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Editorial Freelancer: An RPG?

Discussion in 'News & Content Feedback' started by Deathy, Oct 29, 2002.

  1. Deathy Liturgist

    Deathy
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    Tags: Microsoft Game Studios

    In this editorial, Deathy discusses whether Freelancer should be labelled as an RPG or not.
     
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  2. DarkUnderlord Professional Throne Sitter

    DarkUnderlord
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    That's all the site says about the game actually. The rest is:
    * Title in development, system requirements pending
    * There is no trial version available for this game.
    * This game is currently in development and cannot be purchased.
    * Currently, no enhancements available for FreeLancerâ„¢.

    I'm a little intrigued about how the ships will be flown actually.
    I prefer the freespace style, directly in control way for most small ships. For a bigger battleship or dreadnought or something, a control panel; giving the feeling of being in command and giving orders, sounds good.

    To the point though. The definition of an RPG is interesting. The quote I use (from Time magazine I think it was, I could be wrong) is:
    By that definition, Freelancer isn't an RPG. You aren't developing your character so much and the only options seem to be to outrun the bad guys or shoot the bad guys. It doesn't seem to be an option to talk your way out of a situation.

    The emphasis seems to be more on shooting things, making money and is more of an open-ended "The Sims" like environment, where nothing much matters except pissing and eating, or in this case, shooting and running. True, most "RPG's" tend to be the same, offering not much more than killing or fleeing, but talking is at least in there. I'm not too certain on how dialogue will be handled in this game.

    While Freelancer might be quite en enjoyable game, to me, it seems nothing more than what Cutthroats is. An enjoyable, open-ended game where you loot, run, attack, kill and dock at port (provided the damn thing doesn't crash on you due to all the bugs though). So I wouldn't consider it an RPG as such. Certainly not in terms of the way I consider Arcanum or Fallout to be RPGs.

    Just to add to this. Doing a google on "What is an RPG?" turns up quite a bit of interesting reading. Here's one I like:
    That's from: http://www.mpog.com/feature/roleplaying/

    My point is, how much interaction with the world will there be in Freelancer? True, the missions are based on events you do, but other than that? If the mission generator manages to pull this off quite well, it would be a good game. On the other hand, it could be FUBAR with missions showing little relevance to the game world.

    Agree/disagree/haul me out the back and shoot me?
     
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  3. Spazmo Erudite

    Spazmo
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    I kind of lost interest in Freelancer as soon as I found out it wasn't going to use a traditional joystick control setup. I'm aching for a good space flight sim. Perhaps I've been spoiled by FreeSpace...
     
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  4. Deathy Liturgist

    Deathy
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    I agree. Control of a fighter or shuttle style ship is best handled directly, as weapons are usually forward mounted, and it's pretty much point and shoot.
    However, when gun turrets come into play (Corvettes, medium to heavy transports), you need a control system that controls the entire ship, instead of just piloting it. Now, I may be wrong, but I understand that there is/was a feature that allowed you to take direct control of piloting the ship.

    In a space trading sim, the only outlet that a character really has is his ship. As you develop the ship, you develop the character.
    I'm not entirely sure how NPC interaction is handled, and I sent off some interview questions a while back. Still waiting for a reply. :?

    I'm pretty sure that you can do all sorts of things.
    Want to be an honest trader? You sure can.
    Want to be a bounty hunter? You can do that too.
    Want to be a mercenary? Uh-huh.
    Want to be a smuggler? Yup.
    Want to be a pirate? And so forth.

    Isn't it rather close minded to only see traditional isometric CRPG's as the only kinds of CRPG's?

    There's also a reputation system, and you can join factions.
    The random mission generator is not only based on your actions, it's based on random events within the game world.

    I'd prefer a public hanging.
     
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  5. Saint_Proverbius Arcane Patron

    Saint_Proverbius
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    I would have agreed if I hadn't played Starfleet Command. If even the lowly fighter has gun mounts, I'd much rather have a tactical control than the typical joystick flight sim style.

    Darkspace, BTW, does the tactical thing with even the traditional fighters, and it's a blast.

    As long as I get my tactical control all the time, I'll be happy.

    That's not always true. There were star flight CRPGs in the 1980s where there was experience systems for the crews. As your crew went through the motions of things, they advanced in rank and ability, and thus your abilities with the ship got better.

    This just means it's open ended though, which is one thing I like about space trade sims, what all there is to do. There are parallels between them and a free form CRPG, but I wouldn't go as far as to say Freelancer is one.

    If they modelled the pilot, though, and he got better and better with his skills involving pilotting, gunnery, bartering, diplomancy, and so on, then sure. Actually, freelancer would have been the ideal platform for such things since the combat is tactical rather than flight sim style. I wish they'd done that.

    I'm not sure that's what he's saying. He's saying it's an open ended game, but it doesn't have progression of the pilot.

    Buying a new hull or weapon doesn't make for advancement, really. That's just like buying a weapon in an RPG. The character itself needs skills and abilities to use that weapon effectively. That's the aspect that Freelancer lacks.

    Hardwar allowed this as well. I think X:BtF did also. It's part of the newer generator of open ended space traders.

    That's a nice touch. Hardwar did this to a certain extent as well. For example, try shooting up a corporate affiliated moth, and see the shit hit the fan when you're in areas belonging to that corp. :D
     
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  6. Anonymous Guest

    Anonymous
    Sounds like E&B's control scheme

    Before I participated in the beta of Earth and Beyond, I was leary of the mouse-based space-flight system. Afterward, I'm ... not convinced.

    It does "open the game up' to people who don't own joysticks. You don't have that intimidating flight sim feel. You don't have to mess with rebalancing shields while trying to select a weapon and follow a target thru a rollling sciscors. Whether or not this is a good thing is up to you.

    If you're looking for a Freespace-type experience with trading and looting for upgrades, you're going to hate it. If you're thinking Elite (God, I'm old) with DirectX 8, youre going to be dissappointed.

    If you go into it thinking "this is going to be more like 'Dungeon Seige' than 'Wing Commander', but thats okay with me", you'll be able to judge it on it's own merits.

    But somehow, I don't think many people are going to do that.
     
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  7. DarkUnderlord Professional Throne Sitter

    DarkUnderlord
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    Gameplay issues aside,

    As Saint has said, that's little different to buying a Mace +3 over a Hammer +2. The better CRPG's let the player pick a weapons preference. IE: There's no super-weapon. In a game like this, I can't see anyone giving up the Fusion Missiles with 500 damage to go for a Vulcan Cannon that does 200 damage (Making the arrogant presumption that they'll go for the "this weapon is better" approach, I can't see any other way of doing it though).

    In a CRPG like Arcanum though, if I want, I can use throwing weapons quite effectively. I can actually kill people with them (which is a nice change for throwing weapons in a CRPG). But, if I prefer to use swords, then I can find swords that do just as much damage and kill just as effectively. It all depends on whether my character is a "Knife Throwing Thief", a "Sword-weilding Barbarian" or even a "Flamethrower Toting Gunsmithy". It comes down to my preference and the "role" I want to play in the game. Likewise with Fallout. Miniguns, small guns, energy weapons, melee combat or hand-to-hand?

    Want to be an honest trader? You sure can. <-- Buy/Sell stuff
    Want to be a bounty hunter? You can do that too. <-- Kill things
    Want to be a mercenary? Uh-huh. <-- Kill things
    Want to be a smuggler? Yup. <-- Buy/Sell stuff
    Want to be a pirate? And so forth. <-- Buy/Sell & Kill things

    That's not much variation. Although, I really can't complain. Most quests in a CRPG are "go here get this/take this to so-and-so" or "kill this/that/whomever/whatever". However, the WAYS in which you can do the quests are what adds that little bit extra for me. Take a kill quest where you need to kill Gilbert Bates in Arcanum, if the RPG is done right, you should be able to:
    1) Take the fighter approach: Kill all the guards in the building and Gilbert as well.
    2) Sneaker approach: Sneak in through the underground tunnel/back-door/window, avoid all the guards and slot Gilbert while he's sleeping or poison him/drug him/knife him/whatever.
    3) Persuasion Approach: Bluff the quest. "Yeah I killed him, I really did" after asking Gilbert to lay low for a while.
    4) Talking: Kill the guy who gave you the quest at the request of Gilbert.
    5) Talking: Talk Gilbert into committing suicide

    Compare that to say,
    Quest: "there's the bad guys, go kill 'em".
    Answer: "Nah mate, I'd rather raid the port/station or even join the bad guy's crew."
    I'm yet to see that in a fighter game. It's the real options in doing something. An RPG really gives you the chance to make the unexpected happen. Allowing that in a space fighter/trader game is doubtful.

    I'm not limited to only isometric, I can see something like Morrowind as an RPG (haven't played it though, so I'm going by what I've read here). Having various options available to complete quests, various factions to join, conspire against, betray, sell-out, do whatever is the core of what I see as an RPG. Not just lots of missions based on the game-world, but missions with various ways to complete them. How can you play the sneaky thief-character in a space game? I haven't seen a space-sim that let you cloak and sneak into a port, kill the owner of the port, loot it while you're there, set some timers and detonate it as you fly away. Actually, you can pretty much do this in Cutthroats, but I still don't consider it an RPG.

    Don't get me wrong, I like the sound of the game. I'm a big fan of open ended games (Sims, Simcity, Civilization, Cutthroats, GTA, etc...) I just don't consider them RPGs. Take GTA for instance (Not GTA3, haven't played it, need an upgrade), the game was very open-ended, but the missions were very "do this, do that". If you stuffed it up, too bad. Mission Failed.

    Sure, there are multiple ways of killing your target, rocket-launcher, drive over them, shoot them, but it's not quite the same as talking to them and being given the option to turn against the people who gave you the mission, or sneaking into their house and knifeing them while they sleep, or deciding half-way through that you couldn't be buggered killing the guy so you go back and bluff that you've killed them.

    Hell, quests where you simply talk to people, like building the statue in... (bugger, whatever that town was in Arcanum where you talked to the town meeting and persuaded them about the statue - Ashbury?) I doubt will be done in Freelancer.

    GTA3 is the best comparison I'd make. You can buy better weapons and get better cars as you progress, but it's not what I'd call an RPG. While your car might be better, you can't drive any better or shoot any better, unlike an RPG where your skills are improved. Hell, in Arcanum you can't even use that |33+ sword that causes 20 odd damage until you get your strength high enough to use it.

    That shows interactivity with the game world, but (having never actually played Hardwar) not on a level that I feel is comparable with a game like Arcanum or even Fallout. In Arcanum or Fallout, your reputation does affect what you can and can't do. It affects the endings, the factions that deal with you and so on. But not in a "kill, be killed or run" fashion. For instance, in Arcanum, you can talk to the Dark Elves before they try and kill you. They don't just blow up your ship as you enter their system.

    I'd also like to see a random mission generator generate a complex and involved quest like some of those found in Arcanum, or those that are certainly possible in CRPGs.
     
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  8. Jed Cipher

    Jed
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    I'm actually looking forward to checking this one out. Whether or not Freelancer is an RPG or not isn't as important to me, as the exploration and sim qualities seem more interesting in this particular game. What I'm wondering is if anyone here has played Starlancer? If so, how worthwhile is it?

    Jed
     
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  9. Saint_Proverbius Arcane Patron

    Saint_Proverbius
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    Starlancer is a mission based space sim. It's nothing like what Freelancer will be.
     
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  10. Jed Cipher

    Jed
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    By "nothing like" do you mean not worth bothering with?

    Jed
     
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  11. Deathy Liturgist

    Deathy
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    Well, I played the demo.

    If you want a regular space fighter sim, Starlancer fits the bill well enough. I like how it handles the mission structure, at least from what I saw in the demo. Fail an objective, and see the consequences (other objectives may get more difficult).
     
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  12. Astromarine Erudite

    Astromarine
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    Hi, guys, been reading the site for a few days but this is my first post here.

    I've been beta-testing something called EVE-Online that seems like an MMOG version of this. Plus it has pilot skills ;)

    You can check it at www.eve-online.com
     
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  13. Saint_Proverbius Arcane Patron

    Saint_Proverbius
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    Freelancer has multiplayer. :D

    I typically don't care much for MMOGs, though I did like Mankind.. It was $50 for six months with no up front fees, though.
     
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