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Subject: 999 (Nintendo DS)
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Eusis
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« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2007, 04:25:52 AM »

Weren't you praising XS3 before? Or is it just one great game doesn't make up for the rest of the series?

Edit: More relevant to the topic... sorta, anyway, I think we'll get to have an idea of Ron Gilbert's philosophies applied to an RPG soon due to his Penny Arcade involvement. Posted it as it's own topic awhile back, but it didn't get any responses and might be of interest to people after reading that article.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2007, 10:58:57 AM »

Quote
It's a vanilla product because of that. Xenogears on the other hand was a much stronger drama because it did things we didn't expect.


Yes, but the stuff I didn't expect happened from things just not making sense. For instance:

Code:
I didn't expect Fei and Id to be the same person, because dissociative fugues usually don't make your appearance change completely. Not... to mention being really off about how multiple personality disorder works in general


Alternatively, things happened I didn't expect because a lot of the stuff in th game was just sort of poorly explained.

Also, I don't remember the
Code:
Citan Betrayal
at all. I re

---edit---

On Topic.

You can have a linear storyline that doesn't change much, and largely non-linear gameplay. I think Morrowind's something that people consider highly non-linear. However, the main plotline is almost entirely linear: you can sequence break if you know what to do, and it changes slightly depending on whether or not you kill a certain character, but beyond that, the storyline is linear. Morrowind achieves nonlinearity by giving the players options of stuff to do OUTSIDE the bounds of the main quest.

Ultima 7 worked on a similar approach. Main storyline was pretty linear, but you could influence the world and go exploring and do all sorts of sidequests outside of it.

Likewise, if you have a linear storyline, you can offer a nonlinear approach to it. Let's say that in an adventure game, for instance, you basically have a standard sequence of lock-and-key type puzzles, where you need X item to get rid of Y problem, thus solving the puzzle. Let's change this. Item A, B, or C will get rid of problem Y. Depending on which items you have left, future puzzles and sub-puzzles will play out slightly differently. the underlying narrative's ultimately linear, but you have different courses of action for dealing with it. Something like that.

Anyway, limitting character growth to just getting magic and stat-boosts on level ups, without any sort of input from the player, is something that has made several games get really boring to me. Making character growth totally uninteractive takes the fun out of it.
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El Diablo
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« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2007, 11:13:19 AM »

Quote from: "Prime Mover"


On the flipside, RPGs are highly underdeveloped in their ability to inspire us and force us to think about things. They're very unsophisticated in this regard, with fairly obvious central themes, most of the time very simplistic in nature, and varyingly few shades of grey. There are exceptions, but there are none that are able to do ALL of these things well.


There are two words that can summarize what you've said here: "target audience". Think about who these games are aimed in the first place and how they were built, I mean, where is their main target? The Jrpgs are originally made for teens, and their stories often develop around the "coming of age theme". The main characters start as a immature fellow, sometimes with little or no conscience of what is important in life besides himself and his dreams/ambitions, and as the plot advance, the character through a maturing process and evolve to be a better person, to be resposnsible and to be "adult". As such, the temes featured in these games must be easy to relate to, so that the audience  can identify with them and grow attached to the story. The reason why we don't see more adult storytelling in Jrpgs is mostly because of this. It's not underestimating the inteligence of the players, but it's showing that same transformation that they're going through in a way that they can relate to the themes, setting and characters. The narrative in these cases is often built to comunicate with those emotions that the players are going through at that time.

I think the Persona Series does a pretty good job with more adult storytelling and deals a lot better with the themes it depicts than most games, mostly because the characters already passed through the process which I described above, so what they experience during the story is diferent and more deep( personal opinion here ) than the majority of Jrpgs. An example of what I'm trying to say could be Lost Odyssey. From the looks of it, the story breaks away from the norm, and tries something different. I would apreciate if they've focused in the sadness of living for a thousand years and knowing that in the end you will always be alone, no matter what. Since Sakaguchi said in interviews that the focus of the story is in the characters themselves, rather than big events, I think he will do a great job.

"However, El Diablo, I'm going to have to disagree with you on your fundimental ideals of how games should develop. I, personally, have no interest in seeing a fully interactive narrative. My interest in interactivity goes as far as being free to explore the wonderful setting I've been given... but ends there. I feel a very strong sense of separation between creator and audience, and I'd like to keep it that way. I see games as interactive skulptures... but like most interactive skulptures, each one has a creator, a theme, and a concept built into it that can not be altered by the audience. I prefer to play from this perspective, and enjoy the thoughts and ideas the creator wants to share with me... as apposed to demanding that I take part in the overall construction of the narrative."

Eusis summarized my point, but there's still something to add here. Interactivity would be better for the experience in a way that the sense of improvement and satisfaction came from our actions. An example: The death of Aeris( I don't think that's even a spoiler anymore HAHA). What if you colud save her instead of just seeing her die and that act would bring a lot of changes to the story, to character development and the flow of the game? To save her wouldn't be as emotional as letting her die? To me It certainly would, even more if remember where her relationship whith the other characters was going. A game that might be able to pull this of in a great way is The Witcher( PC RPG ), which is an action RPG with focus on plot and character development, for what I've read.

To alisha:

Full Throttle was awesome, and if you want to play a good adventure game try the Syberia series, mostly Syberia 1, since 2 have some annoying stuff that detracts from the game, but it's nothing that ruins the experience, they're for the PC(they've been ported to the XBOX and th PS2 also, I think) and kinda old by now, so you won't need a powerful computer to run them. Another suggestion would be Dark Earth, which I also love.

So, my reply came off pretty long, sorry. My english stumbled a little bit but I think I came out relatively unharmed, right? Thanks for the responses.
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Prime Mover
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« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2007, 04:22:42 PM »

Quote from: "El Diablo"
An example: The death of Aeris( I don't think that's even a spoiler anymore HAHA). Wht if you colud save her instead of just seeing her die and that act would bring a lot of changes to the story, to character development and the flow of the game? To save her wouldn't be as emotional as letting her die?


Of course it would be emotional, but "emotional" alone isn't important. The important part is that a creator is able to piece together an arc that follows a complex narrative structure with certain points of tension & release.

For me, the most important part of art/entertainment is it's structure. It's for this reason that I love epic-length musical pieces (I'm a progressive rock freak), as well as long TV and anime series. You can see how they unfold over time, and when you find some things towards the end that somehow relate to the beginning, you get a sense of satisfaction from understanding that relationship. If you're doing all the construction yourself, you don't get that same sense of satisfaction, because it's YOU who determined that. Maybe you get satisfaction from it, but it's not the same.

Aeris's salvation would have changed the whole plot line, and I won't argue that there couldn't have been a great plot line created from that, but it's not the themes and emotions that the creators set out to portray. Part of the joy of entertainment is living with the events that go on in a story, even if they're not the ones you would innitially want to have happen.
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El Diablo
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« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2007, 05:13:09 PM »

"Of course it would be emotional, but "emotional" alone isn't important. The important part is that a creator is able to piece together an arc that follows a complex narrative structure with certain points of tension & release."


Yes, I think I haven't expressed myself correctly, what I meant was that "construction" would be in a sense that changes the direction of the plot, this would be already planned by the writers and of course, it would lead the narrative to another direction and also the characters and their development. Have you played Indigo Prophecy? That's what I'm trying to say. Branching storylines, with choices and consequences that doesn't exactly take place in the moment you make them, just like it was in that game and in the upcoming The Witcher( I'm really excited for it). Changes and adaptations would have to be done to fit the genre and integrate it on the gameplay, but I think it's possible.

Also, I have to say that I like prog rock, but my knowledge of it is scarce, I must say.
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ZE GRAND MASTER
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« Reply #20 on: July 07, 2007, 05:21:18 PM »

Quote from: "Eusis"
I think one of the most important things is to take more chances. Don't be afraid of an unorthodox setting, doing ballsy things with characters/gameplay, etcetera. 95% of everything is crap, but I'd at least like it if more of these games pretended to be original, rather than simply pretending to be important.


Let's see, which of those applies to DDS:

Unorthodox setting - post apocalypse - tick!
Ballsy things with characters - Heat = badass who's one of the good guys,
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Jenna Angel = sadistic psycopath who's (sort of) one of the good guys + /hermaphrodite/
- tick!
Ballsy things with gameplay - you get to eat people! - tick!

Also, it's fairly original.
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Eusis
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« Reply #21 on: July 07, 2007, 06:23:31 PM »

Quote from: "ZE GRAND MASTER"
Let's see, which of those applies to DDS:

... Uhhh, haven't I mentioned multiple times how I played the games or at least suggested at them? Yet each time I bring up something that COULD apply to them and I don't mention the game, you have to go dragging it up. I dunno, it's like telling me about how the sky's blue when I'm talking about liking the color blue or something, heh. Besides, DDS lacks one of the key things I want from a unique setting: The freedom to fully and freely explore it, ala DQVIII or the Bethesda RPGs.

In regards to freedom: I'll admit that for narrative, it's probably best just to leave some things static and unavoidable. Let's take KotOR as an example:
Code:
You can decide to go good or evil, but ultimately you can't stop the effective destruction of the starting planet, Taris. You can't stop Bastila from staying behind to hold back Darth Malak and allow you to escape, which allows him to turn her to the dark side while she's gone. However, you can decide how many smaller events ultimately turn out, such as the rivalry between the two families on Dantooine and their two children that want to elope.

Not that it wouldn't be interesting to change some huge events too, but for the sake of narrative I don't mind if I can't change EVERY event anyway. I can at at least change the little details of those big events though, like trying to convince the antagonist of their wrongs, or simply telling them to go fuck themselves.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #22 on: July 07, 2007, 07:05:48 PM »

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Ballsy things with gameplay - you get to eat people! - tick!


Given what you said about Jenne
Code:
I guess she's pretty ballsy too ;)
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Lucid
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« Reply #23 on: July 07, 2007, 07:09:34 PM »

Quote
t's not underestimating the inteligence of the players, but it's showing that same transformation that they're going through in a way that they can relate to the themes, setting and characters. The narrative in these cases is often built to comunicate with those emotions that the players are going through at that time.


Yes that's true, but even although it might not be a direct underestimation of user(re: target audience) intelligence, it is pandering. I know when I was a teen I enjoyed a array of themes and characters. Example, Betrayal at Krondor, a PC game which was casted mostly with Adult characters. I believe when the large part of your goal is focused on relating in a narrow spectrum like 'target audience', the value of the work is more exposed to monotony or critical decay. I coulod understand if games using teenage or youth themes were made in addition to a wider array like in other forms of media, but it's just unrealized potential from where I see.

I guess that is just part of a broader criticism I have in general of modern mainstream media though. In that it's pandering too much to youth audiences.
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Eusis
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« Reply #24 on: July 07, 2007, 07:17:03 PM »

Also, for ballsy things with gameplay... I'm thinking more along the lines of breaking conventions and the like if necessary for story. Perhaps there's no true final boss! And the 'eating others' thing is less ballsy than
Code:
the indiscriminate party slimdowns
DDS2 had done. The most that really happens is just idiotically holding you back because they want you to do this or that first which just pisses me off and REALLY fucks with the whole interactive aspect of games. RG's guilty of this, as you'll go to inventor huts and they're empty, and only when you go back AFTER running into a problem will they be there and you can get what you need to proceed. How about saving us the fucking trouble? Geez.

And Lucid: I do think it's a problem when they aim too much at a specific audience period rather than allowing their works to be more universal. Let's take these CGI cartoons: in general Pixar's made great movies that can be enjoyed by everyone. I really enjoyed seeing Ratatouille and I was able to enjoy Toy Story when watching it rerun on TV awhile back. Meanwhile, I see a trailer for Madagascar, and I just get irritated.

Admittedly, gameplay wise most of these games are fine. They're not overwhelmingly easy usually or dumbed down for the sake of kids or anything, like a lot of kids games over here are. Just the stories are a different, errr, story.
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El Diablo
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« Reply #25 on: July 07, 2007, 08:03:57 PM »

Quote from: "Lucid"

Yes that's true, but even although it might not be a direct underestimation of user(re: target audience) intelligence, it is pandering. I know when I was a teen I enjoyed a array of themes and characters. Example, Betrayal at Krondor, a PC game which was casted mostly with Adult characters. I believe when the large part of your goal is focused on relating in a narrow spectrum like 'target audience', the value of the work is more exposed to monotony or critical decay. I coulod understand if games using teenage or youth themes were made in addition to a wider array like in other forms of media, but it's just unrealized potential from where I see.

I guess that is just part of a broader criticism I have in general of modern mainstream media though. In that it's pandering too much to youth audiences.


You have a point, but most of the time that fact happens because of the fear caused by the possibility of the users not understanding the message that the developers are trying to convey. I think that's why they "dumb it down". Is it a bad thing? Kinda. There's a line between being simple and being simplistic, and I think it's precisely there that the problem lies. Many Jrpgs end up falling in the trap of the later, and that's pretty annoying. But in the other hand, there are the ones, that in their simplicity, can be  moving as much and maybe even more than the most intrincate story. As an example of this, i'd use the Lunar series which is definetly in the "simple" side of the equation, but that fact doesn't stop it from being extremely successful in what it sets out to do. But then again, that's just my opinion.

I would certainly like a change in the formula, but as long as people keep buying these games that won't happen, sadly. I think we're the ones to blame after all. Many fans found a comfort zone of sorts where they would become used to be exposed to the same thing over and over because they're just afraid of trying something different. If you think with their logic, why would they? Why would they trade something that they see as "safe" for some "weird stuff" that they never even seen before, something that challenges them and make them truly interact with that story, rather than recognize familiar ideas, settings and characters. Most players complain about cliches, but do they really want them to go away?

I'm not defending the developers, far from it, but it's just that they're not the only ones to blame here.
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Eusis
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« Reply #26 on: July 07, 2007, 08:18:26 PM »

I do think it's more likely the Japanese playerbase at fault, not the Western one. These games are developed with them in mind more often than not, the fact they can be sold in the west is just free money to them. However, I do think it's the playerbase at fault for generic fantasy RPGs more or less making up all the Western made stuff.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #27 on: July 08, 2007, 01:53:49 AM »

Quote
The most that really happens is just idiotically holding you back because they want you to do this or that first which just pisses me off and REALLY fucks with the whole interactive aspect of games.


I know what you mean in terms of RG, but I don't recall this happening in DDS2, although I'm not terribly far in it.

Anyway, this is why people didn't like betrayal in antara much. Krondor DID hem you in and stopped you from going to certain areas too soon, but within the area you were being confined too in that chapter, you had a lot of control over where you went. Antara was like, "We're sticking to this one road, and that's it. Capiche?"
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Eusis
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« Reply #28 on: July 08, 2007, 02:08:41 AM »

I didn't mean DDS2, just RG. It's a general complaint though, and the newer Zeldas are getting bad there too. Sequence breaking over rigid progression please, I don't care that much about the story and it could've been worked to be more open.

Edit: Looking at the original post, I can see why you made the mistake. No, it was directly continuing off the spoiler. I hope we can have spoilers handled differently for the next board format.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #29 on: July 08, 2007, 12:24:56 PM »

I've heard people talking about Zelda games losing their sequence breaking as of late, but it's not something I recall the games ever having much of. And  at least a few of the instances were a result of bugs, and not intended nonlinearity.

anyway, one of the most obnoxious sequence-based puzzle-things I've seen was in this IF game called Christminster, that got a lot of love from various sources. Anyway, the sequence made sense, unlike the GK3 one, but I don't know if it, well, made the MOST sense, and the sequence you needed to do stuff in was quite rigid with little room for error.
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