RPGs, freedom of choices

This is a discussion on RPGs, freedom of choices within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; I'm writing and article here... and need to consolidate my opinion on some core concepts. If you have a mind ...

  1. #1
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    RPGs, freedom of choices

    I'm writing and article here... and need to consolidate my opinion on some core concepts. If you have a mind or an interest for these things, please comment away:

    - One of the probable causes for the Final Fantasy series success is that player character(s) tend to be a part of the story. Contrary to most other RPG games where the player character is often alien to the whole storyline and meant to just progress NPCs own stories and kill things. In Final Fantasy, the player playes the story, in most other RPGs the player tells the story.

    - It's possible already to do a plotless RPG game that offers players situations, instead of quests, stories instead of a plot. Where they can truly decided on their own moral path without being tied to a storyline that, no matter how broad it is will always limit their options. A game that doesn't progress towards anything tangible. A game world that is meant to be lived in by the player. As an evil character, as a good character, or as a deeply human character.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  2. #2
    Ecologist
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    Morrowind was awesome.
    Staying away from General.

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    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    I was thinking Morrowind too. But I don't think it ever fulfilled that goal very well. In any case that particular game is a first step that I think has been largely ignored ever since. Despite its immense success. A real shame.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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    C++まいる!Cをこわせ! Elysia's Avatar
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    Oblivion is another example. The main story is very short and can be mainly ignored. Then there are lots and lots of other smaller quests where you can make a name for yourself.
    It's probably one of the best examples of an open world where you aren't really tied to a specific story and locked into a story line where you have to do whatever the game requires of you to progress.
    Quote Originally Posted by Adak View Post
    io.h certainly IS included in some modern compilers. It is no longer part of the standard for C, but it is nevertheless, included in the very latest Pelles C versions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Salem View Post
    You mean it's included as a crutch to help ancient programmers limp along without them having to relearn too much.

    Outside of your DOS world, your header file is meaningless.

  5. #5
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Yes. But is there really freedom of choice? If I were to count, one by one the quests that we are given that are fitting to an evil oriented character, I'd probably find a very large imbalance there.

    This was one of my impressions of both games (Morrowind in fact seems to work better in this regard than Oblivion). I also wonder how many players really exercised that "freedom". Matter of fact is that the player actions had very little impact on the game world, neither the world felt alive. Making the whole thing look much like everyone was just waiting for the player to come by their doorstep. This invariably turns an open world into a world of boredom.
    Last edited by Mario F.; 05-26-2010 at 12:42 PM.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    I think your concept works better (and in fact currently works) in Massively Multi-player Online RPGs. Many of which have no story, what so ever, and only present you with different opportunities to better yourself amongst your peers. For a single player game... I dunno if this would work. Yes, The Elder Scrolls does offer dozens of side-quests with no apparent story... so much so that the main quest seems insignificant. This concept is also seen in games such as Baldur's Gate, Fallout, and most other Bioware and Interplay games. Both of which have engrossing story lines but are overshadowed by many interesting side quests.

    That said, as insignificant as the main quest would appear in all of the above titles, I really couldn't imagine caring about the game without them. The plot is what drives you around for the first 30-40 minutes while you tediously learn the controls and technicalities of the game. It's what brings you to the first town or city that allows you to meet the NPCs that give you these side quests. Without the main plot, there really isn't room for anything else to begin.

    Do you really want to start a game and just out of nowhere have some random character walk up to you and say "Hey there, stranger... I see no significance in you, but would you like to help me kill rats that are infesting my crops just outside of town? I'll give you a shirt with +1 defense if you don't get me killed in the process."?
    Sent from my iPad®

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    Registered User whiteflags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F. View Post
    - One of the probable causes for the Final Fantasy series success is that player character(s) tend to be a part of the story. Contrary to most other RPG games where the player character is often alien to the whole storyline and meant to just progress NPCs own stories and kill things. In Final Fantasy, the player playes the story, in most other RPGs the player tells the story.
    I wonder if Final Fantasy is really the best example for this concept. The characters in Final Fantasy are part of the story, but the characters are different every time, and that seems to set it apart. Sometimes, its not even that the story is all that different. The only way you can really tell it is Final Fantasy is if the two mainstays are present: chickens used as personal transport, or teddy bears running the correspondence service.

    Another explanation for Final Fantasy's success is usually your best experience with Final Fantasy is your virgin experience, and people relentlessly compare this experience with whatever comes next. Final Fantasy has the worst fans in the world. They want to buy nostalgia. The reception of the Final Fantasy games themselves can almost be plotted on an aggregate bell curve. People wind up buying disappointment in a box after enough games have come out and Square has moved in another, far away direction. The good news is there is no aggregate curve and only an individual one: That protects Squares assets. As proof of this concept, I submit any review made by another Final Fantasy fan, ever, like this one.

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    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Brilliant review!

    Ok, folks. Some food for thought. Thanks.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    I'm playing Risen and Gothic 3 and while both have the trappings that come with attempting to create an open world open choice game they succeed for the most part.

    However remember that games must have a 'point' or they can quickly degenerate into a mess. Another game that fits the bill quite nicely is Mount and Blade and while not being the prettiest game it does pack in a ton of open-ended gameplay. There is a new version out call Mount and Blade: Warband which adds multiplay. I believe both games were created by a 2 or 3 man dev team. Warband just received 80% from PC Gamer which is not easy to do. I invite you to check them out. Both games are free to play up to a cap of level 6....but the entire game is there so you get a good chance to experience the game. Even with all that the first game is around 20 US and the second is about 30 US. Very open ended gameplay and very addictive.

  10. #10
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    I have M&B on my wish list. Not really interested in the multiplayer aspect. But I heard they did great things to improve the first game that had mixed reviews but had already built a very loyal cult following. And games capable of building a cult following are always worth checking out.

    Risen and Gothic 3, I confess I don't know anything about them. But will surely take a look at their demos. Thanks.

    I'm however skeptic. Not so much that these aren't good games (I've realized long ago we tend to share a similar taste for games). But on what they can possibly bring of new to what I consider a fundamental lack of ability to play as an evil character and get the same rewarding experience as the good guys.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  11. #11
    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba View Post
    I'm playing Risen and Gothic 3.
    Gothic 3 was a disaster. I loved Gothic and liked Gothic 2 pretty strongly, but when I finally got around to Gothic 3, I wanted to vomit. It's just significantly worse than its predecessors.
    Sent from my iPad®

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    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    Gothic 3 was a disaster.
    It is far better after patch 1.6 and 1.7. The steam version of the game is compatible with these patches which is why I finally bought the game. It is much like the interface in Risen and Risen is essentially Gothic 4.

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    Registered User C_ntua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F. View Post
    But on what they can possibly bring of new to what I consider a fundamental lack of ability to play as an evil character and get the same rewarding experience as the good guys.
    That is indeed a very good point. I think that there is no great need for being able to play a good and evil character on the same game. I prefer when you play a specific character. If I want to play an evil character I would prefer to buy a game that is based on that and get good results. If I want to play a good one, buy a game that focuses on the good one and get good results. I think the "you can play as a good and bad guy" is mostly a marketing trick. And you see a lot of things that are there just because there has to be an option to do things the other way. Like "do you want to kill this beggar that tried to steal from you?", where the player might not really be interested on taking such choices. The beggar could simply steal him. If the players feels like it kill him. Or demand his money back. That would be a better way to handle it. But because the game promised you that you can play as good and evil it has to justify it. Thus have a good/evil meter and make a whole scene out of that beggar.

    I feel the same when you customize your characters. The system can simply not predict in a good way millions of different of characters. The plot has to be weakened in order to make sense for all the possibilities. And for making things worst, some ideas are not really supported. I played Dragonage with a rogue archer just to find out that it wasn't really supported and they had to come up with a patch just to balance the idea. I wanted to play a sneaky character on the Knights of the Old republic. Every time you were at sneak mode your main character went solo. So you had to manage one by one your characters, which was pointless.

    So the whole idea of "playing whatever you want" I feel is a negative thing. A marketing trick that makes games less satisfying for the players because it makes the developers job more difficult applying a lot of restrictions. Besides, it is kind of a waste as well, except if you are willingly to play all the possible characters.

    Also, to have choices your character has to be kind of important. If you are the son of the farmer that you are really good in killing things, then you most likely won't have a lot of roles. The game ends up not really being an rpg, rather than an action game with a tactical gameplay. If you are the king of the city on the other hand the your role is more interesting. You will have to act as a king. So your choices will be based on your role. Not the other way around, which is usually the case.

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    C++まいる!Cをこわせ! Elysia's Avatar
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    Indeed. One thing about Dragonage is that it pretty much completely forgot about your origin, and your attitude.
    In the opening, you could be pretty stubborn about not saving the world, but in the end, you are forced and have no say about it. Later, the game just seems to "forget" that you unwillingly took the journey, being forced into it.
    I think C_ntua has a point. The games just have "stereotypical" behavior, ie certain paths encoded. If you don't follow one of them, then it's tough luck. Meh.
    Quote Originally Posted by Adak View Post
    io.h certainly IS included in some modern compilers. It is no longer part of the standard for C, but it is nevertheless, included in the very latest Pelles C versions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Salem View Post
    You mean it's included as a crutch to help ancient programmers limp along without them having to relearn too much.

    Outside of your DOS world, your header file is meaningless.

  15. #15
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    DAO was a huge disappointment. More like 'guided' adventuring than anything. You basically could only level up when and if the designers wanted you to and you couldn't have enough people in your party. I realize they prob. did this so we would play through again using different people but that gets old. Any one of us has prob. missed at least 20% of the game b/c we have not had every person in every single situation in the game. I notice different characters react to different game areas whereas others don't react at all. For me it isn't worth my time to try to find all the 'variations' of character reactions in the game.

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