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amarok

Please say that you dont try to model a *whole* city.

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Really the only difference between the Baldur's Gate 1 and Baldur's Gate 2 approach is in the presentation of the map.  In BG1 they made it look like it was the whole city, in BG2 they made it clear it was just "parts" of the city.  The only actual difference is in your head based on perception from the way they present the map screen.  Thematically it is better, but I won't care if they don't go that route.  In fact I would actually prefer a seemless world, we have the tech and computers to do it now, so let's cut out as many load screens as we can.

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They should try to make a city work different from a small town, mechanics wise. Like enforced limits on possession of weapons/ working of magic, more shops and inns and *competent* healers, specialized pickpockets stealing your coin, gang fights, quests that require stealth and discretion rather than combat. If these are in, I'm willing to believe that I'm actually in a city.

This is a good idea. Maybe also add some repeatable job-like quests (like deliveries, guarding/bouncering) for coin, reputation and maybe little EXP too. Those would be easy to enough to randomize with variety up a point that they don't feel too repetive. Would be pretty awesome for low-level players if you could work for some money to buy stuff. Some really boring jobs like cleaning and factory (if there is such) work could be done with black-screen timeskips.

 

Also another nice immersive feauture to add would be to show actual size of cities in world map, even if the explorable areas are small. This is something that many games like Arcanum or Fallout2 (oddly enough it was in Fallout1) lacked.

Edited by GrumpyOldschooler

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Well, i wasnt referring to the game quality of the depicted city at all. Tarant sure was really good considering quest mechanics and stuff.

Its just the math that kills it for me. If all the people talk about the biggest and most industrialized city of the world but i actually can count the whole population that lives there and dont surpass the low hundreds my immersion is ****ed.

And i really dont think that we have the technology to implement a seamless world in realistic scope. Just take your home city. Even if its a remote, uninteresting and rather small one, no current computer game can create a world as big, diverse and complete as that city.

 

 

 

Herp derp. Realism isn't all or nothing. Different players may have different interests than you. You criticize Baldur's Gate for having a big city and leaving out the "uninteresting" but realistic parts, claiming that it kills your immersion, and then you say to include only a single relevant district of a larger imaginary city? I'm sorry, but I just don't understand how that's any different. I don't get how you're suggesting anything new. It seems that you're just arguing against realism not because it's not being realistic enough for you (and with current technology it can't be), but really because you don't want realism in the first place.


Uhm, if you look closely at a game you always will notice a world where some essential things are missing, because they arent relevant. If you walk into a toilet room you usually dont get the option to use it. You cannot hack off your own hand on purpse. In most games you cannot pick up all the trash from the floor, and if you can, you cannot seperate all the different parts of the trash. We usually accept this without question, because its not relevant. And thats just the same way players usually accept that they cannot walk through every single street of Athkatla.


My point is that i rather take a believable world which feels like it could be placed in a real world, where i get all the parts which are significant to me in a realistic scope with the nonrelevant parts inaccessible to me, than a seamless, but logically very incoherent world which obviously is made for a game.
Edited by amarok

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My point is that i rather take a believable world which feels like it could be placed in a real world, where i get all the parts which are significant to me in a realistic scope with the nonrelevant parts inaccessible to me, than a seamless, but logically very incoherent world which obviously is made for a game.

 

And my point is that those are pretty much the same exact thing. The reason why settings are inconsistent and leave out realistic aspects are because the developers make a judgment call about what is relevant and what isn't, and they make the irrelevant stuff inaccessible. Which "seamless" worlds are you talking about? I've just assumed with all Infinity Engine games that the accessible areas are only a fraction of what constitutes the city, which is exactly what you apparently want them to be.

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hmm...

 

Ultima 7 is a prime example on how to "do" a city. There was not one single npc who not had a home. Everyone had his own bed in his house Sir!

 

Just to clear that up. There was no spawn point or something where npcs just pop out of nowhere at dawn... Also every npc had a whole day/night cycle with a job or just a duty etc. Games like Dragon Age are minimalistic is this sense compared to a game that is so old and yet gives them a lesson on what real ambience means ;)

 

So thats where to look at when trying to create a town with something called economy!

 

And i remember too getting involved into baking bread... get the dough, put in water, put on stove and dang! BREAD! Great game, really unforgettable memories just doing random things, breaking into houses and and and!

Edited by NWN_babaYaga

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My point is that i rather take a believable world which feels like it could be placed in a real world, where i get all the parts which are significant to me in a realistic scope with the nonrelevant parts inaccessible to me, than a seamless, but logically very incoherent world which obviously is made for a game.

 

And my point is that those are pretty much the same exact thing. The reason why settings are inconsistent and leave out realistic aspects are because the developers make a judgment call about what is relevant and what isn't, and they make the irrelevant stuff inaccessible. Which "seamless" worlds are you talking about? I've just assumed with all Infinity Engine games that the accessible areas are only a fraction of what constitutes the city, which is exactly what you apparently want them to be.

 

And the good judgement of what is relevant and what is not is the actual quality of gameplay, i would say. Because computer games always only are a fraction of a real world.

 

And yeah, the IE gemes actually most times did what i am talking about - except Baldurs Gate 1 and some rare places in the other games.

 

"Seamless" is what U7, BG1, to some extend Arcanum and TES games do.

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t

 

(Btw.: Another bad example would be fallout. The size of a vault, for example is just ridiculous! Although it didn't stop me from loving those games, a more realistic approach would please me very much!)

Yeah, Fallout Vaults do this the same bad way. Exactly that thing is my single biggest complaint with F1 and F2 which i otherwise love. In these cases i always have to trick my mind with things like "The elevator actually connects the vault with a dozen other floors, i just wont visit them because they are insignificant to me" to enjoy the game. It bothers me quite much.

 

  I always thought that was how fallout was meant to be...I always assumed there were more floors in the vaults, and that locations like the hub and boneyard had less interesting areas that you just didn't visit, after all, you can't go everywhere like you could in arcanum...

 

fallout 3 on the other hand....settlements were ridiculously small, as in all bethesda games since morrowind

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What I am desperately against, however, is the expansion of playable areas to include the true scope and size of the mundane. I do not want a town of 10,000 explorable houses, each with four npcs inside. I don't even close to a hundredth of this. I do not want to search 100 houses to find the ten that have quests in and the one that has the swordsword +3 in the attic.

 

We will not be building out cities for the sake of building them out.  Content density is important to us and, we believe, to most players.

 

On a related note, while we do try to follow the exterior layout of buildings on their interior, we often TARDIS their interior space up to 40% (we did this all the time in IWD and IWD2).  Following a 1:1 size relationship interior:exterior typically makes those buildings have an enormous exterior "footprint", which means content density goes down and fewer locations can actually be fit on a map.

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...routing through several thousand empty crates in Fallout 3/NV was a bloody chore. And the games punished you if you chose not to do it.

 

No. They rewarded you for doing it. It wasn't a chore for me, it was fun.

 

Basically, what you're saying is "Please make secrets and cool hidden stuff, just don't make me look for it".


Swedes, go to: Spel2, for the latest game reviews in swedish!

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...routing through several thousand empty crates in Fallout 3/NV was a bloody chore. And the games punished you if you chose not to do it.

Uh, how did they punish you? By... not giving you caps and/or ammo?

 

There are plenty of things you can criticize both games for, but the idea that they punished you for not rooting through trash cans is a major stretch.

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...routing through several thousand empty crates in Fallout 3/NV was a bloody chore. And the games punished you if you chose not to do it.

 

No. They rewarded you for doing it. It wasn't a chore for me, it was fun.

 

 

I read an excellent post on the Wasteland 2 forums where someone put this point across, and while previously I hadn't been particularly against it, I found their argument to be extremely compelling.

 

The basic idea, is that as a game designer you design a game with a concept of how it should be played. That is the gameplay you design. Not every gamer will follow this, and some gamers will play in alternative ways (sometimes to the extent that the entire game comes around to adopting this - I'm told this happened with Team Fortress 2). Yet you have a basic mechanic in mind. In good game design, players who play the game in this manner will be rewarded - typically with the next level, but in RPGs we might use experience or items.

 

In many games, this gameplay mechanic comes down to skill. Usually, in RPGs, it comes down to tactics and planning, and an ability to shift those tactics as required.

 

Sifting through hundreds of banal crates in the hope of finding some vaguely useful item or money is nothing more than work. There is no skill or tactics to it. There is no challenge or sense of achievement. You are merely being 'rewarded' for OCD. If this was something desirable, then the rpgs that do it would proudly boast on their boxes 'Sift through millions of containers to keep up your ammo supplies!' They don't, because if repeatedly clicking and searching through the mundane was the best gameplay they could offer, they'd be laughed out of most publishing houses (possibly not EA).

 

Now, onto the specific words you placed in my mouth:

 

Basically, what you're saying is "Please make secrets and cool hidden stuff, just don't make me look for it".

 

This is not what I'm saying. Secret things and cool hidden stuff can stay, and I will be looking for it. Yet I want secrets to have a sense of achievement or excitement to them. If I swim though a lake and go under a waterfall and find a crate, good. If I make a difficult climb to the top of a mountain, or even a house and find a crate, good. If a particularly fashionable and rude merchant should clearly look worth stealing from, and I discover a fine set of trousers, good. These are secrets, and cool hidden stuff (although I'll be first to concede those examples are pretty stock ones and I'm sure Obsidian will be rather more creative than I). Having twenty crates full of trash but one has a stimpack in isn't. Having a hundred crates with a grand total of thirty-two caps spread amongst them isn't. I do not object to searching. I object to searching through.

 

 

 

 

What I am desperately against, however, is the expansion of playable areas to include the true scope and size of the mundane. I do not want a town of 10,000 explorable houses, each with four npcs inside. I don't even close to a hundredth of this. I do not want to search 100 houses to find the ten that have quests in and the one that has the swordsword +3 in the attic.

 

We will not be building out cities for the sake of building them out.  Content density is important to us and, we believe, to most players.

 

I think this has been expressed before, and I was responding in more general terms to the direction of modern RPGs rather than P:E, although that felt like more of a 'for the avoidance of doubt' post.

 

 

EDIT to respond to previous post.

 

Uh, how did they punish you? By... not giving you caps and/or ammo?

There are plenty of things you can criticize both games for, but the idea that they punished you for not rooting through trash cans is a major stretch.

 

 

The gamer who routes through every crate will have substantially more ammo, health, caps, and better quality armour and guns than the gamer who choses to only route through important-looking crates. If I do not play the game as the designers presumably intended, then I will have a more difficult time than people who did. The scope of punishment/reward in this instance is really a question of the perspective you examine it from. Initially, as I hinted above, I felt rewarded for doing it, though in hindsight I would've simply been punished for not having done so.

 

In other news, distinct awkwardness at having been responded to by Josh Sawyer and then spending a long post criticising the mechanics of a game he directed. Hope this isn't going to affect my Christmas cards.

Edited by Kjaamor

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What I am desperately against, however, is the expansion of playable areas to include the true scope and size of the mundane. I do not want a town of 10,000 explorable houses, each with four npcs inside. I don't even close to a hundredth of this. I do not want to search 100 houses to find the ten that have quests in and the one that has the swordsword +3 in the attic.

 

We will not be building out cities for the sake of building them out.  Content density is important to us and, we believe, to most players.

 

On a related note, while we do try to follow the exterior layout of buildings on their interior, we often TARDIS their interior space up to 40% (we did this all the time in IWD and IWD2).  Following a 1:1 size relationship interior:exterior typically makes those buildings have an enormous exterior "footprint", which means content density goes down and fewer locations can actually be fit on a map.

 

This sounds good, but imagination (or lack thereof) is certainly one thing that restrict the scope of what constitutes "content". If the mentality is such that only the extraordinary and supernatural events are worthy of attention, and everything else is left empty, then naturally that doesn't add content. And in fact nobody is asking for this; no one wants tons of empty buildings. There is potential for adventure in content in everything, and that includes what might be labeled "mundane" by those indoctrinated in the school of thought that everything should revolve around invariably exceptional PCs.

 

The straw-man nature of this thread aside, what would ultimately move the RPG genre forward in my humble opinion is for the content of the game to provide a more proportional and representative portrayal of the society that's supposed to exist in-game. If the players are railroaded onto the archetypal roles of hero or anti-hero, this leaves the player little degree of choice over which role to play (beyond the superficial), and in extreme cases reduces so-called RPGs to the status of a glorified action/adventure game. Linear narrative and unimaginative content selection ("herp derp, I'd rather explore palaces than neighborhoods any day") both contribute to this.

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About crates and OCD.

 

What I'd like to see is... reasons for doing stuff. Take Arcanum. If I'm playing a technomancer, I will be rooting through rubbish bins a lot -- not because I'm obsessively searching for a few copper coins or something salable, but because I'm looking for a particular piece of junk I need for a particular purpose. Charcoal for bullets, rags for Molotov ****tails, plates for batteries, maybe a big pipe for an elephant gun, revolver parts for a fine revolver, and so on. If I don't need anything, I don't root through them, knowing they'll get refilled later anyway. OTOH actual valuable loot is relatively rare: it feels like an event to find something actually valuable.

 

This in fact is one thing that Arcanum does really well, perhaps better than just about any cRPG I've played. The game comes tragically close to greatness; if only they'd had a few more months to rebalance it and flesh out the the magick-user gameplay.


I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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About crates and OCD.

 

What I'd like to see is... reasons for doing stuff. Take Arcanum. If I'm playing a technomancer, I will be rooting through rubbish bins a lot -- not because I'm obsessively searching for a few copper coins or something salable, but because I'm looking for a particular piece of junk I need for a particular purpose. Charcoal for bullets, rags for Molotov ****tails, plates for batteries, maybe a big pipe for an elephant gun, revolver parts for a fine revolver, and so on. If I don't need anything, I don't root through them, knowing they'll get refilled later anyway. OTOH actual valuable loot is relatively rare: it feels like an event to find something actually valuable.

 

This in fact is one thing that Arcanum does really well, perhaps better than just about any cRPG I've played. The game comes tragically close to greatness; if only they'd had a few more months to rebalance it and flesh out the the magick-user gameplay.

 

Arcanum does, in my eyes, get away with it far more, because;

 

a) You're actively searching FOR trash

 

b) There are other ways of getting around it (I tend to favour magic-inclined parties).

 

c) The scale of the routing is about a thousandth of what it is in the newer Fallouts or Elder Scrolls.

 

Again, on the greatness of Arcanum, we are agreed. If the combat worked, it would most certainly be up there.

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@Kjaamor:

 

I suppose I can see your point, and I'm not arguing that rooting through ninety trash cans isn't tedious, but it still strikes me as rather silly. There's a difference between punishment and passing up rewards.

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Basically, what you're saying is "Please make secrets and cool hidden stuff, just don't make me look for it".

 

This is not what I'm saying. Secret things and cool hidden stuff can stay, and I will be looking for it. Yet I want secrets to have a sense of achievement or excitement to them. If I swim though a lake and go under a waterfall and find a crate, good. If I make a difficult climb to the top of a mountain, or even a house and find a crate, good. If a particularly fashionable and rude merchant should clearly look worth stealing from, and I discover a fine set of trousers, good. These are secrets, and cool hidden stuff (although I'll be first to concede those examples are pretty stock ones and I'm sure Obsidian will be rather more creative than I). Having twenty crates full of trash but one has a stimpack in isn't. Having a hundred crates with a grand total of thirty-two caps spread amongst them isn't. I do not object to searching. I object to searching through.

 

Sorry, but you're still saying the same thing. Except this time with word diarrhea.

 

You want cool things in chests and crates in cool places. If there's 20 empty crates, you feel punished. But if the crates you find always contains something cool then what's the point? How is that hidden?

 

When I played Fallout, I played it as a survivor of a nuclear holocaust. Everything had value to me. You can be damn sure I would do the same if it happened in reality too. This is the survival aspect of it, searching for things to trade and use. You didn't like it, fine. For me it enhanced the experience.

 

Reward thorough exploration, glass half full. Punish me for not being thorough, glass half empty.

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Swedes, go to: Spel2, for the latest game reviews in swedish!

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On a related note, while we do try to follow the exterior layout of buildings on their interior, we often TARDIS their interior space up to 40% (we did this all the time in IWD and IWD2).

I've got to applaud your verbification of TARDIS, as I immediately knew exactly what you meant. ^_^


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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The problem with "real" cities is the same problem that I have with Skyrim. It's mostly huge and empty. I mean, honestly. Have you explored the city you live in? That city is probably a million times more interesting than any virtual "realistic" city. Dragon's Dogma had a neat city, it was huge, but it was also empty and buildings had no meaning whatsoever. Design a city for its content, not its function for being a city.

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Oh come now, are you not asking a bit too much? These are games requiring your imagination, they're not supposed to simulate reality, Who needs farms and working industry, whn there is quest to save the world or something. 

  Why bother with SUCH degree of unnecessary detail? While everything you need in more prominent RPG city are some major buildings and majot NPCs, then some minor ones for flavour and quests, some shops and tavern and something defining the area. No need for bakery and such unless it's plot or good quest related, or part of game machanic (like for crafting), it's unnecessary.

  At least this is the way I always perceived RPG towns and cities (altough my description is quite scrapped) and that is all I need. Why simulate crowds of useless NPCs just to look real or fill the streets, less is more in this case. While I agree sometimes it can look too empty in some areas, there should be always present something more important to focus your attention on.

 

  And again, everything above is merely my opinion on the matter, I don't say it's the one and only right way, nor do I consider yours the wrong way, everyone has his own tastes. Also as a side note I found Arcanum cities quite lively and enjoyable then most cities in other games, I mean there were those details like passing by inhabitants, camelots shouting, clothing shops and of course... trash bins :no: ,


"Have you ever spoken with the dead? Called to them from this side? Called them from their silent rest? Do you know what it is that they feel?

Pain. Pain, when torn into this wakefulness, this reminder of the chaos from which they had escaped. Pain of having to live! There will be no more pain. There will be... no more chaos."

 

 

Kerghan the Terrible,

first of the Necromancers,

voyager in the Lands of the Dead.

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Well, you really dont get my point.
Certainly detailed working industry and other stuff isnt necessary for a game like PE. Its all about imagining all the other things between the actually depicted stuff in a game.
My proposal is to leave some space for all the unimportant things in a game and not trying to incorporate them and fail.

Maybe a better comparison to illustrate this would be Darklands VS Arcanum.
In Darklands a city consisted of some text, images and a few isometric streets when fighing occured. Arcanum had fully pictured isometric cities.

Still a city in Darklands felt big and real, in Arcanum they did not. Because Arcanum put all the important quest locations, shops, inns and stuff on one 0,5 square kilometers wide map and said: thats a whole city.
Darklands only gave you the opportunity to visit RELEVANT locations and blended out the insignificant ones - and thats the way it works. A whole city on a 0,5 square kilometers map is not just not realistic, its simply game breaking for me, because no whole city ever would fit on 0,5 square kilometers and a am not able to forget about this fact while i walk through it. 

Its really strange for me that no one else sees a problem with this, i always thought other people would be bothered by this too.
 

Edited by amarok
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I couldn't agree more with you Amarok, I always have a problem with games trying to create entire large cities because they always fail to create that sense of size. One of the many problems I have with skyrim is this, but instead of towns that entire map is just flawed. One sixth of the world map and you can just run through it in like 15 mintues? You could argue that the in-game space is a representation of how the area actually looks but it just breaks my immersion entirely. 

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Gotta love gamers..

 

"OMG, it's sooo boring to walk from city to city, this place is too big, I want fast travel wah wah!"

"OMG, the entire city is 0,5 square kilometers, it's breaking my immershun!"

"OMG, a city that consist of only relevant spaces, what's the point in that, there's no explorashon!" <- (me)

 

We are a tough crowd to please.

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Yeah I guess that's true though. We are a tough bunch to please. But this is just a really big one for me and If the scale is completely off such as in Skyrim, dragon age 2 (amongst others but right now I can't for the life of me find any other examples than them and World of warcraft) it's just something that annoys me to no end everytime I visit the place in question.

 

I really had no problem with how Baldur's Gate 1 did this though, I loved how the exploring was handled on the countryside and the city itself was more or less there, they should perhaps have left some parts out as to make the city feel larger. 

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Man I loved exploring Baldur's Gate and was a little bummed Athkatla felt sort of small by comparison.  But hey eitther way works for me.

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