Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Editorial Mask of the Betrayer Ten Year Anniversary Retrospective by George Ziets

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Jan 3, 2018.

  1. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

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    The Tides and Crises are not a part of the Numenera PnP game. The setting and ruleset does push for some themes, but that would also be true with the Forgotten Realms setting and ruleset. I think George was think of more narrative-type themes ("This will be a game about sons trying to outdo their fathers") rather than setting/ruleset type stuff.
     
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  2. Make America Great Again Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

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    The rest of what I quoted

    Changing God came first, before everything else.
     
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  3. Azarkon Arcane

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    The concept of the Changing God was not the problem. In fact, it is quite unique and fascinating, much like Pillars of Eternity's concept of souls. The main narrative, however, was mediocre, and its emotional core a wispy shadow of Planescape: Torment's. The story lacks pathos - the Changing God, whether he is actually the player, as heavily implied, or an external entity who simply happened to occupy the player's body, has no discernibly sympathetic aspect. He is portrayed as arrogant and indifferent, whose sole redeeming quality is an external event involving the age old cliche of having lost his daughter & wanting to revive her. Maybe McComb is referring to being a parent when he says he's now much older and cares about different questions, but the fact remains that we've seen this variation of a motivation a hundred times and TTON brings nothing new to the dynamic. Not to mention, there is minimal development for the Changing God's daughter and her relationship with her father, so the entire motivation is abstract, more so because the Changing God is portrayed as a pathetic parent figure throughout the game, which I guess is supposed to be ironic, but in actuality makes no sense.

    I don't know about the rest of the game, but the narrative could've been much better, had Miika simply been thrown out, and the emotional focus transferred to the relationships between the Changing God and his cast off children. There was the seed for a compelling story, there, around the responsibility of a creator who never intended to be a parent, and the conflict between those who blamed him for their problems & those who still loved him as their father. As much as there was a poignant moment in the game, it was the relationship between the Changing God and the First - of how he initially gave her gifts & treated her like a daughter, but ultimately abandoned her to the Sorrow, leading to her age long hatred, as well as the different reactions of the cast offs to the Changing God in the sanctuary. But in the end, these were side shows in a game that spent more time being weird than developing its emotional core, and so at the end of the story, we cared neither for the Changing God, nor his motivation, nor our own relationship to that motivation.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
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  4. G Ziets inXile Entertainment Developer

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    I always wanted the player to be able to shake the foundations of the planes and bring down the Wall. I know there are differing opinions on that, but I suspect that most players would have wanted it to be a legitimate option (as our team certainly did), and if I'd found out that WotC would allow it, that's the direction I would have gone.

    Some reactivity elements were only partially implemented (or only worked intermittently) - for example, if Kaelyn turned against the player in the City of Judgment, Avellone wrote a great sequence where her grandfather and siblings came to save her, and the player could let them take her to safety... or kill them all in front of her and then leave the stricken Kaelyn to be carried off by rampaging demons. It was really dark, and I loved it. There were other reactivity moments that we cut for lack of time or never got working properly, like Kazimika's revenge if the player killed the Wood Man. I always wanted to get all of those working consistently, and to add more reactivity to players' choices wherever I could.

    Apart from that, the story felt complete to me. Given more time, I would have spent it on iteration and responding to feedback from the dev team and QA testers. There are a hundred small things in that game (and any game) that could have been better, more polished, and more satisfying if we added a choice here, improved a fight there, added a side quest to a part of the game that was a little sparse, or reduced an area that was too big. (E.g., a couple areas could have been cut down and tightened up, like the Skein dungeon, and others could have used a lot more iteration to really shine.) That polish time almost never happens in the industry, and Mask was no exception.
     
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  5. Quantomas Educated

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    TTON's story is truly about the protagonist's ability to change reality, which itself has its roots in the powers the Changing God has awakened.

    Admittedly, it's difficult to perceive for most players. It's recursively implemented and discernible more easily if you continue the game by starting anew after finishing it. I am not sure if InXile went all the way to create additional content and endings for solving the situation perfectly, but the potential is there. And as such it's one of the most brilliant SF RPGs ever released.

    The game has its shortcomings, like the labyrinth could have been a much more versatile and living space, and certainly it begged for a much more advanced solution for the savegames, i.e. in-game reality switching instead of save files. The combat could have been truly awesome if they had a guy who breathes AI.

    But TTON's meres and the way their stories are told can't be faulted; MRY and his peers did an outstanding job on the meres, and it's hard to find something that tells sci-fi stories better in the entire history of games.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
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  6. vivec Savant

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    George Ziets and Chris Avellone are simply unparalleled in the RPG field at the moment. Few seem to understand human pathos as much as they do in the industry. What would we do without them? Please god, let them make more games.
     
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  7. Morality Games Arcane Patron

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    PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Bubbles In Memoria A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    The correct way to do the Changing God's character was to have whatever presence he had in the narrative (direct or indirect) be colored by different characters' expectations of what such a god should be like.

    Which they did, but poorly.

    Also, in the same way evolution is technically aimless (no ultimate destination, changing in response to stimuli and circumstances), the Changing God should have forgotten what his original motivations for becoming a form changing immortal were (ergo, he now exists simply to change, or to discover why he wants to change, to explore and develop new forms to inhabit for the same reason why humans fashion trends change). If pressed on what his motivations were in a dialogue box, the Changing God would be like Ravel in Planescape and offer different, uncertain possibilities.

    Based on the concept they had, if the writers were being true to the setting, the Changing God would have discovered a way to cure/revive his daughter way, way, way, way, way before the events of the game.
     
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  8. Make America Great Again Infinitron I post news Patron

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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    IMO, somewhat inaccurate to put these two in the same category. Lots of people want to think about Ziets as a kind of next-gen Avellone or Avellone Jr, but he's pursued a different skill set. He's a big picture setting and design guy who claims to not like writing character dialogue.
     
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  9. vivec Savant

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    How is that in any way relevant? First of all, the distinction you make, between writing good dialogue and creating settings is superfluous. The two skills are unrelated and additive at that. Both of them have done great dialogue writing. So actually, I see no reason for this contentious approach. Avellone has done exactly ONE setting creation, which is Alpha Protocol. Otherwise, my statement applied to their capacity to understand human pathos. Which btw, has got nothing to do with good writing but rather with interesting storytelling.
     
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  10. Make America Great Again Lambchop19 Arcane Literally Hitler Batshit Crazy

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    But how does he do against wolves?

    :hmmm:
     
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  11. Make America Great Again Black Arcane

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    Is it okay to not hate spirit meter now?
     
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  12. vivec Savant

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    Spirit meter is the ultimate idiot test. Only stupid players hate it. It is one of the most genius mechanics in RTwP games.
     
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  13. Cyberarmy Arcane Patron

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    I've never had problem with it since I mostly play evil bastards who devours everything in his path.
    :evilcodex:
     
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  14. CreamyBlood Arcane

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    That animated gif looks like an evil Louise from Bobs Burgers.
     
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  15. Jedi Exile Arcane Patron

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    I think Avellone also considers himself a designer first and writer second. It is the Codex who perceives him as a guy who only writes character dialogue and can't into anything else.
     
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  16. Make America Great Again Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

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    Feargus too. :P
     
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  17. Make America Great Again Infinitron I post news Patron

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    That's true, MCA wants to be more like Ziets in a sense. But writing character dialogue has been the major part of his career, and he has a unique talent for it that I'm not sure Ziets possesses. The 1st Recon snipers in New Vegas that Ziets wrote were not great (sorry G Ziets, they weren't).

    The Ziets-Avellone distinction is encapsulated in Pillars of Eternity, where it was Chris Avellone who wrote Durance, and George Ziets who designed the concepts of Eora's gods.

    All that said, I think George Ziets hasn't actually made enough games to be completely comfortable generalizing about him. Need to see how Wasteland 3 turns out.
     
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  18. Jaesun Fabulous Moderator Patron

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    Ziets wrote Myrkul's Dialogue in the encounter with him. I can't think of anything off hand that MCA has even achieved that was as exceptionally memorable as that. Though I am probably forgetting something. But that's not to say MCA hasn't written some very great (memorable) characters and lines. But holy shit, that Myrkul dialogue encounter still has not been topped by any game since...
     
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  19. vivec Savant

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    I think the interaction and the content of the idea in the dialogue (a minor throwback to the Bhaalspawn saga) are more impressive than the writing style. However, I would say it is comparable to PST stuff, so quite on par with MCA writing there.
     
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  20. Jaesun Fabulous Moderator Patron

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    Give me an example that is in any way of this well done in PST. PST does have some fucking great moments and dialogue, but not as well executed at this moment is.
     
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  21. FeelTheRads Arcane Patron

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    I don't remember anything from that dialogue or what's supposed to be so memorable about it, except that I was talking to a poorly modeled skull.

    I'd take the Pillar Of Skulls (since we're talking skulls) or Coaxmetal or the fucking TO or many other great parts.
     
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  22. Chaotic_Heretic Magister

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    So last good storyfag game ziets was involved is motb. a decade ago.

    And Chris's last good storyfag game was torment. a little less than two decades ago.

    numanuma and Piles of Mediocrity were extremely lackluster from storyfag point of view.

    I will forever be a sceptic if any of the trokia/ obsidian /inexile crew sing promises of their past glory while asking for money before they manage to deliver some real competence.
     
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  23. Neanderthal Arcane

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    I'd say the whole encounter with Ravel is on par with the Myrkul bit, and quite similar really.
     
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  24. Tao Learned

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    I just played PoE again and Durance was by far the most complex and fascinating NPC (Grieving mother was close too) with a lot of interesting dialogue (well mostly monologue). His "personal quest" shock me even more when the fucker suddenly cry out in realization of her goddess trickery and goes mad on his mind on a personal vendetta. It had been AGES since i read a character with that much deep in a crpg.

    If i'm not wrong and MCA wrote him i think is a great example of his mastery. But then again, as i said before, it was mostly a monologue with my MC ocasional "aha go on", so there is that. Not too much of a one time conversation with multiple choices but a deep character with great lines and development
     
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  25. Nano Learned

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    I take it you haven't played F:NV's Dead Money DLC?
     
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