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June 21st, 2008, 06:15
A trip to Obsidian's offices by Edge Magazine sees an article-format interview-cum-preview of Alpha Protocol at Next Gen:
“We were looking at what we wanted to do after KOTOR,” says Parker. “There’s not a whole lot of player skill in Knights Of The Old Republic – strategic skill, but not running and shooting.” This decision to put the focus on what the team is calling ‘action skills’ is defining Alpha Protocol, but there’s little chance of Obsidian making a spy-based EDF clone. “RPGs are really what we do: that’s our shtick and we don’t intend to deviate from that. We’ve been working with d20 games forever, so it was a lot of fun to design a new system that does exactly what you want it to.”
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June 21st, 2008, 06:15
Oh my.
The team has still made some potentially controversial choices, however, such as offering unlimited ammo (except in the case of very special weapons), and an inability to pick up guns from enemies. Obsidian is explicit that it really wants players to get to the end – or ends – of their game, but there’s a danger that this streamlining of resource management, coupled with Alpha Protocol’s brand of simplified stealth, may result in a game that has removed too much of the challenge for some of its audience. Alongside the ditching of classes and the – increasingly clichéd – morality meter, some may argue that Obsidian is dismantling scary amounts of its own beloved RPG architecture.
It's not a great sign when even Next Gen is questioning how much you've simplified things.

Avellone remains confident his team is on the right track, though. “The concern we have is that if we specialize too much we’ll dilute the experience. We could make a super-intensive stealth game, but we wanted to immerse the player in the story rather than get involved in the super nitty-gritty.”
That's an awful lot of the "i" word to justify not fleshing out the gameplay systems. Not especially reassuring.

Some will say that with a move towards shooting and a dialogue system similar to Mass Effect, Obsidian is still following in the footsteps of BioWare, but that would be unfair. Alpha Protocol seems less self-consciously grandiose and po-faced in its ambitions, and potentially more competent with its action: without the stilted, dice-roll firefights of the former title, combat is already feeling more complex and involving.
No Mass-Effect-level of combat complexity here. I'm trying to stay optimistic, but I'm not sure how this is much of an RPG at all at this point. It seems like a System Shock 2/Deus Ex level of RPG, but less complex (with unlimited ammo, exaggerated reality). I'm waiting for preview that dispels that notion. With bated breath.
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June 21st, 2008, 09:45
My thoughts, more or less, are the same. When I read the piece, I kinda shoved this game into the back of my head from somewhere in the middle. That is to say I wasn't overly anticipating it anyway, but definitely more so than now. My greatest woe, of course, is the question of dumbing things down. Just how stupid is the fact that you can't switch guns looted off bodies? By no means am I insinuating that there should be a 150-item-limit inventory (I hate that), but exchanging your current weapon for another one should be possible. I sincerely hope that Mass Effect will NOT become the new standard for the "RPG" genre (a label too conveniently applied nowadays), as even though it's a good game, it's got nothing to do with being an RPG.

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June 21st, 2008, 18:37
*snip*

some may argue that Obsidian is dismantling scary amounts of its own beloved RPG architecture.
Isn't EVERY major developer doing this nowadays ? Not to mention Starsiege and the current discussion about Bethsoft here ?

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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June 21st, 2008, 23:05
Mass Effect had complex combat? I've hardly ever completed a first person shooter, yet I had no problems whatsoever.

I'm going to wait and see before I comment on whether or not it's an RPG. We know nothing of the moral choices, consequences and so on in the game, and that's what defines an RPG, not tactical combat, dices/rolling or a fantasy setting.
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