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Re: [Adonthell-devel] Dragon Age

From: Andrew Phillips
Subject: Re: [Adonthell-devel] Dragon Age
Date: Sat, 28 Nov 2009 11:19:51 -0600

2009/11/28 Kai Sterker <address@hidden>
On Sun, Nov 8, 2009 at 7:39 PM, Andrew Phillips <address@hidden> wrote:

> I think the skill-tree in Dragon Age is another example of Blizzard-itis.
> They make wildly successful games, so people start thinking that's what a
> successful rpg looks like.

The other thing, especially about combat related skills is that they
require a lot of micromanagement to use efficiently. So apart from a
few outstanding skills, they are not really getting used much. In that
regard, I believe Adonthell's combat feats [1] should mostly be
"passive" talents [2] that influence combat style, one of which can be
active at any time. So more "feats" than "moves". Moves, i.e. one-time
activated talents, should really have a large effect and possibly be
limited to higher level characters.
This is something that I've noticed in gaming with my wife. When allocating skill points, she prefers abilities she does not have to activate. Having to think about how to play the game frustrates her, while having a few powerful abilities on tap is entertaining.
I must taken into account that we are gaming together on a PS2 with at most two spell-casting buttons available, so rapidly switching between spells, or spell-like abilities, is more labor-intensive than it would be with a keyboard and an entire row of spell-casting keys. I've also noticed this in my own gaming, even on the PC. The spell selection system in older games like Diablo and VtM:Redemption often results in the same sort of extreme specialization. Swapping spells during real-time combat is enough of a hassle - and a potentially fatal distraction, that I end up picking a very small list of spells and sticking to it.
One positive aspect are some of the plot related choices. (Some)
quests can be completed to varying degree. Like defending the village
without any of the villagers being killed will give better rewards
than otherwise. Also had the choice between fighting the posessed boy,
letting the mother sacrifice herself to help the boy or, under special
circumstances, rescue both boy and mother. So we should think about
not only offering different ways to solve a quest, but also have
resolutions other than failed and completed. Better even, if there
will be consequences for future parts of the game. People that are
optional in the completion of quests will only be able to provide
helpful information or training if they survive. People needlessly
angered OTOH might complicate matters later on by refusing help or
asking higher prices.
I like this idea as well. We've designed DB so far with Pass/Fail quests. Most other games are this way as well. Life is rarely resolved so decisively. I'll think about how to partially win (or lose) some of the quests we've designed.
Personally, I found it quite satisfying to see how a choice I took
earlier comes back later on in the form of additional dialogue options
or an NPC turning up to resolve an otherwise difficult situation.

Have to see if part of this can be added to the design docs on the
Wiki. More thoughts welcome.



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