A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #31
    Eldritch Horror in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Baldur's Gate 2 would fit this pattern as well - you need to raise a huge pile of gold to buy the help of the Thieves' Guild or Assassins in finding Imoen, but you have infinite free time in which you can wander around doing whatever side-quests suit your fancy or just farming endless random encounters. The bad guy's evil experiments on her and the other inmates will politely continue endlessly until you do.
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel, on quest rewards View Post
    "Is a stack of ten pancakes too many pancakes to give to the party, even if most of them fell on the floor and one or two were stepped on? I wanted to give my party pancakes as a reward but I'm unsure if it's too much. The pancakes are also laced with blowfish poison so the party would have to get an antitoxin before they could eat the ones which weren't pulverized by shoes."

    I don't think anyone would want those pancakes even if you paid them to eat them.

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Oblivion was deliberately more urgent than Morrowind. The lack of urgency in Morrowind was seen as a weakness. I can understand that, because you got some really vague instructions and you could forget all about it and pretty much forego the main quest (however, I believe that it overall made the game better on a narrative level). By comparison, Oblivion starts out with a major crisis (the Emperor is killed), followed by an urgent quest to find his heir that sees assassins pressing on your heels at Weynon Priory, and finally an even larger crisis as you reach Kvatch and the Oblivion invasion begins.

    Skyrim doesn't strictly feel urgent to me, but it very deliberately puts the main quest right in your face, and there's even one quest-unrelated character that tells you "dragons are the main thing now, do that", so you don't miss it.
    Quote Originally Posted by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1955
    I thought Tom Bombadil dreadful — but worse still was the announcer's preliminary remarks that Goldberry was his daughter (!), and that Willowman was an ally of Mordor (!!).

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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Personally I don't find that Oblivion seems too urgent once Martin is at Cloud Ruler Temple. Sure, the Oblivion crisis is going on, but it's a slow burn, things are still under control at the time. You just don't have all that much reason to start faffing about seeking adventures since no one is telling you you've got the opportunity to do so.

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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Oblivion is cursed with the unintended invisible timer known as A-bomb. Nobody told me I needed to save the world before the flames stopped flickering.
    “Rule is what lies between what is said and what is understood.”

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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    It isn't open world, but the Mass Effect 2 conceit of needing to get a team together and whip them into fighting trim before launching an important end-game mission would seem to be a way to make the main quest narratively urgent, but still keep the side-content relevant to the the main quest, if only as a way to "train" the team. Narratively explains the side missions as a strategic choice about how to approach the main story problem, rather than the side content creating narrative dissonance.

  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Quote Originally Posted by Imbalance View Post
    Oblivion is cursed with the unintended invisible timer known as A-bomb. Nobody told me I needed to save the world before the flames stopped flickering.
    What do you mean?

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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    So I don't think it's mutually exclusive there's just a lot of common pitfalls games trip into usually because they're taking shortcuts. The obvious one is making the main quest too urgent. Fallout 4 is the common example here and it's really hard to dispute. You just watched your child get stolen in front of you. That overrides anything else. I'm going to find my child. Period. I might do side-quests in the vein of 'yes, I'll go kill that person who needs killing in exchange for information on my son'. I'm not going to spend a month playing house and fixing every tiny detail in your city. The goal should be something that's still compelling but less than 'this is the only thing that matters in the world'. So I think that’s step 0. Additionally, you should try to make the player actually care. Manipulating the player by introducing a fake a wife/child, someone they have no real connection to, just to instantly fridge them is not a great start.

    Next, you need to pace the urgency. This means you should both have times when it feels really urgent and when you’re free to explore because that’s what you SHOULD be doing. Fallout 3 does a decent job of this. You get chased out of the vault, everything is urgent, and you’re looking for your dad to explain what the heck is going on. The game does a decent job directing you to Megaton just based on map/geography design. Once there you get a whole bunch of options on how to look for your dad and a couple of obvious/natural side quests. You get sent chasing him across the world, but you feel free to explore along the way. Because you’re still progressing towards your goal of finding him. Then you have times when the main quest feels much more urgent; this is where FO3 stumbles. Once you’re ready to help your dad fix the purifier, the Enclave show up and murder him, the frantic escorting of the scientists to the brotherhood makes it feel urgent again. The natural thing is to push through to go get the GECK, get captured, and then wipe out the Enclave. The pacing fails here because the game pushes you so hard and then just ends in a very arbitrary way. You’re punished for following the interesting main quest, for following the natural pace, by having the game end.

    The Witcher 3 does a slightly better job here, most quests are still available. You’re not punished for beating the main story, there are a few missable quests, but for the most part everything is still available. The problem in W3 was with the leveling system and the fact that you outrank anything you might have left to do. But that situation was caused by poorly pacing content, encouraging quests to be done in a relatively specific order to minimize xp loss rather than just playing the game; bouncing between locations to keep up with all the quests instead of truly diving into one area.
    Here’s some ideas I think would help when planning quests out, I'm going to call the Inigo principles inspired by the Princess Bride. First, the main quest should have an impact on what you do. You should begin conversations with 'do you have 6 fingers on your right hand?' Probably not every conversation, because yes that would get tedious. But it should be an option when you get to new areas, sometimes the answer can be global. ‘No, we haven’t had anyone pass through town.’ Sometimes, it should be radiant directions to the next clue, ‘maybe ask the sheriff, he arrested some drunk who…’ Your all-consuming quest for vengeance is important, you should be able to work towards it all the time, not just while following the big quest markers. Too many games have the main quest cordoned off from the rest of the game, take the time to integrate it more fully.

    Second, you need to develop and prepare. Challenge the boss too early and get two stylish scars; you need to learn the sword or get nursed back to full health first. The main quest should move you to new areas and push you to explore them to level up. It helps if you build in natural opportunities to explore and level. Going back to FO3, it does a good job of this with Megaton and an ok one with GNR. You get introduced to a couple of main areas, shown the main enemies, exposed to some natural side quests. Putting in several obvious sections where the correct move is to just run and explore and do side quests while looking for leads/gathering mcguffins is important. It lets you build in natural peaks and troughs into the story. Search for Mcguffin (low tension), find Mcguffin (rising tension), struggle over Mcguffin (rising to peak tension), escape/win/lose(falling tension), figure out what you just won (steady state-rising tension). You just had an urgent compressed section of main story line, here’s a natural breakpoint while we ease off the tension. A steady state where you get a chance to explore, ideally the world has changed in some way given your progress on the main story opening up new options/areas. Then when it is time to hop back into the main story, the tension raises naturally with the search/location of the next mcguffin.

    Because when you make progress on the main quest, you should want to pursue it! This is what really develops a true sense of urgency. Find out where the 6 fingered man is and you want to go hunt him down! If you realize you need the man in black, go get the man in black. If you find out the man in black is dead, hunt down the miracle maker! Once you actually make progress, you should want to keep making progress! There’s a balancing act between this and the last one, but it is something you can balance. Finally, have a plan for what comes next for the player. They’ve avenged their dead father, what now? It depends on the particulars of you game, but generally you want some sort of epilogue/post game section where the core gameplay can be repeated, the player can go finish quests or exploring areas they didn’t get to before, or see the changes they made in the game world. Showing is infinitely better than telling here. End game slides are ok, but it's a lot better if you can actually put in the effort to let people experience the changes firsthand.


    EDIT:
    Quote Originally Posted by Imbalance View Post
    Oblivion is cursed with the unintended invisible timer known as A-bomb. Nobody told me I needed to save the world before the flames stopped flickering.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rynjin View Post
    What do you mean?
    If you take too long there's a game breaking bug that can occur, typically after several hundred hours, where the animations slow down to nothing and the game is unplayable. Similarly, Fallout 3 autosaves frequently corrupt as they keep overwriting each other leading to memory bleeds which make the game constantly crash. #JustBethsedaThings
    Last edited by Thomas Cardew; 2021-09-24 at 11:55 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #38
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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    So, I'm not sure how hard it would be to really make this work, but what would people think of a game where the main quest is delayed?

    Say, you are released into the sandbox, you faff around a bit, level up, and once you reach a certain point of level or fame, you are contacted by someone who is important for the main quest, who has heard about this big new hero in town. Or the big catastrophe that needs to be stopped only happens later. Say, in the case of Oblivion, there's some kind of "is level 15 and in the Imperial Palace District" trigger, at which point the Emperor is spawned, say for some kind of ceremony, and then killed. At which point you can start the main quest, which can then be a bit more urgent.

    That would give you time to see the game world a bit and perhaps the narrative would make more sense.
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  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Or just have a preamble narrative that takes you around a bit of the world already and lets you get used to it before the main quest arrives.

    Y'know, like chasing Benny in New Vegas. That gives you a tour of the world, introduces the major factions, then when you track him down and recover the Platinum Chip then you find out what the real stakes are and begin the real main plot.

    Though I think the best preamble narrative is in Chrono Trigger where you don't know what the main plot is until the first 2300AD section, and by that point you've been introduced to the core tools of time travel and changing history, seen three of the available times, and then you find out the full stakes and Marle resolves to do something about it. Of course that's a linear narrative game so it's easier.

  10. - Top - End - #40
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    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    So, I'm not sure how hard it would be to really make this work, but what would people think of a game where the main quest is delayed?
    I'm not a fan of the idea, myself. I don't really like just wandering around with no clear objective in an RPG, I find it annoying. I wouldn't mind if you started off with something that appeared to be a main quest but turned out to be tangential to the real one, mind you. Effectively, that's what the original Fallout did--the original super urgent quest is to find a water chip for the Vault, but once you come back with that the Overseer decides you need to investigate the weird stuff you've heard about while finding that, and arguably that part of the main plot is the more important one, because it affects the entire post-apocalypse world and not just the few thousand people in Vault 13.

  11. - Top - End - #41
    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Cardew View Post
    So I don't think it's mutually exclusive there's just a lot of common pitfalls games trip into usually because they're taking shortcuts. The obvious one is making the main quest too urgent. Fallout 4 is the common example here and it's really hard to dispute. You just watched your child get stolen in front of you. That overrides anything else. I'm going to find my child. Period. I might do side-quests in the vein of 'yes, I'll go kill that person who needs killing in exchange for information on my son'. I'm not going to spend a month playing house and fixing every tiny detail in your city. The goal should be something that's still compelling but less than 'this is the only thing that matters in the world'. So I think that’s step 0. Additionally, you should try to make the player actually care. Manipulating the player by introducing a fake a wife/child, someone they have no real connection to, just to instantly fridge them is not a great start.
    I agree with most of this whole-heartedly, but I will say that, for me, they did a great job of making me care about my husband and kid. That opening, character-generating, section? I'm taking care of my son. I'm chatting with my husband. Codsworth is helping out. We're a family... and then the sirens go off. And we're running, and I'm making sure my husband and son keep up, and while I don't know these neighbors well I can tell they're my neighbors and then we get up to the lift and we see the bomb and JUST get below the lip before the wave hits us.

    I'm invested in those boys. I will do anything for those boys. Maybe it's just that, when I first played it, I had my newborn son on my lap, but, damn... every playthrough I carry those wedding rings with me throughout.

    The game that failed to make me care was New Vegas. Like, yes, I've been shot but... I'm gonna get shot a lot in this game. Hundreds of people are going to collectively put tons of lead into my hide. This one guy who did it in a cinematic? I'm not too concerned about him. I'm far more worried about the slavers or the ****ing cazadores.

    If you take too long there's a game breaking bug that can occur, typically after several hundred hours, where the animations slow down to nothing and the game is unplayable. Similarly, Fallout 3 autosaves frequently corrupt as they keep overwriting each other leading to memory bleeds which make the game constantly crash. #JustBethsedaThings
    That's less an "Oblivion" problem and more a "Bethesda" problem. The Oblivion Crisis doesn't suddenly get out of hand... just the save files.
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  12. - Top - End - #42
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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    I liked how Battle Brothers handled it. Your objective at the start of the game is to make a successful mercanary company. That keeps you occupied for most of the game. Around 100 days in, a crisis of some kind starts occurring. Maybe there's a war brewing, or the undead are stirring, or the orcs are attacking. It starts out slowly and then slowly consumes the game world until you're forced to get involved with it. You take part in the crisis along with everyone else in the world (in other words, you are not The Chosen One Hero Who Saves The Day) until eventually you overcome the threat and everything settles down again.

    Despite having a lot less story attached to them these crises feel a lot more organic than the ones in most RPGs I've played. It isn't a sudden upending of the world and a plucky teenager saves the day - a threat that always existed has now become more pronounced and you are one band of mercanaries among many acting to stop it.

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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    About Fallout 4, I immediately assumed that decades, if not centuries, had passed between the child being kidnapped and my character thawing, so that kid could be older than me, or not need me at all, or have died in ancient history or moved to the other side of the world and all of his traces be long gone. So I really couldn't feel that there was any urgency into finding him, as the world had moved on.
    Quote Originally Posted by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1955
    I thought Tom Bombadil dreadful — but worse still was the announcer's preliminary remarks that Goldberry was his daughter (!), and that Willowman was an ally of Mordor (!!).

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    smile Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    The game that failed to make me care was New Vegas. Like, yes, I've been shot but... I'm gonna get shot a lot in this game. Hundreds of people are going to collectively put tons of lead into my hide. This one guy who did it in a cinematic? I'm not too concerned about him. I'm far more worried about the slavers or the ****ing cazadores.
    In a way, given the subject of the thread, that's almost better--no urgency to complete the main quest if you don't care about it!

  15. - Top - End - #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    In a way, given the subject of the thread, that's almost better--no urgency to complete the main quest if you don't care about it!
    Yeah more evidence to me that New Vegas is better: guy shooting you in the head like that? can make you care. but if you don't well....no one is in danger. your revenge can wait. the whole chip thing is nothing that has any indication of speeding up events in any way. FO4 is not so great because even if you don't care about the child and guess the obvious twist, you still obligated to do the quest out of "but its a child though, would you leave a child without checking them?" and which is an implicit guilt trip if you don't care for the family thing.
    Last edited by Lord Raziere; 2021-09-25 at 02:17 PM.
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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    I think that NV nailed the lack of urgency. Yes, you shot me, yes, I get shot a lot. No one survives shooting me. But... I'll get to you eventually. You think I'm dead, so I have all the time in the world.

    Oblivion nailed 'urgency' but deployed in such a way that... each piece felt urgent, but there was no over-arching 'OMG, I must rush the next piece'. Take dude the necklace, he's there, and it's in that direction. It's 'urgent, but no one else knows you've got it, so it's not really I must go now urgent. Same thing for his next task, which is 'rescue the dude'. From where? The burning city? He's probably dead, so no big rush. Even closing the gates wasn't too big of a rush because... yes, they're dangerous, but it turns out the empire has a functioning army, so when stuff pops out, it ends up with a fight on it's hands.

    That said I usually play this sort of game twice, before deciding replayability. The first time is the Story Rush. I play through to the end of the main story and take note of what is and isn't unlocked by progressing it. Then the second is mostly entirely sidequests, unless something is required for unlocks. Skyrim was really good about not locking much away. Fallout 4 was bad about it. Oblivion was kind of in the middle.

    I don't mind when a game doesn't impart a sense of urgency on me, nor do I mind when it does. Honestly, the twist in F4 came as a surprise to me. I figured the kid would be older, but not that much older, or to have simply been dead all along. My first character never KNEW who he was because well, he stepped into the room and got a face full of minigun.
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  17. - Top - End - #47
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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    Oblivion was deliberately more urgent than Morrowind. The lack of urgency in Morrowind was seen as a weakness. I can understand that, because you got some really vague instructions and you could forget all about it and pretty much forego the main quest (however, I believe that it overall made the game better on a narrative level). By comparison, Oblivion starts out with a major crisis (the Emperor is killed), followed by an urgent quest to find his heir that sees assassins pressing on your heels at Weynon Priory, and finally an even larger crisis as you reach Kvatch and the Oblivion invasion begins.
    That, in my estimation, was one of the biggest reasons why Morrowind is so much better a game than Oblivion. Morrowind does build up a sort of pressure, slowly, by introducing more and more blighted creatures, ash zombies and the like to the world. First time I played it, I didn't know that corprus couldn't actually spread like any other disease, and when I started to see more and more infected - things outside the Ghostfence, it really made me think "OK, gotta get on with that main quest".

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Cardew View Post
    Next, you need to pace the urgency. This means you should both have times when it feels really urgent and when you’re free to explore because that’s what you SHOULD be doing. Fallout 3 does a decent job of this. You get chased out of the vault, everything is urgent, and you’re looking for your dad to explain what the heck is going on. The game does a decent job directing you to Megaton just based on map/geography design. Once there you get a whole bunch of options on how to look for your dad and a couple of obvious/natural side quests. You get sent chasing him across the world, but you feel free to explore along the way.
    I agree with pretty much everything you wrote about FO3 and 4. Haven't played Witcher 3. FO3 does a good job of pacing, but lets itself down with its much (and justly) maligned ending.

    I also like FNV, which (as mentioned) gives you all the time you want to explore the world - but then the Legion loot delivery death squads start coming after you. What's good about them is, they're tough enough to be a challenge. They generally start to show up when I'm about level 5 - right after I kill the legion squad in Nipton, and before I've got a companion - and at that stage, without preparation/forewarning, I'd be dead. Even knowing what to expect, I've still got a significant fight on my hands. That creates (for me) a real sense of pressure, without anything so arbitrary as a timer.

    Edit: I've just realised I used the word "pressure", rather than "urgency", in connection with my favourite games. I think that may be the key. You can take all the time you like to get on with stuff, but as you drag your feet, the world gets steadily more hostile for you.
    Last edited by veti; 2021-09-25 at 06:19 PM.
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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    A principle I learned back in the 16-bit era was "You'll always arrive just in time, no matter how much you did in between." It's actually jarring to be held to any sort of time restrictions, since it goes against decades of experience. Finding out I could be too late to save my captured crew in Mass Effect 2 thanks to trying to be a completionist was one of the biggest shocks I've had in my lifetime of gaming.

    How many games actually do put the story under enforced time restraints? I can barely think of a handful... Fallout 1, Star Control 2, my example from ME2, and uh... Suikoden 2? It has an entire one character's storyline that only completes successfully if you finish the game fast enough for him to catch his target.
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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    I agree with most of this whole-heartedly, but I will say that, for me, they did a great job of making me care about my husband and kid. That opening, character-generating, section? I'm taking care of my son. I'm chatting with my husband. Codsworth is helping out. We're a family... and then the sirens go off. And we're running, and I'm making sure my husband and son keep up, and while I don't know these neighbors well I can tell they're my neighbors and then we get up to the lift and we see the bomb and JUST get below the lip before the wave hits us.

    I'm invested in those boys. I will do anything for those boys. Maybe it's just that, when I first played it, I had my newborn son on my lap, but, damn... every playthrough I carry those wedding rings with me throughout.

    The game that failed to make me care was New Vegas. Like, yes, I've been shot but... I'm gonna get shot a lot in this game. Hundreds of people are going to collectively put tons of lead into my hide. This one guy who did it in a cinematic? I'm not too concerned about him. I'm far more worried about the slavers or the ****ing cazadores.
    I'm glad it worked for you. It did not for me. If FO4 had put the work in, I would have invested a lot more into my family. But they didn't put the work in, because the beginning's too rushed. If it had taken a little more time, actually involved me in my spouse's and neighbors' lives I would have cared a lot more. Your neighbors don't even have names in the subtitles. They get more characterization post-death than they did in life. You have the neighbor who sets up a sniper nest on top of their home. Instead of that being a nameless character, let's make them Eugene Shled, partially orphaned son of one of Nate's dead war buddies. The shooting tutorial is now you teaching the kid to shot, using his dead dad's gun. Then when you find Eugene dead, still holding his dad's rifle the way you taught him, on top of his house... it means something. That's a gun I'd keep in my collection, just like I hold onto my Vault 101 Jumpsuit.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    That's less an "Oblivion" problem and more a "Bethesda" problem. The Oblivion Crisis doesn't suddenly get out of hand... just the save files.
    Agreed, I was just answering the question.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rodin View Post
    Despite having a lot less story attached to them these crises feel a lot more organic than the ones in most RPGs I've played. It isn't a sudden upending of the world and a plucky teenager saves the day - a threat that always existed has now become more pronounced and you are one band of mercanaries among many acting to stop it.
    Organic strategies like these can work really well for some games like strategy and procedurally generated ones. They work less well for bespoke crafted worlds or story driven ones, you can't make the Witcher 3 with this way. Pick the one that's right for the game your trying to make and the story you want to tell.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    About Fallout 4, I immediately assumed that decades, if not centuries, had passed between the child being kidnapped and my character thawing, so that kid could be older than me, or not need me at all, or have died in ancient history or moved to the other side of the world and all of his traces be long gone. So I really couldn't feel that there was any urgency into finding him, as the world had moved on.
    As a genre-savvy player, I agree. But the game tried to play it straight, it wants to pretend that my character and the world all believe this was recent and urgent. If it’s going to do that, it should do it should follow through, not fake a sense of urgency.
    Quote Originally Posted by NeoVid View Post
    A principle I learned back in the 16-bit era was "You'll always arrive just in time, no matter how much you did in between." It's actually jarring to be held to any sort of time restrictions, since it goes against decades of experience. Finding out I could be too late to save my captured crew in Mass Effect 2 thanks to trying to be a completionist was one of the biggest shocks I've had in my lifetime of gaming.

    How many games actually do put the story under enforced time restraints? I can barely think of a handful... Fallout 1, Star Control 2, my example from ME2, and uh... Suikoden 2? It has an entire one character's storyline that only completes successfully if you finish the game fast enough for him to catch his target.
    This can be a really good thing, as long as it’s an actual design decision. Making your actions have clear consistent consequences can be a great decision. Doing it for arbitrary reasons, is well, stupid and arbitrary. Things like the Farcry easter egg and Bioshock twist are fantastic because they are intentional design decisions that understand the game they made.

    Old puzzle games used to have timers. Things like Kings Quest 3, where you had a week to kill the magician or you would. Quest For Glory 2 had elementals destroy the city if you didn’t defeat them within a few in game days. Strategy games still semi-frequently have time limits on some missions. While I understand why some people hate them, I think they can be really useful and actually enhance a game/story if done correctly. But slapping an arbitrary time limit on something just to make it ‘harder’ is uninteresting.
    Last edited by Thomas Cardew; 2021-09-25 at 09:28 PM.

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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    I also like FNV, which (as mentioned) gives you all the time you want to explore the world - but then the Legion loot delivery death squads start coming after you. What's good about them is, they're tough enough to be a challenge. They generally start to show up when I'm about level 5 - right after I kill the legion squad in Nipton, and before I've got a companion
    You realise that the Legion don't send the death squads after you if you don't kill the squad in Nipton, right? You have to be Vilified with a faction before they start doing that.

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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Allow me to chime in on the dichotomy between how F:NV and FO4 handled the urgency vs free roaming issue with a couple of additional points.

    With Fallout: New Vegas, there's another explicit hint right out of the gate that exploration is going to be a good thing. "Truth is, the game was rigged from the start." Once you hit up the courier station, which is where you're pointed at out of Goodsprings, you begin to realize that there were several couriers, each with a different item, each with a different path. But this guy in the checkered suit? He knew which courier had the item he wanted, knew where that courier was at that given time to be able to generate an interception and ambush, and knew about it enough ahead of time that he was able to get everything set up.

    Why is this relevant? Because it implies a degree of power and supporting organization that means you can't just solo this guy... yet. If you were to somehow rush straight to New Vegas and confront him, the logical expectation would be a repeat, if not worse. I mean, he just took you down with a couple of Khans for bodyguards way out in the boonies. How much of a chance would you have on HIS turf if you don't get something to even the odds? So yea, you've got a good ol' fashioned revenge plot simmering, but you also know that you can't take him yet, so it's not an immediate priority. It's a long-term goal, burning away in the background. This is subtly reinforced as you continue following the breadcrumb trail. In NOVAC, you find out more about the Khans from the two snipers that they're really scary badasses, and that this guy has a couple working for him as minions? Is another flex of power. Khans don't normally hire themselves out as bodyguards, so for this guy to have them working for him is a Big Deal(tm).

    As a bit of reverse psychology is our rootin' tootin' shootin' robo-buddy who dug us out of that shallow grave. Who does keep subtly pushing you at 'Mr. Fancy Pants", all the while demeaning Benny's likely skills. implying that he's more show than power in an attempt to encourage you to go after him more directly. But at the same time, his presence is... shall we say 'so exceedingly convenient as to stretch past the point of incredulity'? Now, it could come off as bad plot writing, which FO4 is definitely guilty of. However, I feel that it's done this way on purpose to generate that sense of 'this seems a bit TOO convenient'. He even goes out of his way to explain why he has a reason to be where he is when you run across him, without actually asking for the reason, which is also kinda suspicious. This is a hint that there are deeper games at play, and someone is trying to play you as well.

    Compare and contrast with FO4, which has probably the single most urgent plotline ever written for a sandbox style game. That's *YOUR SON* they took. ANY parent is going to immediately respond with 'first priority, getting my kid back, second priority is literally anything else, up to and including survival if necessary'. That's why FO4 just seems so... badly written. In addition to railroading at several points which were crude and blunt and narratively jarring, rescuing your kid when there is *ANY* chance of doing so, no matter how slim, takes absolute priority. Screw your settlements, Garvey, I don't care about the survival of the human species as a whole, right now my kid takes priority to that.

    Furthermore, you are *REQUIRED* to follow the trail of breadcrumbs in FO4. Key locations simply will not be accessible until you trigger certain plot points, hard coded to prevent you from skipping parts of the story. Meanwhile in F:NV, if you beeline straight to New Vegas, either getting through the Cazadores north of Goodsprings or the Deathclaws of the 15, you'll have your 'good ol' buddy' right there at the Lucky 38 to fill you in on what you might have missed along the way, and you can just pick up the plot right there. So not only is FO4's urgency off, you are actively prohibited from acting on that urgency that they deliberately built up by using such a powerful impetus because of arbitrary game mechanics, which feels extra frustrating when compared to F:NV's handling of the situation, which does let you skip much of the 'main plot' if you so choose even though it has a lower immediacy level. And it does make at least some sense when you think about it. Your goal was to deliver the chip to New Vegas. Dude had a really fancy suit, totally unsuited for the wilderness of Nevada. That means money and an office, and there aren't many places where that can exist in the Mojave. Then you take a step out and see the brilliancy of The Strip and can naturally come to the conclusion of "Yea, if someone rigged this from the start, they had to have been involved in it from the beginning of the deal, New Vegas is a good bet to start". I think someone very early on even explicitly mentions that Benny's fancy suit probably means he's from New Vegas, but hold up there because you're going to need to take the long way around or else the cazadores and deathclaws are going to pick your bones clean, so head south to Nipton and cut across instead. If you do manage to get through the meatwall, the game rewards you by letting you skip all that plot and pick you up when you hit the Strip.

    So not only is the urgency in FO4 completely out of kilter with the open sandbox game mechanics presented, as compared to F:NV, the way it handles that urgency is even worse, because you MUST ride the plot train from point to point before reaching your destination.

    Then let's talk about how the sidequests are generally introduced, because that's another factor that is relevant to this conversation. We've already established that in FO4, you have very little reason to deviate from your goal of rescuing your kid so long as there is ANY chance he's still alive. But let's look at how any side-quests are presented to you, which further disincentivizes you from following them. Preston Garvey is... well, he's Preston [REDACTED] Garvey. One of the most annoying NPC's since Navi or Vi. He *ALWAYS* has another settlement that needs your help, it's a radiant quest mechanic that is deliberately set up to give you an unlimited number of quests to grind on, and is constantly pestering you to do something about them every time you walk in his general proximity. Now let's be clear here. If you run into him (which is a good bet, since I don't think Diamond City will open until you listen to Mama Murphy and deal with the initial Deathclaw), the situation is presented as 'people in trouble need help', then it quickly devolves into 'we have our own baggage and our own cause, and we want you to divert yourself from rescuing your kid to help us with our problems'. Which is already a 'nope, sorry, too busy looking for my kid, once I find him I might come back and help. Maybe'.

    Contrast with Fallout: New Vegas's plot hooks that have the promise of useful gear. Given you start off with some pretty crap gear, and you know the guy you are hunting down is well heeled and entrenched, it's a good idea to gear up a bit before taking him on. Furthermore, you've got a long and very dangerous trek through the Mojave ahead of you, which you need to survive if you want your payback. Which you can't do without some basic supplies. So the game subtly encourages you to wander off the beaten path with something that promotes your ultimate goal of getting your revenge by offering something that is relevant to that goal. Even the DLC encourages you to check it out for the same reason. A Brotherhood bunker is a great source of high-tech weapons and power armor which can be useful if you have to kick the door down on the Strip. And you do end up leaving Dead Money with a few useful things, notably the Holorifle if you're an energy weapon build. The Science Fiction Double Feature that sends you to the Big MT nets you a bunch of useful stuff, plus some extremely useful augments. Lonesome Road teases you more information about your past and the job you took. It doesn't deliver on it, but that's the hook that gets you curious about it. Everything you are doing in the Mojave is preparing for your confrontation with Benny, as opposed to FO4's tendency to distract you FROM your main plot.
    Last edited by ShneekeyTheLost; 2021-09-25 at 11:51 PM.
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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    You realise that the Legion don't send the death squads after you if you don't kill the squad in Nipton, right? You have to be Vilified with a faction before they start doing that.
    -Looks up from Vulpes Inculta's disintegrated ashes-

    Wait... You can not kill Vulpes? Huh. Learn something new everyday.

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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    "The Legion is a legitimate faction option some characters would reasonably pick! Honest!"

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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    I never killed Vulpes there simply because attacking him and his squad felt like suicide. Im usually level one or two with a varmint rifle or something at that point.

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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Quote Originally Posted by Anteros View Post
    I never killed Vulpes there simply because attacking him and his squad felt like suicide. Im usually level one or two with a varmint rifle or something at that point.
    Mercenary Pack really changes the early game.

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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Maybe a game mode organized more like Majora's Mask, where you can repeat the open world loop. Sure, you are on a timer, but you can reawaken in the vault at this date, every time.

    No no matter what you do, the Brotherhood of steel invade the Commonwealth in 20 days. If you do nothing, the Institute will sabotage them 20 says later, and the Commonwealth will collapse in war, game over.

    You can try to change the timeline. Extend it. Make the game a temporal sand box.

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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    Oblivion was deliberately more urgent than Morrowind. The lack of urgency in Morrowind was seen as a weakness. I can understand that, because you got some really vague instructions and you could forget all about it and pretty much forego the main quest (however, I believe that it overall made the game better on a narrative level).
    That sounds like it has to do with Morrowind's atrocious journal more than anything. If the game made it clear you're meant to do your own thing and report back to Caius, it might not feel this way. But things get lost easily in Morrowind's journal.
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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    You realise that the Legion don't send the death squads after you if you don't kill the squad in Nipton, right? You have to be Vilified with a faction before they start doing that.
    I know, but what kind of wuss would I be if I didn't take out those thugs?
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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    In a way, given the subject of the thread, that's almost better--no urgency to complete the main quest if you don't care about it!
    Well that was my point, though perhaps I could have explained it better.

    The lack of urgency in New Vegas is a plus, in my view. Because it means I can wander about the wasteland that has been designed for wandering about in, discover random quests, meet interesting people, etc, without feeling any dissonance. Others have explained why rushing after Benny immediately after leaving Mitchell's house is a bad idea from an in-universe point of view, and New Vegas basically lets you decide how important that is.

    Whereas chasing Shaun or Ciri feels like it should be as important to me as it is to the main character...but hey look a question mark/undiscovered location. Is that a vault? An abandoned school? A treasure chest in the middle of a field?
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    Default Re: Urgency in free roaming games, and/or lack thereof

    Quote Originally Posted by Cikomyr2 View Post
    Maybe a game mode organized more like Majora's Mask, where you can repeat the open world loop. Sure, you are on a timer, but you can reawaken in the vault at this date, every time.
    God, please, no. These "time loop" games seem to be mysteriously popular recently, and I just don't get the appeal at all--where's the fun in playing through the same stuff over and over again until you find the trick to finishing it?

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