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Wavinator

Hack & slash by any other name...

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Long post, but difficult question... Imagine you are working on a high fantasy CRPG. You wish to rival Robert Jordan or Anne McCaffrey in quality. You want to capture the vital essence of your genre, and sink the player in your world. How do you do this? Even if you dress them up in plate armor, and have them dismember a thousand "evil" creatures, and throw spell after spell and wand after wand at them, you will not have captured the essence of high fantasy. They will be no more than pest control agents. So, then, what is "high fantasy" gameplay? It certainly isn''t shopping, or item equipping, or "skilling." "High fantasy" gameplay must be something that captures the essential nature of high fantasy. When you do it, you''ll be in the same world as your favorite high fantasy characters. You''ll experience their world with the power of interactivity. Your gameplay experience will be as good as experiencing your favorite high fantasy universe. H&S, By Any Other Name Is Still H&S I''ve finally come to the ugly realization (after seeing Phantasy Star Online, a "science fiction RPG") that not even gameplay, nor graphics, nor environment sufficiently captures the essential nature of the genre. I don''t think even story or characters or quests do it... not by themselves. Are we incapable of including the ideas that make up the soul of our chosen genres? If I build a game that''s about starships fighting each other, even if the art & gameplay & levels are right, I''ve really only made a hack & slash game . That sucks. I can toss in a ton of different gameplay options, new art, etc. etc. But if I don''t understand the essential nature of my genre, I''m going to build the wrong game. How do you honor your genre? How do you capture the ideas that your genre embodies? How do you show them to the player, and build your game on them? -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership...

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Ketchaval quote (Gm''s creed thread):
"One thing to consider in Games, is why?? is the player having this encounter. Why is the computer
generating these creatures?

Is it to advance the game, ie. the player achieves something by overcoming the challenge? maybe
learning more info to point him towards the "final goal"."

Ie. Consider why & how & to what end the character is doing what they are doing, can each monster defeated help point the way to the end? Display the heroism of the player? etc.

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quote:
Original post by Wavinator

How do you honor your genre? How do you capture the ideas that your genre embodies? How do you show them to the player, and build your game on them?



Well, you know how I feel about genres...

I don''t think that you can truly make something special if you think in terms of honoring a genre. That, to me, means that you want to make sure you stay in one genre. I''ve read your posts, Wav, and you aren''t guilty of making just another hack & slash game nor are you staying in one genre.

I might not be understanding the point though...





Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.
What a plight we who try to make a story-based game have...writers of conventional media have words, we have but binary numbers

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I should have been more clear.

I''m not talking about game genres, I''m talking about the atmosphere (?) of the game. The environment. The milieu. I''m talking more about fiction genres: high fantasy, spy / espionage, action, science fiction, western, etc., etc.

When I saw Phantasy Star Online I thought, "No more whining. There''s your SF RPG."

But it''s not. Yeah, it''s got the clothes of science fiction. But good science fiction isn''t about hack & slash. It''s about (usually futuristic or highly conceptual) ideas. You could replace all the assets with high fantasy art and you''d have just another dungeon romp. To me, that''s not science fiction!!!

So I''m now thinking about how to honor the genre of science fiction. That is, how can I make a science fiction CRPG?

If I put in stealth, trade, and combat (my current plan) involving spaceships, have I really made a science fiction game? I''m not sure. I''d be missing many of the themes that true science fiction is known for: say, immortality and death, computer consciousness, scientific discovery, impact of technology on society, etc, etc.

*sigh*

I think I''m having a miniature design crisis...

I''d frame these questions in terms of the more popular high fantasy if I knew what the issues were. All I can think of is the hero''s journey... maybe someone else can help.

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Wav, perhaps I am evading the issue, but I think you''re going for the wrong goal. I don''t think it is a good idea to say to yourself, "I want to have a science fiction feel". It is just too limiting. It''s similar to saying "I want to make an RTS." or something of the sort.

I mean, do you think that when Star Trek was created, Gene Roddenberry set out to make a "sci fi" show? Or did he just create an incredible concept that used scientific facts to create a believeable ficticious world?



Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.
What a plight we who try to make a story-based game have...writers of conventional media have words, we have but binary numbers

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Wavinator: Quote "I''d be missing many of
the themes that true science fiction is known for: say, immortality and death"

My advice, just stick with one or two concepts / themes and put them in the game. Whether (yawn) it is the cloning of ... or ancient powerful technology (which does what? -immortality>Dune?).

I know what you are talking about with the Sci fi/ fantasy goal.
Look at the Matrix for a film which combined both science-fiction (the world isn''t real, bit), and fantasy.. the process of Neo discovering how to use / finding his own inner power.

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Arthur C. Clarke says, "Science fiction is something that could happen - but usually you wouldn''t want it to. Fantasy is something that couldn''t happen - though often you only wish that it could."

Most games don''t adhere to that definition of science fiction, because they present implausible or highly exaggerated situations. In fact, the only game I can envision that truly can be science fiction would be an adventure game. I can''t imagine shooters, real-time strategy, or even RPGs being truly science fiction.

~CGameProgrammer( );

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Another thing that occured to me is that we all know that every story has a setting and a time. When a story takes place in a certain place and time, it automatically communicates some things to the reader.

This occured to me last night when I was reading a short story by Clive Barker called "The New Murders at Rue Morgue". The story took place in France. It occured to me that had it taken place in any other place it would have been a different atmosphere.

There are some fundamental things that come about when a story takes place in outer space. The sense of wonder and the unkown are immediately aparent amongst other things.

Wav, I can see what you mean, but perhaps you are worrying about this too much? The setting and time is an integral part of any story.



Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.
What a plight we who try to make a story-based game have...writers of conventional media have words, we have but binary numbers

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i think i c what u mean wav but i have 2 agree w Naz. the atmosphere is all in the presentation of the story... the time, the environment, the current state of affairs. i think this is something that must be handled in the story. now i disagree w/ Naz in that i too think atmosphere is important to create a game people keep coming back to.(not 2 say ur against it Naz, i''m just referring to the comment that maybe Wav is worrying too much)



--I don''t judge, I just observe

Stuck in the Bush''s, Florida

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Just because a character is wearing clothes particular to the world he or she is in doesn''t pull you into the game. I can take a look at a very believable knight in full, shining armor and say, "Good design... Good graphics...but the feet are floating above the grass slightly, and they wobble from time to time." Instead, I would like to take a look at that knight and actually forget, on a subconsious level, that I''m playing a game. It takes more than graphics to do that, however. The mood and atmosphere of the knight and his world are very important here, as you said.

We don''t want to make completely realistic games, though. Chopping wood, fixing a leaky roof, building an outhouse, and digging a well are all part of a realistic universe, but they are usually long and boring tasks to perform. Walking your character to a crapper every few real-world hours would be annoying after a short while. It''s part of the universe that we want to leave out of our game. These are things the player won''t miss.

What IS missing from many games, in my opinion, are the even smaller details. When I''m on my way to kill the deceptively evil fairy princess, I don''t want to see a brown road with cloned trees evenly places along the way. I want to learn of a thousand travellers who have left their mark on the road. I want to see scars on trees from travellers who have carved their names. A bunny is nice to see running across the road. There''s an old and forgotten fire pit a band of orcs used years ago. Ah! I found a necklace dropped in the mud. Odd boot prints appear scattered along the road. All of these things could be side quests that diversify the world and make it a more unique and immersive universe.

I''d like to see a game with more "quests" than I could possibly finish in a lifetime. I want to immerse myself in a universe that always leaves me wondering "what if" or "what else?" Such an experience would be different for each person. Players wouldn''t have to worry about rules and constraints put in place by the game creator. Rather, they can worry about rules and constraints put into place by the world they''re in.

At this point I think I''m a little bit long-winded and slightly off topic, but I''m (hopefully) trying to say one thing: Spend a lot of time on the meticulous details that nobody will notice, put places in your world where nobody will go, put items in your game that nobody will find.

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