Did you feel herded? (*spoilers included*)

AuthorTopic: Did you feel herded? (*spoilers included*)
Warrior
Member # 7276
Profile #0
This is a comment on something I didn't like about GF4 as opposed to the previous games, and especially the first two.

I played as a Shaper turncoat (with Trakovite sympathies), and it seemed to me I was being "pushed" into a particular storyline, in which I keep infiltrating the Rebels.

After I'd been through the rebel safehouse and talked to General Alwan for the first time, I wanted to turn completely anti-Rebel. So I did things like killing everyone in the safehouse (the lady who tracks my reputation at Therile Colony said, "You seem tempted to the Shaper cause." And I wanted to say, "What was your first clue?") In the shaper camp at the north end, I killed everybody except Greta and Archibald. I tried to kill Greta too, but when I got her down to her last hit point, that hit point just would not go away (I grant I didn't save that game, but I did kill the rest of the camp around her). Yet, not only was I still the agent that the Shapers could use to infiltrate Rebel operations, but when I met Greta herself later on, she was ever so happy to see me. In the north, it was the same; I could wipe out all the Drakons north of Quessa-Uss and kill everything that wasn't Litalia in Derenton, yet Northforge was still open and friendly. (Possible bug: after I finished the duel inside Quessa-Uss, the female Drakon to the north still wanted me to duel her, on behalf of the guy I had already killed inside; in order to get permission to enter, when I had already entered from the west. I killed her anyway, and came back and killed all the others with her later, but Word Just Did Not Get Around. I was still welcome in Khima-Uss. I never destroyed that place because I didn't want the shaper agents there to start attacking me, the way Captain Archibald did.)

Now, if someone in the game had told me, "Communications in these mountains are really terrible. You can probably do this, this, and that without the Rebels up north finding out. But if you keep up your reputation with them, we can use you for undercover work..." - it would have been like a choice, infiltrate or fight (or at worst, infiltrate or fail). But instead it was as if God Almighty had ordained that, no matter what I did, the Rebels would not learn of it, and I could infiltrate; and Greta would survive to give me a friendly hello. (From what others tell me, the game also doesn't let you take the initiative and kill Ghaldring, but kills you instantly after 1 round if you try.)

Also, I wanted to do some small acts of kindness that my character would've done. Such as helping the reluctant merchant in the Shaper safehouse and the spy Captain Archibald to escape. Yet, once I started attacking the safehouse, the merchant wanted to attack me the same as everyone else. Even after I obliterated the Rebel camp where Archibald was (I carefully refrained from killing him - he wasn't that hard to avoid or escape), even when he was the only living thing in it, he insisted on attacking me. I grant, the game did let me help some refugees move north.

In short, I did not feel as if I was making a small part of the world's destiny, but rather as if I was being "herded" into a particular storyline, to which my choices were irrelevant (except for the big "A or B" choice, "Shaper or Rebel," and my ongoing decision not to use canisters). And that made this game less enjoyable than the others.

Another thing that would've been nice, that I haven't seen in any of them, is to let you affect the ending by some choice as to what policy your character would pursue after it was over. Suppose, let's say, you could've told Khyrik of your sympathy with Trakovite ideals, and this affects the ending - because you, as imperial administrator, have canisters smashed and ruthlessly suppress self-shaping, and build a faction among the Shapers to curtail the practice further...If the fifth game is to be the last, it might be an especially nice place for that.

Fellow players, what do you think?

[ Wednesday, February 28, 2007 08:25: Message edited by: Alberich ]
Posts: 63 | Registered: Tuesday, July 4 2006 07:00
Apprentice
Member # 3612
Profile #1
I think you broke the game. :D

If you 'mop up' everyone outside the plot line than it really is too much for the game engine to handle. If you want to gain or loose points with a faction I think you need to do it with missions. Not a "I cleared the entire northern provence of life" thing.
Posts: 26 | Registered: Tuesday, October 28 2003 08:00
Lifecrafter
Member # 7723
Profile #2
I know this is not exactly answering the question, but I never liked the fact that the whole town goes red when you attack someone or when one person sees you steal. If no one sees me attack the person or if i silence the person that witnessed my crime before they can report me, the whole town should not hate me.

Also I would like it better if my reputation was more localized. For example, if i kill rogues in an area then my reputation in that town and surrounding towns should improve. If I then did something dirty in a town where i had a very good reputation they should be more tolerant. Even if they go red because I kill someone they should not stay red forever. If I have a very good rep but kill someone inconsequential, my rep should go from very good to good or neutral. When I leave the town and come back in they should not be in kill mode.

That would make the game a lot more enjoyable to me. And yes, I did feel a little herded.
Posts: 701 | Registered: Thursday, November 30 2006 08:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #3
Yeah, the game can't quite decide whether news travels fast or slow. Certain actions are flagged to affect your reputation, and news of them seems to reach everywhere instantly. Other actions just don't do anything. Up to a point the game tries to make this make sense. The rebels are in such a tough spot that they have to trust you even when they might really not want to. The shapers are expecting you to maintain a rebel cover, so bumping off a few loyalist red shirts doesn't bother them. But it doesn't make sense for either side to go on trusting you after you make a serious attack on a major base or leader, unless there is some reason to believe that no-one knows you did it.

In places the game handles this sort of situation with auto-kill. It just doesn't do so consistently.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 6785
Profile #4
You are seeing the difference between scripted encounters and AI controlled situations. Certain characters are scripted to always survive because they are needed elsewhere. The game still doesn't have a way to let NPCs that are spies and should be friendly as you slaughter their enemies stay friendly.
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
Canned
Member # 8014
Profile #5
:eek:
There is a member who has only posted once (on this topic), but he registered in Oct. 2003.
That means he probably hesitated to post, or he forgot.
I posted right after I registered.

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Posts: 1799 | Registered: Sunday, February 4 2007 08:00
Warrior
Member # 6934
Profile #6
Alberich,
my two cents on the herding matter.
I find myself in disagreement with how you assess the game's plot. Also, I do not think of it as a problem with the game's engine or mechanics for that matter. If you decide, as you have, to kill all the rebels in the safehouse, there would seem to be some misunderstanding about your role within the plot, i.e. what role you play within the game (role playing game).
Now, if I understand you correctly, you want to be free to decide what to do under any particular circumstance, which is fine, as long as you stick to the basic predeterminations set out for your character. Should you disagree with the game's storyline to the point where you find yourself disappointed that you cannot kill everybody when you choose to do so, it seems to me, that you are not particularly interested in the storytelling.
To me it feels like being unsatisfied with your dungeon master for not being able to wrestle down four drakons with hands tied behind your back and get a reward from their father. Certain things are sort of out of character, and that surely isn't a problem with the game's engine.

edit: fixed typo

[ Wednesday, February 28, 2007 22:00: Message edited by: Locmaar ]
Posts: 183 | Registered: Sunday, March 19 2006 08:00
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #7
I'd like to see more of a consistently connected world, somewhat like what is being described. If a PC goes psycho and slaughters a town, word should get around and it should drastically affect how you are trusted and treated by any side. You've become clearly dangerous and possibly unhinged, certainly hard to trust.

I'd like a game that discourages indiscriminate killing, and in which psychopathic behavior is not so rewarding, and much more perilous. I don't like the subtle implications such a world can suggest to a gameplayer on even a subliminal level.

-S-

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Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Warrior
Member # 7276
Profile #8
Locmaar, that's not quite what I'm driving at. What helps to create the illusion in such a game is the idea that your judgments matter, have understandable consequences in the game world, and contribute to the unique ending you create. The first two games were good at that. (In both games, I committed very late or not at all, so I was able to keep talking to a lot of the participants for quite a while, but if I had gone another way, there were consequences.)

You're saying my decision to clear out the safehouse was misunderstanding about my role, on my part. Again, though, no one in the game world told me that I was supposed to leave them alive, or preserve the illusion I was cooperating with them, or that they'd be using me as an infiltrator once I reached Burwood. For all I knew, word was going to get around that I was a Shaper agent, and I might as well throw off the mask and start fighting now. And to be clear, the game didn't stop me from doing it - it just ensured that it wouldn't actually affect whether the Rebels trusted me.

After I headed north to Burwood, the Shapers told me that I could still infiltrate the Rebels. It didn't make sense; it wasn't convincing. (I mean, I probably would have gone the "infiltrator" way if I'd been given a choice, and never attacked the safehouse or the camp.) The same thing was true after I had killed everyone in the Rebel camp except Greta and Archibald. I figured my reputation with the Rebels would never have survived - that's not how it worked in the earlier games! - but it did, just fine. That hurt the illusion and thus the enjoyment. So did the fact that Archibald (who was not only a spy for the Shapers, but specifically joined the Shapers so he would not have to fight them) wants to attack me single-handedly even when all the Rebels are gone.

"To me it feels like being unsatisfied with your dungeon master for not being able to wrestle down four drakons with hands tied behind your back and get a reward from their father."

That is exactly the opposite of what I am complaining about. The game actually does let me get away with things like that, and it leaves out the kind of details that would make it convincing, as if the designer didn't care. It does not visit the consequences of my choices upon me, except for the big ones (shaper/rebel, canister/no canister, finish/kill the unbound), as I mentioned before.

I used to play live RPG's all the time and dearly loved them, but a DM with any skill who wanted to preserve something had ways of doing it that weren't so ham-handed. "Suddenly, General Greta becomes unkillable. But she's still killing you. And later on, she totally forgets you attacked, and she helps you." (Not that I believe CRPG's can, or should, be like pencil-and-paper games.)

At first I thought - having read the infamous "Jeff Vogel Hates CRPG's" interview - http://rpgvault.ign.com/articles/763/763050p1.html - that the designer had, by losing enjoyment of the games himself, forgotten what made his earlier ones good. But the glowing reviews I see on this page incline me to think that I'm the one who's out of step.

[ Thursday, March 01, 2007 07:26: Message edited by: Alberich ]
Posts: 63 | Registered: Tuesday, July 4 2006 07:00
Too Sexy for my Title
Member # 5654
Profile #9
quote:
Originally written by Synergy:

I'd like to see more of a consistently connected world, somewhat like what is being described. If a PC goes psycho and slaughters a town, word should get around and it should drastically affect how you are trusted and treated by any side. You've become clearly dangerous and possibly unhinged, certainly hard to trust.

I'd like a game that discourages indiscriminate killing, and in which psychopathic behavior is not so rewarding, and much more perilous. I don't like the subtle implications such a world can suggest to a gameplayer on even a subliminal level.

-S-

I agree with what you first said. Our actions should be held into account more than they currently are. However, I don't agree with the second paragraph. One of the things that motivated me to play Geneforge for the first time was the freedom of choice. Sure I always play fair and nice because my conscience wouldn't let me sleep at night any other way, BUT I feel better just by knowing that I have the choice :P
Posts: 1035 | Registered: Friday, April 1 2005 08:00
Shaper
Member # 6292
Profile #10
Welcome back, Marlenny. To what do we owe the pleasure of your return?

-S-

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A4 ItemsA4 SingletonG4 ItemsG4 ForgingG4 Infiltrator NR Items The Lonely Celt
Posts: 2009 | Registered: Monday, September 12 2005 07:00
Guardian
Member # 5360
Profile #11
Pleasure?

The closest Jeff's games got to retribution for your evil deeds was the Reputation system. It should be reinstated, and with the possibility of negatives.

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May the fires of Undeath burn in your soul, and consume it.
Posts: 1636 | Registered: Wednesday, January 5 2005 08:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #12
There is a reputation system in Geneforge, but it's trying to track loyalist vs. rebel stance, and nothing else. We had a discussion about this sometime before G4 came out. All I remember now is that someone (it might even have been me) suggested an idea that I liked. It couldn't be too much harder (the idea suggested) to have one or maybe a couple more kinds of reputation, instead of just the who's-side-are-you-on one. So there could be an Avernum-style reputation as well as the Geneforge one, and your PC and all your actions would carry two numbers, instead of just one.

After going through beta testing for G4, and seeing more of how Jeff works, I guess I see things a bit differently, though.

On the one hand, making one twisted humdinger of a multi-threaded storyline, in which multiple reputations were exploited to the hilt, would probably be far too complex. Jeff would be up to the story part of it, I think; but the time it would take to test and debug all that would be beyond his means.

On the other hand, just adding another reputation to handle a few bizarre cases, in which people weren't playing along with the story, would still be a fair amount of effort. And it would be effort that could be better spent elsewhere. Jeff's still in business, after years of his insane way of making a living, because he knows when and where to accept imperfection. There are always going to be lots of things wrong with any of his games, and he knows it. If he has time and energy left after getting something to basically work, he can knock off the top few nice-to-haves. I don't think this problem is going to make the cut.

Don't get me wrong: I do think there are things Jeff could improve, here and there, with only very little effort. What I'm saying is that he should do the quick and dirty fixes, like throwing in a few more auto-kills. More elegant but more elaborate solutions just aren't going to be practical.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 6785
Profile #13
At least with this reputation you are being judged for actions instead of what you say. In the earlier games you could profess loyalty to one side while you slaughtered them. Maybe if more actions were added to reputation like slaughtering all or most of friendly cities it would fix some of the problems.

I'd still like to see a separate reputation to deal with stealing, even though I finance most of my character's expenses with seeing how much I could take. Consider it a shoplifting cost.
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
Infiltrator
Member # 3220
Profile #14
quote:
Originally written by Dr. Strange:

Pleasure?

The closest Jeff's games got to retribution for your evil deeds was the Reputation system. It should be reinstated, and with the possibility of negatives.

Alas, trades (such as she comes back, and you leave) don't seem to be feasible.
Posts: 437 | Registered: Sunday, July 13 2003 07:00
Warrior
Member # 7276
Profile #15
SOT, I accept that, and I think you were answering Dr. Strange more than me, but what bothers me here is that I was trying to play along with the storyline, only the shapers weren't telling me what it was. If Jeff had added just a couple of lines to General Alwan - "I'm pretty sure you can help Moseh without the Rebels finding out, but other than that I want you to maintain your contacts with them, because we'll need you to spy on them later" - I would never have attacked the Rebel camps (until the end of the game), never found out the things I mentioned. The illusion would have been preserved.

(Alwan does say something like that very late in the game, right before I infiltrate Quessa-Uss, that he wants the Rebels to love me. And I played along with that - didn't attack any more northern rebels until after Alwan had infiltrated the area west of Northforge and was waiting for me to join him for the final assault. Of course, by then I pretty well suspected that I could do what I liked and it wouldn't matter, but I didn't push it. Likewise, I never stole much in any town I hadn't attacked, because I figured people would begin to notice their goods were gone even if they didn't see me take them. This is probably hogwash, but I was genuinely trying to play along.)

Of course, it would be better still if I really had the option of throwing off the mask and turning all the later Rebel encounters into hard fights (so, instead of duelling Salassar and getting permission to enter Northforge from Ghaldring, you break into Quessa-Uss, kill them both, and get the key to Quessa-Uss from Ghaldring's body) - I wouldn't have done that, but it would've meant something that my choices, my balancing act, led to infiltration. (And a "humdinger of a multithreaded storyline" would be better still, but I try to be reasonable.) Little details - like letting Archibald surrender to me and adding a paragraph to the end to say what happened to him afterwards - I don't think they'd add so much to the programming task, but they'd help me to believe the craftsman who put the world together actually cares about it.

That's important to me. Part of me approaches a storytelling game like a child being read a fairy tale...if you read me "Rumpelstiltskin" and you don't, for a few minutes, really care about whether the princess gets her baby back or not, then I feel like a fool for listening to you. Without the illusion - without the little chances to personalize it, to have my character do what he'd do and see the consequences - the guilty pleasure of spending a few (quite a few!) hours in someone's magical world begins to bring too much guilt and too little pleasure. I don't doubt that a lot of work actually went into the game, but it doesn't feel that way when the simplest continuity problems are so easy to run into.

(I also don't doubt that a lot of players here don't see it my way at all, and will be buying GF5, as I almost certainly won't. But I was curious as to whether anyone did.)
Posts: 63 | Registered: Tuesday, July 4 2006 07:00
Raven v. Writing Desk
Member # 261
Profile Homepage #16
Let me get this straight: you're not going to buy G5 because G4's Bob didn't give specific enough directions? Was G3, with its complete lack of plot, better in that regard?

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Posts: 3560 | Registered: Wednesday, November 7 2001 08:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #17
quote:
Originally written by Alberich:

If Jeff had added just a couple of lines to General Alwan - "I'm pretty sure you can help Moseh without the Rebels finding out, but other than that I want you to maintain your contacts with them, because we'll need you to spy on them later" - I would never have attacked the Rebel camps (until the end of the game), never found out the things I mentioned. The illusion would have been preserved.
General Crowley tells you the first time you meet him that you have to maintain your cover as a rebel:

quote:
question = "Now that I am aiding you, can you keep Shaper soldiers from attacking me?";
text1 = "_No. It is true that you are a highly valued asset. However, what makes you so valuable is the fact that you are a secret agent in the rebel ranks._";
text2 = "_If I go around telling every Shaper soldier that you are helping us, then the rebels are sure to find out somehow. So you will have to avoid Shaper soldiers as best you can. Or defend yourself, if absolutely necessary._";
In the absence of further orders to the contrary, that's what you should have been doing.

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Warrior
Member # 7276
Profile #18
Crypto - Good point - I had quite forgotten that. It may have been part of the reason why I was so keen to find the safehouse before I visited Alwan. I know I wanted to be sure to be able to get into it, and learn its secrets, before word got out that I had joined the Shapers, as I wwas sure it would.

I never dreamed (and nobody told me) that my rebel reputation would survive my betrayal of the safehouse and my choice to fix Moseh instead of killing him...particularly given the way GF3 worked; after you'd played a while and made the "shaper" choice a few times, the rebels went from, "Join us and do this," to "We'll give you one more chance to redeem yourself," to "Forget it, now. You're the enemy and we know it."

Slartyphobia - No. I'm not going to buy G5 because G4 wasn't enough fun, for me. More efforts to preserve the continuity, more loving craftsmanship, would have made it more fun for the reasons I stated.

I won't defend G3 here - I found it a little disappointing - but it did have a plot and I could understand how the characters were reacting.

[ Monday, March 05, 2007 04:58: Message edited by: Alberich ]
Posts: 63 | Registered: Tuesday, July 4 2006 07:00
Apprentice
Member # 1423
Profile #19
Alberich, I agree with you in that I was frustrated by my character's inability to follow a path that was consistent with his personality. I played a servile who was totally committed to liberating his own kind.

When I was dealing with the drakons, I had sign after sign that they weren't really my allies, and weren't friendly to my half of the rebellion. I was totally expecting an option at some point to break with them, to sabotage the Unbound, and to fight the shapers on my own terms.

I think the difference in this one from GF1-3 is that there are only 2 options and they're both pretty horrible. Granted, in GF3 there were only 2 options but they were both somewhat palatable, and you could imagine to yourself why your character was making each decision. In this one, you sell your soul either way. I would've settled for a third ending that was like "you wage a massive and ultimately futile fight against the drakons and the shapers."

So, while GF4 takes a superb step forward in terms of looks and playability, it takes a step back in terms of storytelling. The appeal of the series has always been the flexible storylines and the moral dilemmas.
Posts: 13 | Registered: Tuesday, July 2 2002 07:00
Warrior
Member # 8285
Profile #20
Is it necromancy to reply after three days of nothing? If so I apoligize. I just got to wonder how people can be mad if I game doesn't support (storyline ways) you exterminating every character in sight. But if you want to know a good place to kill everything try Rivergate Keep.

P.S. One of you mentioned earlier that you destroyed the safehouse but noone seemed to care. The safehouse is isolated and in the real world they couldn't of got a message out. And an easy awnser to friendly Greta is that shes had her memery fried by a stray firebolt or spell misfire.

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A duke is just a duke but you see, I am "The Duke"
Posts: 65 | Registered: Saturday, March 10 2007 08:00