This game is as good as it is mediocre.

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MRY
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Re: This game is as good as it is mediocre.

Post by MRY » April 20th, 2017, 9:01 pm

Just to be clear, I meant "bonkers" in an endearing kind of way. :)

In terms of your question, in some sense Primordia explores that question -- all the robots are a little bit *off*. But I'd be reluctant to write a game with characters who are as all as troubled as Inifere. To be honest, I found writing his character, particularly given the subject matter, a fairly unsettling/unpleasant process. (As an tangent -- sometimes when I read really truly creative and talented writers like Tolkien or even Dan Simmons talk about how they write characters, they talk about "finding" them or "discovering" what the characters do or "getting to know" the characters as if they have some independent and even autonomous existence apart from the writer. It might be like that for some writers but not for me. For me it's a matter of making an Inifere suit and then wearing the Inifere suit, metaphorically speaking, and the only thing I can make those suits out of is my own mental matter, so when doing someone like him, it's kind of unpleasant because it means taking the most unflattering parts of yourself and dwelling upon [or within!] them.)

Also, I've found that there is some sweet spot in character-writing in terms of labor (not necessarily in terms of quality) where a certain "skew" is an easy way to give them a distinctive voice (which makes writing easier), but too much skew and they become very labor intensive. So, for example, the Council Clerk or the Speaker in the whale mere were easier for me to write than, say, Matkina in the Kholn Village mere (who is pretty normal by comparison); but the philethis and Inifere were much harder because I had to be so deliberate in constructing every sentence.
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My posts express my own views, not those of inXile Entertainment or Wormwood Studios.

Quantomas
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Re: This game is as good as it is mediocre.

Post by Quantomas » April 21st, 2017, 11:07 am

"Just to be clear, I meant "bonkers" in an endearing kind of way." :)

8-)

Writing is always an interaction with your audience. You assess how your words read and develop your ideas in the space of the context your audience understands, at least to an extent. Even if you have mastered this skill and it has blended into your subconsciousness you are still communicating with your audience. This is even true if you would write solely for yourself because you are communicating in the context that has become your mental fabric.

Even if you think you create your characters from your mental matter you are still interacting with your audience. In this sense you do find or discover your characters not unlike Tolkien or Dan Simmons. It's just they reflect on their skill consciously.

The larger the skew the bigger the contrast between a character and the world, and as a consequence the effort involved. It is interesting that you use skew to work for you.

Matkina is such a lovable character and very comforting to have along the ride. I suppose you have created her other side as well. TTON is such an enormous game.

It appears your sweet spot are characters who are human in spirit but face challenging conditions. I can relate to that as well. Fantasy and science-fiction are the genres that offer unlimited potential for characters to face uncommon forces and settings.

If you were to write a mere for let's say the Speaker in the Ascension, perhaps something about restoring the Oracle, would that already be too far from your sweet spot to be pleasant?

MRY
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Re: This game is as good as it is mediocre.

Post by MRY » April 21st, 2017, 8:51 pm

Matkina wasn't "my" character -- I only brushed against her in the Kholn Village Mere. Credit is owed to Colin, who created her and wrote 99% of her dialogue. :)

I think it might've been fun to do a philethis mere, though I'm not quite sure how it would work. I'm kind of thinking of The Gostak (http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=w5s3sv43s3p98v45).
Writer on Torment: Tides of Numenera
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My posts express my own views, not those of inXile Entertainment or Wormwood Studios.

Quantomas
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Re: This game is as good as it is mediocre.

Post by Quantomas » April 22nd, 2017, 10:24 am

The Gostak has probably too much cryptography and too many word puzzles to appeal to modern gamers. I possibly wouldn't mind and quite liked the mere in the Valley of Dead Heroes that you needed to visit multiple times before you figured the solution.

In the same vein is Inkle's current project: https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2017/0 ... ore-433553.

It's ingenious in the way it makes exploration (movement), dialogs and puzzles all part of one shared logic space. At first glance it seems that its design is overkill for a mere, but if you think about it a while it fits perfectly.

Quantomas
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Re: This game is as good as it is mediocre.

Post by Quantomas » April 29th, 2017, 2:19 am

My, oh, my, MRY!

Who is going to figure this out, if *I* needed viewing it one evening, coming back the next evening to trace all possibilities and then needing a good night's sleep before the solution appeared in my mind? (I consider myself capable of standing up to the Puzzle-breaker and his antagonist from the Black Three.)

This is subtle beyond belief.

It is grand.

Good thing that I was wary of the question all along.

I couldn't help but laughing for a while gleefully after waking up and retracing the lines to confirm the answer and seeing them in a new light. This makes it one of the greatest video game experiences I ever had.

Thank you!

PS
Do consider my suggestion to create a bookstore edition seriously. This game deserves a bigger audience beyond the realm of rushing gamers. If you doubt my words, you could send a copy to a few jurors of the big SF awards and a publisher of great SF works, along with a good introduction and the offer to assist them with any questions as they come. You may wait for my primer if you are not sure how to approach them.

Quantomas
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Re: This game is as good as it is mediocre.

Post by Quantomas » May 12th, 2017, 6:30 am

@acm and @mry

Having completed one playthrough, I absolutely agree that acm's design suggestions are spot on, particularly to have the story branch at the meres. As explained in my review, there is every potential for a reality shaping meta-game no one has done before on that scale.

I also agree that the meres are the superior content of Tides of Numenera.

acm
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Re: This game is as good as it is mediocre.

Post by acm » May 12th, 2017, 7:07 am

Quantomas wrote:
May 12th, 2017, 6:30 am
@acm and @mry

Having completed one playthrough, I absolutely agree that acm's design suggestions are spot on, particularly to have the story branch at the meres. As explained in my review, there is every potential for a reality shaping meta-game no one has done before on that scale.

I also agree that the meres are the superior content of Tides of Numenera.
I mainly looked at what was there as fragments and tried to predict what was planned at some point, so basically identifying the game that could have been. I still think that there were some issues during development that lead to too much re-design.

And it's maybe a crazy idea, but I would have also dropped the Torment part and went for something else, like Numenera: Legacy/Discovery/Rebirth/Lineage or something similar. Torment was the main theme in PS:T, appearing everywhere. For example your tormented companions are fate-bound to your own torment. Apart from the "torment aspects" that MRY brought into the Tidal Meres I didn't see much talking about torment. So just using the name structure Numenera: X with an X that is well-supported by the game might have been more a ... confident? ambitious? artistic? ... approach.

Quantomas
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Re: This game is as good as it is mediocre.

Post by Quantomas » May 13th, 2017, 5:59 am

Your reasoning comes from a different direction, though this possibly just confirms its importance.

It is astonishing how much rides on a name.

Regarding the core design, now having an idea of the entire arc, they arrived through the iteration at a concept of reality on which truly ambitious games can be built. I listened to the podcast you pointed out and read a couple interviews, but what remained with me is still the way reality is handled.

If you look at the meres as a tool that shapes the reality, your choices actually have the game branch at the meres. Add to it that you can access different timelines and approach things differently and you have a mind-boggling metagame.

Interestingly you have a similar thing in Planescape: Torment. The choices you make affect the reality in the game! It's just that we think of it as a narrative that is revealed as you dig deeper and discover more, but at its core you still have a game that lets you shape reality.

The reason that ToN is a revelation is that it spells this out clearly by addressing timelines and reality explicitly. There is a universal element that is much more powerful than what a single game can capture. I toy with these concepts for a role-playing strategy game on a grand scale that lets you shape reality.

Your critique of ToN couldn't be more astute. The foundation and concepts are well developed, but in a way it feels that it only touches the potential it has. Still I like it very much. Once I have time I will take an in-depth look at the new game plus. Possibly you should too. There is tons of potential that the new game plus is affected narratively by the ending you choose and what you do on the moon and in the lab. If so, it could be very cool, but it's early to say whether they pulled that off. But the thing is, if you play, you are still in the state of not knowing the whole thing and can interact with it in your own reality.

acm
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Re: This game is as good as it is mediocre.

Post by acm » May 13th, 2017, 6:32 am

Quantomas wrote:
May 13th, 2017, 5:59 am
Your critique of ToN couldn't be more astute. The foundation and concepts are well developed, but in a way it feels that it only touches the potential it has. Still I like it very much. Once I have time I will take an in-depth look at the new game plus. Possibly you should too. There is tons of potential that the new game plus is affected narratively by the ending you choose and what you do on the moon and in the lab. If so, it could be very cool, but it's early to say whether they pulled that off. But the thing is, if you play, you are still in the state of not knowing the whole thing and can interact with it in your own reality.
What's happening in the new game plus? I will probably wait for some content upgrades as well, especially making the main story a bit more flexible. I'm still interested where all the text from the script went (I think it's really twice the amount of PS:T), but I'm not so interested in retracing my previous game with just different "ambience".

Also, I have to finish the remake of PST first to polish my rose-tinted glasses a bit.

Quantomas
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Re: This game is as good as it is mediocre.

Post by Quantomas » May 13th, 2017, 7:22 am

You did note how they set up the time loop at the end, didn't you? ;)

Let us know how your PST:EE game went and how it does compare, please.

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