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Everything posted by Dodopod

  1. Dodopod

    Some elements from my RPG story- again :P

    Let me get this straight: your central theme is that suffering is necessary for the good life. Sadly, the nature of humanity is to misguidedly eliminate it. Realizing this, the now-doomed nihilists of the future inflict this suffering on their predecessors to save the world from the lukewarm fate-worse-than-death. The protagonists oppose these attackers as a matter of course, but nonetheless believe in a strikingly similar ethics. A game presumably follows.   I think it could work, and without glossing over the philosophical implications. But what you need to think about is how the game's central dialectic can be embodied in your characters, plot, and gameplay. And if I'm reading you correctly, this is where you're having trouble.   For characters, I would think about the tension between suffering and happiness, and try to distinguish different ways your characters might conceive it. Are there people who believe in hedonism, that the people of the future live the most blessed of lives? Are there people who are willing to concede (or logically should) that the antagonists are in the right? Then think about why these potential characters have their beliefs, both in the sense of how they acquired them and what reasoning or emotions they use to justify them. (Even if you think they're wrong, try not to make them strawmen.) Then think about whether/how these beliefs shape their lives and personalities. When these character ideas become distinct enough, you should find yourself falling in love with a few of them. Or better, falling in love with the harmony between a them. These (or some of these) will be your main characters. Think of how these characters might change over the course of your story. You don't need many character arcs, but it's usually wise to have a couple. Give these characters backstories, relationships, names. Talk to them, and have them talk to other characters to try to get a feel for them.   I sometimes think of plot as a kind of inquiry. Each scene is like an experiment, and the way it plays out reveals something about an underlying dramatic question. Perhaps we come to see some sub-problem that needs to be solved before the question, or a part of the question is resolved. The dramatic question is intimately tied to the theme; to borrow from the Aristotelian idiom, the theme is the universal of which the dramatic question is a particular. The answer to the question embodies the theme, and this is picked up on by the discerning player. The simplest statement of the question might be "will the eternal war be stopped?", and the answer may be along the lines of "yes, because the antagonists' actions are unjustifiable" or "no, because humanity can't escape anomie." It's clear how these reveal the theme. An individual scene might begin with a provocative scenario: the protagonists confront the antagonists in the latter's world. Thus, we can see how the antagonists live, and hopefully the how will illustrate why it's so undesirable.   As for gameplay, I'll offer this advice, and you can work out why I'm giving it. Make the game hard.   I hope this helps. The characters, the plot, the setting, the gameplay, even individual lines and actions -- everything in a story is an interesting, imperfect instance of what it represents. Writers are told to show, not tell, because concretes make what could be impersonal, tense and instinctively relatable.
  2. Dodopod

    The Debacle of Writing with enthusiasm as fuel

    I'm sort of the opposite way. I get enthusiastic once I've come up with a couple ideas, and then use up my momentum making an outline and working my way down from there. Eventually it gets boring to even write because I already know exactly how it'll turn out.
  3. Dodopod

    The Debacle of Writing with enthusiasm as fuel

    Are you the one who wrote Uncharted 3? Sorry, that was cruel.
  4. Dodopod

    Use .wma files in a game?

    Yes, you would definitely want to distribute a Vorbis decoder with your game, but if you use the right libraries, all this comes down to is a .dll in the game's directory.
  5. Dodopod

    A Good Story Idea for an RPG?

    So, is the crystal useful to anyone except the witch? It seems like a magical artifact used in the creation of the world should be a powerful weapon and/or tool, sought after by every power on the planet. At the very least, it should help the heroes out, now and then. Even the One Ring did that.   Does anyone else have a crystal? Do they have different powers? I heard you call the one in the story the Crystal of Banishment. If it's used to make the witch disappear, is there a Crystal of Repatriation that her minions can find to bring her back?
  6. Dodopod

    Space terrorists (not exactly)

    I love that... Everyone loves that game! Also, I like how you didn't even consider someone might assume you were playing Invisible War or The Fall.   Particularly if those planets have what people in our time would call a 'strong national identity'. Another idea is that there should be a surge in hostilities whenever some planets are suffering, or just when others are much better off.   So they attack your military and can't be completely eliminated. Maybe all your generals secretly want your job, and try to eliminate all the troops who are actually loyal.
  7. Dodopod

    using technology as magic

    It's really not that complex. The way I'm reasoning it, the player would get into a battle, drain their stamina, and burn some HP. Supposing the UI isn't terrible, they will realize what they're doing and form a heuristic to deal with it; namely, keep stamina low, but not empty. If the game is as fast as Quake, this could be a problem, but if it's a bit more tactical (like EVE Online, to use DI2agon's example) the player has more time to think about... well, tactics.   Turning to DI2agon, the universal rule of game design applies here: make a quick-and-dirty prototype, and see for yourself if it works. Like in science, talking about how it would be will get you so far, but you're not really a scientist until you test your hypothesis.   Honestly, what I'm more concerned about is that this system isn't complex enough. If magic, melee, and ranged attacks all drain stamina, then what differentiates magical attacks from the mundane, apart from cool particle effects? As for the setting, a fantasy universe with godlike beings who have sufficiently advanced tech is a great idea, but how would you get across to the players that it isn't magical to them?
  8. Dodopod

    Can You Solve This 4th Grade Math Problem ?

    Took me around 12 minutes. It really came together when I realized I could do this:   A 1 2 3 4 7 9 C 1 2 3 4 7 9 E 1 2 3 4 7 9 I 1 2 3 4 7 9 N 1 2 3 4 7 9 S 1 2 3 4 7 9 U 5   And then eliminate the impossible.   By the way, Here's the problem in more sensible notation:   CAN / U = SU + E / U CAN - CU0 = IN IN - IU = E
  9. Dodopod

    Golden era of the RPG

    I don't know that it would be appropriate to talk about a golden era of RPGs at all, since I think few would argue there's been a decline in quality after its end. The only thing that makes older RPGs better is what valrus and others have been saying: nostalgia.   I have my own rough division of eras of the computer/console RPG, but since I didn't play too many of them when I was young, it's mostly out of historical interest. Here it is: Prehistory (1975-1980): Reaching from dnd on PLATO terminals to Rogue. Most RPGs were weak ports of DnD. Early Classical (1980-1985): From Rogue to Ultima IV. Most of the conventions of classic RPGs were developed, such as the Roguelike genre and the dungeon/town/overworld distinction. Late Classical (1985-1997): Ultima IV to Final Fantasy VII. This is where the RPG really matured, starting with Ultima IV breaking the "defeat the evil overlord" mold. Lots of classic, genre-defining series started here, like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest for the JRPG, Fire Emblem for the tactical RPG, and Ultima Underworld and The Elder Scrolls for the first-person RPG. Middle Period (1997-2007): FFVII to Mass Effect. Most of my favorite RPGs came out in this period. The MMO, as opposed to the MU*, took shape with Ultima Online, EverQuest, and World of Warcraft. The western, action RPG was refined in System Shock 2, Deus Ex, and Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines. Fallout and its descendants had their age of glory here. Modern Era (2007-Present): I'm really not sure about putting Mass Effect at the start, especially since it puts Oblivion before. Recent RPGs seem to be about turning "RPG elements" from a cliched buzzword into the status quo. Roguelikes exist again, too.
  10. Dodopod

    Good Emperor and bad rebels

    People like those they identify with, and identify with those whose motives they understand. Since the player is the emperor, you don't need to explain why they're doing anything -- at best, you're explaining something the player already knows, at worst you're telling them they did something they didn't do. The player will always feel they're justified, unless you throw them a massive curve ball.   The rebels, on the other hand, are a mysterious force by default. The player's first reaction will be that they did something to deserve punishment. In Civ, a city will revolt if the player lets its happiness drop too low. Because the player can see the happiness of a city and what goes into it, they realize they did something wrong. If there is no such cause at hand, however, players will tend to accept that the rebels are an obstacle to overcome. Again, in Civ, there are barbarians who consistently attack the player, but since their actions are never explained, the player just assumes they are part of the difficulty of the game.   That's more to do with the design side. As far as writing goes, if you want the rebels to seem evil, keep their motives vague, and emphasize the things that are bad for the player (like if the rebels are disrupting the economy, or want to depose the player). If you want the player to like them, explain their motives in depth.
  11. Dodopod

    Are 2D side-scrollers too common?

    You could make a top-down metroidvania. You can still capture the feelings of exploration and gaining new abilities without the platforming. But I completely agree with Orymus3, there's still plenty of space to be explored in side-scrolling shooter/platformer metroidvania type games. Just maybe don't make one about a female bounty hunter with super missiles, and screw attacks.
  12. Dodopod

    Idea for 2-D RPG

    Yes, because browsing an index of other people's ideas is a great way to be original. It's impossible to make this not sound sarcastic, but really, it's not.   For one, tropers have the habit of writing 'Playing With' pages where they document every possible use of a trope even if it's never actually been used in anything. For another, every possible spelling of every possible chord has probably been written down in some music book, yet music is still original because of the near-infinite ways of combining chords, and the meanings imbued in every work by its composer. Even further, it's easy to have ideas, but at birth they are only dilute semblances of what they may be. Some of this potential may be realised in reflection, some through experimentation, and some by constraints. But ideas crystallize in no more palpable way than when reading another's words, and finding them already within one's own heart.   I don't feel that originality -- being different from others -- is the important thing in art. Most of the best works ever created in any medium are mere developments on established genres and tropes. And trying to be different for the sake of being different leads one into pointless obfuscations and cliched artiness. Rather, I support originality in the sense that the origin of one's work is one's own artistic sense, regardless whether other people have thought similarly. People know what cliches they are tired of, and what tropes they feel are unfairly scarce. To avoid the former and to seek the latter is sufficient for artistry, provided it is done with due reflection and earnestness.
  13. Dodopod

    Idea for 2-D RPG

    Reread your post, but pretend someone else wrote it. If this ^ really intrigues you, make it a game; if the other parts do, make it a comic. Regardless, remember to fail fast and loud.
  14. Dodopod


      Enjoyable to whom? There are players who like linear games, players who like sandbox games, and players like me who don't care one way or the other as long as the level of openness contributes to the game as a whole. When designing a game, every decision removes possibilities; the final product is the one you leave behind.
  15. Dodopod


    I don't think there's a single, best Main Quest : Free Roam ratio; I don't think I even have a favorite. It just comes down to what you want to do with your game.   The Elder Scrolls and Harvest Moon games tend to have very low ratios as a natural consequence of their emphasis. TES is about exploring an expansive open-world, and so the questlines direct the player to a wide variety of locales, before letting go of the leash and letting them discover things on their own. HM derives a lot of its fun from the player losing themselves in the daily routine of farming and fostering relationships. For this reason, quests can often be completed without even doing anything differently.   Deus Ex has a much higher ratio, because it emphasizes the ability of the player to express themself through play. This requires a more linear path through the game so that the designers can ensure that being a diplomat is always feasible, and so is being a thief, and so is being a killing machine.   If each of your games is to be about the consequences of a single, pivotal action, then you want to make those consequences palpable in as many ways as you can. Many (though perhaps not all) side quests should deal with the far reaching effects, and if you can make it work, the entire game-world should change over time to reflect the unfolding results. You might want the main quests to punctuate the change that the player has brought about, highlight certain things, and encourage the player to think about their action in new ways.
  16. Dodopod

    Question: 16px versus 32px sprites

    Generally, what I would suggest is that you try both. Maybe do a sample screenshot or just a couple of sprites in each style, and then compare. See how long the one style takes compared to the other and which one you like better.
  17. Dodopod

    Question: 16px versus 32px sprites

    Personally, 32px sprite, 8bpp indexed color is my absolute favorite style for 2d games. I don't think I've ever actually considered the relative times of making the two. On the one hand, the '4 times' figure seems off, since drawing doesn't take much longer for 32px, and blocking in colors should take roughly the same amount of time. On the other, I'm sure it takes a lot longer, since 32px sprites demand shading and detail and sometimes hand dithering.
  18. Dodopod

    Designing the Overworld

    I would choose the first option and make the map locations like normal levels. That way the player only has to learn 2 interfaces (levels and the world map) instead of 3. I don't think running into the edge of the level would ruin immersion for anyone, at least as long as you make it reasonably clear where the edge is. For example, if there's a gate or a path leading out of the area, but not if it's just an open plain and going too far in any direction leads the player back to the map.
  19. Dodopod

    Designing the Overworld

    How do levels and map locations differ? Are the levels special map locations that have different gameplay?
  20. When talking about the MDA framework, there seems to be an assumption that the mechanics of a game (sometimes combined with assets) create the dynamics while the game is played, and that the dynamics of the game cause the aesthetics to appear in the mind of the player. But I feel this diminishes the part of the player in the game.   A game's mechanics can do nothing to determine the behavior of the game at run-time; the mechanics only determine the possibility-space of the game, many parts of which will never be reached by anyone but an overworked beta-tester. The dynamics are a bit like roads. By that I mean, while a road isn't the only way to traverse terrain, it's the one most people will use. Or as Marc LeBlanc said, "in hockey there's no rule that says you have to skate backwards, but if you're playing defense, it's a good idea."   He then went on to say, "it's an emergent behavior that arises from the rules of hockey. Dynamics emerge from mechanics." However, he also said that "the player is part of the system too, so some of our understanding of game dynamics has to be an understanding of human dynamics." If we look at the hockey example, we can see the influences of both the mechanics and human dynamics. Skating backwards is a good idea, "if you're playing defense." Thus, the value of skating backwards is determined by two things: (1) the end which the dynamic of skating backwards seeks (viz. defense) and (2) the mechanics of the game, which encapsulate the outcome of this behavior at this point in this game, either causing or preventing it from achieving its end. (From the point-of-view of any one player, the others are functionally identical to game mechanics, hence the existence of AI NPCs.) The presence of skating backwards as a dynamic in actual hockey matches can only be because of this value.   Defense is also a dynamic. (One may note, a dynamic of dynamics.) There are no rules in hockey which mandate that players go on the defense, but if they're setting up for offensive play, it's a good idea. That in turn is a dynamic, and if we follow the chain up we find 'setup for offense' -> 'score' -> 'win' -> 'experience challenge'. Challenge, of course, is one of the MDA paper's enumerated aesthetics, and of course it, unlike its predecessors, is outside of the game and inside of the mind. And so, it is correct that challenge be an aesthetic, and not a dynamic. But I can't avoid the conclusion that it, or rather its consequences, are what is meant by human dynamics. Winning would have no meaning if there were no challenge to it, and so players would not play to win, and the dynamics would be different; hockey would devolve into combination figure skating and boxing.   It is important that the chain reaching from skate backwards to challenge is not a chain of cause and effect. It is a hierarchical relationship from the most specific action to the most universal. There is no single burst of challenge when one's team wins a hockey match; challenge arises in all specific actions because and only insofar as they work toward winning.   It is also important that this hierarchy is not of the same sort by which bricks make up a house, and if the house were never built, the bricks would survive. Game dynamics could not exist without both (1) their being for an aesthetic and (2) their being possible given the mechanics.   The reason I'm posting this here is because I need critique. This is just an afternoon musing, and probably makes very little sense -- at least so far. So what do you think?   TL;DR: Aesthetics create dynamics, not vice versa.
  21. Dodopod

    Expanding an outer space game

    Why 35 ships? Why not let the player go until they die?
  22. Dodopod

    Names of stats (competence & corruption)

    You could also change competence to ability or aptitude, which might be better than Shane's suggestion since a dishonest henchman isn't corrupt if they only lie when the player tells them to.
  23. Dodopod

    List of Narrative Gameplay Options

    Have you read Polti's 36 Dramatic Situations? He lists more situations than you do (you have 21 if I'm counting right) but some of them probably aren't suitable for translation into gameplay; in other words, I'm challenging game designers to translate them anyway. Regardless, you will most likely find not only that his list contains additional possibilities, but that two or more of his Dramatic Situations fall under one of your Narrative Gameplay Options or combine more than one or even that your list has things he never thought of! To give some examples, I believe your first option -- "Player must acquire an item / a person" -- encompasses Polti's "Daring Enterprise", "Obtaining", and "Ambition", and that "Player must develop skill in a particular field" has no analogue in Polti (probably because he never read a Shonen manga).   What this suggests is that neither your options nor his situations comprise the elements of narrative, gameplay or otherwise. This in no way invalidates your enumeration, of course, it only implies a certain status -- namely that it is informal, or to put it differently, that it is fine for a bit of gameplay to fall between or outside of your archetypes, if it fulfills its function/s well. Naturally, if you can work your list into a definitive periodic table, or if someone else develops one, this status would change (I doubt this possibility, and perhaps you do too, but there is a strain of game design that sees itself as a proto-science a la alchemy in the age of Boyle).
  24. Dodopod

    Dialog Mechanics

    So does the player always know (or have a very good idea) what their character is going to say after any one choice? And if so, how? To take your example,   What if the player forgets that they've previously agreed with this person? Does the game simply ask the player whether to be honest or deceptive per se, and if they don't remember what their character would consider honest or deceptive, they're forced to gamble with their words? Re-reading your post, it seems like you want to give the player a menu where all their character's opinions are spelled out (or at least the relevant ones, which would make it easier if the player is looking for one in particular) and can be changed. Is this correct?
  25. Dodopod

    Dialog Mechanics

    In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the player is given a choice of 3 or 4 1-word emotions (eg annoyed, detached, curious) or tactics (eg intimidate, placate, absolve), though these are actually (except in persuasion mode) a 1-to-1 abstraction of a traditional dialogue tree. Is this like what you're proposing?
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