Tag Archives: Playstation

The Wheel (reinvented)

I happened to stumble upon 9 to 5 Google, with all kind of non-Google news. The article (at https://9to5google.com/2021/06/25/bandwidth-xbox-game-pass-and-amazon-luna-announce-july-2021-game-additions/)

We see titles like:

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction
Saints Row The Third: Remastered

Some of them are really great, but I am missing something, a new dawn, an actual new dawn, a setting we have never seen before. I am a little bit surprised, none of them have anything really new. I am not talking about new games, new titles, new originals. I am talking about a new stage of gaming, cloud gaming made it possible, so what is stopping them? I even dropped a few ideas in previous articles (go look for them). Cloud gaming allows for a new stage, so why do we see the same stage props that we saw on PS2, PS3, PS4, Xbox, Xbox360, N64, Wii even Nintendo Switch. Cloud gaming allows for a different station a larger setting with optionally a private set social media option, none of them are going there, they all seem to be much more relaxed in reinventing the wheel. None of them show us a station that is actually new. Perhaps it is still to come, but it is day 1 where you show that you are not the sheep or it’s herder, you are new, you are unique. So why do they not see that option? I am pondering it, I actually do not know. But to see some level of herd mentality is a little disappointing. Will it be up to Netflix to teach them that? 

The Amazon Luna has a refreshing amount of new games, yet there is an overwhelming presence of Ubisoft, not that this is bad. There are plenty of titles I never saw before and that is good, but so far cloud gaming shows more of the same, nothing refreshingly new and that is a disappointment. And with Luna starting at $6 a month and Ubisoft+ at $15 a month Amazon will soon need to reconsider what they have (without Ubisoft) and see how they are different from Google, Microsoft and Netflix. Being different is at times scary and it does have its own unique set of challenges. Yet we have seen how exclusive games make a console, Xbox proved it, Xbox360 continued it, Xbox One wasted it. Playstation 1 through 5 have shown that exclusive games make the difference and Nintendo did this as well. Now consider that cloud gaming is more than a console, it offers a few unique settings that others cannot offer, the cloud gives the makers a unique advantage, so why was this not drilled on? Why was that source not tempered into a powerhouse? 

Cocoon (at https://cocoon.com) shows a ‘new’ kind of social media, not unlike what Google Plus offered. It seems that none of them adjusted those two ideas in a stage where the gamer can talk to friends, can optionally open up to talk to fellow gamers of a game. All options were there and it seems no one took that. No one took the idea that games can have a larger impact on more settings and it seems to me that these makers are all about others doing the work and no innovation comes forward. Achievements can be traced back to 1982 (Activision) and we have seen the evolution on systems, yet as far as I can tell no one in cloud gaming land had the idea to evolve that into something more. It was the Xbox360 that had the last evolution, it was Ubisoft that reinvented the badges and none of them took it to the next step, so why would anyone consider cloud gaming when we see: “Cloud gaming enables you to play games on devices you already own, without the need to purchase a gaming console or gaming PC” yet if we already have a gaming solution, why go there unless it offers more and in this I do not mean the same games and more games. Cloud gaming needs more and so fr I see none of this happen, I left the ideas months ago and so far none seem to be clued in on what others seemingly throw at their feet. At best we are most likely to get a ‘we are looking in that direction’, which is like marketing telling Jaguar that they are waiting for more customers, it is innovation that drives a system to customers, when innovation is absent the customer merely looks form a distance and considers ‘I can already do that. It is innovation that drives the games, the hardware, the technology and from there the customers flock. Yes there is an equal chance that they distance themselves, but the true innovator can see the chances that are out there. So what is keeping them?

Consider that we see Ubisoft+ at $15 a month, yet on consoles Amazon (the dot com version) offers the Division for $10, The Division 2 for $13, for Honor $12, the Crew $15, Black Flag $11, and in this case the subscription only pays if you pay more than one new game every month, so how long until the mediocrity of Ubisoft games (and its glitches) gets to you? Yes, it seems interesting when you consider the latest games, but still, you break even in month two, after that the cost continues and any delay will set you off, that is the setting we all ignore and their marketing hopes we ignore it. And when we take notice of Android Central and with “Ubisoft is dedicated to cloud gaming, specifically Stadia and Amazon Luna, and that was reflected in numerous announcements”, so what happens when they service the consoles, PC’s, Stadia, Luna and xCloud? What happens when patch after patch is required? How happy will you then be? This is not on Ubisoft, this is the cost of doing business and I expected that Stadia and Luna were ready, yet all I read is that there is a ‘more of the same’ approach and games alone will not get you there. Luna has a fair amount of titles that I see nowhere else and as such they have an advantage, but none of them took the environment to the next level and that is a bit of a disappointment, and there were options. There were ideas that I (others too) threw out there for them to pick up and they did none of that. Perhaps it is not the mission statement (which already cost one firm billions), perhaps it was not their technology, which shows us that they were optionally not ready and there was no brainstorm on what else is possible and that is the foundation of ANY game. 1984 gave us (unknown to George Orwell) Elite, Ultima, Archon, Spy hunter, and Lode Runner. Some of these games still have a following today, some of these games reinvented themselves (Elite Dangerous is the most visible one). They all set a new standard, the hardware evolved and now we see the makers of that hardware show us that they can do it using our PC, MAC, Console. But they had the option to give more and they seemingly neglected that.

New hardware that brands ‘itself’, yet they ignore the path of awareness. When we look at awareness, perception, and cognition we see mere words, but any market researcher will look deeper and the makers of cloud gaming seemingly learned nothing, not even from their marketing department. Perception without awareness, cognition without perception and awareness with no lead towards cognition. Three elements that they do not connect but that is the larger mistake, one leads to the other. It is almost a Pokemon setting water beats fire, grass beats water and fire beats grass, yet what do we get when we reverse that? No one looked at that part and in the Pokemon setting it does not really work, yet in consoles we see what lacked (even though there was a hidden hint with Sony) they never pushed through, now cloud gaming has the opportunity to make it all a reality and it seems that they are not doing that. Perhaps Netflix will and make a clean sweep, or perhaps Nintendo will. We cannot tell, but the one that does will have a massive advantage, a place where others seemingly dreaded to go, and now that setting changes the game completely. Yes number one and two will remain the positions for Sony and Nintendo, but the number three (most likely Amazon Luna) is not secure, so the one who innovates the cloud the most will head for position three with the option to gain and optionally overtake position 2. Will that happen? I cannot tell, because Nintendo has been innovative and it has a massive advantage, even before their second version is out. Yet personally I feel that one thing is clear. More of the same will not hack it, not in this economy of people trying to pay their bills, unless there is a massive upside the consoles will remain the largest players in game land. That part is almost certain. There is a clear space for cloud gaming, but not in the ‘more of the same setting’ not for 1-2 years to come. 

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God, the sequel

Yup, it all started two days ago. I left you all with some impressions, yet the stage was larger. We cannot set omnipotence without foundation , well we can because I am here, but I am that one exception to the rule (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk). The others (Hades, Poseidon and Zeus) they grew their powers. We tend to make fun and call some settings ‘fabrications’, there we see “Zeus got the sky and air, Poseidon the waters, and Hades the world of the dead (the underworld)” The gods got a decent role in Homer’s illiad, and more wrote about them in all kinds of ways, yet when you dig down and dig to the past several people, people who had never had contact had similar writings. It is trivialised by people who have internet and mobile phones, yet in the old days they had no contact, in no way were groups of people with no levels of contact ever stating the same believes and adhering to the same rules. Perhaps there is something to be said in “he was appalled by human sacrifice and other signs of human decadence. He decided to wipe out mankind and flooded the world with the help of his brother Poseidon. After the flood, only Deucalion and Pyrrha remained” and it is not the only time, even the first time that floods were a larger stage of cleansing. So why? Consider that power grows and power is gotten from somewhere. If Aristaeus got his powers from bees, what happens if people abuse bees? A stage we might not consider, but in a stage where power was important, the abuse of sky (Zeus) and waters (Poseidon) would inflict the wrath of these two. That is the stage we seek!

If we can create a god (ourselves) it needs a power foundation, the smaller the creature, the more simplistic their needs, the easier their power is milked. Hence the 6 animals I gave two days ago. So when we get to “both nectar and ambrosia were kinds of honey, in which case their power of conferring immortality would be due to the supposed healing and cleansing powers of honey, and because fermented honey (mead) preceded wine as an entheogen in the Aegean world; on some Minoan seals, goddesses were represented with bee faces”, with this I personally reckon that the German Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher (1845) was a lot closer to the truth with his view on it and it is important that any game has some handle on the past. Anchors in how power is distributed, how it is gained. If not, then Zeus, Poseidon and Hades could never have defeated Cronos, their father. 

Now consider the paths that Ezio Auditore and Bayek of Siwa undertook (two actual masterpieces), how they grew their powers and abilities. Would it be any different for deities? No matter how the had the ability to do so, they still needed to grow their powers, we all do and now we have a handle on us and on the character we play. Yet if we want something that is larger than life as such some sandbox trip is needed, choices are to be offered. Whether a person has the bee, the wasp or the termite. It starts with a foundation and that foundation grows towards a power base and a weakness, we all tend to look towards Athens for inspiration, but those who do tend to forget to look towards Poseidonia, a ‘village’ on Siros. When we see the elements shown we need to wonder how it was possible and there we have a setting towards the power base of a deity. If Ambrosia is food for the gods, or is it the food that creates gods? One might fuel the other. These thoughts are below the creation of a game, as we set the stage to a larger stage, we need to consider what gives foundation to that stage. A brilliant example is Horizon Zero Dawn, and soon its sequel. We chase in the first game what created the game, we see that there was a machine that creates larger than life events, but there is always a shoe in the cog (Hades). Any stage needs checks and balances or it becomes a fuelled stage of disbelief, even whilst you play it. That was the brilliance that led to Ezio Auditore, a stage we understood (historically speaking). As such, when you figure out that the events in Ancient Greece and ancient Iran (Mesopotamia) are not unrelated, how long until the cogs connect? 

As such we see can see out minds evolve the new god game, but is it a god game or forging a deity? There is a difference and even as the Atari ST, Playstation one, two and three needed us to make mental jumps, the Playstation 5 is now advanced enough to make us see the difference and play accordingly, the specifics are now in our grasp making for a much larger stage of handling evolution. And I reckon that over time cloud gaming will take it to the next level. And in all this Ubisoft was not alone, consider the path that the God of War took, and even he was not alone. It was a path and we forgot about that part in god gaming. We merely have the maker of the games (Peter Molyneux) and his examples Populous and Black and White as examples, but what if growth is a stage that encompasses both? Setting a different sandbox environment might be the way to go and we finally have hardware that can take us there. 

How it done? That is up to the game makers, you can’t expect me to do everything. You need to get creative and make the next stage of excellent gaming, because if we leave it up to Ubisoft it will be anyones guess what excellent gaming looks like and it will end up being below par and we have seen enough games like that. 

So get to work, get to the drawing board and consider the stage we play (entire Greece), what we can do short of everything and start considering what makes power grow. If you are done with that hold it against the deities of Egypt, Aztec and Inca deities and see how you hold up. You see checks and balances is where it is at. That is what makes people choose and it will make them come back for a second and third time. A game played three times over, that is the stage of a legendary game in the making.

Hesiod

As such in this story I left two clues. They were Deucalion and Pyrrha. Why were only those two spared? If you look at the historic writings (Homer, Hesiod, Ovid, Apollodorus) some things add up and some do not. Now, we can allow for creative views and that would be OK, yet Homer (Ionia, 900 BC), Hesiod (Cyme, 725 BC), Ovid (Sulmona, 43 BC) and Apollodorus (Athens, 180 BC). People that can never have been connected in time, also consider that with our options of preservation, we do not have books that last 300 years and that is whilst we have all kinds of machines that allow for mass replication, that did not exist before the 14th century. A whole range of places most of them more than a life time of travelling away, yet the similarities are almost astounding. When you consider those elements, consider what more there I and what is making these sotries survive, now consider what you need to make a game of THAT magnitude survive the onslaught of players and their increased need of perfection, have a great day.

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Shadows are Us

It is almost 20 years ago that me, myself, I, my playstation and controller took a gander into the world of Tenchu. Even as I now shiver on the graphics that were then amazing, the gameplay is something I missed. This came to light when I got a dose of Aragami 2 on YouTube. Proper sneak games are a rare commodity, and as we look for the next sneaker (Splinter cell, Metal gear solid, etc.) those who love stealth games, we all have a fondness for Tenchu, 

I personally do not think that there is an exception to that rule. And for some reason, even as we all love Thief and its versions, it feels a little more amazing in Japan around the 1600’s. Japan in that era was a fun place (a little superstitious), but fun none the less. So Tenchu was a lovely step into the past. 10 years after that, when Microsoft still knew what it was doing, Tenchu Z was launched and the thump in my heart was as happy as it could be. 

Even as we saw some repetition in the levels, the levels themselves were amazing. And there was the second setting where you wanted to live in the levels you were mastering, the house, the inn, they were all amazing. There were off course issues, there always are for those who do some of the levels again and again, some of the parts that Tenchu 1 offered did not happen in Tenchu Z, yet I was not upset, after 10 years I got to tenchu again. 

So what happened? Why did the PS4 not have its own Tenchu, or whatever it would be called. A Japanese set stealth game, I know there is a sizeable population that wants one. Even if we see an upgraded remastered Tenchu Z, it is a stage that could propel the cloud consoles (Google Stadia, Amazon Luna and whatever Microsoft has) forward and yes, Microsoft does have the advantage, but only if they act, if not it is up for grabs. Microsoft does not have IP on Japan or stealth gaming. I wonder why I had not missed it sooner. Perhaps I had hoped that Ubisoft got its act together. Perhaps I hoped that some would remember the great games. 

Yet if Aragami 2 (due out in September 2021) delivers, we will feel happy and after such a long silence it should optionally receive a large following. Yes, the first Aragami had flaws (a few) but it felt much closer to the original Tenchu than many other stealth games. Styx and Thief are good games, they have their own niche and they are quite good, yet it is not sneaking in 1600 Japan. The era speaks to our imagination, it has pretty much since a man named James Clavell wrote Shogun in 1975. The age of Blackthorn and Toranaga. It spoke to most people and the image continued in gaming. So now, when we see the Sony PS5 and Microsoft alternative, we see a system that can render an entire village, one would hope that Tenchu gets a new lease on life in gaming, optionally in a much larger setting. We learned so much over 20 years that this is all possible and cloud gaming might actually end up with a larger advantage.

Options
Cloud gaming has its own stage and its stage is a lot larger than any game. I staged that play in a previous blog when I coined the return of Murder on the Zinderneuf. The cloud consoles will have an option what I call ‘cross gaming tokens’ Something found in one game can be used in another game, or better stated becomes an unlocked item in another game. Consider that you find a house ceramic in Murder on the Zinderneuf, that could unlock the steampunk version of Monopoly, When you play Tenchu, you can unlock a weapon that is an additional weapon in Clue, and so on. It is a stage never contemplated before , or never acted on, but in cloud gaming it becomes real, as we embrace subscriptions and therefor we need long term gaming. As such long term gaming is found in adding to games, but what makes the addition? By adding games, other games will optionally be enhanced, or even added to, all because you played Murder on the Zinderneuf and you examined the chess set in a room, a new chess set is added to chess. And there is no end to the options you can unlock making a long term connection. Now consider that setting in a game like Tenchu. As the enemy is there, it is also possible that a game like Anno 1600 will unlock more powerful enemies in Tenchu. 

Remember that evil Dutch Merchant? Well, if you played Anno 1600, he will become a VOC representative, complete with two bodyguards yielding a ‘Donderbus’ (the Dutch invention that would later become the shotgun). When the stage is adjusted the game becomes again enticing and rewarding. A simple stage of adjusting, and players like Ubisoft never went there, why is that (equally other players did not go there either). 

So whilst we can argue that we must move forward, we have a ton of options that have not been acted on, as such there are years of exploration in sight and there Cloud gaming has the option to offer more, not merely another version of a game, but a much larger game, if only the developers had that in sight when they thought that one platform is merely a port of another platform. 

In all this we can lie in the shadows awaiting what comes next, or we can adjust the lights and create alternative paths. So whilst we all await a new game, what is wrong with replaying a game we forgot about, only to see that it has been enhanced by other games we have played in the meantime. I believe that there are a lot of developers and they do not realise the impact of long term gaming yet, they seemingly forget that soon we get to a point (in 6 months) when some people will have played the same game for 10 years. There are not many games that are worthy of that but Skyrim pulled it off, so what happens when on 11.11.21 the game offers the players something new in the same game they played? In opposition, what happens when the ‘patch’ will unlock a whalebone dagger in Dishonored 2? These are options that cloud gaming can offer, or perhaps a Skyrim board in Monopoly, an Axe in Clue or a Skyrim style chess set? It is not merely cosmetic, consider that over time you get additional rooms, people and items in Clue. The standard formula you had in your mind will no longer work, it needs adjusting for the different items optionally altered items. The game suddenly becomes more fun to play again. A stage many forgot about but Cloud gaming enables it and suddenly the stealth games all get an upgrade and that is what we like a challenging game that offers more over time. So whilst we see Aragami 2 coming in September, what happens when some of the guards have crossbows? Do not laugh, the Japanese had crossbows as early as 230 AD, they called them Shudo, they also had something not unlike a ballista, but that came 400 years later, still ahead of Europe though. History provides a whole range of options and opportunities. And the coming of Argami 2 made me consider that. I wonder what Google and Amazon are doing. Most likely relying on a deal with Ubisoft, I wonder how that goes over time. 

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A path retaken

We all tend to do it for all kinds of reasons, gamers do it to redo that achievement feeling, or just to feel awake and superior, for me Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, the Russia airport scene does it every time, 18 kills, 16 headshots, 100% accuracy; those virtual Spetsnaz kids had no idea who they were messing with (a nerd with a joystick), but hey, I digress.

I got to playing God of War again, it had been three years and when I played it there was no PS5 and that game became even more magical than it originally was. This time around I played the easy version, I wanted to enjoy all the views and I had forgotten just how perfect that game was. The soundtrack by Bear McCreary, the narration, the smooth graphics, especially the witch in the woods (censored identity), she looks as gorgeous on the PS5 screen as she does in real life. The game is all kinds of perfect, and I had actually forgotten just how perfect it is. It leaves little doubt why the game was rated between 94% and 100%, perfection seems to do that and from an RPG point of view, walking through Midgard, Alfheim, Helheim and so on looks overwhelming, and now that I am playing it in easy mode, the adrenaline goes down and I get to relax at times, taking in the beauty of the game more seriously than I had done before. 

Even as I never found everything, and there is every chance I will be in that same situation now, I do not feel bothered, the game delivers in so many ways, the idea that I miss a puzzle or two is mere icing on the cake. The game delivers and delivers again, that is excellence! (Ubisoft please take notice).

Even now as I am designing a new RPG, the feelings that I have replaying God of War matter; if you can hold your thoughts to something as perfect as that, you tend to gain ideas, you tend to open the thinking field and that part matters too. There is no need to copy, there is no need to be alike, there is a need to compare to a game of the highest notion and critically analyse the thoughts you are having. Others might use GTA5, or perhaps Horizon Zero Dawn, it doesn’t matter who you compare to, as long as you do. For me the story is everything, and there God of War delivers, in that I need to consider, if Keno Diastima (my TV series) taught me anything is that the field might have special effects taking the limelight, but it makes up for no more than 10%, any more and you are relying on the creation of a popcorn movie and the writer in me abhors that idea, it’s like a Batman story, complete with the kapow, crash, wham, and sploosh but without the graphics, it tires really really fast and that is what the game designer needs to fight, nearly all the time. When an action sided RPG launches, most of us focus on the perfection of form of the characters, and most forget the room they are in, the helmets that fall to the sky when you hit them, and perfect that ‘ding’ sound when an arrow hits a helmet, even as there are no cymbals in that village, there is a much larger setting here and when you revisit the God of War you see it all, the lack of glitches, bugs and weird issues (we are ignoring the blue dwarf in this case). What is a larger setting is the fact we ourselves need to take heed to not put our idea on a platform and if we do (not the worst mistake) we need to be willing to grab the nearest maul and reduce that pedestal to rubble if need be.

It comes with the territory. 

And I am still a little overwhelmed, I wanted to replay a great experience before the sequel is out (optionally in 2022), the amount of thoughts and the stages (some I had actually forgotten) that I am confronted with is more than I expected and my mind is taking notice of a lot of things more seriously now. 

That last part is not entirely due to myself, the option to compare mental notes to released perfection is rather rare, I named 3 titles, two of them had the smallest needs for alteration (if any), three in a stage of hundreds of games. Metacritic has 3 PS4 games that are 95% or higher (same amount for Xbox One), as such you can see just how limited that list is. And we need to take heed, plenty of games had good ideas, some had great ideas and did not follow through, no matter what the reason is. In this Ubisoft is that shining example. When we consider Far Cry 5 with a 70% score whilst Far Cry 3 had a 90% score you might see a first reason, how much money did Ubisoft deny itself? Because the PS3 was superior to the PS4, or because the game maker did not hold that candle up to its own reflection? I am guessing part two, hence the need to compare to something as perfect as possible (and perhaps not rely on repetition as much). 

There are more examples in other places too but you get the drift, we need to aspire to something bigger and get closer to this to be counted and too many do not. You can copy the idea of others, stay on iOS and hope that the micro-transactions do it for you and as money goes, doing that once is not the worst idea, but it does limit your future as what some would call a legendary game maker. I do not pretend to be one, but I hold their example to the light as much as possible, hoping that the ideas I have can be transformed into something that no one has seen before. If I do that and I end up a mere 70% developer, but if I see the verdict “new and unique” I know I am on the right track, the 70% part might be my lack of experience, we all go through that, not doing it because of that reason is just silly.

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The quest for tea

As we sit in the teahouse we wait for the visitor to come. There is a cup of tea in front of me and I take a careful casual sip, there is also a tea kettle in front of me. The house is empty, it is still early, the villagers will not come for a few hours, as such I am relaxed. I look at the room with merely an old man in the front, the caretaker of this establishment. As I take another sip I see the man relaxedly walk towards me. Hello [questor] he states. I look up at him and noticed him smile. It is getting late, you should try and sleep and his voice slows down even more, I want to react, but I cannot and my eyes close and everything starts to turn. 

It is already nightfall when I wake, the man is still in front of me, but I am somewhere else. He is asking me to relax, take a sip of this, it will waken you up more quickly, he takes a sip first and hands me the drink, it is cold goat-milk. He nods “I am the pottery master. You will learn a lot here. You were invited by a person who requires anonymity for now, yet I must train you. I accepted this, you will accept too, there is a lot to learn and it will take time” This is the intro to the first artisan quest line. The quest of the potter. Pottery is a lot more important in this RPG. Some clays will strengthen toxic properties over time, others will dull them, knowing which pot does what matters, some will inhabit the inner part of a wooden pot, others are flasks, but the ceramics matter. Toxic, healing properties van flourish in one kind and be lessened in another. Some ceramics can withstand heat others cannot; some are great to keep reagents in, others are not and there are rules for liquid and solid ingredients, you will learn them all. In nearly all cases your accuracy will improve and that is a direct result from the skills I will teach you. 

In this game and many others range fighters require accuracy (dexterity) and some arcane skills require that element to be higher, potter covers them all and it also allows you to make fire bombs, stink bombs, sleep bomb and much more. It is a natural progression and as you master this part you will be more apt in many departments. This part will rely on some of the historical ceramic sides we see. Celadon, Tang blue and white, Murano flasks, we will discuss and make them all, it will sharpen your skills and they need a lot of sharpening, let us begin.

This is merely the introduction of the first part, a stage that drives the next two artisan quest lines and you will have to make a choice, that makes the game enticing to play again and again and in the end you will leave your comfort zones a little more and you will desire RPG games even more, because the discomfort zone overcome makes for a much more fulfilling form of RPG, it is not what you are good at, it is where you become good that is where the challenge is faced, some RPG makers forgot about that and I want to rectify it. Consider all the RPG games you have seen, where was pottery a factor? We see alchemy and cooking, but we forgot that the cooking pot is also a factor and generalising that part got them a generic boost, but I am trying to fond a way to get a boost over the whole line. As pottery, masonry are added, we can tweak forging in another direction, one window closes and another one opens and when the player needs to climb out of one window, he might overlook the fact that the door was too generic a choice and now that player is in charge to set the stage of gaming, we can adapt the game to quite a different stage, one with short term benefits and long term costs, because not all choices are a plus, some have quite a nice collection of negatives, it is the total of the game offered that makes us a winner at the end of all those choices. and lets not forget, it is all to make a new and better PS5 RPG game, the others can fend for themselves.

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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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Then the bite

In support of the previous article, I add a little more. We were talking about the creation (on Sony) of new RPG games, I gave part of that setting in that article but the largest station is not merely the game, it will be the story. A stage where we game away generations, we need the setting of a larger stage, a larger story. The story needs to be bigger than us, or bigger than any person could fit. Not exactly Disney’s ‘Once upon a time’ but you get the idea. It is there that we need to set the storyline.

  1. The drive. Bethesda was pretty good in starting with the prisoner part (Oblivion, Skyrim) and even as that seems appealing, I needed a larger stage (and avoid copying Bethesda). I wanted more than a steeplechase of serving (or servicing) others. In this upcoming poverty tends to be a decent stage, we all avoid that and we tend to van more or less ethical constraints. In addition there is the need to be more than one’s expected self, I tried it, it is mesmerising. In the age when too many people stated that I would never amount to anything, I ended up with a Master degree, the first in my entire family tree, so trust me, it is mesmerising, and that is also the push. If you can relate to a push, the story becomes a lot easier to write.
  2. The Narration. On some early Monday in my youth I actually worked (freelance) for Playboy for a short time and the editor gave me the biggest wisdom in writing that any person had given me in decades. ‘Write like you are talking to a friend’, I have taken that to heart for training manuals, for articles and for other writings and I believe I became a better writer because of it. The narration is more important then the dialogue, the narration sets the foundation, the atmosphere and the chase.
  3. Bullet Points. Yes, I do hate them when they are in some memo, but to get the story train rolling setting up 1-2 dozen bullet points of what you need to cover in a chapter tends to be a decent golden rule, it keeps you on track, it keeps you focussed. For me, whilst pondering the concept TV series ‘keno diastima’, it helped me focus on what was important (at that moment and that part of the story), and if it works there, it will work in a RPG game as well.
  4. Realistic. Yes it is an odd word to find in an RPG, but the realistic approach still matters, sometimes when the bridge is out, it ends, swimming across the stream seems nice, but the rules of thermodynamic are no joke and that is before you get introduced to Mr. Salty, he tends to be where you do not expect him and you never expect him in the first place. In other news, realism also applies when you try to kill an enemy the size of a main battle tank with a dagger, Daniel Boone is the only one who actually pulled it off, if the stories are true. That is one in thousands over the last 200 years, the odds are not good my friends, they are not good indeed.

In previous stories I gave something towards that storyline, but in the end, you are the best storyteller, you need to be, because you are making an RPG, and that is one play-style that cannot survive without narration. In this there are two ways, keep the stories separate (always good) and try not make them intertwining too soon, when you have enough of a narration, you can start to see if they can be combined or intertwined. It is a lot easier to have 12 small stories (300-400 words each) and after that see if and how they can connect, than trying to be clever and make one story of 5000 words that goes nowhere (i tried this earlier in life and failed dismally). 

And there you have a decent winning combination into the storyline for an RPG. Have fun Playstation programmers!

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First the sting

Yes, it happens, we get stung every so now and then. It is one thing when it actually happens, it is another when it is done for secondary reasons, which were the main reasons. Forbes gets us there with “Yesterday, there was a roundtable with Xbox and Bethesda folks talking about the recently finalised purchase of Zenimax, with the biggest news being the reveal that more or less every recent Bethesda game you’ve ever heard of was now being added to Xbox Game Pass as soon as today”, we get it it is a reason but a secondary one. There is also the exclusivity reason which is equally secondary and it is given as well with “a bunch of future Bethesda games, likely including the big ones like Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield, are going to be Xbox exclusive”, but it also gave us “on any device that can access Game Pass”, which will be their secondary Xcloud push. The article ‘Microsoft Stuns With Reveal It Bought Bethesda For Xbox Game Pass’ (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/paultassi/2021/03/12/microsoft-stuns-with-reveal-it-bought-bethesda-for-xbox-game-pass/?sh=27455bf8fa48) is more than that. The PS5 has broken all records and at present we get that over 4 million were sold in 2020 and it will rise to an expected 17 million in 2021. There is some conjecture because Microsoft is scared of the numbers, but it seemingly amounts to 2:1 on average sales two PS5’s for every Xbox series X sold, and it will likely rise to 3:1 when Sony stocks are globally replenished, these numbers scare Microsoft, which is why Twitter is drowning in XCloud advertisements. I also believe that it scared Microsoft enough to pay $8,500,000,000 for Bethesda. Bethesda has a loyal following and they hope that enough Playstation fans will drop the playstation to go wherever Bethesda is, the bandaid with the timed exclusive of Deathloop on the PS5 is merely a bandaid to deceive the minds, any gamer knows that the power of gaming is Elder Scrolls and Fallout. That is what Microsoft needs and that is why I had placed the setting of a new RPG as freebee for any Sony exclusive designer. I am about to add to that. And it might upset enough board members at Microsoft when others get for free for what they had to pay 8 billion plus, I am all about the sarcasm, unless it backfires, then it becomes irony.

You see, the largest challenge was that I am trying to avoid some Elder Scrolls replica, which is why I took the path I did and I added the generation stage, there is only so much exploring a person can do in one lifetime and I had the improvements for Assassins Creed to consider. So I created an altered stage for the player. 

The stage is set in phases, but I had to consider how to set the stage

Path APath BPath C
Path AXX
Path B1X
Path C2XX
Path D1

The story has a number of paths, we map the ones we take, but in this I am also allowing and setting the stage for the paths not taken, as long as the path has been discovered. To illustrate this, perhaps we can think back to Fallout 4, the first place you emerge from had a cold weapon at the end, but you have no skills to get there. So how many have forgotten that weapon? I certainly did the first two times I played that game. Yet it is about more than just a chest or a location, I wanted books, scrolls and tomes to be much more profound, I also wanted to make sure that you cannot carry like a mule and that the chest in your house does not hold a container full of stuff. Most RPG players are hoarders, as such I will need to change that premise too. As You see in the table, the first person (path A) will take paths B and C,  this is where the shoe gets a new style, there are two outcomes, the person dies before betting back home, in which the next generation has no idea where to seek, other then follow the same map to find his parents remains, this is a limited chart as there are only three options, but the stage is seen when the parent goes home after path A,2. Now as he is home the next generation gets their diary and tomes filled, more important, some of the skills are automatically gained. As such the next generation will not start from ground zero, and whilst that person has every option to take skills into new directions, it will be up to the player to do so. The second part is the map, I made mention of it in an earlier story, but what if we take what Assassins Creed does to a whole new level? There are dozens of RPG’s and they all map similarly, what if we change that? Each generation is at least a decade apart, we get to evolve mapmaking and transcribing maps during the game, so consider the AC2 map of Venice, going to the top of a tower fills it in, yet there was no learning curve. 

I want that time is an equaliser and evolving stage here, as such generation one will give entrances to a place with roads but not much more, all whilst generation 3 will map out roads, hazards, and also give rise to dangers AFTER you visit it, not before, unless the diary had given out the dangers in a place. These are just a few additions, or alterations to current RPG games. Like the blowpipe, I needed to get away with the bow and arrow, optionally crossbow. I wanted the blowpipe and later allow for something like a catapult (slingshot) to be introduced to keep range weapons alive and to give something new to the game. As one goes away a new portal opens and that was the intent all along. As evolution becomes a much larger stage in this game, we are confronted that death is pretty permanent and it allows for a new dimension if you play it in permadeath. In the end the stage is around these parts, but the story is still the most important aspect. So take the previous stories as a template and see what happens when generation one goes into one area, but as generation two you can travel in opposite directions, to set the land to that contrast requires a larger map, more options and different kind of hurdles. And there we see the initial part, with well over half a dozen stages that Bethesda never considered (or optionally rejected), and now it is in the public domain and we can show Microsoft what it feels like to spend eight point five billion on something that looks and tastes like a lemon, but that is merely because they thought it would solve all their problems and I am happy to add to their misery (I have to do something). So let’s make games and set the bar of Sony versus Microsoft to 5:1 or better, gives those Micro$oft people something to cry about, most of us will like that part anyway.

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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 new setting

I had a partial start on Bethesda’s Elder scrolls, but not one for their Fallout series. You see, you do have the right to sell your IP to a third party (Bethesda to Microsoft) and set the agenda of forcing a million dedicated players into the arms of what I personally see as a disreputable solution for gaming, but I am entitled to create IP free for Sony exclusive solutions that offers the people an alternative. The idea that I am handing out free dedicated IP for Sony developers was probably not in consideration for Microsoft (who paid $8,500,000,000 for Bethesda software), yet the idea of me handing out free lollies was not on their mind either, and PS5 directed IP even less so. 

As such here I am watching Jason Bourne on Netflix whilst my brains is considering a larger stage for a radiated world to survive in. Yes, I can’t just be like any other normal guy enjoying porn, no my mind has to create puzzles and RPG settings, life can never be simple, can it?

Whilst I was starting all that, there was a larger (read: additional) stage I wanted to create. A longer stage. An idea to interact the PS5 with both (read: either) Android or iOS device, creating mini games that give an additional stages to the game. It can all be done on the PS5, but I considered that some games are interesting if an element gets added (for free), so here I am considering my old NBC knowledge the decontamination parts that were not really in the Bethesda games. Yet that part could be a stage in the game, finding the plans, creating the solution and managing it. Even if it is part of the game itself, management parts of that game can be set to automatic (after the elements are set), but if we create management apps, giving the player an added 30% return on doing so, we create interest, the need to participate. 

The game needs an enticing environment, yet we have seen so many games in the US, What if the stage is not there, but the setting is Stockholm? It is relatively close to a lot of places and what if we use that setting to create a haven, not like in other games, but one that requires fresh water, fresh meat and of course a red wire collecting images of the Swedish bikini teams between 1975 and 2175, fair is fair, and if you play a girl, you get to find the collector cards of Swedish fireman and park rangers (fair is fair). We just know (read: assumption) how you ladies want to see images of Alexander Skarsgård and Peter Haber, fair is fair after all. Yet we need more than simple alternatives for snow globes or pip-boys, but the setting is one that needs adjusting. We need more than a race from item to item and that is not by creating places to are to, but by creating a narrative that goes beyond what w expect, that shows the larger stage of the repercussions of radiation, not by taking pieces away from the adventure, but by adding to it, by creating an additional awareness, one the previous games only hinted at. I am not blaming the games, they were and till are fine games, but I want to create something new, not by creating a copy, a copy is second rate, yet if we skate on the fringe, if we add to the narrative we et something new and that is the are for the gamer, that is the race for those who love to play games, to get more, not to merely get more of the same. The difference is distinct and gamers know this, I know this, so we get create more as we create something new, something that differs and is different. 

That is the challenge, that is the perspective we require, one we have not faced before. It is how I got to think out the Palyar prerogative playing in Amsterdam, that is how I got the previous answer to a new IP, holding an answer to Bethesda and the Elder Scrolls and over the setting of Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration, which I came up with in the past. A setting to Watchdogs IV and a few more ideas, all new IP, all in advanced concept stages.

Life tends to be about new settings, for the most it is about adapting to them, for some it is about creating them.

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