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Graveyards & Story

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I like rpgs and I love rpgs with a great strory. If I ever wanted to create an rpg I would do it like this: Write a long detailed history of the land. Then I would put parts of the story in the game. Not in the form of a historybook, but like in one town there was a fire 10years ago and now some of the house have still not been reapiered. Ok, that was some background info, now here is my idea (I do not know if people allready do this but I just thought of it): Make the graveyard a part of the story. Like in 455 a ship sinked with alot of people in it. Now if you walk through the graveyard and look at the gravestones you''ll find about 20 stones with a text like this: "Robert Nilson 432-455 The sea took our loved father" What do you think? Zredna

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Sounds good. But I also look for a purpose to the story... You need to be telling a story for a reason IMO... My point (or moral ) to the story is ''End Goblin Genocide''

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-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft
"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy"
IOL (The list formerly known as NPCAI) - A GDNet production
Our Doc - The future of RPGs
Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          

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I can not see what you mean. The story do not need to have anything to do with the game it self. It would be if I made a game like: "Zredna: a normal person". Then the PC can read about the stoneage, world war I/II, etc etc in the history book, but it would not really affect the game in any mean, and it would not have a purpose.

Zredna

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What is the point of having only a background story? Why not let the character play out the story? Then you have a point and a worthwhile game. Otherwise you just have Diablo or Diablo II, a hack''n''slash game with little or no reasoning... IMO

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft
"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy"
IOL (The list formerly known as NPCAI) - A GDNet production
Our Doc - The future of RPGs
Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          

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Ok, I see your point, but my example was just a very extreme example. Of course in a real game (I would not call my example a real game...) the bg history would affect the player in alot of ways like quests where you do A because B did that in C... I just like when I play a game when there is a link between everything, like why is all the houses in the west part of the city burned down. Answer: There was a fire 10 years ago. Also my graveyard example was a little stupid. But let say that the player get a quest like kill the evil wizard who killed all our childs ,to use the brains in a potion, 5 years ago. Then it would be a could feature that if the player ever looked at the graveyard he would find alot of gravestones from kids that died 5 years ago with a text like: "Killed by a evil wizard. May the potion burn in his stomach". Like you kind of use the graveyard as to backup the story.

Zredna

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What Zredna means is that an RPG should have a very well-developed background and lots of detail in the wordl.I''m trying to do this, Zredna.It took my two years to create the game world ( brag, brag ) and I''m trying to make everything as detailed as possible.But it''s a lot of work, especially in the beginning (now it''s quite easy, and it''s not hard to implement - really !)

Runemaster
Join the Game Developers RuneRing !

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I am trying to do this as well, where do I choose to start the history from thought? And which point in time do I start tracking it? Do I start from the present (and how everything is) and work backwards or do I say, um... 200 years ago is a good start, lets do that.. and work forwards? There are a lot of decisions to be made... I agree that a fully developed world is what really makes a game deep (see Tolkien for instance ) but I am just saying that a world needs to be running parallel to some kind of story, or else it is just plain boring

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft
"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy"
IOL (The list formerly known as NPCAI) - A GDNet production
Our Doc - The future of RPGs
Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          

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Hopefully for me I''m a GameMaster since about 10 years, so my world is very well described for some periods.
(Yes I don''t play always at the same period of time)

But as I pointed out, in my upcoming games it''s the player that builds up the character strenght, history and waekness by playing the important events of his life.

So their will be a custom background for this character, less detailed as if I was able to write on my own with no interactivity from the player, but more rewarding to the player.

If you talk about world history, my world is unique, with not that many monsters/fearie creatures as I prefer to call them.
Ecology, economics and history are all linked.
JRR Tolkien made a great/huge work on his world before writing the Lord of the Rings.

You probably won''t describe your world as much as he did...

But the question is how will you give the player''s the infos about that world ?!
He must know common knowledge of your world, but since he''s beginning to play with a several years old character, how will you teach him those famous legends... ?!

If someone has an idea about that I''ll be glad to hear it cause my solutions sofar aren''t satisfying me...

-* So many things to do, so little time to spend. *-

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I had that problem at the beginning of my AD&D (with modified rules) campaign, so I decided that the players were born and raised on a small island.Therefore, they did not know much of the outside world.And during training (mage/warrior/paladin) they lived in a very small community.Only the mage knew a bit more, and I''d told him those things on the phone .But of course you can''t do that in every game.

Runemaster
Join the Game Developers RuneRing !

The Specular Lightosis Research Fund

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quote:
Sounds good. But I also look for a purpose to the story... You need to be telling a story for a reason IMO... My point (or
moral ) to the story is ''End Goblin Genocide''


I like the idea of having a general story. Let the players create their own intrigues and story, thats part of the RP experience. Provide the TOOLS; let the gamers build the STORY. Yes it will not be for everybody, but you''ll attract a dedicated audience. And no I dont think Diablo accomplishes this, diablo plot sux.

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The way I have been trying to handle a strong background story that has evidence of it in the world is working on projects like IOL. I want a seriously strong AI that could run a couple hundred years of history and allow the world create its own history. As for you example I would want a reason why the fire burned down that side of the town, like a monster attack of a magical accident.

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Background story kicks ass if it''s done right. As far as the history goes, you could just tell the player in the intro about the major events, and let the other (local) events tells themselves later in the game.

Letting the player creat his/her history is a great idea, and I also plan on using it in my game (word to MadKeithV).

-------------------------------------------
"What's the story with your face, son?!?"

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I think you''ve hit on a great idea. Background story is very important to an immersive RPG, but I get turned off by pages of dialog with NPCs that only serve to explain the local history.

And I usually skip that portion of the manual.

If you can figure out how to make the history reflected in the environment (graveyard, burned down buildings) that''s fantastic. That way a perceptive player can investigate the local history if so inclined.

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I''ve been a way for a while, but now I''m back, and I have taken some new ideas on the how-to-tell-the-player-the-story-in-an-interactive-way-topic. Let''s say that 14 July 1943 there was a fire in the city and alot of people died. Ok, now the player don''t know any of this, but if he walk through the city he would see alot of burned down houses the same place. And if he go to the graveyard he will find that alot of people died the 14 July 1943. Now, what does that tell the player? Well there had been a fire in the city, and alot of people had died 14 July 1943 (and maybe on some of the gravestones he might aswell read that they died in some sort of fire), but it do not tell 100% sure that the dead people and the burned down houses are the same event. Now what could we do to this? One solution would be that when the player have seen most of the gravestones there would be a new topic in the next npc-dialogs. I do not prefer this way of doing it because what if the real player did not notice it? I think it would be cooler if the dialog system worked the same way as in the first ultima games. Then the PC could write "14 July 1943", "Fire", "Burned down houses" or something like that and if the NPC know the story he could tell it.

I have notice some of you (like me) like a good background story and search for ways to tell the player the story in a interactive way, so I will create a list with ways to tell the player the story, and I hope some of you would add to the list:

Manual (hehe *joke*)
Graveyards
NPC dialog (Of course in a interactive way so the player only hear what he is interested in)
The look of the buildings
...

Zredna

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Hmm. . .I''ve been trying to come up with a good way to handle 90% of exposition through interactive dialogue, and from what I''ve seen the keyword system is inadequate. It results in something like the following dialogue. . .

Sir Beeglenose of Paegnutt approached the villager, a bit tentatively, as he was a stranger here, and what with the brigands and all, a stranger was as likely to offer a knife-blade as a bit of friendly conversation. "Pardon me, kind sir, but what is the meaning of these charred, abandoned buildings?"

The villager answered. "Huh? I have not seen a _kind sir_."

A bit taken aback by the obvious slur, Sir Beeglenose continued. "These burned buildings? What is their story, praytell?"

The villager said, "Huh? I have not seen a _burned buildings_."

Sir Beeglenose realized that he was dealing with a simpleton. "Those ones right behind you." He said, gesturing emphatically with his index finger.

The villager simply replied, "Huh? I have not seen a _right behind you_?"

Disgusted, Sir Beeglenose waved his hands wildly about his head. "FIRE!!! THERE!!! HOW DID IT HAPPEN!!! BIG!!! BOOM!!!"

The villager brightened a bit. "You may purchase torches at Gourad''s General Store."

Sir Beeglenose drew his broadsword. "You damn fool! I shall smite thee where you stand!!"

"Huh? I have not seen a *gurgle**hack**ack-ack*. . ." 8P


Of course, if the player had thought to type 14 July 1943, it could have all turned out differently. . .I guess if you''re going to implement something like this in a game that is up to today''s standards, something like a near-complete Thesauraus, decent (not necessarily perfect) natural language parsing, a list of all proper names used in your story plus substitutions, all interfaced to a nicely designed relational database could provide some semblance of reason for your NPC''s. I''m still working on it tho''. Your game would really have to hinge on it, for it to be worth the massive amount of effort involved. (mine does, incidentally)

If you see the Buddha on the road, Kill Him. -apocryphal

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But that is not how I want to let the dialog to work. The player should only write keywords, and if I made it that way I would tell the player (in the manual, a readme file... Whatever!) that it worked that way.

Zredna

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Guest Anonymous Poster
LOL!

Other ways: signposts - no guarantee player will see them.
Public newsbroadcasts (essentially a voice over while the player wanders nearby)

Re: conversation. A compromise is in order.

Given:
1) A player wouldn''t know from the start to type in 1943, so requiring that they look at the gravestones is not unreasonable.
2) It makes more sense to learn the same info from several sources. That is, the gravestones should not be the only source of knowledge about the date.

3) I am lazy point and clicker by nature, as I suspect much of your target audience is.

It would be reasonable, IMO, to offer the player the option to add a ''conversation topic'' after looking at the gravestones. In further dialogs, have the date appear as an icon in the conversation window, perhaps also a '' player knowledge'' window.


Iconic knowledge behavior: (this bit is important to do it right)
1) For large worlds, icons should be identified local to a region or area. If, for example, we leave the town with the fire and sail halfway across the world, don''t provide me the same 1943 icon when I talk with the locals there. But remember to add it back when (if) I return.

2) I should be able to R-click and get a brief reminder of what I know.

3) If I find out about the fire, remove the 1943 icon from the conversation window. Leave it in the knowledge window in case I forget about what it meant. Maybe a brief prompt from the other NPCs if necessary for continuity (''Fred goes on to ramble about the fire you''ve already heard about'')

4) Include plenty of useless or trivial items. Force the player to decide what''s important to remember or keep track of. Default to ask the player if he wants to keep the clues.

5) Allow the player to remove (hide) knowledge icons that are later determined to be useless.

6) If the game has a good chance the player will die, have an option to retain the knowledge items even if the previous save is a ways back. Don''t force me to click on the gravestones every time if there''s a high risk area nearby and I get killed several times.

Well, these are just my ideas, comments?

A good example is in Discworld Noir, where you carry around a notebook of clues. It doesn''t employ all of the suggestions, but it is done pretty well.

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Ultima 7 has lots of gravestones, all readable Some fit the plot, some are just background info, and one or two were jokes relating to the development team

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And you forget to mention the signs and books ... it was jsut incredible how much stuff they wrote, that you could just play without ever reading.

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