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Gambler
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« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2008, 03:33:50 pm »

I wouldn't say replayability is directly connected with nonlinearity. Some people replay linear titles (linear in terms of story), some don't replay non-linear ones.

Edit:
Oh yeah, good article. I wholeheartedly agree with the expressed ideas. Combat-orientedness in RPGs got to the point when it's ridiculous.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2008, 03:56:20 pm by Gambler » Logged
galsiah
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« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2008, 09:13:04 pm »

...In other words, making alternative paths or long games is a waste of time, so why bother?
Right - it's not considered worth the time investment for most commercial endeavours.
However, the fact remains that going in the scripted-but-highly-non-linear direction is a whole lot of work. You might think that work is worthwhile, but the obvious answer to the "Why is there so much emphasis on combat??" question, is still that a combat system doesn't require an amount of development work proportional to the amount of combat content in the game - adding more content is almost free. The workload for scripted dialogue is at least proportional to the amount of dialogue content - probably more when you factor in the interrelationships between dialogue strands.

The article makes some good points, but only addresses one side of things. It makes the case that a greater amount of interesting non-combat gameplay is a worthwhile, possible aim. It doesn't make any attempt to justify the investment of effort relative to other systems.

From an indie-as-servicing-a-niche-market perspective it's fine to think that it's just going to take a huge time investment, and that indies are the only ones who'll do it. From an indie-as-demonstration-of-viability-of-unconventional-ideas perspective, that's not good enough. Ideally you'd want to show that your ideas are likely to be commercially viable in a more mainstream context.

If this article, and others like it, are intended in any sense as a "This is how things could be...", or "This is how companies could do things...", then the practicality/viability side of things needs to be addressed. In this particular case, it's clear that combat content is a whole lot cheaper to develop than non-linear, scripted dialogue content. To do things as you outline doesn't mean raising the development priority of non-combat-gameplay to the same level as combat-gameplay - it means expending disproportionate effort on non-combat elements. You can argue that this makes sense in some RPG contexts, but it's hard to argue that it does in all RPG contexts.

There'll always be a convincing pro-combat-bias argument, so long as non-combat content takes a lot more effort to produce. For this reason, I'm with Priapist in thinking that it'd help to look at more generalized non-combat-gameplay systems. If there were systems which allow extra non-combat content to be produced without hand-crafting from a designer, there'd be a level playing field for gameplay - and the current combat bias really would look silly.
Such systems wouldn't need to replace hand-crafted content in the small amount of games focused on that specific area - their main role would be in providing good non-combat alternatives for games without PS:T aspirations.

I suppose the two obvious ways to aim for a generalized dialogue system would be through abstraction or through narrowing of the game's scope. A generalized dialogue system with concrete statements for a huge RPG world is unlikely to be convincing (in most settings, without huge effort). An abstracted general system could probably work, but might feel somewhat indirect/artificial (?? or maybe not ??). I'd be inclined to think that a narrowly defined context with concrete statements might be most convincing.
For example, an RPG based in a relatively small prison, (space)ship, or similar could be more manageable if desired - since you could reasonably restrict the issues relevant to all characters to a core few determined by the situation. Once you'd narrowed things down to some core situation-based issues, constructing a range of nuanced conversational possibilities would be much more doable. Of course there's nothing to say that you couldn't include some specific unique-situational stuff too - just so long as both the specific and general choices were interesting and significant.

In some settings/contexts, there might also be non-verbal or naturally restricted solutions - the underlying issue being communication, rather than dialogue specifically. E.g. prisoners using codes; prisoners signalling intent/requests/compromises through agreed signal actions; thieves using glyphs / cants to communicate; robotic setting where characters use a code / small subset of natural language; PC being a foreigner, and communicating through nods, smiles, and the few words he picks up here and there; setting based on primitive tribes with very simple language; chimps...
Mostly absurd, and far from general solutions, but the sort of thing that could work for one game.


Anyway, we can all agree with Vince's argument - and that there are some games we wouldn't like to see with non-hand-crafted dialogue. But we can (presumably) also all agree that it's an expensive way to produce content. I'd be interested to hear thoughts on ways to create a lot of non-combat gameplay with similar (or lower) cost-per-gameplay to combat.
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Priapist
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« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2008, 09:44:32 pm »

Quote
[...]Then implement it. And then test the whole thing. Congratulations: You just multiplied your workload by 20

Thoughts?

That's certainly true, if efforts aren't made to establish general and/or programmatic solutions in the place of scripting. Dialogue is obviously a doozy, but what about stealth? With enough effort, you could establish scriptless guard behaviours. Drop a guard in a room, and their AI decides to alternate between standing in a spot where most of the room is within their field of vision, and walking around the perimeter of the room. If there are adjacent rooms without guards, then poll a list of guards and see if any others have been "assigned", if not extend the patrol path to the perimeter of both, etc. I think it would be a fair bit of work, but nothing too difficult to establish dynamic patrols, it's just a question of how effectively the player can interact, since stealth games basically rely on effective timing to exploit the inefficiencies of the guard agents.

And of course, there's always middleware. So many component of games these days are deemed "not worth the effort" so the developer licenses existing libraries instead. It's just a shame nearly all of them are focused on graphical effect and not gameplay-centric.
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Vince
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« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2008, 10:28:56 pm »

Ideally you'd want to show that your ideas are likely to be commercially viable in a more mainstream context.
The only commercially viable ideas are "let's make the most awesome looking and like totally epic game". Anything else is an equivalent of pissing into the wind.

Quote
If this article, and others like it, are intended in any sense as a "This is how things could be...", or "This is how companies could do things...", then the practicality/viability side of things needs to be addressed.
Well, it's kinda hard to argue practicality when Black Isle, Troika, Zero-Sum are no longer in business.
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galsiah
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« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2008, 11:05:37 pm »

I'm not saying that it's easy to argue practicality - just that it's important, and would be interesting to see addressed. It's not as though the Black Isle / Troika / Zero-Sum situations are anything like as simple as "Scripted-Nonlinearity------>Long-Term Commercial Failure" anyway: they're clearly no argument for it, but neither are they a compelling argument against it.

Even if you're not going to go all procedural-dialogue on things, it'd be interesting to look at getting more out of intermediate general systems - if that's possible. You're using this kind of thing already in AoD to an extent: e.g. dialogue results which influence reputations, which influence other dialogues in turn; dialogue results which influence PC gold, which can be used in other dialogues; dialogue results which provide items/information usable elsewhere....
These are more-or-less generic systems that allow you to tie dialogues and quests together without explicitly hand-crafting the connections. Using such systems doesn't extend the amount of dialogue content you have, but it certainly makes the relationships between that dialogue most interesting and responsive - giving more interesting gameplay, for the same content.

Clearly you still need a lot of dialogue content in order for such intermediate systems to be meaningful, but there's no need to hand-knit most of it together.

Perhaps there are other ways to get more bang-for-buck out of hand-crafted dialogue - this is mainly just an example. I think it's an important issue either way.
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Scott
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« Reply #20 on: February 29, 2008, 09:12:40 am »

The beauty of independent development is precisely that you don't have to argue, with anyone, about what is practical, profitable, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

You can make a game that's fun and can be played over and over, without a bunch of moaning about how you just wished there could be more dialogue, but, you know, it's just not possible!

One of the BG2 developers was saying the other month that no one will ever make a game like BG2 again, because it had too much content, and that they overextended themselves and shouldn't have included it all.  Now setting aside the 100 books in the game full of generic Forgotten Realms stories, and the 1,000 magic items each with their own backstory, I think that's a complete load of crap.

Someone please make a game with as much content as BG2!  I am sick, verily unto death, of people telling me about all the 10,000 things that no one can ever do in a computer game!
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galsiah
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« Reply #21 on: February 29, 2008, 12:52:14 pm »

Of course you don't have to argue, just as you don't have to write articles championing your cause. If you do, development efficiency is an important issue - for indies too. It's only not worth addressing if you're 100% sure of your current aims, and 100% sure that there aren't ways to achieve them more efficiently. I don't think that's necessarily the case for AoD, and certainly isn't for the wider non-combat-emphasis issue.

If you're seeking to have any influence on commercial enterprises (which could be small/indie/niche too), efficiency is important. Even if you're not, it's still important, since development time is limited, and only so much will ever get done.

If you want another BG2, you should want another BG2 produced in 80% of the time, with 20% left for the developers to polish/improve/expand/whatever....
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Vince
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« Reply #22 on: February 29, 2008, 01:35:04 pm »

I'm not saying that it's easy to argue practicality - just that it's important...
My point is that it's impossible since no facts that can be used to argue for or against it exist.


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galsiah
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« Reply #23 on: February 29, 2008, 02:59:31 pm »

Not all argument needs to be based on historical precedent. Quite often reason will do well enough. Some people might not be convinced until you can support an argument with proven examples - but then such people will resist any novelty, regardless of potential merit.

The central point is about efficiency rather than definite financial viability. It's very hard to argue that X, Y and Z necessarily lead to a financially viable project, but it's very easy to see that efficiency improvements increase the chances of viability. It's also simple enough to justify efficient methods without the need for factual examples: you don't have to carefully measure quest-connection-development-time-without-reputation-system against quest-connection-development-time-with-reputation-system to know that the system is a much more efficient way to make connections - it's just obvious.

It's a little silly to avoid all discussion of efficiency on the basis that a cast-iron argument for financial viability can't be made.
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pnutz
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« Reply #24 on: February 29, 2008, 05:48:00 pm »

Nearly all of Vince's examples in the "get into the castle" scenario could avoid having to explicitly script every outcome:

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- knock some sense into the guards with your war hammer and go inside.
That would be the combat system.

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- persuade the guards to let you in: Hi there! I'm with the Tavern Food & Service Inspection Agency. We've heard rumors that you have rats running around in every cellar. Well, it's fucking better be a misunderstanding because if I see a single rodent-looking motherfucker - which includes this rat-faced bastard over there - I'm shutting this evil fortress down TONIGHT! Now open that fucking door already!
Instead of a scripted dialog, a general persuasion system could take care of this. Give every NPC an archetype (peasant, authority, official..), demeanor (coward, upstanding, seedy), and a persuadable action or item. The system will construct a conversation, based on this person's archetype and demenor, that negotiates an action (let me in) or item (the key). This could apply to nearly NPC, regardless of importance, as long as they are assigned an appropriate negotiation target. Crucial dialogs (like your conversation with the guy you are about to assassinate) would still be hand-crafted. Tie this into a reputation/beauty system and mood system (NPCs' demenor may shift due to seasonal worries, not a morning person, friends with someone who was recently killed, etc.) and the simulation might be complex and multifaceted enough to "play".

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- ask around about the pass, find out who has one, and either steal it or trade it for something.
Probably should still be scripted, but you could still apply the persuasion system to the keymaster.

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- create a diversion - Look behind you, a three-headed monkey! - and sneak inside. Or hire some thugs to attack the guards and while the guards are busy breaking some heads, sneak inside.
How about being able to hire the thugs to attack anyone. Persuading them about their chances, then sneaking past their slaughter while the guards are in battle mode would just be an application of the system that you would have to deduce.

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- wall-climbing text-adventures are fun and very ninja-like: your dagger blade snaps with a loud noise and you plummet to your death cursing stupid non-combat gameplay.
Make it a sufficiently complex and customizable system influenced by the type of wall and environment, then make all walls like this, text based Assassin's Creed stylee.

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- impersonate an officer - Atten-hut! Is that how you salute an officer of the watch, swine? Stop eyeballing me! You're not worthy to look your superiors in the eye. Stand straight, eyes forward! What is the name of your commanding officer?
I'd love a great impersonation system, one that could be used in any encounter, costume and acting. I'm not sure of how to do it systematically in a way that wouldn't incur excessive content/dialog without tight setting or design restriction.

There would certainly be an investment in these systems, but making them applicable to nearly every NPC and allowing you to utilize any of them when confronted with a problem would add quite a bit of non-combat gameplay.
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galsiah
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« Reply #25 on: February 29, 2008, 07:09:05 pm »

Good ideas all.
I particularly like the idea of general persuasion/bribery/disguise systems that govern more hand-crafted outcomes. You could tie these in to general NPC types, or perhaps tie them to NPC values, and have NPC type dictate NPC values unless overridden for specific cases.

In order not to have persuasion/bribery become too formulaic (for cases where there aren't unique "keys" to bribe/persuade an NPC), you'd probably want to introduce a system to get feedback on NPC values. This would be a good place to use perception/etiquette/streetwise... checks, to allow the PC to size up an NPC and take an according approach.

You could also tie it in to a more general NPC reputation system: an NPC who has some set of values, and hasn't tried to hide them, would be known to have those values by other NPCs. It wouldn't be too hard to give NPCs general value-based lines when asked about characters they know - or have them volunteer such information as part of general conversation if it's something which intrigues/annoys them.
A personable PC could e.g. be fairly sure whether bribing the boss of a certain faction was a reasonable option, just by listening to the general impressions expressed by faction members. The reactions to bribery attempts on important NPCs would still all be hand-crafted, but the process of information-gathering could all be generic.

Similar considerations could apply to current NPC mood - perception checks and similar could provide clues, and comments from nearby/connected NPCs could provide warnings to personable PCs.


I think a disguise system could work well in combination with all this. Once you have some generic attitude/value/mood systems for NPCs, and some dialogue to match, it'd be relatively simple to have NPCs converse with one-another based on their values/relationships/current events.... A half-decent disguise (or stealth) could be a means to overhear more private conversations, and gather potentially useful information. This could then be fed back into a disguise system for conversations - once the PC has better information on the attitudes/values/moods/language... of certain NPCs, he'll be better able either to convince them, or to impersonate them (or someone in their position).
In a simple get-past-the-guard situation, this could be as simple as overhearing a password, or expected greeting, then repeating it. In a conversation with a pivotal NPC, it might mean learning that he's receptive to certain character types, then impersonating such a person to get a better reaction, and uncover resulting options. The options needn't necessarily relate directly to the disguise - the disguise can simply be one way to alter NPC reactions.

Also note that NPC reactions needn't be on a linear scale. An NPC might say some things to highly trusted allies who they can't stand the sight of, others to lovable rogues they wouldn't trust for a second, and others to various other types. Once you have triggers for lines based on a range of different factors, it becomes important to approach an NPC in specific ways to achieve certain ends - rather than just finding any means to boost NPC reaction for the same results.

Of course you could still drop in hand-crafted statements/reactions at any stage, but most statements could be generic, and the specific ones could have generic triggers. For example a specific NPC might only say Unique_Statement_X when angry and/or talking to someone he trusted. The PC might hear the statement by overhearing through disguise/stealth, impersonating a trusted NPC, or by making the guy angry (which he might have aimed for after learning about the guy's imprudent outbursts, or might be purely accidental).


Anyway, this is the direction I think things could usefully head: a load of general systems, each tied in to the others, which furnish the PC with information and generalized actions - then specific hand-crafted outcomes triggered by the states of those systems.


Of course the general stealth / hired thugs thoughts are good too, but these are simpler to get right. (though clearly the "hired thugs" option needs to be thought through to make its applications/implications reasonable)
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Saint Genesius
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« Reply #26 on: February 29, 2008, 07:10:24 pm »

(lots of stuff)

I haven't read the responses yet, so apologies if this has been covered.

I certainly agree that good vs. evil themes are far too common and far too simplistic in video games.  I'd say the same thing about most writing, both fiction and non-.  I think that this is part a problem with the whole black and white notion of good and evil as motivating factors.  Whenever you ask "why did he do that?" and the answer's "because he's evil," something's going wrong.  I also agree that it's a tremendous problem when the difference between a good character and an evil one comes down to whether you do your 100 damage with Smite of Goodness or with Evil Naughty Attack... unless the irony is recognized in-game, in which case there's a ton of potential for deconstruction.

However, I have the same problems with non-combat skills being similarly interchangable.  Conversational skills often work in the same way.  I just played Jade Empire, where the conversational system boils down to Intuition, Intimidation, or Charm.  You click the appropriately labeled dialog choice, make a skill check, and get the desired result on success and the undesired result on failure.  There's really no difference between the options and there's really no difference in how you play the game.

Some of your sample choices work in exactly the same way.  Some of them, I think are great.  Some of them have potential to be good, depending on implementation and context.  Here's my breakdown based on how I'm guessing these would work.

knock some sense into the guards with your war hammer and go inside.
-I've shown my love for this option elsewhere, but it should be noted that I love it if bonking the guard leads to a near-impossible combat or whether he goes down without a fuss.  The important thing is making the player react to a specific situation.

persuade the guards to let you in: Hi there! I'm with the Tavern Food & Service Inspection Agency. We've heard rumors that you have rats running around in every cellar. Well, it's fucking better be a misunderstanding because if I see a single rodent-looking motherfucker - which includes this rat-faced bastard over there - I'm shutting this evil fortress down TONIGHT! Now open that fucking door already!
-This just feels like a skill-check to me.  Maybe if you need to hear about how there's been a rat problem and then make a skill check, I'd be fine with it.

ask around about the pass, find out who has one, and either steal it or trade it for something.
-I love this one.  It rewards exploration, thinking about who might have a pass, etc.  The player who remembers a diplomat in the previous town does well.  The player who couldn't be bothered to talk to people and read what they had to say... not so much.  It rewards the players knowledge and intelligence as opposed to the character's.

create a diversion - Look behind you, a three-headed monkey! - and sneak inside. Or hire some thugs to attack the guards and while the guards are busy breaking some heads, sneak inside.
-Hate the "look behind you" option, love the hired thugs option.  Look behind you is just another skill check, at best.  The thugs involve using something that might otherwise have been a problem to your advantage.  Very creative.

wall-climbing text-adventures are fun and very ninja-like: your dagger blade snaps with a loud noise and you plummet to your death cursing stupid non-combat gameplay.
-...and reload and click the right options.  

impersonate an officer - Atten-hut! Is that how you salute an officer of the watch, swine? Stop eyeballing me! You're not worthy to look your superiors in the eye. Stand straight, eyes forward! What is the name of your commanding officer?
-Depends.  Simple skill-check and I hate it.  If you're impersonating a specific officer, it could be a lot of fun.  Let the player talk to the officer beforehand, then try to copy their mannerisms in the dialog tree.  Only let the player know if they've succeeded at the end, so dumb reloading and trying the other option isn't such an obvious solution unless they're prepared to hit every combination.  

bribe your way in.
-Wallet-check?  Meh.

forge a fake pass using your knowledge of what a real pass looks like and skills (lore, literacy, scribing, etc)
-Knowledge of what a real pass looks like could make this interesting.  I'd be more interested in making the player realize that they could convince that monastic scribe to put his skills to a more practical application.

The options I'm most interested in generally don't come within dialog trees, but between them.  Making connections between two things which aren't obviously related is something I consider to be not just interesting, but at the root of almost all genius.  Surprise the player and leave it open enough that the player can surprise you.

The next Q&As I agree with completely, up until we hit the one that seems directed towards me, of course.

Q: Yeah, yeah, whatever. Non-combat gameplay = giving your character high intelligence and choosing the wordiest options available. It's a great read, but from a player-game interaction standpoint, not much is going on there.

I agree that this results from bad design and that there are ways around it.  However, my point was that there really can be vastly different ways of approaching a pure combat situation.  I didn't set it up against some strawman either like the way you've simplified combat in this article by... wait for it... leaving out all the combat.  I understand that's natural here since the forum's combat engine is non-existant, but my case-in-point wasn't a shitty game with lazy design, it was Fallout.  The only real design problem was that since you could talk to damn near everyone and talk is cheap while dynamite is expensive, it meant that someone interested in the dialog options would breeze by the other aspects of the game.  Why certain skills gave the player interesting options in certain circumstances (reverse-pickpocketing activated time-bombs, for instance), for me at least, speech was virtually always my first, and therefore last, option.
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Saint Genesius
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« Reply #27 on: February 29, 2008, 08:03:42 pm »


The biggest problem I see with typical non-combat gameplay is that there's rarely ever a degree of success. The best you can hope for is a variance in how much you have to pay as a bribe, that sort of thing. There's too much scripting involved, whereas combat generally relies on dynamic interactions within a set of rules. And more often than not, failure means "time to reload" because you're not given opportunities to fail multiple times before "losing the battle".

Of course, this is all because of a lack of design effort in this area, but are there simple, elegant and general solutions that can add a bit more variance to systems like dialogue or stealth? I think there are, and I think this thread is the place to brainstorm them.

This is absolutely spot-on.  Doing these things well doesn't exist in almost all cases.  You either do it successfully or not at all.  A %20 success rate and a %80 success rate mean the same thing after reloads. 

Euchrid:  A non-combat RPG basically describes Shenmue.  They actually spent a fair amount of time on the combat system but it is very rarely used.  "You are also often depriving the player of content, who would pass up hours of sewer scouring in VtmB for a quick dialogue with the police, leaving all the fun to them?" is basically what I was getting after at the end of my post.  I usually go for the do-the-most-stuff option and often times, if I didn't want to do a dungeon, I wouldn't have been playing the game.

Priapist:  This interests me.  I think it's mostly a different discussion though.  I'd have to think about this some more to decide whether it sounds good or not.

Vince: "The only commercially viable ideas are 'let's make the most awesome looking and like totally epic game'. Anything else is an equivalent of pissing into the wind."  Really?  Explain why the Wii and the DS are kicking the shit out of the console market.  We're rapidly approaching the point where art trumps graphics and convenient trumps epic.  Admittedly, MMOs generate the most revenue and are epic, though they don't necessarily have fancy graphics, but their success has more to do with finding a great business model than anything else. 

Can you name the two best-selling computer games of all time?  Here's a hint: both their names begin with "The Sims."  Final Fantasys embody the awesome looking and like totally epic game and they will always sell well, but the biggest seller was 7, and that was a long time ago, plus they're expensive to produce.  Going by wiki, FF7 sold 9.8 million copies.  That's a lot, but after all this time, it's still slightly less than Brain Age 2 and a couple million shy of Brain Age 1.  Nintendogs sold a bit under 18 million.  I'm not going to argue that text-heavy, open-ended RPGs are anything but a bad idea from a financial perspective, but if money is the object, either go after a Ragnarok Online, or program for the DS.
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pnutz
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« Reply #28 on: March 01, 2008, 01:00:40 am »

Another idea to enrich world interaction is 'Microfactions'. These would be designations of NPCs that exist only to reflect the influence of your actions and the actions of others. They aren't "real" factions and don't have the quests or story interaction that your main factions do. Instead, they're something like "worshiper of Oogbah", "inhabitant of Funkytown", "Employee of Mr. Bigg". Actions against others in the same microfaction have a proportional effect on everyone in the group. This isn't a reputation effect, it's a demenor effect. Robbed the bi-annual caravan from Funkytown? The whole town's prospects just sunk, embittering everyone in the microfaction. Oogbah worship declared legal? His followers all brighten up. Mr. Bigg killed by bandits that you hired? His employees are now jobless and angry. There is an effect on people's mood, even if you weren't the cause (or didn't intend to cause the reaction).

Weather and environmental factors could cause a big influence as well. Some folks may hate being hot. Others may dislike working at night or be annoyed by constant rainfall.

Let's take our quintessential guard of the castle. He hates working in the heat. You arrived in Funkytown (a 2 month journey across the minimap) in the dead of summer and he is leaning on his spear, bitter and miserable under the noon sun. On your way in, you stopped at an outpost where you were to break out a prisoner awaiting transfer to his place of execution. You convinced a tribe of nomads to attack the outpost and in the process they killed 12 members of the Hammer Guild, a kind of private army that hires out elite soldiers and bodyguards. Mr. Castle Guard happens to be a Hammer, and is rather pissed that 12 of his friends were recently killed. Given his current demeanor, he doesn't even care that you have a pass (which you bought off of someone), because he doesn't know you and isn't interested in letting assholes he doesn't know waltz into the lord's castle.

So your actions outside of town kind of soured your chances at this particular mode of entry. By creating a microfaction that this guard and many others belong to and giving it even a rudimentary place in the world, you would create these influences and consequences with little manual effort. If you had got there in March, figured out a less lethal way to bust out the prisoner, or even just waited until sundown/sunset, the guard might have been less ornery, just enough to let a stranger with a pass into the castle. Now you'll need to climb the wall using the dynamic and interactive text-based climbing system, preferably at night lest you attract a crowd of perplexed and bemused guards.

These moods and influences could affect nearly every type of non-combat play. There would be scales of (content<-->embittered), (prideful<-->disgraced), (relaxed<-->guarded), (trusting<-->suspicious). Recent actions against this person's faction(if any) and microfactions combined with their impression of you, your reputation, and specific actions by you would affect your ability to persuade, impersonate, lie, threaten, be stealthy, pickpocket, barter, and get information from this person.
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Scott
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« Reply #29 on: March 01, 2008, 08:33:40 am »

@pnutz:  I like this microfaction idea a lot.

This is exactly what I would like to see on replaying:  first game- I connive my way to a pass, I get in no problem.  Second game- I connive my way to a pass, but the grumpy bastard refuses me entry just because he's having a bad day.  Try something else.

I think a lot more consideration up front when designing a game could make details like this viable.  If a text parsing system for minor character dialogue could be implemented, tons of handcrafted lines could be avoided, and a lot of immersion added.

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