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Development Info Josh Sawyer on developing games with Universal Character Death

Discussion in 'RPG Codex News & Content Comments' started by Infinitron, Sep 6, 2019.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Tags: Fallout: New Vegas; Josh Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

    Josh Sawyer enjoys flying to Europe each year to attend Game Dev Days, a small game development conference in Graz, Austria. This year his keynote was broadcast live on their Twitch channel. It's about developing games that support "universal character death" - the ability to kill any character - a feature that recent Obsidian RPGs have been known for. Over the course of the 45 minute talk, Josh discusses the challenges of designing main quests that can tolerate the death of critical characters, citing examples from Fallout: New Vegas and Pillars of Eternity II. He notes that this sort of design often results in its own cliches, such as the note with critical information on a dead character's body and characters that are protected by impenetrable glass windows, describes alternative design paradigms including games with no killing at all, and even links the topic to the broader controversy about violence in video games.


    It's a fine talk, but the most interesting part is when Josh offhandedly mentions in the last two minutes that the next game he's working on will be "nonviolent". I wonder what that's about.
     
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  2. Neerasrc Educated

    Neerasrc
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    That's bad news. A new IP? Fable series is non-violent. Possibility of a game like MS's fable series? "nonviolent"

    Or maybe?

    Edit: Thanks to the skyrim mods turned to children's game. I'm referring to him.

     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
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  3. AwesomeButton Cut a deal with the authorities Patron

    AwesomeButton
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    PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    He will finally make the game about the Orthodox Christian icon that changes throughout gameplay?
     
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  4. The Brazilian Slaughter Arcane

    The Brazilian Slaughter
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    Universal Character Death would be less of a problem if trying to go full serial killer on a whole town resulted in the realistic result - a GTA-style rampage that ends with them pretty much dropping an army on you. Of course, that would require a game with good combat, where even a min-maxed late-game character will lose against an entire army's worth of dudes firing arrows/bullets/spells at you, while the close fighters get in to attack you with swords/grappling/tasers/riot shields.
     
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  5. ciox Learned

    ciox
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    Tfw you go from universal character death to no character death ponygames.

    inb4 incline
     
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  6. lukaszek the determinator

    lukaszek
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    I recall morrowind guards being quite strong and whole town was rushing at you at once.
    DOS 1/2 had problem with everyone in town being weak.
    But then if your game is about saving a world and you have strong guards - you end up with oblivion. Basically you scratch your head that you solve problems by entering portals and killing stuff when small group of guards from nearby town would do better job than you. It problem with most plots involving saving world really.

    And then you have best example of all: skyrim. Do you allow dragons to randomly kill half of important npcs before player got a chance to speak with them or do you make city guards able to handle dragon on their own?

    Would be nice if murderhobo route would give you a bad reputation, making next city prepared for your arrival...
     
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  7. Carls Barkley Safav Hamon The Real Fanboy

    Carls Barkley
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    I love the part where he admits to wanting to kill the children in Little Lamplight.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
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  8. The Brazilian Slaughter Arcane

    The Brazilian Slaughter
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    Who didn't want to slaughter these little shits?

    It was like the game threw in our face that children are unkillable, in the worst way possible.
     
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  9. Neerasrc Educated

    Neerasrc
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    Does the age limit refer to [non-violent] +12 games? Or is Josh, Super Lucky's Tale [+7] thinking about rpg? Maybe that's what microsoft wanted. I don't like this news at all.
     
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  10. Bohrain Savant Patron

    Bohrain
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    Making every character killable isn't really worth the effort. There are too many permutations to account for to make the game properly reactive for it and you end up with situations that break the suspension of disbelief just as much as immortal NPC's.
    I'd rather have the devs use that time polish the combat system or have an editor go through the dialogue some more.
     
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  11. ciox Learned

    ciox
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    Pretty much agreed.

    The main use case and player satisfaction offered by the "kill every NPC" system is usually the ability to shut up the most persistent, annoying, tutorializing voice, so just allow that in your game somehow and you should be golden.
     
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  12. ciox Learned

    ciox
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    u
     
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  13. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    DraQ
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    The game only supports universal character death if you can still complete it following TPK.
    Show Spoiler
    :troll:


    With a good character system you should always be at risk of being swarmed and killed if you piss too many enemies.
    Add logistics and maintenance - having to get supplies, rest, repair gear, and pissing off most population (well, remaining population) ensures the party/PC will get worn down, cornered, then slaughtered.

    Shit games make the king unkillable, good games make killing the king unsurvivable in the long run.
     
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  14. AW8 Arcane

    AW8
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    Great talk by Josh.

    Both General Lee Oliver and Legatus Lanius do suffer from lack of build-up since they weren't present in the game before the final battle, but if the alternative is an awkward "Frank Horrigan murders randoms in the desert" cutscene, then I'd rather just have them built up through dialogue with other characters and from Mr. New Vegas on the radio.

    There was probably a way both characters could have been made visible/heard earlier in the Hoover Dam battle at least, through the use of security camera monitors... no wait, I don't think Gamebryo would have liked that at all... through a loudspeaker then.

    I think the same argument could be made for making semi-linear levels linear, and I would disagree on that as well. It does cost a lot of time, but the result is that the player gets much more freedom and the quality of their experience is a lot better.

    Take Jarl Balgruuf in Skyrim. At the start of the game you can walk up to him and smash him in the face, and he gets up no matter what since he plays an important role in the Main Quest, the Civil War quest, a Daedric quest and probably even more quests. There is no way the disbelief of not getting enough reactions for his death is equal to seeing him repeatedly rise like an undead and inform you that you "Never should have come here".

    In Deus Ex: Mankind Divided I tracked a security leak to the group Samizdat who were hiding in the sewers. I knew they were gonna give me 2 side quests, but their agenda was not my mission. So I gunned them all down, upon which Jensen calls HQ and says "Yeah, I plugged the leak". Player freedom, that's what it's all about. Sure, my playthrough got a bit shorter but it was just hilarious to be able to complete the mission that way.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
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  15. deuxhero Arcane

    deuxhero
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    Interesting that Sawyer says he did not work on TOW, not isn't working on it. Implies it went gold before this talk.

    As for his non-violent game, aside from the silly idea he's finally got his high school RPG, maybe it's not in the "real" world or set in an abstracted layer? Uplink isn't exactly violent, but it's hardly a peaceful thing.
     
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  16. Lady Error Arcane Literally Hitler

    Lady Error
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    [​IMG]

    That would be kind of close to a Darklands-inspired game I guess. He didn't say that it will be an RPG, though I cannot imagine Mr. Balance working without stats or at least skills. Unless it is some Microsoft-funded non-RPG for their consoles if Sawyer really wants a break from RPG's for now.
     
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  17. MurkyShadow Glittering gem of hatred Patron

    MurkyShadow
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    Codex 2012 Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong BattleTech
    Josh Sawyer proudly presents:

    My Little Pony - The RPG
    An Obisidian Entertainmant Production

    Obsidian Entertainment is proud to have acquired the rights
    to create a game in this widely beloved franchise. Our previous
    experience with hardcore role-playing games will translate into
    a non-violent experience of choices and consequences like
    none before.

    Voices from the press:
    Rock, Paper, Shotgun
    This might well be the Cyberpunk 2070 of non-violent RPGs.
    To say it without hyperbole - A revolution

    :cool:
     
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  18. Carls Barkley Safav Hamon The Real Fanboy

    Carls Barkley
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    Josh is tired of dealing with screeching autists and wants to spend his final years before retirement working on pleasant games.
     
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  19. Carrion Arcane Patron

    Carrion
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    New Vegas would've been a much lesser game if you weren't able to take out faction leaders and other key characters at any point in the game.
     
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  20. lukaszek the determinator

    lukaszek
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    kill essential character and eat their corpse to learn what to do next. Thats DOS2 way
     
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  21. Shadenuat Arcane

    Shadenuat
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    between 2 games, where in 1 game you cannot kill everyone, but who you can kill can be done in creative way and it actually really matters in the game and makes all kinds of sense in the story, and game 2, where you can kill everyone, but you just find note on corpse/can finish game no problem/nobody sends an army to stop you and you just get helpful message "oh you failed this quest maybe want to reload?" (the 1-eyed npc dude? seriously fuck this shit it's offensive to my brain, sorry), I'd pick game 1.

    players are too powerful in open world RPGs, they need to be put on their place for the good of the players themselves. I don't want to be able to murder whole world or reach 100 in all skills kill everyone and 22 dragons and be crowned the winner. it's absurd.

    if your goal is realism, then realism you should get. not fool proof quests where they pat you on the back and allow to finish it even with killed npc. otherwise whole thing is backwards and is just offensive carebear design and killing is meaningless.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
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  22. GentlemanCthulhu Educated

    GentlemanCthulhu
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    Is there no better mirror of this? Youtube maybe? The stream cuts midway...
     
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  23. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    The point where it cuts is after Josh's talk.

    It'll be uploaded to YouTube at some point but not yet.
     
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  24. GentlemanCthulhu Educated

    GentlemanCthulhu
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    Yeah it's good now. At first the vod jumped middle of his talk but i guess that was just a twitch quirk.
     
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  25. MrBuzzKill Arbiter

    MrBuzzKill
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    [​IMG]
     
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