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Let's roll out the questions first, and then proceed with my thoughts about them.

  1. How many endings will PoE have?
  2. Will the player be able to make decisions that will radically change the game during the playthrough?
  3. How are the developers going to implement "real choices" in the game?

When I talk about "choices that radically change the game" I mean choices that make the story branch out in a way that locks away a significant amout of content and opens up an equal amount. Chapter 2 in The Witcher 2 is a great example of what I mean. In the witcher 2 your choices not only have an impact on the story, but radically change the way you experience the game. You get to see different areas, you get to know different parts of the story and need to complete different quests to go on.

 

The greatest part of the witcher 2 is that it doesn't allow the player to see all its content in a single playthrough. That's great because designing a game like that makes the player feel that his choices are real and that there is no "perfect playthrough", at least content wise.

 

Let me explain this concept with 2 examples:

 

In Baldur's Gate 2 you had pretty much 2 ways of getting back from Spellhold: with Saemon Havarian's ship or taking the portal to the underdark. You had a choice... in theory. But the truth was that if you chose to cross the portal you just lost a lot of content. The game made you end up in the underdark anyways, and choosing to go there directly made you loose quests, loot and a lot of story content just for the sake of roleplay ("I'm not a fool and I don't trust Seamon, so I prefer taking my chances with the portal"). This makes me say that it wasn't a real choice: the game was clearly meant to be played in a way and the developers had included a second solution just for the sake of saying "Do you see: we let you choose".

 

Second example: in Mass Effect 2 there was a clear optimal sequence in which you had to do the quests, the one that allowed you to immediately follow your crew once it was abducted by the aliens. You also had to have the loyalty of every sqad member in order to make everyone survive during the last mission. If you did everything right not only you got the "No-One left behind" achievement and a better ending, but you also gained the possibility to experience everything that Mass effect 3 had to offer. If a member of your crew died during Mass Effect 2 you didn't meet him during the next game, loosing content that you had paid for.

 

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I think that every real choice within a game should open up some content and permanently close some other content. This is the only way in which you prevent your game from having "optimal" playthroughs and force the player choose for real and not just think about how he will be able to get everything in the game.

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The greatest part of the witcher 2 is that it doesn't allow the player to see all its content in a single playthrough. 

Alpha Protocol had more meaningful choices than TW2.

 

This idea that every single new RPG needs branching story in order to have meaningful choices is extremely detrimental to storytelling.

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Alpha Protocol had more meaningful choices than TW2.

 

 

This idea that every single new RPG needs branching story in order to have meaningful choices is extremely detrimental to storytelling.

 

 

I guess that depends on whether or not you think stories in RPGs emerge from play or if they are "told." Certainly it's nice (and probably necessary) to have some kind of end-state in an RPG, but this idea that RPGs needs some grand narrative structure sounds more like an interactive novel than a game.

 

I look at a game like Fallout New Vegas vs. Mass Effect for the kind of contrast I'm talking about. Both lead to a conclusion, but the one in F:NV emerges from player choices, while the ending in ME:3 was strictly what Bioware had decided it would be. I'll happily take the former over the latter, whether it's in a PnP or CRPG environment.

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I agree that you need branching consequences/results of choices, but you don't necessarily need giant hunks of mutually exclusive content. Mutually exclusive choices, and mutually exclusive scenarios, sure (if you decide to believe Steve the Alleged Thief is innocent, and help him by double-crossing the guy who hired you to kill him and retrieve what was allegedly stolen, then you obviously can't ever do any further stuff for/with that guy. Or, vice versa, and Steve's dead, etc.)

 

But, yeah, the use of "this 30% of the sheer content of the game is actually just one big path branch, in lieu of that other 30%" can get pretty heavy-handed in games. Sometimes it works/fits, sure. But, it's not really some integral thing to force into the design, just to somehow fabricate significance.

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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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I didn't really like that "big choice" at all. I can respect what they were doing, but to me that felt as much of a choice as a result of a coin flip is. For me the more important part of choices/consequences is the player's agency in the story/game, regardless of whether the character itself is an extension of the player or premade and the consequences being dramatic or not.

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Sorry, but the choices in W2 with immediate and delayed consequences and changing story is the way to go. If someone is asking for meaningful consequences but at the same time to NOT change anything in the story...then you don't want choices at all.

I'm pretty sure some people are purposefully making strawmen just to demonize people that don't like the same things that they do.

 

Because that is not what I said at all.

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This idea that every single new RPG needs branching story in order to have meaningful choices is extremely detrimental to storytelling.

 

I don't dismiss the idea here, but I don't quite understand.  Obviously it's not necessary that the story do the Witcher 2 thing where there's a big huge branch after chapter 1 (though the extent of the branching is a little overstated, since you end up doing a lot of the same things).  But don't there need to be some narrative branches as the result of some choices for those choices to be meaningful?

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  1. How many endings will PoE have?

I think it's difficult to count the number of endings, because first you have to decide When an  ending is different from another ending. Do you only count big changes(but when are changes big) or do you count all changes. e.g. how many endings has fallout new vegas 4 for each big faction or is an ending different if the fate of a minor faction is different? how many endings has Dragon Age 2 two for mage and templar or one because the result is the same.

 

talk about endings in a eurogamer article about an interview with Josh Sawyer.   (only the part in quotation marks is from Josh Sawyer)

 

There'll be replayability from wanting to adventure with different classes and working towards different endings, of which there will be "lots". It'll be like Fallout: New Vegas, he said, both in its variety of endings and in them being "something you really build towards and agonise over". "It's not like you can just reload and experience the different ending: you have to work towards that ending in a different way."

 

 

 

I think that every real choice within a game should open up some content and permanently close some other content. This is the only way in which you prevent your game from having "optimal" playthroughs and force the player choose for real and not just think about how he will be able to get everything in the game.

I agree with this statement.

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Sorry, but the choices in W2 with immediate and delayed consequences and changing story is the way to go. If someone is asking for meaningful consequences but at the same time to NOT change anything in the story...then you don't want choices at all.

I'm pretty sure some people are purposefully making strawmen just to demonize people that don't like the same things that they do.

 

Because that is not what I said at all.

Well that's what you WROTE, I cannot know what you WANTED to write or INTENDED to write do I? I can only see what you actually WROTE. So try to write more clearly instead of accusing everybody of straw men or misunderstanding.

 

If you do this or that sidequest this or that happens, but ultimately the story does not. Just the plot.

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Why do you play RPGs if you don't want the story/setting to change depending on your actions?

 

For those who want linear stories there is plenty of great action adventures, like The Last of Us, Uncharted, Tomb Rider and so on. There are even games like Assassin's Creed which have an open world, play those if you want to be railroaded towards a pre-set ending.

 

I play RPGs because I like to interact with the story and the setting. It's not just about big story twists in the main plot: in Skyrim I didn't want to become an assassin, so when I got kidnapped by the Dark Brotherhood and Astrid tried to force me to kill one of the other captives I killed her instead. Not only the game let me do that, but it also acknowledged my choice and gave me the possibility to storm the Brotherhood's base. Ok, I lost a lot fo content by doing that (all the Dark Brotherhood's quests), but I also experienced a part of the game that I wouldn't have experienced otherwise (the quest to find the Broderhood's Base, infiltrate it and kill everyone).

 

Creating content for all the playstyles and letting the player roleplay in meaningful ways is key to create a real RPG experience. Too many "RPG" games grant the player the possibility to choose just by locking away content if they make the unexpected decisions. Do you want to play an evil character not concerned with the suffering of those that sorround him? Shure, you can, but be prepared to refuse a lot of quest proposals and to loose a lot of game content, experience and loot by doing so. You get punished just because you didn't let the game railroad you, all of that just because the game developers designed a lot of linear quests instead of creating less of them but able to grant the player some real freedom.

 

I'll stop here for now, but I could talk a lot about the weight of consequences (or the lack of it) in games.

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Good writing is the key to this topic. Every book you've ever read has been 100% linear. If the writing was good the characters felt alive, real, and it seemed they could make mistakes or choices different than what they actually made. This game is going to be a linear computer program. Any choices the characters make will be an illusion, and it is good writing that sells that illusion.

 

I think the points about locked content have more to do with replay value. That is an important point as well. I think there can be increased replayability due to large branches in the story, and at the same time have similar endings. Similar endings allow the writers to tell a good consistent story with a beggining, middle, and end. Each companion needs an arc that fits into the overall arc of the main character. Since the main character is not going to be specific, it makes it harder for the writers to characterize him/her. I think how the user accomplishes the large sidequests of the story allow the user to characterize the main character themselves, and creates replay value. All these threads still have to come together in a consistent way eventually.

 

This is a deep topic that I think actually involves each individuals experience of free will and agency. Some people feel that they are masters of their own destiny, and want a game to encourage that feeling. A game with multiple paths but only one ending would not feel accurate to such a person because it undermines their sense of reality. Determinism is a real possibility in our world. The illusion of free will in these games could mirror the illusion of free will that you have in your own life. If the writers of this game create a mythology as good as the mythology that we are constantly inventing about ourselves, we'll never need an answer.

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I believe Arcanum handled this best. There was a central plot in which all play-through(s) must culminate of which has limited outcomes. The ramifications of the player's actions outside of the main quest were then displayed and detailed independently of that story arc. I never felt pigeon-holed because all of my character's other (mis)deeds were included and prominently addressed. The finale was merely one more quest in the grande adventure.

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Good writing is the key to this topic. Every book you've ever read has been 100% linear. If the writing was good the characters felt alive, real, and it seemed they could make mistakes or choices different than what they actually made. This game is going to be a linear computer program. Any choices the characters make will be an illusion, and it is good writing that sells that illusion.

 

I think the points about locked content have more to do with replay value. That is an important point as well. I think there can be increased replayability due to large branches in the story, and at the same time have similar endings. Similar endings allow the writers to tell a good consistent story with a beggining, middle, and end. Each companion needs an arc that fits into the overall arc of the main character. Since the main character is not going to be specific, it makes it harder for the writers to characterize him/her. I think how the user accomplishes the large sidequests of the story allow the user to characterize the main character themselves, and creates replay value. All these threads still have to come together in a consistent way eventually.

 

This is a deep topic that I think actually involves each individuals experience of free will and agency. Some people feel that they are masters of their own destiny, and want a game to encourage that feeling. A game with multiple paths but only one ending would not feel accurate to such a person because it undermines their sense of reality. Determinism is a real possibility in our world. The illusion of free will in these games could mirror the illusion of free will that you have in your own life. If the writers of this game create a mythology as good as the mythology that we are constantly inventing about ourselves, we'll never need an answer.

 

You made a good point and I agree with you on the fact that good writing sells games even if they don't grant the player any freedom. It is not a by chance that two of the most awarded games of this year (The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite) are very linear games with a great story.

 

But those are not RPG games. The designers of those games wanted to tell a story, to develop a character and to prove a thesis. So they decided to use the tecnique that best fitted their goals: linear storytelling, linear level design, almost no character customization. The player was asked to progress through the story discovering it passively (defeating enemies is not a way to interact with the story, it is just a way to gain access to its next part).

 

RPGs are radically different. Why bothering with character creation and customization, why granting the player the possibility to roam free in the game world, why building interactive dialogue trees if in the end the developers don't want the story to be shaped by the player's actions? All the features that I have just listed require a lot of work and have negative impacts on storytelling because they decrease the amount of control that the writers have on how the story unfolds and on the rithm of the narration. If they want to implement such features they'd better use them to do what they do best: granting the player agency over the events of the story and the possibility to make choices. If they don't use them to achieve the goals they are best fit to achieve they'd better scrap them altogether and design a linear experience. The storytelling would benefit from that and the game would be simpler to design and produce.

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You're trying to say that certain rpg elements and having a narrative are mutually exclusive. The great IE games like planescape and BG2 had character creation/customization, exploration, dialogue trees, and branching quest lines. They also had an overarching linear story. These games are the inspiration for pillars of eternity.

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obsidian made alpha protocol

that's all you need to know to answer this topic

 

how many games have you played where you can team up with the main villain (or his minion, for that matter) and then after everything is done, blow him up (or not)?

 

the only other games that i have played that come close to AP to some degree with choice and consequence are dragon age 2 and NWN2 (also by obsidian)

this is the one thing we will not be disappointed with this game, i'm pretty sure of that

Edited by lolaldanee
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Good writing is the key to this topic. Every book you've ever read has been 100% linear. If the writing was good the characters felt alive, real, and it seemed they could make mistakes or choices different than what they actually made. This game is going to be a linear computer program. Any choices the characters make will be an illusion, and it is good writing that sells that illusion.

 

I think the points about locked content have more to do with replay value. That is an important point as well. I think there can be increased replayability due to large branches in the story, and at the same time have similar endings. Similar endings allow the writers to tell a good consistent story with a beggining, middle, and end. Each companion needs an arc that fits into the overall arc of the main character. Since the main character is not going to be specific, it makes it harder for the writers to characterize him/her. I think how the user accomplishes the large sidequests of the story allow the user to characterize the main character themselves, and creates replay value. All these threads still have to come together in a consistent way eventually.

 

This is a deep topic that I think actually involves each individuals experience of free will and agency. Some people feel that they are masters of their own destiny, and want a game to encourage that feeling. A game with multiple paths but only one ending would not feel accurate to such a person because it undermines their sense of reality. Determinism is a real possibility in our world. The illusion of free will in these games could mirror the illusion of free will that you have in your own life. If the writers of this game create a mythology as good as the mythology that we are constantly inventing about ourselves, we'll never need an answer.

You.

 

I like you.

 

 

But don't there need to be some narrative branches as the result of some choices for those choices to be meaningful?

 

Of course.

Edited by Bryy
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For the first time, I've managed to summon the will to combat the dreadful camera and play Neverwinter Nights 2 (the official campaign, for now).  And from the very beginning, the most irksome aspect of the narrative is the terrible illusion of choice and roleplay.  I'm trying to play a distant, couldn't-be-bothered type to switch things up from my usual ParadigmOfHumanity role, but every encounter I meet goes something like:

 

Thug:  "Now sir-and/or-madam, give us the gold/your life!"

SirAndOrMadam:    "Please!  Somebody help me."

PC:      "Heyo.  I see you guys are busy here, so I'll just be on my way."

Thug:  "This is none of your damned business, stranger!  Best just walk away now!"

PC:      "Yup, that's literally what I just said I was going to do.  Be seeing you."

Thug:  "How about lets kill SirAndOrMadam, and their new friend!"

<Epic combat errupts, ends>

SirAndOrMadam:    "Thank you for saving me, kind stranger!  I'm glad to see that there's still honor and nobility in the world!  I owe you my life!"

PC:      sigh  "Yes, sure.  I'm going now - things to do, worlds to save, or something."

SirAndOrMadam:    "I love you!  You're the best!"

 

Why do I have the option to say "I don't want to be a part of this," only to, on virtually every occasion, be  dragged into the mess anyway with the same blasted plot device?  And in killing the antagonist(s) everybody treats me like a saint, despite the fact that I had shown every bit of disinterest in their folly, and wanted nothing more than to leave them to die and carry on my business.  Sure, I "saved" them - I was forced to save them - and perhaps they could be thankful of the circumstance, but they prove all too pleased by my lack-luster assistance.

 

It hurts me to see that the "choices" I make are absolutely null and moot in terms of narrative.  I can only hope that player agency and NPC reactivity will be much improved in PoE.  Don't feign choice if you're not prepared to back it up in the narrative - some illusion of choice is fine as suits the narrative, but don't fall back on terrible plot device so excessively to railroad my playing while telling me I have choices.  And allow NPCs to respond to me in more ways than "You are best person," and "You are worst person," or just give me the blasted Mass Effect binary / (trinary) convo wheel so I don't feel like I'm talking to setpieces.

Edited by Pipyui
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I believe JE Sawyer said that Eternity will be aiming for the same amount of endings as New Vegas, or even more.

RE: Alpha Protocol, I don't recall their being multiple endings. I think it just boiled down to join Halbech or take it down.

...

Man I really want an Alpha Protocol sequel.

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Looks like I'm in the minority with enjoying linear games with the illusion of choice.

 

Sorry, that wasn't the impression I intended to give.  I have no qualms with linear games, just qualms with games pretending to be nonlinear, giving me the finger, than throwing me down a single path.

 

Edit:  The Bioware response circle wasn't bad design, in my opinion.  What with all of the VO, NPCs had few dialogue branches; it made more sense to limit PC conversation capacity accordingly than to give the player many response options to choose from, only for them to find that 50% of them didn't mean squat.

Edited by Pipyui
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I think that every real choice within a game should open up some content and permanently close some other content. This is the only way in which you prevent your game from having "optimal" playthroughs and force the player choose for real and not just think about how he will be able to get everything in the game.

 

Just like the Witcher 2

 

Silver

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the only other games that i have played that come close to AP to some degree with choice and consequence are dragon age 2 and NWN2 (also by obsidian)

Please tell me you don't mean the OC.

Don't get me wrong - the 2 different endings were a great difference (and the 'evil' ending was very well done, made for a better story ending for me), but they were somewhat of a last-minute decision on your part and for the rest of the game, your choices had virtually no effect.  (Brief spell with the Watch or Thieves aside - after that it's Knight Captain and the same quests in the same order whether you like it or not).

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I'm fine with getting the same ending as everyone else as long as I can get there differently.

 

Alternate endings always seemed like the cheapest way of implementing player choice, it doesn't really effect anything it's just which ending slide you get.

 

And it brings up images of bad imports of player choice, which rarely ever work out.

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Eh, it's not like we don't know how the game will end. The protagonist is going to kill the remaining members of the Circle of Nine, choose not to sacrifice him/her self to restore the Pillar of Balance, leading to the collapse of the Pillars of Eternity, and usher in a dark age ruled by vampires.

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