it as long as the story wasnt neglected just so that I can wander all over the place.

Agreed. My hope for PE is that the story line paths, if mapped out, will resemble two trees joined at the trunk where the multiple branches at the one end of the tree represents early choices like class, the trunks the inevitable chokepoint in the story, and then the other branches of the tree representing where to go in a game world affected heavily by what was done at the chokepoint. 

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It is not nice, in my opinion, to clear an area and to never see monsters again once you travel back to them. You could even have the area "react" to your previous intrusion. So if you wiped out an army of goblins, then the next time they have built trenches, defenses and have an even larger number. Give that feature some randomness as well. Say you go back to an area because you have to travel through that pass to reach the city. Yet again you see some goblins and once they spot you they all flee as you have dealt such a devestating blow to them previously.

This is a great idea IF implemented properly. Every time I play crpg I do it packrat style and more than once I was punished by variuos games for that. Like that time when I was crawling back from the middle of dungeon I was trying to clear out. Packed full, and forced to fight again hordes of enemies I just killed 15 minutes ago. Healing potions emptied, spells casted and me bored to death. Not to mention, that those respawned monsters were dropping even more loot  :banghead:  

For me that's nothing short of a chore... but I might have issues and it doesn't apply to others experience ;)

 

 

You are a melee heavy party with only one mage? Then give the goblins an army of wizards the next time you run around that area. 

That's... awesome! I would really love to see game world/characters/opponents reacts to my party build. It would be so much more immersive. Of course only if I'll be able to run away from such encounter (look up, for the first quotation).

"There are no good reasons. Only legal ones." - Ross Scott

 It's not that I'm lazy. I just don't care.

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You are a melee heavy party with only one mage? Then give the goblins an army of wizards the next time you run around that area. You have a lot of cash? Then let those hired mercenary wizards approach you secretly when entering the map, offering you to stand down if you pay double the money the goblins payed.

*_____*

 

I think your brain steel just struck my brain flint, because we've got a spark.

 

What if those things were an aspect of the reputation system? A bunch of this has been touched on before in various threads (I'm not claiming to have an entirely novel idea, just a specific one that's maybe been danced around but not actually danced with?), but what if, between the combat AI and scripted events, enemies of larger groups (mainly in larger, organized combat encounters) would actually flee, decently often (unless you managed to stop them) in order to warn the rest of their... people. This would only work, really, with entire factions or groups. Or anyone that would have any interest in teamwork, even if only under dire circumstances. Like, maybe 2 bandit groups kind of leave each other alone and trade occasionally. So, you wipe one of them out, and a couple of bandits, eventually seeing that their loss is inevitable, get the remaining combatant bandits to cover their escape, and they go to the OTHER group of bandits, with which they have some contact already, to warn them of a "band of mercenaries" (which you are, as far as they know, or whatever they perceive you as... maybe you're clearly on orders from a king or important person? *shrug*) is taking down bandits.

 

The effect would be as you described, as far as preparation goes. If your party make-up can be described a bit, and you've got very little magical capability, then maybe the other bandits make sure to hire on some extra magery. You know, "Bring in a specialist!", hehe.

 

That would be really cool if factions/groups in the area contextually reacted like that. It could even be based on some pretty simple things. The game could keep track of battle telemetry, perhaps, and say "Oh, look, 90% of things are killed by physical, melee strikes." Then, just have that person who got away "feed that information to his friends," (even though really the game's just looking at that gathered data on your battle). But, seems that would work pretty well, especially if it weren't TOO extreme. I mean, I don't expect the next major bandit outpost to be just made ENTIRELY of Wizards, simply because some guy said you had a lot of heavy melee fighters. "Alright everyone, starting now, we're all training 24/7 in the arcane arts! I want you to be level 7 Wizards by sundown!" Hehe...

 

But, it could totally be another aspect of the reputation system. Just in those situations you see in current RPGs and think "Wait... if you knew stuff about me, why didn't you do ANYTHING at all with that knowledge?". It would be nice to see people do at least a little with the extra knowledge they have, even if it's not the super-awesome ideal amount of "this is totally a real entire world" reactivity.

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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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Lephys, I think what we and others are getting at in this post and the dialogue post is that there has typically been a lack on the NPC side of cRPGs. Reputation and renown systems, accounting for combat telemetry as you put it and oneda brought up--these things make NPCs more reactive to the PC. It's as though there has typically been a lack of community and interactivity among NPCs, and I hope PE is groundbreaking in this respect. 

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^ Yeah, I just made an overly elaborate, unnecessarily lengthy billiards analogy about almost the same thing in your "How Would You  Make Dialogue Good?" thread, 8D

 

It's what I do... 

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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I also have to say that by now I am very very critical concerning promises and plans for games in general. There has been an endless flood of uninspired and bad games over the last 10 years.

 

Look at games like hellgate london, aliens colonial marines just to name a few. The list is endless.

 

I love good games but it could be that at some point there simply aren't any more high quality games or so far in between that buying up to date hardware is not necessary anymore because there are just no more good games.

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You know, I had that thought while ago (which made me to change my avatar) that I failed to share because I've backtracked to much and deleted it in the end. Hope I'll do it better this time.

 

It seems to me, that Ristora would like the thing Square did with Front Mission 3 back in 1999/2000.  At the very beginning of a game you were offered rather forgettable and insignificant looking choice to follow PCs friend with some delivery or to shun him off. From that moment game's story splits into two distinctive branches. Sure they have some bottlenecks (like few major areas you'll visit), share a story twist and a cutscene or two. They also double some battle-areas (though from different perspective, as in scenario A you participate in assault, while in scenario B you are defending it) and of course no matter who you will unknowingly ally with, you will end up with the same nemesis.


And while the game was otherwise almost (it gave some minor choices here and there) totally linear and therefore surprised me only once, it still raised interesting questions and allowed for a few "nice" twists like making your former followers recurring opponents, or showing "baddies" of scenario A as legitimate humane characters in scenario B (and vice versa) that are only trying to survive (or have some understandable reasons to act like they do).

And on a personal note: believe me that after I discovered that double feature scenario I was quite uneasy when it came to fight with former followers (I'm so sorry Liu  :()

 

Said that, I'm afraid that it's quite impossible to implement such duality in P:E given it's more or less "open-worlded" character plus finite workforce and resources Obsidian have. Still games like Witcher 2 pulled that off on a smaller scale quite successfully so maybe we will see some exclusive content (stories, areas, subplots) after all. Followers seems especially easy deal here, and were already done in this manner back in BG: SoA.

 

Hmm...

You know, combine this with something I've mentioned here which is in-game mechanics "aware" of player character's build (stats/race/additional) and you got a leviathan of a game. Impossible to create but great to dream for. Why impossible? Well, as Tim Cain himself explained in update #22, he loves to have "low INT" dialogue options in his games, but that doubles writers work. And that's only one variable! Imagine the chore if they would have to take into account character's gender, race, class, reputation or any given trait. Factorial (hope I translated it right) of those possible outcomes would be more than intimidating.

 

<sigh>

Good thing Obsidian knows how to painlessly elicit suspension of disbelief. Still a man can dream, right?

Edited by milczyciel

"There are no good reasons. Only legal ones." - Ross Scott

 It's not that I'm lazy. I just don't care.

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Hi all,I am new here,but for a reason.  

 

  I think that the replay value is THE key element to a successful RPG.  Does anyone remember "Temple of Elemental evil"? You begin the game from a different location and get a different quest based on your alignment.

  I like this as an idea,and would like to see it even further detailed - for example: a human ranger,lawful good,would be a small town hunter given first quest to deal with local poacher band,but if your ranger is lawful evil he starts as the poacher himself,from a band camped in the wilderness,with a quest to deliver a supply of illegal goods.  A true neutral human druid and true neutral elf one would not start from the same place nor with a same starting quest,barbarian can start in a mercenary outpost or in a tribe of his race and so on.

  Further yet,a player could begin from a map that is not even seen by some other alignment/race choice until further ingame,or never at all.

  It is a helluva work to make that many options and dialogues,I am aware,but it would give an epic replay value to the game,making it longlasting. I would love seeing this done,so please give your thoughts on this one.

Lawful evil banite  The Morality troll from the god of Prejudice

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All of this makes me also think about the whole resting system.

 

I know that many ppl dislike resting but I have to say I got so used to the system in the infinity games that I believe I would miss such a feature. The whole idea that you only have a certain amount of spells before you need to rest has grown a lot on me over the years.

 

Sometimes I realized I spent my spells too freely, only to realize that the area was heavily populated and whenever I try to rest I get caught by patrols.

 

I like that. It forces the player to conserve a party's strength, gives combat yet another dimension.

 

Has this been mentioned already? I really hope we will have to rest our parties like in the oldschool games.

 

I would miss it a lot.

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