Your impressions of the narrative path

For discussing Torment's story as it slowly gets unveiled, as well as discussing the game's setting. Ninth World discussions encouraged. Spoilers allowed.

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Colin McComb
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Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Colin McComb » March 9th, 2016, 5:44 pm

Hello, assembled humans and other non-human-sentients!

I’m curious about your experience with the narrative path of the game. Any answers you give will be incredibly helpful in fine-tuning the story experience. I promise your critique won’t hurt my feelings, so don’t be afraid to be honest - just don’t, you know, be a jerk about it.

Specifically:
1. What was your personal path through Sagus Cliffs? This shouldn’t include the Labyrinth. :)
2. What were the high moments in the story for you?
3. What were the low ones?
4. Did you feel your goals were sufficiently clear?
5. What did you think those goals were, anyway?
6. Is there a way that you think this information could be conveyed more effectively?

I’m sure it goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: We all appreciate your constructive feedback, your suggestions, and… well, you.

Thanks!

-Colin

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Aramintai
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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Aramintai » March 10th, 2016, 12:36 am

1. What was your personal path through Sagus Cliffs? This shouldn’t include the Labyrinth. :)
2. What were the high moments in the story for you?
3. What were the low ones?
4. Did you feel your goals were sufficiently clear?
5. What did you think those goals were, anyway?
6. Is there a way that you think this information could be conveyed more effectively?
1. I was all over the place doing side quests in no particular order :). It's a great feeling to have when you're free to roam however you like in the given environment.

2. Well, I like Numenera setting quite a lot, like Planescape it allows for imagination to go wild. So I liked all the moments when the protagonist discovered something fantastically weird and interesting. Be it in the environment exposition, like seeing a fountain made of talking fish, or the garden where no one can hear you except your interlocutor. Or through dialogue with various npcs, or simply by reading a weird item description.
I also immensely liked the choose-your-own-adventure scripted interactions, I hope there are many more planned for us in the full version of the game.

3. I didn't like how time sensitive quests were handled. First, there was no warning that these particular quests were time sensitive and that there are dire consequences of sleeping. I also didn't like that these quests pressured me to do them asap, as I've said above I like to free roam. If not through dialogue, maybe there is another way to warn about them by expanding the journal categories into something like this:
-main quest
-time sensitive quests
-normal side quests

4.,5.,6. Well, it was kinda clear what to do in the beginning - the protagonist needs to fix some kind of device asap to stop the villain from getting him/her. But then I learned that there are other castoffs living in and around the city for ages, for example Matkina, who didn't seem to be bothered that there's a villain out there to get them, minding their own business. So for me that lifted the immediacy of danger over protagonist's head and placed it at the bottom of the things-to-do list. Sure there was one guy who got nabbed by the villain, but apparently he did so voluntarily. Does the villain bother only new castoffs or did other castoffs learn how to avoid the villain?
This situation is different from the one TNO faced in PS:T - he was all alone, there were no other guys with the same problem running around in who knows how many numbers, so he couldn't ask them who is after him or how immediate is the threat. But in T:TON you can give other castoffs more dialogue options so that, at the very least, they can tell the protagonist how the heck are they still alive after all this time. Also, I hope the villain shows up regularly later on to remind the protagonist of the main goal.
Last edited by Aramintai on March 10th, 2016, 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by anonymous6059 » March 10th, 2016, 4:30 am

Colin McComb wrote: 1. What was your personal path through Sagus Cliffs?
I think I first made my way into the Underbelly, don't even think I had fully explored all of the market area yet. Then I found mapper and the robot foreman. Before long I was over in the place with the 5th eye. looped back over to the market and explored it fully next. Then went up to the government areas. By this time I had several open end quest to complete so I finally started focusing on the journal which means I started moving all over the place. At first I was so lost in the enjoyment of simply exploring that I just moved around naturally. Later I stated moving with more purpose. I made friends with the Sticha, then went back to the Government and did a quest back at the starting area. Finally found Mikina after knocking out some quest. Which actually took me a while to do, but then again I purposefully don't try and knock out quest too fast. I prefer to sniff the flowers as they say. Sorry if that is confusing but I didn't know there would be a test.
One of my favorite moments was realizing that I could let the humans all die and let the Sticha destroy their homes.
Colin McComb wrote: 2. What were the high moments in the story for you?
I really enjoyed the weird Goo in the 5th eye. I loved the weird alien in the order of truth who was interested in intercourse. When a fight finally happened in the starting area I enjoyed that. Really loved some of the visual effects like the fish fountain. Loved some of the interesting NPCs like don quixote, dharma, or the sad Levy. Some of the interact-able objects, like the giant black obelisk, where very cool. The Eye ball pyramid was neat. I guess my high moments were mostly in just how good the writing was and in how easily I got lost exploring the area. My wife actually commented on how beautiful the air ships looked too, which is saying a lot.
Sadly, the writing and the look of the areas was the only really high moments. The game was lacking in backing me really care for the NPCs or in getting me to feel any real time pressure or urgency to act.
Colin McComb wrote: 3. What were the low ones?
Well obviously the entire tutorial at the beginning. Besides that I really was disappointed meeting Mitkina. She wasn't very pale for one thing. Somehow it bothered me since it was how everyone described her. Then when you meet her she keeps repeating herself. I know that she is supposed to have missing memories too, but its kind of boring. I mean how many times can we really use the same thing over and over? I guess I just expected her to have a strong, powerful, questionably evil purpose. I mean she is supposed to be an "super" assassin right? Instead she is like a handicapped and babbling fool. To top it off it off I think its giving away to much of the plot by letting you mind control tash in the weird dream. The whole thing reminded me of a weird version of the tarot cards from the chronicles of Amber.

Almost all the quest were extremely easy to solve. I mean the one with the sad levy was written so well, but the levy is standing only a few feet away. Samething with finding the rogue sticha. Its in the same area and that's just annoying to me. Nothing really felt difficult to figure out or do. It didn't feel like much of an RPG since the game is trying to handicap all the RPG elements which is a horrible idea.
The game's characters were almost exclusively human looking. WHY??? Planescape Torment was full of all kinds of fascinating creatures. TToN has every alien and mutant look like another person. The defining feature of the Levy is a purple coat, seriously?
Where is the violence, the harlots, and the morbidity? I kind of felt like Planescape was designed by young men. I felt like Tides of Numenera was designed by old men. Planescape was kind of gross, full of nasty guts and fingernails. Every time walked around a corner a harlot was trying to get your attention. What happen? Its like your being forced to maintain a G rating with this game.
Now that I think about it does this game even have blood in it?
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Where is the night/day cycles like in Planescape Torment?
Where is the cool rest animation?
Why didn't Aligern ever once stop to banter with me?
How can the game have THUGS that won't be violent?
Where is the lost love like deionarra?
Where is my quick witted side-kick like Morte?
WHY DOES THE LAST CASTOFF LOOK SO BLAND???
Where is the passion and love? Why is it that Aligern and Callistege hate each other but never actually swear or threaten each other? Its like so PG and uninspiring. I want to see some passion. People need to really feel stuff and have real motives to do things. Why is the Specter so placid and accepting of his place in life? I know I wouldn't be a Jolly Green Specter if I just started existing. I'd be a little upset at my lot in life. Maybe a little green with jealousy?
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Where is the manipulation, trickery, deception?
Well, I could go on and on if you ask me. ;)
Colin McComb wrote: 4. Did you feel your goals were sufficiently clear?
Yes and No. The Journal updates were very good. It explained in detail what I was supposed to be doing if I happen to forget. However, what the overall "goal" of the game is was a bit more confusing. Sure, fix the resonance chamber but why? Why really should I fix it again, just because of some Specter and shadow frags at the beginning? Where are the Shadow Frags later on? If I was actually being assaulted by these Shadow Frags every time I died then maybe I'd be more willing to get rid of them.
Guess what I"m saying is that the beginning of the game is kind of disconnected from the rest of the game. These Shadows never show back up and the feeling of urgency to actually fix the resonance chamber is lacking. I didn't really seem to believe in of it.
Colin McComb wrote: 5. What did you think those goals were, anyway?
For me right off the bat I was feeling strongly that this was similar to what had happen to Corwin in the amber series. I didn't really understand why the resonance chamber was supposed to be so important. I just don't think that its really going to do whatever it is that your told it will do for one thing. The only real overall goal that I guess I felt existed was to uncover who I am, how I got here, and why I seem to still remember so much if in fact I'm just a castoff. Then the goal kind of changes when I discover that I have brothers and sisters. I started wanting to find this Mitkina and see if she knew who I was or what had happen. Then when I found out I could alter her past through tash. That's when I knew knew something had to be up. I'm almost certain now that The Last Castoff is in fact The Changing God. So then I set off to start finding more of these Castoffs at a Necropolis.
The whole deal with the resonance chamber just sat poorly with me. Why would I crash land into it? How could the changing God of actually escaped while I was falling through the air. None of it really made much sense. It seemed like it was done intentionally though. Like I was supposed to be solving a puzzle.


Colin McComb wrote: 6. Is there a way that you think this information could be conveyed more effectively?
PLEASE DON"T!!!! Mystery is good. Please don't make this game easy to understand. Leave things open. Makes things confusing. I want to struggle to understand this game. I don't want you to hand feed me it. I want to speculate and come up with ideas of my own. I want to be verified or blown away when all the pieces land in my lap.
Just think about the Book of the New Sun, that book is so complex, intricate, and down right confusing for me and I love it. I kind of hated it at first to be honest but then I decided to really put the effort into understanding it and its really paying off.
The first time I played Planescape Torment, which was only a few months ago, I seriously struggled as I made my way through the game. Some of the stuff was really hard for me to solve. I think most of it was because it was just such a old game, but not all of it. A large part of it was the fact that the designers didn't try to make it easy.

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****Mr. McComb I just wanted to say thank you for working so hard on this game. *Know* that I only wish to try and help this game be the best it can be by criticizing it. *know* you and all the whole team have put a ton of work into making this game happen and it shows. All my passionate criticism is done only because I'm proud to be backing this project. Good luck.

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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Lord of Riva » March 10th, 2016, 10:10 am

1. What was your personal path through Sagus Cliffs? This shouldn’t include the Labyrinth. :)
circus minor, Government distric, Cliffs edge (partly), underbelly, cliffs edge (rest), Caravanserei.

Some quests lead me into the other areas in between naturally.
2. What were the high moments in the story for you?
Even though the next part is way more detailled i would say this has a very good reason. The quality of the game is really good making it quite fun to engage in nearly every dialogue. That said this also means that there are no real highlights for me. In general i liked the adversary although due to how i interacted with it felt a little short most likely due to tide alignment. The meres are a real cool concept as well although i still fail to grasp somehwat what they actually are in context of the story.
3. What were the low ones?
a) Callistege and Aligerns, argument right at the start. This is actually a theme of the game i mean those two have a history i get that but they worked together (grudgingly) exactly to the point here you show up this feels completely out of place for me. The same is true for the timed events, while i dont mind them in general it feels like Drama is hitting the city as soon as you arrive. Werent the Stichus a problem before? why are the murders starting when you arrive ?etc etc.
i would feel stretching the 3 days time for the quests to different starting points (eg. the murders could start on day two and otherwise behave as they do now) As it feels really unnatural.

b) i still feel the stricha quest is somehwat unclear to me when it comes to lord vuntgen. In general i would like to persuade him to view the issue from a different perspective. It feels like even if you agree with his viewpoint, which kinda boils down to sagus cliff needing enemies so that the citizens dont become decadent and lazy. For that he seemingly wants me to kill a weakened Sticha and fight against the Sticha in the udnerbelly. From my perspective it would make more sense to ensure that the Sticha remain in Sagus cliff though as only then it is assured that the citizens are still in danger and ready to fight (and fear). So while his original agenda is fine, persuading them that supporting the Sticha and maybe take a token kill on the weakened one to show around would be a better approach compared to eradicating them.

EDIT: c) its not completely the narrative but the Tides are totally unclear to me on what they affect, how i influence them and which one i influence.
this may not be the goal of the game but depending on the amount of DIFFERENT swoosh sounds i felt i argumented in dialogues all over the place. And it somewhat felt like i wasnt thinking the same as the writer in a few places which makes some influences certainly unwanted.I had a feeling that indigo, blue and silver were very dominant tides. Blue felt often out of place (if im actually interpreting this correctly as i only have the sounds to analyse this) as naturally in a new world you want to KNOW what is going on, so you ask question and collect information. In this case it does not feel appropriate at all.

It is the player as an entity outside of the game who searches about knowledge which will be the natural stance for most of us i would think and should be differentiated from the search of secrets, knowledge and information of the character we are playing. basically you cannot avoid triggering blue a lot if you actually want to know about the world and only avoid it by being purposefully ignorant of it if you want to avoid it. practically Nobody would play such a text heavy game like this the first time around.

This is what i felt though, i may actually be wrong as the system isnt really clear without a "tide-o-meter" or a tide influence note on asnwers inside the dialogue. i may be alone with this but i would love to see both.

EDIT² d) agh i really dont want to add more into this category but oh well. i will just outright say: i found the Party interactions severely lacking but i hope this is still WIP
4. Did you feel your goals were sufficiently clear?
hmm yeah most of the time, although i had some troubles figuring out how to reach matkina i knew what my goal was but how to achieve it was another matter even more so since i felt i actually had all pieces of clues to achieve this but the game wanted me to do some other specific things. I was told for example that a Hidden way to the hideout exists but i was unable to find it. I had to resolve the Stichus quest first. im unsure if i overlooked it or if it just does not exist.
5. What did you think those goals were, anyway?
thats a bigger issue for me, Repairing the machine is the main goal. So far im not really sure why it is though and also the story brings you step to step seemingly further away from that goal. tumbling along to find matkina and then even leaving Sagus Cliffs im still unsure how that all will falls into place. If that is a strength or a weakness in the narrative remains to be seen.
6. Is there a way that you think this information could be conveyed more effectively?
hrm no, not really. I think im pretty solid when it comes to interpreting and analysing game mechanics but im certainly not as apt when it comes to the narrative of a game. A solution would clearly be to give straight up pointers from totally clear quest text to map markers to a arrow pointing into the right way.

But hell no i dont want that so i guess i leave that to your creative minds :)

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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Firkraag » March 10th, 2016, 3:45 pm

Lord of Riva wrote:Callistege and Aligern, argument right at the start. This is actually a theme of the game i mean those two have a history i get that but they worked together (grudgingly) exactly to the point here you show up this feels completely out of place for me. The same is true for the timed events, while i dont mind them in general it feels like Drama is hitting the city as soon as you arrive. Werent the Stichus a problem before? why are the murders starting when you arrive ?etc etc.
i would feel stretching the 3 days time for the quests to different starting points (eg. the murders could start on day two and otherwise behave as they do now) As it feels really unnatural.
I haven't played Beta (apart of watching others playing first hour), but I want to add upon this.

Sometimes, if used carefully, it can be fixed by adding "Hero of another story" trope: throw in some signs, characters, dialogue lines referensing adventures and troubles, happened before, like it's something frequent in these places. Inform about some hussle happening right now somehwere else, which explains, why protagonist is the one to take all the jobs.

Same with Aligern and Callistege - if they argue, want to split and there is some reason for that, apart from offering different paths/destination points for player character, add some overshadowing - signs of hidden motives, pushing them to take a hold on Castoff or completely different strategies to do so or hints of particular event, that made them distrustful of each other right before game events started.

Some minor edits added.
Last edited by Firkraag on March 11th, 2016, 7:51 pm, edited 14 times in total.
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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Colin McComb » March 11th, 2016, 2:42 pm

Thanks for the feedback so far, folks. This is good stuff. I can't guarantee story changes will make it in, but I'll try to address your concerns if I can.

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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by anonymous6059 » March 12th, 2016, 2:02 pm

Since you seem to be actually taking some interest in us mere mortals. I thought I'd just rant some more. :D See what happens when your nice?

PST was FULL of cut scenes!!!!

I'd love to see Inxile create few interesting cut scenes for this game. Now that you're starting a fully 3D bard's tale 4 I don't see why you couldn't make this happen. Just the kind of 8 second animations that were in Planescape when you entered a new area. Watching the TToN trailers again I realize that Inxile has nothing, not even one simple cut scene. I'm not asking for much here. Just a handful would be great. Its nice to see what the city looks like from above. It really gives you a feel for what the world is like. It doesn't have to be anything amazing really. I know you guys have a tight budget so don't try and make it cutting edge. Here is a link with what I'm talking about from Planescape: https://youtu.be/LXz7sSIpeag?t=5m10s

I'd love to see something like this for the beginning of the game as well. It would be a huge seller as a trailer too. (warning: someone said that the video is NSFW but its just the ending from the movie Crank... So yeah seems safe enough to me.)
https://youtu.be/hBIRhyERkak?t=1m27s

Again I don't know much about making games but if you're preparing to make a 3d game it seems like it wouldn't be too far a stretch to add a few clips.

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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Aramintai » March 12th, 2016, 7:11 pm

anonymous6059 wrote:Since you seem to be actually taking some interest in us mere mortals. I thought I'd just rant some more. :D See what happens when your nice?

PST was FULL of cut scenes!!!!

I'd love to see Inxile create few interesting cut scenes for this game.
I'm not sure they have enough money for cut scenes, apparently they're quite expensive. Pillars of Eternity didn't have any because of budget constraints, but they did have some in-engine cut scenes with nice animations, I hope T:TON will have those as well. Divinity: Original Sin did have some, but they weren't 3D, but rather animated concept art stills. These are games on similar budget and unless InXile have some extra cash stash hidden in some bag of holding just for cut scene purposes I don't see them happening. Not that I don't want them, mind you. I would at least want to see some nice intro cut scene, like the last castoff being thrown out of the moon into space or smth.
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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by anonymous6059 » March 13th, 2016, 5:54 am

Aramintai wrote:
anonymous6059 wrote:Since you seem to be actually taking some interest in us mere mortals. I thought I'd just rant some more. :D See what happens when your nice?

PST was FULL of cut scenes!!!!

I'd love to see Inxile create few interesting cut scenes for this game.
I'm not sure they have enough money for cut scenes, apparently they're quite expensive. Pillars of Eternity didn't have any because of budget constraints, but they did have some in-engine cut scenes with nice animations, I hope T:TON will have those as well. Divinity: Original Sin did have some, but they weren't 3D, but rather animated concept art stills. These are games on similar budget and unless InXile have some extra cash stash hidden in some bag of holding just for cut scene purposes I don't see them happening. Not that I don't want them, mind you. I would at least want to see some nice intro cut scene, like the last castoff being thrown out of the moon into space or smth.
Again I don't know anything about making cut scenes or video games, but they have already started using Unreal Engine 4 to make promotional videos for Bard's tale 4. If they could do that then what is so hard about making a few cut scenes for this game? If they treat Bard's tale like they did this game they won't even really start working on the graphics end of the game for several more months. They are still doing a lot of the script writing, concept art, and whatever else first. Inxile is trying to keep a full team working on one game after another. I'm just asking that they use a little of those Bard's tale resources to make a whole 50 seconds of video total. Just a few panoramas of what the environments look like.

I mean just watch this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rsIHFmMd_g
Why in the world would they spend x number of dollars to create a promotional video for that game but nothing for the game they are supposed to be working on? I want these guys to make it. I'm just trying to give a friendly nudge to them. They won't be able to keep things running if they don't really try and capture the legacy that they dared to achieve.

All I want is for them to reproduce as much of what was in Planescape Torment as they can. If it doesn't happen fine. I just think its better to ask for more then less. If we don't demand a certain level of quality they will pinch every penny they can.

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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by anonymous6059 » March 13th, 2016, 6:12 am

Let's toss McComb from the Stratosphere. NEW TIER!!!!

I remember seeing somewhere that when they made Wastelands 2 they actually flew some of the staff out to different locations. They did some, what's it called, principle photography...I think.

Anyway, if they can't manage to make some cutscenes using a engine we should petition to make Mr. McComb space jump for the game. Strap some GoPro device to his head a throw him out of a satellite (with a parachute guys). Then they could use that footage to make a video for the game.

https://youtu.be/ZyIVaZXDhho?t=2m57s
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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Lord of Riva » March 13th, 2016, 6:25 am

anonymous6059 wrote: Again I don't know anything about making cut scenes or video games, but they have already started using Unreal Engine 4 to make promotional videos for Bard's tale 4. If they could do that then what is so hard about making a few cut scenes for this game? If they treat Bard's tale like they did this game they won't even really start working on the graphics end of the game for several more months. They are still doing a lot of the script writing, concept art, and whatever else first. Inxile is trying to keep a full team working on one game after another. I'm just asking that they use a little of those Bard's tale resources to make a whole 50 seconds of video total. Just a few panoramas of what the environments look like.
without meaning that negatively because its completely okay to not know things about game development, it shows that you do not have Knowledge of it. BT4 will be made in the Unreal engine that is correct but Torment is made in the Unity engine you cant just switch things over, well you probably can to some extent but that would take loads of work for practically no benefit at all.
I mean just watch this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rsIHFmMd_g
its not a promotional video in the classical sense its a in-engine trailer and i totally agree that it looks disgustingly good but that does not change the fact that Torment will be done vastly different . Just think about a different style with some exceptions animated movies dont mix too well with Real-life footage, its the same here.

Sure i wouldnt mind cutscenes in the game but having in-engine cut scenes (only in torments current style compared to the BT4 trailer) work as well for me. From a design standpoint i actually also prefer cutscenes made out of Artworks instead of real videos as well but that is certainly a taste thing.

I dont even want to tackle on the cost (there im also not too knowledgable) but making fully rendered cutscenes cost a LOT of money, believe me. With a Budget like torment i wouldnt expect anything in that regard.
All I want is for them to reproduce as much of what was in Planescape Torment as they can. If it doesn't happen fine. I just think its better to ask for more then less. If we don't demand a certain level of quality they will pinch every penny they can.
i have to say, and thats always a topic when it comes to "spiritual successors", i personally thing that tomrent can stand on its own without its predecessor, the pointer with "Torment" shows that it tries to imititate certain aspects of its predecessor and it shows the target group was the product is about and for that they have dobne a great Job so far.

What these aspects are though is completely up in the air (not completely in this case they have talked about what this means for them in all the update and even the original KS pitch). i dont want to ridicule your opinion but i want to say that i find it strange which things you find important in PST and thus which things you want to see in TTON. Both combat as much as cutscenes are the least enjoyable aspect of PST and i would guess that most people that love PST think the same.

im not telling you to not Voice your opinion but i think you will have trouble finding people agreeing with you.

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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by anonymous6059 » March 13th, 2016, 6:37 am

Lord of Riva wrote:
anonymous6059 wrote: Again I don't know anything about making cut scenes or video games, but they have already started using Unreal Engine 4 to make promotional videos for Bard's tale 4. If they could do that then what is so hard about making a few cut scenes for this game? If they treat Bard's tale like they did this game they won't even really start working on the graphics end of the game for several more months. They are still doing a lot of the script writing, concept art, and whatever else first. Inxile is trying to keep a full team working on one game after another. I'm just asking that they use a little of those Bard's tale resources to make a whole 50 seconds of video total. Just a few panoramas of what the environments look like.
without meaning that negatively because its completely okay to not know things about game development, it shows that you do not have Knowledge of it. BT4 will be made in the Unreal engine that is correct but Torment is made in the Unity engine you cant just switch things over, well you probably can to some extent but that would take loads of work for practically no benefit at all.
Still, can't you just use the Unreal engine to make the cut scene, which they already have a licence since they made a trailer for bt4, and save it as a video file? I doubt the cut scenes from PST were made with the infinity engine. Just because you can't make cut scenes with unity doesn't mean its an good excuse not to have them. They've already payed for having the Unreal Engine 4 with the money from TToN I'm guessing.... So why didn't they make the cut scenes when they made the trailer? Wastelands 2 used real people for cut scenes and I thought that was pretty good. I know that this stuff doesn't make up the backbone of the game, but its the kind of bells and whistles that people come to remember. https://youtu.be/t_15WbBT-5w?t=1m4s So if they made it happen for Wastelands 2 they can make it happen for this game as well.

If they paid to make a trailer, basically a huge cut scene, then what's stopping cut scenes in this game?
Lord of Riva wrote: What these aspects are though is completely up in the air (not completely in this case they have talked about what this means for them in all the update and even the original KS pitch). i dont want to ridicule your opinion but i want to say that i find it strange which things you find important in PST and thus which things you want to see in TTON. Both combat as much as cutscenes are the least enjoyable aspect of PST and i would guess that most people that love PST think the same.

im not telling you to not Voice your opinion but i think you will have trouble finding people agreeing with you.
I'll agree that I don't seem to be in a majority here. I didn't enjoy combat in PST though, but that doesn't mean I think it should be tossed out the window. I never thought the cut scenes were amazing in PST, but I still enjoyed them. I Still enjoy those things and now that they've gotten the first pass done with the basic story and writing done I'm just saying that they should add in a few frills. Spice things up a bit and make things a little more colorful. I never said these things were important to me. They are the optional extras that I'd like to see happen though.

Point was that Mr. McComb wanted to know what those of us who played the Beta thought. I felt that while the writing was very good lots of other areas were lacking. I've gone to great lengths to try and list all the changes they could try to make. I don't really care if anyone else agrees or not. Ultimately, it will be Inxile that decides what they think is worth changing or not. If just one of my thoughts were useful then I'll be happy. If none of them are liked well then that's alright too. World would be boring if everyone thought the way I did.

Here look at these two trailers and you tell me which of the two seems to be getting the love.

TToN- with almost nothing but concept art for a trailer and remember this was made after 3 years of work. They spend the first half just trying to associate with other games instead of showing you anything. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VH9sS00tIho

Bt4- Made on the spot for a game they haven't even started making. Comes with great Celtic music, extremely well made special effects, They don't even mention BARD"S TALE 1-3 do they? I wonder why that would be... Maybe because they know this trailer stands on its own. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rsIHFmMd_g

Its just giving me the feeling that they don't really care about this game's success.
To me its pretty clear where all the funding has gone.
TToN almost seems to be the Ugly Step child they want to forget making.

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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Lord of Riva » March 13th, 2016, 10:23 am

while i wouldnt mind answering your post i feel we already stretched the purpose of the thread with the two Walls of text before. If you want to continue this debate i would suggest asking a moderator to remove this and put it into a seperate topic so we can freely discuss. If we continue we would cluster the thread further and make it harder for Mr. MCcomb to find the feedback he searches for.

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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by vv221 » March 14th, 2016, 1:56 am

If both of you anonymous6059 and Lord of Riva are okay with this, I can split this thread into another one from this post, so you (and anyone interested) can discuss further the topic of cutscenes in Torment.

I’ll leave in this thread a link to the new one in order to give it some extra visibility.

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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Amaranth » March 21st, 2016, 3:43 pm

Just finished the early access. I'm in the mood to give feedback, and since someone was careless enough to ask for it... Sorry in advance for the long rambling.

I think the goal is fixing the resonance chamber to stop the Sorrow. Although I'm not sure how that will work. I don't like the sound of "the catalyst" and the look of those unpleasant sharp objects. We already established that your body can't be enhanced enough to stop the Sorrow, so what will that chamber do? Give you powers? (I've got the word of Qra, I don't need more powers.) Will I just get tortured and sacrificed to lure the Sorrow in, then the device will smash it to bits with all five tides (and me as well)? Sounds fishy. Nope.

My personal goal is a bit different. I want to collect all the memories, become greater than my sire, and make all the sentients worship me instead. Then maybe someone will actually stand between me and the Sorrow at the end. (Not that it will slow it down, but it's the thought that counts)

I'm not sure that the chamber is such a good idea, actually. (those sharp-looking objects...are they going to go into my body?) Of course, it's important to learn from my sire, but there's no need to blindly copy him. It's better to destroy the root cause of the Sorrow. Just to make it clear, if it means sacrificing me, then I'll pass. I want to live forever. And no patricide either, I won't take part in that.

My companions always know what to do next, which is nice. I wish they'd tell me what to do about some other quests. Got profoundly confused with the egg quest and the murder quest. Here's how it went down.

I went looking for Matkina, was sent to Fulsome, who sent me to the Mapper, who sent me to the Sticha, who told me to solve the egg problem.

At this point I already know that the murder quest is timed. So I need to pull it off, all of this, in a single day. All right, no problem, I can do this. I've got ciphers!

Saw the option to solve the issue by using persuasion and didn't really like it. Just one line of text? I'll be missing out on a tons of content. Early access doesn't have that much content to begin with.

Decided to kidnap the eggs. No problem, I can still do it all in a day. Even if I fight.

Built the construct (delicious irony, the one who didn't want to inconvenience its broodmates becomes the instrument that brings about their downfall, here's another vote against self-sacrifice), dug into the tunnel, fight started. Hmm there are devices that captivate them. Maybe I'm supposed to steal the eggs and leave adults alive. Proceeded with this plan, teammates are great at stealing eggs, made it to the Sanctuary. Went back, and those guys are still here! They attack me. Killed them all, went back to the Underbelly. Game stops and won't load the next screen. No matter what, it won't proceed any further.

Reload.

Enter the tunnel again, but this time I'm gonna kill them all before stealing eggs. Done so, and suddenly I can't select my teammates any longer. Can't save either. Tried to steal eggs on my own, failed and smashed them.

Reload.

Forget the kidnapping. It's more trouble than its worth. Chose the persuade option. Stichus tells me they will starve. How nice. Report to the city representative, who is pissed because no eggs. Basically everyone is pissed at me. Well. I'm starting to get pissed as well. I'm working hard here. Or at least the Last Castoff does. No appreciation. Whatever, I got what I wanted.

Enter the tunnel. Then the Sanctuary. Return to the tunnel. The Sticha are gone, but they will still comment and warn you when you try to open the doors! Whatever, ignoring minor glitches - ooooh, what is this? How could I not notice this huge statue before? Wonder what it does! But the invisible Sticha won't let me touch it! Whatever, moving on, moving on, I'm not curious about the statue. I don't want to do the entire reload thing again, it takes ages.

Went back to the Mapper. Saw the option to ask him where there's a good site for the Sticha to dig!

Why, why didn't I see it before?! How was I supposed to know to ask him? Now they don't have to starve!

Reload.

Ask the Mapper for the good location for the Sticha, persuade the Stichus, report back to the representative. The city is pissed, because no eggs (you were just going to sell them anyway!) But the Stichus is happy with me. That's something, I suppose. And it calls me egg friend, which is weird, because I rather expected to be remembered as the person who kicked the Sticha out. Something is off here.

They ARE going to leave, right? RIGHT? I mean, if humans are not sentient, then there's no shame in fooling them. And what are they doing here, anyway? It's not the best place, but they stick in here for ages, making the buildings fall, and the Mapper said there's no reason for them to be here unless they're lazy.

Now I'm starting to have second thoughts. I'm not sure it's a good thing to have these little diggers happy. They're undermining the city, after all, and probably on purpose (that outcast Stichus was mysteriously silent on the subject). Not that I like this city (Levies... executions... children trafficking... and they have an infinite source of meat but people are still starving), but I kinda feel responsible. From what I understand, my sire did a complex time-wrapping trick to save this city before, and it was a lot more trouble than my mucking about with the eggs. I'd feel bad if I ruin his efforts.

This is kinda important, and none of my companions will advise me what to do here. I guess they don't care and just want to hit the road as soon as possible. But I can't go anywhere, because early access. This is the only adventure we're going to have together, guys, look alive! Frustration.

But let's finally go and find that elusive Matkina. She tells me about a splinter cult, and I'm told to question the suspects and look for falsehoods.

Speaking of Matkina, once you talk to her about everything, she also can't wait to get out of this city. Every time I talk to her afterwards she directs me to that one place for answers, and it sounds like "go to hell" or "google it". Quite dismissive of her. Especially since I can't leave! Guys, stop and smell the roses for me.

Hold on. Hold on, Dendra O'hur was here all the time. Are you telling me that I could've gone there without looking for Matkina? And that I didn't have to do it all in a single day?!

No matter, I'm sure the knowledge of the splinter cult will come in useful.

Here the things get a bit confusing. Maybe I'm stupid, but after questioning them all, I still have no solid evidence, and I have no idea what falsehoods are those. One of them feels more suspicious than the others, so I point at her, and here it becomes even more confusing.

You're not asked to present any evidence. And I really want to see that evidence, because I only have vague suspicions like her thinking that she doesn't belong, and looking blank when asked about the cult, and becoming defensive when asked about eating alone, and she deflects suspicion, and she's got something on her mind. But let's face it, it's not solid evidence, and if she's acting weird, so what? They're all weird.

I mean, come on. They're cannibals. Plus, they've got their minds completely messed up by all those memories they consume. Who knows what's normal for them? So I'm probably missing some solid facts, and since I hope that my character is smarter than me, I want him to outline all those facts neatly. Because I still don't understand how the cult who draws the blood circle is connected. But it looks like you can just pick one of the suspects at random, without proving anything, and if she runs, then she's guilty.

I'm not sure that's a good enough proof. If I knew that Fulsome was coming to question me, I'd run as well. Nobody else got murdered afterwards, but that's not a proof either. The culprit is probably lying low and waiting for me to leave the city before unleashing the carnage. At this point I'm half certain that I picked an innocent.

There's another quest like this where you're asked to find out the astral projection, and not asked for your reasoning. You're even told that you probably picked at random. But at least that time you're told right away if you're right. And in that case, there's pretty good evidence. I don't think you should be allowed to even choose until you've got evidence to accuse someone. Also I prefer the correct answer to be a bit longer than the others. Makes you feel that you dug in pretty deep.

Did I actually accuse the innocent person? The only way to find out is to reload and accuse someone else, but I don't want to see the failure outcomes... I am weak.

High moments:

Lugum Vo, the uncooperative intelligence. I even remembered its name. Please use no caution whatsoever, haha. So sad it got shuttered down.

Aligern and Callistege arguing before they joined me. They bicker like a married couple.

Tybir is a lot of fun. I really enjoyed messing with his mind by calling him a good friend. That obviously hurt. I hope there will be more options later on to call him reliable and trustworthy, just to make him suffer.

Also, when he meets his friend in the Underbelly, who promptly shouts that he's eager to join in his crimes. His reaction was absolutely hilarious. "Always joking, and so loudly!" And that guy replies that he sits around all day, thinking of ways how he could be more honest - that was priceless. The whole exchange was gold.

Aligern is tons of fun. It's hilarious to play with him. I keep saying that I'm not the Changing God, while casually doing something that only the Changing God could pull off. He's already a mess, and I hope I'll get to confuse him even further.

I wonder what he hopes for, that I am or that I'm not? What difference does it make anyway, with this body and access to the prior memories I'm as good as my sire. Hey, I'm better. I wish Aligern would just spit it out what he wants from me. I owe him anyway for trying to stop my fall. A mortal like him, chained by a conscience, can't hope to force me to do anything I don't want.

It's fun when Aligern plays around with those drones so casually while they're trying to saw his arms off, and he's got nothing but that bit of information from his friend to back him up. (And Callistege called him not daring. He's pretty daring for a mortal.)

I'm hoping to be able to change my companions' opinion of the Last Castoff from distrust to devotion. I like the change. Also hoping for more companions quests and conversations in the future.

The Aeon priest who wanted me to teleport that nyth- um, that tentacled creature out of the cage. He's uber emotional and melodramatic, feels like he's really invested into what he's doing.

Waking up from being dead to discover that I'm about to get eaten! That's refreshing.

Speaking of which, discovering all the unusual ways you could die is fun too. Especially when people react on your return.

That cube that shows you pictures when you ask questions. Even if it's useless, it's oddly charming. Too bad it overheated. I pestered it too much.

That visitant in the Order of Truth is actually good for something! That came as a surprise.Thanks for saving my brain, fellow sentient.

The music book was fun. I like interactable objects. Also, the mirror in the sanctuary.

Discovering my past. Anamnesis is pretty interesting. Those memories are sometimes immediately useful, but I also wish I could use them later, in less obvious ways, or piece them together like a puzzle. I wish they were recorded in the journal, like pieces of the grander quest, and when you fill in all the pieces, you could become whole.

There's a promise of repairing the damage your sire or siblings caused, which sounds pretty interesting. I don't think I discovered any opportunities to do it so far.

Those guys who got trapped while scavenging and ate their dead companion. They wouldn't meet my eyes. Awkward. I held the door for them as they left.

Memovira's scavengers in MY. DOME. Poking around, looking at the cables connected to the machine! Going to cause further damage! KILL THEM ALL.

And none of the companions even noted the danger! What's the point of even trying to fix the chamber when scavengers are going to pick it clean for parts! My living crystals!

I must say, this is the first time I felt motivated to do something. I need someone to patch up that hole in the dome so that nobody can get in. If I fly off somewhere, bet there will be nothing left to fix when I return! I need to talk to Memovira, I have BUSINESS to discuss with her! Let me through! I want to tell her to stay AWAY from my quarters if she wants to LIVE.

You're not going to let me through, are you? Is it because I'm missing another entrance, or because of limited content? I guess I'll never know.

The Adversary. He's better than the Sorrow because I got to confront him directly. Kinda makes me wish that the Sorrow were less deadly and more present. I bet it's only going to show up at the end. I bet it can't even talk. It's probably on my sire's trail right now. Sucks when your enemies aren't even yours.

"Let us evaluate your compatibility" - absolutely chilling! No, I don't want to date a hive mind empire! Let us not be compatible, haha.

"When you open your eyes, Malaise is gone" - noooo, don't go. You're the only good enemy I've had so far. Challenging, too. Come back, I'll miss you!

The artificial eye. "PLOK." awesome

Helping the outcast Stichus was kinda heartwarming.

"Captain Tybir is under my protection. Do you want to face the wrath of the Changing God?" - the crowning moment of awesome. My character isn't even bluffing when he's saying that line. Hey, those guys can run pretty fast. I'm so happy that I got to meet them before I hit the content limit. I was really looking forward to them showing up. It's good to play a protector. (I think Aligern was supposed to meet a friend of his as well, but it's probably got cut with other content, much sorrow.)

Also, Ris's reply is hilarious. The Changing God is ten feet tall? (Pretty sure that he looks exactly like me.) And what else, does he breathe fire?

Sad that none of my companions reacted to me impersonating the Changing God here. I expected Aligern to say this confirms his suspicions, and Matkina to give me an unimpressed look, and Tybir to be grateful of course, and maybe even impressed. But still it was a high note conclusion.

Low moments:

Aligern and Callistege splitting up. Well. Not so much a low moment as a very unpleasant surprise. I expected the entire game to continue like it began, with them bickering all the way and commenting on everything. It got awfully quiet after they split.

It felt like they've been together for ages, and they got used to each other's personalities long ago. I couldn't believe they'd split over something as minor as this, especially since no harm was done. But at least I got foreshadowing with their thoughts, and they explained their reasons, and I got to choose which one to keep.

But still, I got that vibe "we've been through hell together and know everything about each other, and nothing could break us apart" from them. I feel that it's my fault somehow. Maybe that burst of energy I emitted hurt their brains or something. Reloaded a few times with different choices, but they always split. Guess you can't have two nanos. New companions don't really talk to each other. Well, they rarely talk at all.

The Specter. He's too flippant, too cool, too invulnerable, and he orders me around, dismissive of me. It's like he's bored. The faulty Levy showed more emotion, was more eager to talk to me and more desperate for my help than my supposedly other self.

I wasn't really emotionally connected to the city and its inhabitants. Lots of conversations are pure exposition. PS:T was also this way. Not its strongest point, in my opinion.

The fall was pretty awesome! Maybe because it's voiced too. But after it - for some reason I never felt the horror of the Sorrow and the urgency to escape it. Malaise got more up-close and personal with me, and had a better chance to destroy me. He showed more interest in me too (and not in my sire). Bet the Adversary is pretty powerful, I'm sure a little resonance chamber can't stop it. Plus, I know the Adversary better than the Sorrow. I want Malaise as my recurring sub-antagonist.

I don't understand what tides are for. How they affect the gameplay is unclear. I know they keep you alive. And you can use tidal surge (which is usually making things much, much worse. I think I once accidentally strangled billions under despotic rule with one tidal surge, oops. And why did I feel so bad after trying it on the sad Levy. and what's up with that guy you can force to tell about himself, I think I did something horrible and made him disappear) But if there's some other use for the tides, I missed it.

Hmm this isn't really a high note conclusion. Hey, I hope that Ris guy shows up again later in the game! With a bigger and stronger force next time. And then, once again, I can send his friends away with a few words without even lifting a finger. Imagine his frustration. If he's really driven, he can earn lots of money and hire an army to confront me with before the end of the game. Three is a charm, right? Of course, by then I'll become quite a power myself. And then, once again, I can scatter his people like leaves with nothing but a frown. Then I could really drive that Ris guy into insane obsession - wait, I got carried away.

I meant to say, it's good to see familiar faces, especially when they remind me of my power - I mean, my beginnings. I hope Ris becomes recurring.

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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by GavinJF » March 21st, 2016, 5:28 pm

Man, thank you for all this feedback. Awesome.

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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Anaeme » March 22nd, 2016, 11:19 pm

@Amaranth

You forgot the Tabaht General...you should speak to him

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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Homer Morisson » June 15th, 2016, 1:00 pm

Colin McComb wrote:Hello, assembled humans and other non-human-sentients!

I’m curious about your experience with the narrative path of the game. Any answers you give will be incredibly helpful in fine-tuning the story experience. I promise your critique won’t hurt my feelings, so don’t be afraid to be honest - just don’t, you know, be a jerk about it.

Specifically:
1. What was your personal path through Sagus Cliffs? This shouldn’t include the Labyrinth. :)
2. What were the high moments in the story for you?
3. What were the low ones?
4. Did you feel your goals were sufficiently clear?
5. What did you think those goals were, anyway?
6. Is there a way that you think this information could be conveyed more effectively?

I’m sure it goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: We all appreciate your constructive feedback, your suggestions, and… well, you.

Thanks!

-Colin
Hey there Colin!
Here's my feedback so far from two seperate runs with the current "Free for all Backers"-beta build:


Disclaimer: I have so far not yet followed the narrative path farther than to the Caravanserai and learning what Matkina had to say about the Castoff Sanctuary - as my first and most comprehensive playthrough is currently suffering from the "Cliff's Edge"-bug, I couldn't progress any further but would prefer to complete it for the first time with this character, party setup and decisions from quests since the second playthrough was a pure bug hunting/actual beta testing affair so far, i.e. intentionally choosing less attractive ways to solve quests simply to see if they work or if they had hidden bugs along the path previously not chosen.

ad 1) First Playthrough
(Areas in order of first visit)
  • Reef -> explored every nook and cranny, interacted with every possible hook, obtained all optional items and weapons, died twice at the obelisk for the heck of it, killed Qorro and Gang and successfully defused his device;
  • Circus Minor (CM) -> went straight to the Cult of the Changing God, completed their substory first, convincing them that I am indeed the Changing God himself; Rest of CM completely explored, every named NPC spoken to, every quest accepted, so far as possible every CM only quest solved before moving on to the
  • Government District -> explored the area, shopped at the vendor in the middle of the plaza, examined the curious fountain, talked to every named NPC and interacted with all possible hooks, then moved on to the
  • Underbelly -> spoken to the Underforeman, first time reading about Tidal Surge/Tidal Affinity, wondering how to obtain this - Searching the whole Underbelly fruitlessly for an answer, taking to the forums and after having been provided with the answer tried to move to Cliff's Edge but encountered the current "Once rested, Cliff's Edge won't load anymore"-bug - Returned to the Underbelly, spoken to all named NPCs, accepted all quests and finished them where possible - Learned Stichus language, intimidated them into burrying deeper to avoid war with humans, became Egg-Friend after getting rid of the fishy (SCNR) envoy the Council sent - Recruited Matkina successfully and pursued all available dialogue options for/with her;
  • Temple of Truth via Government Square -> spoken to all named NPCs, laughed at the sulking crybaby Beleazar, got temporarily stuck on the Orb-riddle but eventually solved it thanks to a helpful hint from the community, kicked Aligern from the party after about 13 hours of play time to invite Calistege and exhaust her dialogue options completely - upon trying to return to Circus Minor discovered a new blocker bug, reported said bug to Eric who seemed rather happy about catching a completely new one and subsequently kicked Calistege again to re-invite Aligern to work around said blocker bug.
  • Caravanserai -> explored the entire area including the apparently bugged blue dome that can be reached via Matkinas Cave and scaling the cliffs (nothing happens upon left-clicking the dome), spoke to every named NPC, accepted all available quests and realised that I was now completely stuck due to being unable to enter Cliff's Edge (where the Airship thief can be found that is needed to progress further along the narrative path.
Second Playthrough
  • Reef -> see above
  • Circus Minor -> immediately picked up the quest from Tol Maguur concerning Rhin and headed straight for
  • Cliff's Edge -> explored the entire area, spoken to every named NPC, accepted all quests and solved those immediately possible except for the quest from Mother, decided to pursue this further by first speaking to Crooked Qeek before making a decision - successfully recruited the companions in Cliff's Edge - immediately returned to
  • Circus Minor -> went straight to Tol Maguur to learn Tidal Affinity/Tidal Surge, was supremely disappointed that this essential and to my mind signature skill/ability can not be learned some way when deciding to kill (or rather hopefully kill) Tol Maguur - loaded earlier save and grudgingly let her live just for the sake of obtaining Tidal Affinity and -Surge (this should definitely happen some other way in the final iteration and not be tied to a certain way of solving a single side quest);
  • Rest see above up until Caravanserai -> again explored the entire area, spoken to nearly all named NPCs, haven't approached the Airship captain yet to reveal the thief.
ad 2) High Moments of the Story?
  • Using the Merecaster during the Matkina plot and rewriting reality through the power of my will alone;
  • The Fall(!), due to awesome voice acting/remixing and really immersive and atmospheric writing;
  • Encountering Rhin and learning the first bits of her back story;
  • Finally learning Tidal Surge and using it where possible (I consider this to be part of the story, since it revolves in part around "my" LC and how he grows, what he is capable of and how he uses his skills);
  • Encountering several intriguing companions;
  • Perfoming feats that even other Castoffs deem radical (see first point about the Mere of Tash for instance) and getting the feeling that my LC could indeed be the Changing God with Amnesia™ resulting from the presumed encounter with the Sorrow on the "moon", or at the very least a new breed of Castoff that has the potential to rival the power of the Changing God in due time.
  • Discovering just how lovingly immersive and relevant for the history/lore fluff of the locations/societies/worlds the Anamnesia skill has been designed - too often such skills are at best "nice to have" but not really relevant in any kind of way, but with TToN I genuinely enjoyed each and every occasion that triggered Anamnesia!
ad 3) Low Moments?
  • Learning that I am forced to solve a quest a certain way to learn a (again: to me at least) essential and signature skill - please(!) rework this so Tidal Affinity/-Surge can be aquired through a dedicated quest/event like the current Focus quest, i.e. such a quest that you'll definitely get it upon completition;
  • Learning that there used to be a (again²: to me at least) much, much, much better tutorial/introductory part in the earlier beta builds, which only served to emphasize my impression of the current tutorial being rather generic and stale apart from the really nice voice acting/scene setting at the very beginning;
  • For the first playthrough only: Seeing greyed out and awesome sounding dialogue choices requiring Tidal Surge without having any clue or hint as to how this particular skill could be acquired - this definitely needs a complete do-over, so that unavailable dialogue options aren't even shown, since if they are I always feel like missing out on something - sometimes ignorance is indeed bliss;
  • Being forced to reveal the location of the Changing God's Sanctum/Refuge to Mapper, would have much preferred to keep this a secret that only I and my companions know about.
ad 4) Clear goals or confusion all around?
  • Main Story -> Always crystal clear, since usually multiple NPCs provided clues as to who could help with the current issue (i.e. multiple NPCs in the Underbelly pointing at Mapper while searching for a way to reach Matkina);
  • Sub/Side Stories -> Mostly clear enough, with the huge exception of how to obtain the Tidal Affinity/-Surge Ability/Skill... the game literally gives no clue whatsoever in the current build on how to obtain those.
ad 5) What would I say the actual goals were?
  • Overarching goal of the entire plot -> Finding a way to defeat the Sorrow once and for all;
  • Immediate goals for First Act -> Restoring one's mind and as a first step towards the overarching goal getting rid of all Sorrow fragments still hidden there - thus the need to restore the crystal chamber/resonator device as it promises a solution or tool to achieve both the immediate goal, as well as the long-term overarching goal;
  • Secondary(-ish) goals -> Discovering the truth about oneself, why one is able to do things even other Castoffs find unbelieveable, if one might truly be the Changing God himself or an entirely new breed of Castoff, wether the Last Castoff is actually meant literally and thus if one might be the epitome of the Changing God's vessel designs.
ad 6) Ways to convey information more effectively?
  • Synopsis! -> As you can see from my earlier feedback, on the whole I feel that the writing so far is pretty good and information is delivered clearly and precisely enough not to get lost when playing regularly; I do however see the risk of impending confusion and at worst even frustration when having to take an extended period of abstinence from playing for whatever reason - adding an auto-updating Synopsis section to the Journal with a summarized breakdown of the story so far would help prevent or even avoid this completely;
  • More Voice Acting for plot-critical dialogue -> I do not know if this isn't planned anyway for the final iteration of the game, or if this is simply out of budget, so in the spirit of providing comprehensive feedback (you asked for it!) I put this on the list as well - this would serve two purposes actually: there are several different variations of how a person processes information/learns most efficiently, one of which is the auditory learner, who would benefit most decisively from not having to read constantly but being able to listen at least to truly plot-critical dialogue. The second benefit would be for all players equally, since with this system they'd instantly know that this dialogue is very critical indeed, since it's being voice-acted.
There you have it, old boy! Huzzah!
Last edited by Homer Morisson on June 15th, 2016, 2:37 pm, edited 10 times in total.
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Rink
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Joined: April 9th, 2012, 11:40 am

Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Rink » June 15th, 2016, 1:14 pm

I am not an english native speaker. English is my third language, so please excuse me for any mistakes.

I finished the beta yesterday and it took me about 20 hours to do so. I must have turned every stone and spoke to every character several times etc. I don't think I have ever played a betaversion of any game like this before and I haven’t played full games like this in a long time.
I surely didn't expect much of the game, even though I did have high hopes. But let's start at the beginning..

I started out a bit confused and overwhelmed by the excellent intro and the complex character generation afterwards, it felt nostalgic too though, because 17 years ago I felt the same complexity of the character generation in Baldur's Gate and had to read the whole manual first.
The game made it easy for me though for the character I wanted to play, because it doesn't separate between intelligence, wisdom and charisma (skills I would otherwise all want to be rather high) and I had the impression it wouldn't hurt to throw strength under the bus.

The city was explored on the following "path": Circus Minor, Government District, Caravanserei, Cliffs Edge, Underbelly. I didn’t really choose my path; I was more or less tumbling from one npc to the next and not really following the main story. I didn't fix the clock until 10 hours into the game. Yes, I am sorry that your cult had to wait, but when I saw a npc standing around, I just had to ask him about his life and then there was a beggar standing on next corner desperate for attention and then there was a monk and a weird construct I had to go and touch...
In a way I did a full regression into the eyes of a child, I wanted to know every person in this city, just because they all were so original, so well written, so "new". And it never got too much, so the writers were never so proud of one idea that they went on it for too long. If one idea didn't appeal to me, then I would just find something new and original in the next piece of dirt I stumbled upon.
It struck a nerve in me, it fascinated me and when I found out that the map loops around, I felt a sting of disappointment because it reminded me of the finiteness of this experience. That it will not go on and on forever, but will have its limits as well and one day would just repeat on and on things I already know and shut me out of this experience, leaving me hungry and desperate and making me wait another 15 years for a tribute to the tribute that really surpassed the borders in creative storytelling…
It didn't shut me out for another 15 hours, as I started to do the quests, explored the places I had missed, traveling through this exciting world anew and finding new conversation topics through quests and skills that were hidden before, trying new ways to solve the puzzles and when I finally accepted the finiteness of the beta by accepting the black screen "this is the end of the beta" in a ritualistic manner before closing the game, I found myself happy and grateful.
Because this game is awesome.
It is terrific.
It will be a masterpiece. (Subjectively. For me.)

2. What were the high moments for me? The intro was superb. Falling from such a high place that I didn't really had to worry about splatting into the ground for a long time.
Then surely the two book-keepers. I was very disappointed when Falindas sarcastic remarks were at an end. I would have loved to take Falinda with me on the journey and see her react to the world and the world to her descriptions that would make people blush, draw their weapons and open their mouths (for good or for bad).
I liked the idea of the way executions work and how this motivates Tybir to do things that he otherwise wouldn't be capable of. The crippled foreman was very interesting to me as well and the different ways you are able to solve it (my intelligence-pool suffered on this one; wanted them to be able to communicate). The story about the "house of empty time" and the children and Rhin was very nice. Rhin is an interesting character anyway because you know she is useless and I personally think she will never really be good enough in the game (would actually be kind of sad if she would one day become great), but when I tried to let her go (and I did, tried two ways) it broke my heart and I couldn’t send her away. It may be weird that I like it that you guys gave me a dilemma that I cannot solve but … well… in a way that's what I am into.
I also liked the fifth eye with all its content and quests (yea, ALL of it).
The idea of the labyrinth in the mind and how the world affects it was very appealing to me and also how "player-death" is painted into that. I will love to see more of it. I would have liked to have even more secrets built into it, because it's your mind. You could have the children of the crippled foreman fly by when you visit the next time, people that you killed standing there accusing you (like the guy I took his final year for his Levy) etc. Some quest and how you solved them could reappear in your mind, filling you with doubt if the ways you handled them were "right", selfless, adequate. As long as it happens in your mind there are no "limits" of reality, so people that are alive could accuse you of killing them (like the guys in the fifth eye when recruiting them, the slavers friends when taking the girl, the children that could die because of the falling houses etc.).
In a way every moment is a great moment due to the games creativity and quality of writing.

3. Things that could be improved on (I love this game a lot, and to be clear for me it is a superb game, even if none of those gets changed):
  1. I had the impression that there weren't enough remarks from the party-members to things I did. When I lie to people or deceive them, my party could object to it, or they could join in the conversation more often, people could react on them or they could talk to each other, bitch about things, have different opinions (if Levys are good or bad, what drink they prefer, what beggar went to school with them etc). The only way to get to know the people you travel with, is to talk to them yourself. That's not how traveling with people works. If I fish for the beggar in the underbelly and then just take my find for myself, then Aligern could show pity and give her a few shins to make up for your action, while Tybir would probably note that she seems so hungry that she would probably have eaten the cypher anyway and you saved her life by taking it etc. Some people could object when I have a dirty girl with me or think that I am responsible for her headwound and am abusing the child, they might know Tybir for stealing, etc. I know this makes it even more complicated than it already is, but it would be very nice to give the characters you travel with more depth. They are well written, but they do not react to your actions and the world doesn't react to them enough to get to know them and get a different experience of the world by traveling with a different party. Plus it would open doors for even more humor, weird situations and sarcasm. And who doesn't want that to happen.
  2. "again". In my opinion it is overused. I would have cut the ones from the game that do not give new information, sarcastic remarks, humor etc. because it is kind of the fun to see "progress" when talking to someone in a sense of your options changing and getting fewer. It is fun in places where the person does get "snappy", sarcastic (like people in real life would if you just repeat your question after they already answered it) but in many cases the answer is a condensed version of what they already said that isn't fun to read for me, in quests it sometimes makes it too easy as well by telling you exactly what you need. It is in the game now but it would be nice if the questions would disappear before the answer repeats itself at least.
  3. The egg-quest: you can solve the problem with the digging creatures peacefully with just one line through persuasion. I think most players will do just that. At least send us to the egg-lair first to talk with someone who is able to decide on that matter to make it more difficult, make it harder to solve it (more speech-checks?) without having the information of a better location of the mapper. I completely avoided a part of the game and solved the complex problem in 1 minute.
  4. Strength doesn't play a major role in the game atm. Intelligence is too important (for almost all speech checks). I would think that almost everyone that plays the game will go Intelligence with some Speed for the fights, specialised in Persuasion etc. This could have been made a harder choice if 2/3 of the speech-skills would be "Charisma" and 1/3 would be "Intelligence" while Intelligence being important in fights as well. How could it be made better in the current system? Make most heavy weapons (all 2handed: greatsword, heavy crossbow, spears) and some high damage medium weapons strength-based, higher/direct influence of strength on hitpoints and pointing this out when creating the character. Check all the skills and how often they can be used as a check in dialogues and then maybe switch some over to strength or speed where that could be explained. Anamnesis may be a mental skill but could be strength-dependant to "fight" for the memories? Deception could be speed-based (to come up with a lie fast). Maybe concentration could be important in some dialogue too (Atm. it is underpowered)? Intimidation is already strength-based, right? Scavenging is speed based, right? Show its importance better by showing where it is used In the world.
  5. Maybe quests are too easy and could require more traveling between places to find the right person (In Cliffs edge there are four quests where the solution is only a few meters away), less obvious hints while talking or in the journal. But that may be just because the beta is the start of the game, because even in the beta the quests get more challenging to the end (fifth eye, murder-case, ashen imitation quest).
  6. Sleep/There may be too many ways to avoid quests that are "timebased". When I die, then I can restore all my pools without sleeping or consequences, when a partymember dies, then he will restore all pools and only have a minor debuff until they sleep. There really is no reason to sleep and progress time thus neutralising the urgency of some quests. Don't get me wrong, I like it that there are ways to get rid of the urgency (I hate urgency and not being able to explore freely), but it may be too easy. At least give some remarks that the main character feels bad after dying, is scared of what it does to his head when going to the labyrinth, scared the sorrow will find him if he does etc. And don't restore all pools to max when NPCs die in fights, so there is a reason to sleep if they do.
  7. Cyphers would be better if some of them would give small passive bonuses as well. Atm. you should sell them and buy all the upgrades at the doctor to have lasting effects.
  8. Why do people react so positively or ignorant on the main character? Shouldn't there be humans that despise the gods for all the things they suffer through as well? You know, humans that hunt down everyone with a tattoo, that try to help the sorrow to give the danger of the sorrow more weight in the city? Aren’t there people that have suffered too much through other people that wore the tattoo to be scared of every outcast? It would be more fun if some NPCs would openly start fights, despise and hate me just for what I am, just like others love me without me doing a thing.
4. Goals in quests: The journal is very detailed in the goals. It may be too clear for most people that have played RPGs before, but like I said that could be because it's the start of the game or because I am too much into the game :D

5.6. Goal of the game: I haven't asked myself that question. I never felt like the game or the developers "want" something from me. Is that a bad thing or a good thing? It felt like my journey because I, myself wanted to explore, learn and help (blue and gold, others may differ in their motivation). The danger of the sorrow didn't feel that big to me. That would have been different if my first encounter with the sorrow would be scarier. That could be changed with a few lines when the sorrow appears to make it feel like you closely escaped the sorrow from pulling itself into your brain and killing everything you are and that this danger of the sorrow searching for you permanently and trying to destroy you while you still are weak and the fear of it crawling into your mind every time you visit the labyrinth (+vulnerability caused by going there or remembering memories) is far from over, then I probably would have kept on track more. When exploring, you learn that there are lots of outcasts that may dream of the sorrow, but it doesn't seem to be a big danger to them. The one that dies does so voluntarily, none of them seem really hunted and hiding in fear. This could be explained by the sorrow concentrating on attacking new and weak outcasts or the ones that try to go after their memories instead of building a new life.
If the goal is to involve in the world and make your decisions: maybe there could be some kind of reward for reaching a certain number of decisions? Your colors being more prominent on the interface, your labyrinth adapting to your colors and decisions in some way?

Planescape: Torment is one of the best games, because it had so much creativity, philosphy and humor in it that it made me care about everything in the world, I wanted to know everything about it and I wanted to make it right, where the world was wrong and I wanted to be part of it.
Your game makes me feel the same way, but it surpasses the original in many ways. I have more options and how I solve quests changes the world. And even though my intentions are good, the result may not be. The characters are interesting, the NPCs and objects are full of surprises and creativity. And I am aware that I have aged. I have become very picky by having so many experiences, reading books, playing games, watching movies. It is harder today to make me happy with a game than it was 15 years ago, a lot harder.
It is a excellent game and what I saw does make me fear for the time when it is done, when the game is finished and there is nothing but another 15 years of waiting until another game wants to be more than just a "happy experience" of wasting time, when a game tries to be deep, when a game tries to be art. I hope this time we won't have to wait that long.
We may be few that look for art in games, scattered around the world. But I am one of those that you made really happy with your work already.

Thank you.
--------------------------------------------------------
You can't stay young - but you can refuse to grow old.

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Homer Morisson
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Re: Your impressions of the narrative path

Post by Homer Morisson » June 15th, 2016, 1:44 pm

Hey there Rink,

don't worry about your lingual prowess, your text is very easy to understand; if anything I would suggest a bit more work on the layout to improve readability, but other than that you're golden... at least to my eye, with english not being my mother tongue as well.

I'd like to comment on one point of your feedback specifically though, as I tend to disagree with your suggestion rather strongly; you wrote:

"Maybe quests are too easy and could require more traveling between places to find the right person"

I on the other hand can't think of hardly any other things more annoying than artificially inflating playtime through unnecessarily long distances between quest locations, simply 'cause it'll thus take more time to complete a quest.

How long it takes to complete a quest should however never be used to evaluate the quality of any given quest, and that's the also the the main justification behind this rationale: Good quests are good because of the quality of their writing, the clarity of the narrativium used to create this story (to paraphrase Sir Terry Pratchett, may he rise again as an undead lich and continue to brighten up my life with his works!), in short it should be the quality of the quests that counts, not the quantifiable properties like how long it takes to complete or how many rats you have to slay so that you can loot however many rat pelts until you have finally completed yet another generic and uninspired, but exceedingly long and tedious quest.

I get your general concern that the gameplay and how we experience the game in itself shouldn't be dumbed down too much, shouldn't be made to casual, and I completely agree with you on this front... but simply artificially inflating the time it takes to complete any given quest is a disservice to exactly this sentiment.
Last edited by Homer Morisson on June 15th, 2016, 3:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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