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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Wasteland 2 - Interview @ GameStar.ru

Default Wasteland 2 - Interview @ GameStar.ru

May 6th, 2012, 12:00
Russian site GameStar.ru has an interview with Brian Fargo about Wasteland 2 and the industry in general. The translation is a bit spotty but you'll get the idea:
We are very disappointed that the majority of the developers make us manage a no-name deaf-and-dump Chosen. Should the main character of the role-playing game be a «full-bodied» like Adam Jensen from Deus Ex: Human Revolution? Or it would be harm to identification of the player with the character?
Well that is a debate that many people have. We have made games using both sides of that approach. When we did our last Bard's Tale we had the main character have a lot of personality in his snarky approach to the world. This allowed a very distinctive writing style. However, many RPG people want a fully customizable party or lead character. When it is truly customizable the players might be playing a woman or boy or a Russian or someone who is Chinese. In fact we are going to allow you to import your own character portraits so you can fully identify with your group.
What biggest failure in RPG genre could you recollect?
I think the biggest failure in the recent past is this assumption that the audience is not smart. Too much effort is being spent making it dummy proof. The situations have become bland and all the clues are being held right in front of their nose. The exploration and journey is the reward.
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May 6th, 2012, 12:01
What biggest failure in RPG genre could you recollect?

I think the biggest failure in the recent past is this assumption that the audience is not smart. Too much effort is being spent making it dummy proof.
I can't agree. Not all developers underestimate their fans. Just as an example latest RPG doesn't have "exclamation mark" on top of quest NPC's head.
Maybe the answer should be that the biggest failure of major RPG developers is oversimplifying.

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May 6th, 2012, 14:25
Originally Posted by joxer View Post
I can't agree. Not all developers underestimate their fans. Just as an example latest RPG doesn't have "exclamation mark" on top of quest NPC's head.
Maybe the answer should be that the biggest failure of major RPG developers is oversimplifying.
I don't think that's the issue. I don't mind (in fact, prefer) those question marks on the NPCs. I (the player) is not in that world, so to me that is just a way for the UI to represent my character(s)' knowledge, be it by asking around, gathering info, or just knowing the people in town.

I do agree with them, to me it's the "players are stupid" approach to games. There are no more puzzles, no riddles, no way of gimping a character (you can't even create a character or party anymore outside their appearance).
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May 6th, 2012, 14:33
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
I do agree with them, to me it's the "players are stupid" approach to games. There are no more puzzles, no riddles, no way of gimping a character (you can't even create a character or party anymore outside their appearance).
Have you played Legend of Grimrock yet? It's not by a major developer, but it has all of those things.
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May 6th, 2012, 20:33
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
I don't think that's the issue. I don't mind (in fact, prefer) those question marks on the NPCs. I (the player) is not in that world, so to me that is just a way for the UI to represent my character(s)' knowledge, be it by asking around, gathering info, or just knowing the people in town.
sorry, but thats just dumb.
thats the cancer killing alle the rpgs out there!

a town filled with usless npcs is the biggest immersion killer!

YOU (the pc) have to collect al the infos and get the people to give you work!

i dont like bioware games
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May 6th, 2012, 20:51
I think there are two legitimate sides to these issues and everyone is seeking the perfect balance.

For instance, it is nice having skill choices that matter, but it is not nice having to search walkthroughs and faqs to find out which skills are useless and underpowered. Trial and error is fun in some cases, but not if it sucks up a dozen hours of your life to find the error. Talking to every denizen in the virtual world has some neat sleuthy elements, but some find that a time-sucking chore.

Every hard-core rpg design choice comes with an irritation, because they make the player work harder. But the player is here to play, so the work better be fun. Not many designers are good at making fun work, so I can see the wisdom in taking a liberal approach to making things easy on the player.
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May 6th, 2012, 23:35
Think he was referring to how every recent game by a larger studio drags you around by the nose and walks you through every quest step by step.
Or how every "puzzle" is rarly more challenging then matching basic patterns together.
The only games that do not come with handholding are usually linear corridors where it is impossible to get lost and even then you are often given a compass marker to your next objective.
Of course i could be reading his comment wrong.
I think the real problem is that gaming studios are not wrong in assuming a large number of their target audience are either very young or full fledged retards.
(after all who else would buy overpriced and inferior proprietary hardware when better options exist )
Could also be why the whole work/risk vs reward thing seems to have gone the way of the dodo and instant gratification is now what sells.

As for giant glowing question marks over quest npcs i have no problems with the tried and true middleground of only naming quest npcs while everyone else gets a generic description.
Ofc i can also see how many would find that immersion breaking aswell. Still beats floating click me markers in anycase.
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May 7th, 2012, 00:09
Question marks, names, I don't care as long as the game doesn't require me to memorize what NPC has what quest and who should I go talk to and where they are. Like I said, I have no problem whatsoever with question marks, as I identify it as a UI thing, like minimaps. Again, it's the character who knows all those people, not me. A trade-off would be to have the question marks after you know about them, i.e., you get to a new town, no questions marks. You talk to the guard outside asking who has work for a party of adventurers, he mentions 4 people and those 4 people now have the question marks (or markers in the map, whatever).
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May 7th, 2012, 00:42
I think Ken Rolston has the right idea about this. He wanted to design a game (Reckoning) that gives the player the most fun per unit time. Doing things like figuring out where you have to go (no quest markers), talking to everyone just to find quests (i.e. not knowing who has the quests and going on a wild goose chase to find out), having to enter the inventory every time you pick up a new piece of gear (in Reckoning you can compare items you find directly from the looting UI, and equip from there as well), and in general doing other things that are more like busy-work and aren't really fun, so he wanted people to have fun as quickly and easily as possible. I mean let's be honest, what's more fun, spending a half hour talking to every villager in town to find a quest to do, or spending 2 minutes gathering the quest from a quest giver with an exclamation point above his head, then spending the rest of your time doing an awesome quest? I'm not saying doing that type of busy-work can't be fun, some people find it fun, but the majority of people just want to get to the "good stuff", and they consider the good stuff actually doing the quests, not finding them. And I think it's a good trend. These days I don't mind playing a game that lets me get to the "cheese" (as Rolston would say), as quickly as possible so I can experience all the good parts of the game. That's not to say I don't enjoy other styles of games as well, that require more work, but I think in general most people don't want to work too hard when they play a game. Just my 2 cents.

That's also not to say that the "get to the good stuff quickly" games are any less rewarding, either. They can be rewarding in other ways. I find Reckoning to be a very rewarding and engaging game and it leads you by the nose all the time. But it also gives you enough breathing room to enjoy the experience and figure out what needs to be done in a given situation. I dunno. I used to hate the idea of games being accessible, but these days my opinion on that has definitely changed. I welcome the new way of doing things. It makes playing and enjoying these games a lot easier I think.
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May 7th, 2012, 01:59
When I read that I immediately thought of how a lot of games handle "big reveals" - particularly those involving you being betrayed by an NPC. Far too often it will both be obvious that they are up to something yet futile to realize it; most (not all) games don't even allow for the possibility of you figuring something out even if just to hang a lantern on it.

It does seem like a lot of games (even well received ones) could do a far better job of either making these things less painfully obvious or, preferably, give you the opportunity to act on your suspicions. I mean heck maybe sometimes it would end up being more advantageous for a character to be willing to display trust and play the victim later and there could be consequences for acting on your suspicions even if you are correct. But quite often you end up having to play a character who doesn't seem to notice the trap they're walking into despite the giant billboards with milemarkers advertising that it's up ahead.
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May 7th, 2012, 15:56
Brian Fargo is talking about things like the "compass" in the Elder Scrolls games that points you right where you need go.

For example:

In Oblivion, I once found a treasure map. I immediately thought "What a great idea for a game like this, all about exploration! It'll be fun trying to find the landmarks drawn on the map in order to pinpoint the location of the treasure!" But lo and behold, the map had already added a quest to my journal that put a green marker on my compass directing me to exactly where the treasure was located. The map I had found was rendered totally worthless, and the fun of a treasure hunt was avoided.

Every quest in the game is like this. Compass markers point you straight to clues you need to find to solve a mystery, straight to NPCs you need to talk to in order to get exactly the information you need. You just spend your time mindlessly hiking from marker to marker instead of actually exploring and trying to figure things out on your own. It gets pretty boring.
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May 7th, 2012, 20:40
Originally Posted by Saber-Scorpion View Post
In Oblivion, I once found a treasure map. I immediately thought "What a great idea for a game like this, all about exploration! It'll be fun trying to find the landmarks drawn on the map in order to pinpoint the location of the treasure!" But lo and behold, the map had already added a quest to my journal that put a green marker on my compass directing me to exactly where the treasure was located.
Even more hilarious is the random items you find out in the world/universe, in Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3. Your character automatically knows which obscure NPC in town (or the Citadel) has been searching high and low for this item, and it's marked on your map/quest log, for your convenience.
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May 8th, 2012, 04:46
Originally Posted by Saber-Scorpion View Post
Brian Fargo is talking about things like the "compass" in the Elder Scrolls games that points you right where you need go.

For example:

In Oblivion, I once found a treasure map. I immediately thought "What a great idea for a game like this, all about exploration! It'll be fun trying to find the landmarks drawn on the map in order to pinpoint the location of the treasure!" But lo and behold, the map had already added a quest to my journal that put a green marker on my compass directing me to exactly where the treasure was located. The map I had found was rendered totally worthless, and the fun of a treasure hunt was avoided.

Every quest in the game is like this. Compass markers point you straight to clues you need to find to solve a mystery, straight to NPCs you need to talk to in order to get exactly the information you need. You just spend your time mindlessly hiking from marker to marker instead of actually exploring and trying to figure things out on your own. It gets pretty boring.
See, I happen to be on the game's side here. I do agree with you on tha map part, that should not have had a quest marker (I didn't even know there was one, I found it using the treasure map), but I definitely want the game to tell me where the NPC is for quests. Like I always say, it is my character who's in the game world. He can ask people around, go to the tavern, maybe he/she knows the town already. I have the worse memory, so I don't remember where any NPC is. Without quest markers I would have to basically either write names down in a paper, or explore the town every time I get a new quest.
A tradeoff would be for the automap to add names/locations/markers after you've talked to the NPC the first time.
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May 8th, 2012, 05:42
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
See, I happen to be on the game's side here. I do agree with you on tha map part, that should not have had a quest marker (I didn't even know there was one, I found it using the treasure map), but I definitely want the game to tell me where the NPC is for quests. Like I always say, it is my character who's in the game world. He can ask people around, go to the tavern, maybe he/she knows the town already. I have the worse memory, so I don't remember where any NPC is. Without quest markers I would have to basically either write names down in a paper, or explore the town every time I get a new quest.
A tradeoff would be for the automap to add names/locations/markers after you've talked to the NPC the first time.
Well, I admit it's a bit more necessary in Oblivion, thanks to the way NPC's wander around on their daily schedules. That can make it a lot more difficult to find them. I remember one time even the compass marker was of no use to me… It turned out that the NPC for whom I was searching had wandered off a bridge to his death, poor fellow. Broke the quest too…

I'm not against any and all map/compass markers, but I think they should be eschewed in certain situations, like the treasure map scenario. Thankfully Skyrim is slightly better about this than its predecessor.
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May 8th, 2012, 07:51
I generally prefer that games do not expose markers by default on the HUD.
In Skyrim, I turned off markers and deselected most quests in the journal and only enabled markers on the map when I really had trouble finding something or needed a reminder. Morrowind was better about in game instructions but I will admit it could be frustrating to locate stuff.

I don't really want to revert back to graph paper and detailed notes but I also don't want red exclamation points over NPC heads either. Giving the option should be prerequisite in most games. I'm currently playing Xenoblade and the exclamation points on minimap that cannot be turned off and over NPC heads is driving me slightly bonkers and removing some of the pleasure of discovering stuff on my own. I'm sure its saving me a ton of time and since they are usually not very interesting quests I guess its better to get them over with.

Maybe more interesting quests instead of tons of boilerplate fetch quests that require such blatant techniques would be preferred.
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