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Default Big Huge Games - Scope and Ambition

March 29th, 2009, 00:11
IGN reports on a GDC presentation from Big Huge Games' Ken Rolston and Mark Nelson on the dangers of not controlling scope and ambition when designing games. Their own Big Huge RPG is the focus of the conversation and, frankly, it sounds a mess. Here's a snip on streamlining:
"The real reason we didn't put factions in," said Rolston, "is that we made the decision that we wanted to have a streamlined RPG because we were trying to find a blue ocean strategy. We didn't actually want to copy the work that we'd done before, so we were trying to organize an experience around a very linear main narrative. And deliberately, to avoid complicating things, we stripped out factions. It turns out we were good at factions, we were expected to have them, so it sucked if we didn't do it."

Nelson dug into the issue of the drawbacks of trying to make a streamlined RPG. "I think we made a mistake trying to make RPG 'lite.' We had this idea that we could strip out all this stuff that isn't necessary for the player to see. He doesn't need to see all those numbers on the screen, he doesn't need to see every stack on his piece of armor, every stack on his weapon. We failed to remember that RPG players like that stuff. That's the stuff that makes RPGs kind of rich, kind of fun. I want to look at those stupid numbers. Yes, they clutter up the screen, and I know it offends the artists and it offends the UI guys, they say 'do we have to put so much information on there?' Yeah, we do."
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March 29th, 2009, 00:11
We failed to remember that RPG players like that stuff. That's the stuff that makes RPGs kind of rich, kind of fun. I want to look at those stupid numbers. Yes, they clutter up the screen, and I know it offends the artists and it offends the UI guys, they say 'do we have to put so much information on there?' Yeah, we do.
Wisest words i heard in a long time…
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March 29th, 2009, 08:50
Please tell the Risen developers…….
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March 29th, 2009, 09:04
I'm reading that and saying to myself…"Well, duh!" I have to wonder how many rpg game developers actually have game designers on their staff that have actually played real RPGs and are even fans of those games. Unfortunately, everyone doing RPGs today are doing Action/RPG lite. And frankly, they all suck.
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March 29th, 2009, 16:35
Originally Posted by GothicGothicness View Post
Please tell the Risen developers…….
What, that they shouldn't make the next Gothic 2?
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March 29th, 2009, 17:07
Oooh! These guys were entertaining! I especially enjoyed the part where Rolston was described by his cohort as:

"…a top person in the industry when it comes to world building and setting and theme, wouldn't know fun if it bit him in the ass, cooked him a dinner, wrote him a thank you note, sent him a Facebook invite, anything, it's just not a strong suit of his.
Ouch! Sounds like someone preferred Daggerfall over Morrowind!

The crack about him being old because he "still calls it CRPG" made me feel a little self-conscious (two weeks away from 51 here). Is this one of those the rain is Tess, fire/Joe, wind/Mariah things? Or are there really new initials? And why didn't I get the memo?

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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March 29th, 2009, 17:59
I'm just past 61 and I've been playing RPGs on computers since the early 80s. I don't care what acronym they go by. I just want a fun, engrossing game.

Just finished The Witcher: EE and it was a fun ride. The only complaint for me was it seemed a little too linear and the world was too restrictive. If it had been a bit more open-world, like the Gothic series, it would have topped my All-Time list.

I agree on the point that game designers/writers/programmers should be those who have played them, understand their history and heritage, and not just technicians putting out 'product' or 'content'.
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March 29th, 2009, 23:04
I don't know if this report gives an accurate picture but based solely on the their own comments here, I wouldn't hire them to make a tetris clone. No wonder THQ wants to cut them free.

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March 30th, 2009, 00:45
This was never going to work, you can't make three games at the same time
*Sigh* Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person who thought Birthright was awesome…
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March 31st, 2009, 02:50
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I don't know if this report gives an accurate picture but based solely on the their own comments here, I wouldn't hire them to make a tetris clone. No wonder THQ wants to cut them free.
Wasn't Ken Ralston responsible for some of the bizarre, cool background info and lore in Morrowind, eg- "A Less Rude Song", "The 36 sermons of Vivec"?
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March 31st, 2009, 05:03
Yep…….

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March 31st, 2009, 09:38
The typical "obscure" texts like the sermons are mostly by Michael Kirkbridge, not by Ken. Ken was lead designer on MW, though, so a lot of the general outline of place and story and quest design are probably to his credit.
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March 31st, 2009, 13:34
Good for once seeing a dev speaking from their heart in these interviews. I particularly couldn't help grinning stupidly when Mark Nelson said:

"We failed to remember that RPG players like that stuff. That's the stuff that makes RPGs kind of rich, kind of fun. I want to look at those stupid numbers. Yes, they clutter up the screen, and I know it offends the artists and it offends the UI guys, they say 'do we have to put so much information on there?' Yeah, we do."
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