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Speculation+Starting Locations

Speculation Watcher Event Starting Locations

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#1
Osvir

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This began as a reply to "The Heros you will roll", I just copied and pasted everything and started this thread.

The topic is "Starting Locations", but I threw in some "Speculation" (which is touching close to a "Suggestion") about the Event. The speculation, as I say "almost suggestion", is a way to allow the Player more freedom when they "roll" their characters and even narrate their own characters.

I'm putting it into a quote, it starts off as a direct reply to the other thread by the way:
 

It depends on my mood, but I have like 5 or 6 different characters that I tend to roll. Heck, it depends on the story of the world and the story that is given to us about the character. Is the "Watcher" our character? What's the history of that character? Does it allow for freedom or what does it do?

I am speculating that the "Watcher" is part of some organization, and that the "Event" is something that pulls the Soul of the Watcher out of his/her body and puts it into the Player generated character. Not only is this a speculation, but I think (personally) that it'd be a great execution of allowing the Player some more freedom in character creation. But for it to be most exciting it'd require some additions...

[HERE BEGINS STARTING LOCATION IDEAS]
Let me elaborate:
- The Watcher, the Main Character of the Story, part of the Event. I envision some hooded 5-6 characters standing around some rock and chanting or whatnot. This causes the Event for some reason. All of the Souls of these characters are pulled out and inserted into other characters (Which could add some plot to the other "Watchers" and you could perhaps even encounter them later)

- Player creates their character, or the character that is being "possessed" by the Watcher. This character has his own story, background or whatever, maybe a Farmer or a Storekeeper or whatever really. This character can be anyone in the World. Which, in itself, instantly gives the Player A LOT of freedom. The Watcher might be "The Stereotypical Chosen One", but the Player character is perhaps not. Awesome? Right!

- Addition, which I think, would make it even more awesome and exciting: Pick a "Starting Location" or the Cultural Background picks one for you within the world. It'd make sense from a game world perspective, the Player Character would make sense to be able to start from wherever. No Gorion's Ward or being the Grey Warden, but a Commoner who could come from anywhere.

Baldur's Gate combined with speculated Watcher Event Example:
1)
- "Event happens"
- I create a character, pick Cultural Background (Let's say, "Lorekeeper Guard")
- Spawn in Candlekeep as Hull's apprentice

- Let the plot commence

OR

2)
- "Event happens"
- I create a character, pick Cultural Background (Let's say, "Gorions Ward")
- Spawn in Candlekeep as Gorions apprentice

- Let the plot commence

OR

3)
- "Event happens"
- I create a character, pick Cultural Background (Let's say, "Temple Priest")
- Spawn in Temple (East of Beregost) as a Priest apprentice

- Let the plot commence

What I wanted to simulate with "1)" & "2)" is that you wouldn't necessarily have to start in City Commons or in Dwarf Commons, but you could also spawn at the same place.

I think this is important because it makes your character and progression thereof much more interesting from a narration stand-point for the Player. Your character becomes more important to you, and less important to the plot at hand. Baldur's Gate suffers from this a lot in my opinion, the Character is so "stuck" in the plot that it is sometimes hard to make your character feel "unique" in any way. What I am suggesting and speculating about could give the Player this sort of freedom.

Arcanum almost touches this, but it would truly do so if it would allow you to play as the character a bit before the Zeppelin crash, perhaps hop on the Zeppelin from different locations. Temple of Elemental Evil succeeds with this, but it also fails at it because the short little "intro journey" you do is abruptly cut and you are teleported to the first town. I would have loved to travel from the location you start from to the town, instead of being thrown a "Here's a script for you" in your face.

Dragon Age: Origins follows Temple of Elemental Evil, except that Ostagar is a horrible destination after a while. Ostagar keeps me away from playing Dragon Age: Origins, and the escape from Lothering (yes, the very beginning of the Dragon Age 2) keeps me away from Dragon Age 2. It's one of those "Start Game", "Roll Character", "Get presented with the game", "Realize how tedious it is", "Quit game".

But a game like Pillars of Eternity, in the same vein of the Infinity Engine games, could benefit a lot from different starting locations. I've used this as an example in many threads:

- Start off as a Priest at the Temple east of Beregost
- Start off as a Vagabond, leaving Baldur's Gate
- Start off in Candlekeep as the Ward
- Start off in Nashkel as a Miner
- Start off at the Friendly Arm's Inn as a Trader

etc. etc. it would make Baldur's Gate a so much better game if it allowed for it. The "intro plot" doesn't even have to be advanced like Dragon Age: Origins, but very simplistic and tie together the original plot.

Example:
- Start off as a Priest at the Temple east of Beregost
- You are still a Bhaalspawn, an easy way to introduce the Player into the story could be that the Temple has received word from Gorion (in secrecy of the Player) and you are being sent to Nashkel to investigate.
- Another way could be just like Candlekeep, except that Sarevok lays siege on the Temple and you escape in a similar fashion. Imoen could be inserted with a dialogue or monologue that "Evil men came to Candlekeep and killed Gorion, I just managed to escape, I followed them here, I'm glad you are okay" or whatever. Tie the story together so that it doesn't matter where you come from from a gameplay or plot perspective, but it does matter more for the Player.

 

 
The point of the idea is that you'd be able to start off at a location and then go from there. So if you'd start off in Beregost you'd go from there, if you'd go North towards Friendly Arms you'd meet Elminster still at the Crossroads. In the same vein that Multiplayer doesn't intrude on the Single Player campaign, having a different "Starting Location" wouldn't need to intrude on the Plot either.

Thoughts?

P.S. There might be some old thread covering the same subject but I don't remember quite everything we discussed and it's also an old thread.


#2
neo6874

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The only problem I see with this is the DA problem you mentioned -- the opening scenes are fun, but then ~Ostagar~.  

 

Honestly, I'd like it better if there was a way to skip through the "starting location" stuff.  E.G. like in NWN 2 -- the fair is really the tutorial, and you can just choose to skip it.  So, if they did that, and you could just instawarp to "getting off the boat in Defiance Bay", that'd be nice too... 


Edited by neo6874, 23 December 2013 - 06:03 AM.


#3
Osvir

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Yes neo6874, which is why I am not suggesting anything like DA, I'm just stating and discussing what I think DA did wrong and how to avoid it. It's one of those "Compare DA's concept with this concept I am discussing/suggesting, it's not the same".



#4
Pipyui

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the opening scenes are fun, but then ~Ostagar~.  

 

Couldn't have said it more aptly myself.  Any attempted replay of DA:O inevitably dies here.

 

It'd be really nice if you could choose your first steps from a set of tutorial / acclimation scenarios, in the sense of "Here, there are some things around needs investigation - how about you pick a case and get familiar with the work, aye?" or otherwise bypass the forced on-rails tutorial altogether.  I think that that the condemning facet of Ostagar is its complete, droll inevitablity.  You're funneled helplessly into this boring, linear introduction with zero sense of control - a definitive on-rails experience that pushes you around and has you pull levers to get through to the real game.  So really, in my mind we just need to escape this.


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#5
Osvir

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But Pipyui, if you had arrived at Ostagar in different fashion then? Sure, you're going to get on the rail eventually, but Ostagar truly is the "hub" point in the game where you are put on the rails instantly. What if you had arrived as Wynne's apprentice? Or arrived instead of Feargus? (Human Noble) Or if you arrive in a jail cell and you are the prisoner in the cage at Ostagar Camp?

What if you had arrived as a Dwarven Slave, or as a Dwarven Noble overlooking your investments?

My only main gripe with Ostagar is how it doesn't matter where you come from, when you come to Ostagar it's all the same. The very moment the loading screen ends and the game picks up again, there's the King, and there's Duncan, and there's you. It's like you just have a different costume every time.

I think what Dragon Age: Inquisition is doing is right in this sense, if you do "A", you'll be locked out of "B". But in DA:O you always get the same results no matter what Origin you pick.

Regardless, I am not suggesting anything as substantial as DA:I, cus that'd be a lot of work for Obsidian. But instead, envision the game Baldur's Gate, and the ability to start off somewhere else than the Location Candlekeep in the world and go from there. Say, Beregost maybe, or the Friendly Arms Inn, maybe even in Nashkel. I think it'd be a great execution of having a sense of "Different Origins", and also a sense of having more freedom.



#6
Pipyui

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Ah, that's what I had hoped to convey. :p

It doesn't matter if the location is the same, I just want an introduction that isn't completely linear like Ostagar.  The trouble is, is that you walk in and the entire origin story you just finished crashes around you, and you're left being dragged through Ostagar.  I think, ultimately, the main failure of this place is its complete lack of player agency.  I understand the narrative decision to drag the player through a series of events that (s)he has no control over, but to have such a long sequence where every choice I could make and incentive I could have is made for me does not suit my tastes at all.  I feel like I do nothing of my own volition, as a player - I am entirely at the mercy of this narrative, pulling levers when the Man in the Coat tells me to.

 

It was just new to me to learn that I was not alone in loathing ~Ostagar~, so I just thought to diagnose the problems it presents; and I suspect that the best way to combat such unfortunate narrative is to introduce an element of choice or variation, not unlike what you suggest. :grin:

 

 

Also, happy <holiday>, all!



#7
neo6874

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The other guys have said it better -- Ostagar (and then the next town ... right before you get to choose the "Elves, Dwarves, or Humans" mission set) was a pain in the rear, especially on a second playthrough.  I've actually started a new character after about a year of not playing (maybe I was doing it wrong with [race|class]) ... got as far as Ostagar, and remembered immediately why I hadn't played in ages.

 

The "stories" you hear about each of the races (or at least the "elven quarter" in teh Human town and the Dalish ... can't remember the problem the dwarves had right now) made it sound a lot more like "oh yeah, this happened a few days ago" and not "last month sometime before Duncan came and took away the troublemaker" -- I mean, they could have made the pre-ostagar stories better match the goings-on afterwards (e.g. as a Dalish, you're not taken to Ostagar, but Alastir meets you, and is like "well, crap ... uh, we can try...")



#8
IRMA

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In my opinion, this thing is just annoying. Too much effort (time, money) in making of different start locations while tutorials are usually the most boring part of game anyway.

BG2 did it best. You fall instantly into problematic situation, waking up into unknown world, afraid of losing your life cause you have nothing else left (besides of Imoen, whom you loose right afterwards!).

Thats how GOOD story sucks you in, there is stuff happening to YOU and you have to deal with it or you're dead.

One perfect start is 100% better than 5 worse ones.


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#9
dr membrano

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I don't mind a common starting point between different classes/races but it shouldn't really hinder your progress at the start. Sure there should be npc prejudice and sure there should be necessary differences in the tutorial of different types of character but if skills and abilities are not relative to begin with then you're conceding that one race or class is just simply better than another from the get-go.

 

I think that it really does require a sort of amnesia on behalf of the player with regards to their characters past. If the Mountain Mines are a difficult dungeon and a dangerous place altogether for a Human, how do you compensate for the Dwarf starting there? Should the distribution and level of enemies change based on which class or race you choose? A large city sounds like an apt place to start, as said above, no matter where you "come from" you could always have business in the central hubs.

 

I agree that BG2 is a good example to follow too



#10
Mor

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Necro.. FYI in the recent E3 previews we got details of the first two missions which include the starting location, the tutorial-esk part and the event and there are pretty thorough detailed account of both of you care to google.
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#11
Lephys

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I think that it really does require a sort of amnesia on behalf of the player with regards to their characters past. If the Mountain Mines are a difficult dungeon and a dangerous place altogether for a Human, how do you compensate for the Dwarf starting there? Should the distribution and level of enemies change based on which class or race you choose?


Well... people generally don't permanently live/settle in the midst of a ridiculously dangerous area. What I mean is, the reason there are packs of wolves out hunting in the forest, and not in the middle of town, is generally because (simplifying a lot of factors) there's not a town of people living there on a daily basis.

It's hard to establish a village in the middle of a cave network swarming with giant deadly spiders. You either clear out a "safe" area where you can effectively live, or you die off to the giant deadly spiders before actually effectively establishing a populous.

So, some mountain cave network could be ridiculously dangerous, and you could start there as a Dwarf, but you simply wouldn't just go venturing outside the city gate to begin your journey. You'd leave the mountain through some safe exit that's protected, and probably your "starting zone" would be some place less dangerous (those people have to have SOMEwhere they can travel to get goods, etc., without everything just being killed off instantly by horribly deadly things. Rome wasn't built in a day. :) )

But, I understand what you're getting at. It definitely requires some thought and effort to do something like that.

#12
DCParry

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I know all the hate on DA:O is still what the cool kids are doing, but I tink maybe the problem you had with Ostagar was player based and not game based. Ostagar was a significantly different experience for my city elf (who treated the king and other nobles with open hatred) than my dwarven noble (who begrudgingly accepted such people as, well not equals, but at least the sort of people one could associate with). 

 

While the combat/mechanics were the same (which I assume was limited by resources), the dialogue and choice of interactions produces a different experience (if you are willing to allow roleplay beyond the reactions of the game itself). Why would a dwarf or an elf care about Rabbit? I mean, dwarves have no experience , and if anything, both city and Dalish would possibly have a deep phobia (city) or hatred (Dalish) of Mabari. 

 

Would individually crafted responses and quest lines that makes ever play through and entirely new and different experience be better? Most certainly yes. Is this sort of expectation feasible? I would say it might not be. 

 

 


It's hard to establish a village in the middle of a cave network swarming with giant deadly spiders. You either clear out a "safe" area where you can effectively live, or you die off to the giant deadly spiders before actually effectively establishing a populous.

 

 

Now I have a picture of voyeuristic giant spiders sneaking in to watch two of the wee people do the dwarven nasty before interrupting them and ruining the mood. 

 

EDIT: USE YOUR WORDS!


Edited by DCParry, 25 June 2014 - 05:33 PM.

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#13
neo6874

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Really, my problem with Ostagar was that it went from "you're kind of a badass" to "oh, so we abandoned this outpost forever ago, and we were stupid enough to leave our really really really important documents there"

Yeah, most RPG's have a "go here and get that" style of quest at some point (or as the whole premise of the game), but for whatever reason, Ostagar sticks in my mind as "really terrible set-piece area that makes me quit a game".

(Granted, every area in Arcanum does this too ... but that's more because I think the game just doesn't want to be played).
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