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Game News Seven Dragon Saga Update: The Goal System

Discussion in 'News & Content Feedback' started by Infinitron, Jan 17, 2015.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    RPG Wokedex 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 Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Tags: Seven Dragon Saga; Tactical Simulations Interactive

    It's been several months since we got a substantial update from Tactical Simulations Interactive's Seven Dragon Saga, leading some to fear that it had become vaporware. I don't think the publication of a two-part Dragon Age: Inquisition review by Paul Murray did much to allay those fears, but today's update might. It's a post about the game's Goal system, an interesting mechanic that systematizes choice & consequence in a game with multiple player characters. I quote:

    As Paul touched on in his recent review, Seven Dragon Saga allows players to create their entire six man party. We chose this to give the player far more control over how they balance their party, and creatively build their team without the pressure to drag an NPC specialist with them that they are not fond of. However, we also intend to take some steps to give personality to the individual characters, preventing them from becoming simply “Thief toolbox” and “High damage dealer”.

    Our first effort to make the characters feel unique is the Race, Class, Specialty selection system, which provides distinctive weapon and ability optimizations. These choices create different looks and different feels in combat. At this stage of development, we are taking rough cuts at keeping the choices both distinct and balanced. Each ability has its own point cost, and we have to watch for combinations which might provide too much synergy.

    As the player creates each character, the game prompts them to choose a Goal for that character. Goals then provide the natural inclination and motivating force for that character. During play, various quests will allow multiple methods for successful completion. However, if the player chooses a solution which matches the Goal of one or more characters, those characters gain rewards such as bonus build points – used to improve and customize that character.

    For instance, if a bandit chief offered a payment to leave the area, rather than surrender. The player could accept or decline and subsequently force a surrender, or find another way to resolve things. Getting a payment appeals to the Greed Goal, and characters with that Goal would benefit from accepting it (along with the payment). Taking the chief in for trial could fulfill the Honor Goal, and benefit different characters.

    The player would have to decide whether to align all the characters to the same Goal, so a positive choice benefits all evenly. Or choose a variety of Goals, allowing benefits to accrue to some characters in a wider variety of quests. Each quest will NOT have solutions which benefit every Goal. Of course, the player should choose Goals compatible with his play style as there is no “right” way to play.

    To choose a Goal for a character, the player makes four choices. First, the game asks a question about the character’s youth, based on the Race chosen, with two possible results. Then comes a question about the character’s upbringing, based on their Class, and one about their early adventuring days, based off of Specialty. Finally, the player choose which of those three possible Goals now dominates this character.

    All of this should provide a shorthand for the background and personality of each character which shouldn’t handcuff player style. We’ll be going over other topics as time goes along. If there’s something you particularly want to hear about, let us know.
    Nifty. More stuff like this, less console game reviews, eh guys?
     
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  2. LeStryfe79 President Spartacus Patron

    LeStryfe79
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    These guys are bigger fails than Double Bear. Sorry, but I smell it a mile away even though PoR is one of my favorite games. Frankly, I don't believe they have the means, nor do I believe they actually remember what made gold box so endearing. I REALLY hope I'm wrong on this, but I'm getting a George Lucas feel here. For one thing, they condemn low level adventure, even though they are most celebrated for a low level adventure. That is a huge red flag.
     
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  3. Jaesun Fabulous Moderator

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    Apparently reading is TEH HARD and you didn't see their article explaining why they are are not starting out at low levels.
     
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  4. Dorateen Arcane

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    I look at the Gold Box series in totality, where 2/3 started at mid level or higher. And if Pools of Darkness isn't celebrated more, it should be.

    Anyway, always refreshing to see game mechanics that facilitate role-playing, but put the control in the player's hands. Rather than being dependent on some developer's manufactured emotional engagement.

    Go, TSI!
     
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  5. LeStryfe79 President Spartacus Patron

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    I read all of it. It came across ignorant and pretentious to me. How would I know about them hating low levels had I not read the articles? Sorry, but they spent more time basically pissing on the best rpgs while playing DA:I and accomplishing nothing. I've written and erased several posts about how horrible I think these people are, but I've had it. This is what I feel. They have nothing!

    Edit: High level adventures are valid, but acting like low level adventures are shit while releasing nothing and playing dragon age is shit. Wtf is going on here?
     
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  6. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    You're drunk again, LeStryfe79. See, that's the thing about dwarves and their affinity for strong alcohol. We remain sober and clear-thinking. It's the high constitution.

    I appreciate a fine Codex trolling, and I know you tend to have good tastes in role-playing games. I just think the heirs to SSI deserve better, and some benefit of the doubt.
     
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  7. LeStryfe79 President Spartacus Patron

    LeStryfe79
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    Hey, you know what? I hope I'm wrong as hell. :)
     
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  8. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

    felipepepe
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    Interesting system. Reminds me of Expeditions: Conquistador, where characters had traits like racist, pious, pacifist, married, etc...

    However, In E:C it was a matter of choice: "that num is racist as fuck, so I can't recruit natives, but she's really good companion." Not sure how that will work out when you create your party members... why not make everyone greedy and get bonus points + gold from being an asshole?
     
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  9. a Goat Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

    a Goat
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    In E:C it wasn't too much of an issue because all you've got was morale penalty, and even then, it was hard to have bad morale in this game, especially later on.
    Imho. if you want to go with such system, reaching the goals should give you huge(unlimited - while in E:C morale was limited up to some point, for obvious reasons) and doing exact opposite of them should give you at least some penalties(and in extreme conditions - cause the party member to leave). Skillpoints may work as a reward but there isn't any word about penalties so...
     
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  10. Athelas Arcane

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    Won't this encourage going against what you would normally choose to get the goal bonus? :M
     
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  11. a Goat Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

    a Goat
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    Aren't affinities encouraging going against what would you normally choose?
    Sure they are.
     
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  12. Volourn Pretty Princess Pretty Princess

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    "Apparently reading is TEH HARD and you didn't see their article explaining why they are are not starting out at low levels."

    They are starting at low levels. You'll be fighting the 'weakest' enemies in the game at the start and will progress to ahrder ones as you level up.:mrfussy:
     
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  13. naossano Cipher

    naossano
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    Seems that the link to the update needs a login.
     
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  14. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

    felipepepe
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    You must add your city, address and phone number to register, and the comments must wait for approval.

    One thing is sure: they aren't making an accessible game. :lol:
     
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  15. <3sRichardSimmons Arcane Patron

    <3sRichardSimmons
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    Yeah... They must be pretty worried about having the Codex as one of their prime demographics.
     
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  16. naossano Cipher

    naossano
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    You don't have to pay, at least ?
     
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  17. Jedi Master Radek Arcane

    Jedi Master Radek
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    This system will encourage metagaiming, that's for sure.
     
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  18. FuriousGamer87 Arcane Patron

    FuriousGamer87
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    Since they say that they are using their own tabletop ruleset in their video game development, it will be nice for them to talk a bit about how combat played out using that ruleset.
    How are situations using skills being resolved?
    What are the character creation options are available?
    What equipment are available and how important are them? Is magic items critical in that ruleset?
    Of course, a youtube video of how a session goes using it would be pretty good PR to attract rabid tabletop players and old school CRPG gamers as fans.
    I think everyone who give a shit about them vastly prefer that more than further PR reviews of shitty RPGs that you cannot openly say it's garbage so the only road left is to praise it like a deranged loon.
     
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  19. Edward_R_Murrow Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    The "Goals" system sounds eerily reminiscent of Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land's "Behavior" mechanics. Each character in TotFL had a Behavior that governed what sort of actions would raise or lower their individual Trust. Behaviors were determined by the intersection of race and alignment, with only one Behavior available to each combination. That means every Good Elf had the "Intellectual" Behavior (which was quite powerful, by the way, increasing Trust whenever any party member used a Spell Stone to learn or upgrade magic), every Neutral Human the "Kinship" Behavior (gains Trust when party members are healed or raised, loses Trust when party members are left wounded/stricken/dead for extended periods and loses enormous amounts of Trust when party members are dropped), and every Evil Dwarf the "Dragon Hater" Behavior (only gains Trust by killing rare, draconic monsters, but gains a heapload of Trust for each kill).

    The idea behind these Behaviors was to add a little bit of personality to every character, expressed in a systemic rather than scripted way, and to make for more choices in party-building or composition (TotFL had both full party creation as well as recruitable NPCs, Baldur's Gate style). Playing to the character's personalities was essential to building up Trust in individuals, which spilled over into greater party Trust, allowing for more powerful and complex Allied Actions to be performed in combat. Great idea, even if the execution wasn't entirely perfect; some Behaviors were easier Trust-builders than others, and it was disappointing that Behaviors were so restricted.

    I like that Seven Dragon Saga is attempting to "mechanize" personality as TotFL attempted to, and it looks as though they are going to put a lot more work into it, what with less restriction on possible Goals to choose. My only worry is that they may rely too heavily on having characters fulfill Goals through scripted interactions and quest choices rather than through the core mechanics of the game. For instance, characters with a hypothetical Goal of "Glory" might reward characters/players for landing the final blow of powerful enemies, changing up how one might play out certain combat scenarios. Or perhaps there could be a "Helper" Goal that rewards characters who take risks in combat to assist allies.

    This would be a cool way to bring role-playing into the combat beyond the character systems (attributes and abilities). Of course, this would be be a (potentially) difficult idea to implement, but crossing my fingers TSI is on the same wavelength as I am, and up to the task.
     
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  20. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

    felipepepe
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    They replied to me on the blog:

     
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  21. LeStryfe79 President Spartacus Patron

    LeStryfe79
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    Newfag
     
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  22. MicoSelva Prestigious Gentleman Don't call Abigail Patron

    MicoSelva
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    Codex 2012 Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Insert Title Here RPG Wokedex Serpent in the Staglands Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Divinity: Original Sin 2 Bubbles In Memoria A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Can someone who already has access to the site quote the DA review too? I am kind of curious about it, but not enough to register myself.
     
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  23. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

    felipepepe
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    Here you go:

    Part 1 (open)

    Since we last gave an update, we’ve made design changes to our art style and achieved some terrific progress.

    Paul Murray is our team’s Systems Designer, focused on the algorithms to make the world balanced and tactical combat challenging. He was the first engineer at SSI in the early 80s and stayed with that company well into the 90s finishing up with the extremely successful Panzer General series. We asked Paul to comment on some recent games, to help give our fans some insight in what he seeks out in play and, by extension, what items he will emphasize in Seven Dragon Saga.

    His first review is a two-parter on Dragon Age: Inquisition. Paul has already spent numerous hours on the first two games of the series. Here is part 1.

    Reflections on DAI on the PC

    Since all reviews are done with a bias, I will tell you a little about the kind of gaming I like.

    First of all I am not a dextrous player… I am not great at timing defenses and I like a game that provides me a challenge without making me go to extensive effort. Assuming I can trust the AI, I like to run mostly from my character’s perspective, with occasional pauses to give special orders to companions… I have never found an AI that I can really trust.

    Secondly, I play games that I like to death (and beyond). I am an incurable character tinkerer and will play the first quarter of a game about eight times as much as the rest of a game, trying out this character’s skill combinations or companion combinations. Despite that (or because of it?) I think the first part of most games lack much flavor. It seems strange to me that a starting character with a background that indicates he has been training since a boy can barely swing a sword, and yet a month later (after gaining 7+ levels) he will have achieved his core ability set. Why not start that way, and then go up a bit from there?

    And that is how we intend to start out Seven Dragon Saga. Our party of heroes is supposed to be experienced, so they will have a rounded set of abilities, and advance from there. There are some technical reasons games start players as wimps, such as introducing one ability at a time, and giving starting players fast rewards — ding! another level. But we overcame this problem back at SSI when we did games in series, like Curse of the Azure Bonds.

    Next, I am a semi-immersive player. I choose a character’s personality, goals, and ethics when I start a game and try to stick to it. Semi-immersive because I will give in and make out of character decisions if it will nerf me not to. (I have never gotten through Lothering without asking for rewards from Bodhain, Sir Bryant, and the Redcliffe Knight).

    Lastly, I still play table top RPG with miniatures, etc. I really like the tactics.

    Okay, to my thoughts on DAI. Note that I have played the first 6 levels about 7 times, so don’t have a full perspective of the game. But I can tell things that I like and don’t like about it.

    [​IMG]

    Things I Like
    It is beautiful, it feels real to me. Good job! On the other hand I miss the slightly cartoonish but truly beautiful characters I had in DA2.

    While it still has a basic plotline you need to follow, the world is really big and fairly open. This is not Skyrim, but close. It also has an open structure so it doesn’t feel like you are being channeled at all. Way, way, way, way better than DA2. I am going to see what happens in some play through if I ignore the plotline and just adventure. Since things respawn, I should be able to keep adventuring for a long time. I expect I will hose myself.

    Talking of spawning. The spawning rate of monsters is pretty good. Not like an MMO where things spawn so fast that you don’t feel you are accomplishing anything, but fast enough for continuous random encounters. Exception: I really hate that if you load a saved game in the wilderness you are likely to reappear amid enemies!

    Bioware surpassed itself with NPC personality development and conversation. I know this is a minority opinion but I love Cass. She has (eventual) fairness, integrity and a sense of humor (even if she doesn’t crack jokes).

    I like that your decisions mean something. From reading the forums, this appears to be at about the same level as DAO… your decisions make a difference, but you are still led through chapters to the end game. Meaning you can’t just kill an annoying cleric early on, and damn the consequences. On the other hand it does not appear that you are forced to do things that are against your code to progress in the game.

    Combat is interesting with cross class combos that work a bit better. Some classes are much harder to play than others, until you get to high level and have super customized equipment.

    Characters have a decent set of abilities, no one best build and room to tinker. They introduced guard and barriers which act as temporary hit points, a really good idea.

    Next time, I’ll go over the areas of DAI, which I find detract from the overall experience, and how we might address them in SDS. In the meantime, I’ll be playing more DAI, and trying the master the game.

    It’s hard to believe 2104 is already coming to a close. However, we’re very excited to be providing part 2 of Paul’s thoughts on DAI and sharing more about our work in 2015!

    On behalf of the entire team at TSI, we would like to wish all of you a very Happy New Year!


    Part 2 (open)

    As our first update for 2015, Paul continues where he left off in his analysis of Dragon Age: Inquisition.

    Paul Murray, is our Systems Designer, focused on the algorithms to make the world balanced and tactical combat challenging. He was the first engineer at SSI in the early 80s and stayed with that company well into the 90s finishing up with the extremely successful Panzer General series. We asked Paul to comment on some recent games, to help give our fans some insight in what he seeks out in play and, by extension, what items he will emphasize in Seven Dragon Saga. Seven Dragon Saga is a single player game, so we’ve focused on those aspects in this commentary.

    His first review is a two-parter on Dragon Age: Inquisition. Paul has already spent numerous hours on the first two games of the series. In Part 1, he shared what he liked and felt was most effective in DA:I.

    This is the second part of Paul Murray’s discussion of Dragon Age: Inquisition, and where he sees opportunities for Seven Dragon Saga to match or excel. Today, Paul shares his thoughts on where DA:I might improve, and how and why he’d do it a bit differently.

    Things I don’t like
    The following comments may come across as a bit harsh, as I do really enjoy this game overall. Still, the best way to improve is to study the blemishes and learn from them.

    Which brings me to things I don’t like. Really, really limited healing. At lower difficulty it is not too bad. But it means there are times you have to stop adventuring to go back, rest and resupply. This is something of a pain, and definitely takes you out of immersion.

    With Seven Dragon Saga, Hit Points restore after each battle, but characters accumulate Trauma and Fatigue until they choose to camp. There are techniques to mitigate the weaknesses from these long term resources, but, in the end, the player must rest. We are currently working on the paradigm for camping, but it will be more common than I see in DAI, but somewhat more restrictive than the Gold Box games.

    DAI follows the usual RPG build a character, grind the character. Okay you are now at the point where you should have started… let’s play. It also requires the traditional roles for a party… tank, aoe character, support, and striker. You can mix the roles a little but not much. In fact, they put in places that need a particular character type to advance the game. If there is no warrior in your party, sorry go back to base and get one.

    Since Seven Dragon Saga, at its heart, is a points based system, players will be able to create a wider variety of characters, and different mixes will prove viable with the appropriate tactics.

    The biggest challenge for me is DAI’s PC interface.

    First: It is obvious they designed the interface for consoles, and then semi-ported it to the PC. You have two camera modes: action (over the shoulder and 3 feet back) and tactical (overhead view). In either case, if you are in the forest, you cannot see your own character through the branches, let alone the enemy!

    This is one of the reasons we chose to put SDS out on PC first. For any other potential platform, we want to revisit and optimize the UI for it. Added work, but each platform has its own strengths. Players will have camera control: rotation and zoom.

    Second: In action mode, any orders you give are supplanted by what the AI wants to do.

    You can give each character an action order and a movement order… it will always do the action order first (so you can’t tell a character go over there and shoot). As always cross class combos are the way to do big damage, and that requires proper timing. Which means you must be in tactical mode, controlling each character and advancing the game a few tics at at time. Such pausable real-time gives an excellent feel to the hustle and bustle of combat, and gives more dextrous players a lot of good opportunities, but I admit to favoring the absolute control granted by turn-based games.

    Third: They improved the AI for your companions, enough so they removed the ability to set conditional uses of companion abilities. AI did improve, but not enough. The AI will use abilities at the right time… if it hasn’t already put the ability in cool down by using it at the wrong time. The AI will still have your ranged companions charge the enemy (even melee mobs) to get LOS instead of moving 5 steps to the side.

    CONCLUSIONS
    In the end, DAI’s solid quality outweighs its challenges, and I freely admit to my biases in combat, control and character creation. I always love deep, challenging battles, and they are here, but diminished by the issues I noted above. And, you will note, I can find nothing to complain about when it comes to the role-playing; excellent character development. engaging world and story.

    The game has good story, great characters, and decent combat. I will get my money’s worth of enjoyment out of it, and more.

    The goal for these type of updates is to provide some insight into our thinking and share some of our influences. There are pros and cons to any approach, but we hope to take the lessons we have learned and craft the best game we can.

    On behalf of the entire team at TSI, we’re very happy to share a bit of our thinking and looking forward to revealing more in 2015!
     
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  24. hiver Guest

    hiver
    Seems like more convoluted crap with simpleton extremes painted as goals. Why is getting paid "greed"? Why is the next one "Honor" why wouldn't it be Hodor?

    Wouldnt touch with twinkiegorrilla head.
     
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  25. GarfunkeL Racism Expert

    GarfunkeL
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    It is paid not payed.

    In any case, this is definitely a step in the right direction, as obviously it entirely depends on the execution: how many goals will there be and how well will the campaign take them into account. Three goals that pop-up occasionally does not really make much of an impact.
     
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