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Having their cake and eating it too - amateur repost

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by denizsi, Nov 9, 2007.

  1. denizsi Arcane

    denizsi
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    Quoting the posts in the order they were posted







     
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  2. Top Hat Scholar

    Top Hat
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    Oh, what happened? Internet Drama overload the Codex, huh?

    Musing #3 will go here and probably be on multiplatform releases (a nice way of saying CONSOLITIS!!!), once I have a bit more time to write up my ideas.
     
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  3. Jasede Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron Sad Loser

    Jasede
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    Hey, good to still see you around.
     
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  4. Chefe Erudite

    Chefe
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    hello world
     
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  5. The_Pope Scholar

    The_Pope
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    Having all characters being robots also has the advantage of making your game 9000 times as extreme as one involving squishy meatbags. Plus it makes the whole level up scheme a lot more plausible. While a human going from unable to take on a small rat in single combat to taking on armies single handed in a week will never make sense, a robot upgrading its components and optimizing its combat programming to go from C-3PO to the terminator is quite plausible.
     
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  6. Cassidy Arcane

    Cassidy
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    I don't think it's possible to transform a Mark I into a M1 Abrams through upgrades. Mechanic self-propelled and self-aware beings would, no matter how advanced tech was, have some significant limitations as well. Plus why not program them beforehand with the best combat experience available by uploading data from the brains of elite soldiers into such robots instead of sending them out as unexperienced in combat?
     
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  7. Human Shield Augur

    Human Shield
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    Or have cyborgs or suits.

    Freespace had the aliens talk in weird sounds and have the translation program play it in robotic English. Could play as a someone in a foreign environment with only translation software.
     
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  8. Lurkar Scholar

    Lurkar
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    Maybe the robot wasn't originally meant for combat. As they go into more dangerous territory, they find more powerful upgrades (afterall, the handgun you have in your house is different from what they've got in a military base, and guess which is better guarded?). As for the self-propelled robots/upgradable bit, allow the AI to inhabit different inputs so long as they aren't repelled. Could make for an interesting game mechanic. Need to sneak into the base? Leave your current body (better make sure it's safe/well hidden though) through an outlet, sneak past the AI defenses, and take control of a cleaning inside. Start as a clunky house cleaning robot, attack Soldier Drone A and, when damaged significantly, force yourself inside the body and consume his intelligence, not only upgrading your own combat expertise but gaining a better form to boot.
     
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  9. The_Pope Scholar

    The_Pope
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    Worker droid leads revolt against *insert baddies here*. I'd really like to play on the awesome side of a robot revolt for once.
     
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  10. Psycroptic Liturgist

    Psycroptic
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    Long live the new flesh!
    I seem to remember Harlan Ellison pointing out that this phrase was wrong. It really makes no sense if you think about it. You have a cake and then you eat it. Where's the problem? The original quote was something like "Would ye eat your cake and have it too?" Because, well, then you wouldn't have any more cake.
     
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  11. psycojester Arbiter

    psycojester
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    I'm pretty sure that game already exists, it came out on the PS2, unfortunately it was action.
     
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  12. Sovy Kurosei Erudite

    Sovy Kurosei
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    Roujin Z?
     
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  13. Lurkar Scholar

    Lurkar
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    Roujin Z?[/quote

    Can't say I've ever heard of it. Google doesn't tell me much either. My basic idea was that your EXP
     
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  14. Lurkar Scholar

    Lurkar
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    Can't say I've ever heard of it. Google doesn't tell me much either.

    My basic idea was that, since your AI ISN'T developed for combat, you would gain your EXP by taking over AI that does.
     
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  15. chaedwards Liturgist

    chaedwards
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    This sort of reminded me of Freedroid, which Fez and others talked about in the indie prg thread. Maybe worth looking at Lurkar?
     
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  16. Top Hat Scholar

    Top Hat
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    Uhh, just a quick word.

    Not to rain on anyone's robotic parade or anything, but this thread isn't "Top Hat's lame ideas for a Robot RPG"; it's about figuring out how to get mass-market RPGs that people with discerning tastes can enjoy too.

    I've got the next part written up, but I'm not using my own computer and it will probably be along either today or tomorrow some time.
     
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  17. Nog Robbin Scholar

    Nog Robbin
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    Re: Deniszi

    It sounds like a good idea, only the current level available readily would appear to be things like telephone systems automated attendants, the speaking clock and the SMS to voice service. The biggest problem is in that words recorded individually (even with various changes to enunciation) often don't link together seamlessy - the flow of the sentence is lost and sounds very artificial. Even with multiple recordings of any given word the chances of getting a sentence to sound as if it was spoken as a sentence is quite slight. Speech synthesis may be a better technology to be on in the long run.
     
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  18. Lurkar Scholar

    Lurkar
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    Haha, we got a bit carried away.

    Honestly, I think trying to get mass-market RPGs that people with discerning tastes can enjoy too is quite an uphill battle. There's simply too much running against it, be it journalists who rarely seem to play past ten minutes and buy into the hype they're supposed to be sorting through, or a generation of ADD gamer kids who can't go five minutes without killing something, the market just isn't set up for what was once standard, and is now niche.
     
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  19. Longshanks Augur

    Longshanks
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    The biggest being simple, pretty, fun sells in big numbers, there's no incentive for "business minded" game companies to reach higher. Not to be overly cynical, there is no doubt that most/all? developers actually want to make good games, how fulfilling is it to spend years creating polished shit? So, Top Hat's hypothetical game, which has mass-market appeal, while offering something more without the extra cost, is probably the best we can hope for from the big companies. Whilst hoping smaller companies continue to pop up, who believe completely in what they're doing. I don't think we'll get truly great games (we may have had some already, or they may just look great next to the usual dreck) until the industry's treated more seriously and more talented, creative and intelligent people work in it.
     
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  20. SilasMalkav Educated

    SilasMalkav
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    Threads like this are why I love you guys. No matter how plausable robotic voices are for a computer game, the fact remains that they are boring and monotonous. Making up your own theory of how the technoglogy should work isn't going to make it work either.

    And, even if you could get it to work, there's still a difference between good acting and bad acting. Someone would need to go through all of the generated samples and check to see if the speech flowed well and fitted the character. Which would probably cost the same amount of money as someone just reading out the lines. Afterall, you could probably get the developers to do the lines in their spare time if you really wanted to cut back on costs. If you didn't care about how it sounded.
     
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  21. Azrael the cat Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Azrael the cat
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    robot idea

    Actually that robot idea has quite good story potential as well. The surface plot could explore things like how bound you are to your programming - i.e. are you REALLY exercising free choice or just working within pre-programmed boundaries. Is an AI the MORAL equivalent as a person - if a human tries to kill you are you doing the wrong thing by defending yourself (if AI doesn't count as a person, then arguably you have no right to kill a person in self-defence). This would then open up metaphorical exploration of issues like does free will ACTUALLY exist (ok, obviously we all exercise choice - but we choose in accordance with our desires and wants and the kind of person we are. But we DON'T get to choose what our desires, wants or personality are - so if these are the things that determine the way we exercise our 'choices', doesn't that mean we don't have free wil after all? (could be explored by analogy with programmed AI making 'choices' based on pre-programmed preferences). What IS necessary in order to have moral worth - is thought enough, ie is it wrong to kill anything that THINKS? etc etc
     
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  22. Cassidy Arcane

    Cassidy
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    I consider it impossible to conciliate the needs of the next-gen with the needs of the old-schooler. It's like trying to make chess playable and fun for retards without being boring to its usual players. "Teh readin' hurts mah head!" and "AAAAA Words wear teh graphix?" is a sad but true fact. The only way to change this reality is a paradigm shift to make the mentality of the mainstream closer to the mentality of the old-school. But with stuff like the Retard Channels(Mass Media crap) and alike, with the glorification of collective idiocy, of image over content and with the crescent growth of Internets most retarded forums, I don't have much hope such thing would ever be possible.
     
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  23. Top Hat Scholar

    Top Hat
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    Musing #3, or Take Two To Treat Consolitis

    This post is a LOT longer than I planned, but I thought that presenting my entire logical argument would help you people understand more than just stating how I got to the conclusion. And it might also help me in later musings to refer to some previous ideas that I used here. So here we go!

    Also, sorry robot fans – probably no robotic examples here, as this is more about marketing than development in a way. I might turn the original thread into a robot thread, since I do have some robot RPG ideas that aren't covered under the topic of "advancing the mass-market RPG".

    Multiplatform development, in particular “porting”, comes with a lot of derision. Most often because they seem to forget the essential fact that consoles and PCs are different types of gaming machines – and more often than not, it is the PC version which suffers the most. When games are released with horribly gigantic interfaces, clunky controls and lacking some basic features that have been in the genre for ages, like naming save games without a console(!) hack, it's only natural to view "consolitis" as a bad thing for, in this case, computer role-playing games.

    But really, it has nothing to do with porting between PCs and consoles, and multiplatform development. Claiming it to be so is retarded. It's due to the laziness, apathy and/or incompetence of the game companies, manifesting in a lack of proper consideration for the obvious differences between two platforms: one where you are using a hand-held control while sitting on your couch far away from the television, and one where you're about an arm's length from a computer screen using a keyboard and a mouse.

    However, whining "ohnoes, consoles" is not the point of these musings; instead, it's about turning what's expected (or what should be expected) from game developers into positives for games (as we would see them).

    At first, it was very difficult to think of how multiplatform development could assist in a game's development. The different platforms are liked by different people, and the console gamers have a reputation for not having the most sophisticated tastes, so how the hell can we expect games to cater to multiple distinct markets? In particular, how can we get some sophistication in multiplatform games when the markets seem to dictate dumb and dumber?

    Well, I found that to be the key to approach the problem. I'm going to classify gamers into three different groups, that I think cover most
    people that play games. Chances are, you'll probably fall into a fferent category for different games, but these are supposed to be applied to the general player behavior.

    They are my own definitions, and to avoid confusion I will spell out
    exactly what they mean.

    1) Casual players: strictly defined, these are people who will play a game but not try to finish it, although they may start it a few times. More generally, it's people that might just pick up a role-playing game to maybe mash a few monsters, do a couple of quests and maybe level up. They're not really going to sit around and play through an entire story.

    2) Completist players: strictly defined, these are people who will play a game once, but probably won't touch it after that, although they might play it again if it has multiplayer. More generally, these are people who enjoy saying they've "beaten" a game, and also people who probably would view RPGs in a similar way to a book or a movie - they want a story, but will probably only play through it once.

    3) Enthusiast players: strictly defined, these are people who will play them repeatedly. More generally, these are the players who will try different avenues, not necessarily the "right" one that the Completist players will prefer, and will enjoy a branching storyline (a contradiction in terms, but oh well), choice and consequence, etc. In particular, games which offer a lot of variety will probably be played more by them.

    Now we have to figure out how they link up to the different platforms. Now, it may be unfounded/incorrect supposition on my part, but based on:
    (1) the price of the latest consoles vs the price of competitive PCs,
    (2) the relative simplicity of setting up and playing games on a consoles vs on a PC,
    (3) relative sales figures for some computer games, and
    (4) the psychology suggested by (1)-(3),
    would suggest that most console players are probably Casual and
    Completist, while computer gamers are more likely to be Completist and Enthusiast (in regards to role-playing, of course).

    Why? Let's look at the psychology of a console gamer vs a PC gamer. Consoles are cheaper and easier to use: this suggests that people that don't really want to muck around too much, they just want to play or aren't willing to spend a lot of money on computer games OR that they do not have a lot of money to spend on flashy computer equipment.
    * The first group are probably those who don't view gaming as an important hobby, rather as a quick way to pass time with friends before going out clubbing or whatever, or at parties to keep guests entertained (i.e. Casuals).
    * The second group probably enjoy playing games but can't afford it, so they view gaming as a hobby, and would possibly prefer to spend their money on games than equipment. Because of limits of time, they won't play a game repeatedly and would rather "clock" a game and move on than play it again.
    Similarly, you can make the argument for the PC players, but I'm getting a little off-track.

    The biggest plus to multiplatform development is, well, money. Console games have a larger market, and so developing for multiple platforms increases your target audience and therefore your income, which is what game companies want. In fact, apart from accessing a wider audience (which is only about the money in the end, anyway) it's really the ONLY advantage that I can think of for multiplatform development.

    The question then moves from "Is multiplatform development good for RPGs?" to "How can RPGs have a big audience (with the added investment that would probably bring) AND also have a good storyline, choice and consequence, etc.?" That is, can we cater to Casuals, Completists AND Enthusiasts and get some RPG goodness?

    Now, a good story is a good story, regardless of platform. And a choice on a PC is just as consequential as on an Xbox360 or PS3 or Wii or whatever other platforms there are. So, if a game is to be big-budget, wouldn't ensuring a good story with choice and consequence just increase the audience?

    Well, not if those choices and story are seen as "confusing" to the
    marketing types. Is this just a euphemism for "Our audience is dumb, so make games accordingly"? Well, maybe a little but probably not the main reason. Instead, I think it comes down to being more along the lines of "Are people new to the genre going to get it? Is it easy to put aside for awhile and come back to it?" - in other words, does it cater to the Casuals? This is because the Casuals are seen to be the largest of the three markets.

    I think this is the reason for the success of Oblivion, particularly on
    consoles. It got good reviews, so Casuals who don't follow the industry (and so don't read the reviews themselves) think, "We'll these guys like games, so it must be good." Then they got it home, played around with it for a bit and decided, "Yeah, it's fun. You can go and do a bunch of fun stuff." Then went off and played the next game or went out to the pub. Gah! Off on another tangent. Focus, Top Hat!

    However, one of the things that most of the Elder Scrolls games do
    correctly (in theory, but not in practice), in terms of catering to the
    Casuals, is that although it presents a storyline it doesn't force you to follow it, at least not immediately (best implemented in Daggerfall and Morrowind out of the four RPGs). That, I think, is key to capturing this market. Let them muck around doing random stuff that looks cool, and they'll like it.

    In fact, they'll probably make their OWN stories (which is what actually supposed to happen in P&P RPGs under the guidance of the guy running it) and say, "Aw, man, you should play this game! I killed this guy and the guards came after me, but I managed to run off!" while another guy might say, "Well, I didn't kill him, and he gave me an awesome sword for saving his wife!" A long storyline forced upon a Casual can be quite poisonous, and in the immortal words of the Elder Scrolls Forums, perhaps we need to look at a reasonable way to "stopp it poisen". The way I suggest will be mentioned later.

    The key thing to realize, though, is that Casuals don't hate choice and consequence. In fact, it might encourage them to experiment more in games, as long as it's not too convoluted. We'll leave the Casuals here and move on to Completists.

    I'm guessing that some Completists will probably want to just pick up a walkthrough and go through a game. This means that having some kind of storyline with an obvious trail to follow, is going to be mandatory. Seems against the whole choice and consequences thing, doesn't it?

    Well, I didn't say "no choice and consequence", I said that there should be an "obvious trail". That doesn't mean that there isn't some hidden pathways that lead off this well-beaten path. You just have to look for them. Just like in real life, there might be more than one correct way to do things, and the obvious might not be the best but obscuring every single quest in a miasma of choice-and-consequence goop is retarded when there's only really two choices to be made - not do it or do it. You can kill the rats in the cellar or not, there's no need to make it into an epic philosophy on the life of a rat being sacred just for the sake of variety.

    But the Completists (and Enthusiasts for that matter) also include a group that will probably enjoy long stories – in contradiction to the Casuals who would probably prefer little to no story.

    There's bound to be some kind of sweet spot for the length of a storyline. However, I think that the best thing to do will be to have a shorter main storyline, with perhaps a few longer side quests, but more choices (and consequences, obviously) that might provide more rewards for the Enthusiasts – by which I mean player rewards (a longer piece of dialogue or more lore info or getting presented a different angle of the story to follow) rather than character rewards (more phat lewt, etc.). Yes, I know we're talking about role-playing games; but sometimes it's better to reward the player rather than the character to encourage them to stay "in-character".

    By having a shorter main story, you can add choice and consequences and more substantial alternative paths (a plus for Enthusiasts), encourage the Completists to do side-quests and then go out and get another game (a plus for Completists – new story material - AND the companies) without them caring about any of the alternate routes, and doesn't overwhelm the Casuals (a plus for Casuals, and the companies again) with a convoluted search for "What can change the nature of a man?"

    On the other hand, I personally enjoy long stories and I'm guessing other people do as well. Although a shorter story might seem bad, as long as everything else about the game (controls, interface, etc) are fine then it's really an advantage: shorter main stories can have more complex interactions for the same amount of writer hours (compare the total length of the strands of a spider's web to a piece of dental floss to get the idea). I'm not suggesting trimming the story to save money on writing; I'm saying that the money might be better spent on buying more arachnids than making a big epic tooth-cleaner.

    To summarize, I think that if game companies want to make a multiplatform RPG that people who like complex storylines are going to like, then the best way is to make them more like short stories in a sandbox with lots of choices and consequences than epic novels with a long, straight road to gender ambiguity and big hair.

    Of course, that's NOT to say that this should be the only type of game that gets made. Most certainly not. BUT I think it's the best way to get
    (1) more people interested in RPGs that are at least decent,
    (2) getting the game companies more money and
    (3) satisfying some of the itches for RPGness that many Codexers want –
    in other words, ensuring that, although having to make compromises, everyone wins in the end.

    I'll just add a quick note about expansion packs. As we've seen with Mask of the Betrayer, this is a good way of accessing a wider audience. I think that game companies are in too much of a rush to develop new games with flashier graphics that cost a lot of money to develop when a good expansion pack may sell more copies of an original game to previously uninterested parties. Perhaps, if Bethesda had made an effort to make more quests like the Dark Brotherhood and fleshed it out into an expansion, there could have been a similar reaction from us towards Bethesda, and perhaps a bit more hope for Fallout 3.

    Now, I'll leave it up to you for what I should write about next:
    1) Tie-ins to franchises in other entertainment arenas (movies, books, TV shows, etc).
    2) MMORPGs.
    3) Tolkein-esque fantasy.

    (Note that this is an example of a choice with no real consequence, since I'll probably just do them all anyway.)

    Edit: I'm sorry for the occasionally atrocious formatting. For some reason, my clever email program decided to randomly put new lines in at strange places.
     
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  24. dunduks Liturgist

    dunduks
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    2 Top Hat
    Awesome post :thumbsup:
    But there is one thing that makes your plan undesirable to publishers/developers - since the casuals and the completists are the biggest group, devs can get away with making only one plot branch (Case in point - Oblivion). Why? Becouse making a non linear/branching story takes more time and resources, and devs/publishers would rather spend that money on hyping/advertising.
     
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  25. JrK Prophet

    JrK
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    When reading his third musing, I can't help but think of Fallout 2. It has the "I can do whatever I want, whenever I want" thing. It has the "we can follow an obvious trail (arroyo->klamath->den->vault city->gecko->NCR->vault with the raiders->vault with the deathclaws->arroyo->san fran->oil rig)". And to top it all off there's plenty of sidequesting, choices, different ways of solving stuff, monster bashing, amassing loot and so on.

    Too bad the setting is a bit incoherent. :(

    EDIT: I just realised that even the very casual gamers I know loved FO2! :cool:
     
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