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Preview There is no dialogue in Oblivion according to 1UP

Section8

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Yeah, there were sometimes specific questions and answers in Morrowind too. I remember something about choosing between saying "I'll turn you in, slave cat thing!" or "Don't worry, your secret is safe with me. Now blow me!" Have Beth raised that amount at the very least?

My very favourite was when you had to get info out of Adhirranirr (?) a khajiit thug living in one underworks or another. I intentionally chose to tell the customs agent looking for him where he was, because my character was opposed to thievery, smuggling, and was a fervent supporter of the empire. Oh, not mention true and honest at all times.

That "choice" utterly broke the game, to the tune of using the console to hack a journal entry. I was tempted to register on the forums just to see how many "dont be stupid, why wud u turn the khat in? just lie and win teh quest!!!11!!" responses I could troll, but sanity prevailed.
 

obediah

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I've been toying around with a dialogue system for a week or so now - with the goal being maximum flexibility and roleplaying. I was a little shocked to find my mind wandering to something looking more like morrowind than fallout, but with the goal of playing like fallout on steroids.

Specifically, I'm comparing the "pick one of these few scripted things to say" system , vs "pick a topic, tone, etc.. to form an abstract goal". The reasoning is that with the dialogue choices, a player generally picks a style, stance, topic in their mind and then chooses the closest available option, so a system that let's them just enter their attitude, topic, etc..should allow more control.

I'm assuming that player choice, and complexity is independent of selecting between these styles, either can offer complex conversations or crappy monologues - maybe this isn't the case practically. My other concern is that better for rp, may not mean more fun even for people that like rp. But by measuring the correct dimensions, and making complex personalities conversations could become as challenging and complex as combat.

I guess when I win the lottery I can quit working and code it up to find out if it works or not.
 

Mefi

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MrSmileyFaceDude said:
When someone says something to you, as they're speaking, the text of what they're saying appears on the screen below their face.

After they're finished (or if you press the button that skips their dialog) you get a list of things you can "say" or "ask about".

Sometimes this list contains topics you can ask about, like "Rumors" or "Directions". If the NPC offers services such as selling things, reparing armor, teaching you spells, training, etc., there are icons below the list that let you request those services. You can also persuade them at these times.

Other times, the list contains responses to something the NPC asked or told you about, or questions you can ask the NPC. There can be one choice or multiple choices, and they can be WHOLE SENTENCES, omgwtfbbq. And they can either affect how the NPC feels about you, the progression of a quest, whether they'll help you with something or give you something; or not. It all depends on the circumstances and how the designers intended the dialogue to progress, and how it is supposed to affect things.

Hmm. That last paragraph is very interesting. It certainly bodes well for what is possible to do with the game if the time is there to write it up.
 

nakanja

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Section8 said:
That "choice" utterly broke the game, to the tune of using the console to hack a journal entry. I was tempted to register on the forums just to see how many "dont be stupid, why wud u turn the khat in? just lie and win teh quest!!!11!!" responses I could troll, but sanity prevailed.
You'd likely get at least one of those, but they'd probably have also let you know that she'd give you the information anyway if you rose her disposition enough.
 

Lumpy

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nakanja said:
Section8 said:
That "choice" utterly broke the game, to the tune of using the console to hack a journal entry. I was tempted to register on the forums just to see how many "dont be stupid, why wud u turn the khat in? just lie and win teh quest!!!11!!" responses I could troll, but sanity prevailed.
You'd likely get at least one of those, but they'd probably have also let you know that she'd give you the information anyway if you rose her disposition enough.
So Section8 was actually complaining about a CONSEQUENCE? Weird...
 

obediah

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nakanja said:
Section8 said:
That "choice" utterly broke the game, to the tune of using the console to hack a journal entry. I was tempted to register on the forums just to see how many "dont be stupid, why wud u turn the khat in? just lie and win teh quest!!!11!!" responses I could troll, but sanity prevailed.
You'd likely get at least one of those, but they'd probably have also let you know that she'd give you the information anyway if you rose her disposition enough.

Oh, I had forgotten about that core component to morrowind. The solution to every problem was to just hold down a key for a period of time ranging from 30 seconds to 6 hours. I must have purged that from my brain in self defense.
 

Vault Dweller

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Lumpy said:
nakanja said:
Section8 said:
That "choice" utterly broke the game, to the tune of using the console to hack a journal entry. I was tempted to register on the forums just to see how many "dont be stupid, why wud u turn the khat in? just lie and win teh quest!!!11!!" responses I could troll, but sanity prevailed.
You'd likely get at least one of those, but they'd probably have also let you know that she'd give you the information anyway if you rose her disposition enough.
So Section8 was actually complaining about a CONSEQUENCE? Weird...
Consequences and breaking games are two different things. One is a great feature making the world more alive and reactive, another is poor design.
 

Lumpy

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Vault Dweller said:
Lumpy said:
nakanja said:
Section8 said:
That "choice" utterly broke the game, to the tune of using the console to hack a journal entry. I was tempted to register on the forums just to see how many "dont be stupid, why wud u turn the khat in? just lie and win teh quest!!!11!!" responses I could troll, but sanity prevailed.
You'd likely get at least one of those, but they'd probably have also let you know that she'd give you the information anyway if you rose her disposition enough.
So Section8 was actually complaining about a CONSEQUENCE? Weird...
Consequences and breaking games are two different things. One is a great feature making the world more alive and reactive, another is poor design.
Indeed, but as Nakanja pointed out, it didn't break the game, it just made obtaining the info from the person who you turned it a bit harder, which is exactly how it should work.
 

Section8

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Indeed, but as Nakanja pointed out, it didn't break the game, it just made obtaining the info from the person who you turned it a bit harder, which is exactly how it should work.

Oh yes it it did. I could get the info, but it wouldn't step the quest. In fact...

Quest Bug
If you neglect to "lie" to the tax collector then you'll miss one entry in your journal for Caius and you can never complete the quest (or the game), and there's no going back. Someone has found the console command to bypass this if Caius gives you problems by not acknowledging that you've completed the quest when you really have:
Open console (tilde key, PC version only)
Type: Journal "A1_V_VivecInformants", 50 A1_V_VivecInformants
Type: PCRaiseRank "blades"
Close console
And it works! I think the only thing you miss then is the 200 gold given to you by Caius after the mission, but you DO end up keeping the book you should've aquired, and at a value of 150, if there's a merchant who likes you you can usually recover most of your expenses from the trip to Vivec.

Courtesy of Google's cache of UESP, which seems to be down at the moment.

So Section8 was actually complaining about a CONSEQUENCE? Weird...

And, I intentionally chose the option, partly because of my character, and partly because it sounded like a more difficult approach to the quest based on a RP choice. I was curious to see how an honest player would resolve the quest.

As it turns out, the C&E agent says "k thanx, but i don't care enough to go after him ever", and Addhiranirr says (after persuasion) "okay i tell u. stop spmaming me nub"

And the main quest breaks. ;)

It seems strange to me that there's even the option though, to tell you the truth. It's exceedingly obvious to the player that they "should" lie to get through the quest, and there's no real reward for the other choices. The only consequence is negative, ie then having to persuade Addhiranirr. The only "reward" is the player knowing internally that they're morally upstanding, despite spending half the game bowing to the will of a hypocrite sugar fiend.

It also means that nobody ever bothered to test the "obviously wrong" choice.
 

Lumpy

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I see. Well, that was a bug, and you were supposed to be able to do the quest either way. There's even a journal entry for persuading her to give you the info, but it doesn't work.
Anyway, it was a genuine attempt at a choice&consequence, and the only thing that made it fail was a bug.
 

DarkUnderlord

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The example I like to use when it comes to poor choices in Morrowind is the piss poor "sell her into slavery" quest which is part of the main quest too. Don't worry if you're against slavery and have been going through the game freeing all the slaves, oh no. For this one, it's a-okay to sell a girl into slavery because, you know, she likes it! So that makes it all okay for you.

Actually, Morrowind is full of pretty piss poor RP decisions where you end up doing something completely against your character's intentions and not something you want to do but something you have no choice but to do which is explained away with "Oh, but that's okay. We don't mind! It's okay to rape / butcher / sell people into slavery if they don't mind it!" by the NPCs.

MrSmileyFaceDude said:
Sometimes there are topics you can click on. Sometimes there are specific questions you can ask, or responses you can make when asked questions. Their brevity or verbosity and number all vary depending upon whom you are talking to, when, their disposition towards you, and under what circumstances and conditions the conversation is taking place.
At this point, I would be asking for a little consistency. Either you use generic topics or you don't. Preferably, you'd use some "real dialogue" options for the player over that though. What you've said basically amounts to "We had no quality control over it and just left it to the whims of the dialogue designer in question. Be sure to check out Bob's work. He liked using the tree system and making some real choices but ignore Bill, all he could ever manage was the odd misguided topic choice".

MrSmileyFaceDude said:
Sometimes this list contains topics you can ask about, like "Rumors" or "Directions". If the NPC offers services such as selling things, reparing armor, teaching you spells, training, etc., there are icons below the list that let you request those services. You can also persuade them at these times.
How hard is it really to flesh those single word topics out into something a little more interesting? "Have any rumours you can tell me?", "What's going on in town these days?", "Can I ask you for some directions?". Just think of the possibilities omgwtfbbqjessicasimpson.
 

Human Shield

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I have nothing against a key phrase system, if you could choose how to approach each topic and it had real results. MW just had a information machine for each NPC.

I think creating dynamic interactions with randomly generated characters is the best thing to work towards. Daggerfall had a great system to ask for directions and use speech skills, if local rumors were expanded, random backgrounds and dispositions were generated, and more actions possible; I think random town folk would be fine.
 

galsiah

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Ok - three questions:
(1) Do quest decisions ever have significant, long term implications? Or is each quest a stand alone "Complete it how you want - no-one will really care once you're done." By implications, I mean branching of plot, opening/closing off (permanently) of other quests..., rather than "You get a great item if you do it this way, and a different one the other way."

(2) Say I'm designing a quest mod, but I want it to blend in with the standard game.
I've got the voice acting covered by basing the plot around a cult of mime artists (all authentically voiced by the silence of Patrick Stewart). Now all I need is for the dialogue to blend well with the rest of the game dialogue. If I write all dialogue using full sentences and dialogue trees, will players think "This is weird - what's going on here?", or will they not notice much of a change?

(3) Are full sentence replies for the player used as a matter of course, or only for quest branching decisions (as in Morrowind)? In Morrowind all quest branching decisions stood out a mile because they were pretty much the only full sentences. Is Oblivion dialogue going to be a case of:
wiki wiki wiki
wiki wiki wiki wiki wiki
[QUEST BRANCH!!!] FULL SENTENCE QUEST DECISION
wiki wiki
wiki
[QUEST BRANCH!!!] FULL SENTENCE QUEST DECISION
wiki wiki

The signposting of decisions in Morrowind quests didn't make the dialogue feel natural. Will Oblivion have the same feel, or is there enough real dialogue (not always with direct consequence) to blend everything well?
 

Section8

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see. Well, that was a bug, and you were supposed to be able to do the quest either way. There's even a journal entry for persuading her to give you the info, but it doesn't work.

Ah yes, and I'm fairly forgiving of bugs. Temple of Elemental Evil is testament to that. :P

But!

It would seem that nobody at Bethesda bothered to test one branch of a binary choice. That's just poor QA. A QA tester should be going against the grain, and ruffling feathers. do the things that aren't obvious. In short, break the game, replicate, report, repeat. The fact that nobody thought to try out the "less obvious" (read: clearly wrong) choice implies an attitude of progression without RP consideration. You'd think there would be even just one person who wants to complete a quest without a bold faced lie. Of course, if that person did exist, they'd probably have balked at Dark Underlord's pet example, too.

Aside from issues with developer attitudes, I can actually understand why nobody picked the truthful choice. It's obviously wrong, in terms of advancing the quest. In fact, it should dry up Addhiranirr as a source of information altogether.

I certainly wouldn't be telling secrets to somebody I'd asked to help me with the law, only to be sold out by them instead. And that's assuming the law didn't actually do anything to them before I can head back and give them the good news that I've sold them out.

So really, it's a stupid choice, given the scope of the consequences. As I said before, the only thing to be gained from it is the self-satisfaction that you stayed in character, when really, it would have been far more appropriate to give the honest character an alternate way to gather the required information.

And that could have been simple. You go there, tell Addhiranirr that you've sold him out, he gets angry enough to attack you (why wouldn't he?) and you find the info, or some lesser facsimile of it on his corpse. Hell, you could even let the player get away with 2/3 of the story, and let Caius intuit the rest while sitting around on a half-naked moontrip.

Anyway, it was a genuine attempt at a choice&consequence, and the only thing that made it fail was a bug.

So yes, it's not the bug part that irks me, although it would have if there wasn't a ready solution to found on the 'net, since it was a showstopper.

It's what that bug suggests, with regard to Bethesda's attitude and philosophies. It's a pointless, even idiotic choice included for no good reason. RP choices should be interesting, not crippling.
 

nakanja

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You're right, I never tried it because I assumed it was nothing more than way to make things difficult for no reason. Now maybe if your reputation with the tax people actually meant something to make that choice worth it... come to think of it the agent seems like he could be a likely source of information to go to about things that are being smuggled around, if they had wanted to make an alternate way of getting the information.
 

elander_

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MrSmileyFaceDude said:

What if when we click on a topic we really want to ask different questions about that topic word?

For example the name of a person is MSFD and we want to ask several questions about him:

Where is MSFD hideout from where he is terrorizing the nearby vilage?

How much is the prize on MSFDs head?

Whi is MSFD blood-father?

With only one topic word is difficult to have some flexibility. So what you are saying is that in this case it would be expand to something like:

MSFD hideout
MSFD head prize
MSFD blood-father

I have to say this is true to Daggerfall and Morrowind. The problem with Morrowind was more related to the way the artistic and role-playing quality of the dialogs than with the technical details of the dialog system itself. Morrowind system had only one flow and that is not sorting or bringing most recent/important/used topics to the top of the list like Daggerfall did. But like some modders have show the system, if well used by people who understand the principles of creating good rp dialogs, can do his work well.

So im afraid this information says very little about the content itself. The people i would like to be here talking to the fans are the writers and creatives who are going to use the system, not MSFD who is a programmer and doesn't do dialogs.
 

elander_

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Section8 said:
It would seem that nobody at Bethesda bothered to test one branch of a binary choice.

Theres a lot of that in Morrowind. It looks like nobody considered that many players would like not to take the more reasonable path as advised by the letter the player receives after leaving the prison ship. Nobody ever considered that the player could just decide to walk in a random direction and waste every dungeon in is path until reaching the other extreme of the island and start doing quests. Probably bumping into that tinny dungeon where the Dwemer Puzzle Box is and after cleaning the place dump that little crap in some forgoten shop nearby. Then after reaching level 30 return to Balmora and start doing the local mages guild quests. Oh what great and educative quests to go collect ingrideants from the woods with my level 30 char. Later the shock to find out that that little crappy box was actualy a main quest requirement and that the linear main quest would not progress unless i got that stupid little box back. And i couldn't even beat the noose or intimidate the guy i was supose to deliver the box to in exchange for the info. So yeah i was one of those Dwemer Puzzle Box victims with a bad habit and going inside dungeons uninvited and collect crap from there.
 

DarkUnderlord

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Oooh.. I did that with the 3 antsy end-game weapons. I figured they were cursed weapons seeing as how I got damaged and all and ditched them. Thankfully (though annoyingly), there was only one merchant in the game who had enough to actually pay for them so I knew where they were.

Another thing I liked, walking into the bad guy's Red Mountain lair and hearing a voice over say "You're not ready yet, come back when you are". Not because I wasn't a level 50 uber munchkin but because I hadn't met "the mystic requirements" - presumably of not bringing said weapons into the lair. It would've been nice to confront him and just die for a change, considering how uber I was at that stage.
 

Mantiis

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I find it interesting that for people who comment on roleplaying and the lackthereof within modern rpgs require what they want to say be constructed within the game that they are playing as opposed to the player actually coming up with what they want to say and how they want to say it.

The difference between morrowinds "Vivic" response choice in a dialogue and a more traditional "I would like to know more about Vivic" or "No" as opposed to "I wouldn't agree to this you scum sucking fuck tard (pull out gun)" is all within the mind of the player. The former in the examples above require the player to come up with a retort as opposed to the game putting words in your mouth. For all the talk about roleplaying lacking within "rpgs" this bashing of the seeming lack thereof within oblivion/morrowind is somewhat suprising.

The responses within fallout and planscape for example were great but did not come from me per se they came from some programmer/writer somewhere; I just chose the one that felt close to what I wanted to say. In morrowind I said what I wanted to say and steered the conversation in that direction; I am not saying it was better that planescape/fallout (on the contrary) but it did not lack roleplaying at least not the way I played it.

On another topic: "sell her into slavery"

I dont remember selling someone into slavery as part of the main quest; had a quick look at a faq and couldnt find it either. Care to enlighten me DarkUnderlord?
 

Mefi

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Mantiis said:
I find it interesting that for people who comment on roleplaying and the lackthereof within modern rpgs require what they want to say be constructed within the game that they are playing as opposed to the player actually coming up with what they want to say and how they want to say it.

Am I roleplaying when I scream "Death motherfuckers" when I run over a group of Hari Krishnas in GTA? Yup (ok, maybe not but I wouldn't do it with a real car - k? work with me here). Am I playing a roleplaying game. No. See the difference? Talking to the computer also tends to make my girlfriend get edgy. I try to avoid talking to myself because my social worker told me the police shoot people for that.

The difference between morrowinds "Vivic" response choice in a dialogue and a more traditional "I would like to know more about Vivic" or "No" as opposed to "I wouldn't agree to this you scum sucking fuck tard (pull out gun)" is all within the mind of the player. The former in the examples above require the player to come up with a retort as opposed to the game putting words in your mouth. For all the talk about roleplaying lacking within "rpgs" this bashing of the seeming lack thereof within oblivion/morrowind is somewhat suprising.

The difference is actually between being able to read a sentence and between reading an encyclopedia heading. What you are referring to is the same sort of game children play when they run round with sticks shouting bang-bang. If you are true to your ideal of gameplay, no doubt you don't need even a computer play Morrowind. You can have a conversation with total strangers who don't exist in your head. You could even pretend you were a character from Morrowind and interact with your friends as that character. Or is that silly?

The responses within fallout and planscape for example were great but did not come from me per se they came from some programmer/writer somewhere; I just chose the one that felt close to what I wanted to say. In morrowind I said what I wanted to say and steered the conversation in that direction; I am not saying it was better that planescape/fallout (on the contrary) but it did not lack roleplaying at least not the way I played it.

If I use your way of playing, then I've had interesting conversations with the OED.

Here's the critical thing about how you are assuming we are falling down as roleplayers. Not everyone gets immersed into a game as soon as they see the opening credits. The game is meant to create an illusion of an alternate reality. A spell if you like. The spell doesn't last long if when you try to interact with the game world your character seems to be the tightlipped type who cannot formulate a sentence.Nor does it help that if I'm making up my own dialogue, I have to fit it in around the words selected by the writer or the NPC just isn't interacting with my character.

eg

"Hmmm. I want to tell the elf girly she has nice boobies.
Well, the only options are 'news' and 'Vivic'.
Ok.
"Hey babe have you heard the NEWS that you've got the sweetest boobies this side of the brothels of Cyraddil?"
WTF - is "there is nothing happening here" a come on or what?

I could go on and mention how the actual form the dialogue system takes is not the main criticism of Bethesda games and their dialogue but I'm sure you've read through some posts on the subject so there is no need.
 

Sabregirl

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elander_ said:
I have to say this is true to Daggerfall and Morrowind. The problem with Morrowind was more related to the way the artistic and role-playing quality of the dialogs than with the technical details of the dialog system itself. Morrowind system had only one flow and that is not sorting or bringing most recent/important/used topics to the top of the list like Daggerfall did. But like some modders have show the system, if well used by people who understand the principles of creating good rp dialogs, can do his work well.

So im afraid this information says very little about the content itself. The people i would like to be here talking to the fans are the writers and creatives who are going to use the system, not MSFD who is a programmer and doesn't do dialogs.

Well at least the morrowind dialogue system are very linear oriented. I HATED writing quests in MW, especially non-linear, even remotely intertwining ones. Since dialogue sorts from top to bottom, you had to put in tons of checks once you started to open several potential quest paths. Not impossible to do that sort of thing of course, just considerably more irritating. Maybe it's just hard to make a really flexible dialogue system in general?

Anyway I've heard some info about the quest system (in the CS) being improved generally so perhaps that provides more concrete potential for better made quests in OB.

@Mantiis- Using your imagination to "roleplay" a game doesn't make it an RPG. Trust me, I had enough imagination to "role play" Super Mario3 - I don't think that makes it an RPG. Seems to me an RPG should in some way foster imagination through actual in-game charcter development, skills and meaningful quest choices. Otherwise your RPG is in your head only.

-S
 

Mantiis

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I don't believe the analogies put forth accurately describe what I was trying to say. In morrowind you are the neveraine, YOU. In super mario you are playing mario, in GTA you are playing some "gangster" that has an identity.

In morrowing you create who you are (even down to the custom classes) and decide where to go and who to see. Side scollers do not give this nor do action games. The extension to this as I saw it at the time was you say what you want be it in your head or out loud (with or without your girlfriend looking strangely at you) as you are playing the game.

Clearly I am alone in thinking this way.
 

galsiah

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Mantiis said:
The difference between morrowinds "Vivic" response choice in a dialogue and a more traditional "I would like to know more about Vivic" ... is all within the mind of the player.
First, RPGs should support roleplaying - not allow it.

Mantiis DMs a D&D session:
Mantiis: You see a city.
Player: And? What's it like?
Mantiis: Are you a not a roleplayer - use your imagination.
Player: But come on man - describe some stuff.
Mantiis: Right some guy walks up and greets you
Player: What does he say.
Mantiis: Bloody hell - some imagination, please!
Player: Right, ok, I'll greet him back - I'll say...
Mantiis: Hang on - I'm the DM here: "Road." or "Book?"
Player: But what? What does that mean? I'm saying...
Mantiis: "ROAD" or "BOOK?"!!!
Player: Ok - calm down. Um, book?
Mantiis: The guy says to you: "You bring up the sacred book of my dead father HERE - In this place!". He draws his sword and attacks.
Player: What? How the hell was I supposed to get that from "Book?"?!
Mantiis: Imagination maybe - Jesus! He's attacking you by the way.
Player: Right, I'll defend myself...
Mantiis: I'm afraid he just killed you. That's it. Your lack of roleplaying skill is just unforgivable.
Player: ?
 

Mefi

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Mantiis said:
I don't believe the analogies put forth accurately describe what I was trying to say. In morrowind you are the neveraine, YOU. In super mario you are playing mario, in GTA you are playing some "gangster" that has an identity.

What is the difference between saying "I am the Neveraine" and "I am Mario"? Either both are the same or both are bullshit as a concept. You can be immersed in any game. When I play a strategy game based on Waterloo, I am Wellington or I am Napoleon. That's what any computer game should be about not just a roleplaying game.

In morrowing you create who you are (even down to the custom classes) and decide where to go and who to see. Side scollers do not give this nor do action games.

You're moving into other aspects of gameplay here. Morrowind had a large game world. No-one has said other wise. And it was free-form in the sense that you could decide to do some things (by no means everything) in the order you chose.

The extension to this as I saw it at the time was you say what you want be it in your head or out loud (with or without your girlfriend looking strangely at you) as you are playing the game.

Why is this a logical extension? I can see your point about how each character would phrase things uniquely, but I can't make the leap into "making up the words for yourself every time you speak" is a good thing. If the aim of the game is to get you to identify with your character, why turn basic dialogue into a series of short entries? If it is such a good idea, why are the main quest lines not treated similarly? And you are still bound by the fact that the purpose of your sentence has to be put there by someone in the first place. Why not have some options based on how your character wants to be perceived or is perceived by the NPCs? That cannot be done with the wiki style and leads to a game where essentially all characters are one and the same as they cannot influence how they are seen in the world beyond the very crude 'good or bad' dichotomy.

Clearly I am alone in thinking this way.

You can always interact with yourself though, so you won't get lonely ;)
 

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