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Wavinator

Factions that play differently - how? (RPG)

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Wavinator    2017
What RPGs would you hold up as examples of being able to play different sides that were truly different? And was it the story, the events or the gameplay that made the sides truly different? Alternately, can you name examples you would have improved? Side question: What do you think about factions that make you feel uncomfortable in terms of their mission or what they're about. I'm thinking specifically the "Kill the old lady and get the Empire her deed" quest in Morrowind.

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Mayrel    348
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
What RPGs would you hold up as examples of being able to play different sides that were truly different?

None!
Quote:

Alternately, can you name examples you would have improved?

Most of Bioware's D&D games could be better.

Obviously, the D&D universe is fairly polarised into good and evil. Whilst the games give you the option of playing as an 'evil' character, you usually end up having to do good on the main story arcs. In NWN, say, there's no way to get past Chapter One without helping to cure the plague. An evil character might not want to do that -- an evil character might just bust his way out of the city and damn the plague victims.

The problem is that any game with a fixed main story arc forces you to follow the arc, whether or not your character would actually do so. Often, whilst the game may allow you to complete side quests in a variety of ways, it will punish you for taking actions that would break the main story.

In Baldur's Gate, there's the Flaming Fist, who prevent you from properly roleplaying a chaotic evil character. In many games, NPCs that are important to the main story arc are invincible. In NWN, Aribeth, despite being a Paladin and therefore sworn to destroy all evil, will happily chat to your chaotic evil character like an old friend.
Quote:

Side question: What do you think about factions that make you feel uncomfortable in terms of their mission or what they're about. I'm thinking specifically the "Kill the old lady and get the Empire her deed" quest in Morrowind.

Possibly you shouldn't be playing as that faction.

But then some people are evil, or just don't get emotionally involved with a game, so they wouldn't be bothered by such a faction.

So I don't have a problem with those factions existing in a game, even if I didn't want to play as one. If all your factions are going to be nice to work for, that rules out pirates. A space-based RPG without pirates? I don't think that would work. [smile]

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Kelly G    358
Quote:

Side question: What do you think about factions that make you feel uncomfortable in terms of their mission or what they're about. I'm thinking specifically the "Kill the old lady and get the Empire her deed" quest in Morrowind.


I remember that one. I would have liked the chance to challenge that mission, even if the result was simply the guild master getting angry and attacking (would have been easy to script according to game's workings).

I guess the point is: you can have a game were you are so strongly associated with a group that you let that group determine your identity, i.e. you play as that group, for example- playing as the orcs in Warcraft;
or else you can be more loosly associated in an organization, like in Morrowind you can choose your identity and play your character before you join any of the guilds in the game, in which case one would appreciate the opportunity to assert their identity in any situation, and deal with the consequences.

The second option could potentially allow more creative freedom for the player, where as the first provides the player with more of a structured framework (ofter play as the goodguy/play as the bad guy)

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ahw    264
funnily enough, I don't think cRPGs are what you should be looking at for inspiration.
In fact, I think most RTS are MUCH more interesting in that respect. Or FPS, for that matter...
It's possibly for this reason I am so enamored of such enthralling games as Starcraft (Oh, how I felt pissed off when my beloved Sarah got turned into a freaking Zerg mutant!)
or Call of Duty, or Alien vs Predator...
What make those games great games?

Well, the fact that you get to see things from various perspective, for a start.
The best is when you see the _same_ story from various perspectives. AvP2 did this very much, IIRC.
Starcraft, through a brilliant storyline, forced you to play each race, but it felt very much natural, rather than coercive. On the other hand, I thank the gods that AvP didn't force you to go through the Alien game before you could play the other races, coz I never even managed to finish the first level (no kidding!)

So what is the more motivating element in playing from different sides? I think the gameplay is essential.
Playing a Predator is nothing like playing an Alien. Playing the Protoss can't be compared with playing a horde of Zergs. It's like having several games for the price of one.

When you think about it, it's a bit what you would expect when you start choosing your character in an RPG... except in an RPG, you only get one story, sorry. :-/
I am trying hard to think of a single RPG where your alignment, your character, actually changed the story AND the gameplay on a level similar to the examples above, but honestly, I can't think of a single one.
At least roguelike games don't pretend: your character DOES affect the gameplay, because much like a FPS, the gameplay is about destroying enemies, and the character selection is more like selecting the barbarian or the dwarf in Golden Axe, than "Ooh, should I be a Chaotic Good Mage Thief, or a Chaotic Evil Mage Thief" in Baldur's Gate (like it would freaking matter...)
The only "big" choice is your sex, most of the time (I don't believe you can have a lesbian romance with Aribeth, in NWN, for instance), and that's about it. Well, OK, maybe they'll change some dialogues, but we both know the _dialogues_ don't actually change the _story_. At least Japanes RPGs dont fecking pretend and gently guide you to choose the right dialogue item, rather than completely ignore your choices.

Big fecking choice, eh?

So how to improve all this?
Well, it's not really easy, is it...
you can see from the examples above that it works because:
a) the guys designed the games from the start to be 3 games in one (seems to be the general number you get nowadays),
b) they designed EVERYTHING around this fact.
I.e. the story becomes 3 stories, either interwoven or seamlessly flowing into one another; the game mechanics are different for each side, and not just a different GUI, but really different styles of gameplay. Using the M1 Garand as an American soldier is radically different from using the Mosin Nagant from the Russian and requires different tactics.

So I dont know, the best idea would be to design a smaller RPG, but make it, several sided?
Do I hear anyone say Deus Ex? Yes, I know, Fallout too.

But let's face it, having just different endings isn't good enough. I don't really want to replay this game I just spent 100 hours on, just to realise that, really, the big difference is that I get a different endgame screen... Gee, even when I play Hentai games, I am not all that motivated to go through all the dialogue clicking just in case I missed something (but that's why they give you savegames ;-) )

So maybe a different approach. Good Lord, do you know how happy I would be if any RPG I've played had a story as cool and multisided as Starcraft ?! (I am mentioning Starcraft since it's SciFi, but obviously, Warcraft III kicks ass, too)

Bah, we can but dream, I guess...

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nev    133
about morals: i'm playing a GAME. it's not that I kill that old lady, my character is doing it. therefore i only have to decide if this is morally acceptable for him.

about starcraft: i think the big difference here is that creating a story for one race/campaign is rather simple compared to let's say storylines for You, Jon Irenicus and Saemon Havarian in Baldur's gate 2. RPGs require MUCH more detail


as for other games:
Indiana Jones: Fate of Atlantis was great. you could choose 1 of 3 paths to play and get different puzzles/different views on the story.


and Vampires: bloodlines is due in 10 days
supposedly, your clan (select one of ~8 at beginning) has a "huge" impact on the game.

until i am proven wrong, i'll assume that this mostly applies to character interaction/dialogue options. i severely doubt it will change anything significant in the story... :(


edit:
Quote:
Original post by Mayrel
So I don't have a problem with those factions existing in a game, even if I didn't want to play as one. If all your factions are going to be nice to work for, that rules out pirates. A space-based RPG without pirates? I don't think that would work. [smile]


this kinda reminds of the lounge thread about sex ed in texas ;-)
some people just can't deal with reality.
let's just be happy that the majority thinks otherwise :)

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solinear    145
Quote:
Most of Bioware's D&D games could be better.

Obviously, the D&D universe is fairly polarised into good and evil. Whilst the games give you the option of playing as an 'evil' character, you usually end up having to do good on the main story arcs. In NWN, say, there's no way to get past Chapter One without helping to cure the plague. An evil character might not want to do that -- an evil character might just bust his way out of the city and damn the plague victims.


I happen to agree. However, it should be said that many of these games are centered around your being the protagonist (hero), not the antagonist. Playing evil isn't in the spirit of the protagonist.

That being said, I think that there is a small misunderstanding about what is good and what is evil. Good is always on the lookout to make sure that the good of all is furthered. Evil is on the lookout to make sure that the good of the one is furthered, no matter who might pay the price. If your betterment is served by saving the city/nation/world from the plague, then you would have no problem curing it. However, it should be noted that you would definitely take advantage of your status as a 'hero' for your personal benefit.

The biggest question that this discussion brings up though is one of "What is good?" To a Dwarf, an Orc or Goblin would be evil, to the Orc or Goblin, the Dwarf would be the antagonist. It's commonly all about perspective.

Also, just because one is working toward their own benefit, it doesn't mean that they are acting evil. They might truly think that their being in power is what is best for all concerned. Most people don't really think that they are evil, even if they are. Just look at the common Republican. They want to 'save us' from the 'evil' terrorists, but who is going to save our rights and freedoms? Speaking of the terrorists, who is going to help the people that they are trying to protect from us? Both groups try to work for everyone's benefit, but the Republicans don't really care if we all choke to death in a pollution filled world (What did Regan's EPA administrator say? We didn't need to protect the environment because Jesus was returning soon?) and the terrorists believe they are protecting their people from the evil decadence of the Western world. They're both wrong. Their actions are evil and wrong. They will never see it that way though.

All of that useless rhetoric being spent though, most games are about saving the world from death, doom and gloom. I think that perhaps one could allow both good and evil to perform the same actions, but for completely different reasons. The good person does it because he wants to save the world. The evil person does it because he wants to rule it. If you want an example of this, just look at Raistlin from Dragonlance (never read the books myself, but know plenty who have). He went along with his highly pious and good friends, saving the world (or whatever) several times, but in the end, it turned out that he was really after power, almost ultimate power (of a God).

Each game is different though. I see no problem with games restricting you to playing the good guy. Doom doesn't let me play the evil lord killing humans and trying to take over the world, why should Baldur's Gate or any other game?

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ahw    264
Quote:
Original post by nev
about morals: i'm playing a GAME. it's not that I kill that old lady, my character is doing it. therefore i only have to decide if this is morally acceptable for him.

Indeed, that's good roleplaying :)
Although personally I never manage to bring myself to being a bad guy :-P

Quote:

about starcraft: i think the big difference here is that creating a story for one race/campaign is rather simple compared to let's say storylines for You, Jon Irenicus and Saemon Havarian in Baldur's gate 2. RPGs require MUCH more detail

Well yes, that is _kind of_ true.
But think about it this way. Wouldn't it be great if instead of playing one 90hours long story with my one character, I could play, say, three different sides of a bigger story, each being 30hours long? That oculd lead to some really fascinating storytelling opportunities.
Now of course, you will say, yeah, but 30hours is a bit short, my character doesn't really evolve as much, and since character development is the point of cRPGs, it's detrimental to force the player to play 3 different characters instead of the one.
Well, I say bugger that !
RPGs are about, let's say it: ROLE. PLAYING.
Not freaking stat building and item collecting. If I want stat building and items and monster bashing, I play ADOM, or Crawl, which provide me with that, in limitless amounts, and are great games. Except they are Roguelikes, not Roleplaying games.
And if I see someone mention Diablo as a RPG one more time, I will get a freaking seizure...

So, in the optic of ROLEplaying, having 3 characters is much more interesting than having just one! It would make perfect sense. But of course, that would require designers to take a leap of faith, herd their RPG more towards a good old adventure game, rather than towards FPS (roguelikes being the extreme result).

It takes, in word, cojones.

And I don't think there is much of that in the Industry, now, is there? ;)

Quote:

as for other games:
Indiana Jones: Fate of Atlantis was great. you could choose 1 of 3 paths to play and get different puzzles/different views on the story.

Yep, like I said, steer the game more towards an adventure game than a cRPG as we know them so far.

Quote:

and Vampires: bloodlines is due in 10 days
supposedly, your clan (select one of ~8 at beginning) has a "huge" impact on the game.

until i am proven wrong, i'll assume that this mostly applies to character interaction/dialogue options. i severely doubt it will change anything significant in the story... :(

I can't stop drooling just thinking about playing in my favourite universe with my (soon to be) favourite engine! :)
But I agree, assume the worst, hope for the best!

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onyxflame    203
Some aspects of this are simple.

If you're playing a race with a LOT of HP relative to other races, your play style necessarily becomes different. You don't care about sneaking around, you don't even care about waltzing around in front of blazing guns, since you can survive enough bullets to kill 5 normal humans without breaking a sweat. This would also apply if your faction had access to heavy armor that was mostly immune to some weapon types. Is a heavily armored military guy going to care that the grocery store robber is armed with a butter knife? No, he's going to go pick the robber up by the scruff of the neck and the robber will go doody in his pants. :P

If you're playing an intelligent being the size of a mouse, not only does sneaking become very important, you're likely going to be very good at it. On the other hand, you can be presented with new challenges such as the inability to drive a human-sized vehicle, how to reach a light switch, and even climbing onto a chair or ladder.

If you're playing a cartoon character, you get to bonk people on the heads with mallets, paint holes in the floor that other people can fall through, and put TNT in someone's pants every other step.

With different organizations of the same race, it gets a bit harder. Most of it ends up being in terms of how other factions view your actions, since most of the possibilities are philosophical rather than physical, and thus not as clear-cut as the above examples. For instance, if you're a pirate, you'll spend a lot of time hiding or running from the authorities, beating up little old ladies, and finding good hiding places for your l00t. On the other hand, if you're a member of the police force, you might have a radio that constantly notifies you of crimes you should do something about, some of which would force you to drop what you were doing and respond immediately. If the factions are purely political, the only thing that's left is political maneuvering, and how your friends and enemies are likely to react to your actions.

Rule of thumb: physical differences are much much easier to clearly show different gameplay possibilities between factions.

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Telastyn    3777
I concur with the others here.

Gameplay is the most important factor. The main problem comes that if you want to present the player with different games [a good and an evil game for the most basic example] you're set with doing twice the work. Most companies won't do this.

I'd actually be interested in "sequels". If the first game has you playing the protagonist [and is successful], perhaps the 2nd [or a large expansion pack] could be done with the same engine/universe and have the player take the role of the antagonist, or perhaps even another protagonist aiming to do the same as the player first game, under different conditions.

The differing conditions could be as a different race, a different style of character, a different sort of route to victory... something different enough to present a challenge to the player rather than more of the same [not that there's anything wrong with more of the same, but if you're going to do that, you might as well let the player simply continue with their previous character].

[edit: oh, and I feel that evil quests have historically been either -too- evil to take and not fubar the rest of the game, or too inconsiquential, so players take them because they're "easy".

I also think a (good) dedicatedly evil game would bring such a cry from the conservatives in the world that it would not be worth the trouble]

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ahw    264
Quote:
by Telastyn
I'd actually be interested in "sequels". If the first game has you playing the protagonist [and is successful], perhaps the 2nd [or a large expansion pack] could be done with the same engine/universe and have the player take the role of the antagonist, or perhaps even another protagonist aiming to do the same as the player first game, under different conditions.


Golden Sun and Golden Sun 2 did something very much like that. In the first episode you are trying to catch the "bad guys" all throughout the game, but when you finish the game, you are basically told ###spoiler###. In the sequel, you end up playing as the "bad guys" from the first episode, except now you are the ones who need to save the world.
If you ask me, I like console RPGs more and more, compared to PC RPGs...

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