Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Owenmoz

Spiderweb future

Recommended Posts

"So many countries, so little time." Yup.

 

Cliche magical sells. Geneforge was apparently conceived of as a more fully SF game, but was made into a fantasy hybrid due to market concerns.

 

The inspiration for Redbeard was neat. But I do wonder if the next series will have a fifth Giant Iron-Fisted Vaguely Repressive But Horribly Competent Empire That Somebody Will Rebel Against...

 

tbh i'm not sure any of them were really that competent, they're all shown failing disastrously on multiple occasions

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Making stuff happen in the world is surprisingly hard, even if you aren't large and sprawling and run by humans.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Empire managed to wipe out pretty much all non-humans from the surface in Exile/Avernum. The surprising part is that it seemed to have grown utterly incompetent pretty fast, and the same Empire who wiped out dragons and nephilim as well as expelled plenty of powerful troublemakers to the underworld a generation ago (therefore, an Empire that is bastly more powerful and efficient than Rome ever was, for instance) is troubled by slimes and roaches...

Granted, the clever trick was to place the biggest threat next to the border between Valorim and the rest of the empire, so that the whole continent was cut off, and then you can send lesser plagues - less energy and time-consuming to create and monitor - on the less developed and defended provinces, but still, considering how tough city guards are even in Kriszan, that requires a solid amount of suspension of disbelief...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is also an attack on the most remote province of an empire that just lost a war for the first time in as far back as the censors will allow anyone to know. Even if you do nothing, Valorim doesn't actually fall. Some towns are destroyed and the big cities take a beating, but no catastrophes. Things might be different if the Empire actually marched its armies into Valorim to clean up the mess, but I always got the sense that Valorim is seen as something like an acceptable loss. Which itself is probably a symptom the Empire having just actually lost; not charging in is a reaction to having done just that in Avernum and getting trounced.

 

—Alorael, who likes the contrasting versions of hegemony of the various Spiderweb empires. The Empire rules because that's what it does; it exists to perpetuate itself. The Shapers have control at least in theory less because they brook no dissent than because allowing dissent from their orthodoxy means mas casualties, and the events of the series don't exactly prove them wrong. The Pact is a military and political alliance that outgrew its constituents and just has everyone scared, but it has less weight of time and status quo behind it; it's also relatively unique in that even in its setting it can throw its weight around everywhere but doesn't actually rule everywhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is also an attack on the most remote province of an empire that just lost a war for the first time in as far back as the censors will allow anyone to know. Even if you do nothing, Valorim doesn't actually fall. Some towns are destroyed and the big cities take a beating, but no catastrophes.

 

I don't know. I'd say what happened to the Footracer province is indisputably a full blown catastrophe, and the Empire absolutely didn't just shrug its shoulders and ignore it.

 

But... they absolutely do ignore vast swaths of the continent. And this goes back before even this whole "plague" nonsense - look at the Isle of Maddok.

 

Valorim may be the "newest" of the continents settled, but even then, it's still been a part of the Empire since before Avernum was a thing - the original Silvar is on the far southern tip of the continent, after all. At this point the "frontier" issue can only go so far to explain the Empire's neglect.

 

Ultimately, I think the shenanigans in the Blackrock Fortress are what really explain what happened - the Empress is beset with political enemies. Her father may have ruled with an iron fist and a perversely powerful demon mage, but Prazac is new, inexperienced, and doesn't have the kind of weapons to keep dissent down that her father did. The Empire's turmoil runs deeper than we can guess, at least until the next game.

 

This is really what keeps the Empire staggering and winded - not the plagues, not the loss in Avernum, but the rot at the core.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The inspiration for Redbeard was neat. But I do wonder if the next series will have a fifth Giant Iron-Fisted Vaguely Repressive But Horribly Competent Empire That Somebody Will Rebel Against...

 

I would love a game where your actions do not have the consequences you envision. I would love to spend time doing/fighting for some belief only to have it revealed that I was wrong all along. It feels too easy to pick a side and stick with that rather than the real world moral ambiguity where you need to consider if what you are doing is actually getting the desired result or not.

 

No idea how this can be made into a game though or if it would even work. But I feel they almost pulled it off with the early Wanderer quests in Avadon...until he became a little too obvious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I mean, I feel like Geneforge 4 really encapsulated that real world moral ambiguity on the Rebel side with the question of the Unbound, the Trakovites, probably a few other plot-central concerns.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My hope is that Jeff will grace us with the return of the GIFTS in the next game, this time with real voice acting. Brrrr... I just get the shivers thinking about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I mean, I feel like Geneforge 4 really encapsulated that real world moral ambiguity on the Rebel side with the question of the Unbound, the Trakovites, probably a few other plot-central concerns.

 

I don't know. The later geneforge games are very obvious about their 'sides'. It is obvious what they want, what they are going for and what is likely to happen. There was never a point where I felt like I was doing the wishes and bidding of Sect A while actually helping the grand designs of Sect B.

 

As an example, in Avadon the first quest the wanderer gives you is to find proof of what Ryozo wanted from Zetheron. My understanding is that he wanted the dragon to check the Tawon Empire to avoid a war. But the player is not aware of this until later. The wanderer comes across as neutral when he is clearly anti-pact. That is the situation I hope for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The wanderer comes across as neutral? Maybe on his own merits he might, but given the context of the whole story and the way it's framed, his feelings about the status quo were pretty much what I expected. It wasn't a foregone conclusion, but I don't think that is a great example of either a well-hidden ideological allegiance or unexpected results of the player's actions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The wanderer comes across as neutral? Maybe on his own merits he might, but given the context of the whole story and the way it's framed, his feelings about the status quo were pretty much what I expected. It wasn't a foregone conclusion, but I don't think that is a great example of either a well-hidden ideological allegiance or unexpected results of the player's actions.

(...) with the early Wanderer quests in Avadon...until he became a little too obvious.

(...) the first quest the wanderer gives you (...)

 

Perhaps the first two times I said it didn't frame my position very well. No doubt the third will cast aside any doubt.

 

I hope that a future game from Spiderweb has some sort of conflicting 'subtle' forces at work where one cannot be sure exactly what the end goal is. The early Wanderer quests are a good example. You don't know who he is, he asks a simple favour and Ryozo seems like a cold, rude potential traitor. It is conceivable that you are actually doing a good pro-pact thing.

 

Of course in typical Spiderweb fashion this goes out the window very quickly and everything becomes very obvious, very cut and dry. These are the pro-pact choices and doing this will mark you that way and over here we have the anti-pact choices, very obvious, very cut and dry.

 

Make no mistake, I enjoy Spiderweb games immensely but this is a forum for conversation and debate and my hope is that they will continue to grow and evolve and this is one possible direction that would leave me feeling satisfied.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the next Spidweb game should have a character called the Infernal Spirit of Cruelty and Woe, who is not mentioned at all throughout the game but who swoops in at the ending and destroys the universe. It doesn't matter what path you take, you still get the exact same abrupt, surprise ending featuring the entire universe being incinerated, its ashes made into a decorative soap dish in the bathroom of the Spirit's home realm. No further mention is made of your goals or anyone else's from the time the Spirit appears just prior to what would be the plot branch's final fight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

in GF4 the sides are obvious, but the rebel's goal of creating the Unbound is hidden almost till the very end. For most of the game the Rebels and Shapers both appear fairly reasonable, but the rebels don't do anything that makes the Shaper's paranoia seem wholly justified, then boom, you find out about the Unbound and it's like "oh dear, the shapers were right the whole time after all"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Blxz, I read what you said perfectly well. I am not ignoring what you wrote, I am disagreeing with it. Specifically, I disagree that the Wanderer ever really seems like a neutral character, given how the game and its story are framed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But... they absolutely do ignore vast swaths of the continent. And this goes back before even this whole "plague" nonsense - look at the Isle of Maddok.

Valorim may be the "newest" of the continents settled, but even then, it's still been a part of the Empire since before Avernum was a thing - the original Silvar is on the far southern tip of the continent, after all. At this point the "frontier" issue can only go so far to explain the Empire's neglect.

Indeed. Even if the incompetence of the Empire is a bit hard to believe considering it managed to conquer the world and wipe out entire sentient species, the strangest part is that there are still undead lords, rakshaza and even drake lords in Valorim. This might be the Empire lying all along about having cleaned the whole surface, but considering its tendencies, I don't see how that's possible.

Well, Isle of Maddok might have happened after Hawthorne's death, or even right after Gardzahd's death, in which case the weakness of younr Prazac's reign would explain how some kind of lich could set up shop, but demons, drake lords, gazers and rakshazas who were not put there by the Vahnatai are trickier to explain. Even if they're understandable on a strictly "gameplay" point of view - you got to have toughest areas and you can't rely only on plagues, that would become boring after a while.

 

 

I would love a game where your actions do not have the consequences you envision. I would love to spend time doing/fighting for some belief only to have it revealed that I was wrong all along.

You have this in some games, not always in RPGs. Spec Ops: the Line would be a clear example, as well as the early parts of Deus Ex, for instance.

If he'd like to, Jeff could make some side-quests or some specific faction along these lines; not sure if he'd want to make it a key point of a whole game, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you want the consequences to be unexpected and unforeseeable you have to either design the game very well around that particular concept or you end up with the scenario that I think ADoS is parodying. Choices where you have no idea what you're choosing aren't real choices. Choices where what you base your decision on doesn't matter are often just jokes at the expense of the player. It doesn't tend to be fun, although of course it can, conceivably, be handled well.

 

The simplest version is to just have frequent commentary on the fact that you're in the dark and can't know what will come of your decisions, but more than a little bit of that and it gets old quickly.

 

—Alorael, who is fine with actions having unforeseen consequences. But then you'd better not have "this is a Big Decision" moments where the decision is utterly opaque. That's not an interesting decision at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cliche magical sells. Geneforge was apparently conceived of as a more fully SF game, but was made into a fantasy hybrid due to market concerns.

 

I've always wondered how much of this was more about the ability to reuse the art assets between games. A full on Sci-Fi series would have meant that probably very little could have been reused between Geneforges and Avernums. Geneforge does have quite a few unique assets that aren't reused in the Avernums, but the majority of world and world clutter/object type assets seem to be reused and probably wouldn't fit in a Sci-Fi universe.

 

I would love a game where your actions do not have the consequences you envision. I would love to spend time doing/fighting for some belief only to have it revealed that I was wrong all along. It feels too easy to pick a side and stick with that rather than the real world moral ambiguity where you need to consider if what you are doing is actually getting the desired result or not.

 

I think the Witcher series is fairly good about doing this without making it come off as cheap or out of left field. The key is always making the unintended outcome at once surprising, yet still plausible given the situation. Which is hard to do.

 

You also do need a reason to care about what's going on too. I played the Geneforges only once and going on 5 years ago now, but I can still name all the factions, their general beliefs, and how they factored into the major choices you made in the games off the top of my head. I was totally invested in those games' choices and still regard the series as among my favorite (if not my absolute favorite) RPG series. When it comes to the Avadons, though, despite finishing both, I honestly can't even remember what happened in them, much less who the main political countries/factions are and what their political/cultural beliefs might be. I do remember several individual characters, though. Character is probably the series' saving grace, but even then there's nothing earth shatteringly great.

 

So while I do enjoy playing them, I definitely won't be pinning for another Avadon once the trilogy is finished in the same way I pine for another Geneforge. I'll be happy to see Vogel move on to something else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always wondered how much of this was more about the ability to reuse the art assets between games. A full on Sci-Fi series would have meant that probably very little could have been reused between Geneforges and Avernums. Geneforge does have quite a few unique assets that aren't reused in the Avernums, but the majority of world and world clutter/object type assets seem to be reused and probably wouldn't fit in a Sci-Fi universe.

Keep in mind that Geneforge predates the Second Avernum Trilogy, and it doesn't use the same graphics system or even same graphics sizes as the First Avernum Trilogy. In particular, walls are completely different. I'm sure there's some asset re-use, but not much. As to planning four years in advance for reusing assets from G1 in A4 and actually changing game world plans to facilitate it... I guess that's possible, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Blxz, I read what you said perfectly well. I am not ignoring what you wrote, I am disagreeing with it. Specifically, I disagree that the Wanderer ever really seems like a neutral character, given how the game and its story are framed.

 

Well, I can't help that I'm starved for examples. Spiderweb writing in later games has been reasonably explicit about the different sides and has lacked some nuance that I feel were present in some of the earlier titles.

 

Wanderer was a close-ish example, to me at least, if I had better examples I'd use them. And later on in Avadon the Duke of Verbeaux was kind of scheming (although still suspicious in his dealings) before suddenly dropping all pretense.

 

Those are the parts of the game I appreciate the most. And as Juan Carlo said two comments above, the Witcher does a very good job of pulling off what I am trying to explain. There really isn't any need to take it even remotely close to the ultra n'th degree that some comments above have done. In no way have I proposed to make the whole game opaque or to have a flying Macguffin swoop in at the last moment and proclaim that it was all a dream and the choices meant nothing.

 

I just wish there was more nuance in future games.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like geneforge as a fantasy/sci-fi hybrid, and I don't think it would have been as cool if it were pure sci-fi, the way it juxtaposed magic and genetics was really quite novel. It had a very distinctive feel that would have been lost if it were wholly science fiction or wholly fantasy. The blending of the two is what makes it my favorite of spiderweb's series and one of my favorite RPGs of all time. Avadon really isn't doing it for me so I'll also be glad to see Jeff move on to something else. I'm really looking forward to the Avernum 3 remake that's probably next. Geneforge remakes would be cool (give them Avadon's junk bag, that's the one thing I love about that game, and running out of bag space was always a big problem with Geneforge, especially from 3 onwards) as would more sequels. I'm curious to see what the next new IP will be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A game that had very random and to a degree unpredictable ends was singularity. I didnt like it very much since all of them were bad endings. I think geneforge 1 also had relativelly unpredictable endings. If i remember correctly, the drakengard series had something of the kind too. But it was dark as hell. I didmt touch the game again. So I dont think its that hard to make the ambiguous or unpredictable endings. I figure introduction of hidden factions would be pretty neat like the trajkovite in geneforge 4. Cept more hidden ish. I think the best example of such option is the darkstalker kaathe in dark souls 1 even if the ending itself is available even if you dont find him.

 

And i have to second idonotexist on sci fi fantasy hybrid working well for geneforge of all spiderweb games geneforge is the only one that brings something new to the genre. Avernum has a place in my heart for amazing diversity and extraordinary writing and it manages to keep a damp dark cave upbeat and with a sense of humour and very much alive but it doesnt bring much new cept possibly the vahnathai. And it mostly doesnt have factions (and tbh the two games with factions turned up to be my least favorite ones). Avadon fails on both aspects with the writting while still good doesnt really compare to avernum. And it really doesnt bring any novelty to it. I was most interested in the corruption, but it didnt quite save the game.

Also the wanderer while an intetesting character and likeable to a degree was obviously anti pact. I don't think any one got mindblown by his alegiance or identity. Only thing i was mindblown by was how horrifyingly weak the dude was.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMO, the G1 endings were pretty predictable. The conventional wisdom for many years has been that they weren't, but I'm really not sure why; the impact of your actions is pretty straightforward, and following the path set out by a faction leader does result in more or less the best ending for that faction. There are a few unexpected "decent endings" for a faction on other paths -- notably for the Awakened if you empower Trajkov, who turns out to be rather pro-creation. But that's pretty much it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMO, the G1 endings were pretty predictable. The conventional wisdom for many years has been that they weren't, but I'm really not sure why; the impact of your actions is pretty straightforward, and following the path set out by a faction leader does result in more or less the best ending for that faction. There are a few unexpected "decent endings" for a faction on other paths -- notably for the Awakened if you empower Trajkov, who turns out to be rather pro-creation. But that's pretty much it.

If you have the endings in mind you can corelate your actions to them yes. But as newbie the whole thing is unpredictable. If nothing else, the trajkov ending is very unpredictable. The game works hard to portray him as a canister crazed power hungry military autocrat invader up to the last minute. Only the ending shows different. Only trully predictable ending i guess would be the obeyer.

And thats ignoring the one major thing making the game unpredictable:

 

 

The ending does not depend at all on the faction you're alinged to.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Unpredictable" would mean, say, that following the Awakened quest line ends up helping the Obeyers. And that doesn't happen. It's true that aligning with a particular sect doesn't directly impact the ending, but following the ultimate advice of each sect's leader does, and it impacts it exactly the way you'd expect. Rydell leads you to the best Obeyer outcome, and Gnorrel leads you to the best Taker outcome. The Awakened are less black-and-white simply because the other endings are mostly OK for them too, but Ellhrah's advice definitely leads you to the outcome where only the Awakened do well.

 

And, newbie or not, if you don't think your choice about what to do with the Geneforge is going to determine the course of the ending, then you haven't been paying attention to the game. Every plot point in the last third of the game really comes down to "But the Geneforge!!!" And the game explicitly warns you that your choice is a Big Deal. Plus, you know, there's that small detail of the name of the game :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Damn! That was almost a killer argument right there. But newbie or not, no one really would expect the geneforge being the only thing to determine the ending. And fort instance in other games you get advised to do this or that(i.e. no canisters, no corruption water etc..) and it affects the ending but certainly does not dictate it. Now if you managed to predict the ending for g1, thats remarckable, no joke, it honestly is. I couldnt. But at the same time must be a bummer not to be able to get surprised at endings. I'm not certain if things like suspension of disbelief can be trained or not but if they can. I strongly advise you to pause your analytical skills in reggards to the plot line. Otherwise its like rewatching a tv show. Even if its good its not as good as the first time. But hey some folks get lots of kicks out of predicting things correctly. If thats your poison the disreggard what i just said. In any case. My point is, its not hard to understand why some people find g1 unpredictable. People just think differently.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What I found unpredictable about the G1 endings, aside from Trajkov turning out to be a pretty good guy, is that in the awakened ending your character doesn't actually do anything to help them at all. You become a crazy warlord and they benefit by helping the shapers fight you. I was pissed. Some champion I turned out to be.

 

Avadon feels like the most conventional fantasy of all of them. Avernum was typical high fantasy but with a world that felt much deeper and had unique twists on some of the fantasy races. Avadon reminds me very much of any number of fantasy novels I've read that are heavy on politics and intrigue, even the way Avadon is a politically neutral (within the pact) agency that's above the law and your character is a sort of special agent, and the way Redbeard is this shifty cryptic dude whose somehow immortal-ish feels very familiar in entirely the wrong way. It's odd, because when I think about it I don't see the sort of setting and plot Avadon uses quite so much in video games, at least anymore, but I've read quite a bit of fantasy and it gives me the impression of a fantasy novel that's decently well written but at the same time totally unmemorable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...