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May 22nd, 2021, 19:47
I have to admit that I don't understand the appeal of procedurally generated stuff.

I know that concept mainly from games like diablo (for easier things than story, namely maps/dungeons) and for me it destroys immersion, when I replay a game and the maps are randomly changed. I strongly prefer handcrafted and unique maps like in Grim Dawn to the changing ones in Diablo (I found it extremely annoying in Diablo 2 in particular). For me playing a game is an experience like reading a book or watching a movie and I wouldn't want the story in a book to change, when I read it the second time.

The idea that randomly changing things increases replayability is something very shallow in my view. A work of art is something unique and cannot be taken apart and reassembled randomly.

If a developer wants to give me replay value, he should give me many choices in the game (like good RPGs do) or a world to explore, which is so free that exploring it in different order makes different playthroughs feel differently, but it should still be the same world and story.
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May 22nd, 2021, 19:52
If Solasta doesn't count (indeed, it's out in 5 days), I'll happily replace it by ATOM RPG Trudograd!

And I completely agree with @bkrueger, I prefer quality over quantity.
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May 22nd, 2021, 19:52
Originally Posted by bkrueger View Post
I have to admit that I don't understand the appeal of procedurally generated stuff.
There's plenty of room in the world for procedurally-generated games, but yeah a truly good RPG needs to be fully hand-crafted.

Originally Posted by Redglyph View Post
If Solasta doesn't count (indeed, it's out in 5 days)
Already released for KS backers, for about a week now
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May 22nd, 2021, 19:59
Originally Posted by bkrueger View Post
I have to admit that I don't understand the appeal of procedurally generated stuff.

I know that concept mainly from games like diablo (for easier things than story, namely maps/dungeons) and for me it destroys immersion, when I replay a game and the maps are randomly changed. I strongly prefer handcrafted and unique maps like in Grim Dawn to the changing ones in Diablo (I found it extremely annoying in Diablo 2 in particular). For me playing a game is an experience like reading a book or watching a movie and I wouldn't want the story in a book to change, when I read it the second time.

The idea that randomly changing things increases replayability is something very shallow in my view. A work of art is something unique and cannot be taken apart and reassembled randomly.

If a developer wants to give me replay value, he should give me many choices in the game (like good RPGs do) or a world to explore, which is so free that exploring it in different order makes different playthroughs feel differently, but it should still be the same world and story.
Yes, I don't enjoy procedural design when it comes to the layout of the world. But I think what Levine is getting at is having a more sophisticated system for determining how the narrative of a world unfolds, rather than just having a limited series of triggers and branches.

I think what he's talking about sounds very interesting, but I don't understand quite how his system would work in practice. I can see how a complex system of relationships and reactions would work in a strategy game (where interactions are quite simplistic), but I don't see how it's feasible to make it work with a rich narrative and characters, such as Levine is known for.
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May 22nd, 2021, 20:11
Solasta can't be on your most anticipated list. I just finished it today I can't talk about the game yet but I will say, I wish it was as long as Pathfinder Kingmaker. My favorite D&D game since Temple of Elemental Evil.
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May 22nd, 2021, 20:13
Well, in terms of procedural generation - I don't think it's generally used because anyone truly prefers it over bespoke content. Obviously, there are exceptions to any rule - but I would think most gamers prefer as much care as possible be given to every bit of content.

Diablo used it because it was heavily inspired by rogue-likes, such as Nethack - where procedurally generated levels were in place to support near infinite replayability.

Diablo-clones aren't really about the content - they're about progression. The world is merely an excuse to have somewhere to kill stuff and test your build.

Obviously, if there was a way to have infinite levels that were all handcrafted, I bet 99% of all gamers would prefer that.

I think it's usually in place to save time and resources. Many of the best story driven games out there use procedural generation to a certain extent.

One of the most common usages is to generate the overland terrain for open worlds (and then touch up stuff afterwards as time/resources allow) - as it's simply not realistic to handcraft worlds once they grow sufficiently large.

The upcoming Starfield, for instance, will likely have entire planets to explore - which would never be possible using entirely handcrafted content.

So, in that way, I'm a huge supporter of procedural generation - and, especially, any work done to evolve the way it's developed so the absence of a designer is less and less noticeable.

I fully expect developers to one day be able to have AIs generate content on the level of human beings - if by no other means than simply brute forcing it by having it study the entirety of Google and emulating a mixture of whatever is out there and finally finetuning the result by way of exhaustive trial and error - something like that. Shouldn't be entirely impossible to achieve within the next decade or so.

But, until then, we have to make do with whatever compromise the developers come up with.

If Ken Levine and his team pulls this off - even partially, then I think that's incredibly exciting.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't prefer an entirely handcrafted immersive sim, as I probably would.

But that's because I'm not really the kind of guy who replays games much at all, and if the gameplay doesn't change along with the story - I'm likely to get bored after only a couple of playthroughs.

But for the sake of evolution and progress - I'll gladly sacrifice 100% bespoke content for something less than that.

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May 22nd, 2021, 20:17
Originally Posted by Ripper View Post
Yes, I don't enjoy procedural design when it comes to the layout of the world. But I think what Levine is getting at is having a more sophisticated system for determining how the narrative of a world unfolds, rather than just having a limited series of triggers and branches.

I think what he's talking about sounds very interesting, but I don't understand quite how his system would work in practice. I can see how a complex system of relationships and reactions would work in a strategy game (where interactions are quite simplistic), but I don't see how it's feasible to make it work with a rich narrative and characters, such as Levine is known for.
If it is designed as a refined system of choices and consequences, where instead of a finite set of decision points there are more subtle ways, how the player's behaviour in the game can lead to different consequences, then this would be completely ok for me and it could result in a great game. (But I wouldn't use the term procedurally generated for something like that).

By the way another game I don't know of but would love to get: Portal 3.
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May 22nd, 2021, 20:23
Originally Posted by bkrueger View Post
If it is designed as a refined system of choices and consequences, where instead of a finite set of decision points there are more subtle ways, how the player's behaviour in the game can lead to different consequences, then this would be completely ok for me and it could result in a great game. (But I wouldn't use the term procedurally generated for something like that).
Yes, I agree. I just thought from what you said about procedural generation, it was worth clarifying what Levine is up to.
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May 22nd, 2021, 20:28
Originally Posted by bkrueger View Post
By the way another game I don't know of but would love to get: Half-Life 3.
I fixed that for you.
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May 22nd, 2021, 20:28
Originally Posted by Hastar View Post
Solasta can't be on your most anticipated list. I just finished it today I can't talk about the game yet but I will say, I wish it was as long as Pathfinder Kingmaker. My favorite D&D game since Temple of Elemental Evil.
It can be in my most anticipated games as long as I haven't played the final release. It was just a trick to add one more game
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May 22nd, 2021, 20:33
Originally Posted by TheDart View Post
One of the most common usages is to generate the overland terrain for open worlds (and then touch up stuff afterwards as time/resources allow) - as it's simply not realistic to handcraft worlds once they grow sufficiently large.

The upcoming Starfield, for instance, will likely have entire planets to explore - which would never be possible using entirely handcrafted content.
Only a remark on this snippet: What you describe here seems the use of automation in the design of the world before release. That is completely ok and I accept if it is not done completely by hand. But once it is done it should be fix.

Or you mean something like this: The stars you see when flying from one planet to another one is generated randomly. That is also not a problem for me. What I don't like is only the idea that something basic (like the landscape of a map or the story) randomly changes between two playthroughs. If it rains in the game I don't require that every raindrop falls in the same way in two playthroughs, obviously, or even that the weather is the same.

What I do not like, for example, are randomly generated filler side quests. This is a sign that the developers try to artificially inflate the content of a game.
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May 22nd, 2021, 21:09
Originally Posted by bkrueger View Post
What I do not like, for example, are randomly generated filler side quests. This is a sign that the developers try to artificially inflate the content of a game.
This is definitely a concern for me. I didn't care for the Radient AI system and it's generated quests in FO4. I'd rather not see something similar to that again just because the developers are trying to make sure people can get 100+ hours in any given playthrough. I'd much rather they go for quality over quantity.

I fully expect the game to be bloated with filler quests though because that seems to be the trend nowadays with open-world AAA games.
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May 22nd, 2021, 21:33
Personally, I think having generated content in certain games makes sense and can be a good fit.

TES games, for instance, are sort of meant to convey the illusion of being worlds you can lose yourself in - potentially forever.

The intention of radiant quests were never to replace the bespoke content, but give players a way of never running out of content - even after the hundreds of hours of handcrafted content is exhausted.

They're entirely optional and you never have to do a single one of them, so I'm a little confused why it's a problem to have them - but that's neither here nor there.

Beyond that, the advantage of having something like radiant quests is that players can get to explore a dungeon, kill some enemies and upgrade their loot/character - without actually having to spend time finding the right NPC and invest a lot of time in stories. The quest is basically just a guiding hand pointing you towards a dungeon so you spend a minimal amount of time getting to the "fun stuff" - and then you get a little reward.

Sometimes, you don't really have the time - or the inclination to do a story quest - and you just want a quick fix.

That's the sort of thing radiant quests are great at.

In a game like Skyrim, for instance - Bethsoft had 8 dedicated dungeon designers.

Essentially, they did nothing for 3+ years except to handcraft unique locations. Well, they're not 100% unique - because there's a limit to how many assets of the required quality can be provided for them during that time. So, they're bound by the assets and the mechanics - but otherwise they can go nuts.

The radiant quests make use of the bespoke locations, which is why they can still be fun and feel like you're exploring a meaningful place - even if it's obviously not a cared-for quest.

When games have literally hundreds of hours of "real" content - I would personally never even think to look at radiant quests as an issue, as long as I don't have to engage with them.

I can only see them as a positive - as they're trivially easy to implement. It takes very, very little development time to set up a simple script to have the player kill X enemies or find X loot in X location.

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May 22nd, 2021, 21:48
Originally Posted by TheDart View Post
The radiant quests make use of the bespoke locations, which is why they can still be fun and feel like you're exploring a meaningful place - even if it's obviously not a cared-for quest.
My problem with the Radient quests is that they would keep sending me back to the same previously explored locations and sometimes even for the exact same quest.

They need to implement a system that ensures you can't get the same quest multiple times in a playthrough. They also need a much better variety of quests than what they had in FO4.
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May 22nd, 2021, 22:01
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
My problem with the Radient quests is that they would keep sending me back to the same previously explored locations and sometimes even for the exact same quest.

They need to implement a system that ensures you can't get the same quest multiple times in a playthrough. They also need a much better variety of quests than what they had in FO4.
We can certainly agree that the execution of Radiant quests is very weak. Pathetic, really.

I also agree that FO4 did that particularly poorly - because some of them were integrated into the faction quests, IIRC.

Either that, or some of the faction quests were indistinguishable from Radiant quests - which would be even worse.

That said, I don't personally do optional generated quests very often in games - as I would much rather experience something story-related.

But I have used them a few times - just to get some XP or to have an excuse to go dungeon delving.

Obviously, I would much rather have infinite bespoke content - but that's not going to happen.

I'm curious if Starfield will be an improvement. I think it will have to be - because I can't imagine Bethsoft filling out entire planets with handcrafted stuff.

I'm guessing we'll see more Radiant-like content in Starfield than ever before - but I sure hope there's a healthy dose of by-hand stuff as well.

If not, it won't be for me.

I can simply not get into games that are focused around procedurally generated content.

I've felt this way ever since Elite 2 Frontier - which taught me that I must have some kind of meaningful story or similar - and no amount of billions of planets will change that.

I feel exactly the same about games like No Man's Sky - even if that game does have some story. Not enough for me, though.

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May 22nd, 2021, 22:42
Well, I can't imagine bethsoft handcrafting anything, I guess their staff looks something like this: Generic content engineers and artists 380, marketing 20, old gamebryo engine employes who are patching the Gamebryo engine 20, book story writers 5, quest writes 2, overall story writers 0.
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May 22nd, 2021, 22:54
https://www.songsofconquest.com/

Songs of Conquest is a HoMM2/3 style game with gorgeous pixel art. I'm a huge fan of HoMM's early games, so this is right up my alleyway.

https://www.callofsaregnar.com/

Call of Sarengar is a 90's first person crawler, somewhat reminiscent of the later Might and Magics.

Baldur's Gate 3.
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May 23rd, 2021, 01:58
Normally, BG 3 would be at the top of the list, but as it's done by the Larian, and I didn't enjoy much their last two games, my expectations aren't very high.

I would say :

Solasta
Atom RPG Trudograd
Pathfinder WotR

Not far, I would also say Encased, M&B2 and Elex2
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May 23rd, 2021, 02:26
TES VI
Starfield
Valheim
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May 23rd, 2021, 02:29
1. Baldur's Gate 3: Really enjoyed both D:OS games and everything I've seen thus far looks promising. Early Access is not for me, but I look forward to the final release.
2. Expeditions: Rome: I finished Expeditions: Viking recently. Great game, and I can't wait to see how Logic Artists improve on their formula with this one.
3. Victoria 3: The surprisingly copious details available from previews managed to intrigue me. Sounds like a management sandbox with an epic scope.

Honorable mentions, featuring smaller games that are farther off:

Fallen Gods: A narrative roguelike based on premodern northern European literature i.e. Icelandic sagas, Beowulf, etc. Very much my style.

Witchbrook: A magic school sim with a lovely 2D artstyle. I like that the devs namedropped Pratchett and Miyazaki as inspirations instead of the obvious.
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