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Default Rampant Games - Thoughts on DA vs MM1

December 9th, 2010, 23:38
Last Monday, Rampant Coyote Jay Barnson posted about playing around with Dragon Age and Might & Magic 1and finding MM1 more compelling. Today he has expanded on his MM1 thoughts (and added some XCOM for good measure):
Like many PC gamers of the early-to-mid 90s, I fell in love with X-Com: UFO Defense (AKA UFO: Enemy Unknown across the pond). However, there are many games since then that have tried – and failed – to capture my attention the way X-Com did.
You know what would have ruined X-Com for me (or at least weakened its appeal considerably)? If it had a branching storyline with fixed battles (even if I could have chosen to skip some or take them in a a different order). Or if it had a fixed “window” of funding and resource gain throughout the game to make sure things never got too easy or too hard – so that I was always facing an “appropriate” challenge for whatever stage of the game I was in. And if fixed team members that couldn’t perma-die.
Gee, sounds a lot like a few modern RPGs, doesn’t it?
Thanks to Thrasher for also sending this in.
More information.
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December 9th, 2010, 23:38
Gee, that excerpt taken by itself sounds harsher than I intended. Wow, RC, lighten up!
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December 10th, 2010, 00:35
I read both parts and, though I never played X-Com, I fully agree with the Dragon Age vs. MM1. There's just TOO MUCH STORY. I guess for some people that's good. I play RPGs mainly for the tactical gameplay, the rules, etc. I like a nice *background* story, something that gives a reason for my adventuring… but when the story is more important than the gameplay, that's when it stops being a fun game to me. I couldn't care less about 'choices & consequences' unless those choices are my character's abilities and choices during combat. For example, Betrayal at Krondor. That game also had a lot of story, but it was not as forced upon you as the more recent games.
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December 10th, 2010, 00:56
I love story. I want more of it. Just not at the expense of gameplay. That's a tall order.
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December 10th, 2010, 02:16
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
I play RPGs mainly for the tactical gameplay, the rules, etc.
See, I'm different. I appreciate tactical gameplay but if that's the main draw, why not play strategy games? I've never really understood the "gameplay is a separate entity argument" - for me, it's all part of the whole. Story is gameplay for me, because a good RPG lets me participate in a way that other media doesn't.

On the MM1 vs DA discussion, whilst DA certainly isn't a perfect game, MM1 is far too bare-bones for me these days. Modern games do a lot of things wrong and bring their own baggage but (some of them) have also improved considerably on what was often one-dimensional kill-the-foozle dungeon-crawling.

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December 10th, 2010, 09:37
There's just TOO MUCH STORY
The problem is not that is has much story… the problem is that most of the story is utterly crappy…. I don't mind if it has much story if it has good story!
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December 10th, 2010, 14:06
Originally Posted by GothicGothicness View Post
The problem is not that is has much story… the problem is that most of the story is utterly crappy…. I don't mind if it has much story if it has good story!
Oh no, the problem for me is that there is indeed too much story. Maybe I have ADD, but if you give me 3 speeches in less than an hour, chances are the first speech will need to go from my mind to make room for the 3rd. Things need a time to 'soak in' so to speak. Tell me about the world in the intro. Let me go out and play around with things. Wait some time before you drop another load of 'this is the Cornelius faction that is at war with the Godzilla faction, so they allied with the Lollypop faction until recently, but the king of the Lollypop faction betrayed them and joined forces with the Minecraft faction', and as my head is still spinning around trying to digest that, another cut-scene comes about how I'm the chosen one.
Keep it simple and sporadic as far as story goes.
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December 10th, 2010, 14:31
In that case never try to play Xenosaga or Lost Odyssey
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December 10th, 2010, 15:03
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
See, I'm different. I appreciate tactical gameplay but if that's the main draw, why not play strategy games? I've never really understood the "gameplay is a separate entity argument" - for me, it's all part of the whole. Story is gameplay for me, because a good RPG lets me participate in a way that other media doesn't.

On the MM1 vs DA discussion, whilst DA certainly isn't a perfect game, MM1 is far too bare-bones for me these days. Modern games do a lot of things wrong and bring their own baggage but (some of them) have also improved considerably on what was often one-dimensional kill-the-foozle dungeon-crawling.
I agree 100% with this post. I really liked DAs story. No, not perfect but for me it was the best game to come out in years.
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December 10th, 2010, 16:12
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I've never really understood the "gameplay is a separate entity argument" - for me, it's all part of the whole. Story is gameplay for me, because a good RPG lets me participate in a way that other media doesn't.

On the MM1 vs DA discussion, whilst DA certainly isn't a perfect game, MM1 is far too bare-bones for me these days. Modern games do a lot of things wrong and bring their own baggage but (some of them) have also improved considerably on what was often one-dimensional kill-the-foozle dungeon-crawling.
Yep. This. +1.

These articles are obviously part of RampantCoyote´s elaborate marketing plan.
I really like the second one.
Last edited by DeepO; December 10th, 2010 at 16:44.
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December 10th, 2010, 16:53
Great reads. Particularly enjoyed it as I'm planning on playing both of those games, hopefully not too far in the future.

To me, the thing about story isn't too much or too little, but how compelling the characters are. If I have an emotional attachment (good or bad) with them, I want lots of story, if I don't, I get bored with the story. I think that is why I'm having a hard time with Ps:T. So far, none of the characters I've encountered have grabbed me. The talking skull is kind of funny, but that's about it.

Compare that to BG. Immediately I had that attachment with Gorian and Imoen.

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December 10th, 2010, 18:31
These articles are obviously part of RampantCoyote´s elaborate marketing plan.
I really like the second one.
Right. Right. A plan. I, like, totally have a plan!

Actually the "indie blues" post this week in-between these two articles was me coming to grips with the fact that the criticisms I've leveled against other games can totally apply to Frayed Knights as well. I've fallen into exactly the same trap, and I'm sure some folks will delight in attacking me with my own words.

But what I've found is that I'm looking at a lot of these old games differently now that I'm a "CRPG designer" than I did when I was simply a player (or even as a professional game programmer). I tend to dissect them a lot more, to see what makes them tick.
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December 10th, 2010, 22:29
That second article was fantastic! A big kudos to RC for an epiphany.

In particular, the benefit of an evolving overarching strategy (ala XCOM) to tie together long stretches of a game along with exceptions to mix things up, rather than relying on a longwinded story to maintain interest. I mean, let's face it, none of the stories in recent times are very good in games. I appreciate the attempt, but very few succeed, IMHO.

It would be great if interesting deep overarching strategy were combined with great story, though. Maybe one day someone will make it…
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