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Vault Dweller interviewed about The New World and more at GoHa.Ru

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Vault Dweller interviewed about The New World and more at GoHa.Ru

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Sun 20 August 2017, 00:18:19

Tags: Age of Decadence; Colony Ship RPG; Iron Tower Studios; Vault Dweller

The Russian gaming forum GoHa.Ru has an interview with Vault Dweller about his upcoming colony ship RPG, The New World. It's a long and in-depth Q&A, apparently made up questions solicited from their community. Many of the questions concern the evolution of Iron Tower's design philosophy compared to The Age of Decadence. Here's an excerpt:

2 The most common complain about AoD that I've stumbled upon is that it's all about min-maxing. You either have a "perfect" build or you cannot do this, that and that. Many people want to get as much content as possible with a single character, which requires the above mentioned "perfect" build. What are your thoughts on it and how do you plan to deal with it in The New World?"

These are two separate issues. When a player struggles to beat the first few opponents, he assumes – incorrectly – that the only way to beat game is to max the physical stats at the expense of everything else and put all skill points into two skills (weapon and defense). Stats and skills do matter, of course, but tactics matter more.

The max content build is a more complex issue, driven by the player’s desire to get more content in the course of one game, which requires a whole lot of meta-gaming and a carefully researched build, calibrated down to the last skill point. Needless to say it’s not a fun way to play the game.

There are two ways to fix it: either remove most checks, leaving only “cosmetic” checks that give you minor rewards but ultimately change nothing OR replace manual distribution of skill points with an ‘increase by use’ system.

Naturally, the former isn’t an option for us, but the latter is something that fits our overall design (and the party-based setup) better. Now your skills will be determined by your actions and choices not arbitrary distribution of the skill points.

Instead of counting how many times you did something, we’ll assign a certain value (let’s call it learning points) to each activity (attacking, killing, fixing, sneaking, convincing, lying, etc). So killing a tough enemy or repairing a reactor will net you more points than killing a weakling or fixing a toaster. Basically, it will work the same way as XP but go directly toward raising the skill that did all the work.

6 Back to AoD, the uniqueness of each playthrough is based on the fact that the player character is only good at one thing (meta-hybrid builds aside). But TNW is a party-based RPG and we as players will have an option to assemble a party of specialists: a fighter, a talker, an explorer and so on. How would you make us want to replay it for the 10th time?

That’s easy – choices.

While your party would be able to handle more than a single character would, when it comes to choices and picking sides, you’re still limited to one outcome. So if we do a good job with the setting and story, you’d still want to see how things would play out if you make different choices.

Keep in mind that since we’re going with an ‘increase by use’ system, creating specialists won’t be as easy as simply spending skill points on whatever you see fit. If you want your infiltration specialist to be good, you’d have to provide opportunities to practice that craft – at the expense of other skills.

For example, in one of the early quests you’re tasked with acquiring energy cores from one of the scavenger crews. Naturally, you can kill them all (everyone’s combat skills go up), bullshit them (your talker’s skills go up), kill the leader with a critical strike (your CS skill goes up), or sneak inside, pick the lock on the strongbox, and get the cores without raising suspicions (your infiltrator’s skills go up). Before you ask, you won’t be able to sneak in, steal what you need, THEN kill them all to get max points.

18 Name 3 biggest mistakes current RPG developers (both indie and AAA) make while developing their games? Including your own if you'd like.

Such things are awfully subjective. I didn’t really like Legend of Grimrock that much, but I loved Legend of Grimrock 2 because they went open-world and did it really well, in my opinion. Yet LoG2 sold a third of what the first game sold and some people believe that the open world thing is to blame. So one man’s design mistake is another man’s best design ever.

As for our mistakes, the list is long so it won’t be hard to pick top 3:

We balanced combat around ‘specialists’, which made playing a ‘hybrid’ the hardest difficulty mode. The idea was that the players would beat the game with a specialist first and then play with a more balanced but more challenging character. Turned out everyone wants to play a hybrid but not everyone can figure out the combat system on the fly. That’s why “too difficult, can’t play it” is the #1 complaint.

To be clear, the mistake isn’t that the game is too difficult but that playing a hybrid character (fighter/talker) is nearly impossible for the first time players.

Inverted difficulty. Teron is the hardest town, mainly because your skills are low and your gear is shit. As you progress, the game gets easier and easier because your skills and gear improve but you’re still dealing with human enemies (whereas in most RPGs you’d have switched to higher level monsters a long time ago). Granted, there is a difference between some low level thugs/guards and highly skilled soldiers but that difference only goes so far.

Not enough content in Ganezzar (the third town). While Ganezzar has as many faction and side quests as any other town (and even has the siege event), most players walk away with an impression that there isn’t enough content. Why?

We underestimated the amount of content it would require in general. Ganezzar could have absorbed twice as much content without making you feel overwhelmed;

We overlooked the fact that many side quests required certain past events like making a deal with Marcus Valla to get the power armor, surviving Miltiades’ attempts to kill you and then saving his ass in Maadoran and helping him, etc.

Worst of all, we made an easy to miss 5-quest fork, instead of adding five stand-alone quests available to everyone. As a result, if you missed the fork and didn’t do the pre-requisites for other quests in Teron and Maadoran, you will have fewer quests available, especially if you were kicked out from your faction.
Read the whole thing, it's Codex-tier material. Bravo, GoHa. There was another interview with Vault Dweller earlier this month at the website of a writer named Chris Picone, which also included Iron Tower's composer Ryan Paul, but it's more of a general interest piece.

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