Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Game News Age of Decadence September Update

Discussion in 'RPG Codex News & Content Comments' started by VentilatorOfDoom, Sep 7, 2011.

  1. villain of the story Unwanted

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    Perhaps MayDay was talking specifically about AssCreed and similar games? There's no real exploration in AssCreed series, since the cities, despite their simulated glory, offer nothing to the players in the way of exploration. You have a limited range of items and the only unique weapons, so to say, can be bought from vendors and everything of interest is GPS'ed on the map anyway so you won't discover new stuff.

    Still, if there aren't clues to motivate the player to go exploring in the first place, it's huge time sink. Baldur's Gate and Beregost in BG1, for instance. The only incentive to go exploring there was "I'm sure I'll find some goodies in here so let's raid the smallest shit hole I can find!". That's just bad design.

    How do those two games handle city exploration?

    Subway in Tarant: exchanging one dysfunctional feature for another. Kiosks didn't have the best possible placement and walking to and from kiosks could be just as time-wasting. It's what I think is developers doing their best to make sure force the players get to experience and enjoy a city that they were enamoured with to have designed, so she would get her prime-time spotlight by the players.

    Though it's possible I remember Caladon and Ashbury larger than they were. Perhaps large enough to be walking simulators but small enough to somehow justify it?
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  2. Mayday Scholar

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    Certainly. But first please correct me if I'm wrong, maybe this is an unnecessary discussion because of me omitting some obvious aspect as usual:

    When building a (full) city, the designer has these options:
    -make sure that every location you can visit has something interesting to do/find and/or interesting people to talk to, which severely limits the size of the city
    -make most houses "dummies" which can't be entered, which causes problems as in this AoD beta and Thief, where you'd try every door just to make sure if it can be opened. This breaks realism (very minor problem) and forces the dev to visually differentiate "real" and "fake" houses (rather minor problem).
    -make most houses possible to enter but generic and boring (which is not a problem in itself, because that's what real life cities look like, right?).

    This. Also any game where you can safely enter any apartment and rummage through people's stuff with no challenge. If there's a city with as few as ~30 houses and you just KNOW that there will be a valuable thing in one closet in one of those 30 houses, you'll go looking for it- which is, as villain said, a boring timesink.
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  3. curry Prophet

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    Those tester comments were pretty good though. Too bad the game is never going to be released. :lol:
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  4. sgc_meltdown Arcane

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    --make sure that every location you can visit has something interesting to do/find and/or interesting people to talk to by abstracting out nonrelevant areas and having seperate 'hotspot' locations to visit, which neither limits the size of the city nor forces a ton of pointless time-intensive architectural sludge in the name of 'realism' and 'atmosphere'

    there, corrected

    if the mass effect games were sensible enough to do this why not AoD

    and please don't conflate 'exploration means you want item hunting which sucks therefore it means exploration sucks' into this. If there's a mansion off to the side like the 'guarded compound' celestial fury place in BG2 that has no quests pointing me into it and I have no direct need to enter because it's not a fucking blacksmiths or something, was it designed wrongly then?

    What about new quest hunting, since that justifies going into buildings for you? Would that satisfy your need of developer responsibility and faultless player expectations?
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  5. Mayday Scholar

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    See the problem?

    That is not mine to judge. If they've already built the whole city, then they should follow through.
    I, for one, prefer when the whole city is accessible.

    We are not talking about INTERESTING locations. We are talking about, dull, generic semi-contentless houses that fill most of a city. It's pretty obvious that a mansion like that would be a perfect place to rob and/or visit looking for a job.

    If the game forces you to hunt for quests by visiting and searching tens of empty houses the it is a design flaw. If it doesn't force you but encourages it, then it's still a design flaw. If the game doesn't encourage it and you still choose to do it, then it's your problem.
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  6. Lockkaliber Liturgist Patron

    Lockkaliber
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    I think Fallout's approach, where hovering over a character or right clicking and examining them presented more information was satisfactory. I am going out on a limb here and assuming that the games are very similar, so if there is no such option, it should probably be implemented. At least that's what I did in fallout when I needed to find somebody. Without playing the game though, it's hard to know how confusing it really is. Maybe VD and crew need to work a bit more on their town and area design. The idea of buying a town map which points out the notable places is also good I think.
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  7. Mayday Scholar

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    Even Fallout's method was too slow.
    If the PC knows what the person you're looking for looks like, there should be an option to highlight that person in the crowd.
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  8. sgc_meltdown Arcane

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    What, the problem I addressed with my solution? Planescape, Icewind Dale, Fallout, practically all the isometric games did this. When you abstract out irrelevant areas the sense of scale is vast compared to bethesda style compressed distance and concentrated landmark implementation

    Telling ITS what to do with the content they have is besides the point, since we haven't played AoD and don't know the nuances or validity of the issue.

    The issue is how to implement a 'whole' city with various ambient or functionally empty dead mapspace (unless the city is called Quest city of Campaignaria in Planet Mission, or you're playing an MMO) given the pitfalls of an rpg videogame and it's limits when you could just not bother with anything that's not interesting.

    I think you're approaching this thing from a pnp viewpoint where a player would be utterly silly if they wanted to aimlessly wander around the city into random streets and loot random houses

    in BG2 for example it would be equally silly for developers to render an enterable house and not have something in it for you.
    it's metagame thinking but it comes with the necessarily limited structure of videogame rpgs, i.e. if a house is there there's probably a reason and there should be one
    if not then it should be made to look inaccessible like those in the promenade area in BG2, and players will know that those bits are just there to be pretty

    and if there's not a reason for them to be there, it's not the fault of the player as you think (again, pnp mindset versus crpg games) but the developer's for not using that space well to justify their inclusion of content there.

    Blaming players for exploring rpg houses when they're empty would be like blaming mario players for entering copypasted pipes with empty rooms and a pipe back out when they didn't know the pipes were going to be pointless.

    Yeah, see? If AC:B let you enter every house in rome to check if there was a chest with tomatoes it'll be shitty design and pointless feature fluff, and yes I'd agree with you completely if players still want to go ahead and look in all of them.

    But if a developer adds something like this incredibly stupid design decision, it won't be the fault of players if they looked in a whole bunch of houses before realising that there's nothing worthwhile in them. Why is it in the game then?

    Given the static and limited nature of an rpg gameworld it's a developer's responsibility to ensure that any content they add be it horseriding or houses or add to the quality of a game and hence validate player time spent with that feature, not waste it.

    Maybe you think it'll be too linear and directed? I'm not sure here, with your talk on being able to pinpoint quest targets from character recognition I think you're not a fan of time spent looking for a location or person, but then why favor having a whole, intact city with lots of potential nonrelevant characters and buildings then?

    As mentioned before abstracting out whatever the game doesn't need works well enough and certainly doesn't go against the realism aspect as long as you have the cognitive ability for reasonable suspension of disbelief as pertains when a game isn't a completely accurate simulation of a world. I certainly don't see people saying their Torment experience in Sigil experience was crap for not being able to visit all the wards that were left out entirely. Bringing in realism here completely ignores the very obvious tradeoffs that have to be made in translation since with that line of thinking you might as well say why didn't they include the entire Citadel Station in ME.
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  9. DarkUnderlord Bringing that old Raptor magic.

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    It's all valid criticism because "in the real world" you can fairly easily find where someone lives and get directions. The problem is you often don't get the chance to ask characters in a game "where so and so's house is".

    I agree with Brian's point about making "houses with stuff" different from houses without stuff - especially if (as it seems to be the case) - there are houses where the doors just don't open at all. If so, make those houses scream "generic filler house with unopenable door". Maybe the door has a faded brown colour compared to the rest - or you can highlight doors and easily see a tooltip that tells you whether it is "locked" or "unlocked" so you don't actually have to wander over there. Then you can piss people off by making one with a door you can open and hiding fat loot in there as an Easter Egg.

    And yeah, Prostate Farticus' House should be a big fucking house with a pretty garden and banners out the front if he's a big important guy. The Merchant's house should look like he's a Merchant from the outside (stuff in the garden that he's going through for later sale) and what-not.

    I also like the idea of a "generic town guard" model for all your town guard needs. And again, you throw in the typical situation where the character needs to talk to one of the town guards and can't find which one due to them all looking alike. Throw in humorous and witty dialogue referencing that point and we all get to chuckle.

    From memory, we had a similar issue with Fan Made Fallout. Some dialogues where you wanted the character to say a lot just lead to long bits of dialogue with a "Continue..." option. Ideally you either break the information up over multiple characters (maybe with slightly conflicting bits of information because someone remembers something slightly differently) to break down the "only one option" parts, or add in options that have some other effect.

    EG:
    1. Interesting, tell me more about XYZ. ->> Continues as normal
    2. I hope you get to the point soon... ->> Continues as normal but with a small rep hit.
    3. I haven't got all day, get to the point! ->> Small rep hit and shortcut to a "quick version" of the story that misses some crucial detail.

    And sometimes just throwing in the odd "2 or 3 questions that lead to the same answer" can be nice because the player won't know at the time. That only works when a lot of options do lead to something different though. IE: Don't over-use it.

    The other (more artificial but useful from a game point of view) option is to break the info up into a series of one liners and have a "question gateway". So the player gets 6 questions to ask, they pick one, get the answer for that bit (which may itself open up another question) and then an option to "I'd like to ask something else..." and you're back to the gateway where you can pick something else (or the same thing again in case you missed it).

    And a "Goodbye" option should also never be far away either. That's another thing we did (or never did, depending on your perspective) in FMF.

    I think the best way though was to make them say what they need to say, get that working, then go back and spice it up by breaking it up, padding it out, taking info and giving it to another character, making something else a skill check etc... It's easier to do when you have something to start with.
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  10. Lockkaliber Liturgist Patron

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    I like slow though. What's wrong with slow?

    blah blah not making a game for the vocal minority neckbeards nma get with the times sell copies our focus groups told us to implement a fps mode
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  11. Roguey Arcane

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    You know Mitsoda's suggestions are more or less present in Fallout, right? There's no need to mouse over every single person.

    [​IMG]
    Building clearly marked. The model and position of the NPC you talk to makes him immediately obvious.

    [​IMG]
    It's pretty obvious where to find Bob and buy guns.

    [​IMG]
    Finding Harold: You can see him right there through the hole in the roof, and if that's not enough, there's a pacing NPC in front of his door talking to himself in eye-catching red text.

    It's not dumbing down, it's sensible level design.
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  12. Davaris Arcane

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    Some people seem to be suggesting a method that is intrusive, like glowing doors or arrows pointing at people. As you point out, Fallout did the same thing, but not in a way that makes it obvious you are playing a computer game.
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