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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Project Eternity - Update #7, Non-Combat Abilities with Tim Cain

Default Project Eternity - Update #7, Non-Combat Abilities with Tim Cain

September 23rd, 2012, 10:00
Wow, Obsidian has really worked hard on the frequency of their Project Eternity updates. Around an hour ago, Tim Cain posted about non-combat abilities - there are no specific skills or details but the philosophy of their design is outlined:
<div>[quote]We are over 1.8 million dollars and climbing! I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to make this dream possible, and in return we promise to make you the most amazing game we can. I know you all have asked for more details about the game, so let's talk about non-combat abilities.
Most role-playing games can be divided into two sets of mechanics: those rules you use in combat and those you don't. For many people, an RPG is really defined by its combat. These people spend most of their time killing things and taking their loot, and leveling up is just a means to kill bigger things and get better loot. But for other people, an RPG is about the elements of the game they experience when not in combat. It's about the NPC's they talk with, the places they travel to, and the choices they make, including the choice to avoid combat altogether.
Non-Combat Abilities

Let's talk first about your goals as a player, about the things you would like to do besides fighting. Then I'll talk about our design goals and explain how we are putting the non-combat systems together.
Player Goals
When you are not fighting, that's when non-combat abilities come into play. We plan to add abilities that will let you become better at achieving four different non-combat goals.
  • Learning new things. This includes finding out previously unknown information, like the location of town or a hidden door, or uncovering secret knowledge, like a potion recipe or the true name of a demon. Or maybe you just want to know a good place to gather materials like ore or herbs. We will make abilities that let you find things out.
  • Traveling around the world. You will want to improve your movement capabilities (such as sneaking around some ruins), or traveling across the world map faster or more safely, or even teleporting directly to your destination. And sometimes movement requires removing barriers like locks or traps, so you will need some way to unlock and disarm. We'll add abilities for these actions.
  • Getting new items. If you are not going to kill a creature to take its things, then we will give you the means to make new items, buy them, or steal them. Or maybe you will choose to support NPC's by bringing them the materials or the recipes needed to make new items for you. We congratulate you on your non-violent and cooperative plans of wealth acquisition, and we'll give you the means to do it.
  • Interacting with companions. Once we have added many interesting and useful NPC companions, we will have to give you ways to recruit them, improve their usefulness, and keep them from dying (or even worse, disliking you!). We will make non-combat abilities that interact with your companions, so you can keep them alive and filled with a grudging respect for you.
Now each of these goals represents a whole slew of related non-combat abilities. For example, for player traveling, we could have all kinds of abilities, including stealth and teleport abilities, as well as abilities to make world map travel faster, less likely to have encounters, and able to make use of alternate transportation routes such as over mountains using passes or over water using ships.
Design Goals
In putting together our non-combat system, we have made a list of goals for the design of these skills and the rules they need to follow.
<ul> Non-combat skills are gained separately from combat skills. You shouldn't have to choose between Magic Missile and Herbalism. They should be separate types of abilities, and you should spend different points to get each one.
Non-combat skills do not use the same resources as combat skills. You don't spend the same stuff for a non-combat skill as you do for combat skills. Some don't use anything at all to use, so you will never find yourself unable to blast an opponent if you get caught sneaking.
All non-combat skills are useful. If we add lockpicking to the game, we will make sure that there are locks to pick and worthwhile rewards for getting past them.
All non-combat skills can be used frequently. If you take disarm traps as a skill, you should expect more than two traps in the entire game world. Frequency of application has a large impact on how useful something is.
[b] Combat…More information.
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September 23rd, 2012, 10:00
if this game is only 10% better than revenant , I will be so pleased
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September 23rd, 2012, 14:40
Originally Posted by borcanu View Post
revenant
Um… Huh?
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September 23rd, 2012, 17:08
Originally Posted by joxer View Post
Um… Huh?
An old action rpg that failed miserably. It had promise but ended up short and rushed out.

Basically The main character of the story is Locke D'Averam, a revenant named after the house of Averam, which raised him from the dead. His real name is never revealed in the game. Immediately after being brought back from Anserak (Hell), Locke is sent on a quest by his new master, Sardok, who is the advisor to Lord Tendrick, ruler of the island. The quest is to locate and rescue the Tendricks' long-missing daughter, Andria, who was kidnapped by a mysterious cult calling themselves The Children of the Change. The entire game takes place on the island of Ahkuilon, which is home to the town of Misthaven, where Tendrick rules.

As the player progresses through the story, it is revealed that Locke was once the king of an ancient empire centered on Ahkuilon. This warrior-king made a pact with a demon god, but he found the price of the pact - his beautiful wife's soul - too much to bear and could not go through with her sacrifice. For this reason he was condemned by the demon god to an eternity of suffering in Anserak and his mighty empire was destroyed and pulled into the earth.

The cult that the newly resurrected Locke finds himself facing is in fact led by the avatar of the same demon god he betrayed ages ago. As he explores Ahkuilon in pursuit of the missing Andria, Locke finds himself facing enemies both new and ancient. Many characters in the game hint that there is a "darkness" surrounding Locke and some even seem to know of his past. As the story builds to a climax it becomes clear that not all is as it seems and that history may yet repeat itself.

See sounds interesting but the company making the game failed. That's the lesson learned here.
This might happen to Project Eternity. That is what he is trying to say.

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Last edited by Couchpotato; September 23rd, 2012 at 18:02.
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September 23rd, 2012, 17:26
Originally Posted by Couchpotato View Post
An old action rpg that failed miserably. It had promise but ended up short and rushed out.

Basically The main character of the story is Locke D'Averam, a revenant named after the house of Averam, which raised him from the dead. His real name is never revealed in the game. Immediately after being brought back from Anserak (Hell), Locke is sent on a quest by his new master, Sardok, who is the advisor to Lord Tendrick, ruler of the island. The quest is to locate and rescue the Tendricks' long-missing daughter, Andria, who was kidnapped by a mysterious cult calling themselves The Children of the Change. The entire game takes place on the island of Ahkuilon, which is home to the town of Misthaven, where Tendrick rules.

As the player progresses through the story, it is revealed that Locke was once the king of an ancient empire centered on Ahkuilon. This warrior-king made a pact with a demon god, but he found the price of the pact - his beautiful wife's soul - too much to bear and could not go through with her sacrifice. For this reason he was condemned by the demon god to an eternity of suffering in Anserak and his mighty empire was destroyed and pulled into the earth.

The cult that the newly resurrected Locke finds himself facing is in fact led by the avatar of the same demon god he betrayed ages ago. As he explores Ahkuilon in pursuit of the missing Andria, Locke finds himself facing enemies both new and ancient. Many characters in the game hint that there is a "darkness" surrounding Locke and some even seem to know of his past. As the story builds to a climax it becomes clear that not all is as it seems and that history may yet repeat itself.

See sounds interesting but the company making the game failed. That's the lesson learned here.
Yeah yeah yeah, but what on earth does it have to do with project eternity? Seriously.

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September 23rd, 2012, 18:50
I wonder if movement-based skills will include some type of athletics skill (or skills) for things like running, jumping, climbing, balance, and even flying? Will the game include magical levitation, spider climb or even low altitude flying? Does the isometric viewpoint rule these out? It does sound like teleport will be available, so maybe dimension door as well?
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September 23rd, 2012, 19:46
There are some (indie) isometrics games with flying , climbing, "balance" and levitation, but they are not all party based RPGs though.
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September 23rd, 2012, 23:13
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
Yeah yeah yeah, but what on earth does it have to do with project eternity? Seriously.
When ever u hear many impresive but geniuine thinks and see nothing tangible, .
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September 24th, 2012, 08:25
Revenant was one of the worst games I ever wasted my time playing. Not sure what this has to do with anything. Even DS4 was far superior to Revenant.

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September 24th, 2012, 14:49
Will be interesting to see how they decide on a skill system. I'd prefer a somewhat complex attriubte+skill relationship like we saw in Fallout 1&2 over the "blance over sense" sort of system you see in some games. I do like the idea of combat and non-combat skills being seperate though.
Last edited by jhwisner; September 24th, 2012 at 15:06.
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September 25th, 2012, 00:03
Well, with seperate costs, where will choice in character building come into play? If we don't have to choose between say a good melee warrior or a diplomat, I wonder what differentiates the builds. Time will tell.

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September 25th, 2012, 02:42
Originally Posted by crpgnut View Post
Well, with seperate costs, where will choice in character building come into play? If we don't have to choose between say a good melee warrior or a diplomat, I wonder what differentiates the builds. Time will tell.
That's why I'm interested in the interplay between allocated skill points, attributes, and total ability in the skill. You probably wouldn't want a warrior to be a diplomat if for example you gave them high physical characteristics and a low charisma/personality IFF the attributes contributed in some non-trivial way to how easily effective they can be made in certain skills.

Hmm the big update they announced would be coming today seems a bit slow in arriving. Hope that means its really big and taking time to put together and proof rather than something threw a wrench in their plans.
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September 25th, 2012, 03:42
Originally Posted by jhwisner View Post
Hmm the big update they announced would be coming today seems a bit slow in arriving. Hope that means its really big and taking time to put together and proof rather than something threw a wrench in their plans.
Might be more of the "wrench" type of thing, Obsidian have been rather silent today (beside Josh Sawyer posting a bit on SomethingAwful forum). Also, Kickstarter changed their "end-user-agreement" this weekend, they might have some legal stuff to sort out.

Coming back to Josh Sawyer, he wrote about the skill split on SomethingAwful. Some of the stuff he said. #1 is about skill split, #2 is about "players gimping themselves and 'not great' players.

#1
Combat and non-combat skills being separate. In 2nd Ed. AD&D, this is just how it worked. In the IE games (other than IWD2), thieves and bards got percentile skill points, everyone got weapon proficiencies, and that was pretty much it. In IWD2, you got skill points and feats separately. There was overlap in combat/non-combat utility with feats and spells, but otherwise your combat and non-combat ability advanced through different mechanics. A lot of people really reacted negatively to the idea of these two things being purchased with separate currencies and it surprised me.
#2
Okay, I'd really like everyone to read my response to this, because it's important to me.

A lot of people are not great at games. I don't mean they are terrible at them, but they aren't great. They may or may not realize this, but when you get right down to it and see them sit down at a game and start to play, they do pretty well but some stuff just slips by. In RPGs, often that error is a strategic one that you don't immediately get stung by. The poison bites you 10, 20, 30 hours down the road.

I don't know what sort of person you're picturing in your head, but from comments that a lot of people make, I get the feeling you see a moron, a person who doesn't really like games, who isn't enthusiastic about them in the same way that you are. In some cases, this is true. But I've seen hundreds of volunteer and professional testers come and go. Most of them are actually pretty intelligent. They like or love games. They like or love RPGs and have played a bunch of them. They're still not terrific at them. They miss a bunch of things and they make a bunch of mistakes.

Even among hardcore PC RPG fans, there is a wide spectrum of skill, experience, and preference. When I started at Black Isle, I designed a bunch of fights in IWD that only a handful of veteran BG testers could get through. Memorably, I saw a QA tester blow a fuse because a fight in Lower Dorn's Deep was "impossible". When I showed him how I got through it, I started off by having my casters go through six rounds of buffs. "What are you doing?" he asked. "Uh… buffing my party?" This seemed normal to me. DUH YEAH BUFF YOUR PARTY TO HELL AND BACK LOCK AND LOAD PAY ATTENTION FFFFFFFFFF. Despite his high experience with RPGs and Baldur's Gate, he just… never thought of it. The problem was that the entire fight was balanced around a party that was optimally built and lit up like a Christmas tree from stacked buffs.

That's a combat example, but it really applies across the board: conversation details, reputation loss/gain, etc. Some players really do play as hard as they say they will. They stoically accept the consequences of companion death, of a dialogue node they carelessly picked 8 hours ago, of an Ironman combat that is going down the drain. For those players, the ability to turn off the "in case you missed it…" features is important. I get that and would like to support it as much as we can.

But again, just to be clear, a lot of actual players actually need these things. I'm not saying this because players come up to me and say, "Josh, I need this." I'm saying this because I'll talk to a tester (volunteer or pro) with a ton of RPG experience and later watch him or her play remotely. Or I'll pop open a Let's Play on YouTube from an enthusiastic player and watch how things turn out. Sometimes they ace it, sometimes they don't. Either way, what I see on that monitor doesn't lie.
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September 25th, 2012, 05:48
Originally Posted by azarhal View Post
Might be more of the "wrench" type of thing, Obsidian have been rather silent today (beside Josh Sawyer posting a bit on SomethingAwful forum).
Nah they're announcing translations. They probably took a while because its tricky estimating costs of that till you have a rough idea how many lines of text.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/…y/posts/315214

Originally Posted by azarhal View Post
Also, Kickstarter changed their "end-user-agreement" this weekend, they might have some legal stuff to sort out.
News sites reporting those changes mostly seem to be a god aweful job of it because the significant ones you might be thinking of are specific to the technology/design category. The news article I read did give the impression these were changes to all categories, but the terms on the kickstarter site make it clear the lines about concept-art/product-renderings was specific to tech/design items not games.
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September 25th, 2012, 14:25
Originally Posted by jhwisner View Post
News sites reporting those changes mostly seem to be a god aweful job of it because the significant ones you might be thinking of are specific to the technology/design category. The news article I read did give the impression these were changes to all categories, but the terms on the kickstarter site make it clear the lines about concept-art/product-renderings was specific to tech/design items not games.
They also made new rules about rewards though or should I say clarified the rules. As a legal entity you can't take any chance with these things.
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September 26th, 2012, 00:47
Originally Posted by azarhal View Post
They also made new rules about rewards though or should I say clarified the rules. As a legal entity you can't take any chance with these things.
For project creators, the substantive changes with regard to rewards are also limited to technology/design items (the most prominent of these is the new rule against offering additional quantities of the product.) Other than that, any clarifications have to do with emphasizing to backers that this is not a store.
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September 26th, 2012, 05:23
Oh I see, I though the "against offering additional quantities" affected all categories.
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