Richard Garriott Unveils 11-Minute Shroud of the Avatar Demo

Richard Garriott Unveils 11-Minute Shroud of the Avatar Demo

Richard "Lord British" Garriott demonstrates crafting, questing and puzzles in a new Shroud of the Avatar demo.

When Richard "Lord British" Garriott announced Shroud of the Avatar, he immediately stoked the excitement of countless fans of classic role-playing hoping for a return to the form he helped to foster in his landmark Ultima series. The new MMO, in turn, looks as though it will be incorporating a number of features that are decidedly old school, several of which Garriott himself demonstrated in a recent video of a "90-days-in" prototype of the game.

The demo begins with Garriott taking his character out into the wild to collect some wood. After fighting off a spider he approaches a tree and starts chopping away at it with an axe. Eventually the tree falls over and Garriott, wood in tow, returns to a nearby village where he uses a sawmill and carpentry bench to craft a chair that he then positions in a house and sits in. Garriott took this as an opportunity to reflect on his philosophy of game world interactivity, "When creating a highly detailed interactive virtual world, it was always a big deal to me ... that all the props you see were useful in the way you expect them to be useful," he said.

Following his adventure in chair making, he heads to a nearby tavern and spoke with the bartender. Rather than selecting from preset text options, Garriott types in questions and text that the NPC was, impressively, able to respond to. The discussion eventually veers toward the subject of a nearby dungeon. Though no quest is explicitly assigned, he directs his character to the mentioned location and explores it. "There is no quest log. It is really up to you as a player to see what is happening a game and make decisions about what you believe is important," commented Garriott. After a bit of quick dungeon delving and puzzle solving, the demo ends.

While still clearly in an early form, Shroud of the Avatar looks to be shaping up nicely. Granted, some of its more classic sensibilities could limit its user-base. That being the case, things like the impressive success of its Kickstarter would suggest that there's an audience of gamers hungry for an experience akin to what Garriott is trying to offer.

Source: PC Gamer

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I know it's early alpha.. but it looks like it was made 10 years ago. Quite ugly.

It looks very... Underwhelming. Great, so we can build and sit on chairs, and type out conversations with an NPC. It just seems like they're adding things which haven't caught on for good reason, they don't work so great in practice.

I think something like this might make a good single player game. Unfortunately for an MMO, I believe it will flop horribly. I can get behind the "Details need uses" idea, but not at the expense of making the game boring. The combat looks especially dull so far.

All that said, I'll keep an eye on it. I always like to keep an eye on new ideas.

Interesting to watch, but there's a lot of things that I think will turn off a modern audience.

No quest markers, no dialogue trees...

I hope this is good and does well, but right now I'm...hesitant? I guess? Well, we are only 3 months into developing this thing.

Nooners:
Interesting to watch, but there's a lot of things that I think will turn off a modern audience.

No quest markers, no dialogue trees...

I hope this is good and does well, but right now I'm...hesitant? I guess? Well, we are only 3 months into developing this thing.

And that will get rid of the WoW kiddies from bringing their filth into yet another game.

I like the idea, everything has a use, everyone has a job. The fact there is no journal or quest markers does take away from the current MMO's, however what people dont understand about RPG's is they are role playing games, not stat builders like what most games that claim to be RPG's are, not even the god awful "Savior of the world/realm!" that most other RPG's force you to be.

Damnit, if I want to play a MMO RPG and build myself a tavern and spend my time in the game buying and selling items, then I should be allowed to do it, dont force me to fight generic litch #2165748676 Dragon Edition, dont tell me the only things to do in your game is to do raids.

Because I will turn off from your game, and wait for something like this to come along.

Just one thing I'm worried about, are there going to be Paladins?

Because people in the Ultima universe tend to forget.

but, incase you did forget,

Keep it up Mr. Garriot, maybe I'll forgive you for ending Tabula Rasa, but we still have to talk about Ultima 7.

That actually looks really cool. I remember hearing how a lot of games tried to put the role-playing back in the RPG genre, but this one actually looks like it succeeds.

Elate:
I know it's early alpha.. but it looks like it was made 10 years ago. Quite ugly.

It looks very... Underwhelming. Great, so we can build and sit on chairs, and type out conversations with an NPC. It just seems like they're adding things which haven't caught on for good reason, they don't work so great in practice.

I think something like this might make a good single player game. Unfortunately for an MMO, I believe it will flop horribly. I can get behind the "Details need uses" idea, but not at the expense of making the game boring. The combat looks especially dull so far.

All that said, I'll keep an eye on it. I always like to keep an eye on new ideas.

Yes, graphically and gameplay wise, it doesn't seem very impressive at the moment. But considering this is only 3 months in development, it actually is impressive how much is going on already. I really, really hope there will be more combat options and animations though, and it doesn't just turn out to become UO in 3D. I also hope that they will have some neat ideas for the crafting, something to make it interesting and not just a grind.

NPC conversations by typing actually makes sense for an MMO. I suppose the rationale behind it is that they want the player to converse with NPC's in the same natural way as they will converse with other players. Have a unified interface.

Nooners:
Interesting to watch, but there's a lot of things that I think will turn off a modern audience.

No quest markers, no dialogue trees...

No dialogue trees? wow, I mean wtf? so instead of possibility combing these features he just went one extreme. Yeah, I'm not really happen with the episodic gaming, I'm glad I didn't contribute.

Haven't had time to see the video yet. But the description reminds me of EQ in a good way.

Mmm I hope that resource managment and managing your inventory won't take to much time. Don't get me wrong yes there is joy in preparing to go out on a mission but.. Ultimate inventory at times was a b&%#h to work with.

What it really reminds me of is 'classic' Ultima Online. And I think it's supposed to. That game had a kind of magic to it before they...I hate to say 'catering to the casuals', because it wasn't strictly 'casuals' but they kept trying to broaden htheir audience and it got more and mroe dilluted until it wasn't a special unique experience anymore.

There was a kind of uniqueness to worrying about a guy with a halberd in grey robes jumping you and taking your stuff...while at the same time knowing other peoples' enjoyment was tracking down these people and ending them.

I played Ultima Online, and I was a TAILOR.

I saw him present this at RTX last week. My nerd cred grew three sizes that day.

On the game itself, I'm reserving judgment. It's tough to form an opinion on a game that's only 3 months old.

This game looks dated in all the wrong ways. And it's mostly because Garriott doesn't seem to understand that many modern RPG "conveniences" don't exist in modern games purely to "baby" the audience, they exist to make large games (with lots of items) manageable to play so that you're not spending countless hours rooting through guides trying to find everything.

The inventory system used in Ultima 7 was, let's be honest, not a good one. It is an awful idea to use it as the basis of your MMO's inventory system. Items will be lost too easily in such a thing, and it seems like there will be a LOT of items available, which will only make things worse. There's a reason that games started using an inventory spacing system. No, it doesn't "make sense", but it's a convenience that exists for the sake of keeping inventories reasonable to manage in a game with hundreds, even thousands of items to choose from.

Similarly, in a game with hundreds of quests, being devoid of a quest log is an unforgivable sin. You cannot expect players to know where to go in a large-scale world with hundreds of quests, and they should not need to consult a walk-through or guide simply to navigate your game. If I have to spend several hours just looking for the START of the quest, then it's not a well-designed and intuitive quest. You're not "clever" for making quests that are hard to locate unless you perform specific actions or talk to specific people. Other games have done that too, it's been done for years, and they execute it better than this game appears to.

I'm also not super-fond of the puzzle as there was no indication of how to solve it anywhere in the chamber that I could tell. A puzzle which requires that you hammer all of the choices via trial and error is not a good puzzle. And Richard? Spike traps aren't a puzzle, they're just traps.

The game does do some cool things that are admirable, certainly. The dialogue with the bartender was amazing, and really showed off something that I'd love to see in more games. But this game looks like an antique in a world filled with better looking and better organized games. It's not going to perform nearly as well as Garriott thinks it will. More than likely it'll obtain a cult following, but it's not going to be a top contender unless Garriott is willing to make his game more reasonable and modern. No, he doesn't have to hold our hands, but he does need to learn how to make a game that isn't obscure and difficult to follow shy of mind-reading.

I actually really liked this. I always got so bored with regular MMO's where really all you CAN do is quest and fight. If you are not fighting something then you are not playing the game. If this game basically allows you to be the dirt bag tavern-keeper that harasses people about their bills and occasionally bashes a trolls skull in I will be a very happy Avatar.

Though I do already know what the main quest for this game should be.

Figuring out what's a Paladin.

I love what they are trying to do , it will never work , but i still love it. When or if this ever takes off it will become streamlined and first patch will bring quest markers and hints. Most ppl wont be bothered to think anymore .

I am very excited about this project. Clearly he's trying to go back to the roots of what made the Ultima series so brilliant, before it got assraped by EA. Long have I wished for a modern game that did away with silly things like quest markers and dialog trees, in favor of a more dynamic and natural system such as this one. Honestly, the NPC dialog system in this demo looks impressive as hell. I'm really excited to see what this turns out to be, and so far it's already leagues better than Ultima IX or Ultima Online.

CriticKitten:
Similarly, in a game with hundreds of quests, being devoid of a quest log is an unforgivable sin. You cannot expect players to know where to go in a large-scale world with hundreds of quests, and they should not need to consult a walk-through or guide simply to navigate your game.

You don't need to consult a guide. Just keep your own quest log, by hand, it's not that hard. Why would you need the game to do it for you?

CriticKitten:
I'm also not super-fond of the puzzle as there was no indication of how to solve it anywhere in the chamber that I could tell. A puzzle which requires that you hammer all of the choices via trial and error is not a good puzzle.

Sure there was ... hitting a torch changes the color of the surrounding torches, that's obvious from just hitting a few. So obviously the puzzle is about changing the colors of torches (since that's pretty much all you can do in the room), and making them all the same color is a really obvious thing to try to do. You don't need a sign to tell you that, you just need to use your brain a little.

DarthFennec:
You don't need to consult a guide. Just keep your own quest log, by hand, it's not that hard. Why would you need the game to do it for you?

Because this is 2013, not 1989, and games should be designed with the current audience in mind.

A quest log exists for a very specific reason: convenience. No, it's not a tool to "baby" the player, it's an essential device used to help players keep track of the many hundreds (some more recent games veer into the thousands) of quests that a game can have available.

Expecting the player to keep a pen and a spiral notebook to record the location and details of every single quest they come across in a video game isn't "fun", it's homework, and you're not going to retain players by expecting them to take notebooks of their video game. I'm sorry, but at some point, calling your game "old school" stops being a good excuse for poor game design.

Those things didn't exist in a lot of older games for two reasons:
1) because they weren't typically all that necessary in games that were too small to fit that many quests in them; and
2) because programming a quest log, or any system of logging for that matter, meant saving a lot more data and most video games at the time couldn't afford to make their save files that much larger.

In an age where a typical RPG has hundreds or even thousands of quests of various sizes and shapes, and in an age where such logs are relatively easy to create and save without major problems due to computers having FAR more space to store data, having no system of keeping track of those quests in-game is simply not acceptable.

Even Ultima Underworld, a game made by Garriott, seemed to acknowledge this fact, because it came with an in-game journal system that allowed you to take notes of the locations of important NPCs, item caches, quests, etc. And that game didn't have nearly the amount of questing that newer games do. It's obviously not such a bad mechanic to have if he himself inserted it into one of his games.

So if it was good enough for one of Garriott's older games, why not this one? Honestly, sometimes I think people just praise everything that comes out of Garriott's mouth without bothering to think of why the mechanics he's dismissing as unnecessary exist in the first place. Just because he was the god of RPGs back in the early 90s doesn't mean he's still one today.

Hopefully he'll have the good sense to include some manner of in-game journal keeping.

Sure there was ... hitting a torch changes the color of the surrounding torches, that's obvious from just hitting a few. So obviously the puzzle is about changing the colors of torches (since that's pretty much all you can do in the room), and making them all the same color is a really obvious thing to try to do. You don't need a sign to tell you that, you just need to use your brain a little.

Yes, I figured that much out from watching him. Problem is, that's not a "using your brain" type of puzzle. That's trial and error.

Many puzzles in modern RPGs contain some form of clue to help you figure out the puzzle. In some cases, yes, this is "babying" your audience because you're giving them a clue that makes it much too easy (or in the case of Skyrim, you're basically giving away the answer), but a clue doesn't always have to be that obvious. You can make the clue clever enough to keep people busy for quite some time, or conceal it somewhere people might not immediately look. Garriott, however, seems to have given no such cues here.

And that might not bother you, maybe because you like spending long periods of time guessing randomly until something works, but it does bother me. I've seen Garriott's older games, where he's often done some of the most obscure things that you would almost never have figured out back in the day shy of reading the guy's mind. And this small snippet of a puzzle suggests that he hasn't learned from those days, that he still thinks trial-and-error puzzles with no clue as to how the puzzle works are reasonable. Which means that later "puzzles" in the game may end up being so obscure that you'll need walk-throughs to figure them out. That's not a wise decision.

Now to be fair to your stance, yes. This puzzle is barely worthy of being called a puzzle.

Here's an approximate analogy of this "puzzle": You take a few coins and flip them, hiding the results from me. You then ask me to guess which ones were heads and which were tails, and let me have infinite guesses, and tell me that I can't leave the room until I guess correctly. No one in their right mind would call that a good puzzle, but that's exactly what this torch puzzle is. It's guessing at combinations until you get it right. Anyone can do it eventually simply by testing every possibility.

So no, designing your puzzles without any manner of hinting in the form of visual/auditory cues doesn't always make them "harder". But that's hardly the best example of what Garriott considers a "puzzle".

This is the guy who expected people to figure out Ultima I. That's what he considered a reasonable puzzle back in the day: hiding a plot-centric item in the inventory of an obscure NPC who gave you absolutely no clues to indicate that he had said item. Do you really want your big new MMO to have puzzles which require locating the lone soul in all of Britannia non-descript fantasy land who happens to have the one magical item you need to complete a dungeon on the other side of the continent? Do you really think that makes a "good" puzzle? Because if so, please don't ever get into game design. That's not fun, it's frustrating.

And if Garriott only wants to have a bunch of his Ultima fans playing his MMO, that's fine and dandy, but he better not expect to pull very many players in this day and age with that stance.

CriticKitten:
Because this is 2013, not 1989, and games should be designed with the current audience in mind.

A quest log exists for a very specific reason: convenience. No, it's not a tool to "baby" the player, it's an essential device used to help players keep track of the many hundreds (some more recent games veer into the thousands) of quests that a game can have available.

Expecting the player to keep a pen and a spiral notebook to record the location and details of every single quest they come across in a video game isn't "fun", it's homework, and you're not going to retain players by expecting them to take notebooks of their video game. I'm sorry, but at some point, calling your game "old school" stops being a good excuse for poor game design.

"Games should be designed with the current audience in mind." Actually, games should be designed with a current audience in mind. And the audience I think he's going for here is people like me, who have always thought quest logs were stupid, and who have always thought games were much more engaging and fun if they required you to keep track of quests/draw maps on graph paper/organize your own damn inventory/etc, rather than babying you and having the game do it for you. Role-playing games are better when they draw you into the role of the character as much as possible, which means that as much action as possible should be offloaded from the character to the player. That's why grinding exists. Even though it may be boring at times, it helps draw the player into the role more, and that makes it that much more rewarding in the long run. It makes it feel like the player is actually doing something worthwhile in the game, and it rewards them for their real-life skills and actions (for grinding it's patience, and for quest logging it's organizational skills). Automating those things just makes for lazy players, and boring games.

CriticKitten:
Even Ultima Underworld, a game made by Garriott, seemed to acknowledge this fact, because it came with an in-game journal system that allowed you to take notes of the locations of important NPCs, item caches, quests, etc. And that game didn't have nearly the amount of questing that newer games do. It's obviously not such a bad mechanic to have if he himself inserted it into one of his games.

I've never played Underworld (my DOSbox doesn't seem to want to run it), but from what you've described, it seems to me that the game provides a way for you to keep track of quests by hand, and it doesn't fill them in automatically. In that case, Underworld has done that part properly. A note system is just like using paper, except you don't waste any paper, so that's even better. Anyway, even if he had an actual modern quest log in one of his games, why on earth would that change my opinion on the matter? It just means that he would have written a less-than-perfect game. It wouldn't be the first time.

CriticKitten:
I've seen Garriott's older games, where he's often done some of the most obscure things that you would almost never have figured out back in the day shy of reading the guy's mind. And this small snippet of a puzzle suggests that he hasn't learned from those days, that he still thinks trial-and-error puzzles with no clue as to how the puzzle works are reasonable. Which means that later "puzzles" in the game may end up being so obscure that you'll need walk-throughs to figure them out. That's not a wise decision.

Yeah, games like Ultima II were sort of terrible at telling you important things, and that got extremely infuriating, I agree with that. And yeah, maybe he'll put problems in this game that are too obscure to solve without a hint, and maybe he won't include a hint in those cases. When I see that actually happen, I'll agree with you about that, but in any case, I maintain that this particular puzzle doesn't fall into that category.

CriticKitten:
Here's an approximate analogy of this "puzzle": You take a few coins and flip them, hiding the results from me. You then ask me to guess which ones were heads and which were tails, and let me have infinite guesses, and tell me that I can't leave the room until I guess correctly. No one in their right mind would call that a good puzzle, but that's exactly what this torch puzzle is. It's guessing at combinations until you get it right. Anyone can do it eventually simply by testing every possibility.

It's actually not like that at all. Here's a better analogy: You take some cards and lay them down on a table in a grid pattern, some face up and some face down, and you tell me to pick a card. When I do, you flip that card and all surrounding cards, and tell me to pick another card. You also tell me that the cards need to be flipped in a certain formation, and that it's probably a fairly simple formation. Of course, none of these hints are explicitly told to you in the puzzle room, but they're all there implicitly, and they're all readily available to those who are willing to use their brain a little.

Good to see the return of the parser. I can understand the hate for parsers but let's face it, they are better than predetermined options. If you can create your own questions instead of choosing them off a list, that's better, right? The only problem is no one has been able to create one as sophisticated as it should be. Ideally the person you're talking to should always understand you unless you're talking nonsense, reply realistically and never respond with generic answers. If we look at what we've achieved with graphics, surely this too is achievable.

It always pains me to see developers waste so much time, so much effort, so many creative ideas, so many beautiful art assets, on MMOs. So sad.

So this is an MMO? I'm generally not too fond of MMO's but this looks like something I'd try out. One thing I gotta say though, I really really hate the WoW style questing that freakin every game uses now. I know you typically need a quest journal to keep track of these things (not sure about the others but Ultima IX had one) but I don't like the utterly robotic process Blizzard has created. Run to the NPC with the question mark, click through some dialog, run to the spot pointed out on your map, fetch something or kill some things, run back, receive reward, repeat x1000000. I would wager that one of the reasons it's been so heavily adopted is it's a very easy and cheap way for developers to manage things, it's all systematic with little to no creativity.

For the game here though, a lot of people are commenting on the inventory system. Considering that what we see here has been thrown together in 3 months, I would imagine that they're re-using 'assets' in a lot of places. I wouldn't be surprised if Lord British did pull those bags straight from one of the older Ultima games for this demo. That convoluted system would certainly be a minus to this game but I'd say hold off on judgement until we're sure that's what we're getting here. I wouldn't be surprised to see it overhauled later on.

RandV80:
One thing I gotta say though, I really really hate the WoW style questing that freakin every game uses now. I know you typically need a quest journal to keep track of these things (not sure about the others but Ultima IX had one) but I don't like the utterly robotic process Blizzard has created.

The previous Ultima titles didn't have quest logs - I know, because I used to keep an exercise book next to the computer while I was playing them so I could write all the stuff down. It's one of the things that I was always nostalgic about when looking back at those games, but having gone back to try to play Ultima VII in recent years... n'yeah, rose coloured glasses and all that. It's actually a massive pain in the arse. Especially in a games a BIG as the Ultima games were.

Full text interaction with NPCs is another thing that sounds great when you've got the nostalgia glasses on, but the reality is that ditching that system was one of the many improvements Ultima VII made over its predecessors. Though if LB is staying true to form, I'm sure there's at least going to be some amusing responses when you run up to people and shout "NAME", "JOB", "SHRINE" at them :P

AD-Stu:

RandV80:
One thing I gotta say though, I really really hate the WoW style questing that freakin every game uses now. I know you typically need a quest journal to keep track of these things (not sure about the others but Ultima IX had one) but I don't like the utterly robotic process Blizzard has created.

The previous Ultima titles didn't have quest logs - I know, because I used to keep an exercise book next to the computer while I was playing them so I could write all the stuff down. It's one of the things that I was always nostalgic about when looking back at those games, but having gone back to try to play Ultima VII in recent years... n'yeah, rose coloured glasses and all that. It's actually a massive pain in the arse. Especially in a games a BIG as the Ultima games were.

Full text interaction with NPCs is another thing that sounds great when you've got the nostalgia glasses on, but the reality is that ditching that system was one of the many improvements Ultima VII made over its predecessors. Though if LB is staying true to form, I'm sure there's at least going to be some amusing responses when you run up to people and shout "NAME", "JOB", "SHRINE" at them :P

It wasn't necessarily a 'quest log' but Ultima IX did have a journal. I didn't have a gaming PC until later so I never really played any of the older Ultima games, though I did play Ultima IV on the Sega Master System. All the way up to the very last question of the game which I was never able to figure out, and being the pre-internet days...

But anyways what I was more getting at is that along with the convenience of quest 'logs' in modern games what we're getting is an increasingly rigid quest 'structure'. In a game like Ultima IV you start with a broad quest then head out into the game world and have to put some effort in exploration and talking to NPC's to figure out what to do. In FXIV you start in a city and begin by going to all the NPC's with question marks above them to collect quests, follow map markers to specific locations to complete quests, then follow the map marker back to where you get rewarded for the quest. Like I said in my other post the whole setup is just so robotic. I feel like I'm indulging in an obsessive compulsive disorder, and not actually playing a game. A lot of this has to due with the fact that WoW made 'the game' be all about the end game content, so developers are really just mailing it in on everything before.

Playing the FFXIV beta starting in the desert city the first main story quest kind of illustrates how bad this is. I forget exactly how it went but you join a conversation between NPC's discussing a young noble women that's gone missing. The lead guy turns to you and says there's a whole bunch of people out looking for her, would you be willing to lend a hand as well? Except when you start playing again there isn't anyone out looking for her, and you're given a quest marker that leads you straight to where she's conveniently waiting for you. There's no real 'gameplay' involved here and the story perspective is kind of ruined from all the 4th wall breaks. Like a collection of other players standing still around the NPC you're looking for because they're doing the exact same thing you are and are in 'video mode'.

I know there are problems with the old school design, it's not much of a game if you have to consult an FAQ every step of the way. But in my strong opinion the ultra convenience we have in modern games has become shit.

I'm pretty sure the game won't be a MMO. It has both an online and offline, single-player mode.

There's a trend right now of "old school" RPGs with some new innovations - Project Eternity and Divinity: Original Sin being two others in development. I'm hopeful about these games since even excellent modern RPGs like The Witcher 2 have abandoned "pure" RPG style in favor of extensive combat and cinematics. This has left the true RPG market open.

The development of the RPG genre has been really disappointing - we've had largely technical improvements, not fundamental design improvements or innovation. There's tremendous space for game design improvements, and with some luck we'll get some with these upcoming RPGs.

DarthFennec:
"Games should be designed with the current audience in mind." Actually, games should be designed with a current audience in mind. And the audience I think he's going for here is people like me, who have always thought quest logs were stupid, and who have always thought games were much more engaging and fun if they required you to keep track of quests/draw maps on graph paper/organize your own damn inventory/etc, rather than babying you and having the game do it for you. Role-playing games are better when they draw you into the role of the character as much as possible, which means that as much action as possible should be offloaded from the character to the player. That's why grinding exists. Even though it may be boring at times, it helps draw the player into the role more, and that makes it that much more rewarding in the long run. It makes it feel like the player is actually doing something worthwhile in the game, and it rewards them for their real-life skills and actions (for grinding it's patience, and for quest logging it's organizational skills). Automating those things just makes for lazy players, and boring games.

Except that none of those things are actually true.

As I've already established quite firmly, these features were added for the sake of convenience because the typical RPG of the modern age is many dozens of times bigger than RPGs back in the "olden days". It's not an attempt to "baby down" the audience. And furthermore, why exactly is it that quest logs are such a terrible thing that they can't be included at all? If you feel they're "pandering", then you don't have to use the quest log at all. Just play the game your way and let others play their way. Honestly, people who think that such features exist merely to pander to the lazy or stupid and thus should not exist .... are simply portraying themselves as some manner of snobby elitist who thinks that people should have to "work" for your fun or else they haven't earned it.

I've been playing RPGs and enjoying fantasy games most of my life, and I like all of these features. Not because they mean I don't have to do any thinking, but because they mean I can spend my time focusing on the parts that are actually FUN. If you feel it's necessary for you to have to keep logs to have fun, then that's fine. But don't push your opinion on others.

And as I said in the prior post: If Garriott wants to pander to your elitist audience, that's just fine. But let's not pretend that it's the best game out there simply because it requires log-keeping in order to play (it's not). And hopefully Garriott's content with having a small player base, because he's not going to attract a lot of players with this dated model.

I've never played Underworld (my DOSbox doesn't seem to want to run it), but from what you've described, it seems to me that the game provides a way for you to keep track of quests by hand, and it doesn't fill them in automatically. In that case, Underworld has done that part properly. A note system is just like using paper, except you don't waste any paper, so that's even better. Anyway, even if he had an actual modern quest log in one of his games, why on earth would that change my opinion on the matter? It just means that he would have written a less-than-perfect game. It wouldn't be the first time.

Yes, it's basically an in-game journal system. That's what I said. >_>

And my point is that expecting players to keep a pen-and-paper journal in an age where quest logs are common is ridiculous. And it's especially ridiculous when one of Garriott's more popular dungeon crawlers included an in-game journal system, but for some reason, Garriott didn't think it necessary to include in this brand new game over a decade later. That suggests he's not improving his game, but rather going backwards.

Yeah, games like Ultima II were sort of terrible at telling you important things, and that got extremely infuriating, I agree with that. And yeah, maybe he'll put problems in this game that are too obscure to solve without a hint, and maybe he won't include a hint in those cases. When I see that actually happen, I'll agree with you about that, but in any case, I maintain that this particular puzzle doesn't fall into that category.

This puzzle indicates that such things will almost assuredly be in this game. Watch the video again.

In order to find and complete the dungeon, he has to:

1) Talk to one particular NPC about a topic that the NPC just throws out of nowhere because Garriott engaged with him in a discussion about chairs. How many players are going to know to do that without a guide?

2) Locate the dungeon somewhere in the vast world of Brittania totally original fantasy land without any real clues given about where it is. The NPC says nothing about where it is except that it's "not too far". Garriott gets there immediately because he knows where it is, but to every other player, that "dungeon" looks like a generic white hill.

Yes, the puzzle itself is easy and can be done without thinking....but the fact that he even located the dungeon in the first place required the player to perform some rather obscure things that most people would never think to do.

It's actually not like that at all.

It's exactly the same, actually. Because both games can be completed entirely without any knowledge of the game's function or any thought invested. All it really serves to do is slow you down.

Do I really have to explain why a puzzle that can be completed simply by clicking torches at random until one combination works is not a good puzzle that involves any sort of conscious thought? Because I'd think that I shouldn't have to. It should be immediately obvious that if a puzzle is effectively a combination lock and you have infinite time to do it, that even the dumbest of dummies is going to guess the right combination eventually. Ergo, it's not a good puzzle at all. It's a waste of time.

And all of that still doesn't rationalize the fact that he called spike traps "a puzzle", either. I'm not sure Garriott is aware of what a puzzle even is. It most certainly doesn't mean "dumb feature that makes your game take longer to complete".

CriticKitten:
Honestly, people who think that such features exist merely to pander to the lazy or stupid and thus should not exist .... are simply portraying themselves as some manner of snobby elitist who thinks that people should have to "work" for your fun or else they haven't earned it.

Of course you have to work for your fun. Otherwise, what's the point of playing the game at all? Just plug in a gameshark and type in a code and win without doing any work, right? Isn't that more fun than grinding through the game? No, because in order for things to be fun and fulfilling, and not utterly boring and pointless, you have to put forth a little effort. That's how it works, and that's how it's always worked.

That said, that's not even my argument. I never said "people should have to work for their fun, therefore games shouldn't have conveniences". I'm all for convenience, I love it. Just, not these particular conveniences, and not in an RPG. Keeping track of your own inventory and maps and logs, those are fun, in my opinion. Those are the things that make RPGs fun, for me. An RPG without those things is just plain boring. If you're not doing those things yourself, if the game does them for you, then why even pay attention to what's going on in the game? There's no point anymore, and it changes the game from an interesting roleplaying experience into a boring, tedious following of a grocery list. That's why I don't like those things. That's why those features suck. And that's why most RPGs are terrible.

CriticKitten:
I've been playing RPGs and enjoying fantasy games most of my life, and I like all of these features. Not because they mean I don't have to do any thinking, but because they mean I can spend my time focusing on the parts that are actually FUN. If you feel it's necessary for you to have to keep logs to have fun, then that's fine. But don't push your opinion on others.

I'm ... not. I'm simply stating my own opinion. When did I try to make other people share it?

CriticKitten:
And as I said in the prior post: If Garriott wants to pander to your elitist audience, that's just fine. But let's not pretend that it's the best game out there simply because it requires log-keeping in order to play (it's not). And hopefully Garriott's content with having a small player base, because he's not going to attract a lot of players with this dated model.

I never said it was the best game out there, I just said it was refreshing because this is the first time in a while that someone has done this kind of thing. How the hell is anyone supposed to make a statement about how good or bad a game is if they've only seen an 11 minute video of a 3-month alpha?

CriticKitten:
And my point is that expecting players to keep a pen-and-paper journal in an age where quest logs are common is ridiculous. And it's especially ridiculous when one of Garriott's more popular dungeon crawlers included an in-game journal system, but for some reason, Garriott didn't think it necessary to include in this brand new game over a decade later. That suggests he's not improving his game, but rather going backwards.

Okay, the journal system isn't the issue. A journal system is exactly the same as a pen-and-paper journal. The problem I have with a quest log is that it logs quests automatically. And who knows, maybe he will include a journal system in this. I think it's kind of a given that he will. Why wouldn't he? I think that would be fantastic.

CriticKitten:
1) Talk to one particular NPC about a topic that the NPC just throws out of nowhere because Garriott engaged with him in a discussion about chairs. How many players are going to know to do that without a guide?

The NPC (and other NPCs) would probably mention it through other dialog as well. I don't see how you can expect that particular dialog to be the only possible way to get information that there's a cave with some monsters in it. From the roundabout and awkward way the NPC brought it up (because of chairs, leading to the "throne of bone" which honestly has no significance whatsoever), it seems like Garriott programmed that NPC to mention that dungeon no matter what conversation route you take. You could probably just ask something like "Hey, anything weird going on around here?" and he'd tell you about it.

CriticKitten:
2) Locate the dungeon somewhere in the vast world of Brittania totally original fantasy land without any real clues given about where it is. The NPC says nothing about where it is except that it's "not too far". Garriott gets there immediately because he knows where it is, but to every other player, that "dungeon" looks like a generic white hill.

It's not that hard to find if you just look around. It would probably have a bunch of people going in and out of it as well, considering it's an MMO. It really wouldn't be that hard to find. And part of the fun of an adventure game is the "adventuring" part, the looking around and finding cool things like caves and shit. If the game just tells you where everything is, that's just boring. It's homework.

CriticKitten:
Do I really have to explain why a puzzle that can be completed simply by clicking torches at random until one combination works is not a good puzzle that involves any sort of conscious thought?

An infinite number of monkeys at typewriters will eventually write Hamlet. Any puzzle, no matter what it is, can technically be completed by clicking randomly until a combination works. I never said the torch puzzle required any great thought, I mean of course it doesn't, it's in a 3-month alpha, and the point is to show off the engine, not Garriott's puzzle-making prowess. All I'm saying is that you're wrong when you say the torch puzzle is impossible to figure out without either a guide or just random thoughtless clicking.

I was going to dissect your entire argument to be fair to you, but the first paragraph stopped me dead.

DarthFennec:
Of course you have to work for your fun. Otherwise, what's the point of playing the game at all? Just plug in a gameshark and type in a code and win without doing any work, right? Isn't that more fun than grinding through the game? No, because in order for things to be fun and fulfilling, and not utterly boring and pointless, you have to put forth a little effort. That's how it works, and that's how it's always worked.

Bzzzt, stop right there.

Did you seriously just compare a quest log system to CHEAT CODES?

This "argument" is 100% over. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. The moment that you have to start comparing an optional function inserted into a video game for the sake of convenience to cheat codes, you should probably throw in the damn towel right there.

Quest logs are an optional feature of gameplay that allows players to have easier access to the multitudes of quests in an RPG. Specifically, to keep better track of them and to make quest management easier. They are nothing like "cheat codes" by any stretch of the functional human imagination.

It is also a 100% optional feature of the game. You don't like them? Great, don't use them. Grab a pen and paper, and go nuts, buddy. But don't even start to make the comparison to cheat codes here. Players who use quest logs are not "cheating", they are using the game's built-in functionality designed to make the game easier to play. If you want to play your super hardcore old-school shit, by all means do so, but when you start veering towards comparing the folks who prefer games with quest logs to cheaters, you've stepped firmly off the deep end.

You're precisely the sort of elitist I was referring to, the kind who looks down on games and the people who play games the way they want to play them, simply because they're not playing the game your way.

And please, don't bother denying it.

That's why those features suck. And that's why most RPGs are terrible.

Because you admit to it yourself in the same paragraph, calling RPGs which use this feature "terrible" simply because they don't design the game your way.

You're welcome to call ad hominem on this if you like, I don't really care. You essentially admitted that you look down on games and gamers which utilize conveniences that you don't like to use yourself. So any argument that I could offer is a waste of time. It's talking to a brick wall. A brick wall that has already decided he's better than everyone else because quest logs are "teh sux".

My original point stands, and will continue to stand regardless of everything you have said or will say.

If Garriott expects to sell this game to a broad audience, he's got another thing coming. His decision to be dismissive of features many people depend on in an age where RPGs have become exceedingly complex will result in him retaining a much smaller, more "elitist" audience of RPGers who think themselves "better" than the rest of the community because they do things "old-school". The other 90%+ of the community will ignore his game and move on.

CriticKitten:
Did you seriously just compare a quest log system to CHEAT CODES?

Um, no, I didn't. All I did here was bring your argument to its logical conclusion. You implied that "working for your fun" is a "snobby, elitist" concept, and that you shouldn't have to play parts of the game (such as, logging quests) in order to have fun with it. I was showing you that that's not the case, because if it were, you could just cheat and have the same amount of fun as you would have if you just played the game normally. This had nothing to do with my argument against the quest log system, as I explained in the next paragraph: "That said, that's not even my argument."

CriticKitten:
You're precisely the sort of elitist I was referring to, the kind who looks down on games and the people who play games the way they want to play them, simply because they're not playing the game your way.

Um ... not really, no. I'm perfectly fine with other people playing their own games their own ways. If people don't have fun with RPGs unless the game does things for them automatically, I may not understand it, but I don't condemn it. Whatever floats your boat is great with me. No, if anything, you are the one here who has been freaking out about my play style being "an unforgivable sin" (among other things), and this entire conversation has been about me defending it and explaining why it's just as valid as your style. So if anyone here is an "elitist who looks down on games and the people who play games the way they want to play them", it's the person I'm talking to.

CriticKitten:
You essentially admitted that you look down on games and gamers which utilize conveniences that you don't like to use yourself. So any argument that I could offer is a waste of time. It's talking to a brick wall. A brick wall that has already decided he's better than everyone else because quest logs are "teh sux".

I wouldn't say "look down". I look down upon most MMORPGs for plenty of reasons, to be sure, but "it has a quest log" isn't ever one of them, by a long shot. As I've said, if someone else sees logging their own quests as a tedious venture, and would have more fun with the game if that was done automatically for them, then by all means, incorporate a quest log. I have no problems with that. Now, I may have said that I personally don't understand those people, and that I personally can't play those games without bashing myself over the head with a keyboard, but "don't understand" and "don't have fun with" are entirely different things from "look down upon".

Something I haven't directly addressed yet, but have seen you mention, is that quest logs are "optional" (as in, I guess, that you don't necessarily have to look at the quest log menu screen if you don't want to). Believe me, I've tried this approach. It rarely works, and here's why: Most RPGs that I've played notify you on your HUD when a quest is added to your log, and that's something you can't turn off. That entirely defeats the purpose of ignoring the quest log screen, and turns quest logging into tedium such that it's honestly better just to use the menu (quest logging should be "pay attention to what people tell you and write things down when they have interesting things to say or a favor to ask", but now it's just "record message when computer beeps at you", in which case why even bother). Furthermore, those games are still designed with the built-in quest log in mind, and so the quests are always these set "go here and do this shit" kind of thing. If the game is designed with no automated log system, it allows for more freedom in quest design, because it allows for quests that can't necessarily be clearly represented in the automated log. Basically what I'm saying is, designing a game without a quest log (or at least, with a completely optional quest log, with a little tick box in the options that says "turn off quest logging"), would be leagues better than just ignoring the quest log menu screen.

CriticKitten:
If Garriott expects to sell this game to a broad audience, he's got another thing coming. His decision to be dismissive of features many people depend on in an age where RPGs have become exceedingly complex will result in him retaining a much smaller, more "elitist" audience of RPGers who think themselves "better" than the rest of the community because they do things "old-school". The other 90%+ of the community will ignore his game and move on.

It's fairly obvious from the start that he's not trying to sell to the modern MMORPG crowd. That doesn't necessarily mean that he's not selling to a broad audience, because I'm sure there are plenty of people (such as myself) who agree with his concepts of what an RPG should be. I don't play MMOs, but I think I would if they were like this, and there are probably a bunch of people with the same mindset. If there weren't, the game wouldn't have gotten two million dollars on kickstarter, yeah?

 

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