Tag Archives: Skyrim

Presented choices

There is a flow in two directions, it is in most of us, it is stronger in the people who actively engage in critical thinking. It is often mistaken as ‘the devil’s advocate in us’ and I have made the same mistake. This is a dangerous place to be, not precisely dangerous, but hazardous. You see, we want to give ourselves time to mull things over and often that is good, nowadays with COVID, vaccines, lockdowns and other things happening at the same time it is hazardous. You see the media is no help, they are in it to create click bitches and stir flames, which gets them digital advertisement funds and traction. When you mull things over too many people are in a stage of making up their minds whilst the media is trying to cross them over to a field that benefits THEM and not the reader. Unless you are able to reject ALL media at a moments notice, that place you are in to mull things over goes from hazardous to dangerous and that is when things fall apart. The doubters get pushed into a place where they are slightly too uncomfortable, but not uncomfortable enough to forcefully take a stand.

This matters as gaming is in a similar place, or better stated the gamer is in an RPG game and is left to mull things over in doubt on what to do. There is a correlation of inaction towards too much signals as well as no signals at all. The brain seems to find the stage of non-signals too unnatural. And that is the stage any new RPG will find themselves in.

In the past it was not an issue for the mere reason that technology was not ready, now that it is too many gamers expect there virtual life to signal them in a similar way and even as technology is there, the game makers are not. 

It is not a setting of what to do to make it fit, it becomes a stage of adjusting the gamer to the ‘new life’. I was reminded of that in the last two days as I was rewatching the Harry Potter series. In the third film we are given the choice between what is easy and what is right, which fits the storyline of Harry and his gang (plus owl). Gaming and real life tend to not have that question, yet I see a larger wave go towards ‘What is easy or what is pointless’ and that is not the bill, but it is a concept of the two choices seemingly given. The mind loves a choice, even a fictive (or virtual) one and that gets us in hot water. 

So whilst we await the Hogwarts Legacy game, we wonder what is in it. We tend to compare to the RPG games that were truly fantastic and there we see Skyrim and Witcher 3 being the larger stage. So will Hogwarts have the Harry Potter CCG as an element? It is extremely doubtful, but there is an internal need to get a new RPG with some Witcher 3 Gwent game. We would want to be able to have our own house decorated in OUR style of choice (Skyrim) and the list goes on. This pushes the needs towards pointless, yet where is the setting on what the line from gaming to pointless becomes and that line differs per gamer and that low range and high range of that line is a gap no smaller than the Gran Canyon and that makes for an awkward programming stage. The opposite side leads to easy and grinding which could spell an early death for any future RPG game, so where to go? Fable 2 had an awesome solution towards vocations (Forge, Bartender, gambling) but the stage becomes how to remain unique, have elements like mini games and larger ownerships without breaking the IP and that is not an easy task. Even Skyrim with its levels of grinding is so close to perfect that people still desire this game 10 years later. I myself had the game on PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One and optionally (hopefully) in 9 weeks and 3 days I will have the PS5 edition, optionally a little later as I face all kinds of budgets, but the message behind this is strong, a good game lasts a very long time and that is where the game makers need to be. I believe that the best option is set towards a trilogy solution. We can play, we can alter and we can circumvent. Alter is adding a CCG or mini game option. Instead of looting the same place with consistent time, we can have the CCG to make is smarter, the mini game to make us richer and a combination for investments. It takes the mind of grinding. The CCG element could give us cunning, intelligence and the cards we win could lead to unique items like clothing that are rewarding depending on the class we play. We could get rare items that we need to make special potions (like the golden cauldron in Harry Potter CCG), and the list goes on. In Fallout New Vegas we were given the useless Snow globes that is until we met a person who paid dearly for it. There are the Vault-boy bobbleheads in Fallout, so what can we do to create the part that adds value to the game?  That depends on the game maker, but the objective would soon become a race to avoid the pointless borderline. 

The second borderline is less visible. Metal Gear Solid got there and it was not their intent because the last game was magnificent to behold, yet they got there, the game had gotten too big and soon in the game you felt like you were in a stage where it felt pointless (it was not) the game was too big for its own design and even if you consider revamping the stages, at some point (ACT 3) you started to wonder what it was for. I got there a few times and I loved the game, so we need to design carefully and become weary of what signals we give the player, too many and the gamer seeks the easy route, that same route gets trodden on when there are no signals, so there needs to be enough signals to make it worth your effort.

I believe that we are due for more time based stories and the best way is to let the conversations with NPC’s progress that, but there too too many of those and the game gets to be regarded as pointless. So how to go about the presented choices? One option is to limit NPC’s to optionally give quests in a set of two parameters. The first is the day of the week and the second is a correlation of conversations with other people in town. It gets so that each town has optionally 2-3 side quests a day, so beside the main quests and storyline quests you can score new quests each day in one place, to throttle the over-quest danger we limit the chances we get to the pointless border. By having enough signals we also limit the dangers of people heading for the easy line and on top of that, if we create a random partition that directs all the quests to a day at the beginning of the game there is a chance that two players end up having very different experiences making all players more and more curious on what more is there and how to find it. 

There are more things to do, but this is enough for today, today was to address the dangers of the pointless borderline and that borderline is a lot more dangerous than you think. 

If you do not head that line you could prematurely kill your own game in month one, an eerie setting that no game maker would ever want to face. More importantly, it also shows how we are treated by the media in todays events and that tends to reverberate in us too. So when we escape towards games we really need to get that signal stopped as soon as possible, it is perhaps the one danger any RPG faces, we tend to push ourselves into our RPG games the way we were before we started that game, emotional baggage and all, we cannot really hope to stop ourselves, but we can demand that whatever RPG game we play takes that feeling away within the first 10 minutes of gaming. I reckon it is part of the success of Skyrim.

Have a great day!

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Two to plenty

I have had enough of looking at covid numbers, and I have had enough of several things. As such, I feel the most at ease giving service (I did it for more than a quarter of a century) and creating new IP.  And as I was playing a personal favourite, I realised that Microsoft was holding two massive trump cards and to overthrow that, the other makers need to consider taking a leap, a leap that will make the Microsoft position shaky, very shaky indeed. This solution will optionally fit Amazon the best. Netflix has a chance, but if Google does not change its position, then they are up at the mercy of the developers. It is a choice they made. 

So what is out there? You see, I always knew that our lives revolved around creating places to live, kill things and eat (let’s not forget about the food). Minecraft drilled into that brilliantly and as Markus Persson, Jens Bergensten, and Stephen McManus played on that brilliantly, they sold it to Microsoft in 2014 for two point five billion. Then there was Bethesda who created Skyrim on 11/11/11. A game that for a very long time avoided (not completely) the levels of grinding. And Microsoft offered $8,500,000,000 to the makers. Yes a brilliant move, but it also implies that if someone makes a game like these two for Amazon, the Microsoft gaming share will drop by a decent amount. And it is a tall order, to make something alike and different enough not to be seen as a copy. It can be avoided to some degree. For one, the building materials can be set to marble sorts (Romans and Greeks), giving us all kinds of other challenges and achievements. In a lot of ways Minecraft was brilliant and close to perfect, but it can be done in other ways too and the Minecraft setting will require a streaming solution, which get us to Amazon Luna. But they are not the only player, anyone picking these ideas up can design something for Google Stadia. And it matters, with the massive amounts of revenue to be seen in the next two years, would you turn away a billion dollars? I wish I had been more pressed as a programmer in my youth, I would have done it myself. Alas, I made choices, I have no regrets, but if I was a decent programmer, I could have had more (not in a greed driven way). And now I get to spout other non 5G ideas to the world giving them a chance to take a slice away from the Microsoft pie. 

I will leave it to you, but consider that Skyrim has over 15 million players, Minecraft has 126 million players. Do you still think it is a bad idea? And as the gaming frontiers are changing, as Microsoft is trying to sell THEIR Microsoft Cloud all over the place, the gaming dimension polarises, Microsoft only respects what their board of directors tell others what matters and I have no intention of seeing my devices being overrun by some Azure thin client. As such I see the need to set my dreams and non 5G IP considerations towards public domain, to let you all grow on non Microsoft fields. Azure might have the advantage, but that does not mean that Google and Netflix are out of the race. It is merely a speculative idea and I will let you consider where the race takes us all.

So when you are creating YOUR version of a sandbox game, you can focus on building (and you need to), yet the stage of that can be done in various ways. You can focus on how the Greeks and Romans did it, so you need to create a place create income and become part of an economy. Anything else and you face the dangers that it is too much like Minecraft. As you grow your status and economy, you can opt for one side in game one, the other in game two and every iteration opens up the free game to a much larger extent. If you are in Volos, Larissa or Ladochori (Greek places) you will have to employ different solutions, but in a sandbox game, location is not the key, it is the surroundings you face. A setting that shapes all your decisions. You can only go with the flow and create, and seek, and pillage, and murder and explore. And in all this pillage and murder remains open to addition or choice, but in a sandbox game you make the decisions, you set the tone and you become your own legend (sanctified by Amazon, Google and/or Netflix).

If I feel up to it I will draw out a much larger setting towards real social media for gamers, not marketed messaging for large corporations.

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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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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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Yo clodhopper

Yup that was my finest hour in diplomacy, we’ve all been there. Although I just woke up and I just had a great idea, well, I sort of had the idea before, but it took shape and it is now 03:30, so it must be good. 

You see, I have worked on several parts of the free RPG for Sony (as a response to the act of Bethesda), yet I now have a larger stage for the map, the map is not one map, there will be 5-6 maps, yet with every iteration of the map, the map evolves the map changes the presentation of where you are and what is there, but it does not change what is there. Consider the maps from 14th century and the maps we see now (not Google Maps), there is evolution and I set a stage where we have larger differences. A geologist and an explorer have their own versions of maps, that is how their trade set it up, it is how they evolved their maps, yet in gaming we never did that, so I am making a larger change, and in support of that, I also came up with the option of a new game, or a new game plus, making the game a larger evolution stage. Why?

No one has ever done it before and in that regard the larger stage is set. There will also be a cartography shop, run by no one other then Miss Beth Esda (sorry Christopher, I just had to go there). I will tell you later about New Game Plus, because this one is one that is also new, but the stage is that it still needs a little work. 

So as we barge through the land (clodhopping), and as we look towards the sky on where we have to go, I see options I had never contemplated before. We can push boundaries on what we perceive we know, but what happens when the darkness is actually a void, a place where we merely stop being? So as we step in and out of the void, we set a new registration, one that Skyrim but not to the degree that they could have seen it, and my vibe merely picked up on the missed opportunity. It will be some work to set the stage to a larger frame, and it will take a decent amount of brooding, but I think I have an idea how to proceed on it and I will keep you informed. Still there is more, I wrote about it earlier, and as I considered the ideas I had in a new version of ‘Murder on the Zinderneuf’, I considered a different stage to the game, yes it is based on that game, but so different it is no longer the same game, and as I considered the game Clue, perhaps you have played it, so what happens when the corner rooms no longer have secret doors, but on a higher level they have doors that lead to another part of the Hindenburg? In addition to that, there will be a stealth and a deception element to the game. Linking that game to achievements in another game. If the new ‘Murder on the Zinderneuf’ is an evolution of Clue, we could also have an evolution of Hotels, or Monopoly. If this is a Google Stadia setting, then the people would have access to both games, so what happens that relics found on the Hindenburg will unlock new options in Hotels, and Hotels opens up options in ‘Murder on the Zinderneuf’? The options are all cosmetic, but they are nice options to find. It is not completely new this approach, but it was seldom trodden and as such, I think it is important to set that stage. The gamer loves any game more if we offer something that they never had before and a cloud gaming solution like Google Stadia (or Amazon Luna) will need to reconsider and re-evaluate what they have, what they think they have and what could be made possible. You see cloud gaming can only exist if people have long term commitments to that setting, a new Ubisoft game is not going to do it, Nintendo is figuring it out, as I see it the long term commitment that gamers have with Animal Crossing: New Horizons show me to be correct, and the amount of gamers that are ‘addicted’ to that game doubly so. 

There is even a larger stage to the RPG that I am only now trying to figure out, it is a new setting in conversations and in localisation, and the setting that it has never been done before is making me happy. Consider that Ubisoft lost 15% of its value over a period of 30 months, and I now show that I have the inside track on solutions that they never were able to innovate, I think that I am on the right track, now, that does not mean that I am better than them, I am merely more willing to drive innovation, is that not what gaming was all about in the past? 

Why have we become so driven to ‘highest graphics’ and ‘coolest effects’, look at Nintendo and watch where that happens (it does not) and still they beat the most powerful console in the world (the Microsoft contraption), as such we need to consider what we could be able to achieve, not merely what some marketing type tells us what great is. We can decide for ourselves what great is and it tends to be the game that baffles us (God of War for example) and a long list of baffling games, and in all this where are some of the creator? They are merely pushing out more of the same and they market it as innovative new, but tell me, which franchise has truly delivered innovation in gaming? 

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Replay the past in the present

We all do that, we sometimes think we can and sometimes we hope it will be an option. I am on this horse because I am slightly too angry with UK Common Law, and I need to cool down, so I hope that THAT article will come next. To cool off, I did something I had not planned, I installed Skyrim on the PS5, in part because I saw a tweet regarding Skyrim that I can get it to do 60 fps on the PS5, part because I am still one achievement short (slay the legendary dragon), in the last two attempts there was too much grinding going on and I am still playing it on the PS4 as well. Yet for some reason I had forgotten how satisfying the first 10 levels were. The limits, the setting of joining groups, and the setting of having no place. I had forgotten just how perfect Skyrim is. Yes, I know, I have seen the crying people on ALL the bugs, but to be honest, I have had very little issues. Yes, there are a few glitches, but that comes with the setting of a game this big. Oh, and over 9 years we see that there are 17 patches (including the last one for PS5, I am guessing), a game that is 9 years old (released 11.11.11) and still it holds a sway over us (at me at the very least). A good game is really hard to find and Bethesda outdid themselves here. I had designed Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration, and I had hoped it would equal Skyrim, of course my ego feels that I would be surpassing it, but if I only equal it, the game would be a massive success. This is seen in two ways, in the first, write yourself a list of games that you still love to play (beginning to end), and I reckon that this list has less than a dozen titles, If the game must be older than 3 years, the list will be less than half of what you had and in 9 out of 10 cases Skyrim will be on there.

The future options
In light of the news that has been out there, 2021 will be a great gaming year. This is part of what is already out there and part because Bioware has announced a remastered trilogy of Mass Effect on PS5 and that Microsoft contraption. There is off course the first game, yet it is the second one that takes the cake, until recent seen as one of the best tactical RPG’s ever created, the people (read: gamers) have been eagerly awaiting that title. There are all kinds of rumours as to the reason, but in the end it does not matter, millions want to replay that trilogy and on nextgen is a setting that no one wants to miss. Even as I set the premise last year n an idea to relaunch ME4 (together with ME5) to give a larger credibility to the titles, we see that no matter how good that could be, it might never be as great as ME1 through ME3. I get that, the story was breathtaking no game could ever equal that in that era and even now games are struggling to equal those three titles. Bioware and Bethesda set the markers to near perfection and that I what gamers crave, that near perfection feeling, Ubisoft seemingly never understood that. 

Yet no matter who we embrace and what title we go for, we go for the entertainment and in that setting I looked again at the station of the open RPG I created (as a response to Microsoft buying Bethesda) for developers to freely use for Sony exclusive games. It was my way to make the Microsoft $7,500,000,000 to be a lot more expensive than they bargained for. In this I made a few more modifications, or perhaps a better description would be ‘a conceptual path to allow for more’ in this the idea to have 1-2 additions to be played on mobiles, free games that enhances the first one. In Fable we saw Pubgames, yet what happens when we create mobile games (android and iOS), that allows players to do some of the menial tasks in the game, whilst you are on route to work/school, during lunch, or just when you are out enjoying the sun. 

Work
The work app is one where the rejuvenated hero works a job (depending on what job he scored), over 30 minutes you tire the hero and he sleeps it off whilst you work/learn, and at the end of that time you come home, start the game and the hero has gained credits and coins.

Education
Whilst our hero works he learns and gains experience (not as much as in the game), but he could learn and achieve an extra skill point, in addition to that, whilst the hero learns, there will optionally be a stage where new and more equipment becomes available.

As we have thee money to go out and explore, we see that the game gets a larger push towards the gamer, to see more, learn more and do more. Yes, we acknowledge that there was a great stage to play Fable 2 and own the pub BEFORE you entered the tower, yet what happens when your years of absence made you lose the pub and its income? The setting is a mere reflection (I am not negative towards Fable), we need to see that there is a whole range of options and in this I moved as far away from the Bethesda s possible, not because the games were bad, no the opposite, they were really good, so creating something different was essential and when you look at all the D&D games, it is surprising how alike some are. If another franchise gets to stand up, it needs to be different from other games, it needs to set a different stage and it needs to have larger options, in this large is reflecting on the application of other solutions giving you more options to enjoy exploring, and do things. 

In this, I merely thought of a part of my consideration (Elder Scrolls VII) and I came up with another bevel to implore and to exploit. A setting that TES4 and TES5 didn’t have to the degree I considered and as such, I can add this to my game as it was never there, and that is not all, even as we see the larger stage of new opportunities, we need to weigh, just like in every game, will it be an addition, or merely a fab that goes nowhere? It is an important question to ask ourselves, because we always think that our idea is perfect, but that is not a given and even as I create something new, it will not be for every gamer, it will be for the RPG lover, that is who I cater for, and I will say right now, if you do not care for RPG games you might not like this game and even if you like RPG games, you might not like this either. I cater to a group of people and I will be happy when that group is larger than expected, but unlike Ubisoft, I keep realism in the visors, those who cater to all will never cater to anybody, I still believe that and so far I have not been proven wrong.

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Chimes are wind translators

The stage was not set in this day, there was another day and another week, but the origin of the order was always known, each mistress of the house kept records of what happened, and they also tend to keep record when things did not happen, or more precisely when nothing happened. The scope of all gave the exceptions power and made them more insightful. The first Mistress of the house of chimes always knew that. The House of Chimes was a little different, even as they knew that the monks of the liquid mountain had the strength from within, the house of chimes bestowed powers. The mistress did from day one. Only women were allowed in this house, it was not because there was something wrong with the men, but for some reason the power could not be handed to another man. The mistress suspected that a similar reason existed with the cave of monks. The House of Chimes had one mistress in charge, two teachers and each teacher had 4 students. As the mistress gave power to all in the beginning, they learned over time that the powers were shaped by the teachers. As the powers of each student grew stronger in the first 10 years, it would not grow stronger after that. That had always been the case, yet the powers would mature more and more as the students slept in the houses of the teachers. There was no real explanation for that. It was possible for students to learn more than one speciality, but that required the student to spend more time in the house of chimes with the second teacher. One teacher taught the student the powers of the wind, the other would teach the students the powers of the lightning, that is how it had always been. These women had a staff with at the top an empty vial. The staff was made from a combination of wood and silver, with a silver lightning symbol surrounding the vial. The women had the ability to call for wind and tornado’s. Beyond that they could summon lightning. Even was some might not have ben impressed, their abilities are set in speed. They can move fast, really fast and as the wind goes around a person, the wind informs them and highlights dangers, animals and people. Even the weakest lightning will cripple any person hit by it, or so the story goes. The women are natural healers and illusionists. The wind makes nearly everything light as a feather, and allowed them to climb near vertical walls. Their last ability is merely whispered about, it has not be seen, the women have the ability to throw voices and more important make sounds that will deafen anyone who hear it. All seemingly useless powers, but that is only to the untrained. If you cannot hear anyone, you cannot hear them approach or get away, that is if their lightning hadn’t twisted you in some bizarre way. 

It was a soft night, there was close to no wind when the student walked over the hill. She was looking around her and saw no one. The dark was comforting, ever as the night was dark, she saw near perfect, the and would warn her of dangers and that was good, not only because she hd no lust to cause harm to an animal, she was not too fond of damaging brigands either. It seemed so pointless. She got to a fork when she noticed the fog in the distance, the fog seemed so unnatural. It has a local look, no more than 200 meters in diameter it was then that she noticed the 4 shapes, they looked like brigands and she held her staff a little tighter, it was then she noticed a fifth shape in the fog, this shape was clearly a man, but he looked different, even as the brigands were red, as they always were, the fifth shape was light yellow, light as the sun. He seemed to avoid the others and struck one after another with a precision strike. She considered that this was someone from the floating house, she hd heard of them, but this was the first time that she saw one. She kept her distance and saw the entire event unfold, the brigands had no real chance. She also noticed that the brigands were not dead. Merely out for the count, and as the fog lifted she noticed the floating house member walk away. She watched him for a little while from a far safe distance, and as he went north towards the village, she walked in eastern direction. It was her first encounter with one of them, she was not about to test his feelings towards diplomacy. It was then that she noticed the hollow tree, this tree was different, she had never seen one like this before, there was a clear drop down, and there was a a corridor of sorts under the tree. She considered a few things, and the only thing pushing her was her curiosity, she contemplated the action and she hesitated for a second and jumped into the hole. 

This was the 4th house. We have one more house to add to the mixture it will be the house of bones. The story cannot merely rely on the 4 elements and in this we set the stage for necromancers to enter the fold. When we consider the House of Forests, The Floating House, Monks of the Sulphur Caves, the House of Chimes and the House of Bones, we have 5 houses. A person can only become a member of one, we set the stage of replayability. The player is not limited to the house, that person can also become an artisan or guild member. A larger stag is required and we only looked at the arcane part. My biggest issue with The Elder Scrolls is not a negative one, they had a good grasp of anything, but the stage where a person can be EVERYTHING was a little off putting. If a skilled master is merely a skilled master in one, then the stage of a larger power was close to impossible. Yes I loved Skyrim, but I had become so powerful that my Dragonbone bow was able to kill close to any dragon with a few arrows. Too much of it came across as a little bit of a steeple chase, not a challenging one. As I chewed on these elements I set a different light for playing the RPG game. If I can set the stage of a 100 hour game and make sure that these people can play the game 5 times and in different settings they would end up with a 500 hour game, a good value. So I set pout in a different direction, where the choices you make will decide where you wake up (sorry Richard). It has been done before but s fr as I know my RPG games, only once. So as we are on an island that is 200Km by 175Km, there is every chance to play the game more than once and see different settings (well I try). 

A stage that is not merely replayable, the stage where the path in a cave, a mine, or an underground fortress is different for a floating house member or a house of bones member. You can have multiple goals in any one place, but a person can only do one. It also leaves us with the stage where a person can get stuck in a place where you need one skill, but the lack of it stops you. Issues that are very real but the RPG seems to shy away from that path, there is a Montessori approach to gaming, you have to get a price, you have to win, there is always a price. It seemingly makes for weak adventurers. And I have the sage where it is different, now if we add time played (like 1 year for every 10 hours played), we get a career stage where you can become a better hero than the previous hero you played. To do this we set the stage that there needs to be  a larger story to follow and the graveyard can have merely have one type of hero, which lives you with 5 people to play (a wink to Diablo), so as such we see the larger stage, but I am merely at the start of it all, now that I know what the fifth house will be, I can consider the next stage, because in any RPG game, the story is everything. And gain this is free public domain for any Sony exclusive.

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Another furlong (to the race)

Yup, I stated and I keep (my word for the most), and as my mind wonders towards the new RPG, I need to set in motions the cogs, not the ones in my mind, but any game has cogs, the more it is set to a system, the more natural it comes across. As the player fathoms how things are set, they will also set in motion certain expectations towards continuances of the game.

So here we see the first cog, if you remember yesterday, I spoke about the fur guild, but it is merely one of three (in the initial design. It does not matter if you consider that part the green or the red cog, so the house of worship would be the other colour. When we look into the combinations we get a larger setting, a sort of interaction. The fur guild, the clothing guild, and the  smithing guild are three parts of the cog, and the cog could evolve further. What I call the house of worship would have evolved from the scribes, it gave us the coin-masters (banks and accountants), scribes (recorders and historians), evokers and casters. This makes sense when we recall the actual meaning of evocation (the act of bringing or recalling a feeling, memory, or image to the conscious mind), and as the stage grows, so do the cogs, starting with no more than 5 (three is better) gives you the setting towards a stage where the story can grow. Three is better because you can see how the cogs are maximised, before you add n-teeth to any cog. The interaction becomes important, as a person might become more than merely a trainee of furs. Someone who sets furs and has coin-master skills would be more effective in running a shop and making the more successful. And this stage also impact the coin-master on all guild trades. Scribes would be more effective in creating effective armour, because of historic learnings and evokers might add additional protection on any armour or weapon, now here is the kicker, by not merely adding them, but by limiting the amount of teeth of any cog you can inhabit, makes the game very replayable. It sets a stage where person can be close to very different in each gameplay, giving a larger joy to the game, in all this, when we make sure that the game also evolves different we get a larger bang for the buck and that is where Oblivion failed, you could do it all (which is not wrong), but when you get to do it all, you get through the game a lot faster and in all this the challenge dissipates. It was a flaw they largely avoided in Fallout 3: New Vegas, as the good person could not do all the missions, the bad person got to have a life in the ‘freed’ prison, it might seem small, but the larger implications could be seen over time.

So as we see the cog on two elements, it becomes a larger stage when the cogs interact with optional abilities down the road, for example the druid path cannot be gotten as you slay animals for furs, the arboreal might do so, as such we see that the hunter (bow) gets side, the druid another side, the smith might become the wielder of mauls, it is that difference that sets you apart. Even as the smith can wield the bow, the skills there will go slower than the maul would. In RPG exploring your options is half the fun (at least for me it is), I remember that in Neverwinter Nights (the original) the Scythe had benefits, we lost out on this view in several RPG games and it is time to consider a larger stage where you might get 100 hours of fun as one character, but an additional 80 hours as a second character. Th stage where missions are depending on the class you end up being and setting it to such a way that you are not aware of what you are missing out in the first play through, is what will amaze you the second time around. 

Oh and this came forth (from my devious brain) in less then 5 hours (all added up), so when we see the claims that it is so hard to create on, there is truth there, but it also depends on the visionaries they hire, that is the lesson I hope to instil on Microsoft as I offer these ideas to Sony.

By the way, when you consider the guild structures, and we add water options, agrarian options and we interact on three levels, how many times could you replay a game (apart from the locations) before the game bores you? Consider that some still play Skyrim which was released on 11.11.11, so when the nextgen consoles are released, the game will be 9 years old. That is a record worthy of slaying, so we need to come to the party with a massive (optionally spiked) bat.

Have fun considering what else the future of gaming has to offer.

 

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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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