Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Interview Paradox admit Tyranny sold below expectations, DLC still in the works

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, May 16, 2017.

  1. Taogender: ⚧ Educated

    Tao
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    What an oasis it is the Codex after reading that dumbfuck article in RPS about this game poor sales. Thank you guys

    Game was mediocre, expensive and didn't live to the evil theme in any form of the subject (cartoonish, realistic, historical, filosofical w/e). It was a Bioware game without the house brand and power (and even they flopped with Andromeda). I think it did better than expected.
     
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  2. Make America Great Again Blainegender: ⚧ Cis-Het Oppressor

    Blaine
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    Part of the issue with evil protagonists in cRPGs is that computer games are set in stone. There may be lots of branching dialogue and C&C that's tangibly reflected in the game world, but nonetheless the developers have to write it all, and whatever they write is what the player has to work with.

    That's all very obvious, and it's a problem for a variety of reasons. For one thing, you can't freestyle your evil deeds (aside from brute acts of stealing owned items or killing NPCs), nor can you hatch grandiose nefarious plots unless the game specifically allows for it. One way or another, the developers have to hand you the script. Evil on a personal level lies on the fringes, hidden (or ignored), and works against the apparent rules and desires of society and civilization. It's a much more personal and particular way of being than "goodness," which is the default, expected, and universally accepted way of being. Evil and good are opposites, but they certainly aren't equal opposites. As a minor aside, you can't feel hidden and secret doing your evil deeds when you know the omnipotent computer is watching you... judging you.

    Here we've got a team of developers who almost certainly don't have a single genuine low- or zero-empathy person among them, designing an evil story and a set of game rules for how that should work—for players who overwhelmingly also aren't low- or zero-empathy. At the risk of perpetrating yet another horrible analogy, it's a bit like a lizard trying to describe a bat to a snake.

    Then there's the self-evident reality that the developers don't want to gleefully spin a tale of genuine, unbridled evil, nor would most people actually want to play it. As Delterius suggests, we only get to see true evil in games if it's through the lens of several layers of abstraction, at which point it's impersonal and statistical anyway.

    New Vegas is the perfect example. You have the option to side with Caesar, but Josh and co. make sure to get the point across that the Legion is irredeemably evil and wrong in every way, with singular, very minor lip service paid to the "benefit" of caravans in their territory being a bit safer or something. They exist to be the bad guys, and you can align with them only because the worldbuilding wouldn't make sense if you were passively and artificially prevented from doing so.

    That's another thing: If the game's actual theme is that you get to be the bad guy, then you're not really making a choice to be evil, are you? The game already decided for you.
     
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  3. Morality Gamesgender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

    Morality Games
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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
    There may have been some conveyance issues but I never saw Caesar's Legion as being irredeemably evil or wrong. Josh made them more like the Ancient Romans than people give him credit for, but without any sympathy or romance for their finer accomplishments.

    Remember that the Ancient Romans dipped meek Christians in tar and set them on fire on crosses and torture stakes for the purposes of public entertainment. The 'decimation' practice where people have to execute their compatriots as a punishment for failure is also an accurate representation of what the Ancient Romans were like.

    Romans (like most ancient humans, or currently living humans for that matter) were a pretty sinister bunch, a draconian and militaristic culture shaped by being outcasts and foreigners in a Latin dominated land that was constantly attempting to destroy them -- a similar relationship between the Dorians/Spartans and the other Greeks. However, they channeled their savage impulses into creating the durable and prosperous civilization modern people still admire.

    Caesar's Legion is represented as being much the same thing. Ancient Romans became what they were for the same reason the Spartans or the Aztecs became what they were, they were trying to survive in the hard circumstances of the ancient world. Caesar's Legion are trying to survive in the similarly hard circumstances of the post-apocalyptic world.

    Remember, not everyone in the Fallout universe has a reliable, unpolluted source of potable water. Goodsprings is in the minority.
     
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  4. Make America Great Again Blainegender: ⚧ Cis-Het Oppressor

    Blaine
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    Right, but the trouble is that it's extremely concentrated.

    Your average Roman citizen (or legionary or patrician, for that matter) didn't have an itinerary like this:

    • wake up
    • burn some Christians
    • have breakfast
    • oversee the breaking-in of the new sex slaves
    • do some light reading
    • order the sacking of a helpless city
    • have lunch
    • mock some subhuman barbarians
    • have dinner
    • watch slaves kill each other for sport (okay, maybe this one)
    • bedtime, looking forward to another awesome day tomorrow

    The only time you ever see Caesar's Legion is in the middle of some nefarious deed, and that's pretty much all they do. Part of that is the nature of games and the need for interesting action, but then again it's not really true of any of the other factions.

    The reality is that not a whole lot exciting happens the vast majority of the time, even amongst soldiers on a front, and that includes atrocities and nasty/unpleasant things. Modern people for example believe that ancient and medieval battles happened all the time, when in fact actual large-scale warfare battles were quite rare. Sieges or simple chest-beating were far more common. It doesn't make sense to have your two armies just meet and kill each other real hard unless there's a strategic objective at stake, and usually not even then.
     
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  5. Make America Great Again Rogueygender: ⚧ Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    The people who benefit from the Legion aren't actually a part of it, just protected by it.

     
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  6. Make America Great Again Archibaldgender: ⚧ Arcane

    Archibald
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    I agree with this and I think it perfectly shows why you can't really make crpg with "evil won, do evil things" premise. You need to sink in some hours into the game till you develop some negative feelings towards the world and characters that inhabit it. Then you give option of doing "evil" things and player will genuinely consider doing them. But if you put "evil" things before player has gotten enough time to familiarize himself with the world then he won't really care for them.
     
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  7. Azrael the catgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Azrael the cat
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    Only problem I had with Ceasar's Legion was that it was supposed to be invented by a guy with expertise re ancient history and ancient Rome, not just a random "here's where the maps have the largest boundaries, so that's obviously when Rome was doing great despite being well into economic and scientific decline".

    Rome expanded after the switch to Empire (and even though Octavius put that into play, I'd rate 'true empire' as a 1-2 emperors later - the point where things shifted from 'Emperor who sidesteps the senate due to his influence and army" to "Senate, what's the senate? Oh, you mean that retirement pension program for the rich families where they sit around and roleplay at being politicians?") because it had to. Its economy was collapsing and scientific/engineering improvements had dried up. There was no mystery about it - as a Republic, a smart young go-getter could rise a very long way on the back of pretty much any useful skill there was - science, military, business prowess, bureaucratic management skills. Roman Republicanism gave much of the same incentives as the boom-era of mid-20th century capitalism.

    Once they became an empire, those incentives reversed hard. There's fewer and fewer routes for someone 'outside the club' to advance on merit, and so if you're the local leader and a citizen comes seeking funding for his great new trade enterprise, you'd better tax it into oblivion or straight up kill the fucker. Even benevolent governors did that. One of the most famous examples amongst the historians of the time was that of a guy who invented a massively more efficient plough, together with a Henry Ford-style plan for a production line, allowing massive increase in food production in lower cost. The local governor was a genuinely benevolent fellow who cared about the well-being of his people....and so he did the sensible thing (under the Empire economy) and executed the guy so that he didn't put half the town out of work.

    What does any 'great empire' do when their internal economy goes to shit? Well they don't just throw their hands up and go 'oh well, I mean we've got this awesome army, pity we can't do anything with it'. They transform into an 'expand and plunder' economy.

    That in turn has 2 effects that sped up the decline, even as Roman territory reached its height:

    1. It forced them to switch from a society of local patrons, (with communities who cared about their local marketplace and where the town rich guy donates enough money to the chapel and welfare programs to keep things running, because he lives there and has pride in the town) to a military society where the 'power players' are now moving constantly between regions on military patrol, with no particular loyalty to any one town. Now, in fairness, the East Roman Empire found a way to make that work for another 800 years (and back then, everyone just called them 'the Roman Empire' - the notion that the Roman Empire had 'fallen' in 600AD would get you laughed at. It just moved to Constantinople - it even had a couple of brief eras where it matched the old Empire for territory).

    2. The price of being a 'civilisation' is that your people aren't savages, and they won't go all 'salt the earth' unless faced with an existential threat like Carthage that just won't go away. Plus if you want to make $$$ as a 'conquer and plunder' economy, you don't want to genocide the people you conquer, because you need them to keep working and pay you taxes. So when people talk about the Roman 'idiocy' of letting all these Barbarians into the empire - it's not like they had any choice. They'd been disguising their internal economic collapse by conquering and taxing, and that meant that their borders contained increasing numbers of people from cultures further and further away.


    Ok, that's all nerdy crap that I don't expect to see in a game. But if you want me take Ceasar seriously, at least make him someone who doesn't know much about Roman history, has fucked it up by going the Empire model instead of the Roman Republic, but is clever and his inner circle is open to quietly learning from their mistakes. Give the player 2 Legion endings - one being the 'evil' ending, and the other being a 'Roman Republic' ending where they're just as brutal, but are showing signs of maybe developing into a civilisation that suits the times.
     
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  8. Tigranesgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Tigranes
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    All that is very true, Azrael, re. the actual Rome - but you can clearly see that Caesar wouldn't have read Gibbon et al and thought 'I'm going to recreate the Roman Empire'? Maybe I'm giving him/Josh too much credit. Either Caesar is a stupid cargo-cultist, just hoping to recreate the effects of Rome by dressing up like Rome, or Caesar is clever enough to understand that he's not exactly going to be able to reproduce the conditions of Rome's rise out of a bunch of post-apocalyptic tribals. Either way, the result is - I think he was an opportunist and a pragmatist above all, not some crazy Renaissance re-enactor. I think he looked at the tribals he was sent out to have a look at, and thought about what's the best they can be and what's the most he can get out of this, and went to work. I don't think Caesar himself expects that this is the foundation of a thousand-year empire (he doesn't even have any plan of succession, despite his bodily ailments). I think he was just looking to use and abuse aspects of the Roman empire in a pastiche fashion, than expecting to recreate what made Rome great - and so accusing him/Josh of being inaccurate is sort of like saying Madonna's Cleopatra set props are too gaudy.

    Again, maybe I'm just giving the game too much credit, but that's always been my sense as I played. This is actually a group that is much closer to a typical hardass brutal post-apocalyptic iron fist charismatic despotism on a roll, not some kind of Rome v2, but Caesar found it an extremely convenient mechanism to unite the various squabbling tribes and to send a message of fear to his enemies.
     
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