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Wavinator

A "KILL EM ALL!!!!" Bloodthirsty End Game Mode

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Le Thought Random Of The Day... Okay, so I finished playing the first of the two Icewind Dale games, which I got as a bargain bin bundle. Except for the absolutely annoying "let's lock the player in a box with a boss" endgame, it was a very enjoyable romp. I've got an awesome party including a cleric that makes liches wet their pants and a mage that doesn't know the meaning of the phrase "excessive force" when it comes to the fireball spell. [lol] I like the game. I like the gameplay. It's mostly combat, but I accept that and I've had a lot of fun with all the strategic nuance. The problem? Now that I beat the game, I don't want to start over, but I want to keep playing. I REALLY REALLY like my party, in fact have grown a bit attached to my permanently hasted, grumbling dwarf and all too chipper-but-murderous, near invisible female thief. So what I need now is the ability to wander the maps and fight off wandering bands of monsters. At this point, I don't so much care that my characters are leveled up, I find organizing the fights to be the really interesting thing. In general, do you think there'd be enough interest among RPG players in an after-game Guantlet-style mode? Or are people so interested in story that the game is not worth playing after you've beaten the bad guy? This assumes that the combat is interesting and detailed, of course. On the one hand, it might bring the game more longevity. On the other, it might inhibit the sale of a sequel or expansion pack. How many of you have created a fighting group that you like but had to give them up at the end of your game?

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First off, I'm probably not much like an average RPG player. I'm not even too interested about the main storyline (as in the main pre-written plot) in most cases; I mainly play RPGs for the detailed environments, discovery of hidden secrets, character development, combat, and side quests. I play the game in order to augment my own imagination, and use my imagination to augment the game. Together the game and my imagination provide me with the ultimate interactive fiction. The game sets the rules and the theme and provides me with inspiration, and my imagination fills in the rest; I make up background stories not only for my own characters, but for the different creatures I come across with. That is where the immersion lies for me — the game world, not the story.

With that as preamble, it should be quite obvious that during the process I usually grow quite fond of my character/party. Because of this, finishing the game is more like a loss than a victory to me, unless the game allows me to continue playing after the ultimate boss fight (or whatever). If the main character dies honourably in the heat of battle, I feel loss, but at least the character death happened for a reason. Such is life. If I actually finish the game, I'm supposed to feel pride and a sense of achievement, but actually I feel a greater loss than with true character death, as in this case the character dies for all practical purposes but without any reason. That is, unless the game allows me to continue. I too long for a game mode, in which you can continue gaming after the main plot ends.

So if you give me a game where I can continue exploring the world, fighting challenging battles and finding lost artifacts, I'll skip the main quest altogether and keep on playing the side quests and random battles from now till eternity... [grin]

The important thing is to keep the fighting interesting. If you only have a limited number of post-game random encounter scenarios, they will eventually be used up and become boring. You'd need to create (e.g. generating randomly) interesting environments for the battles to take place in, maybe add some continuity in the form of some shallow random side quest storylines and possibly add some rewards for those who don't do it only for the sake of combat. Also, the game shouldn't act as if you hadn't finished the main storyline if you actually had (NPCs shouldn't keep on shouting "we're doomed" every five minutes and so on).

As for looking at this from another point of view, what else is Diablo than one big bloodbath and carnage with little if any story? Certainly there are people who are interested in combat situations even without a decent story to bind them together. [rolleyes]

There is no one true answer to the question whether RPG players in general would like this kind of end game mode, as different players will look for different things in games. For those who play the game mainly for the experience provided by the pre-written story, well, I can't really speak for them, but I'd reckon they wouldn't be too crazy about such a mode without further motivation; especially those who loathe random encounters could find this more annoying than fun. Those who play the game for the exploration would probably want something new to discover; locations, artifact items, whatever. Those who play the game for the combat would most likely consider it fun, at least if too much repetition is avoided. And these preferences are obviously not mutually exclusive. I really can't know how large a portion of players would consider the story so important that they would completely ignore the possibility to experience the aftermath of the game, especially since we are talking about a game that has been designed with the aftermath aspect in mind.

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A bit of a different game, but this is part of the reason I liked Freelancer. When the game ends, (assuming you stick to the storyline closely) you've only really explored something like 25% of the game world. At the end is when they let you loose to explore, discover new star systems, forge new alliances, and start down a new career path. There were lots of neat little adventures and things to find still out there, (the planet of monkey-people hidden way off the map...hehe) and when the game ended, you almost felt like things were just beginning for your career.

I only wish that they had created a few mini-stories that you could encounter. Rather than just picking up a standard "kill him" or "deliver this" mission at a port, it would have been neat to encounter a few NPC's who had a short series of missions for you. I would think it would have been relatively easy to add just a few more scenarios and short story lines that you could stumble onto once in awhile and have fun with. If not in the standard game, then in expansions.

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I've played Icewind Dale 1 myself and really enjoyed it to. Though i find your post a little confusing, as i'll explain. Icewind Dale is actually part of a multitude of series, encompasing Baldur's Gate series and NeverWinter Nights. All these games allows the player to export/import his characters, all their levels and uber gear into different games. So if you want to you could export all your characters, make a new game and import them and start the game over with your uber-crew, or you could export them all and then load them to play in the sequel. The different series themselves (NWN, BD, IWD) i don't think are reverse compatible with each other because of the differences in the engines, though i'm not sure about Icewind Dale since Black Isle was shutdown and there's little information on it.

[Edited by - Gyrthok on February 10, 2005 2:20:14 PM]

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I love post-game wandering. Escape Velocity was great for this, because I could download all sorts of mission packs and take my ship and wealth and secret technology on new adventures.

Fable sort of had this, but by the end your character was pretty much maxxed out and all the missions shut down, so I just spent my time marrying as many girls as possible and killing people so I could buy their houses and shops. Meh.

If you could really start to have an influence on the game world, like actually clear the shadowy forest of monsters so people would start to live there, or start a new crime organization that would control certain roadways, that would be cool. It's that sort of sandbox play that I'm after.

But that would require a lot of work that might have been better applied to lengthening the story or tweaking other systems, and those improvements would appeal to a wider audience anyway. The Fable "cut loose and go" system would be enough for me, really.

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I recently fininshed playing Prince of Persia:Sands of time. Not an RPG true but I'm getting to the point. I really loved the game. Both the action AND the story.
After finishing I heard about the secret level (The first level from the original game) and was happy at a chance to continue playing. Afterall I had just perfected my sword skills. My combos were finally coming purely by thought without having to negotiate with the keyboard first. I was greased lightning with a bad attitude. And I really wanted someone to kill :P

I ran through the whole level (which was deviod of any sword fodder) and ended up in a big empty room with a picture of the design team on the wall. Nice touch true, but what I really wished for was that the room would be full of enemies (preferrably respawning ad-infinitum) maybe with a score counter that would show me how well I did before I inevitably got killed.
Now, THAT would have been great fun. Plus it would have provided ample opportunity for bragging rights.

Now POP:SOT was definitely great fun, but like you said that just seems to make it sadder when it ends [sad]

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Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
On the one hand, it might bring the game more longevity. On the other, it might inhibit the sale of a sequel or expansion pack. How many of you have created a fighting group that you like but had to give them up at the end of your game?


Actually, I think you're on to something with this idea. People still playe Diablo, for example, even though the game is just an asinine dungeon crawl. And one of the biggest reasons I never buy new CRPG's is that they are usually either too short to get hooked on or too long for my attention span.

One of the ways that you could make CRPG's suck less is by making their storylines short but making it so there's a little dungeon generator or something so you can play a Nethack/Rogue throwback or something.

The old "Eye of the Beholder" games let you import characters from previous episodes. I've always thought that this was a really good idea. It allowed you to use your powerhouse characters in a new game -- so you didn't have to deal with all the boring, inane, level grinding. After all, part of the reason we even play RPG's is so we can develop characters, give them personality, and grow to love them. It should stand to reason that the love continue with the advent of replayability of these characters.

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This post makes me think of the upside-down castle in Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night. That just rocked way too much ... "I beat the game! I beat the ... w00t!? There is more?" Truly one of my top game memories.

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This is why I loved Fallout 2. Once you beat the game, you can go back and do anything you like. I frequently wander around and blow hell out of all the cities. :D

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Argh! Hate it when I don't get a chance to reply to my posts!


Quote:
Original post by Grim
That is where the immersion lies for me — the game world, not the story.


Thanks for the great input. I think we're very similar here. We want the experiences to continue and have enough of the world to key off of to keep it going.

Quote:

So if you give me a game where I can continue exploring the world, fighting challenging battles and finding lost artifacts, I'll skip the main quest altogether and keep on playing the side quests and random battles from now till eternity... [grin]


The challenge here I think is appeal. I'm going to cross my fingers and hope that games like Grand Theft Auto, Morrowind and The Sims have raised people's interest in "continuing journeys." Having said that, they must NOT be pointless journeys, which implies that the story doesn't get the prime focus that some like (i.e., your character marries the princess, wins the castle, game over because nothing else could be possible)


Quote:

The important thing is to keep the fighting interesting. If you only have a limited number of post-game random encounter scenarios, they will eventually be used up and become boring. You'd need to create (e.g. generating randomly) interesting environments for the battles to take place in, maybe add some continuity in the form of some shallow random side quest storylines and possibly add some rewards for those who don't do it only for the sake of combat. Also, the game shouldn't act as if you hadn't finished the main storyline if you actually had (NPCs shouldn't keep on shouting "we're doomed" every five minutes and so on).


You're always going to be limited in how much you can put in, but I think you're right, if there's a very wide variety of stats and effects and treasures, you'll have room for variety.

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