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Colony Ship Early Access Release Thread

Discussion in 'Iron Tower Studio' started by Infinitron, Apr 6, 2021.

  1. Savecummer Latest Doxxer Account Edgy

    Unwanted
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    I love shitting on stuff from 100% cover!
    >feels good :smug:
     
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  2. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    California
    Normally, I would just say "there's no disputing matters of taste" and agree to disagree. But my only reason for participating in this thread (other than to promote CSG and its developer) is to proselytize not on how to consume RPG writing (as to which, who am I to lecture? enjoy what you will, as you will) but on how to produce it. I care about the latter because the Codex incubates producers of RPG writing, and since I might myself someday consume their works, I have a vested interest in the approach they take.

    So, with that in mind:

    (1) "You" in game text doesn't mean the player, it means the player character. The idea that a game should not tell you what your character thinks or feels is wrong. Anything but the most basic descriptive terms makes assumptions and impositions about what the PC knows. "The dining room is about 30 feet long" assumes the PC knows what a dining room is and can eyeball distances. Obviously, "You feel more afraid than the time your dog was caught in a bear trap" assumes much more. But they are both making assumptions. The important thing is not to assume or dictate things that conflict with options that the player has in game. If you say, "YOU ARE TOTALLY TERRIFIED!" but then let the PC waltz into the room, the problem is not that the first assumed/imposed; the problem is that the game writer behaved like a parent who tells his kid to do something but doesn't enforce it. Thus, it is fine to say: "You recognize this place: it's the Armory," even though the player doesn't recognize it at all, and even though the player has never seen the PC see the Armory before. But it is not fine to say: "You recognize this place: it's the Armory," and then give a dialogue option, "What is this place?"

    (2) The reason why "show don't tell" (and its cousin "don't tell the player what his character knows/thinks/feels") is not good advice with game writing is that the player's engagement is limited. Even in text adventures, the player isn't playing primarily to read, but to play. The baseline expectation should be that when you ask the player to read (or watch) something, you are doing so because it is necessary to furnish some game play. If I have some clever turn of phrase or awesome animation, it's fine to include that too -- players can enjoy such things apart from the gameplay. But if the phrase isn't clever and the animation isn't cool, then letting it get in the way of playing the game is counterproductive.

    (3) CSG is a game in which kill count is a tracked stat that people in the world know about. Thus, letting the player know that an NPC has a high kill count is consistent with the ruleset and potentially an important piece of information. If I want to let the player know about an NPC's kill count, I could do it by putting the kill count beneath the portrait (a bit much, probably), or with some description. "From one look at him, you know he has killed a lot of people" isn't meant to engage the player. It is purely a data-delivery vehicle so that the real engagement (deciding what to do with the NPC given his kill count) is informed. I could add another layer of prose between the player and the kill count. "Even though the man is wearing armor over most of his body, you can still count six scars -- from at least five kinds of weapons. If he has bothered looking you over in turn, he gives no sign of it. 'What?' he grunts by way of greeting." Now I'm asking the player for some engagement (read what I wrote, process what it's meant to indicate). That might be appropriate if I want the player to really connect with this NPC. But it's not the right move if all I'm trying to do is set up an encounter where you're deciding what to do with a dangerous guard.

    (4) I don't want to suggest that purely functional text that lacks any mood or verve is "best" or even good. In some instances, mood-setting is essential because the way the player experiences the moments of engagement depends a lot on mood. ("You meet a bad guy. He has an innocent NPC hostage! What do you do!" is a less meaningful experience than one in which the player actually feels something "innocent NPC.")

    The issue isn't adding psychological depth; the issue is avoiding the distraction to the player. You go into a room and there is a spot on the wall where there is a rectangular spot where the paint is lighter because the painting has been removed. The absence of the painting has not eliminated the distraction caused by the painting; it may even have enhanced the distraction. CSG makes a point of starting by telling the player some background details about the PC, enough to raise questions that the game then doesn't answer. And then some of the subsequent interactions seem to contradict the idea of the PC as someone who has lived and worked in the Pit for years and years, which then causes the player's mind to circle back to the pale spot on the wall. Honestly, it would be enough to start with:

    "No real friends, no real family, no real job. Wake up, scavenge what you can, sell it for what you can, drink what you can, try not to get shot, and call it a day. For you, and most of the folks in the Pit, there's not much more to life than that. But today... today, Tanner's left you a note saying he's got a special job for you. Something big. Something different."

    The idea wouldn't be to make the player sob about the PC's sad life, but just to say, "There's literally nothing to see looking back.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
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  3. Parabalus Arcane

    Parabalus
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    The system feels far more metagamey than AoD, this learn-by-doing stuff makes it way worse.

    Instead of spending SP to pass a check you backtrack through areas to get them, and every encounter feels like a puzzle to solve to squeeze out the maximum.
    Often I'd rather kill everyone right off, but there is XP to be gained by talking first (not even speech XP), so you feel happy when you find a way to ultimately fail the dialogue checks after getting what you can.
     
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  4. razvedchiki Liturgist Sad Loser

    razvedchiki
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    Location:
    on the back of a T34.
    so what?
     
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  5. LudensCogitet Learned

    LudensCogitet
    Joined:
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    One of my first reactions to Braxton asking me, essentially, to help overthrow Jonas was something like "woah, this is moving really fast. Why would I do this, why wouldn't I do this?"

    I didn't have context to inform my character's choice. Later, I considered that my character must have been living here his whole life, and maybe this was a critical moment, finally an opportunity to do something, change something, or refuse to engage. But I had to fill that in myself.

    Even the little bit you suggest would have avoided that sense of being adrift. It implies an answer to the question: why does the story of this game begin at this moment?

    Fallout 1, for example, has a very clear answer to that question.
     
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  6. MF The Boar Studio Patron Developer

    MF
    Joined:
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    Location:
    Amsterdam
    If Evans is with you, you can bond over being hopeless rejects who decide to cling to anything that looks like it could spark up their dim existence a bit. If I hadn't gotten that bit of dialogue, I think I would have shared your sentiment.
     
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  7. Luckmann Arcane Zionist Agent

    Luckmann
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    Scandinavia
    No, I hadn't traveled to any other area. It had nothing to do with spoiling anything, but was simply the result of me doing things in an order that made sense to me, and the Jonas/Baxter conflict was the last thing I was going to do before going to the next area - presumably by taking the elevator but I have no idea, honestly, since I never got to it.
    The fact that you couldn't raise this with Jonas really irked me. It was one of those "narrative nonsensicals" that I mentioned. If you don't kill the goons supposedly sent by Jonas, the goons will leave and immediately get killed by Baxter and two of his regulators (...but there will be no corpses for some reason). At that point, when you talk to Baxter, if you're intelligent enough (I think.. 8?), you can call Baxter on it. Baxter will then straight-up confess and tell you that he set the whole thing up so as to rally support for ousting Jonas.

    At that point, what I wanted to do was to tell Baxter to fuck the fuck off, but what was worse was that when I finally got around to meet Jonas, the entire dialogue seemed to gravitate around his assumption that I was somehow allied with Baxter, which was a bit jarring since I couldn't question even why he assumed that, let alone raise the fact that Baxter straight-up told me that he set it up himself, somehow.

    I dunno, it was weird.
    I didn't feel like I had a grasp of what was going on until I met Jonas, the introduction of which explains his function in the background and contextualizes the conflict a bit more. I think it would be very helpful if you were somehow sent to Jonas *first*, maybe right after meeting the guy that gives you the main quest, even if it's just an infinitesimally minor fetch-quest from the bar and into the saloon, before being sent to Evan.

    It would help give a more "A to B" historical review of events, just by the fact that you will have encountered the introductory blurb to Jonas, and this will make the appearance of Baxter more meaningful. My history professor would have balked at such a pedestrian explanation of historical events, but for narrative purposes, it really does help, since we are beasts of linear timekeeping.
     
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  8. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

    Vault Dweller
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    Why he assumed that should be obvious, you were there and there's a good chance you're working for Braxton. As for Jonas, you have 3 options to start the conversation with him, so you aren't railroaded into blindly accusing him.

    - You crossed the line. (you're accusing Jonas, either believing Braxton or acting as his agent)
    - I'd like to hear your side of the story first (neutral option)
    - Hold your horses, Jonas. I don't know what you've heard, but I'm here to warn you that Braxton is stirring up some shit. (either you passed that check with Braxton or decided against siding with him)
     
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  9. Drowed Arcane

    Drowed
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    Core City
    We do have games with vague background. And obviously, you are not creating a story as in PST and that is not my argument. My point is that in games where the game does not offer a big background, it makes up for this with a great motivation - the famous call-to-action. These storytelling tools do not exist by chance. As in the Fallout examples, you don't know details about your character, but usually you know enough to justify the main hook for the game's story. You have implicit reasons to care about what you are doing. Why don't you just leave the Vault (or village) and go live in the wasteland, fuck everyone there? Because your character cares about his place of origin and you can infer this from the context of the situation. You can even claim that Fallout didn't do this perfectly, and would I agree, but some justification for caring is more than no justification at all. Well, maybe not in the case of Fallout 3/4, but still.

    In AOD and CSG you simply take a job, and jump from one job to another one. What is... Fine, I guess, but you could have provided opportunities for your character to express opinions during the game itself about the factions before dealing with them. The early game "CYOA" is an attempt to set some basic motivations for your character, but this is usually much more powerful when it can be done in the game itself. In a way, it reminds me of Tyranny: the events and choices you make early in that game seem like things that would be much more interesting to play than to read about. Why did I have to read about the interesting things I did in the past? I wish I had actively done them in the game, chosen them and participated in them. Likewise, from a story-building standpoint, it is important that you give the player the opportunity to form an opinion about the locations, NPCs and events before he has to deal with the events themselves. When you are put on the spot and told, "CHOOSE A OR B" but you haven't even had a chance to learn more about A or B and other people's opinions about it, that choice may even have consequences, but to you it was meaningless. You weren't weighing options, you just took one.

    But for me, the most glaring situation is Faythe's case. As a companion, and given that companions in your new game have their own personalities and are not simply generic characters, there was a whole setup for her quest. Even more so than PC, she was undoubtedly a character who could have a long arc, exploring her views throughout the game. (And it didn't have to be anything dramatic, it could be quick conversations here or there, in situations where the commentary would flow naturally.) If instead of the solution to this quest being immediate, this was something that wasn't going to happen until the middle or near the end of the game, you could have several moments foreshadowing how she would act when finally reaching her goal. She might join your party because you had access to areas of the ship that she for some reason did not, so it would be a give-and-take: she would help you with your jobs and in return you would be her passport to getting her revenge. And in that building of a character arc is where you give some depth to them. But her whole arc is literally resolved in the next 10 minutes, and I assume (and may be wrong) that the same will happen with the other NPCs.

    The only place a character's depth can come from is his motivations. And his motivations can only be explained or justified by his experiences, or his past. That's why to move a character convincingly, you either create a compelling and interesting background, or you create an impactful event in the narrative to give a great motivation - a great goal, something he wants very much to achieve. If he has neither... He has nothing. He is a cement block that is being carried by events. Obviously interesting events and a creative setting are already great motivators to follow a story (as is the case with AOD and, I believe, will be the case with CSG). No doubt these are merits of both games, but we are not talking here about what the game does very well, but what it could have done differently.
     
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  10. Whisper Arcane Vatnik

    Whisper
    Joined:
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    You didnt answer Nerd Commando main points: Why you hate Christianity and why in your game it is more profitable to be egoistic hero who cheats people and steal from them.

    Did you even watch his last video?
     
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  11. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

    Vault Dweller
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    Yeah, you drew the short straw. They sent you out and refused to let you back in (if you try to go back right away). Pure poetry.

    What about your family? Siblings? Friends? Lovers? The game is silent because it's not relevant to the story.

    Or because the main quest is about finding the water chip and you have a timer to remind you about it.

    Like I said earlier, writing and especially scripting take time. There's a reason why in games like Pillars or KOTOR party members are given to different writers. I can spend two weeks writing and scripting a slow arc but this time will reduce time allocated to other tasks. Anyway, her quest and the reason to have her in the party are in the Mission Control ruins.

    I don't.

    It's a stupid question.

    I'm too busy to watch 3-hour long videos.

    There are plenty of people who like the game. We can focus on their feedback and on making the game better for them or we can focus on making the game better for that one guy who hates pretty much everything about it. Tough choice.
     
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  12. Whisper Arcane Vatnik

    Whisper
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    p.s. I like AoD and Colony ship writing. I never skipped it, even wishing for more text. Something i rarely want usually.
     
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  13. Elhoim Iron Tower Studio Developer

    Elhoim
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    Location:
    San Isidro, Argentina
    That's an issue we are working on, and it's more about the implementation of the checks rather than system per se. AoD was even as much metagamey there with the stealing that gave civic SP.

    I don't get exactly what XP in particular you are talking about. I guess you mean the electronics/computers in Sharpface? It's an odd one, and not critical. I wouldn't even give XP in that case, since it's more of a knowledge check, but we currently have an editor limitation there.

    In any case, here's what I said last time about trying to game the dialogue via talk then fight:

    - Chains have the same amount of nodes, maybe for a few exceptions.
    - If you don't tags the speech skills, there's only so far you can get with this method.
    - Failing the checks gives an initiative penalty in combat.
    - Succeeding the checks give extra speech XP.
    - Attacking before the checks gives an initiative bonus and a bonus feat when used many times.
    - You don't get diplomacy reputation, which would close quest paths later on in the game regarding speech.

    Basically, you are free to do that, but it's definitely not a clear cut optimal way to play.
     
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  14. Parabalus Arcane

    Parabalus
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2015
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    10,510
    That's the one.

    So it's extra XP gated behind harder combat, which is fine mechanically.

    In the current chapter doing this even without tagged speech skills is enough to get to pass speech checks, dunno what the hardest are but it's enough for e.g. Mercy. Also found it useful to get Jed early.

    Where's this detailed?

    These reps should have more feedback in the dialogue window or log.

    E.g. Mercy, how is rep split if I do 2 successful checks before the 'kill 'em all'? Is it affected at all? If not, why wouldn't I?
    You have no idea beforehand that there won't be any useful skills hidden in the dialogue, or what will even happen in the scene.
     
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  15. Savecummer Latest Doxxer Account Edgy

    Unwanted
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    Mar 6, 2021
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    They find the dungeons large, could be a place to save company resources, cut a level. And maybe even remove the "traps"
    [​IMG]
    MRY , did you get an advanced build?

    This guy here :lol:
    [​IMG]
     
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  16. lukaszek the determinator Patron

    lukaszek
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    Jan 15, 2015
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    how many bonus feats are there and what are they?
     
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  17. Pink Eye Monk Patron

    Pink Eye
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2019
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    3,924
    Location:
    Shattered Island
    Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Eight melee runs later and I still can't get enough of it. So fucking good.
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]

    I just like the animations, man. They're so satisfying. The melee animations for attacking and dodging, are awesome!
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2021
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  18. Savecummer Latest Doxxer Account Edgy

    Unwanted
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    in the first build that got released that i extracted, there were only the known neuro, thief/assassin and init (init gives like +20 init if i remember correctly)
    (i dont remeber regulator being in the feats folder... bonus feats are named differntly, they stand out)

    there were also files for implant upgrades but they dont seem to be in the game
    squad leader, i think, had 2 paths, mil police and riot something? one of them gave like +5 acc to companions and something else
     
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  19. lukaszek the determinator Patron

    lukaszek
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    thief/assassin is companion exclusive, neuro is from quest, then I guess its about init, also fits the theme
     
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  20. Parabalus Arcane

    Parabalus
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    10,510
    You only get the option to sneak into Mercy's fort if you fail your speech checks - there needs to be an option of leaving the negotiation manually. Or deciding to do that from the get-go.
     
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  21. Efe Liturgist

    Efe
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    Dec 27, 2015
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    2,102
    so if i was acting tough against fayth she would get assassin instead of thief?

    how am i supposed to get good at killing if game doesnt allow me to kill civillians?
     
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  22. Jaedar Arcane Patron

    Jaedar
    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Messages:
    6,925
    Project: Eternity Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    This is just VDs/Iron towers philosophy. And in some sense it makes sense: RPG protagonist aren't the kind of people who stick around to suffer the consequences of being known as an unreliable actor and a crook, or gain the benefits of being known as upstanding.

    I think it is a refreshing change from most RPGs where being the good guy is the correct choice unless you like to cackle maniacally while stroking cats.
     
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  23. lukaszek the determinator Patron

    lukaszek
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2015
    Messages:
    8,485
    my melee character cant access melee vendor since starting
    [​IMG]

    thought there is some flag but my other character with same stats but pistols instead was able to access stock from start. Here is my save
    https://1drv.ms/u/s!AtR_aYYk-ORHi9QrynFlqFKsCZ1WfA?e=sfcNHo


    EDIT:
    also, bullfrogs attacks are not real attacks? Logs show them weirdly, you never react to misses, im not sure evasion is doing much and so on
     
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  24. lukaszek the determinator Patron

    lukaszek
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2015
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    anyone else was doing solo pistolero run and run out of bullets? Merchants are not restocking...
     
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  25. Technomancer Learned

    Technomancer
    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2018
    Messages:
    584
    Kinda happens in the game like that sometimes. Like you can talk with Samuel and from dialogue, it becomes clear that player character and Samuel know each other or at least are acquainted, not surprising, both living in the same "city" and player having a scav background. Yet when Braxton asks PC to kill Samuel, your character suffers sudden amnesia fit and can ask who is Samuel? Obviously, it is there for players who don't pay attention or never met him but still.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2021
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