Tag Archives: Elder Scrolls

River of choices

We all have these moments where we contemplate things, you me, we all do. When I am in that stage I tend to play a game to clear my mind, let my subconscious work out what I cannot voice, most of us have a mechanic of sorts to work through this, and I am not different. As I was considering a game, I returned to Dragon-quest builder, on Switch, the second game. I never finished it, mainly because some of the quirks got to me. Let me be clear, I was talking about quirks, not bugs or glitches, although we can argue on glitches. I got the demo which gave us much of the first world and it enticed me, it was fun to play and the word fun os overbearingly important. A bad game is a bad game, a fun game is for the most never ever a bad game. It might not be a great game, some are optionally not good games either, but fun works out the kinks in your armour every single time, so now that I have worked through the kinks, I am going back to the game. You see, I have issues to work through, issues on the RPG my mind devised (and put online in these articles), yet I need to make sure it is about the game, there is no hatred towards Bethesda, lets be clear if you have a program (or a few) what would you do if you were offered eight point five billion? I would do the same. I have a natural disgust towards Microsoft, but that is on different grounds. 

So as I was playing Dragon-quest Builders, my mind worked out a few more settings in the RPG. The stage where you either build a house, or buy a house, a house is for most our most powerful possession, so let’s make it a house of power, a house of family and where you set it has benefits, no matter where you set it. Consider that Bethesda’s Oblivion, in your game you could own a house in Anvil, Bravil, Bruma, Cheydinhal, Chorrel, Imperial City docks, Leyawin and Skingrad. So how many friends do you have who have 8 houses? But what happens when the house becomes a stage of power? Not merely houses that have more or less (and therefor more affordable) power, but different kinds of power. To coin a phrase, in Greek terms, what if the house in Leyawin is blessed by Hades, as such a necromancer would have bigger abilities over time and more powerful as he is in his house more often, as such the child born there would have increasing benefits. But in this RPG there is no Hades, but the idea still sticks, and it was not done before, so enjoy adding that part in your Playstation exclusive RPG.

Yet it does not end there, houses is one part in ones life, the setting is what is added and it is important to be unique, or at least not as much as a copy of true originals as some others are. The houses are just the beginning, as we get into the game, the house itself will optionally be the giver of quests, which does not mean that all houses should be owned, you can at each time only own one and the quests will not come until the next generation is there (born in the house). There is also the stage where one third is some form of copy, so if there are 7 houses (random number), the 21 quests will be there, but 7 will optionally be a revisitation. It allows for replayability of a game, giving it a much larger stage to play, in all the game requires at least one replay as we have three generation and 5 arcane houses, and 5 mundane houses (still working on that), as such you cannot play them all in one play-through, as such there is the evolution of towns over three generations, so the game will be much larger, I had some sort of version in my initial view of Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration, but as they are now Microsoft, I can incorporate the few dozen ideas I had there to fit this RPG, so you have a lot more coming your way.

Consider a game with 5 main quest lines and dozens of side-quests. A station of consideration and in that river, we must make choices, if we listen to marketing we get the vile ‘This should be enough’ and ‘what if we copy that idea, it is easier to replicate’, and that is not false, but that is why the top 10 of best Ubisoft games are 1994 or older, that is 26 years ago. Personally that list is fine, but I would have places AC Origins in there at some point. Ghost Recon Breakpoint had 52%, Ghost Recon Wildlands 69%, games that should have been 85% plus games didn’t make it, why is that? A game that tries to appeal to all, will in fact please none. A lesson that Ubisoft never learned. And that is where I am not going, as such I am relying on a different course, to envision a different RPG that pleases all RPG lovers and if some want to take a leap there they are welcome. Yet some will not like it, they rely on racing games, FIFA and other games and they are welcome there, I wish them the best fun they can handle, and some are totally nuts about FIFA, I am more of an NHL player myself. We all have fantasies and mine is to be an NHL goalie (as sports go). So as I am taking a view on the mundane quests, the economic stage of the island, I want to set a larger stage of bartering, we al needs stuff and let’s face it, cola caps make for lousy food, so how to go about it? We can return to the age of Rome and get paid in salt, but I reckon that in most villages the need for hides and tools will outweigh the need for jewellery (but not always), so as I look into the stage of artisan quest lines I leave you with the thoughts I had. Do not consider out of the box thinking, throw that limitation overboard and make the consideration if my thought had to fit in a box, what shape would that box have?

It is just a thought to entertain.

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Destined to entertain

We all want to be an entertainer, most of us (not all) have that feeling inside of us, the need to be entertaining, our social structures have also pushed it, but in the stage where it is a sort of PC (politically correct) version of that what entertains us, it is in that setting where some of us become actors, some become writers, some become directors and some become game creators. There are a few more options, but the foundation of books, sound and vision have been upon us for centuries, last century vision (movies, TV) was added and about 35 years ago games were added. Yet the setting of games remains new and they too are going through the motions. A stage where they are relying on re-using any wheel instead of inventing a new one. We can agree that there is a stage of sequels that some accept (some do not) but that stage comes with labels and warnings. The God of War has pulled it off 4 times and they did it well, Ubisoft with its Assassins Creed did not, yet from my point of view, they did do a decent job and pulled it off with WatchDogs. Yet these makers have an issue with the story, they forget that the story is the driving factor. It is easiest seen When you compare God of War IV or Mass Effect to the Assassins Creed stories (Unity, Syndicate, Odyssey) you get a first glimmer why the AC range was failing, they had a great thing, they bungled it, then they seemingly fixed it with AC Origins (which was amazing) and then they bungled it. Even now, AC Valhalla is according to some too shallow, to much chasing after something whilst forgetting the Assassins path. I cannot vouch for AC Valhalla as I stayed away from it, but the critique makes sense, and that is before we consider the fixes to bug and glitches. This is why new games like Horizon Zero Dawn are cherished (and it is a really nice game too), or the mere fact that Skyrim is still being played on new consoles 9 years after its release. The story is everything, Ubisoft forgot about that, Bethesda seemingly did not. But this is not about Ubisoft bashing (even though it is entertaining), Bioware is in a similar stage, They messed up ME4, and they now rely on ME1,2,3 to fatten their coffers so that they get a chance at ME5. A setting that is dubious, but if they really fattened the pot and make ME5 a game that breaks the mould, they might pull it off. It is funny, it took me less than 2 hours to think through a sequel all whilst ME4 collapsed. Yet I digress, you see, to become the entertainer you need to be a creator, all whilst silly people at some game companies relied on Business Intelligence, but entertainment cannot be set in that way, you merely get a setting where you try to include everything and in that setting you never satisfy anyone. And as such creation falters (AC Odyssey is a prime example). And a we now see that there are more games coming, that some indie developers are changing the game (Hades), we see that gaming is not dead, but the story mattered and so does game play. 

So as gaming becomes a rather large stage (due to Covid issues) we get to see a new stage where some game developers are losing options and optionally their firm and some shine. And in all this it is not about the highest graphics, That is seen with Animal Crossings: New Horizons. A game that surpasses 20 million copies, which implies that 1 in 2 Switch owners has that game, it is almost unheard of. It shows that gameplay is just a important as the storyline and the fact that this game is a long term game, not something you finish in 100 hours has close to never been done before, and Microsoft (Sony too) are a little bit in the dark, that is why Nintendo is such a competitor. I said it 2-3 years ago and it is coming true, gaming is more than relying on a Business Intelligence analyst, it is a setting where a painter and a storyteller unite to give the traveller a story that this person has never experienced before, and that is what Skyrim and Mass Effect (1-3) delivered on, others did too, so why are some game makers blind to that part?
It took me a day at the most to give the Elder Scrolls, WatchDogs, Mass Effect a sequel on a new storyline, a new creation, so why can’t they do this? OK, there is still an Elder Scrolls coming, but I  made the first design 6 years ago, Mass Effect 4-5, 3 years ago and Watchdogs 4 last year. Now consider that I am a nobody and these high and mighty game designers can’t come up with the goods on several fronts, so what are they missing. How come Nintendo is on the ball, Microsoft forgot what a ball looks like and and Sony is seemingly slipping a fraction, and all this has close to nothing to do with new hardware, games are paintings, the console is a palette and the palette becomes bigger or change shape but the creator adjusts view, adjusts grip and continues.

So in this, and as we see what is coming, what makes them destined to entertain? 

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Copyright? Copy left

As a trained IP attorney (minus the experience), I am always in line with IP and the traps and tricks are to some degree well known to me, so one question with any design my mind makes is “Is it more alike to the previous version, or not?” This is important, I have no doubt that making TESVII: Restoration myself implies that Bethesda (or their legal team) calls and demands all the materials I copied with an added cease and desist and that would be fair, IP is protected and I will not copy what is not mine, but a good idea is a good idea and that is a larger stage. As such, my mind has been considering a new version of seven cities of gold and when I saw new, I mean totally new. The part of exploration is pretty much the only part that not all mine, but that is too generic as such my version has options. 

As such the game is in two settings, the first one is the original world, with all the bells and whistles and the gamer can start (and should start there) so that he or she can get their feet wet. After this and after the immediate training, you can start a second game, a new game, yet this version will redesign the world, so you will be in a massively new area, an area that differs largely from the original. It will design a new map roughly 1000 by 1000 miles, you start in one part, and that is 200 by 200 miles. You get to explore, map, set sights and start foundations. You get to build a fort, from the fort you grow a trade post, from there a village, a town and if you are good enough a city. But it is not merely ‘building’, you have vassals for that. A city with infrastructure, religion, logistics, a setting that grows with every choice you make yet it is not that mundane. As I was thinking it through, I was listening to Jordi Savall, and a  consideration grew, what if music is part of growth? As the town band grows, its music increases, all production goes up, yet not always, some react to the beat, some to tempo and some to melody, as you set the stage for the local music, you set in motion a choice. We explore and we find, but there is a sort of randomiser in play, so not everything will be there, some parts will be, some will not, some area’s will have hides, a forest has lumber and as we explore what is and what can be grown, we alter the foundation of growth, the game needs to be entertaining, but it can be educational as well. When we played Civilisation, we had the research to make changes, what if something like that is in the game, but different? What if we had writings, but we set a larger stage with laws, we make choices, common law or civil law, later the introduction of accounting, criminal law and taxation, but they can only come into effect if certain conditions are met. And when the addition is made we see the larger benefit, politics, republic, monarchy, all choices that impact the bottom line of life, but we need to see the changes in a larger stage, the settings of natural laws, the benefit of a nameless religion (in the beginning there was a benefit), yet all these elements are in a different shape, this is not civilisation. So what happens when the world is a 1000 by 1000 miles and you can run through it all? Transport becomes important, we start with horses, and as we see more and more challenges, we can also fathom the impact. We get to shape the world as we see it, as we want it to be. Run around like in AC Brotherhood, but here there are no shops, no banks and no buildings, we get to build it all. Build to close together and space becomes a problem, choose the wrong location and you might be cut off from resources a town needs, we want an exploration game that is true to reality and the new consoles allow for that, cloud gaming allows for that. So when you see the AC Brotherhood map below, consider that 25 times the size, if the X and Y axes represented 10 miles, consider it now at 50 miles in each direction, and that is merely stage one.

What more, whenever you make a new game, you get a new map and you have no idea where you are so navigation and cartography become important, no YouTube in that space, in 1607 JamesTown was founded, consider that stage and see if you can do better, a game that has its own little sidesteps, because wildlife could kill you as you ride too far away, no option to get back in time, as such you will see the results of choices. Seven cities of gold was a great idea and what they got out of the CBM64 with 38Kb of space was pretty awesome, so we can take that idea and evolve it into something really serious and from there we get something entirely new, something never seen before, and all this in a third person view, not a top view that is map like, but the actual view, and consider that you might be playing a very different set of rules from your best friend, you can actually consider discussing what the best road to act is, a game setting we rarely see. 

Is it doable? 
I believe it is, the new consoles, PC’s and cloud consoles (Google Stadia) can easily deal with it, the question is, can it be done in such a way to entice the player to dip its toe in the exploration waters and see what will come next? I am game, but I am merely one view, there is a commercial side to this and a game designed to appeal to 10-499 people is not a triumph, it is a niche that has no place to go, it is the 3-5 million group we want to reach, that makes a setting achievable and something worth pursuing. It is merely my view on the matter, but I believe that banking on value for money is never a bad idea. 

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RPG Arms race

Yes, I had not forgotten my promise, so before I start resetting the Saudi Airforce from the American options to either the BAE Typhoon or the Chinese Chengdu J-20, all whilst bagging myself a rather nice (and large) commission, I have a promise to keep. It took me a whilst, yet when Bethesda made the Elder Scrolls, they had the alone stage for Fantasy RPG and they grew it rather nicely, close to perfection. Yet I am no ones second fiddle, as such I thought it would be nice to change the game. In the setting where you are a ranged ‘fighter’, or a stealth type, I decided on the Indonesian blowpipe. It has the benefit of stealth, speed, some distance (not overly large) poison dart options and a few more, as such the blowpipe would be in, there is the Trisula (Indonesian version of the Japanese Sai), the Gollocks, yet they also have swords and spears, so there is a whole range of new weapons giving the RPG lover a new set of discoveries to make in how to best give the realisation of mortality to your enemies. And as I was taking a look at the weapons, I came to the conclusion, that as I spread the power of magic, the same could be done to the weapons. Even as we might like all weapons (some people do), giving them the power of one (agility for the blowpipe) removes strength for the sword and spear. It is a little more natural that way. Stealth still has knives and blades, but that person would be less in other weapons, the other way as well, those adapts and better in swords and spears are lousy in the precision of the blowpipe, they can still use knives for stealth parts, but not much more, the stage to reply is set. As I set the stage of magic and weapons, the third need would be there.
The support of the craft of artisan. The agile are good at pottery, but slow and less able to be the armorer or blacksmith, the blacksmith would be less of an alchemist and pottery person, item can always be bought and the fighter can still be a good alchemist in nearly every way, yet the division pushes a person to become passable and average n all directions, or set towards excellence in one or optionally two directions. Too many RPG’s are about inclusions, the ‘you can be all approach’, yet as I have stated towards Ubisoft for the longest time, a game that states it pleases everyone, in the end will please no one. That setting set a larger stage, a stage where you can reply the game, optionally multiple times and face the stage where you see new things at least twice over, it makes for longer joy in a game. 

And all whilst doing this, I got the inside idea of yet another game, based on a golden oldie. It was done by Melbourne House in 1985, yet not unlike the older version, you have to grow your skills, go to places and unlock abilities and unlock moves. So what happens when the stage is not all, but you get one night to do it, you get 5 hours until the final showdown where you are the challenger, and every time you play the game, the powers are somewhere else, so no running to the 6 points to get the max character, you get a stage where the skills you acquire are the skills you have for the final fight, yet the stage is not who presses the button faster, it is more like Nioh, a tactical challenge, we keep on forgetting that the old games have actual diamonds in the rough (sorry Disney), actual gems that can shine, even now on the PS5 can bring joy to millions of Playstation gamers (as such all ideas are always free for Sony Playstation exclusive games). 

So as I finished the ideas of fighting, artisans and magic, it is time to think of a storyline, a main story where we need to set a new level of adaptability, because if you are in one place in one chosen group, you will not face the same story, so what happens when the main storyline is not one story, but there are 5 for you to find? How to go about that part? I can tell you one thing, that has never been done before, I wonder why not?

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The Old stuff

I have it at times, I do not know about you, but at times I want to see the old movies, play the old games, listen to the old sounds. It allows me to balance my feelings about a game, let me mesmerise on other ideas, contemplate thoughts, a whole range of actions become available when I do that what I had done before. So, as I watched Robocop (2014), It’s a wonderful life (1946), Planet of the Apes (1968), listened to the golden oldies by Madonna and Rammstein, my mind wandered as I was playing Fallout 4 again, thinking of Fallout 3. Two games I really liked. At that point my mind started to wander, what if we could play Planet of the Apes as a RPG. Consider the 6 original movies. What if the setting of the game was in the era of Charlton Heston, but covered close to the entire east coast? Optionally merely Rhode Island (the state) and as DLC’s within a year to add Massachusetts and Connecticut. Consider the amount of exploring one could do, find the old stages, create villages against a physical and morally superior force. Finding books setting the stage of a history group, a science group, a medical group. Find books for them to evolve, finding books to teach the next generation. Finding skills that can be transferred to books teaching the next group. A multigenerational game, so as the previous group becomes to old, you can transfer (with the right group enabled) to the next generation. No RPG has done this before. When you consider this, is it not weird that no game (in light of so many copying each other’s concepts) that something original can be staged. 

I am not sure when the ideas started to mingle, but the setting is there. A stage where the game is NOT on one person, but it is your stage to create a much larger foothold as you create generations for you to move from one to the next generation. It should also have drawbacks. The older person learns faster and learns more, the younger person can find more, can achieve more faster, a set of balances to chose from.

I also see the interactions with other books, for example (an idea I had last year), the setting of a prequel to Soylent Green with Chris Hemsworth in the lead. Yet what if we add Soylent Green (without the dead people) to the mix? What if the sea becomes the larger food provider again? The setting where the books and skills result in advanced options? It is merely a setting, a stage to draw and see what connections we can make. If great apes cannot swim, is the start on an island not perfect? It will not get you far, but as a training, the game can help you get the maximum out of the game, before you find a small Rigid Inflatable Boat. The initial game with a mapped 3,140 km² before we add 27,363 km², another thing we have not seen before (that is apart from my version of Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration), the continuation of a game, you keep what you create and we see  much larger consideration when the expansion comes, will we start again, or do we go on? OK, it might not be completely feasible on 1:1, yet 1:100, or 1:1000 might work. Yet in that stage we ned to adjust. And that is before you realise that it will be a much larger consideration when we add regions that are internationally largely unknown. Apart from the fact that (as far as I know) has never been done before becomes the creation of a much larger IP for any software house.

And whenever you go over the old stuff, the chance is that your mind makes silent Connections that could be diamonds for any one person to consider. It is the power of the old stuff, because we were done with it and we forgot what it contained. So as our minds see it again, time will be a larger stage for our minds, it does not re-create old links (will to some degree it does), it will create new connections, because you have seen other things over the last 3-7 years that you had not seen this work, or listened to it. I reckon that not watched Planet of the Apes for almost 2 years and a lot of things happened in that time, so we see things differently and we connect to it in other ways too. I have no evidence of this, it is merely my thought on the matter, yet s it got me a new concept (apart from the 4 I already have) not a bad days work.

Well, that is it for me for today. Perhaps I have more to add to the idea of Simian World tomorrow, you never know what Spinach does to the brain. For me it is agony, because for some reason I feel the massive need to have Tourte Pascale, my mum used to make it and now for some reason I want it, now after 3 decades (it might be four), I feel the massive yearn to get my fingers on a slice. Life is hell at times, so I will leave you with an image I found online, so that you will become as equally hungry as I am at this very moment.

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Playing the stage

In light of the actual brilliant move by Microsoft to buy Bethesda, Sony has a bit of a problem, or t least they had one, so I decided to set a new stage, if Bethesda is limiting their exposure to Sony, which we get from Eurogamer, who gives us “Bethesda games don’t have to launch on PlayStation for Microsoft’s $7.5bn deal to pay off, Xbox boss insists”, in addition we see in 

IGN “When I think about where people are going to be playing and the number of devices that we had, and we have xCloud and PC and Game Pass and our console base, I don’t have to go ship those games on any other platform other than the platforms that we support in order to kind of make the deal work for us,” Spencer continued. “Whatever that means.”” With the emphasis on ‘I don’t have to go ship those games on any other platform other than the platforms that we support’, I see it as a clumsy way for Microsoft to give the news that Sony is done for from a Bethesda release point of view. I reckon that they will not make a change immediately, projects were on route, but there will be delay upon delay for others. In a stage where one out of three were Microsoft fans and two out of three were Sony fans, the purchase of Bethesda by Microsoft is definitely a genius move, but the gang fans are not without options. I am hereby offering whatever I create to be used freely for any Sony exclusive game. 

Houses of Magic

Any RPG that is set in a Middle Age stage has always been depending on magic, this is how the world we created worked, which does not have to be the case, but there it is. So in that trend, I offer the five houses, however, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s start at number one.

House of Forests

This is the house where druids are created, to set a stage for druids, it implies a close knit connection to forests and fields. Yet there is more to druids, in Gaelic past they were seen as legal authorities, adjudicators, lore-keepers, medical professionals and political advisors. Instead of merely focussing on the tree and magic part, being these gives the setting where in the new game you an be an in-between between two disagreeing factions, you can advice on options to lords in castles and you also will be a healer. The lore-keeper can write magical scrolls, can wield wood into stronger bows and stronger staffs. Giving the druid the only one to create a wooden knife, a mistletoe knife. Setting the fight environment, staffs and wooden weapons are 40% stronger, the mistletoe knife 400% better, so as we look into the character, charisma is much higher, so is intelligence. A druid is a better dealer and much better healer. All healing potions are twice the strength. So this is the ability in the game, the setting of the druid requires a backstory. 

In need of a bandaid?

It started a long time go, 3500 years in facts. In a village was a young man, he was obedient and he did what he could to forward the needs of his father and their family. He was a proud man, worshipping the gods, yet he felt an unnatural pull towards Hades at times, the darkness appealed to him. Now, it is important to note that he was not evil, he felt he understood things. He was not unhappy when the old crops whitened and died. The wheat was captured, the dead leaves became straw for the cows, it made sense to him. So every year he would praise Hades ‘Thank you for taking the remaining crops, let new crops be bountiful’. He would always bring wheat and fruit as homage to Demeter, but after the harvest, after it was all done, he would also bring homage to Hades. It felt right, such as he was. As he was in the courtyard he heard a slam, like a bag of flower hitting the ground. He looked, yet he saw nothing. He walked to the edge of the farm, he looked at the waters of the Aegian, yet he saw a staff, the serpent on the staff was alive, yet the tail of the snake was part of the staff. He heard of it, yet a simple frame like him would never be shown the Staff of Aesculapius. He walked towards the staff, but kept his distance, it was then he saw the man, he walked over and helped him back to his feet. Greetings young man, I am Therapeutae of Asclepius, I tend to the need of the gods. I upset one of them and here I am. The young man offered his arm and it was at that moment when the snake was close enough and bit his leg. The man was scared for one second, then he looked around and set on the low wall surrounding the courtyard. He looked at the land, and softly whispered ‘Hades, I am done for, a snake got me’, Therapeutae looked at him and smiled. You are in a fortunate side young man, this was not intended, but it happened. The venom of the snake makes you an immortal. It is clear that you are a good man, I am back on my feet. The staff flew back into his hands. He shimmered and faded into nothingness. It was today, the man was thinking back to the day where his mortality had diminished, it had been almost 25,000 moons, yet he remembered it like it was yesterday. As he looked into the distance he saw the tavern and the corrupt bailiff and his cronies. He walked towards them, and as it was set, he was quite angry. The two cronies did not see him coming, they were taking to their boss, he hit them both with one swing, he then hit the boss, but did not hit him squarely enough. The Bailiff got up and drew his word. The druid spoke ‘That does not work on me’ and as he stood still, the Bailiff struck, the sword swiped from left to right and the Druid was struck. Then something happened that had never happened before, he felt the spilling of blood, and he looked down. The wound was closing and he focussed again on the Bailiff. He slapped him from left to right to left again and one over the skull for good measure. He looked down, he was whole again, and apart from the small scar, there was no evidence that he had ever been wounded. But what happened to his powers?

So that was the first start of an origin story and the setting of one class, I will try to set out another class perhaps the Floating house, this took me a mere hour, so I might have something more tomorrow. I have nothing against Bethesda, but they deserted Sony and their population, I need to make Microsoft understand how expensive a bill of $7.5 billion is when it misses it objective as Sony will have a somewhat delayed answer to Bethesda Elder Scrolls, and perhaps I will continue to set something to counter Fallout as well, which is a little harder, I know. Will it work? I do not know, but there is a stage where Bethesda will face not only the loss of Sony clients (which is huge), but Sony will get you an alternative, as such Bethesda will end up gaining a contender.

Perhaps Microsoft will learn, perhaps not, Whatever they decide on, it is a lesson that came with a $7,500,000,000 tag, lets see if we can teach them a little more, they seemingly part with money easily enough.

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The power of push

Yup, push is by far the greatest power in levelling the playing field. So when I heard that Bethesda had joined the Microsoft farm. From a tactical point of view, it was a brilliant move, the research a few weeks ago showed that merely 1 in three would select a Microsoft system, 1 in 3 is set to 3 in 9, but now there is every chance that the purchase might give Microsoft a shift towards 4-5 in 9, this is an important shift. We might see that it is a shift that cannot be avoided, but I see it as the opportunity to add to the power of Sony. You see, every RPG game is the same, there is land and there is a story, but what happens when we change that? What happens when the map is not defined by the story? What happens when we set it in two different dimensions? So what happens when the story has a localisation part? What if the map is wherever we need it to be, and we add the story on top? What if we can add the story to the map wherever it is? There is off course the need to transfer the map of the world into a playable map (which is not initially possible), yet the segregation of the two is a first step in a much larger frame, a frame that RPG games have not considered in the past. Yet it is only one of two parts, the second part is the revitalisation of the maps we play on. Yet what happens when the actions of a first game transfer to the second game? I am not talking about merely a change to an area because of actions (Fable), but the stage where the castle we add in the first game will be there in the second game as an existing location. At present, games are designed retroactively to avoid issues (Harry Potter), yet what options come alive when we embrace them? I thought in the direction before, but not to this degree. So consider the stage in a land, as we play the first game we offer quests we offer choices and so forth, but what happens that even beyond what we see in Mass Effect, the impact is not merely people, what happens, when we add and destroy locations, so the second game has the added/removed parts? We have seen shadows of this in games, but not to this extent, it is a larger stage of the accountability of the player. We accept that some will choose to only add locations, but in all this we forget that any RPG can have two sides, so what happens to the power core of any land, when there is no destruction? Bethesda did that quite nicely to leave us the options to save or destroy Megaton, but the is merely a fraction of what is possible, in that game the trade routes and the surrounding locations were not impacting by a shifted economy. So what happens when (in Fallout 4) the vaults become power villages? Each with an economy? That was in the back of my mind as I was looking at the Ultima setting, but that game is not alone. Yet there is no good example, because it has never been done to this degree before and it opens up all kinds of new settings and options in RPG gaming. 

In all this we need to thank Bethesda, no matter what reasons they had (the number 7,500,000,000) is a pretty nice reason, the station is now a larger setting, all kinds of needs to see a larger RPG change and even as Microsoft has the lead with its (as some say) 23 first person studio’s, it was a guy like me on a sofa who came up with the idea that no one ever brought to a game, not to this degree and that is where 23 studio’s came up short and Sony has the option to make a change to gaming, a larger change and that is what they have always done, I wonder how they will do it this time. I hope that we get to teach Microsoft another lesson, they have already been inclined to the fact that not listening to their gamers comes at a cost (only 1 out of 3 decided to buy the next Xbox), but there is every chance they get to learn that money does not solve everything, if you do not have the grasp of those who can create, you have nothing.

The power of push tends to hand a lending hand, but this time not to Microsoft.

 

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The house of RPG

Yup, the news only just hit the walls of the internet and a new stage is already underway. This is not about slamming Bethesda, they made a decision and I reckon that 7 billion plus is a nice looking bandaid, but now the house is falling over, because the stage of gaming is set into another realm. Do you think that Sony will like the age of dependancy of Microsoft? So as Bethesda becomes a Microsoft institution, Sony will have to look in other directions. Yes there are good RPG’s out there. There is the Witcher and Cyberpunk is about to arrive, yet the stage is largely untapped and now we see that there is a larger need for an exclusive option for Sony. Lucky for them there might be an option. Richard Garriott created the Ultima series in the early 80’s, yet it was in 1985 that Ultima IV: Quest of the avatar was born. It would take RPG’s to new heights, heights that would not be equalled for well over a decade. Now consider a first person RPG (like Skyrim) with its own rules, its own places, and a storyline that can surpass most RPG games out there. On a map that would be close to 6,000% larger than Skyrim. The map of Britannia (Ultima 1-9) was almost completely designed by the time Ultima 4 was there and the game only got better. The stage would add new dimensions to RPG gaming, something that could be done again in a 1st person setting. It would add new directions in gaming from the original setting, something that had not been done for some time. And then there is the story. Even now I see new stages in shrines and stones that the original never allowed for. There is the stage to combine Ultima 4 and 5 in a much larger setting in sequence in one game. It implies a gaming size that surpasses most RPG’s in hours and way the game is played. The Ultima series set a larger stage with the use of ships and that could remain, so there would be more in the game and more challenges. The largest is to stay original to the Ultima formula and not be swayed towards more of the same. A game that becomes a journey, a journey that we have not seen before and in this Bethesda opened the door by becoming part of Microsoft. I hope that they will remain on the Sony systems, but there is every indication that Microsoft will take a time advantage and use Bethesda games to push people towards their console. That move makes sense because there are plenty of Elder Scrolls and Fallout fans, but that also means that Sony now has the task to protect its core gamers by offering an exclusive brand of their own and that is where we see the value of Richard Garriott optionally go through the roof. I believe that for Richard Microsoft buying Bethesda might seem like the opportunity of a lifetime. No matter how Bethesda phrases it, they are quoted to have stated “all future Bethesda games will release on both Xbox and PC, but their appearance on other consoles will be determined on a “game by game basis”” this is what I would call a dicey setting for Sony, but not all is lost, they could look towards what was and redesign it to the new. Ultima is one of the most likely franchises and the stage is much larger than you think. Microsoft has paid over $7 billion for Bethesda (actually they bought Zenimax Media, the parent of Bethesda), it is a clever move, but if Sony counters it with new RPG, that price might be a little sour, especially if the RPG marketshare brittles away from Bethesda. Microsoft ends up in a stage where the overpaid for a brand that is well worth it, but as Sony counters what was not set to value, the value of Zenimax media will take a bit of a dive. So not only is there an alternative, my mind has already seen the optional design for an adjusted RPG game that would be every bit as satisfying as the original, more so when you consider that the original was never first person, but in my mind I added a stage that the Elder Scrolls never possessed. It is not merely good news for Richard Garriott, it would also be great news for Iolo, Jaana, Julia, Dupre, Geoffrey, Mariah, Katrina and Shamino. They can dust off the weapons they hung up in 1992. And the world would optionally see them back into action as early as 2022 if Sony gets a deal with Richard Garriott sober rather than later, because Microsoft was sly in getting the deal, but was it a clever move? I am not so sure about that. If we are to believe some market research results, only one in three opted for Microsoft, the rest went the way of Sony. I had issues with the results as it was against two systems and Nintendo was left outside the choice, I believe that the Microsoft numbers are not that great to begin with, but that is pure speculation from my side. Will I be proven correctly? 

I actually do not know, but the Bethesda move has set a level of shock on me, that is true enough, yet I have made up my mind, I will not get the Xbox, and if that leaves me without future fallout and elder scrolls games, so be it, yet it took me no more than an hour to set an optional new stage of Ultima, so there is always an option, there will always be RPG, the question becomes will Bethesda be part of that? I actually do not know, there is too much unknown at present.

 

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The set stage

It started a week ago, not directly, but the thought was born at that point, it was the realisation that the stage is set to the player, the stage is empty, especially we set the stage as we are playing an RPG game, it is perhaps the largest issue that a game can have. The danger of repetition. To get there we need to return to 1985. I was a happy chappy. I had my CBM-64 and the whole world was in front of me. That year two games came to my attention, well, not completely, the first game I had already seen as a friend had a BBC Micro B. Yet getting the games was an issue, but there it was on a Friday I was made aware that a shop in Breda (90 minutes by train) had both games. It was odd as I was living in Rotterdam, but there it was a dealer in Breda had both Ultima-3 and Elite, both for the CBM-64 and I was off to the races (the train) and a little less than 2 hours later I was in Breda having bought 1 copy of each game. My love for these two games continues to this day. Of course Elite is now Elite Dangerous (and a few thousand times bigger) and Ultima no longer exists, but the stage is there. Yet as I remember my days in Elder Scrolls Oblivion, we tend to set course for the most beneficial route, but what happens when that is not an option? In case of Ultima, what happens when 3,4,5, and 6 are played, but in this, what happens when we influence the development of the game for others? Ultima is an excellent example as the map remained close to the same in 4,5,6, and 7. But those who have played Oblivion, perhaps you remember the Rockmilk Cave north of Leyawin. Because there are two fighting parties, you get to have the drop n those who survive and get a lot more loot, early in the game that matters, and it is close to a city, so it is a ka-ching moment. But what happens, when everyone does that? We get away with it the first time, but what happens when the people in that cave become a lot more adapt? What happens when the second time around the people are suddenly 1 or 2 levels higher and that happens in EVERY subsequent visit? This takes me back to Ultima 5, near Empath Abbey there is a good source of Spider Silk, so what happens when everyone does that? What happens when we suddenly have to ACTUALLY explore to find what we need? I have been thinking of a first person approach (an Oblivion approach) to the Ultima games. You see, that game had everything from the get go and it would take plenty of designers 10 years to get close there, so what happens when we get the stage like Oblivion, but with the entire land of Britannia mapped? The 4th game would b a great start, but even as we start, we set our mark on the land. As such roads will develop different. We will end up having much better roads between Britain and Paws. There was some form of an economy in Ultima 7, but that can evolve from the 4th game onward. This sets for a very different game, as such when we start Ultima 5, we are set in a land that evolved from OUR actions in Ultima 4, not just that, as markers of thousands of players are aggregated, the map might evolve differently, We could see that New Magincia and Buccaneers Den would be much larger cities the the places we had (and reset) from 4 up to 7. It is a set shape of RPG that we have not seen before, and that makes it exciting. Even as I was (initially) designing Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration, I had something similar in mind. Not merely a stage for a quest, but a stage where we set in motion the action, but beyond managing resources, we get to have no say in the matter. 

It is  stage that is enabled and disabled by us. We tend to forget about the latter part, but it is an equally important stage, because it sets for a different stage of replaying a game. Consider Oblivion and Skyrim, what happens when we set the new Dark Brotherhood? What if we choose not to place the new sanctuary not in Dawnstar? What if there had been an option to place it near Whiterun? The choice is then set for re-playability, which was a focal point for me in TES7: Restoration. 

In addition, I had set more than one red line in the design, a red line the follows markers as you play the game, but markers that cannot be influenced after voices are made. Basically, you get to sleep in the bed you make, you do not get to design the bed. Makers of RPG’s have been so involved in getting everything there that we drown in options, but at times, the gamer can merely inhabit the stage, he/she does not design the stage, it is the cornerstone of something we want to replay and when you consider that Skyrim is still going strong since 11.11.11, what do you think happens when we take away some f the training wheels and give the player the fun of playing and the consequence of choice? It is something that had been lacking in RPG’s for the longest time. I set that in motion in my design, but in the end, it is what the owners of the IP decide to do. 

It was the only issue I had with Skyrim, the grinding to get to the legendary dragon, and I know there are part I missed (not many), yet it gets me back to the avoidance of grinding. What if levels are not the only way of measuring? Why if the player class needs to have at least 1,2 or 3 skills at 100? The thief might have bow, lockpick and sneak at 100, but what would the Mage have? What  would the fighter or assassin have? We forgot to set the stage to a larger field, I cannot tell whether that was intentional or not, I reckon that the PS4 already had the power to take care of these matters, but that is me. What if every skill will give the player an ability at 100? Not skill point driven, but automatically, it could be something trivial. For Sneak it might be pussyfoot for 60 seconds, for the Bow it might be the arrow dagger, for Restoration it might be paralyse soul, for illusion it might be daylight, and so on. We seemingly have forgotten that there are any rods to a solution, but some of the makers (due to no fault of their own) have made most missions a linear stage and we have to evolve from that. Limitations is one way to do that. When you were playing Oblivion (or Skyrim), how many benefits did you get by going to White River Watch on the second play (Skyrim) as soon as possible or Crumbling Mine (Oblivion)? We can up the NPC level on subsequent plays, but what can we gain by limiting what. Person COULD find at the first few levels? What happens when we set a randomiser to some loot not on whether it is there, but where it is? In Skyrim some books are always in the same place, what if that changes? Consider that we have 4 levels of loot, what if those levels (when it is not a quest item) are 4 mixed piles? As such, we could run to the Milkrun Cave, but what we get there would not be a guarantee, in addition, some loot can only be found ONCE! As such certain loot will not be there to spike our personal coffers, just a thought. 

In this day and age, we are not merely on one system, as such we should see what benefits the games could get, it is my personal belief that this is not done enough. I get it, makers like Ubisoft (merely an example) like to be on ALL systems, but what if we set another premise? What if we use the power of Sony and for example Google Stadia to the max what that system can give? Will the gamer not end up with a much better experience? If you doubt that, consider Metroid Prime 1 and 2 on GameCube, a game that is still mostly unsurpassed on Xbox One and PS4 11 years later, an entire generation later, the is the premise we need to return to a field that is maximised, not equalised by the lowest system around. 

Just my point of view, have a great weekend.

 

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Light of creativity

In creativity we normally see a theme, or perhaps better phrased, some (like me)( are thematically driven, it might change per project, but in me there is a drive to think thematically, it is how I set the the stages of Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration, Watchdogs 4: Refugee,  and Far Cry 7: Timing

In this I have spoken about the Elder Scrolls and Watchdogs before, but not too much about Far Cry, in this game the stage is a little bit different. The game has two sides, a day side and a night side, yet that is not really made clear in the beginning, The game is stages in Japan on the Island of Amakusa, the man is in the city as it is today, yet when he falls asleep he becomes the boy or Girl named Sage. For the kid its 1945, for the adult its 2010, and the stage is different, the man learns skills that the boy has when he falls asleep, the kid finds things and places (and avoid US troops) the difference is that this is a game without guns, the US troops have them, but the boy/girl cannot fire them. The man learns to be better and more apt with knifes, and it helps the other one, but is only deadly to animals. The story starts in 2010, the man is evicted, he lost his job in the meltdown, he is making it on his own and when he gets to an abandoned house, he finds an engraved phalange, and as he holds it, he falls asleep. 

At that point it becomes morning 1945 and the boy takes over. 

It is the foundation of the game, in this we see the entire island twice, once as the boy in the midst  of an American occupation, with lose combats against the Imperial army, we see the game starting in one stage in July 1st 1945 and July 1st 2010 in the other stage. The idea of having two stories that intertwine is interesting, the 2010 story sets the stage of what knowledge is gained in 1945. This stage is depending on stealth, that is often not important in 2010, as we try to gain the treasures and rare items to pay the debt, as that unfolds, we see two stories unfold as well as two needs to be scored in a single night, and as the stage unfolds more and more we get to see a WW2 story from a Japanese side, yet the Americans are not shown too evil, but they are scary to a 11 year old child. 

That is merely the beginning of the setting and it took no more than two hours to come up with it. So when we see “a small team at Visceral also worked on a pirate game code named Jamaica. That game wound up being canceled when Ubisoft announced the pirate-themed Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, and EA wound up with a bigger a bigger priority for its “genre” studio: a Star Wars game”, a quote a mere three days old, yet I was able to (semi)create three games in a week, so where is their creativity? I came up with the setting of the game Evolution which was came from an Idea I had when I was playing the game Mercenary on the CBM64 and was based in Amsterdam, The centre of Amsterdam was completely mapped and I came up with a map change which I got from the documentary Zero Hour, as I see it, the lack of creativity from some of these large software houses baffle me, it really does.

Well, its fine as I see it, I came up with 6 games (completely) original in its foundation, as such the entire stage of ‘being canceled when Ubisoft announced the pirate-themed Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag’ passed me by completely. And in that regard, we see that even their version is not that original, Sid Meier set that stage with Pirates, as such I wonder what they will create next, and beyond that, which of them will actually make it to the consoles, because that is another setting.

As we see all over the place ‘Apple clashes with Microsoft, Google, and Facebook over cloud gaming’ no one is asking the question, who will hand us original games? In this the setting that only Sony and Nintendo remains is not the weirdest idea. So as the others are fighting on how to gain the largest slice of pie in the GaaS game, some will focus on originality and make the largest gains. 

So what games will you play and which system will focus on original games? Is that not important too? 

 

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