Roleplaying elements

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roerich
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Roleplaying elements

Post by roerich » Sun Aug 23, 2015 7:37 pm

Morrowind is first and foremost a RPG, even more so than its sequels. As Worsas recently outlined in the Player Freedom thread, the open world of Morrowind where you could do anything you wanted, kill anyone you wanted (and live with the consequences) and go everywhere you wanted, was one of the game's most spectacular and important elements. Elder Scrolls games in general do a great job of providing the player character with a blank sheet for the player to fill out, but Morrowind moreso than the newer games. As someone pointed out in the TR thread, Oblivion and Skyrim (in particular) was quicker to throw the player character right into the main quest, while Morrowind actively encouraged the player to go on adventures and build a character before venturing in to save Tamriel. For a lengthy part of the Morrowind MQ the player's authencity as the Nerevarine was even highly doubtful, where in Skyrim you're Dragon Jesus from the beginning. Morrowind was for a large part a RPG sandbox, where the player could write their own story in a strange and foreign land. I think we should actively work on expanding and supporting this aspect, especially since our mod doesn't have the player as a Nerevarine or Dovahkiin (while I do hope we eventually develop some sort of main quest).

I hope we can have a discussion on what elements we could add to SHOTN to support this. Like, ways to customize your character, give them choices representing different personalities (especially in dialogue), create a living and breathing world without radiant AI etc. While I do think we're on the right path with this, I think discussion is always healthy. I have some ideas we discussed a bit on IRC that I will post tomorrow.

Edit: I hope I wasn't too unclear in what I want with this thread. Let's brainstorm some ideas we could add that would enhance the roleplaying experience.

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worsas
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Re: Roleplaying elements

Post by worsas » Mon Aug 24, 2015 9:08 am

There are some considerations I have on this topic:

1. Morrowind can provide only a part of the (ideal?) roleplaying experience as you have it in a table top game.
2. Whatever we do should not come off too moddy and too different from what TR or vanilla already does. I think it is important that we keep ourselves oriented on them for the most part, so we have a persistent world in the end. As this is currently a topic at TR aswell, I would maybe look what they will end up with.


My best roleplaying experiences in Morrowind so far:

- A game in which I played a character of the monk class. Due to being unarmed and without armor I was always confronted with the limited fighting possibilities of the character. I often had to circumvent combats or catch single enemies out of a group of mobs. It was a roleplaying experience, because the properties of the playercharacter had such a strong impact on how I felt in the game.
- A game in which I played a highelf battlemage. I was walking around in heavy armor and with a start-athletics skill of 5, so I had a very slow pace. The highelf was very tall, too. The many magical skills offered many possibilites to deal with a situation. I really felt like a tall, academic guy in heavy armor. In essence this is similar to the first example.
- A game with alternate beginnnings and a wood elf character that started out at a ship wreck in Azuras Coast. I had to fight my way west from there with the little start equipment I had. There were hostile Ashlanders and creatures of which I could only take one by one. Sometimes I couldn't rest due to hostile creatures in the near I was circumventing, so I had to restore my health with the marshmerrow plants I found in the many little bays of the region. This had much of a survival game. At the end I managed to get to Seyda Neen where I regretted, I wasn't able to go to Valenwood from there. The game ended here, as I had little interest in the fate of the Nerevarine this time around.


Taverns are a big part of the roleplaying experience in MW for me. Although you don't need them, in theory, I just like to use them and see what the publican offers, what the publican has to tell about local issues and who is around. I often rent a bed, although you really don't need that stuff in the game. Generally I feel a strong connection to the gameworld when there is topic responses only there for immersion, explaining the situation around you or the source of beverages or other handcraft creations. All of these things are done very nicely in the vanilla game. You can probably just sum it up with 'immersion' and a certain kind of imaginary extension of what you see around you that creates an interesting overall setting you feel your character placed in.

Another thing that retains immersion in MW, is that you don't have the feeling that everything around you is streamlined for gameplay, but rather a world that exists for itself and that doesn't always accomodate to your immediate needs. The dungeon experiences in Skyrim are much too polished, for example. You feel guided along a pre-intended path all the way and at the end you get that same shortcut out of the dungeon. This is one of the reasons I don't really immerse in TES V that much.


If you have followed the discussion on player freedom at TR, Gnomey and me had an idea for something I have come to call 'storybricks'. This idea essentially is about not making a big concatenated story with a preset course and result, but an accumulation of many small, extremely versatile storybricks that allow for several outcomes and that are extremely responsive to the individual character and his actions. But it remains to be seen how much that idea will make it into TR.

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Infragris
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Re: Roleplaying elements

Post by Infragris » Tue Aug 25, 2015 9:45 am

worsas wrote:If you have followed the discussion on player freedom at TR, Gnomey and me had an idea for something I have come to call 'storybricks'. This idea essentially is about not making a big concatenated story with a preset course and result, but an accumulation of many small, extremely versatile storybricks that allow for several outcomes and that are extremely responsive to the individual character and his actions. But it remains to be seen how much that idea will make it into TR.
This sounds pretty close to something I wanted to try with the Stirk quest progression. The way I'm envisioning the current main questline is as a political game between the three major powers on the island. The player gets to choose whom he supports, but this doesn't rope you into one out of three separate questlines: rather, there would be a general introduction quest, followed by each of the powers giving out smaller quests which can be solved in different ways to accumulate favor, and ending in one out of three end quests which leave the island in a different state (and set up further interaction with opposing factions on the mainland).

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Re: Roleplaying elements

Post by worsas » Tue Aug 25, 2015 2:33 pm

The storybrick idea is a very lofty one so far. There is not a single example of how such a story brick could look like in practice yet and I still want to put more thought into that topic, when I'm done with the next two data updates.

It would really help to come up with some more practical examples, as they are good to get an idea the possible advantages and disadvantages aswell as the limitations of such a system.

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roerich
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Re: Roleplaying elements

Post by roerich » Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:53 am

I agree completely that we need to maintain the feel of the original game, though we can afford to improve on some aspects that vanilla included but didn't touch too much on, or used properly. Morrowind had a penchant for making the player do things that didn't necessarily advance the game, but provided a roleplaying experience. Like you wrote; sleeping in a tavern, buying food, etc. Immersion is a great way of describing it, and that plus the fact that Morrowind very clearly wasn't made for the player, but is a world that functions on its own is described in this excellent video which should be obligatory to watch for any Morrowind modder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZUynhkal1I" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I love those RP descriptions. I can relate to all of them. I'm having a hard time remembering my last great RP experience, though I usually get creative with classes and playstyles. I remember playing a cunning Forebear merchant-agent-assassin making his way through House Hlaalu's ranks with bribes and assassinations, going on "business trips" all across the island. He made sure to shift his outfit from formal, expensive merchant clothes to assassin gear with closed helmets to mask his identity.


As I wrote, I was hoping we could brainstorm a few ideas in this thread, under the headline "How to improve the roleplaying experience:"

- The player making an impact in the world. New rumours based on how the player finished a quest, actions happening after a finished quest etc.
- "Story bricks" is a neat idea for creating varied outcomes and modularity in quest design
- City guards asking the player to state their business in the city, when entering a large walled city like Karthwasten. We discussed this on IRC, I'll post some more on this soon
- Occasional animated NPC's. Vanilla only had the Suran dancers. I was thinking we could have perhaps some acrobats on markets, performers in taverns - that sort of thing.
- A focus on a beliveable world that in theory exists just fine without the player, like Morrowind
- Implying more NPC activity without resorting to shoddy scripting. Like encountering guild members, adventurers and travelling merchants in the wild.
- Your (faction) connections having an impact on how you are welcomed in different places. A FG member would be shunned by Nords in DS East for example, as the FG sided with the Redguards during the siege.

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worsas
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Re: Roleplaying elements

Post by worsas » Thu Aug 27, 2015 10:01 pm

Players generally watch for things to advance their character: Training, equipment, spells or just quests. Sometimes it is just curiosity. Those are the main incentives in a game and can be well-mixed into dialogue to catch the players interest.

Examples:
1. You come across a shady thief character that decently hints at a certain tavern in a certain town where possibilities await.
2. A smith somewhere recommends a friend smith in another town, saying she makes the best swords far and wide.
3. You hear rumours about a village plagued by werebeasts somewhere northeast from here.

In the original game, you are often told about places you can go to: The other blade members on Vvardenfell, the friend of the Breton woman on the way between Pelagiad and Balmora (I can't think of the name right now). If you hear that there is somewhere trouble you may feel well-invited to take a journey there and you know journeys... they are the greatest thing because you can completely get lost and not find your destination at all, but you will run into a number of other things anyway.

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