Author Topic: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives  (Read 78046 times)

akeley

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #135 on: November 23, 2013, 10:16:14 AM »
Bioware is doing plenty of amazing game design innovation in their games

Pffft ;) Yep, we won`t be agreeing on this one. While I did enjoy some of their games, these were never about "innovation" but mostly about prettifying and streamlining (not always bad qualities, well, not up till recent days at least, when it all went too far). They`re sort of Apple of RPG world in that respect.

In fact, original BG was a nail in the coffin for the turn-based games, it was so popular that everybody just up and forgot about them. But the game itself, while fun at parts, had comedy combat - it was at worst a godawful mess or, at best, easily exploitable by couple of kindergarten-grade "tactics". The reason was the switch to neither-fish-nor-fowl "pause" system - real-time was the new Messiah back then and everybody jumped on the bandwagon - BG itself was actually meant to be a real time strategy at its first draft.

And combat is the most important thing in any RPG, there`s no way around it. Apart from few things like charming NPCs, most of RPG systems revolve around it. IN ME2 this was dumbed down to the extent that when I abandoned chasing the uber-simplistic "upgrades" somewhere before even mid-game, I still won the game with dying maybe twice - and that was due to wonky camera. And I was playing on second-hardest difficulty. Pathetic. Then add the removal of planetary exploration - hell, there was no need to even explore any planets at all - and its curtains.

As for the plot - which I do actually appreciate - what "innovations" were there? It was just very well written, that`s all. And even that collapsed in the sequel - they had opportunity to make things interesting by giving you the option to go against the Shadow Broker, but as per usual, we ended up with illusion of choice, since it was all linear. And all other "choices" royally black and white too, plus rather meaningless - since they didn`t affect anything apart from the "paragon" bar. One character might die? Yeah but why would I care, since they`re all the same - in terms of gameplay affecting perks and abilities? Sorry, forgot that these don`t matter either because combat ^^

And so on. This is closer to Walking Dead (Dragon`s Lair?) model where you watch an interactive film and sometime press buttons - but these don`t pretend to be anything else and don`t employ smokescreen, empty mechanics to do so.

I read some things about Dragon Age 3 and they sound promising - but tbh at this point of time I`m so fed up with Bioware games I`m not sure I`m gonna bother. The inclusion of nauseating, credit card demanding NPC in your camp in original DA was the last straw I think.

I was really just making a side remark, with no intention of vilifying a critical mindset.

Fair play, I`m as prone to misreading as the next poster. Even though we operate in my favourite, turn-based medium - for that`s what forums are, after all ;)

Sorry Akeley.  I don't think of you that way, okay?  And I realize that you have made some valid points.

How about this: what advice would you give someone who wants to one day make a roguelike?  What is the best way you think that the sort of design pitfalls you have been talking about can be avoided?

No worries sir, I don`t take these arguments personally, though it might sound so - it`s just a "dramatization".  As for your question, well my ramblings were mostly related to the RPG world, and one of the reasons I seek comfort in the RL dungeons. And these are different thanks to the fundamental design differences. I can`t really dispense advice since  I`m still just watching and learning the whole thing, making my mind up as I go along - folks here are much more qualified to comment on pitfalls of RL design than me.

One thing I might say thou, based on your earlier comment about worrying that some people might dislike your game, hah, so what, just publish and be damned! There always will be some nitpicking wags (like me perhaps) who won`t like this or that, for perhaps valid or invalid reason. Don`t matter - as AM says, evolve a thicker skin, learn from mistakes, but don`t let critics put you off the creative process.

Gawd you guys write a lot...

Damn, and this from a budding writer? What hope is there for the ol`timers brought up on reading... Well, stick that ^^ in your fountain pen and...and...well, okay, nevermind ;)

zasvid

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #136 on: November 23, 2013, 01:05:51 PM »
Bioware is doing plenty of amazing game design innovation in their games

Pffft ;) Yep, we won`t be agreeing on this one. While I did enjoy some of their games, these were never about "innovation" but mostly about prettifying and streamlining (not always bad qualities, well, not up till recent days at least, when it all went too far). They`re sort of Apple of RPG world in that respect.

Well, either you didn't really look at it with a critical eye or you scope game design awfully narrow.

Quote
In fact, original BG was a nail in the coffin for the turn-based games, it was so popular that everybody just up and forgot about them. But the game itself, while fun at parts, had comedy combat - it was at worst a godawful mess or, at best, easily exploitable by couple of kindergarten-grade "tactics". The reason was the switch to neither-fish-nor-fowl "pause" system - real-time was the new Messiah back then and everybody jumped on the bandwagon - BG itself was actually meant to be a real time strategy at its first draft.

Really? The pause system hid the turn-based game behind a facade of real time, but if you turned on all the "pause when X" options what you got was just a turn based system with animations and concurrency. If I were to point at the source of BG's "comedy combat", I'd blame AD&D and Bioware's general inability to make a compelling combat system, as evidenced by their every game everafter except for ME3 Multiplayer.

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And combat is the most important thing in any RPG, there`s no way around it. Apart from few things like charming NPCs, most of RPG systems revolve around it. IN ME2 this was dumbed down to the extent that when I abandoned chasing the uber-simplistic "upgrades" somewhere before even mid-game, I still won the game with dying maybe twice - and that was due to wonky camera. And I was playing on second-hardest difficulty. Pathetic. Then add the removal of planetary exploration - hell, there was no need to even explore any planets at all - and its curtains.

Yeah, no. Combat is the most important thing in action or tactical games. RPGs are theoretically about roleplaying, even though the rest of the videogaming world missed the point and slaps those three letters whenever their games give you adding up numbers. However, Bioware didn't forget and that's where they excellently innovate since 1998. For example, Dragon Age 2 had this system that you could answer in a conciliatory/sarcastic/angry tone and depending on which you used the most, your characters default responses were colored by the tone and some NPCs reacted to your personality differently. Maybe it doesn't sound revolutionary, but damn, it makes a world of difference when it comes to feeling in the character*.

*YMMV.

Quote
As for the plot - which I do actually appreciate - what "innovations" were there? It was just very well written, that`s all. And even that collapsed in the sequel - they had opportunity to make things interesting by giving you the option to go against the Shadow Broker, but as per usual, we ended up with illusion of choice, since it was all linear. And all other "choices" royally black and white too, plus rather meaningless - since they didn`t affect anything apart from the "paragon" bar. One character might die? Yeah but why would I care, since they`re all the same - in terms of gameplay affecting perks and abilities? Sorry, forgot that these don`t matter either because combat ^^

Well, clearly, if you see other characters as tools to use in beating the combat sections of the game, you won't care. However, they are not only that (and arguably not at all that, I've never noticed any contribution to my success in the fights from my companions). After all, you* care about your favourite characters in your favourite tv series, movies or books. Same here, Bioware makes very care-aboutable characters and you get to decide what happens to them. Pretty good material for choices and the choices aren't even trivial... most of the time. Though I guess if you gave up before ME3 then there weren't that many outcomes you actually got to see.

*general you, YMMV.

However, that's not where plotting innovation comes in. The best example is Mass Effect 2. Gathering teammates,  improving their morale and sidequesting, all at your only somewhat limited leisure, while being on hidden missioun count clock that triggers the final countdown, where you have to go for the final showdown or basically lose score (however, score you're made to care about more in the form of characters whose lives are at stake). Then, depending on what you did and what you skipped, the final suicide mission and its outcomes can vary in a pretty complex way (well, you always win, but how you win is the point). All in all, it makes a game (where you make decisions and they matter) out of going through the story, which is a rare if not unique marriage of freedom and structured story.

Now, the execution is subpar - it's not nearly aggressive enough, so if you want, you can have a perfect success. It doesn't change the fact that the underlying idea is brilliant and would be worth borrowing even for a tactical/strategical roguelike.

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #137 on: November 23, 2013, 05:51:05 PM »
Yeah, no. Combat is the most important thing in action or tactical games. RPGs are theoretically about roleplaying, even though the rest of the videogaming world missed the point and slaps those three letters whenever their games give you adding up numbers.

There are only a handful of video games in the world that respond to roleplaying.  It's best to accept that, in the context of video games, RPG means "game where your numbers go up.

Like, most games don't really pay close attention to what you do or give you any choices.  Bioware games don't really pay attention to what you do either.  They give you choices, ignore whatever you decided, and do what they were going to do in the first place.  That isn't a big improvement.

If you want a role playing game about actual roleplaying, you're better off playing a tabletop game with your friends.

zasvid

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #138 on: November 23, 2013, 08:26:05 PM »
Like, most games don't really pay close attention to what you do or give you any choices.  Bioware games don't really pay attention to what you do either.  They give you choices, ignore whatever you decided, and do what they were going to do in the first place.  That isn't a big improvement.

It's less true these days than when they started and not by an insignificant margin.

Yeah, no. Combat is the most important thing in action or tactical games. RPGs are theoretically about roleplaying, even though the rest of the videogaming world missed the point and slaps those three letters whenever their games give you adding up numbers.

There are only a handful of video games in the world that respond to roleplaying.  It's best to accept that, in the context of video games, RPG means "game where your numbers go up.

If you want a role playing game about actual roleplaying, you're better off playing a tabletop game with your friends.

Sure, but we'll never have a cRPG about real roleplaying if no one strives to get there. Bioware does and that's game design innovation in my book, even if akeley dismisses it because it's not in the area of tactical combat. That's the whole point.

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #139 on: November 24, 2013, 06:37:40 AM »
Sure, but we'll never have a cRPG about real roleplaying if no one strives to get there. Bioware does and that's game design innovation in my book, even if akeley dismisses it because it's not in the area of tactical combat. That's the whole point.

Ok but they're still way behind Deus Ex and Star Control 2, games that came out in 2000 and 1992 respectively.  You shouldn't settle for less with Bioware.

akeley

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #140 on: November 24, 2013, 10:25:07 AM »
The pause system hid the turn-based game behind a facade of real time, but if you turned on all the "pause when X" options what you got was just a turn based system with animations and concurrency.

If only. What you "got" was a convoluted hybrid with a terrible flow and neither rhyme nor reason. In theory it could work - there are games with workable pause system -  only it didn`t, unless you enjoy pressing Space hundred times a minute to skip mundane pauses, and then you`d miss some important action anyway. In the end it didn`t  really matter that much because you`d be too busy trying to limit chaos caused by terrible pathfinding. Add to this lack of a grid and collision detection between actors, which eliminates any sort of insight into whats going on and renders area spells tactically useless (this by the way was even more farcical in  in DA, where often you could marvel at your character bizarrely half-melted with the dog and some monster in the same space, all covered in flames)

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Yeah, no. Combat is the most important thing in action or tactical games. RPGs are theoretically about roleplaying even though the rest of the videogaming world missed the point and slaps those three letters whenever their games give you adding up numbers. However, Bioware didn't forget and that's where they excellently innovate since 1998.

If by "playing" from these RPG letters you consider watching cutscenes and participating in black-and-white dialogues that have no impact on real gameplay - while spending large chunk of the game either running down corridors and/or  partaking in pretend-combat - then sure, Bioware are quite good at it*. But it`s your overuse of the world "innovation" - combined with that "since 1998" - that sort of gives the game away (pun not intended). While I still maintain that combat is the most important thing in role-playing games - and yes, that`s what the characters you play roles of do the most after all - it`s possible to mix it all together million times better than the good Doctors ever did (before they jetted off to their private islands). That`s what was going on well before 1998 - Krondor, Goldbox, Ultimas, Darklands, Fallouts run circles around any Bioware game. There was plenty of role playing, story telling, and yes, excellently tactical combat - participating in which made me care about my companions infinitely more than some basic "choices" in a dialogue tree (there`s nothing wrong with this mechanic pers se, but not when it`s the only one in your RPG. As been said above, I`d rather play a tabletop session, choose-your-adventure book or a Telltale "game"). Dismissing this with "number adding" trope is rather a desperate measure.

Aforementioned  Deus Ex produced one of the most exhilarating moments in gaming for me - when you learned about your brother being a "traitor" and had to make a decision on the fly (sorry if this is factually incorrect, played it  over a decade ago). But you made that story-changing decision by means of gameplay - I went guns blazing and ran away - but the game didn`t break down, it carried on with my choice registered in an amazing real time fashion. This was the true innovation. And something we haven`t really seen since.

*I only really mean their post-ME games here, previous were not perfect but at least there was some gaming to be had, KOTOR being the highlight.

Clearly, you`re a big fan of their "work", something I respect and understand, though completely disagree as for the merits. Obviously there`s no way we`re going to see eye to eye on this, plus I find this particular chapter of gaming history immensely depressing -  hence, this is my last post on the Bioware angle.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2013, 10:31:15 AM by akeley »

zasvid

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #141 on: November 24, 2013, 06:32:50 PM »
Sure, but we'll never have a cRPG about real roleplaying if no one strives to get there. Bioware does and that's game design innovation in my book, even if akeley dismisses it because it's not in the area of tactical combat. That's the whole point.

Ok but they're still way behind Deus Ex and Star Control 2, games that came out in 2000 and 1992 respectively.  You shouldn't settle for less with Bioware.

Yeah, sure, they're way behind Deus Ex, Planescape: Torment, Fallout and probably the Witcher for a modern example. I'm not sure what your point is here. That innovation doesn't count if it's in a game that's behind the times in other areas? That it's not worth playing games that are subpar to other games in some areas?

If only. What you "got" was a convoluted hybrid with a terrible flow and neither rhyme nor reason. In theory it could work - there are games with workable pause system -  only it didn`t, unless you enjoy pressing Space hundred times a minute to skip mundane pauses, and then you`d miss some important action anyway. In the end it didn`t  really matter that much because you`d be too busy trying to limit chaos caused by terrible pathfinding. Add to this lack of a grid and collision detection between actors, which eliminates any sort of insight into whats going on and renders area spells tactically useless (this by the way was even more farcical in  in DA, where often you could marvel at your character bizarrely half-melted with the dog and some monster in the same space, all covered in flames)

Well, OK, these are points that I didn't consider much and I see how they would spoil the experience for tactical turn-loving people.

If by "playing" from these RPG letters you consider watching cutscenes and participating in black-and-white dialogues that have no impact on real gameplay - while spending large chunk of the game either running down corridors and/or  partaking in pretend-combat - then sure, Bioware are quite good at it*. But it`s your overuse of the world "innovation" - combined with that "since 1998" - that sort of gives the game away (pun not intended).
While I still maintain that combat is the most important thing in role-playing games - and yes, that`s what the characters you play roles of do the most after all - it`s possible to mix it all together million times better than the good Doctors ever did (before they jetted off to their private islands). That`s what was going on well before 1998 - Krondor, Goldbox, Ultimas, Darklands, Fallouts run circles around any Bioware game. There was plenty of role playing, story telling, and yes, excellently tactical combat - participating in which made me care about my companions infinitely more than some basic "choices" in a dialogue tree (there`s nothing wrong with this mechanic pers se, but not when it`s the only one in your RPG. As been said above, I`d rather play a tabletop session, choose-your-adventure book or a Telltale "game"). Dismissing this with "number adding" trope is rather a desperate measure.

Well, sure, I agree with nearly everything (except your excluding of Bioware's dialogue wheels and related mechanics from "real gameplay"; also, black-and-white dialogues are something Bioware finally done away with in their latest games), but I thought the topic of this digression was "had Bioware done some good, innovative stuff int the cRPG genre?", not "is Bioware the holy grailkeeper of computer roleplaying?".

Clearly, you`re a big fan of their "work", something I respect and understand, though completely disagree as for the merits. Obviously there`s no way we`re going to see eye to eye on this, plus I find this particular chapter of gaming history immensely depressing -  hence, this is my last post on the Bioware angle.

Well, sure we won't see eye to eye if you're looking into an actual, real strawman's eye. I think it's the first time I ever bring out that old internet chestnut. However, since most of your counterpoints didn't seem to have anything to do with what I've tried to express, after a lot of pondering "wtf?" I have determined that it is the only answer to what happened here.

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #142 on: November 24, 2013, 10:46:47 PM »
Yeah, sure, they're way behind Deus Ex, Planescape: Torment, Fallout and probably the Witcher for a modern example. I'm not sure what your point is here. That innovation doesn't count if it's in a game that's behind the times in other areas? That it's not worth playing games that are subpar to other games in some areas?

Most of Bioware's "innovations" have been done before.  They aren't pushing roleplaying games forward.  They make watered down versions of things we've already seen and they somehow get showered with praise for doing this.

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #143 on: November 24, 2013, 11:47:35 PM »
Most of Bioware's "innovations" have been done before.  They aren't pushing roleplaying games forward.  They make watered down versions of things we've already seen and they somehow get showered with praise for doing this.

I wish this wasn't such a divisive subject.  There really is a lot to be learned from analyzing games that other people have made, but I feel like so much of this discussion is about what is wrong with games rather than what could be done to make them better.   

Can we discuss some of the specific ways that you guys think contemporary games could be improved?  What are some specific things that you would change about the more recent Mass Effect or Dragon Age games? 

Also, what are some specific aspects of older games that you guys really liked?  I know Akeley got into this a little bit with Deus Ex, but maybe we could expand on that and discuss other games too.


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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #144 on: November 25, 2013, 05:39:46 AM »
I wish this wasn't such a divisive subject.  There really is a lot to be learned from analyzing games that other people have made, but I feel like so much of this discussion is about what is wrong with games rather than what could be done to make them better.

It's all the same thing.  Learning what doesn't work is just as important as learning what does work.

Also, what are some specific aspects of older games that you guys really liked?  I know Akeley got into this a little bit with Deus Ex, but maybe we could expand on that and discuss other games too.

I think the coolest thing about Deus Ex is that most of your choices don't happen during conversations.  The game just watches how you play and then responds.  You don't get all of your options spelled out for you.  You just look at a situation and decide how you want to deal with it.  More often than not the game will be ready for your choices, even non-obvious ones.  It's a good system that rewards cleverness and avoids dissonance between your character's words and actions.