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Discussion about how much "freedom" and plot


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#21
PrimeHydra

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I don't think we need to worry about Deadfire throwing away semi-open progression for sandbox-style "open world" absolutism. While I can handle a certain amount of freedom, you are right that "open world" is overly fetishized and a bit at odds with coherent, compelling narrative. For those who would rather write their own story, good for them, but I don't think PoE is that kind of series. It places a premium on unfolding a central tale rather than making it one of many equally valid time sucks, differing only in that it can cause the game to "finish".


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#22
Wormerine

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See I don't mind that. Great games can be both on rails or not on rails. If I am going to be on rails just provide me a compelling reason to go down those rails and I am alright. Being on rails enables you to make more meaningful choices IMO. With more freedom and open games there are too many variables.

 

They are just different methods of story telling. I don't think one is inherently better than the other.

I do see interactivity (and therefore certain amount of freedom) as an important part of an RPG. I am a big fan of narrative, more linear games, but I prefer my RPGs to be more open. If you provide a character for me I am completely fine with experiencing the story and world through their eyes. If you ask me to come up with the character I want to be able to decide how he/she will interact with the world.



#23
injurai

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I don't think the end all be all in games is freedom, though it's extremely important to offer certain degrees of freedom.

 

Often times linear sections work really well if they ask the player to rise to the occasion. Either on the grounds of developing a skill, learning the rules of an engagement, or to solute a puzzle.

 

Sometimes it's nice to have many simultaneous choices of linear engagements, perhaps partially ordered. Where each one forces the player to understand what is being set forth for them. Other times it's nice to have choice removed from what engagement to pick, but your solution can be wide and varied. Sometimes the two forms play off each other and can parameterize the setup of each scenario.

 

Both linear/open sequences and free/obligatory engagements can suffer from pacing issues if the player is only being given one mode of interaction. For Deadfire I think we can all agree we want the scales to swing towards open and free, but I think we'd all agree that the illusion within a sequence can be more than enough, especially if it gives us back pacing.



#24
Lephys

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I think the focus/approach should be meeting the minimum. Or rather... "Do we have enough freedom here?". "Do we have enough focus/'linearity' here?". The problem really comes from a lack, rather than an abundance of something. You can have a TON of freedom, but if you've got "Here, do 7,000 hours worth of random, unrelated 'freedom' content, but when you're done with that, come back to the 40 hours of actual focused content," you're in trouble. It's not necessarily because you've got 7,000 hours of freedom, but because you don't have enough cohesion in that. Too linear is really just a lack of freedom, and vice versa.

 

Sometimes, it seems like the focus is "How much freedom can we cram into this?!" *coughSKYRIMcough*, and it ends up being a problem because of the lack of focus.

 

It's a bit like a tree. If you climb a branchless tree, it's not very exciting. "Where should I go? Oh, up the only frigging path." BUT, if you climb a tree with branches coming out of branches coming out of other branches, you're going to get to one of the outer branches, and it's just going to snap off. It's too top-heavy and wide. Rampant roaming, by definition, is the opposite of a focused campaign, and pure linear rails are the opposite of exploration and freedom.


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#25
FlintlockJazz

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I think from the way I have heard Obsidian talk about quests and plots and stories that they have the right approach and mindset.  They seem to realise that they are more like GMs in a tabletop RPG than a film director or book writer, that they are creating an interactive experience.  They get that they need to create lore and story but also that they need to include player choice and reactivity.  That they may have a really awesome story to tell, but realise that forcing the player down certain tracks is like the GM who railroads his players because he wants them to do this or that.  I think Josh has even said that he wouldn't want someone working for him who just wanted to tell a story, that it is their job to let the player tell their own story while they provide characters and lore and opportunities.   Even if that opportunity results in you being killed or creating a failed game state (killing Lady Webb), hey just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you should be able to get away with it!

 

There is a certain scene in Dragon Age that sums up the wrong attitude to have (and also shows one of the reasons why I think it is not a good game, sorry to the fans here).  When you first meet Zevran, you have a woman come running up to you screaming for help and that you must follow her!  Naturally, my first thought was trap, so I let her run on ahead and scrutinised the situation.  I could see that there wasn't any fighting going on and what is that?  Why its a literal trap!  And another!  What a surprise.  So I bimbled over to the first one with the intention of disarming them all before doing my own trap on them, only to have a cutscene fire up of me running into the trap, and being all surprised!  The enemy even gloated over me falling for the trap while I was like "Uh, no!!  **** that ****!"  And that's before we even get to the Forced Dilemnas  that were present in that game, mainly because the game withheld information that would have been known to you in order to pull gotchas on you that you could still see coming a mile off.  And characters who not only had plot armour, but threw their plot armour in your face so deserving to be stabbed in the face but unable to because she was the developers' pet character (can you guess who I'm talking about?!) .

 

Alpha Protocol, on the other hand, let you have the opportunity to murder most of the cast at one point or another just because they knew some players would be like "Yeah don't like this guy, gonna kill 'em".  Steven Heck is like the one guy you can't ever kill I think.  I like Heck.


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#26
Katarack21

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Alpha Protocol, on the other hand, let you have the opportunity to murder most of the cast at one point or another just because they knew some players would be like "Yeah don't like this guy, gonna kill 'em".  Steven Heck is like the one guy you can't ever kill I think.  I like Heck.

Yeah, you can't kill Stephen Heck.

Stephen Heck was the ******.


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#27
Madscientist

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Regarding main quest and side quest:

 

There was one thing I did not like:

In Grandia 1+2, there were optional areas and when you enter them there is a message on the screen : "This is an optional area that is not part of the main story." The game was great, those optional areas were good too, its just that this message itself was very irritating and immersion breaking.

To a lesser degree I also dislike the fact that the quest log of a game marks a quest as main or sidequest at all.

 

What I like:

You know a general goal as your main quest, but you have to find out yourself how to get there.

 

examples that I like:

- In DOS1, you arrive in the town at the start of the game and you have the task to investigate a murder. There are several ways to reach that goal and there are lots of thing you can do (talk to people, search their houses for evidence, dig up graves, . . .). Finally you find out what happened one way or another, but the game does not tell you what to do step by step. The only restriction is that all the things you need to know in order to continue can be found in the town, no need to search the whole map to find the second step of the main quest.

- In Planescape Torment you have to find Ravel. When you start to search for her, you have only a few clues where to go next and nobody can tell you where she is. You have to look around, talk to several people and find some things. I played the game some month ago and when I finally found Ravel, I was not sure which of the things I have done were absolutely neccessary to find her and which were not.


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#28
injurai

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@FlintlockJazz

 

I totally agree with you. Reading that made me thing of a distinction between freedom and choice. Sometimes in games it's great to limit freedom, but maintain a high degree of choice. Say you go down into a dungeon and you're streamlined through content. Maybe given a few opportunities to explore a level in whatever order. But then you encounter something, and within that encounter you are given choices. It's that ability to choose and see how a situation plays out that is so rewarding. Getting to have you're own voice in the world, and to come up against another voice that has it's own way of thinking.

 

Freedom can wax and wane, but player choice is a constant must that should be ever present.


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