Glass2099

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  1. Well, it may be the first Sci-fi Action-RPG you have seen, but others like Mass Effect have been made. I think the important thing for your audience hook would be to not be a generic Sci-fi concept (Mass Effect felt a lot like Star Trek and Star Wars in its mythology and gameplay). Neither should your setting and characters be too bizarre or overly culturally influenced (RPGs from Japan seem to get lauded for their Japanese values in story, gameplay, and art-style) unless you can present these elements in a way that would have many people of various personalities to be able to sympathize with the elements. Movies I have seen that do Sci-fi in unique ways that are presented to be entertaining and thought provoking to the audience are The Matrix, Minority Report, The Thirteenth Floor, Surrogates, and charmingly, WALL-E. Looking back at older computer RPGs to the current day's variety it seems the details of a story do not have to be overly complex or original (see the book "Hero with a Thousand Faces" for what many of the best-selling RPGs do) as long as the details are not confusing or redundant in some way that shows poor story-telling. Some interesting context for one's actions in the game and making the story or just the gameplay relevant in some ways to the human condition (for example, you are going with Action-RPG, which is quite popular currently) is often the least amount of story needed to make an Action-RPG feel involving. I assume you will be making a PC exclusive game, so for the controls I suggest starting with the simplest interface to be able to enjoy the game and adding more use of the keyboard and mouse only as what feels intuitive and adds to the game experience. Last, but probably what I feel should most be included, is extensive bug, grammar/spelling, and other quality checks. It's really something when someone who promotes indie games like The Rampant Coyote can note that your game launched with a relatively no bugs/bug-free release. Hope this helped your thought process if only vaguely.
  2. Sorry, for double-post, Kylotan. I saw what you meant in that last quote. When I wrote about each ERPG having their merrits, I meant it more as... I don't know, my driving force? Anyway, examing individual or maybe only a few very similar ERPGs at a time helps me learn a lot more than generalizations many posters across the net have used. When I say I don't really have a theory, I mean that I only have those two said goals narrowed down for the purposes of this thread. Games having individual merrits is just a concept I value over the "Genre Wars" on forums across the net. Sorry, for any unintended rudeness or confusion in that post before your last reply.
  3. Sorry, Kylotan, I meant other forums on the net. Anyways, people believe what they want to believe. The heated debates on those other forums just ignited a little bit of passion in me to start this. What this is is merely a look at existing games (in the category of all RP games coded for use on computers or consoles, i.e. ERPGs) or rather their unique perspectives and features (the level of uniqueness may be subjective, but look at how perspectives/stories/features were used in just one game) on a game by game basis. As for a theory... no, I don't really have one. What I am hoping for is that everyone participating enjoys sharing their experiences and looking critically into the ERPGs they have played. A second goal is to gain incite on what alterations or new features could be implemented to expand the fun factor for more people and/or new audiences. Having people, especially those in the dev. community sharing how they felt the game features worked for the game gives me more confidence in my design decisions. This thread could be one more source for many people looking to develop new ERPGs and possibly games in other genres.
  4. Thanks for your suggestion Kylotan. The flame wars between JRPG an WRPG have been eating at me, so I thought some proper discussion of some of the individual games in these genres might be worth a shot. Hope this helps: Write what you liked/disliked about certain Electronic RPGs in as close to objective way as you can (if you do/don't like a certain element of style, write what kind of message or feelings you believe that style creates). Try to focus your post on a single game, as I want to show that each ERPG has its own merits besides features that are copies of those from previous games. If someone feels a part of their post needs further discussion, let's do so (and have fun while discussing). Gathering data about existing ERPGs and their different features and innovations will hopefully be better accomplished this way with some experience and thought about how these games played. With a snapshot of existing ERPGs, the possibility of creating new, viable innovations seems much more probable (Notably: Bioware used Mass Effect's fanbase in refining the sequel). Thanks for your participation.
  5. Now, we may not be talking about something as important as world peace, but Iron Chef Carnage your level of consideration to this thread and the thought you put into it was BeAUtiful! I believe your defense of the characterization of "JRPGs" is a valid point. My problem with the characterization concerns all the negative conotations that come to many player's minds when they here the word without considering that the game may not possess these undesirable qualities or otherwise presents them in a way the biased gamers might find fun if they would either find a way to play the games or do some research from "all-sides" of reviews. Stories, Characters, Worlds: While, I agree with you that having a world respond to you and a person being able to have characters that grow in complexity with their own player set goals and stories would be a massively cool new venue for the ERPG genre to go, I do not believe this is necessary for every game. Some players like stability (a well-paced story that like a well-written thriller or fantasy novel has events the player would love to have been apart of, but in the game they actually get to be) and detailed design (unless certain aesthetic mandates, gameplay functionality rules, and pattern generation principles can be programed I fear we may never see randomly generated worlds that do not look very similar all over the place as many felt Daggerfall was, not to mention buggy, or in some cases unwinnable situations like in Spelunky; I don't know about Dwarf Fortress as that game is less concerned with graphical representation, but its history --and apparently detailed geological-- generation sounds promising). Perhaps some new story ideals other than world-threatening crisis aversion (saving doesn't sit right with me because while you keep the world from destruction or those who try to conquer it, evil still obviously exists afterward) would make story-driven ERPGs more relevant to older audiences. For new youngersters getting to the ages when they can begin to play these games, the ideal of "saving" the world is completely new to them and encouraging of the hero's journey in human nature, so I do NOT think the purity of this ideal should be completely abandoned, unlike the many who have protested that it should be abandoned. However, whether there is a game designer-paced story or not does not matter as long as gameplay is smooth and entertaining, characters feel alive with a developing personality and some introspection into their own characters, and/or compelling context for the player's actions in the game. For the intents and purposes of this thread: Just talk about ERPGs you have played or researched without relying heavilly on the apparent style of the game to influence other's judgements of it. If you feel like it observe what the game was trying to accomplosh for whom and if it was effective (like a critiqe of any other media). If the game could have had additional features or improvements to any of its features, explain how those feature changes would have better presented the game for the audience you think it was aiming for. Later, we can go back and expand further on you guys' proposals to better explore what an ERPG can be. P.S. Carnage, even if the game you mentioned, Kengo II, is not a proper ERPG (posibly a hybrid?), talking more about your knowledge of it and gameplay experiences of the game seems to me like a totally relevant addition to this thread. Also, I know I did not address everything in your post, but I assure you it is considered by myself completely valid and merits further discussion for the advancement of ERPGs. Thank you.
  6. I know you can't change people's opinions and only the mods can police what people say in forums. I wanted to see if anyone was on board for a little more introspection into all forms of computer/console platform rpgs (which would be less discriminitory as ERPGs) than the normal flame-fest on other forums. Our focus should be a look into the pros/cons of ERPGs on an individual or at least small group basis and then expand on the concepts in those games. As things stand now even professional developers like Bioware and Bethesda are immaturely flaming Japanese developers still profitable efforts (I'm not shure what Japanese developers are say about us if anything). Criticizing games by nationallity is hardly a valid point as stopping to put down someone elses work is just that, stopping... to develop your own work in order to elevate it by pushing someone down. If you don't buy into the hate or just want to be part of the think tank (even with preferences and aversions to whatever about any of the ERPGs), post. At the very least we will have interesting conversation and maybe inspire some new directions for gaming.
  7. To your first response: Yes, genre trends do exist, but people tend to focus more on stereotypes as a negative rather than the larger features that became widespread because they were popular. When Final Fantasy 4 introduced active time battles many saw it as a genius move and continue to today. The same can be said for a game that influenced ERPGs from the outside, GTA brought wide open sandboxes to the mainstream, which caused many companies and ERPG fans to shift toward that as a preferred mode of pacing and environment for their game. Then there are features that don't cary over like different ways to resolve battle, certain plot twists, quests, and environments that are totally unique to a game. Certainly, you can observe trends, but that's all that they are bits and pieces of games that carried over through many games, albeit in certain areas of the world where a person's main retail area is, because audiences believe that it made the game more worthwhile. To judge all games with these hard-line genre commonalities would be to ignore what parts are unique to a specific game (good/bad) and if one enjoyed the experience (many people who stated in their comments that they enjoyed playing a game also state they would not recommend it not because genre commonalities kept them from enjoying the game but because they were present). To Critique response: What I meant by target audience is not entire people but likes that are shared in common across many people (whether they all fall into a certain age range is not always the case but is often the closest way estimate feature relevance to the audience). So, looking at product produced, sales, population of sale areas, returns, peoples' comments about what they liked/disliked, and how similar games are that come out at the same time or recently after sales of said game, I think we can get pretty close to any objective view of each game from the view of standing on its own. Then consider the reasoning behind peoples' likes/dislikes to determine if the reasons for oposing views are both valid. When it comes to questioning style, I draw the line because this is too subjective as it is come to through concept art which is an aesthetic all of the artist's own that they wish for the audience to appeal to. Whether one values the artwork is meaningless because people judge this on relevance to their own personalities and experiences. For example, I could say that I like the space marine type of character with some clever dialogue because it symbolizes a physical and mental leg-up from the enemy just as easily as I can say I like thin, ungrizzled, spiky haired heroes because my success in the game empowers me with the idea that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to (just because I'm not as big and strong-looking as my enemy on the outside doesn't mean I can't curb-stomp him) and that having hair that grows naturally into deviant styles and colors says a little bit louder (than being muscled, for me) that I'm not just anyone, and some people would agree/disagree with one or both statements but for their own reasons not because of objective fact. To last response: It is fallacy to say there is any one formula as all "genre" rpgs that are made of similar design quality (bug control, ballance, voice acting, etc.) and who enjoy similar amounts of advertising in the same areas do not always enjoy the same amount of success (ex. Dragon Quest 9 and FF 13) whether it be comercial and/or critical. As an analogy think of game features and games in terms of how combining similar elements on the periodic table can yield completely different materials (similar in parts but different in results). When it comes to differentiating story elements, I feel that is a nature vs. nurture problem. I have read many times how the book "Hero with a Thousand Faces" describes human nature to overcome evils and perhaps glorify oneself and in the eyes of others. In more open games with a variety of choices, many have the freedom to choose differently (usually keeping to a morally gray perspective) using what I believe are personality traits they gained from life experiences (ex. which of these choices would make me feel best). Not to say that there isn't some overlap with "the heroe's journey" and morally gray, but generally choice, for people who are more appealed by the hero aspect of their nature, tends to be a detriment to the game experience as they now have a character who does not necessarilly uphold their nature, thus making the character less of an entertainment. The same can be said for people whose characters do not have the option to be appealing in ways that the individual player has come to enjoy (the key to this system is having a variety of viable options just large enough that any of them do not feel polarizing either for the evil, neutral, and good usual variety or for mechanical advantage). To say either of these systems is a detriment or improvement is a eugenicist view as many commentors on all sides with this view then go on to say that you must have an inferior personality for liking those games. Onto changes in gameplay and mechanics. I don't see a third pillar of personality to use other than nature (hero's journey) and nurture (viable choices that are equally satisfying in their ambiguity), but perhaps our community can come up with some ways to differently interpret these pillars by looking at a few somewhat similar games at a time and expanding on them. As to your comment on game mechanics not mattering to me, I would say it depends on the game. In KOTOR my attribute scores, skills, and dialogue mattered a lot to me because in my head I was trying to represent how I think my character would develop in his/her situation. In Oblivion, I probably would have liked it better without any stats as they complicated the difficulty for me what with the enemy leveling with you, worrying about the stats menus in relation to being able to travel in the game without getting killed kept me at a distance from the actual gameplay of wielding a weapon and magic while traveling through a medieval fantasy empire, and dialogue options did not satisfactorilly give me the impression my charcter was having any reaction to the events of the game or introspection into his own character. In FF6 I only cared about stats when deciding what equipment to buy versus the effect of the equipment as the story from the many perspectives of the characters (programmed or evoked in my perception by the design of sprite animations, word choices, and quest events) more than eclipse the mechanics as it so appeals to my hero journey nature in it's unique examination of the hero's journey. What I want from our look at individual games is to: (1) decrease the animousity that ERPG players have toward one another by emphasizing the umbrella term Electronic Role Playing Game and showing how bias and human nature to seek patterns has clouded perceptions so badly that many will not play games from one region or the other; (2) attract designers to new concepts of whorthwile ERPG gameplay and mechanical interaction with that gameplay in an en masse fashion (ie. the imitation that has established gameplay genres like turn-based, medieval, steampunk, quick-time events, rythm, etc.) to create a shared widespread ideal (you may link to this thread on other forums as one feels appropriate); and (3) get everybody (including myself) to learn not only why decisions in the design of current games are made but also to better empathize with each other in the context of discussing ERPGs. Sorry for the wall of text, but I really want to make a push even if I myself need some further instruction. What do you think about any one of my statements? Otherwise, begin the push!
  8. Last night I made a pretty lengthly post on a now closed thread about "what rpgs do you think are underperforming [?]." I felt this question was a very flawed and oft exploited by posters and professionals alike way at looking for "genre improvement." What we of the game design interested community should be encouraging discussion over is the pros and cons of common features between specific titles not entire genres that distort one's experiences of the games, many left unplayed. Also, take into consideration the principle of critique (my post was more subjectively focused for a few E(lectronic)-Rpgs that I have played), that is was the game successful in accomplishing its intended purpose for the targeted audience (all to often we target our own interest too specifically, if only in commenting on the quality of a genre and rarely a specific game). Finally, why is "improvement" such a major focus? Think about how we can shape existing audiences to branch into greater variety of gameplay other than menus, stat and skill manipulation, and the three major types of rpg gameplay: turn-based, third-person real-time, and first person shooter style. So, let's get some level-headed discussion going without flaming, being genre exclusive (this feels like game eugenics to me when people write with such hatred), or racist stereotypes that undermine the acknowledgement that each individual designer has the creativity and competency to be where they are right now (also, publishers care more about revenues than creativity; designers may not always be in control).
  9. I frequent many threads like this one, and while people's responses are agressive and entertaining they are unfortunately only these two things. Comments like "JRPGs are stagnant as a whole" or "linear gameplay is unacceptable" (only saying 'cause these are the two most common phrases on these types of threads) does not advance the conversation if this can even be a valid discussion. My most pressing complaint with this argument is no one is willing to take their generalizations about genres down to a game by game feature by feature process. A few bad features (extreme glitchiness, jarring voice acting) in a few examples of games that may only be loosely held under a genre title (compare KOTOR and Oblivion, they feel totally different for both being WRPGs) does not ruin a "genre." Similarly, one cannot generalize about a genre (and capitalize on faults of the genre, universally acknowledged or perceived) without doing so with other genres. Here's a brief rundown of some good and bad things for particular electronic rpgs: KOTOR: Pros- a story that feels not of the everyday person in the Star Wars Galaxy, or otherwise awesome destiny is nigh omnipresent. The dialoge tree was superbly done with responses that anyway I chose made for a pretty engaging and sympathetic character. Its plot twist I sware was so awesome the force's power could not compare to it (you know, 'cause the "ability to destroy a planet is nothing compared to..."). The final one-on-one battle and the dark-side ending cutscene. Cons- the battles could be boring as it was basically a click on enemy to make your guy go over to attack it system in console menu form. There were some pretty annoying glitches when I would que combat options only to have them disappear just before executing them or when I had to take the reins of my AI party members because they were running into obstructions or blocking me from movement, or the number of chest glitches, or the epileptic shaking of my character in many cutscenes. Final Fantasy VI: Pros- 2-d art that captured my imagination. A villain that is just as synonymous with the lust for the power of god-hood as any other villain of any media I have ever heard of, and he is never dull or much for gloating so much cracking jokes about killing everything and in the end a deeply disturbing lament on life's futility (when I first read about FF6, hearing about Kefka gradually incorporating more and more Esper magic into his form and then going all out with absorbing the power of three gods at once and beginning armegeddon just sounded so much more diabolicle than anything I had ever heard of). Battles flow nicely with at least one unique and useful ability for each character and and tons of neat effects can be applied early on with the equiping of relic items. Like KOTOR, the characters were sympathetic and knew how to make me smile every now and then. Getting all the magic spells for each of my characters is fairly attainable, so grinding did not feel as monotonous with a few new spells every 100 AP and an awesome summon for each of my party members. Cons: Sometimes battles feel lacking with enemies only being still pictures. Though I did not mind the game being a mild challenge, the Quick and Ultima magics are way too exploitable and overpowered. Sometimes, I wish there wasn't a normal attack, as it tends to become a duty-free crutch that make battles feel less exciting. On Morrowind and Oblivion: I see the merrits of having a do anything world with deep lore-filled history books. What kept me from getting far in Morrowind was maybe just knit-picky stuff like wooden walking, database-like talking, the drab color scheme, awkward combat animations, and no idea what my character's purpose was for the game (I could not keep up my enthusiasm when my character couldn't move smoothly in the world (the wall of stats didn't help either), and I am not enough into fantasy to appreciate fictional lore in lengthly historical form. Oblivion was much better with smooth charcter action, but I still had a disconnect from the characters and high medieval fantasy in general. Also, watching my brother play these two games didn't make me want to play any farther, either. Right now I am playing a "JRPG" called "Live-A-Live" that got purely because I thought the plot twist was so "out of nowhere awesome" that I had to play to see its execution myself. So far, the little chapters the game is divided into, like Mega Man levels, are fun as each is a different era and theme of time (old west, caveman, ninja, homage to Katsuhiro Otomo's epic "Akira," homage to "2001: A Space Oddysey," etc.) with a certain game-genre twist to the game's consistent turn and grid-based battles (eg. having your game world be a fighting game oponent selection screen, the medieval era chapter is the only one with traditional rpg random encounters, etc.) The game is undeniably simple with HP being the only stat that really matters and no limit on combat options other than status effects,charge time, and what parts of the grid the attcks target, which makes the game plenty challenging. Por use of SNES graphics, adult themes and language, and the fact that you must download it with a translation patch may keep many from this game. If you manage to pick up on this after the wall of text, my core message is that we, the game-design interested community, should urge greater inrospection for individual games without generalization that distorts perceptions of game experiences and keeps many on the track of improve, improve, improve or "we can't take risks with commercial success, esspecially in this economy" mentalities that are often accompanied by disheartening atisocialism and apathy (at least in the case of forum threads and press releases). Let us talk about creating increased personal enjoyment in each individual new game coming out (or maybe ones that we just recently came across) instead of us essentially making games into a eugenics game of genres.
  10. RPGs / Action RPGs - What do you like in em?

    My favorite thing to do in rpgs is to progress a story that includes well-defined goals. Whether it's discovering more about what period in the game world's time that makes up the story, getting a new party member, a cutscene/story sequence I didn't expect and/or really enjoyed, or maybe some interesting boss battle or power. Sometimes gameplay on paper really isn't that special (ie. selecting menu options before an enemy attacks/ pushing buttons to swing a sword or cast a spell) but their implementation in the game as a whole can make up for this depending on the player(s). Some things I would like to see in an rpg are the ability to build a story with a satisfying climax to the experience (again depends on the player, but I find climax allows me to either move on from the game with fond memories or to restart the game). You could start the player out at random points in the game each time a new game is begun and have a number of events to choose between surrounding the player that chain into a story (there should be a limit to the number of events that happen in a single playthrough and events that don't happen the same way just because you made the same choice). --Stat progression should be just enough (keep difficulty growing with emphasis on in-battle/quest choices) to show your character's not the naive that he/she began as and should accomplish three goals: (1) let the player see how badass they actually are when fighting earlier encountered enemies, (2) give the player new ways to use the character features they chose, and (3) challenge the player to overcome their weaknesses (ie. the features they didn't choose). --Save and reload at absolutely ANYtime with multiple save slots --YouTube-like control of cutscenes (if there are any) --As one poster stated it might be nice to have only necessary dialog/text. Instead of having dialogue maybe just have speech options for what effect you want to happen by the NPCs (ie. "Join Party, Sell Me Something, Lead Me to the Dungeon," etc.). --Design party members based on people or personality concepts of people that you, the designer, would really love to be around. Common mistakes rpgs make is having voice acting of debatable quality, ineffectual charaters, complex and ugly "start menu" systems (mostly with 80s and 90s era rpgs, but also Morrowind's stat menus) and, for computer games like the Ultima series and Dwarf Fortress, too many confusing button controls. Also, if you think your game is doing a lot (my earlier suggestions not withstanding and all those finicky details like physics for everything and too many branching game-story paths) and the animation quality and bugs are getting out of hand, get your game back to a focus on core gameplay and making sure it is complete on release (with extensive playtesting). RPGs I would recommend are Final Fantasy 6 Advance (one thing that a well-known walkthrough pointed out is that 6 has taken pains to make even some of the earliest game items have awesome strategies for use throughout the game), Chrono Trigger (PSX), KOTOR 1/2 (2 is more of how a good idea and implementation can get out of hand in quality of the story, gameplay, and lack of bug control; I've also read how polarizing views are on "ESII: Daggerfall" because of its awesome world and gameplay but also because it is one of the worst examples of lack of bug control in computer games), and the (in hindsight) geniousness of the massive amount of gameplay in Pokemon Gold/Silver (GBC). And although strongly denied rpg-ship by many crpg pundits, Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (extra features played on GBA) constantly makes me think of what can be with an open mind to gameplay being a large part of how levels are designed and vice versa. Me buying an indie game of any kind would depend on the reputation of the vendor selling your game, your playtesting (I really don't want to have to fight with the game like I did sometimes in KOTOR 2, and ANY downloadable software cuts into that fear of hardware-damaging bugs, viruses, etc.), and what critical and honest reviews of your game are available. As long as price is reasonable, say no more than $34.99 (since this isn't a console-approved game, and the cheaper of the consoles' Wii games start around $39.99 to $49.99) depending on what the game cost you to make, of course, then I am fine as soon as a holiday or something rolls around. I have never purchaced an Indie game of any kind, but the concept of non-official game company created games is fairly new to me, so I am a little cautious of shopping around (even though I hope to one day make games that people will buy). Thought your screens looked pretty good for isometric. Could you post any N/PC sprite pics or something else? Anyway, may you enjoy your work and have it be rewarding.
  11. Making Sandbox Games More Replayable

    Sorry, Wav, been on fishing trip in Wisconsin (awesome cheese and ice cream but not a lot biting on the Chetac). So, anyway, we are left with a narritive and free-form mechanics conflict--both things I feel are really important for getting so much as a first playthrough depending on who you ask. Then there's the x-factor of the internet community and quality mods. Something to chew on: I remember reading an author saying (I can't remember exactly), "You can't get people to be interested in any story you can write no matter how creative. People are only interested in people." Another quote I remember reading was that Will Wright insists The Sims is not a game but a toy as while there is an apparatus for play like a game, there are no goals or rules that each individual player does not make up exactly like a toy. This may be a rough analogy for these two ideas but take two players and a game of DnD: one wants to play with the GM and the other player while the second would rather pick mechanics to try out from the game books whether their actions cooperate with the other players' game or not. What I fundamentally see is unity versus individuality or some kind of need for human connection wwhether real as in co-op or fabricated within the game in the first player while the second seems just fine on his own playing with game mechanics (though he may seek comradery outside the play apparatus for increase of his/her more private experience). How can we unify sense of unity with individuality but within the play apparatus? I have more thoughts but I not the time right now. Keep this worthwhile thread alive!
  12. Sex in games...

    Probably going to get a lot of flack for this ( why all the hate for going against majority opinion?)and I'm not saying that I haven't looked up porn or any of that, but why is the push for soft to hardcore porn in games so important for you? Truth is videogames are still mainly purchased by and for younger people. How can you make tastesful when taste in this sense refers to media. Media is widespread and contradicts sex's private nature. When sex becomes a part of media in any form not meant for the teaching protection you get pornography. Pornography focuses on fantasy to derive pleasure, thus you (me talking from my own...needs) generally have no real feeling for whoever you are getting your rocks off to. Is it really that important to encourage the pleasure of sex and pervert it. as entertainment without the human connection love (love cannot be portrayed in media as the characters either have it between themselves or are fictional, either way the viewer is not apart of this leading back to satisfaction having greater importance placed on it over actual attachment)? Also, some of you mention that young people eventually begin looking for sexual fulfillment anyway so why shouldn't we have it in video games? The first part is definitely true. The second part I'll address with the question, "Why does sex have to become more solidified into our daily lives?" As the first part told we all seek out sex if not from a relationship or just the satisfaction from sex fairly actively with or without outside sources. What makes you so driven to have sex in media like it's something that needs even more prominance and/or makes its portrayal for entainment value be considered "tasteful?" My intention is not to pass judgement on any of you as you have just as much freewill as I do (caution to pro-rape person: aside from rape removing part of a victims freewill it is pretty much guaranteed the victim will be physically and mentally scarred for life except in the case where they die a very miserable death as a direct result of the rape trauma. Rape and derivative fantasy of that nature should always be shunned and absent from entertainment media) but to make you think about the effects of this subject on a universal scale unclouded by the sexual and monetary desires of the designers.
  13. Making Sandbox Games More Replayable

    Thank you Wavinator, I think I am beginning to get up to speed now. You're right that our interests are quite different. I guess I classify myself as an every-now-and-then gamer who looks for base-game centric features like a story to keep me wanting to learn more (recently started playing, Chrono Trigger) or maybe some addictive gameplay (most recently the flash game, Pandemic II). Also, if the game is more out of my attention span but looks interesting or has some unique mechanics, then I find it more fun to read about it online, think about the workings of its gameplay and story, and post on forums like this. I am curious, though. What games' storytelling, if any, does capture you? Also, with my first idea I believe might meet your liking but also allow narrativists to get into a plot with a satisfying conclusion. My second idea was to try and make things more cohessive so doing major things like pillaging all the houses in a town could be a significant part of the game's story, sort of giving the player an 'A-Ha!' moment somewhere down the line. I don't know, there has just got to be a way to polish and expand the scope of sandbox games (though the online modding community mentioned by a previous poster may help with this it is perhaps not the most accessable solution depending on the player) farther than setting goals for yourself within a detailed game mechanics system. Last thing and only concerning one of your small comments: In all that I have read about game stories none seem to portray really a Messiah but more of a destined war hero (aside from Oblivion's 'ending' giving me the impression that I was only a party member, I also did not really save anyone but just avert a crisis. There was still plenty of evil in that game-story world). Now there are some gameplay reasons for this like many people not wanting to have to speak to every npc and the enemy not having a chance against you. But take the idea of the apokalipse where you are one of the few people not completely devout to the game's big-bad and what that could mean for your gameplay. There is no way to stop the big-bad so you might as well do whatever you want, but you will be policed for disobedience (so those over-powered guards really are your main enemies in this hypothetical game). There are plenty of mental, moral, and/or conversational puzzles with almost everyone against you and only a dwindling few uncorrupt to either corrupt or take into your party. There could be a really sweet ending where you take up arms on whichever side of the final battle you choose and a black or white (with small variations depending on who is corrupted at the end) ending that would make narrative sense. Problems with this are: How much narrative helplessness can a player stand? Would players be fine knowing how the game will end (you did say that you didn't finish Morrowind)? Would the gameplay (sandbox with 'realistic' game physics and variable dialog trees, as in some lines an NPC says are from that NPC's random pool) and story be powerful enough to get a Planescape: Torment "I think I'll play it again" experience? Sorry for taking the random tangent, just thinking.
  14. Making Sandbox Games More Replayable

    To Wavinator: I appreciate your thoughts. As for people's opinions varying greatly, this if fine. When developers collaborate there are probably few times that they all start out with the same vision for a game, but their ideas have parallels that can synergize into a game that is "nearly perfect" for the intended audience. You misunderstood me on the "cinematic experience" part, which I did not mean to infer. I am not sure how voice acting makes games more linear as KOTOR seemed to handle video game free-form (VGF-F) conversation quite well, while Morrowind gave me a scroll-bar of keywords and a wall of text. Oblivion was much better, but the replies were lacking in character, uninspiring to my imagination, and still many were sentence fragments. Oblivion also seemed to have a wall of speech problem at times (maybe something like the ability to interrupt that I read was put in Mass Effect 2 would make this a little more interactive?), but this talk of conversations is more specifically a peeve of mine for these two games. Still, I think if you are going to have VGF-F conversation make sure that it is smooth and presents creative replies in ways that help you decide how your character might respond. As far as non-linearity goes, I get that (though it is not necessarily important for me to have a "unique" experience compared to everyone else because--in my opinion--your experience is what every sandbox tries to create as in multiple games that allow you to do everything possible on a disk create overlap, and for me that is mundane). For the intended audience of the game, like you, your playthrough is unique and entertaining, but for those like me who were offcenter, individual events in-game may have been fun--though they did not work to create a satisfying whole experience. A way to fix this may have been to not have a main quest at all but to have some of the smaller quests (like that Necromancer with that invincibility-granting hourglass) play much more for the climax of the game. A true climax(es) I feel is necessary as it creates relief that your challenges are over and long-term excitement to carry you into multiple playthroughs thereafter rather than a game that you might decide to restart sometime after running out of non-repetitive things to do and then shell out the cash for DLC. This would allow the player to feel more apart of the game-story world than just some adventurer who showed up and be more obviously important to the actual game-story than the admittedly less-successful-than-Morrowind (in terms of game narrative significance) combination of narrative rpg and multi-rpg module simulator that is Oblivion. The other solution I can think of is to make everything feel more integrated with the gist of the game's main quest/story. For example, 'I am choosing to ignore Oblivion Gates and instead pillage houses' might be part of an interesting story in YOUR head but is giving the finger to the proverbial GM. Instead of backing off the GM could have the story change the world to allow you to deal with the challenges of continually monster-spawning Oblivion Gates (not a big challenge in this situation as there are only two possibilities--the gates close or they don't), thus your video game choice is now narratively un-obscene to a more general audience. My point here is, if there is a main quest, let the rest of the game's options be linked to it somehow (not just apart of the game-story world), otherwise why shouldn't I just play someone else's game that offers similar options? Anything to add and/or counterpoint about these lines of thought?
  15. Design Treatment Critique

    Not really sure how you could change up your story, but the beginning really sounds like the premise of Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo. Heard of it?