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Default KoA: Reckoning - Interview @ GameBanshee

January 11th, 2012, 03:08
GameBanshee caught up with Big Huge Games' Ian Frazier to talk about Reckoning - which is due in three weeks or so now. There's a lot to cover and, as usual, GameBanshee asks some good questions so I'm just going to take an early quote but make sure you head over:
GB: You've mentioned that killing an NPC linked to a quest will cause that quest to end - do we have the freedom to kill any NPC in the game, or are key NPCs invulnerable? If we're able to kill an NPC without any other NPC witnessing the crime, will the crime still get us into trouble? Finally, are we able to loot all items on a dead NPC, even quest-related ones?

Ian: Some characters are effectively invulnerable, at least for a while. In general we try to make it impossible to accidentally break the main quest or the faction quests by accidentally murdering someone important, whereas with the side quests we pretty much say “feel free to kill everyone, but don’t be surprised when suddenly you can’t do as many quests in this area.” It’s worth noting that even in the cases where we do make characters invulnerable to prevent quest breakage, we generally turn that state off when the quest is complete, so players can still indulge their darker natures afterwards if desired.

If you manage to do something devious (murder, theft, etc.) and no one manages to see you and report you to the guards, then yes, you can get away with it! For the purposes of Reckoning, a crime only exists if it’s witnessed. …I try not to ponder what that says about our designers’ personal philosophies.

As for the last question, yes, you can loot NPCs just as easily as monsters, and where appropriate you may find a quest item on them. For that matter, you might be able to pickpocket that item from them instead if you’d prefer not to opt for murder.
More information.

-= RPGWatch =-
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January 11th, 2012, 03:08
Informative interview. I know folks were discussing inventory. Here is a quote relating to that in KoA:


GB: How does the game handle inventory management? Will players have the option to buy, sell, trade, or even transmute excess equipment whenever necessary? Also, will encumbrance and durability be a factor, and if so, how will they function in the game?

Ian: Our inventory system at its core is much what you’d expect from an RPG. Items are broken down into different categories (potions vs. helmets vs. weapons, etc.) and we’ve got an item limit for how much you can carry (not actual encumbrance, though), where the limit can be expanded by purchasing backpacks from certain merchants. Where it gets interesting is the little details:

1.) When you loot a corpse or container, you can compare the items in it with what you’re currently equipped with and then equip the items directly from the loot UI if you wish. You don’t have to pick them up and then go to your inventory to equip them if you don’t want to.

2.) When you find loot that you don’t really want, you can press a single button to put it in your “Junk” pile. This keeps it separated from the rest of your inventory for the sake of reducing clutter, and the next time you go to a merchant, you can sell every single item you’ve marked as Junk with a single button press!

3.) The Blacksmithing skill allows you to salvage equipment you don’t really want in order to get the useful components from that item. For instance, you might be playing a dagger-wielding rogue and find a sweet Frost Hammer of Badassdom. In most RPGs you’d say “Well darn, this isn’t useful for me” and sell it. In Reckoning you can salvage it for the core components that lend it its frosty badassness, then use those components to craft some equally excellent daggers that better suit your playstyle!

4.) When you’ve hit your inventory limit in the bottom of a dungeon and you want to pick up that shiny new sword, you can always destroy items from your inventory to make room. And if you invest in the Mercantile skill, you can actually recoup some of that item’s gold value when you do so.

To your other question, we do indeed have durability on most of the weapons and armor in the game, so they slowly degrade through use. Functionally they work at peak efficiency right up until the moment they break—at which point they stop being effective, but are still reparable. To repair an item, you can use Repair Kits out in the field via the Blacksmithing skill, or you can bring the items back to town and pay a blacksmith NPC to do the repairs for you.
I highlighted the part I thought was neat (not sure if that has been done in other games).

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January 11th, 2012, 03:54
Cool interview, but there's no new information for those of us who have been following the game. Still, it's good for those who haven't been following as closely to see some of the information here.

Here's the first 30 minutes of the game, for those interested.
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January 11th, 2012, 19:57
When you find loot that you don’t really want, you can press a single button to put it in your “Junk” pile. This keeps it separated from the rest of your inventory for the sake of reducing clutter, and the next time you go to a merchant, you can sell every single item you’ve marked as Junk with a single button press!
I peed with excitement when I read this. I've always wanted a 'junk' category to help manage my stuff and make it faster to sell things I don't want. I think I've wanted something like this since I played U7 back in 1992.

If I'm right but there is no wife around to acknowledge it, am I still right?
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January 14th, 2012, 05:53
There is a junk category in some rpgs out there, I just forgot where i saw it, and it was last year too. Same thing for dismemberment (Deathspank).
Looting and economy is not something that pulls me into a project.

Anyway, nice to hear something about quests and NPC and valuable game design,
but I have my fears that this game's backbone is its combat. (putting depth somewhere in the background)
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January 14th, 2012, 13:07
4.) When you’ve hit your inventory limit in the bottom of a dungeon and you want to pick up that shiny new sword, you can always destroy items from your inventory to make room. And if you invest in the Mercantile skill, you can actually recoup some of that item’s gold value when you do so.
Does this mean you cannot drop items?

Sounds a bit similar to the inventory system in DA2 and DA:O.
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January 14th, 2012, 19:28
I think I recall DA2 having a junk option before I realized what a junky game it was, and tossed it. Kinda ironic, that game having a junk option


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January 14th, 2012, 19:58
KoAR junk option is a bit different though. In DA2, the junk label was for junk items that had no use at all in the game (basically trash), you couldn't label something as junk. In KoA you can label stuff as junk. This make it easier to sell stuff, just label everything you want to sell as junk and voilà.
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January 14th, 2012, 20:07
Originally Posted by CountChocula View Post
Does this mean you cannot drop items?
I'm wondering about that as well. I hate it when you can't drop items or place things in containers in an RPG. It reeks of developer laziness when your only option is to destroy an item.
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January 15th, 2012, 00:59
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
I'm wondering about that as well. I hate it when you can't drop items or place things in containers in an RPG. It reeks of developer laziness when your only option is to destroy an item.
Maybe it is a way to avoid the problems with lag in PS3 systems for open world games. If you can't drop items and move them around in the game world, there is a lot less data to load into resident memory.

That said, I hope that's not the case. I prefer being able to see items in the game world and manipulate them.
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January 15th, 2012, 01:17
Yeah I wouldn't say laziness - rather it's a neat solution that would mean you can spend more (memory etc.) budget on making the rest of the world richer.
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January 15th, 2012, 03:07
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
Yeah I wouldn't say laziness - rather it's a neat solution that would mean you can spend more (memory etc.) budget on making the rest of the world richer.
I don't find anything neat about it, but I guess that's an optimistic way to look at it.
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January 15th, 2012, 12:52
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
I don't find anything neat about it, but I guess that's an optimistic way to look at it.
Well games are all about resource allocation - those resources can be development (budget/manpower) and compute (render time, memory etc.). Every game tries to get the maximum experience for the given resource budget. What that maximum experience is is obviously subjective and everyone will have their own preferences. The developers call is to maximise that experience for the most number of people that they are targeting their game at.

In this case the choice is between reserving memory/render etc. budget for junk objects lying on the ground and potentially having gameplay issues when you hit the limit (disappearing objects etc.) or using that budget to increase something else like numbers of landscape details with different textures say.

If the numbers of people preferring a prettier game to one where you can drop junk are higher than the opposite then it's a neat decision, especially if you save yourself additional resources due to not having to worry about quest items disappearing etc. (see Skyrim's clumsy attempts to resolve this issue).

On the other hand, games like Skyrim become known precisely for their free object behaviour - I'd suggest this is actually one of their USPs, given how few games do this - those other games make that decision for a reason, and the moaning about Skyrim's perceived bugginess with save game files and object behaviour might justify that decision.

TES can get away with being buggy now as well. KoA:The Reckoning is not going be given anything like as easy a time in that respect - they can't afford a game that isn't much more polished.
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January 16th, 2012, 00:29
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
Well games are all about resource allocation - those resources can be development (budget/manpower) and compute (render time, memory etc.). Every game tries to get the maximum experience for the given resource budget. What that maximum experience is is obviously subjective and everyone will have their own preferences. The developers call is to maximise that experience for the most number of people that they are targeting their game at.

In this case the choice is between reserving memory/render etc. budget for junk objects lying on the ground and potentially having gameplay issues when you hit the limit (disappearing objects etc.) or using that budget to increase something else like numbers of landscape details with different textures say.
I'd say it's mostly of a case of console limitations. Such a thing probably wouldn't be an issue if it wasn't a cross-platform title. It is though, and you're right about the devs needing to maximise the experience for the majority. In essence, this is a console game that will have a PC port.


Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
On the other hand, games like Skyrim become known precisely for their free object behaviour - I'd suggest this is actually one of their USPs, given how few games do this - those other games make that decision for a reason, and the moaning about Skyrim's perceived bugginess with save game files and object behaviour might justify that decision.
"Perceived" indeed . When has it ever been confirmed that TES games are buggy due to the way items are handled? It seems to me that the vast majority of bugs in those games are related to scripting and NPCs. I've spent hundreds of hours in TES and experienced very few glitches that were object related. Besides, there are other open world games besides TES that allowed such freedom with items and don't display any significant bugs/glitches.

Now, is there a greater chance for bugs with that kind of system? I'm sure there probably is. After all, the more things they have to code for, the more things that can potentially go wrong, right? I don't blame them for playing it safe, it's just not the system I would have preferred.
Last edited by JDR13; January 16th, 2012 at 00:39.
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January 16th, 2012, 01:07
Interacting with a world where you can pick up items is a big deal for me personally.

I hated this aspect of DA2. There was not a single item in the entire game world that could be picked up and added to inventory. You could only add items to your inventory from containers.

There are swords, daggers, staves, bows, armor, etc., but you never ever see them in the game world. Only when equipped on NPCs that are attacking you. This was rather ridiculous IMO.

Even a number of FPS games (RAGE, for example) do a better job of incorporating object meshes that you can pick up and add to your inventory.
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January 16th, 2012, 01:14
Originally Posted by CountChocula View Post
Interacting with a world where you can pick up items is a big deal for me personally.

I hated this aspect of DA2. There was not a single item in the entire game world that could be picked up and added to inventory. You could only add items to your inventory from containers.

There are swords, daggers, staves, bows, armor, etc., but you never ever see them in the game world. Only when equipped on NPCs that are attacking you. This was rather ridiculous IMO.

Even a number of FPS games (RAGE, for example) do a better job of incorporating object meshes that you can pick up and add to your inventory.
This is a great point, and a huge, huge deal to me. KoA looks to have a very non-interactive game world. Similar to the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series. In all honesty, Reckoning looks like a Bioware RPG, only it's open world. Other than that it looks like how Bioware would execute an RPG. And that isn't a good thing to me, because recent Bioware RPGs are my least favorite types of RPGs, simply because their game worlds are not as interactive as others. (and also because they are light on the RPG elements).

One reason I really dig Risen and Divinity 2 and the TES games, is because they add a level of depth to exploration, where you actually get to explore the "background" and pick up items like goblets, candlesticks, etc, rather than just look at them as pretty artwork. In Reckoning it appears we won't be able to interact with the game world minus a chest here and there and some alchemical ingredients, which is a big setback to me. It actually makes me much less excited for the game, sadly. It's also a big reason why I'm much more excited about a Risen 2. With the Piranha Bytes games you know you are going to get a lot of depth to the inventory and what you can pick up, what you can sell, and what you can interact with in the game world.

Overall though, I'm just hoping Reckoning hooks me in other areas, to where I can overlook this serious "flaw". I think it will. But I also think the game will not rate as highly with me as it otherwise could have, had it had a more interactive game world. We'll see for sure in a few more weeks.
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January 16th, 2012, 01:20
Maybe this sort of thing makes it easier to code a game that runs on six year old hardware with 256MB RAM, but as I'm playing on PC, from my perspective it's not worth it.

Hopefully the other aspects of the game make up for this.
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January 16th, 2012, 01:28
I guess it would be easier to code. But I also think it's simply a design decision. The vibe I get with Reckoning is that they are out for maximum amount of sales above all other things. Which is why they took ideas from all the biggest selling RPGs out there. I think they probably took too many ideas from the Bioware games (they sell more, go figure), and not enough from the Piranha Bytes style of games, because they don't sell as well. That's just my gut instinct with this game though.

Interactive game worlds don't seem to be the "in" thing in RPGs, at least not during the time Reckoning was being made. The "in" thing is plenty of cutscenes, a dialog wheel ala Mass Effect, fancy graphics with less interactivity, etc. I dunno. I just get a strong feeling that Reckoning is going for the most mainstream way possible of doing things. That's the best way I can describe it. A deeply interactive game world is much more "hardcore" than a world that just features beautiful graphics but no interactivity.

That said though, I still expect to have a lot of fun with the game. But a few of the design decisions are indeed a bit disappointing to me. Oh well. No game will be perfect I guess.
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January 16th, 2012, 02:46
I don't care whether or not I can drop an item. I hardly ever do. I sell excess items or leave them on the rotting corpses.

What I care about is the actual gameplay, AI and sometimes the story, not one tiny little design decision. From what I've read they've hit a homerun with those three, but I'll soon find out for myself.

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January 16th, 2012, 03:05
Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
I don't care whether or not I can drop an item. I hardly ever do. I sell excess items or leave them on the rotting corpses.

What I care about is the actual gameplay, AI and sometimes the story, not one tiny little design decision. From what I've read they've hit a homerun with those three, but I'll soon find out for myself.
It might be simply some sort of quirk that you cannot drop items. In itself, this is not so bad.

However, not being able to drop items strongly suggests the possibility that there might not be any items in the game world at all.

In DA2, for example, swords, staves, daggers, bows, potions, poisons, jewelry, food, etc, any of the typical inventory objects do not exist in the game world. They only exist within inventory lists in containers and when equipped. You will never see a bow or sword lying in the corner of a guard barracks, for example, or a mage's staff in the circle of magi and then pick it up and add to your inventory.
Last edited by CountChocula; January 16th, 2012 at 03:20.
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