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Author Topic: Nonlinear storyline?  (Read 3356 times)

ArtDrake

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Nonlinear storyline?
« on: October 18, 2011, 08:45:58 PM »

So, I was thinking about TSoG. It's a great game. The combat is intuitive, the dialogue grammatically correct, and the characters practically develop themselves. But there are a few things that bother me about TSoG, and instead of just getting frustrated and not buying the game, I'd like to see if what I have to say resonates with anyone on the forums, and maybe even help to make the game better.

TSoG plays like a standard tactical RPG; you've got a mission, so you have to complete it. You talk to a random character, and you pursue a side-quest to spice things up a bit. The gameplay is simplistic and formulaic -- but then you realize the depths TSoG has to offer you. In a standard tactical RPG, you'll probably unlock all content through playing the main storyline, clicking around for cool dialogue options, and coming back to the same character over and over to have the same conversation go all the different ways it can go, because only one of them does anything for you. In TSoG, if you make the wrong move in a conversation, you have to fight and kill someone when you only wanted to recruit them. Sometimes, you have to push your moral boundaries in order to get the best results; if you play by the rules, you're going to, sooner or later, realize that you're shortchanging yourself, even if you are trying to stay on the moral side.

The main character is responsible for taking the initiative completely in a lot of regards; so much so that Griffin doesn't feel like the leader any more, but just the guy you report to to say, "Hey, I took down a camp of bandits by myself. What now?" The storyline isn't strictly linear, and you can make a lot of ingame decisions that decide your fate as a leader. In short, you have way more control in TSoG than you ever will in 96.3% of games.

Why am I saying this? Because TSoG gives you all this content, and then promptly limits itself. The way your talks with Griffin go feel like a clunky entity that could be replaced with a list of missions and checkboxes. The conversation structures itself around the mission, even if a small attempt has been made to avoid this. Because of this conversational structure, the player's expectation of the gameplay revolves around this impressioning first mission assignment. If the conversation were more centered around the idea of doing your best as a tactician (and really, the only one who can organize for squat; nothing would get done if it weren't for Duvalier) and behind-the-scenes orchestrator of the Resistance rather than focusing on the linear progression of events as they come, the player's mind would be more open to the fact that the world isn't just a bunch of side-quests; the world is many opportunities to help the Resistance and improve its situation.

What I'm trying to say is that as is, the wide range of things you can do in TSoG feel more like distractions from a main goal than a unified, cohesive rebellion simulation (which is now how I view the game more; not just a strategy game, but a management sort of game), and I think that that could be fixed somewhat by changing some of the first dialogue you have with Griffin the first time you visit HQ.
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CraigStern

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Re: Nonlinear storyline?
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2011, 03:23:58 AM »

It's funny you should mention this. If I got a chance to do the game over, I would have more things handled via simulation, and fewer via dialog trees. I've actually been hoping to do more of an army management simulation game in the future using the Telepath Tactics engine.

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I think that that could be fixed somewhat by changing some of the first dialogue you have with Griffin the first time you visit HQ.

How do you figure? By having him tell Duvalier explicitly that he wants him to interact with people and drum up support while everything else is going on?
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Ertxiem

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Re: Nonlinear storyline?
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2011, 04:27:41 AM »

Just a brief comment, Duckling. Would you feel it helped if we were able to walk around with other characters and seeing them helping the cause as well? Like, for instance, Griffin in Ravinale, Rahel in the Rubat clan or Malis in Somnus talking with NPCs and getting sidequests (or even solo missions).
I'm aware that the game is centred on Duvalier, so what I said might drive the game in a different direction. Perhaps talking with them about what happened might be enough to make us (players) feel that everyone in the team is working towards the same goal and has their importance outside battles.
(This ended up being not as brief as I expected. :) )
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ArtDrake

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Re: Nonlinear storyline?
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2011, 05:07:28 PM »

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I think that that could be fixed somewhat by changing some of the first dialogue you have with Griffin the first time you visit HQ.
How do you figure? By having him tell Duvalier explicitly that he wants him to interact with people and drum up support while everything else is going on?

Umm... sort of.  :( Griffin already does that with the Marid clan quest in a big way, so I don't think that it would hurt too much to put in a small "we also need all the help we can get, so poke around and see who we can turn to our side" sort of thing.

But also just by incorporating Duvalier's opinion into the game more; no matter what you say in the beginning, the game goes in one direction. I notice that later in the game, events take a sharper turn towards Duvalier-oriented battles and consequences, but by that time, I've got the idea in my head that I just ought to listen to Griffin and just do the side-quests when I feel like it.

I mean, from a narrative standpoint, it makes sense; Duvalier is going to play a more central role in the actions of the party as time goes on. But from a gameplay standpoint, I think that the player gets a sense of what the game is going to be like at the beginning, but when the side-quests start to matter more, it gets confusing, like suddenly what Griffin is saying is urgent just doesn't matter any more.

I guess what I'm saying is that in the story, Duvalier starts to be trusted more, and takes charge. For the player, the new possible actions don't seem so much like what they're doing of their own initiative, but more what they're obligated to do to really fully complete the game, except there isn't anyone tellling them to go to Somnus or to the Forest or the Psy Academy, so they have the authoritative Griffin telling them what to do, and a range of activities that no one appears to be authorizing.
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SmartyPants

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Re: Nonlinear storyline?
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2011, 07:24:12 PM »

In TSoG, if you make the wrong move in a conversation, you have to fight and kill someone when you only wanted to recruit them.
If you are refering to talking to Naj and La'Man, then I understand what you are talking about.  I was kinda pissed off when I was forced to murder the spriggats to complete my mission, because I picked the wrong option.  The results of one's choices with Naj and La'Man are too black and white.  One either picks the "good option" and welcomes them with open arms into the Resistance with a job offer, or you pick the option that offends them and you have to murder them to get them to leave the basement.  I don't like how unintentionally offending Naj or being obnoxiously rude becomes the evil option.  Being blunt or rude shouldn't be evil.  Of cource there should be consequences for making the wrong choices such as being unable to recruit the spriggats or being forced to pay them more, but one shouldn't be stuck with only the [Leave] option or the murdous route for making an non-evil choice.  There needs to be another option such as [Apologies].  Maybe the spriggats don't accept your apology unless your Personality is high.  Maybe one can pay the spriggats to move into Cheerlis's home after she flees.  If one pisses them off, then one won't be able to join the Resistance, but at least the player can make Gloomling happy without killing anyone. If one wants to kill them later, then one can trap them in Cheerlis' basement.

Sometimes, you have to push your moral boundaries in order to get the best results; if you play by the rules, you're going to, sooner or later, realize that you're shortchanging yourself, even if you are trying to stay on the moral side.
Like what?  I find the opposite issue.  I don't find that I get enough for being evil.  If one chooses to be good, then you get Qudssi and Arman.  If one chooses to be evil, then Luca will be learn Light Blast instead of Transfer 2.  It hardly seems worth it to be evil.  Maybe if a teammate will only stay if you are evil, then things may even out.

The main character is responsible for taking the initiative completely in a lot of regards; so much so that Griffin doesn't feel like the leader any more, but just the guy you report to to say, "Hey, I took down a camp of bandits by myself. What now?"
It seems to me that Griffin and Rahel take care of the overall strategy, logistics, and intelligence gathering, while Duvalier is incharge of tactics and diplomacy.

The way your talks with Griffin go feel like a clunky entity that could be replaced with a list of missions and checkboxes. The conversation structures itself around the mission, even if a small attempt has been made to avoid this.
I kinda see that.  I thought typing in the names of the people you want to know about is a big improvement of Griffin's character.  I find that a "list of missions and checkboxes" is necessary in a RPG, because one can loose track of what the player is suppose to do to further the story after not playing for awhile. Having Griffin telling you about your missions in conversation is a good, subtle method of doing it.

What I'm trying to say is that as is, the wide range of things you can do in TSoG feel more like distractions from a main goal than a unified, cohesive rebellion simulation (which is now how I view the game more; not just a strategy game, but a management sort of game).
The wide range of things you can do is one of the elements of a RPG.  I find pure strategy games such as TPA to be disappointing, because doing battle after battle becomes boring and repetitive.  In order to enjoy the battles, I need a break between the strategic parts with exploration, puzzles, story, and character dialogue.

ArtDrake

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Re: Nonlinear storyline?
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2011, 06:23:26 PM »

Well, for being irresponsible there's the whole, Knife, Duvalier gets a melee attack thing. Mahboob and Whatshisname give you more money if you lie and extort. The scorpion guy in the Marid clan camp will give you more money if you kill the scorpion and give him the stones. Plus, there's assassin extra content if you do assassination missions for Al'al; that gets Arman killed. For extorting a drunk man, you recieve 75 gold, and for killing a bunch of thugs, you also recieve money. For killing guards, you recieve 315 gold, and comeuppance.

I think that things that are morally grey or are just rather wrong reward you in this game, and if a semblance of realism is to be achieved, following the rules should be its own reward.

And I see where you're coming from on that last point, and I agree completely. What I'm saying isn't that they aren't completely necessary or that they aren't any good; I love the side-quests and minigames. But the thing is that they feel like things that you might do for a completionist award, but don't really affect the game in a very drastic way -- that is, there are money-earning quests that are only just that, and while they might give you a little bit of backstory, I can hardly imagine why the leader of a Resistance is walking around, killing sick scorpions for money, and having flashbacks when he could be doing something vital.

I'm not saying I hate the game; I love it. But these are the things that bother me the most about the game if anything bothers me. I'm not saying they have to be fixed, but there are a few things that don't make sense and if they could be explained to me, that would be great.
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CraigStern

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Re: Nonlinear storyline?
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2011, 09:47:52 AM »

What I'm saying isn't that they aren't completely necessary or that they aren't any good; I love the side-quests and minigames. But the thing is that they feel like things that you might do for a completionist award, but don't really affect the game in a very drastic way -- that is, there are money-earning quests that are only just that, and while they might give you a little bit of backstory, I can hardly imagine why the leader of a Resistance is walking around, killing sick scorpions for money, and having flashbacks when he could be doing something vital.

There are two answers to this: (1) He isn't the leader--he's just a member of the resistance who handles tactics for them in battle, so he isn't required to be hanging around HQ and organizing things on a high level like Griffin and Rahel are. (2) You control his character. If you think it doesn't make sense for him to do those things, you don't have to do them. That's where the whole "role-playing" thing comes in. ;)
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ArtDrake

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Re: Nonlinear storyline?
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2011, 02:16:32 PM »

Okay, not the leader. I misspoke. But it certainly feels like Duvalier is the leader sometimes, since he chooses when, where, who, and how the resistance fights. The only thing he's not really in control of is why they fight.

My point is that it doesn't make sense for him to be doing these things because there could be consequences in a real-life situation for delaying all military actions by simply chatting it up with the local populace in order to generate sympathy for the cause. The Cult could finally find you, grow stronger, recoup its losses, execute your parents, or do other time-sensitive things. The fact that the Resistance can just bide its time completely irks me a bit.
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SmartyPants

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Re: Nonlinear storyline?
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2011, 02:37:58 PM »

Well, for being irresponsible there's the whole, Knife, Duvalier gets a melee attack thing. Plus, there's assassin extra content if you do assassination missions for Al'al; that gets Arman killed.
The good choice gets you a bag of gold, an extra step for Duvalier, and lets you keep the Arman after investing alot of money into his training.

The scorpion guy in the Marid clan camp will give you more money if you kill the scorpion and give him the stones.
Based on a conversation with Mudjid, there may be more to the side mission.  I am sure that Craig will let you get something for not killing Tiki.

For extorting a drunk man, you recieve 75 gold, and for killing a bunch of thugs, you also recieve money. For killing guards, you recieve 315 gold, and comeuppance.
I am guessing that the drunk man will lead to a side quest at some point if you don't extort him.  Fighting the thugs and guards is considered self-defense unless you are metagaming and only talking to the thugs and guards so you fight them for money.

What I'm saying isn't that they aren't completely necessary or that they aren't any good; I love the side-quests and minigames. But the thing is that they feel like things that you might do for a completionist award, but don't really affect the game in a very drastic way -- that is, there are money-earning quests that are only just that, and while they might give you a little bit of backstory, I can hardly imagine why the leader of a Resistance is walking around, killing sick scorpions for money, and having flashbacks when he could be doing something vital.
I do find that Bandit Raids and Bug Hunting as pointless "money-earning quests", yet I do see the need for gold farming for new players.  I do disagree with you discription of the Tikki's Quest.  While the quest does seem incomplete, I understand why Duvalier would take the quest.  Duvalier's motives are good and he is helping the people (which is kinda the point of the Resistance), or Duvalier's motives are selfish and he is trying find any way to get money.

Tastidian

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Re: Nonlinear storyline?
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2012, 04:26:59 PM »

Quote
TSoG plays like a standard tactical RPG; you've got a mission, so you have to complete it. You talk to a random character, and you pursue a side-quest to spice things up a bit. The gameplay is simplistic and formulaic -- but then you realize the depths TSoG has to offer you. In a standard tactical RPG, you'll probably unlock all content through playing the main storyline, clicking around for cool dialogue options, and coming back to the same character over and over to have the same conversation go all the different ways it can go, because only one of them does anything for you. In TSoG, if you make the wrong move in a conversation, you have to fight and kill someone when you only wanted to recruit them. Sometimes, you have to push your moral boundaries in order to get the best results; if you play by the rules, you're going to, sooner or later, realize that you're shortchanging yourself, even if you are trying to stay on the moral side.

The main character is responsible for taking the initiative completely in a lot of regards; so much so that Griffin doesn't feel like the leader any more, but just the guy you report to to say, "Hey, I took down a camp of bandits by myself. What now?" The storyline isn't strictly linear, and you can make a lot of ingame decisions that decide your fate as a leader. In short, you have way more control in TSoG than you ever will in 96.3% of games.
I see what are friend duckling is getting at here but to be honest look at other games and what they do. Take the popular game of Bethesda Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion. They impose a point system of fame and evil. If you say get 60fame and 30evil the game rules that you are able to use the alters. If it where in reverse you cant. But something as such might make a game in which anything you want you can be as such described in the game not work out. For example no one person has the ability to tell in exact numbers how good or bad they have been based on their actions rather a rough estimate. So now we look at Fallout that impose the use of words rather than numerical values. But what are these words based on? Numerical values. So therefor there is no in game perfect way to impose mora system. Even then on the above systems there is a fact of what if this person never heard of your famous or infamous name this wouldn't work based on numerical rendering now would it. So the perfect sysytem would be over complicated and the system of not having one makes sense in a way that it is to be determind by the user like how the real world functions. Though it would be nice not to see any inconsistency.
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