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Game News Realms Beyond Kickstarter Update #6: Itemization

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Oct 29, 2018.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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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 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Tags: Ceres Games; Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen

    One thing that any contender for the title of ultimate oldschool RPG must have is excellent itemization. That's the topic of the latest Realms Beyond Kickstarter update, which gives us a taste of the game's itemization by introducing four different high-powered magical artifacts. Some artifacts will have to be assembled, while others will be cursed or provide both advantages and disadvantages. And of course, all items in the game will be hand-placed. I'll quote the text of the update here, but be sure to check out the full thing for images of each artifact's in-game description.

    In the grand library of Galkarru, you’ve read a story about an ancient city in the middle of the desert, situated near a fertile oasis. It was once a prosperous city of tall minarets and flowering gardens, ruled by a proud sultan who decreed that everything within his city’s walls belonged to him and him alone. When he saw a priestess of Aliltu who visited the city, he was struck by her beauty and wanted to have her, so he instructed his men to take her to his palace. But when she was brought before him and realized he wanted to make her a part of his harem, she cursed the sultan and his city: she doomed all who lived in the palace to live eternal lives, their bodies preserved at this moment in time, no longer aging – and unable to leave the palace grounds. The rest of the city she cursed to turn into scorpions, as they were as deceitful as scorpions, first showing her hospitality then allowing the sultan to take her as if she were his property. And so, the legend says, the dreaded scorpion people came into the world.

    The story also describes the sultan’s scepter: a precious thing, made of gold and silver and a dozen jewels, and enchanted with powerful spells that enhance the wielder’s beauty and grant him a presence inspiring to all who are near him. The story is widely believed to be a legend, the city a mere symbol and warning of what happens to those of great arrogance. And yet, you set out to search for it. And there, deep within the territory of the scorpion people, you find the ruins of an ancient city partially buried by the sand. When you enter the palace, you are attacked by armed guards, nimble harem dancers, and the sultan himself – their souls driven mad by centuries of being cursed to stay within the palace. You fight them off, your blades granting them the sweet release of death, and when you examine the body of the sultan – there, in his hand, is the legendary scepter, just as it had been described in the story.

    The magic items you can find in Realms Beyond are all unique, hand-crafted, and rooted in the world’s history. You won’t find randomized loot in your dungeon crawling adventures – everything is placed by our level designers. When you read about legendary ancient artifacts in the history books of Argea, it’s quite likely that they can be found somewhere in the world. But finding them is not always easy.

    Time hasn’t been kind to some artifacts of the past. They were damaged in battle or by greedy looters and are now broken into several parts, and a player who wishes to make use of their power must first repair them. Two such examples are the Sandals of Queen Mirvala and the Singing Spear.

    The Singing Spear was wielded by the legendary Pyrrhenian hero Lachides, who used it to slay the treacherous dragon-snake Lathraios. All who had attempted to slay it before him fell into its traps, for it was a cunning and stealthy creature, but the Singing Spear warned Lachides with its voice when Lathraios came upon him from behind, and he turned around and thrust his spear deep into the creature’s heart. In a later episode of Lachides’ adventures, he got into a fight with the hero Antikles, who hew the blade of the Singing Spear from its shaft with a quick strike of his sword.

    Not much is known about what happened to the broken spear afterwards, but several contradictory tales are told by Pyrrhenian storytellers. Only one thing is common to these tales: the shaft and the blade went on different ways, going through many hands over the course of the centuries, and were never reunited. And indeed, the player will find blade and shaft at two different locations, far away from each other. Once both parts are found, the spear can be repaired by a skilled craftsman, but if the player has only one of the parts in his possession, he can use the shaft as a staff or the blade as a dagger.

    Queen Mirvala’s Sandals are a pair of enchanted sandals once worn by the legendary sorceress-queen of the lost civilization of Virduris. Six gleaming jewels were set into them, each one imbued with a different enchantment – turning them into one of the most powerful pieces of equipment in the entire game. But while the sandals themselves are quite easy to find, still worn by the ancient queen’s magically preserved corpse, they are missing the enchanted jewels that turn them into such a powerful item. Mirvala’s tomb had been looted by graverobbers long ago, who pried out the gleaming jewels and left the leather sandals on her corpse. Tracking them all down won’t be easy, but it will be a worthwhile and rewarding quest. With each jewel you set back into the sandals, they gain an additional enchantment.

    But not all enchantments are beneficial. Some magic items are cursed with negative effects and can only be taken off with a remove curse spell. Others might have two natures, with both positive and negative effects in their enchantment. One such artifact is The Burden of Knowledge, a crown once crafted by a sorceress to remind herself of the weight and responsibility her knowledge carried with it.

    With unique items like these, varied in their effects and rooted in Argea’s history, the exploration in Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen feels exciting and rewarding. Some of the more powerful artifacts even require the player to hunt down multiple pieces and have them reassembled – epic quests that might last from the beginning to the end of the game.

    Of course, not only the items are hand-crafted with an attention to detail. The dungeons are all designed by hand, too, as are the enemy encounters. No random encounters, no procedural generation, no level scaling. Everything is built by the hands and minds of our writers and level designers, as human creativity is able to create more interesting content than computer algorithms ever could.
    Great stuff. This update was so cool that it appears to have inspired Josh Sawyer to bump his pledge up to €1,000. The campaign is 65% of the way to its funding goal now. Another week or so and we'll be there.
     
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  2. deuxhero Arcane

    deuxhero
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    But will you be able to custom order items from NPCs who craft items in the world instead of bouncing around hoping one merchant is selling the item you're looking for (but they could all make)?

    Also what about the other end: Are +1 weapons just "+1 Longsword"? Is there any embellishment ("This finely made longsword bears the maker's mark of Clan Ulfberht")
     
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  3. thesheeep Arcane

    thesheeep
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    Meh. I wouldn't count on that.
    So far, procedural generation managed to come up with both more interesting and more boring content than manual creation did.
    Really depends on the kind of game (and the quality of the generator).

    This is just procedural bashing for the sake of procedural bashing.
    Nothing will change the fact that manual creation will always result in me playing through the exact same levels on each playthrough. The only thing changing will be my character. So I'll probably play through the game with two different characters, but then I'll be done with it because I have seen all there is to see (or close enough, anyway). Further playthroughs would end up too repetitive to really enjoy.
    A problem procedural generation does not have. You stop enjoying procedurally generated content when you are done enjoying the underlying game mechanics - or if the generation sucks, of course (but it's not like manually generated levels can't suck).

    Of course, two playthroughs can easily be 50-100 hours or more, so that's definitely good enough for the money.
    But saying that either procedural or manual generation is inherently better at creating interesting content shows a lack of insight.

    The "no random encounters" part I do not get. What's the problem with random encounters? I always liked them if they were not too often (*cough* Arcanum *cough*).

    No level scaling is of course a good thing.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018
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  4. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Tigranes
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    It's surprising how a completely bog standard fantasy unique weapon, with the kind of blurb you could easily find in any Infinity Engine game, becomes so much more persuasive when you put it into Greek mythology trappings.
     
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  5. FeelTheRads Arcane Patron

    FeelTheRads
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    Well, they have enemies displayed on the map walking around, maybe that's what it means.
     
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  6. Feyd Rautha Cipher Patron

    Feyd Rautha
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    That's great! They'll get both the 1000€ and some free design work of him:

    :balance:
     
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  7. cherry blossom Arcane

    cherry blossom
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    I think Obsidian employees' contracts forbid them from contributing any design to projects outside Obsidian without an agreement between the companies, so RB should be safe from Sawyer's influence. Chris Avellone correct if I'm wrong and also while at it, why not take a look at the game and share your impressions?
     
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  8. CyberWhale Arcane

    CyberWhale
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    Paying money to the developer so you can design their game.

    :troll:
     
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  9. Thonius Arbiter

    Thonius
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    One slot for ring. No belt slot? What the heck?
     
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  10. thesheeep Arcane

    thesheeep
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    I'm sure you can equip the ring close to where a belt would be. :smug:
     
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  11. deuxhero Arcane

    deuxhero
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    They say in the comments Arcanum was inspiration for the itemization. Not sure that's a good example. Most of Arcanum's loot was close enough to random (it used your character name as a seed instead of a random number, but it's close enough to random for non-speed runners) and unlike Morrowind (where containers had random items but everything else was handplaced) the unique (or even handplaced) items that are found (not quest rewards) were incredibly rare.
     
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  12. cherry blossom Arcane

    cherry blossom
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    What part made you uncomfortable, Infinitron? You think Sawyer could just up and contribute to the design of another developer, unless anonymously? Does everything that Chris has shared about the inner workings of Obsidian not point towards that?
     
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  13. SausageInYourFace Arcane Patron

    SausageInYourFace
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    I really don't feel like reading some fake historical essays about items in my RPGs anymore, it one of the most stale kind of loredumps. It doesn't bother me too much cause its easily ignored. However, I feel that if the goal is to give depth to the game world or make players excited for certain items, rather than dropping a big non-contextualized blurp in the item description, its much better to integrate that information into the game world, for instance by NPCs telling you about the items.
     
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  14. Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Arbiter

    Tuco Benedicto Pacifico
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    I feel the exact opposite. If the "lore exposition" about a weapon can be easily ignored, then I don't genuinely give a shit about it.
    When the story of the weapon is presented to the player succinctly (PLEASE) and it actually offers hints on where to track it down or how to solve some puzzle, then it's more than welcomed.

    I'm growing a bit tired of loredumps that serve literally no purpose, especially since they usually aren't that exciting to read "for immersion" either and way too complacent with being gratuitously verbose.
     
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  15. Waterd Scholar

    Waterd
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    Wow I wa backing them up but now I'm reading this im canceling. I want a GAME, not a puzzle. This means once you play it once you pretty much can throw all you learned for nothing. It's a shame with all the good features they missed on the most important of them all.
     
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  16. Waterd Scholar

    Waterd
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    I was pretty sure they would have randomly generated content, finding out they won't have that, it's really dissapointing. They coudl have with the systems they plan a great PArty combat based rouge like (kind of like Xcom and battle brothers) which is what i thought they were setting up. finding out they are just creating a puzzle that once you play it you should drop it, is dissapointing. Ive been waiting forever for someone to do a party rougelike like battle brotehrs and xcom , with combat like darskun and knights of the chalice.
     
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  17. Strange Fellow Cold Patron

    Strange Fellow
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    Try Low Magic Age, it's exactly what you describe, if what you really want is D&D combat + Battle Brothers. It gets stale quick in its current iteration, but it's pretty addictive up until that point.
     
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  18. Waterd Scholar

    Waterd
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    thanks i will give it a shot.
     
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  19. Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Arbiter

    Tuco Benedicto Pacifico
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    Jesus Christ. You are making me wish I could send backhand slaps through TCP/IP protocol.

    And learn to spell "rogue". Or "disappointing".
    For fuck's sake.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
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  20. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
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    Well hey, I've been disappointed regularly in the past couple of years when seeing a new game announcement with good graphics, cool systems, interesting gameplay... and then finding out its content is procedurally generated. Or browsing my discovery queue on Steam, seeing a game that looks really good, and finding out its content is procedurally generated.

    I remember being intrigued by that retro FPS game Strafe. They claimed it was inspired by Doom and Quake and Unreal, so I was expecting good level design, but nope. Procedurally generated levels. Not even the FPS genre, which has always been about good level design, is safe from the fad of procedural generation. Which is one of the most annoying fads in gaming history since it inevitably leads to games that, even though the gameplay is interesting, end up becoming bland and repetitive a few hours in because the content lacks the quality of hand-made levels and encounters. It all just feels samey and boring because there's no thought put behind the design of the content. Just random algorithms.

    Having hand placed instead of random content was a core principle of Realms Beyond from the very start. Imagine Fallout, Arcanum, Planescape Torment, Baldur's Gate 2 had been entirely procedual. Or, heck, the old Gold Box games. Or Might and Magics. Or Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder, Legend of Grimrock.

    Procedural generation is terrible. Give me actual good content over bland and boring random generation any day.

    Also, Realms Beyond will have something much better than a procedural generator, anyway: level design tools that allow modders to create new scenarios and campaigns. Potentially infinite content depending on the size of the modding community (the NWN and even the FRUA communities still shit out new modules to this day), and it's actual good content made by humans rather than procedurally algorithm-generated bland crap.

    Procedural generation is a stupid fad that I hope becomes less popular soon. Bring back actual level design instead of random crap.
     
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  21. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
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    Just like every single game with procedural content ever.
     
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  22. vazha Savant

    vazha
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    Honestly Infinite Engine blurbs are way better than this here. English is my fourth language and when even I can see its an uninspired, lifeless dump of text then maybe some things really could do with a change.
     
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  23. Haba Harbinger of Decline Patron

    Haba
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    I it really, really fucking bad idea to do massive lore dumps on items.

    If you do that, your stuff really has to be unique in some way. It is just a fucking spear man, a spear some dude used to kill some other dude and then it broke down.

    Save the lore dumps for stuff that you can make special. And that has to be reflected in the gameplay.

    Nothing is more disheartening than to think that someone has invested all that effort into something you'll dump the moment you find an upgraded sword with +2 enchantment.
     
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  24. Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Arbiter

    Tuco Benedicto Pacifico
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    Once again, "lore dumps" that are few lines long at most and actually give the player useful information in-game are absolutely fine in my book (then we can start arguing about the quality of the writing on a case-by-case basis, but that's beyond the point and honestly not that important).
    I don't see anything "massive" here.

    Lore expositions that serve no purpose, just to flaunt what creative and talented writers you have in your development team? I can honestly do without, especially because the result usually is not as interesting as devs seem to think it is.
     
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  25. Haba Harbinger of Decline Patron

    Haba
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    In some cases item descriptions can introduce the setting too, like in cyberpunk or something like Planescape. I'm fine with that.

    Better to read it from the items than to get it dispensed by the NPCs.
     
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