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Common pitfalls of CRPG games to avoid

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I can understand why people are bored of them, but I don't understand how can you be a serious CRPG fan and viscerally dislike them. "Generic fantasy" is the foundation of our genre.

 

Then again, Chris Avellone. Although I think it's just elves in his case. :)

Edited by Infinitron
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BG2/Planescape-esque Walls of text.

 

What?

 

... I agree wholeheartedly with the core point. ....

 

Why?

 

On "wall of text," I was thinking the same thing. Please keep the information short and sweet.

 

Please keep the text short and sweet

.... if the conversation can't be summed up in one paragraph, it's too long.

 

To think you people actually exist. I have no words...

Edited by Quadrone
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number one pitfall:

 

different is better

 

especially with a complete new property, the developers will be tempted to be different, but different is not intrinsic better.  cars is frequent made different not to improve, but 'cause of planned obsolescence, and to be able to sell more and varied replacement part, etc. sure, same is guaranteed not to be better, but black isle/obsidian, of all developers should be wary of change for the sake of change. goal should be to build a better mousetrap, not just a different one. listening to chrisA speak of why there were no swords in ps:t is, in retrospect, sad and amusing. magic swords were cliche to chris, and so were dwarves and elves and a host o' other staples o'  crpgs. to be fair to chris, how do you know if people actually like a thing if they has never been given an alternative? nevertheless, chrisA wanted to be different, for the sake of being different... which is an immature goal.  the value in different is in the potential for improvement. 

 

speaking to poe specifically, we can all be hopeful. after all, one espoused goal is to recreate the appeal o' games such as bg2. developers is consciously looking backwards to what has worked in the past. oh, sure, all developers look to the past to see what has worked--couldn't make any game without looking to the past. that being said, one can look at various poe races or inclusion o' gunpowder, or a host o' other changes and ask if such additions is done to make poe better, or to just be different, for the sake of being different. 

 

we like change. change, even when seeming unsuccessful, can bring about innovation. however, am hoping that the folks at black isle/obsidian has matured a bit since ps:t-- learned that change should not be the goal.

 

HA! Good Fun!

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"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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I can understand why people are bored of them, but I don't understand how can you be a serious CRPG fan and viscerally dislike them. "Generic fantasy" is the foundation of our genre.

Ditto. It's like saying "Man, I LOVE ME SOME SCI-FI, but I sure hate spacecraft and lasers, u_u"

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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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BG2/Planescape-esque Walls of text.

 

What?

 

... I agree wholeheartedly with the core point. ....

 

Why?

 

On "wall of text," I was thinking the same thing. Please keep the information short and sweet.

 

Please keep the text short and sweet

.... if the conversation can't be summed up in one paragraph, it's too long.

 

To think you people actually exist. I have no words...

 

http://forums.obsidian.net/topic/63635-will-interactions-have-cutscenes-or-just-dialogue-windows/?p=1450233

 

If you think a wall of text is good writing I've got news for you... Good writing is sometimes long and winding, but just as often succinct and short. It depends on the situation. But you have to worry about reader fatigue. If every dialogue no matter how trivial drops a books worth of text in front of you, well, most people will start skimming soon, and miss it when finally there IS a large text containing important information. You need to be especially careful about exposition dialogue, something many beginners fail at. Not only is exposition dialogue lazy, it is often disrespectful to the reader. There are many tools for conveyance, and text isn't the only one.

I'm not worried about obsidian's writing though, so this is more of an academic argument than anything else.

 

Long text ≠ good text.

Edited by JFSOCC
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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.
---
Pet threads, everyone has them. I love imagining Gods, Monsters, Factions and Weapons.

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The descriptors in the text need to be good for me the description on the bar top as a bar tender hands me a drink. Stuff like that is important to me, and in part makes text longer.

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I don't get why some people are so against Tolkien races. I mean what ever race the story or game has, it's ultimately just the flavor of the setting, the story won't be diminished by it, nor will the plot be. In the end it's not what you have, but how you use it.

Because it's a "been done, a couple of thousand times over" sort of thing. Very few RPGs manage to bring a new twist to it, or successfully integrate it. So they feel like cheapened LOTR rip offs. It would be great if they actually could deliver on it.

 

That said, I love elves myself, they're just about the only race I ever play, however I find that most games don't do them the way I prefer them. I certainly have never liked the slim, sort D&D version of them, and prefer Tolkien in this regard. They seemed to have drifted into the arena of slim prettyboys for fangirls to squeal over, these days. Warhammer did a good job of them, in presenting them as a very gritty, at times sinister race, especially for the dark elves. Same with the elves from the Witcher. WoW did a passable rendition, albeit still felt the need to tack on unnecessary stereotypes that its concept art pretty much contradicted at every point. TES (not necessarily TESO) does a great job, but still can't seem to let go of some the "skinny elf" or "dying elven era" themes of which I am sick to death. 4th edition D&D also brought a nice twist to them, by splitting the race in three and developing one of them into the eladrin, which I think are fantastic and which I will be using as a basis for my own writings with reference to elves.

 

Granted, the elves of LOTR were ethereal, beautiful creatures, but weak or "skinny" is not how I'd describe them. The blood elves, particularly in the concept art, if not always in the lore, are the closest a setting has come to achieving my preferred form of elf. If the game is able to deliver elves along the lines of LOTR, I'll be satisfied.

 

 

I think a huge part of why JRPGs are so good at delivering dialogue that nobody skips is, that the dialogue is presented in huge letters on the screen to allow them to be seen on the low-resolution TVs of past days. This forced writers to compress information into very few lines and use other means to give information. The most famous one being the "flashback":

A lot of old JRPGs did that. Instead of the generic villager telling you that he wants to seek revenge for his killed sister, you actually see a cinematic (with a color filter or something indicating that it's a flashback) of soldiers breaking into her home and murdering her.

I just don't understand why modern RPGs totally neglect this way of presenting narrative. And you don't even need fancy 3D cinematics to do something like that. Old console games always had such cinematics in isometric perspective and it totally worked.

If 20 year old games can do that, I don't see why PoE can't.

I think TESO actually succeeds quite well at this, as far as MMOs go. 

Edited by Moragauth

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I just hate elves. Dwarves are awesome. Elves are lame There's not much more to it than that, for me.

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As a counter point to your first point how 2H weapons suck, I want to say just one thing - daggers.

 

They seem to be a curse in almost every RPG. Low base damage, high speed, low reach end up being their downfall as enemies typically have armor which negates their low damage despite the high attack speed.

 

Daggers should be a viable option for warriors and an optimal choice for rogues - having bonuses to defense and armor negation, not to mention being perfect backstab weapons, unlike in BG/BG2 where they were basically dumpster tier weapons. Why would you backstab someone with a 1d4+x when you could do it with a 2d4+x or something better?

Edited by Infiltrator_SF
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show us a description of elves (not a specific elf) from tolkien's lotr novels. go ahead, we will wait. 

 

...

 

y'know, even the pointy-ear thing is inferred by readers as opposed to explicit mentioned by tolkien in lotr. from description o' a few elves, and given their place in his mythology as kinda the lowest tier o' angelic beings, we gets the "ethereal, beautiful" stuff... though having cate blanchett, who looks to us like she has been on the losing side o' more than a few boxing matches, play the role o' galadriel messes that up for Gromnir. legolas is part o' the fellowship, so probable gets most description, yes?  well, from actual text we know legolas is tall, slender and tireless, with "bright elven eyes" and a "fair elven" face. that's it. no, lotr is not your best source material, and silmarillion *shudder* is only marginal better. anywho, crpg & rpg elves is having this weird schizophrenia wherein we gets equal parts of english folklore elves and tolkienesque... whatever. 

 

btw, we prefer english folklore as a starting point. tolkien elves is 'posed to be... better. elves is 'posed to be superior, and starting with superior is not a particular enlightened or practical point from which to develop any crpg playable race.

 

now, as to silly god-like...

 

HA! Good Fun!

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"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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As a counter point to your first point how 2H weapons suck, I want to say just one thing - daggers.

 

They seem to be a curse in almost every RPG. Low base damage, high speed, low reach end up being their downfall as enemies typically have armor which negates their low damage despite the high attack speed.

 

Daggers should be a viable option for warriors and an optimal choice for rogues - having bonuses to defense and armor negation, not to mention being perfect backstab weapons, unlike in BG/BG2 where they were basically dumpster tier weapons. Why would you backstab someone with a 1d4+x when you could do it with a 2d4+x or something better?

 

I believe Mr. Sawyer shares your concerns. I recalled that daggers would possess bonuses to penetrating armor. I believe this was attributed to their ability to slide between plates and mail into weak points, like joints. I took a look at the Pillars of Eternity Wiki Weapons page, and found that Stilettos (a specialized form of dagger) will indeed negate various degrees of damage threshold. This effect is compounded by the user's Perception statistic, which feels proper.

Edited by Mr. Magniloquent
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btw, we prefer english folklore as a starting point. tolkien elves is 'posed to be... better. elves is 'posed to be superior, and starting with superior is not a particular enlightened or practical point from which to develop any crpg playable race.

 

Most CRPGs don't position them as being as superior in every respect, just certain. Regarding whether Tolkien described them with pointy ears or not in explicit wording, does it matter?

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btw, we prefer english folklore as a starting point. tolkien elves is 'posed to be... better. elves is 'posed to be superior, and starting with superior is not a particular enlightened or practical point from which to develop any crpg playable race.

 

Most CRPGs don't position them as being as superior in every respect, just certain. Regarding whether Tolkien described them with pointy ears or not in explicit wording, does it matter?

 

explicit wording is pretty darn important if you is using as a guide for description. if you is using tolkien's lotr as your guide for what is appearance of elves, one would hope that tolkien did describe elfy appearance in those books.  as for superiority, YOU said you were preferring tolkien to d&d and wanted poe elves to be along the lines o' lotr elves. well, tolkien only ever really described elves as being superior without giving much detail, and as we said already, he didn't give useful details 'bout appearance, so, wanting lotr elves...

 

well, is lots o' elf fans who don't know tolkien but want tolkien. is actual kinda curious.  

 

HA! Good Fun!


"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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aside:

 

tolkien is far more respected 'mongst academics for his writings concerning beowulf and sir gawain and the green knight than he is for lotr. regardless, is little doubt that beowulf, in particular, had significant impact on tolkien. try and conscious describe grendel is ending in frustration for most. nevertheless, folks who read beowulf or listened to beowulf being told over the centuries were having vivid recollections o' the monster. no doubt tolkien realized that as he were creating a mythology, his readers already had a notion o' "elf" in their subconscious... were no need to describe, and were better not to.  tolkien simply nudged away from folklore elves and towards his Superior elves.

 

 

HA! Good Fun!

Edited by Gromnir

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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Indeed, I do prefer his rendition of them, much as I do their mythological source of inspiration, but it has never hinged on whether Tolkien described them with pointy ears or not. It's also remarkably difficult to pull off with success, and you are correct, it is difficult to do justice to as a concept in a CRPG, something I agree with wholeheartedly.

Edited by Moragauth

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Indeed, I do prefer his rendition of them, much as I do their mythological source of inspiration, but it has never hinged on whether Tolkien described them with pointy ears or not. It's also remarkably difficult to pull off with success, and you are correct, it is difficult to do justice to as a concept in a CRPG, something I agree with wholeheartedly.

the pointy-ears is relevant 'cause in spite o' fact that tolkien didn't describe 'em as having pointy-ears, virtual everybody assumes such a detail into existence. most details 'bout tolkien elves is imagined into existence-- that is the point.

 

do it like tolkien.

 

is less helpful than one might s'pose in a visual game where you actual gotta show elves or sauron or whatever. 

 

HA! Good Fun!


"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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Gotta nitpick... there are in fact a few times where Tolkien alludes to elven ears as being pointed. The most explicit ones are from his early work though, and therefore not canon, and the most recent one actually describes hobbit ears with 'elven' in quotes. According to this splendid essay, there isn't enough evidence to unambiguously settle this important matter one way or the other.

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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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Gotta nitpick... there are in fact a few times where Tolkien alludes to elven ears as being pointed. The most explicit ones are from his early work though, and therefore not canon, and the most recent one actually describes hobbit ears with 'elven' in quotes. According to this splendid essay, there isn't enough evidence to unambiguously settle this important matter one way or the other.

please note, we observed that tolkien never said elf ears were pointy in lotr. use other sources is not helpful... and makes situation all the more ludicrous. the fact that somebody felt the need to write such an essay is bizarre, and fact that they can't actually answer the question is a bit disturbing.  tolkien left the matter ambiguous. well, good for him we s'pose. but again, "do it like tolkien" is Not gonna be helpful advice to developers of a crpg or any other visual media. clearly, don't do like tolkien is better advice... save for b00b armour. would be a big improvement if you couldn't tell if female heavy armour had mammary swell or not.

 

HA! Good Fun!

Edited by Gromnir

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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@Gromnir, you're right, I did miss the qualifier in your first message.

 

I agree with you re elves and the LotR movies btw. Peter Jackson doesn't get elves. Haldir of Lorien especially was so bad that I breathed a sigh of relief when we saw the end of him. Only Elrond was half-okay and that only because he was half-elven and therefore more believable, if you could get past the Matrix thing.

 

I also agree about "don't do it like Tolkien" and boobplate.


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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Out of interest, can you pin down specific pieces of criticism of Peter Jackson's elves, PJ?

 

Obviously HD was an odd interpretation and if memory serves Haldir lost a lot of credit for things to Arwen in the movies, but I can't recall feeling particularly grated by the vast majority of the elves. What would you have done differently?

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@Kjaamor I'm not a filmmaker so I'm quite sure anything I would've done would have been miles worse, so I'm not gonna answer that one. I can explain a bit what I didn't like about Jackson's elves though.

The crucial thing with Tolkien's elves is their tragedy. Their story is one of fading and loss that spans millennia. They tread the line between the real and the supernatural; they're distant and superhumanly, unattainably, sublimely beautiful. Seeing a Tolkienian elf should invoke the kind of emotion you would get from walking in a stand of giant costal redwoods on a perfect day, knowing that tomorrow Consolidated Lumber will cut it all down.

I don't get any of that from Jackson's elves. None of the majesty, tragedy, certain, inexorable, impending loss. Instead I get camera special effects, Cate Blanchett trying to do contralto in a Brünnhilde bodice, a slightly pudgy Haldir with a carefully powdered nose, Arwen snogging with Aragorn, and oh! the hair. The hair!

Jackson's elves are way more like D&D elves than Tolkien's elves. Tolkien's elves deserve better. Jackson is great at action movies, and Tolkien's elves are not action heroes, even the ones that act and do heroic things. It would have taken a director with greater sensitivity to do them justice, even in an action film.

Edit: for the record, I loved the movies. Jackson does hobbits great, and the focus was solidly on the hobbits. I just think he dropped the ball on the elves.

Edited by PrimeJunta
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My problem with the Tolkien elves is that they are too perfect. Humans are always late on the scene, short-lived, unwise but quick to learn. Elves are long lived, ancient, wise, playful, beautiful, and masters at everything...

 

yawn.


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

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@PrimeJunta

Very eloquently put re: PJ's Elves. I find myself in partial agreement in that I think that PJ did portray some of that bittersweet beauty and sadness (in particular in the EE of FotR scene when the hobbits see the elves passing through the shire) but perhaps not enough. It's odd that actually, a book can do that better perhaps than a movie because it requires very strong acting to portray that kind of subtext.

 

I also agree with JFS that Tolkein's Elves were perhaps too perfect though they did have their flaws. They are arrogant, self-absorbed (as a culture) and aloof. They think themselves better than other races, perhaps because they are, and don't seem interested in these other races unless they themselves have something to gain from an alliance. Thranduil's abandonment of the Dwarves of Erebor is a classic example of this.

 

Back onto the thread topic, the main pitfall I'd like to see avoided is the mistreatment of stealth-based characters. Sneaksneaksneaksneak... "HELLO, welcome to my bossfight"...

 

I don't want to sneak over another conversation trigger that

1. Brings me out of stealth

2. Puts me in a conversation

3. Puts me next to the big bad brute who is good at stomping on my face

 

I fact, I don't want it to do that last one even if I don't sneak, if I'm playing a squishy wizard then I don't want that either.

 

No game has yet done this perfectly but the closest is probably TES and most of the infinity engine games. Games that have done this poorly are manifold but the worst perpetrators are comfortably NWN2 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution (with it's terrible outsourced boss fights).

 

NWN2 was particularly bad. I recall one situation where I told the rest of the party to stay put while I sneaked ahead with the tiefling thief NPC (Neera?) At some point I crossed a conversation trigger and it instantly swapped my PC with Neera, placing my squishy wizard all alone in the middle of a map full of nasties and putting Neera back to the start, stood among the other NPCs. Better yet, because I had been controlling Neera when I told all to stay put, now I'm controlling my PC, Neera hasn't received this instruction and commences charging through the level unstealthed, opening doors and running across traps.

 

I felt like NWN2 was only playtested with fighters and kick-down-the-door tactics.

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Crit happens

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My problem with the Tolkien elves is that they are too perfect. Humans are always late on the scene, short-lived, unwise but quick to learn. Elves are long lived, ancient, wise, playful, beautiful, and masters at everything...

 

yawn.

 

...yet they're the ultimate failures. They see all their works come to naught, and they themselves are doomed to fade away. That's kind of the point.

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