Social networking will swallow your soul, #8

Discussion in 'NMA News and Information' started by Brother None, Jul 11, 2010.

  1. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    A few tweets related to but not saying anything about New Vegas really. J.E. Sawyer.<blockquote>how many game end states must a man (or woman) script before he (or she) can be called a fallout designer?

    god dammit why did i write all this shit</blockquote>Chris Avellone.<blockquote>is in New Vegas companion heaven.</blockquote>Course, J.E. Sawyer is still going strong on his Formspring.<blockquote>Do you feel that it's forgivable for a RPG to be worse at a gameplay element than another game more dedicated to it because it's a RPG and does other things? The question partially applies to other genres as well such as FPS's with poor vehicle combat.

    It can be marginally worse, certainly. It just shouldn't feel bad. It can also be "worse" in breadth but just as good in depth, which I think is also perfectly reasonable.

    Let's say a game wanted to have most of the stealth elements of Thief. It has the AI, the light, the sound (including audio occlusion), but it doesn't have extinguishable lights, water arrows, rope arrows, moss arrows, or any of that jazz. If the AI, light, sound, etc. are well executed, the goodies that are missing really aren't that big of a deal -- in my opinion, anyway.

    I thought a bit more on our discussion. I think I argued more on what *is* considered an RPG while you argued what you think *should* be an RPG. Then, I'm interested in why you consider an interactive narrative in an RPG. Thanks =)

    I think what tabletop RPGs (D&D, specifically) introduced that was revolutionary was the ability to make your own character. This does included "statty" stuff, but was building upon/expanding rules from Chainmail, a war game.

    Tabletop RPGs allow you to make a character, define his/her personality, and express it during game play in whatever way you see fit. DMs adapt and change the story based on the outcome of the player's actions.

    Through the 80s and early 90s, all CRPGs could do/did do was simulate the war game and character advancement aspects of their tabletop counterparts. Ultima games started to experiment with player choice and morality around Ultima IV. I may be forgetting some important precursor, but I believe the original Fallout was the first RPG that allowed the player a "judgment-free" way to play the game as anything ranging from a saint to a horrible monster -- with appropriate reactions to that behavior. I believe this was the point where RPGs started to emulate the underlying character / personality mechanics of RPGs in addition to the stat / advancement / combat mechanics.

    Moving out of the 90s and into the 00s, western RPGs focused increasingly on player personality, interactions with companions / NPCs, and ways in which the player can alter the outcome of the story based on those interactions and choices. Concurrently, other "non-RPG" games (e.g. Castlevania) started leaning more heavily on traditionally "RPG" character stat / advancement mechanics. By 2010, character stats / advancement are far from exclusive to the RPG genre, but companies like BioWare, Black Isle, Obsidian, Troika, and Bethesda, have put an enormous amount of focus on making games where character choices have a directly supported / scripted effect on the story (in contrast to something that is more abstracted / systemic like The Sims or GTA).

    Don't get me wrong; I like character statistics and advancement. I think they should be part of all sorts of games, and I appreciate it whenever I can get it. But when it comes to the sort of games I help make that are going to be called "RPG", it's important to me that we always do our best to actively support the player's ability to the sort of character they want to make -- with a heavy focus on personality reactivity.

    How do you feel about NPCs straight out lying to the player?

    I think it's totally fine, though it is nice to allow the player to see through it if they a) run through the story in a way that allows them to see through the falsehood immediately or b) have a special perk/statistic that allows them to catch the person in the lie.

    Do you think that it's possible for a return to old-skool, 3D isometric RPG games like the classic BIS games with the advent of mobile gaming like on the iPhone or the DS/PSP?

    I'd like to think so, though I'd guess the only handheld platform that has significant overlap with fans of those games is the mobile phone.

    That is, I'm sure you could make a lot of those sort of games on handheld platforms, but I'm not sure that the audience is there.

    Hi. How do you perceive difficulty in RPGs? Is it just a matter of fights, hard levelling up? Or is it mainly a matter of complexity of relations between NPCs, hard moral decisions, logic puzzles and other non-violent aspects?

    I think difficulty and agony are two separate things (or should be) in games. Combat and "contested" game play should be oriented around challenge, of which difficulty is an important element. The focus is on figuring a way through a problem. This can be a puzzle, logical or otherwise, through which there are a finite amount of designed paths, or it can be something like combat, with a theoretically infinite number of strategic and tactical approaches.

    When it comes to making moral decisions, ethical decisions, or character decisions with NPCs, I believe the focus should be on agony in the classical sense. The struggle is to make the choice, not to succeed or fail. If you're guessing blindly, success and failure aren't particularly interesting. In many cases, it's boring or infuriating.

    The reason why stories like Antigone and the Oresteia are interesting (to some) is because their characters are trapped between two equally good (and bad) choices. Orestes makes the choice to avenge his father's death by murdering his mother, but in doing so is pursued by the Furies for his filial betrayal.

    I don't know if you can answer this, but still, why Obsidian, a relatively little developer, with a not-so-relatively troubled history, continues to focus on two teams with two games at a time instead of doing the (natural imho) choice of simply focusing

    Publishers pay us to staff with a given number of employees. That number is typically a lot less than the full developer roster at Obsidian. Additionally, tying yourself to a single project means that you are effectively at the mercy of that single project. Milestone payments, publisher relationships, etc. all rise and fall with the fate of that game. Publishers also know this, and can leverage that vulnerability to the detriment of the developer.

    By working on multiple games with different publishers, milestone payments are staggered, there is more flexibility in moving employees around, and the individual publishers have less leverage over the company's daily operations/fate.

    A lot of games have dialogue trees where to return to talk about another topic, you say "I want to talk/ask you about something else". Why do that? No one talks like that. When people want to talk about something else, they just bring the topic up.

    Short version: it's an organizational convention.

    It is much easier, structurally, to do this than it is to a) load up every node with all possible questions or b) guess at what the player might want to talk about in any given node.

    Dialogue trees are fundamentally oriented around two types of data: nodes (or topics) and replies. Beneath any given node, the designer will typically place replies that are relevant to what's being discussed. These are sub-topics or branches of that topic. At the root level are the major topics. To help the player navigate (by preventing an enormous list of potential topics), designers will typically allow the player to go two or three node layers deep with two to four options per node layer.

    If the player wants to talk about something else (especially if it is completely off-topic from what's currently being discussed), the player will include an option like, "Let's talk about something else." This will move to a main question/master question node with the root topics. The player can then delve down into those basic topics and branch off.</blockquote>
  2. smejki

    smejki First time out of the vault

    May 26, 2009
    he formspringed he never was drunk so this is serious :mrgreen:
  3. TheWesDude

    TheWesDude Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Feb 25, 2005

    i remember in my old games that i could freely type to NPCs and say whatever i wanted to

    then came "next gen" shit and it got heavily scripted

    then it became even more "next gen" and i got few options, but could pick any option i wanted.

    then it became even more "next gen" and now its 1-3 options and feels more scripted than a movie.

    next gen, dumbing down games since the 80s!
  4. bonustime

    bonustime First time out of the vault

    Aug 2, 2008
    I haven't played any games from the 80's but I would imagine either the responses to things you said were garbage in terms of actually being a response or you would have to type in a particular way. We definitely did not have any decent conversational AI in the 80s(and as far as I know we still don't).
  5. maggit

    maggit First time out of the vault

    Jun 2, 2008
    Hahah, Alice, or it's 'mother' Eliza. :P

    YOU: I'm looking for a thing called a GECK.
    NPC: What's a GECK?
    YOU: It's a Garden of Eden Creation Kit.
    NPC: What's a Garden of Eden Creation Kit?
    YOU: It can help us rebuild the wasteland.
    NPC: How can it help us rebuild the wasteland?


    Oh, and is this:

    Some pun on the fact that Fallout 3 had '200 endings' and the fact that many gaming magazines don't acknowledge Obsidian as the devs of Fallout New Vegas (vide: OXM)?
  6. 100LBSofDogmeat

    100LBSofDogmeat It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Nov 11, 2008
    oh josh, josh, josh... you didn't have to add bethesda because they are paying your wages currently. we all know that addition is a bald-face lie... and, at least, i hope he knows that.
  7. Mad Max RW

    Mad Max RW Mildly Dipped

    Jan 12, 2004
    I guess all this extra twittering means they have plenty of time to make sure New Vegas won't be an incomplete and buggy mess like all of Obsidian's previous games. Ha!
  8. frosty_theaussie

    frosty_theaussie Still Mildly Glowing

    Nov 22, 2003
    This FormSpring trend will end in tears, I tell you what.
  9. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    Or its already so much they gave up working on it :P
  10. WorstUsernameEver

    WorstUsernameEver But best title ever!

    May 28, 2010
    Because twittering takes so much time?
    While I want to see a non-buggy game as much as anyone else, I fail to see what you're implying here. :?
  11. 4too

    4too Vault Senior Citizen

    Apr 30, 2003
  12. Diospyros

    Diospyros First time out of the vault

    Jul 15, 2008
    I remember those 80's games too. Sure you could write whatever you want, but 99% of the time the NPC response would be "I don't understand". The game was looking for specific words to progress and you could spend all day trying to figure it out. Going through a thesaurus trying to figure out what variant of "untie the rope" or "move the rock" the game is looking for was not fun. I'm more than happy trade that for a menu of options.
  13. Guiltyofbeingtrite

    Guiltyofbeingtrite Vault Dweller

    Oct 13, 2008
    I'm glad they are Tweeting, I like accountability and I like fans and players being able to ask questions directly to developers without having to go through a PR wall.
  14. UncannyGarlic

    UncannyGarlic Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Feb 6, 2008
    Belated cheer for him answering my question. I should have removed the last part too as it didn't fit after I had to cut the next sentence due to the character limit. I agree with his answer (not that I think that any games fit his description) but I wanted him to expand more on it and use specific examples of games that did and didn't do so. Maybe have him talk about the reasons why games fail or succeed at such things in his experience.
  15. TheWesDude

    TheWesDude Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Feb 25, 2005
    WHAT?!?!?! new age hippie! console freak!

    ostracize him!

    ban him, ban him, ban him!!!!

    beth fanbitch!

    fallout 3 lover!

    oh, and that is why they always included such manuals with "verb" lists and such.

    people who got those games for the first time usually got confused as to why there was a list of verbs and actions and such. after playing for a few hours they understood why :D
  16. frosty_theaussie

    frosty_theaussie Still Mildly Glowing

    Nov 22, 2003
    You'd think so, but I've been calling out George Broussard for months and all he does is harp on about poker tournies.
  17. Lingwei

    Lingwei It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Mar 5, 2008
    I remember one text based game that helpfully let me know that "put out" torch should be referred to as "extinguish".
  18. SuAside

    SuAside Testament to the ghoul lifespan

    May 27, 2004
    An unladen swallow? Did you mean an african or European swallow, BN?