Spying On The Spy: Alpha Protocol Previewed

By Alec Meer on August 6th, 2009 at 3:59 pm.

Over on Eurogamer today are a collection of my words and phrases, strung into a number of sentences intended to give a flavour of what Alpha Protocol, Obisidian’s upcoming secret agent RPG, is like. I begin approximately like so:

In a few minutes of videogame footage, in the face of lots of game-hungry industry folks, it’s vital to show several things, those things being: guns, guns being fired at someone, someone falling over when fired at with guns. Given that RPGs are as much about dialogue and narrative as they are about action, this approach is rather like promoting an album by stitching together all the choruses. Sure, it’s noisy and excited, but it’s also confusing and peculiar. For the same reason, E3 didn’t do Alpha Protocol many favours…

…and then get into what form the roleplaying and storytelling elements of the game take. Read it, do.

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40 Comments »

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  1. Dan says:

    Links have gone a bit wrong. At least I already know where Eurogamer lives though.

  2. Mike says:

    Heh. Is the thing you’ve quoted from your original copy? Interesting to see how Eurogamer edits. :P

  3. Subject 706 says:

    I read that all of Brian Mitsodas work has been axed from Alpha Protocol. After that my excitement went dooooown.

  4. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Mitsoda’s work cut out? Mitsoda founding DoubleBear? Dialogue still remains dangerously close to FMV adventures?

    Hmm.

  5. Xercies says:

    I hope this game is shaken, not stirred…

    Sorry

    I do find something interesting with your thoughts on EA trailers though, many people are wanting more of an action RPG anyway.

  6. RLacey says:

    Me wants.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Stense says:

    It looks promising. I’m a fan of Obsidian’s work so I’ll be sure to check this out.

    Just a quick question about the character you play, is it a set character or can you build your own character? Not a major point, I’m just curious.

  8. Paul says:

    I will probably buy this if it is half as good as Deus Ex.

    I am also very happy about Doublebear.

  9. Adventurous Putty says:

    Remember, Mitsoda might be out, but Avellone is still very, very in. And Avellone did KOTOR II, which is by no means a pushover in the “amazing video games destined for classic status” department.

  10. Zerotime says:

    I’ll be happy as long as it’ll allow a pure stealth playstyle.

  11. Subject 706 says:

    @the affront
    Yeah, I read about that. Iron Tower Studios sure gives you hope for future RPGs. Now they only have to release one of course.

    @Adventurous Putty
    Yeah, KOTOR II was good (the finished parts that is), but Avellone also did the OC for NWN2, and that was pure garbage. The removal of Mitsodas work makes me suspect publisher pressure for MOAR ACKSHUN!!! LESS TALK!! I guess we’ll see when the release date comes.

  12. ilves says:

    ghar… work blocks eurogamer but doesn’t block rockpapershotgun. that link is such a tease.

  13. Vinraith says:

    I’m hopeful this will finally fulfill my wish for a Top Secret: SI or Millenium’s End style PC game.

  14. SanguineLobster says:

    “The pow as well as the pow-wow”? Really Alec?

  15. Simon Jones says:

    I’m still surprised by the love for KotOR2. Not that I mind people liking it, I’m very happy that some people do, but it seemed like such a drawn-out, cludgy, undisciplined mess when I played it.

    Massively verbose dialogue that wasn’t particularly interesting; HUGE levels with almost nothing in them, requiring you to run back and forth continually; entire levels seemingly entirely without any kind of atmospheric lighting pass; crazy difficulty spikes in an otherwise very easy game….

    People acknowledge the bugs and unfinished nature of the game, but it was the shoddy game design that let me down.

    Maybe I was just grumpy when I played it? :)

    Still, AP does sound kinda progressive and Deus Exy…I just don’t trust the pedigree.

  16. Magnus says:

    Is it me or is it light on the RPG elements?

    Could be Deus Ex like though. Which might be nice.

    However, I’m more of a traditional RPG type of person, so I’ll be going for Dragon Age instead, but might pick this up later on when it’s cheap.

  17. GregP says:

    Alec,

    When you RPSers post links to your Eurogamer articles, is it to save space or due to some contractual obligations to Eurogamer that limits reproduction? I ask because while I can read RPS just fine at work, sadly Eurogamer is blocked, so I always have to wait until I get home to read them.

  18. JKjoker says:

    @GregP, what kind of internaut are you ? there are hundreds of sites like hidemyass that let you into those sites :p

  19. JonR says:

    Subject 706: Where did you read about Mitsoda’s work getting cut?

  20. DK says:

    Nice to see that people are already building up their excuses they’ll be use when it turns out yet another Obsidian product is shite.
    “The evil publisher pushed them….”

  21. DK says:

    *using, drat you edit-function-be-gone

  22. skizelo says:

    I’ll buy any RPG without a bleeding karma system. Buddhism kills writing of games. And it’ll be interesting to see if Avellone’s got the balls to throw Ravel/Darth Trayer into yet a third game.

  23. Kieron Gillen says:

    Re: Eurogamer. More politeness really. Eurogamer’s contract actually gives us reproduction rights – which is something Future doesn’t do, at least for 6 months – so we could mirror everything. But when they’re paying us, it does seem a little bit off.

    KG

  24. suibhne says:

    Alec, it’s a good preview – the best I’ve read so far at answering the questions that interest me, personally – but I’m a bit confused. Is this based on actual hands-on gameplay that you’ve had a chance to experience, as with the recent RPS writeup of Borderlands, or is it drawn from the presskits and developer demos and the like? There’s so much echo-chamber stuff based on the game’s publicity that I’m most eager to see a real hands-on.

  25. Markoff Chaney says:

    RPS is one of the few gaming related sites I can browse from at work as well and I hope that never changes. Whatever the keywords are, I beg them to stay the same. Proxy avoidance is another one of those no-no filter keywords so I can’t really get around them that way either. They’ve gotten smarter over time, at least here and I’m not about to set up my own proxy from home, though I’ve seen it can work, in theory.

  26. Subject 706 says:

    @Jon R
    Mitsodas own words over on the Iron Tower Studios forum.

  27. Adventurous Putty says:

    Still, AP does sound kinda progressive and Deus Exy…I just don’t trust the pedigree.

    HA, I thought you were talking about me for a second there (most forum folks just call me by my pseudonym’s abbreviation).

    I’m still surprised by the love for KotOR2. Not that I mind people liking it, I’m very happy that some people do, but it seemed like such a drawn-out, cludgy, undisciplined mess when I played it.

    Massively verbose dialogue that wasn’t particularly interesting; HUGE levels with almost nothing in them, requiring you to run back and forth continually; entire levels seemingly entirely without any kind of atmospheric lighting pass; crazy difficulty spikes in an otherwise very easy game….

    I really could go on for days about what I think KOTOR II did that was revolutionary, but then it’d amount to verbal masturbation. In a nutshell: I think that the endearing ambiguity of its NPCs, the philosophical/deconstructive twist on the usual Star Wars morality system, and the overall strength of its themes of loss, decay, and betrayal elevated the plot to something greater than just entertainment. And the gameplay, IMHO, was improved over KOTOR I (sans the aforementioned difficulty spike).

  28. Mortiphago says:

    Alec, please. NWN2’s story is sad and chockful of cliches. KOTOR2’s story is decent, but the ending… the ending, gah!

  29. Adventurous Putty says:

    The ending was anti-climactic and incomplete and broken. So, what? When you think about it it’s actually fitting.

  30. Radiant says:

    So that’s manchester boston then.

  31. Radiant says:

    wait wrong thread

  32. Radiant says:

    ok so if your power ups are defined by your actions then I guess you could roam yourself into a really mediocre spy.

  33. Radiant says:

    Like one of the guys from ‘Allo ‘Allo
    “It is I! Michael Thornton”

  34. TeeJay says:

    “…all 30-odd hours of the game (which sounds short for an RPG, but the 120 hours of dialogue hint at huge scope for replay)…”

    120 hours of dialogue! O_O This makes it sound like half your time will be spent watching cut-scenes. Personally I don’t really want to play a 30-hour game where 10 hours is spent watching cut-scenes, even less replay the game 12 times to watch all 120 ours of the stuff!

    “…”We try and make it so there’s no bad choices,” says programming producer Nathan Davis….”

    I get the idea of allowing different play styles (like most decent RPGs) but “no bad choices” means no skill or risks in choosing, no in-depth agonising over character builds, working out how far you can push things on certain levels or enemies, less impact in story trade-offs or specialisms.

    I still hopeful about this game, but I won’t be surprised if it actually turns out to be ‘dumbed-down’ when compared to a ‘proper/classic’ RPG (eg BG-type) or FPS/RPG hybrid (eg Deus Ex).

  35. MrMud says:

    re: Mortiphago

    The NWN2 OC might have been so so, but Mask of the Betrayer was absolutely brilliant. One of the best RPGs in years.

  36. Pidesco says:

    NWN2 OC wasn’t written by Avellone. As far as I know he only helped out with some of the characters.

    Ferret Baudoin wrote NWN2’s OC. I think he is at
    Bioware, now.

  37. N-Al says:

    Being pretty much 2 steps away from completing the NWN2 OC I have to agree; it is sooo disappointingly average. At least finishing the thing will allow me to import my character into MoB, which by all accounts is MUCH better.

    That, and the fact that I much preferred Kotor 2 to 1 as well (even with 2’s butchered ending) still gives me hope that Alpha Protocol will turn out great, though.

  38. Levictus says:

    So is this going to be anything like Deus Ex or Vampire: Bloodlines? Or is going to an action game with a few RPG elements?

  39. GregP says:

    @JKjoker,

    As Markoff relates, most proxy sites are blocked too. All I can say is, thank god for RPS, or I’d lose my mind at work.

    @KG, thanks for explanation.