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  1. #61
    Lesser Hivemind Node Shooop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    It isn't "take a wild guess". It is "Do what makes sense based upon limited knowledge"

    Using The Witcher 1 for example, I never felt that I was not qualified to make a decision. I did feel that I couldn't know for certain what the consequences would be, but that makes it feel all the more meaningful. If I wanted to just affect my alignment or my ending, I would get a spreadsheet game. Instead, it is about seeing the consequences of your actions and how it influences the details of the story.
    I haven't played much of the first Witcher so I can't commentate on it. But the sequel really suffered from giving the player next to no information to go on and expecting them to make a choice. How would you know that confirming an object at the beginning of the game is magical would lead to a NPC being killed because he thought he didn't need armor when carrying it? You have no idea that's what he's even planning to do until you've already made the choice. A consequence like that looses all meaning to players because they had no idea what the AI was programed to decide.
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  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by fiddlesticks View Post
    Ultimately there seem to be two differing viewpoints. Those who enjoy open-world games precisely because they're shallow and allow the gamer to live out his/her own fantasies, and those who would rather have stronger guidance through the world and a deeper relation to the characters therein. Bethesda games fall squarely in the first camp, whereas New Vegas or The Witcher are examples of the second kind. I don't see any way to reconcile these viewpoints and as long as the first group of gamers is as large as it currently is, I don't see any reason why open-world games would change their ways.
    There is also a third viewpoint, that open-world games are currently too shallow but the improvement lies not in the better writing/more scripted quests/more dialogue tree nodes philosophy of the choice'n'consequence school of gaming, but rather in improved interactivity, responsiveness and dynamism from a more simulationist point of view. I'd be quite happy to sacrifice stability and consistency of the experience at times to have the chance of choices and consequences in which the outcomes hadn't been pre-determined by the developer, but rather emerged from the mechanics of the simulation in at-times unexpected fashion. This seems to me to be a type of player agency more suitable to many open-world experiences than the typical choice'n'consequence pre-scripted approach seen in the likes of the Witcher and Dragon Age.
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

  3. #63
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shooop View Post
    I haven't played much of the first Witcher so I can't commentate on it. But the sequel really suffered from giving the player next to no information to go on and expecting them to make a choice. How would you know that confirming an object at the beginning of the game is magical would lead to a NPC being killed because he thought he didn't need armor when carrying it? You have no idea that's what he's even planning to do until you've already made the choice. A consequence like that looses all meaning to players because they had no idea what the AI was programed to decide.
    Because after talking with them briefly, they are clearly idiots?

    And either way, that is kind of the point of unforeseen consequences. Do you feel that life has no meaning because you don't know how a person might react to something you say?
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  4. #64
    Lesser Hivemind Node Shooop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    Because after talking with them briefly, they are clearly idiots?

    And either way, that is kind of the point of unforeseen consequences. Do you feel that life has no meaning because you don't know how a person might react to something you say?
    In reality (which is something I kind of like games for because I get to ignore it for a while), you would have the chance to yell, "Hey! I didn't say you should go do something reckless. It may be enchanted, but I'm not sure it'll be much protection against arrows and swords." You don't get that kind of option in the game.
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  5. #65
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    Where Skyrim excelled for me was not in the main story or faction quests but when I would just be wondering with no real aim and I would see something interesting to investigate or find a cave/house where there is a small self contained story that feels like it is part of a larger "living" world. I think Bethesda has this consistency to their worlds where you are not constantly being taken out of the experience (Far Cry 3 Challenges) and I can get lost in the world. For me no developer other than Bethesda has really pulled this off (Stalker, Precursors and maybe Divinity 2 are the close but lack the volume of content and scale of the world).

    What I really want is for a game to tie the Bethesda world structure to compelling "actiony" gameplay, which was my hope with Far Cry 3 where I liked the "emergent" bits but after a short time the world was nothing more than map icon collection where I had no incentive to explore for better gear or a interesting titbits of fiction.

    Personally I do feel the "open" aspect of some games is a failure but Skyrim is not one of them. I know this is an incredibly subjective opinion and I welcome any suggestions for open world games I have overlooked.

    As an aside I should say Deus Ex HR. Vampire Masquerades: Bloodlines both ticked the consistency/exploration box but I don't think I would consider them open world.

  6. #66
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shooop View Post
    In reality (which is something I kind of like games for because I get to ignore it for a while), you would have the chance to yell, "Hey! I didn't say you should go do something reckless. It may be enchanted, but I'm not sure it'll be much protection against arrows and swords." You don't get that kind of option in the game.
    Clearly you have never talked to an idiot who just walks away once they made up their mind. And would the game be improved by
    Geralt: "Yo, moron. Does that at all seem like a smart move to you?"
    Moron: "You said it was magic"
    Geralt: "So is my semen, but you aren't covering yourself with that to defend against spears"
    Moron: "Yes, because I have my amulety ring thing"
    Geralt: "You know what? Go catch an arrow, be my guest"


    It sounds more like you think decision-points should be just a stat modifier or something with immediate and forseeable results. In that case, why should any game even BOTHER trying to make them meaningful, when it boils down to "Do you want +2 to Dex or Str?" and "Do you want to go left or right?"


    Also, while it has been a while since I played TW2, your description of that side quest sounded wrong to me, so I grabbed the game guide off GoG to check. Apparently the Reavers actually tell you they got it when Newboy made a bet that he'd survive the siege without wearing armor. So I count that as a pretty god damned big clue that he is gonna be stupid. So in that case, it is a case where lying is probably a smarter move (although, I vaguely recall being able to say "Yes, it is magical, but I don't think it is protective" or whatever. But that is not important). It isn't telling the truth, but this is a case where telling the truth might be worse.
    Last edited by gundato; 07-01-2013 at 07:31 PM.
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  7. #67
    Lesser Hivemind Node Shooop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    Clearly you have never talked to an idiot who just walks away once they made up their mind.
    Plenty of times, only without the walking away bit. But I'd better stop because now I'm being too snarky for my own good and he's probably still salty.

    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    It sounds more like you think decision-points should be just a stat modifier or something with immediate and forseeable results. In that case, why should any game even BOTHER trying to make them meaningful, when it boils down to "Do you want +2 to Dex or Str?" and "Do you want to go left or right?"
    No, like I said, what I want is the game to offer some insight about what's going on before it throws an important decision at you. It's fine to have unforeseen consequences, but if you want the player to feel like they had involvement in them the game should make you feel like, "Yes I made that decision. It was the best one I could think of." instead of "Eh, A or B. I have no idea, I'll just pick one and go to YouTube to see what happens for the other."


    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    Apparently the Reavers actually tell you they got it when Newboy made a bet that he'd survive the siege without wearing armor. So I count that as a pretty god damned big clue that he is gonna be stupid.
    I do not remember that coming up in their conversation at all. Now I have another excuse to replay the game yet again. That's more like what I want to see.

    Now if only we had some kind of insight into the politics of The Witcher's world. The books are hard to find in anything but Polish, and even if they weren't that's not the ideal way of priming your players.
    Last edited by Shooop; 07-01-2013 at 07:40 PM.
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  8. #68
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    And, in my opinion at least, The Witcher 2 provides more than enough context. It just doesn't explain how EVERYTHING will go because, well, yeah.

    One of my favorites from The Witcher 1 was a seemingly one-off moment where you are guarding some supplies (to be sold later) and a bunch of Scoia'tel come by asking for it. The squirrels are definitely "terrorists" (albeit, sympathetic ones) and may even be the proper recipients, but you have no way to be certain. And that has short term effects (they were weapons if you give them, food if you didn't) but also have long term effects and flavoring (the Squirrels are hungry and desperate if they had no supplies, etc).

    The politics issue would be nice to go into more deeply, but buying books (in-game) and reading the encyclopedia seems effective. But, mostly, you just need to know:

    Nilfgarden (sp?) were recently at war and were defeated. Everyone is still afraid of them
    EVERYONE else are dicks. If they wear a crown, they are a dick. Don't trust them.
    The squirrels may or may not have good intentions, but they are guerillas who commit acts of terrorism
    Roche's boys may or may not have good intentions, but they are VERY brutal toward the squirrels.
    Geralt has a thing for sorceresses

    But yeah, I really do hope the people with the rights to translations try to translate to English again. The problem was that they did the first short story collection, skipped the second, and then did the first book of the series proper. So unless you played the games, you had no idea who most of the people in the "second" book were. But the first short story collection was truly about Geralt and Yennefer, so the game players also got confused.

    But, to be fair, I think it works better this way. Geralt has amnesia that he is slowly recovering from, so there is no reason the player should know everything either. Right now, Ciri is a VERY mysterious entity (it is ambiguous how much of her Geralt remembers), and Yennefer is quickly becoming known.
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  9. #69
    Quote Originally Posted by Shooop View Post
    In reality (which is something I kind of like games for because I get to ignore it for a while), you would have the chance to yell, "Hey! I didn't say you should go do something reckless. It may be enchanted, but I'm not sure it'll be much protection against arrows and swords." You don't get that kind of option in the game.
    minor spoilers:

    You can actually tell him that the necklace is obviously enchanted but it might not actually protect against swords and arrows, because your wolf medallion doesn't say what the magic does, it just vibrates if something is magic.

  10. #70
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus LTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shooop View Post
    No, like I said, what I want is the game to offer some insight about what's going on before it throws an important decision at you. It's fine to have unforeseen consequences, but if you want the player to feel like they had involvement in them the game should make you feel like, "Yes I made that decision. It was the best one I could think of." instead of "Eh, A or B. I have no idea, I'll just pick one and go to YouTube to see what happens for the other."
    But how can a decision be in any way meaningful if you can already tell what the best course of action is? You want to gain insight to the events, but that can't happen unless you experience the consequences of a decision instead of simply having them laid out for you. There is no involvement in that, because you know every other player will make the decision based on the same knowledge, regardless of what they actually felt was important to them. With incomplete information, the game gives you the opportunity to reflect on your decision, and to say "Knowing what I know now, I would have made a different decision" or "Even if I had the chance, I wouldn't do it any other way". Either you think made a mistake, and you own up to it, or you stick by your choice and accept the consequences. That's way more involved than a decision where you know exactly the outcome.

    Now if only we had some kind of insight into the politics of The Witcher's world. The books are hard to find in anything but Polish, and even if they weren't that's not the ideal way of priming your players.
    I read a few of the English-translated Witcher books, and the games are actually far more involved in politics than the books. I don't remember reading about any kings, commandants or resistance leaders, just a great deal of personal dramas.

  11. #71
    Lesser Hivemind Node Shooop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caddybear View Post
    minor spoilers:

    You can actually tell him that the necklace is obviously enchanted but it might not actually protect against swords and arrows, because your wolf medallion doesn't say what the magic does, it just vibrates if something is magic.
    I did go over that, the medallion confirms it is magic but not what it does. What I didn't catch was what they were planning to do with it - go charging into a siege without armor. But going back and watching their conversation, they actually do mention a bet. It's something they went over so quickly I didn't catch it the first two times playing the game.

    That's what I'm looking for. It hints at what people are thinking instead of dragging you over to a sign painted on the wall or just making you guess.

    It also means I should always turn on subtitles for Witcher games.


    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    One of my favorites from The Witcher 1 was a seemingly one-off moment where you are guarding some supplies (to be sold later) and a bunch of Scoia'tel come by asking for it. The squirrels are definitely "terrorists" (albeit, sympathetic ones) and may even be the proper recipients, but you have no way to be certain. And that has short term effects (they were weapons if you give them, food if you didn't) but also have long term effects and flavoring (the Squirrels are hungry and desperate if they had no supplies, etc).
    That first bit doesn't sit so well with me. It seems kind of cheap to take a decision and subvert it depending on what you do at the time.

    But the long term effects are definitely something I'm behind. Decisions having effects that change the world is the thing I like best about The Witcher series. It's just that I'm not always sure what decision I'm even making when one comes up. I end up feeling disaffected.

    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    The politics issue would be nice to go into more deeply, but buying books (in-game) and reading the encyclopedia seems effective. But, mostly, you just need to know:

    Nilfgarden (sp?) were recently at war and were defeated. Everyone is still afraid of them
    This is the biggest complaint I have with its politics and decision system. Even Garald seems to have something against Nilfgard but we the players have no idea why. We have no idea what sets Nilfgard apart from the other kingdoms other than their accents and armor, and considering how awful the northern kings are we have no idea if it'd actually be an improvement to let them take over. An option to not take any side in some conflicts wouldn't be unwelcome in the next game since we seem to be going there next.
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  12. #72
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shooop View Post
    This is the biggest complaint I have with its politics and decision system. Even Garald seems to have something against Nilfgard but we the players have no idea why. We have no idea what sets Nilfgard apart from the other kingdoms other than their accents and armor, and considering how awful the northern kings are we have no idea if it'd actually be an improvement to let them take over. An option to not take any side in some conflicts wouldn't be unwelcome in the next game since we seem to be going there next.
    Read a book. I would wager money that at least one book in each game covers "Nilfgard messed stuff up and there was a big war"

    Hell, I think the story of Ciri that an innkeeper tells you in TW1 even covers "Nilfgardian aggression" (which may be the name of the book to read :p). And I am pretty sure a few quests involving ghost-like spirits are from the war.

    But also, think about it: Peasants would likely have no idea about anything other than "We went to war, lots of people died. Screw them" and nobility/soldiers wouldn't bother explaining why they dislike them (similar to how there is no need to explain when someone drops a Godwin-bomb). And Geralt generally tries to downplay his ignorance when not around friends for obvious reasons (everyone is a lying, cheating, backstabbing prick)

    The info and background of all decision-points and the world are there, but CD Projekt can't make you read.
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  13. #73
    Lesser Hivemind Node Shooop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    Read a book. I would wager money that at least one book in each game covers "Nilfgard messed stuff up and there was a big war"

    Hell, I think the story of Ciri that an innkeeper tells you in TW1 even covers "Nilfgardian aggression" (which may be the name of the book to read :p). And I am pretty sure a few quests involving ghost-like spirits are from the war.

    But also, think about it: Peasants would likely have no idea about anything other than "We went to war, lots of people died. Screw them" and nobility/soldiers wouldn't bother explaining why they dislike them (similar to how there is no need to explain when someone drops a Godwin-bomb). And Geralt generally tries to downplay his ignorance when not around friends for obvious reasons (everyone is a lying, cheating, backstabbing prick)

    The info and background of all decision-points and the world are there, but CD Projekt can't make you read.
    None of the books in the second game cover much about Nilfgard other than them waging a war against their neighbors because they wanted to annex their territory.

    I didn't play much of the first game. And having players read long passages of text in-game is perhaps the worst way to go about giving them information. Some critics knocked Skyrim for doing the same thing.

    I personally don't like it not because I don't like reading, but because reading text on a monitor for extended periods of time is terrible for the eyes.

    And I am assuming you're talking about the in-game books because we covered how it's not easy to get the Polish books in other translations.
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  14. #74
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shooop View Post
    None of the books in the second game cover much about Nilfgard other than them waging a war against their neighbors because they wanted to annex their territory.

    I didn't play much of the first game. And having players read long passages of text in-game is perhaps the worst way to go about giving them information. Some critics knocked Skyrim for doing the same thing.

    I personally don't like it not because I don't like reading, but because reading text on a monitor for extended periods of time is terrible for the eyes.

    And I am assuming you're talking about the in-game books because we covered how it's not easy to get the Polish books in other translations.
    Considering that it is supplemental information that you don't need to progress or understand the game, I see no problem with providing it in encyclopedia entry form. I would MUCH rather have that then every single person I talk to an expert on nuclear disarmament treaties and psychological disorders (Hello Metal Gear Solid!)

    In-game, you learn "Nilfgardians are dicks. The other dicks say they are" and "These Nilfgardian dicks seem to be plotting something", which is really all you need to know. Because TW2 is not about the broad sweeping politics. It is about Geralt clearing his name, discovering what happened to him, and trying to minimize the impact of events on his friends.

    Which, I guess, is another "problem" with open world games. If you have an open world, people feel the need to know EVERYTHING about the world (even if they refuse to read the lore you put in the game :p). Whereas people are mostly content to know "The Seven Hour War in Half-Life 2 was the Combine popping over and kicking all of humanity's ass over the course of Seven Hours" and "City 17 is somewhere in Eastern Europe, maybe?"
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  15. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shooop View Post
    None of the books in the second game cover much about Nilfgard other than them waging a war against their neighbors because they wanted to annex their territory.

    I didn't play much of the first game. And having players read long passages of text in-game is perhaps the worst way to go about giving them information. Some critics knocked Skyrim for doing the same thing.

    I personally don't like it not because I don't like reading, but because reading text on a monitor for extended periods of time is terrible for the eyes.

    And I am assuming you're talking about the in-game books because we covered how it's not easy to get the Polish books in other translations.
    I've read a lot about Nilfgaard from the books and conversation in the Witcher 2. The Nilfgaardian empire is basically a totalitarian dictatorship. People convicted of treason against the empire suffer a horrific fate that I cannot recall, but may have been mentioned in one of the novels.

    Its emperor is revered as a god, and he is ruthless in dealing with his enemies, both foreign and domestic. Magic is forbidden to those not explicitly in service to the emperor. He pulls the strings of many influential people, including the ruler of the Valley of Flowers, the only existing elven state.

    The Nilfgaardians believe themselves to be the superior race, which is the reason for their expansionist tendencies. Nilfgaardian territories generally enjoy peace and prosperity, mostly thanks to the iron-fisted rule of the emperor, who doubtlessly has many spies in action to ensure this is kept so.

    They have bred a lot of hate in the Northern Kingdoms because of their repeated attempts to conquer them. This has caused the quarreling kings to unite against the Nilfgaardian armies (if only for a short time) in an attempt to stop them from being completely subjugated. They've succeeded, for now.

    Fun fact: In Nilfgaard, witchers are forbidden from entering cities.

    Also, if you're interested in the books, here are the Kindle editions of The Last Wish and Blood of Elves.
    Last edited by LTK; 07-01-2013 at 09:01 PM.

  16. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by LTK View Post
    But how can a decision be in any way meaningful if you can already tell what the best course of action is?
    Being asked to pick from two blind options isn't making a decision, it's simply a random choice. In order for it to be a decision in the first place the player needs to have at least some idea of how it's likely to play out. Indeed, if the player cannot predict the outcome of the decision then you're going to lose immersion due to a breach of narrative consistency. It doesn't necessarily have to turn out as planned of course, but if that's the case there should be clear agency in the reasons why.
    There is no involvement in that, because you know every other player will make the decision based on the same knowledge, regardless of what they actually felt was important to them.
    The entire point of roleplaying is that you're making the decisions you think the character would make. You could take decisions based on the game effects instead, but then you could also smash your kneecap with a sledgehammer. Either way it would be rather spurious to complain about it afterwards.

    I didn't play much of the first game. And having players read long passages of text in-game is perhaps the worst way to go about giving them information. Some critics knocked Skyrim for doing the same thing.

    Not really; there's a reason books are still the main way of recording and passing on information in the real world. Putting it into a game simply brings all the advantages of a book to a virtual space, with the added bonus that it's available for those who want it and can be safely ignored by those who don't. If it was plot critical information then yeah, there's possibly a problem with forcing the player to have to read the equivalent of War and Peace in order to progress, but when it's supplementary background I think you can assume that anyone who bothers locating and reading the entire Brief History of the Empire is doing so because they actually want to read it.

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    Regarding the open world topic.

    Tritely, I think the basic issue is that we're too good at noticing patterns. We learn to read the open world as empty because it has too much repetition (unlike the real world) and also the game contextualization is very unevenly distributed across it.

    An open world that was entirely emergent might not make a good game, but we would probably not perceive the world as empty and pointless, though we might perceive the game that way.

    Personally, I accepted that I want my game experiences fairly constrained decades ago. Sure, I loved Ultima 4's willingness to explore at my own pace, but it expected me to do a very specific set of things, and had people reminding me to do them all over the world. I was fairly expected to go to every nook and cranny avaialble, and the scale of the place was such that I could do it. That's not really an open world, but it gave me almost all the benefits I can see one offering.

  18. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by archonsod View Post
    Being asked to pick from two blind options isn't making a decision, it's simply a random choice. In order for it to be a decision in the first place the player needs to have at least some idea of how it's likely to play out. Indeed, if the player cannot predict the outcome of the decision then you're going to lose immersion due to a breach of narrative consistency. It doesn't necessarily have to turn out as planned of course, but if that's the case there should be clear agency in the reasons why.

    The entire point of roleplaying is that you're making the decisions you think the character would make. You could take decisions based on the game effects instead, but then you could also smash your kneecap with a sledgehammer. Either way it would be rather spurious to complain about it afterwards.
    Have you played the game? It is by no means a random decision. Regardless of the outcome, your decision can be based on many preferences. Is it acceptable to ally myself with a known terrorist and killer? Do I let this man become imprisoned because of my rash action? Do I owe any loyalty to the secret service that helped me escape from jail? Do I put the long-term welfare of this town over the safety of a close personal friend?

    In this case, it is very hard to get an idea of the consequences of your decision because your near future is inherently uncertain. Unexpected events require you to react, and there's no time to get your bearings and carefully consider your options. That is why your decision has to be based on the above questions. That's where roleplaying comes in: Deciding in the face of conflict. Isn't the reaction to conflict the most meaningful way of establishing character? Doesn't that provide the most significant roleplaying opportunity?

  19. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by NathanH View Post
    I'd be quite happy to sacrifice stability and consistency of the experience at times to have the chance of choices and consequences in which the outcomes hadn't been pre-determined by the developer, but rather emerged from the mechanics of the simulation in at-times unexpected fashion.
    I'd really like to see this as well, but I doubt such a game will be made in the forseeable future. I have a hard time believing that any sufficiently large developer would be willing to both invest the required effort and carry the potential risk this project would necessitate. Maybe Obsidian if they were given nearly unlimited funding, but even they seem more focused on the traditional methods of storytelling.

    Not that this should stop us from dreaming, of course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fiddlesticks View Post
    I'd really like to see this as well, but I doubt such a game will be made in the forseeable future. I have a hard time believing that any sufficiently large developer would be willing to both invest the required effort and carry the potential risk this project would necessitate. Maybe Obsidian if they were given nearly unlimited funding, but even they seem more focused on the traditional methods of storytelling.

    Not that this should stop us from dreaming, of course.
    I agree, we're a long way off at the moment, from the point of view of reviewer expectations, player expectations, and designer expertise. I imagine the first two will eventually reach Blackcompany levels of disillusionment with the genre, but the designer expertise problem could be greater. I'd say the first step I'd hope to see on this road would be major Diablolike designers paying more attention to the very interesting and imaginate ideas from Soldak games, and making some high-profile Diablolikes in that mould. Diablolikes are probably good bets for doing the groundwork for such ideas, then they could move to more elaborate open-world RPGs.

    But I don't have much expectation that it will actually happen.
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

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