Yup, that is a topic that is open for debate, but in my case it comes from a different angle. I need to explain how I got here. You have read my ‘displeasure’ with Ubisoft, they bungled (again and again), yet I also clearly stated that AC Origins is one game they got right. I actually disagree with the high 80’s scores the game had been receiving, I believe it to be low 90’s, but that is my view. The topic rose as I (due to lockdown time) decided to play it again and get some of the achievements I missed out on, I got half a dozen so far and I finally got to the Curse of the Pharaohs. I had the DLC, but my PS4 crashed to death somewhere in 2019 and as I had a little manoeuvring (covid retirement savings) I ended up with a PS4pro in 2020. And until a month ago I had no time for it, but in the last three weeks with being locked down I decided the play it again. So whilst gunning for ‘Old Habits’, I stumbled on ‘Where’s my Black Flag’ and a few others. But it was the Curse of the Pharaoh that made the difference. The first time I entered Aaru my jaw dropped. It was amazing, the field of reeds, the places, it was amazing and the boats made it all slightly surreal. The makers outdid themselves here. But this is also the place that gave me an idea. It was the side mission ‘Love or Duty’, the mission does not matter, the interaction does not either, but the mission clicked something in place. I had some similar ideas for Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration, but as it was not considered, it could be set to other RPG’s and even the one I designed.
Your home is your castle
In nearly all RPG games, we are confronted with a house, unless you had Oblivion and you completed the Battlehorn Castle mission, in that case you have a castle. And there is the crux. In the light of Magic Carpet I want a castle with archers protecting what is mine. I had a few idea’s like the Magical armoury (a very different mission). And now the idea comes to add servants and more important make them a lot more useful. Consider that a person (a he or a she) is driven by needs, so if you can make one person happy (really happy), the others will pick up on it, and increase the power of your place.
Happy Happy, Joy Joy
To get to this stage consider that you have servants, some through concern and protection, some bought (yes in fantasy games slaves are real) and the proper treatment of them makes them more useful, yet if we can give one of them real happiness, an elated feeling of achievement or recognition they will become a sort of Uber-servant, a person that infects the people around them to be better and more productive. When we take the Battlehorn location, we see the Forge, the kitchens, the walls, the stables, we see a person in charge, but if we can fulfil the personal needs of one servant in that area, we get an area that is twice as productive. The house is cleaner, thee is more food, the weapons are better and the list goes on, it changes a 100% castle in a castle with 150% resources and optionally 150% defence (250% defence after the magical armoury mission).
In RPG games it is all about us doing the missions, but a setting where we influence another to be the better person and set a non directive, a automated directive is almost never seen and that is a pity, because a game can become a lot more rewarding that way. Consider the old classic Dungeon Keeper, the monster we had fought for themselves, we could train them, we offer options, but we cannot set the marker on them, merely on the area. That element is often missing in RPG, it is not a fault, it is not a flaw, it is a choice and it is not used often enough, too many are about giving ALL the power to the player, but the world never goes that way, we forgot about the fact that we are not the deciding power, we tend to be merely influential. There is the thought that the reward is not 100% plus, but it is a random number between 150% and 200%, making it optionally a stage where we please a second person in that area, but the game also denies a red line approach, so the missions are not given directly, they need to be found and they depend on the persons we have, implying that we might never get more than one option, or even one setting. It is the second flaw on RPG. The ‘we always have an option’ clause. At times we should not have one, it is the hand dealt to us, and optionally it is a hand that sucks. That is the RPG we need to see but were never given. In an age where consoles will in be surpassed by streaming systems, the need to evolve gaming in general and RPG games specifically will become more and more pressing. To be another version of a game we have known for 20 years will soon come to an end and then? That will be the cruncher and streamers with one central game hub will have a lot more manoeuvrability than any of the consoles, the consoles will not phase out, not for the next decade, but when we do get to 2031, the field is highly debatable who will be in there. Because of stupid decisions in the 5G field, there will always be a need for consoles, as such there will be a Nintendo and there will be a Sony PS6/PS7, but streamers at that point will be a much larger field and optionally there will be a streamer next to a console in well over 50% of the cases.
And in that light the need to evolve RPG’s (and a few other game forms) will become essential, it will show for the streamers, yet those who evolve gaming will survive (Nintendo and Sony for sure), the rest will be close to forgotten when we get to 2031.
Doubt me? Fair enough, just remember I said it first, I was the one stating it a decade earlier.