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A CRPG lesson recently relearned from Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines


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Just got through playing it again for the first time in many a year and I was reminded of just how much a game is improved when it has a ton of reactivity. Options can open and close wildly depending on what clan you are, what disciplines and skills you've put points into, how you treat people, whether you have a high or low humanity. All kinds of things.

 

And the game doesn't half-ass it, either. If you're playing as a Malkavian, you don't every once in awhile get some NPC remarking upon it. It's almost easier to note the characters who don't have a reaction to your insane babble and, all through the game, there are easter eggs thrown in for Malks. The same goes for Nosferatu, who rarely meet an NPC who doesn't have something to say about a hideous monster coming up and talking to them, especially if they're mortals, and who have to spend a much larger portion of the game wandering through the sewers since even their appearance causes a masquerade violation. 

 

Other clans are less differentiated, but even there every clan gets a chance at different dialogue or new options on multiple occasions, particularly if they're talking with an NPC who is also part of their clan. Figure out that the Nosferatu guy is using his ghoul to trick you into killing someone for him as a Ventrue and he'll express annoyance. Figure it out as a Tremere and he'll express anger and disgust. Figure it out as a fellow Nosferatu and he'll beam with pride. 

 

I've noticed that, along with Deus Ex, Bloodlines is one of those games they say someone reinstalls every time you mention it. My guess is that the above is the biggest reason. The game responds to how you play, and does so in a way that goes above and beyond the call of duty. I can't imagine how much work that must have taken, but it makes the game much, much more interesting. 

 

By contrast, I remember one of the things that soured me on Skyrim was how little people cared that I was playing an Altmer, despite the whole region living in terror of the Thalmor. Even other Altmer never seemed to notice or care. 

 

The PoE related point: I really, really hope PoE goes out of its way to make the game feel different depending on who and what you are. I can't overstate how important I feel this is. I've been intending to make my first character a female rogue from the Vailian Republics, a dashing swashbuckler sort with a mercenary attitude who always tries to talk her way out of situations first. For every time someone in the game recognizes that I'm from the Vailian Republics, or that I'm a rogue, or that I have been using a diplomatic disposition, or that I'm a female, or that I'm aligned with this group and not that group, or whatever else differentiates my character from just being an arbitrary arrangement of statistics, the game will get a +1 in my regard for it.

 

 

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By contrast, I remember one of the things that soured me on Skyrim was how little people cared that I was playing an Altmer, despite the whole region living in terror of the Thalmor. Even other Altmer never seemed to notice or care. 

 

Elder Scrolls has never worked like that, it never really mattered what your race was.  The explanation was because of the cosmopolitan nature of the Empire.  Well that was a decent enough explanation for most of them but it was weird in Morrowind and Skyrim.  But that is only where it starts.  You just have to get used to the fact that there is not going to be a ton of reactivity to what you do, that is the price for the freedom and the open world.

 

IIRC about VTM: Bloodlines is that they only were able to keep up that level of reactivity for a portion of the game.

Edited by Valmy
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Elder Scrolls has never worked like that, it never really mattered what your race was.  The explanation was because of the cosmopolitan nature of the Empire.  Well that was a decent enough explanation for most of them but it was weird in Morrowind and Skyrim.  But that is only where it starts.  You just have to get used to the fact that there is not going to be a ton of reactivity to what you do, that is the price for the freedom and the open world.

 

Yeah, I know. And I'm sure that the freedom and open world makes up for it for some people.

 

For me, it just makes the whole experience boring and empty. If every character is free to do everything, then no character has any way of defining him/herself. For example, if I can claw my way to become head of the wizard's college or whatever and not a single NPC seems to give a fuzzy wet crap about it, the accomplishment seems a bit hollow. 

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IIRC about VTM: Bloodlines is that they only were able to keep up that level of reactivity for a portion of the game.

 

Most of it, actually. But yes, like a lot of games, it falls apart near the end and turns into a boring combat slog. 

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I agree fully with what you said. Bloodlines has lots of replayability due to the different clans.

 

I noted that in Icewind Dale EE, because they added the half orc race, they included a few lines about it. If you talk to any villagers in Easthaven, they say something like "you're a result of the Orcish raids aren't you? Poor thing". It was a nice touch of detail but then... no one every comments for the rest of the game. 

 

I wish someone would make a kickstarter for a Bloodlines 2...

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First of all in many of the well written RPGs there is a fair amount of reactivity and it is mainly based on your behavior and sometimes class ,for example in NWN2 when you are entering Ammon Jerros' haven as a paladin ,one of the devils sarcastically comments about that and asks if you have come to cleanse the place of its' evil. Anyway ,I don't remember any point in this game where your actual origin (gensai, yuan ti ) was referred to.

 

I never finished the game because of a repeatable game breaking bug near the end ,but from what I remember VM:B was pretty unique because the sheer amount of reactivity was insane (I also played a Malkevian). But I believe it was possible mainly because of its' unique settings and I felt that the game world was fairly linear and full of  narrow corridors with less NPCs compared to more open world games.

 

If you want to have a game with a totally different story or dialog for almost every different character everywhere you might have to sacrifice in some other aspects of this game. For example I can't imagine the amount of text that should be modified if every talkative NPC in Skyrim will have a different dialog option for every playable specie.

 

Also I don't see how you can add this level of reactivity into a game like POE in which ,it seems like you can only play 'regular' species. This is not a game about vampires walking around among regular human beings, it seems pretty logical that you will get a reaction here and there from characters who knows about your origin\class but mostly I don't think that  there is a reason to have the same level of reactivity as in VM:B.

Edited by barakav

troll.gifseatroll.gificetroll.giftroll.gif

An ex-biophysicist but currently Studying Schwarzschild singularities' black holes' Hawking radiation using LAZORS and hypersonic sound wave models.

 

My main objective is to use my results to take over the world!

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First of all in many of the well written RPGs there is a fair amount of reactivity and it is mainly based on your behavior and sometimes class ,for example in NWN2 when you are entering Ammon Jerros' haven as a paladin ,one of the devils sarcastically comments about that and asks if you have come to cleanse the place of its' evil. Anyway ,I don't remember any point in this game where your actual origin (gensai, yuan ti ) was referred to.

 

I never finished the game because of a repeatable game breaking bug near the end ,but from what I remember VM:B was pretty unique because the sheer amount of reactivity was insane (I also played a Malkevian). But I believe it was possible mainly because of its' unique settings and I felt that the game world was fairly linear and full of  narrow corridors with less NPCs compared to more open world games.

 

If you want to have a game with a totally different story or dialog for almost every different character everywhere you might have to sacrifice in some other aspects of this game. For example I can't imagine the amount of text that should be modified if every talkative NPC in Skyrim will have a different dialog option for every playable specie.

 

Also I don't see how you can add this level of reactivity into a game like POE in which ,it seems like you can only play 'regular' species. This is not a game about vampires walking around among regular human beings, it seems pretty logical that you will get a reaction here and there from characters who knows about your origin\class but mostly I don't think that  there is a reason to have the same level of reactivity as in VM:B.

 

As you say, if you want to boost a game in some way, then you usually need to sacrifice something else. The thing is, although Bloodlines is relatively linear, it didn't feel that way. It felt like you were making a lot of choices and those choices were effecting the game world. Unlike, say Skyrim, which really is huge, but it doesn't ever feel like you do anything unique (just my opinion). And that's the difference between good and bad design. With good design, things are still limited but the player experience is better. 

 

Now, there are no vampires in PoE, but Godlike are pretty damn weird. I would comment if I saw one on the street. Do you think all the NPCs will react to Godlikes? Or freaky fish guys (aumaua), I don't think they're that common.

 

Have you ever been to a country where you are in the clear minority? In middle of nowhere kind of places, people will really stare at you. And ask questions. And that's just cause you're a foreigner with a different skin colour. NPCs in fantasy games should react more to strange races.

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Are you kidding? There are areas in my country (Israel) where I canget stoned by mobs in the street only for not looking like an Arab or an extremely orthodox jew.

 

I am not sure that I want to role play that kind of experience...

 

I don't know, but I felt that even though the story was open, I still had to backtrack and watch the same areas too many times before I could move forward.

 

I didn't want to spoil POE for me so I tried not to get too much into it's lore but thieflings are also pretty weird and yet they are not such an uncommon sight in the forgotten realms ,at least not like vampires are in the modern world. Part of the idea of having a game placed in a mystical and legendary universe is that its' inhabitants do tend to see some weirdos here and there .

 

So, basically it depends on the universe of POE ,if those godlike are like ,say,  the celestials or the mind flayers that aren't a common sight on the Prime material plane, it will be appropriate for the locals to react, otherwise if they are like thieflings you might get a different kind of reaction that depends on the specific individual point of view and experience with the specie.

Furthermore  it is quite logical that many individuals will not react differently towards you . 

Edited by barakav

troll.gifseatroll.gificetroll.giftroll.gif

An ex-biophysicist but currently Studying Schwarzschild singularities' black holes' Hawking radiation using LAZORS and hypersonic sound wave models.

 

My main objective is to use my results to take over the world!

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Sorry, I didn't want to hit a sore point or anything. I was just trying to make a point that people always react to the appearance of others... but I wouldn't want to RP an unpleasant experience either. 

 

If its a world where weirdos are common, that's cool too. The thing is, people who play these games spend a lot of time in the character creation screen, right? So the more the game refers to our decisions, the better. 

Edited by Heijoushin
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If its a world where weirdos are common, that's cool too. The thing is, people who play these games spend a lot of time in the character creation screen, right? So the more the game refers to our decisions, the better. 

 

In a believable and interesting fantasy world there would be a bit of both, I guess. That is, tons of stuff that are not in our world would obviously be commonplace and natural there. But there would still be weird stuff by their standards, political conflicts and racism. And that is necessary for the world to have some believable depth.

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I agree fully with what you said. Bloodlines has lots of replayability due to the different clans.

 

I noted that in Icewind Dale EE, because they added the half orc race, they included a few lines about it. If you talk to any villagers in Easthaven, they say something like "you're a result of the Orcish raids aren't you? Poor thing". It was a nice touch of detail but then... no one every comments for the rest of the game.

 

I wish someone would make a kickstarter for a Bloodlines 2...

I would back a Bloodlines EE

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, She got the Mercedes Benz

She's got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, that she calls friends

How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.

Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

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