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The future of Fall from Heaven

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Fall from Heaven' started by Kael, Apr 17, 2010.

  1. Link

    Link Scarves

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    . --. --- / -.-. .- -. / -. --- -. / -.. .. -.-. --- / ...- --- ... / -- .- --. .. ...
    = I can not tell you more, in Latin, in Morse Code.
     
  2. Kael

    Kael Deity

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  3. Azhral

    Azhral Let's get Tactical!

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    Play it backwards at exactly 186.03% speed and you can heal Kael explaining everything. Or maybe its just Hemah dreaming again, I'm not sure. The tentacles lodged in my brain make it hard to think...
     
  4. Avahz Darkwood

    Avahz Darkwood Emperor

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    This does tell us who is not involved with the super secret project!! So it does tell us something...
     
  5. Morkonan

    Morkonan Warlord

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    That was a great round-table interview!

    I thought there were a few key points of interest: (Hope this isn't too much of a derail..)

    I thought Kael's mention of keeping complete control of the code in the best interests of continuity of development was excellent. If there is anything more destructive than having alien code in a program without the alien who wrote it being present to debug it, I don't know what would be. Something like that could completely halt development and stymie the efforts of the rest of the hard-won Team. Keeping code flowing through one channel, that is presumably permanent, prevents that from happening.

    Someone made the comment regarding video games versus games that lent themselves to "House Rules" that was along the lines of "Video games locked us down into one set of rules." I loved that comment because it's so true. Traditional video games come with a static set of rules. What can be done with the game and how it can be played are locked. There is little room for player input and resulting diversity within the game. Modding breaks that mold and puts video gaming more into the family of "house rules" games. The obvious enthusiasm of all those who commented on this is... obvious, isn't it? After all, nobody wants to see a "You're in our world now!" splashscreen... They want to be in "Their World." You can't buy or code that kind of enthusiasm. But, you can foster it by allowing players to insert their own House Rules (Mods) into a game. A game with a Moddevpack is a fertile field waiting to be seeded by enthusiastic players. A game without one, in these times, will surely end up being a fallow field.

    I liked Kael's comment regarding "playing with the game." I'll blatantly expand on it - Sometimes, playing with the game is a lot more entertaining than playing the game. Playing with the game makes it personal. It's no longer an "entertainment app" on your computer - It's YOUR entertainment app. If you aren't a modder, some modder may create a mod that simply fits your style and allows you to have a personal interest in a game. That's something a developer can't buy, create or code. The player has to do that for themselves by either modding the game the way they want it or happening upon another modder who has created something that "speaks" to the player and realizes their own dreams for what the gameplaying experience can be. Often, the player can end up playing the game "the way it should have been" for them instead of the way the developers envisioned it for them. The two are not always the same thing. When they aren't the same and can never be made to be, the game will fail. There is no longer a "Generic_Player_00" that devs can target. That model is dead as last week's a_dead_rat_048.

    Soren's comment regarding mods and the dilemma they place on developers was particularly pertinent, I thought. Paraphrased: "So, if a modder comes up with an addition, what happens to our expansion?" IOW, what happens when the modders are given tools that enable them to produce expansion-like mods? Modding-in Babylon to a Civ game that didn't offer that Civ was given as an example. If that is done, what happens to the developer's content in the expansion? What will "sell" the expansion? One solution he suggested was that developers end up having to put constraints on the modding community. I think that's only fair. Leave the big engine enhancements to the developers.

    But, I also think that the devs simply have to be better at designing their own game than their mod community if they expect to compete with the mod community. That's not always possible. As an example, the many former forum goers and players who are now employed by the developer... What is the dev's solution to the Expansion Pack dilemma? Either you restrict the original code that can be modded, you have to add to the basic game elements or you have to add additional, moddable content.

    However, there comes a point when developers shouldn't see themselves in competition with their mod community. I think CivIV's expansion of BTS shows that developers are willing to partner with the mod community and even offer them more tools with which to tell their own stories or present their own mechanics to the playerbase. A developer that works with the mod community has a better chance of being a successful developer. One that does not will never be able to take advantage of the additional benefits and strengths an active and enthusiastic mod community can bring to the table.

    An expansion that is simply "You can now play SideX" is neat, but not really breathtaking. But, an expansion that lets you "Mod the previously unmoddable" or "Introduces a brand new game element" is exciting. If Starcraft II's expansion elements only introduce additional SP sides and storylines without introducing new game elements, it's only going to be a fanboy driven sales spree. Graphics is nice, 3D animation is cool, storylines are "killer"... but, in the end, it's the gameplay that counts. When that loses its luster, the game's Uninstall button gets pushed no matter how many expansions there are.

    The subject of DLC (Downloadable content) came up. I think DLC is here to stay. Companies that embrace the idea without forcing DLC on their customers are going to produce the best products. Companies that release titles that depend on DLC are simply not going to survive. Everyone wave goodbye to Flagship's Failboat...

    Anyway, I'm sure I was too verbose above. But, I obviously think that a lot of really great issues were discussed concerning player-generated content, mods and DLC's. Anyone interested should definitely grab a drink, sit back and listen.

    PS- Oh, and on House Rules. In my decades of playing D&D/AD&D, I have to say that I do not know of any group of dungeon crawlers and DMs that did not have their own House Rules on certain things. Inevitably, everyone one of them, including mine, had all sorts of wonderful charts they would be more than happy to show you, brag about and tell you all the real-life backstory behind why it was created. That's the kind of enthusiasm and connection that the game inherently brought to its players. Everyone was always more than happy to let you role on their Critical Failure Results Tables.... If every game could engender that kind of enthusiasm and encourage that kind of morbid fascination, we'd all be completely addicted to video games. Then again, that might not be a great idea in my perfect universe... /roll
     
  6. Link

    Link Scarves

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    Very interesting interview.
     
  7. Pickly

    Pickly Prince

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    On my computer (not sure about anyone else's), the playback of that podcast often skipped/jumped. Clearly, instead of being random results of poor enough quality internet or speakers, these skips represent a coded message about Fall from Heaven, which decoded, either says "I can't tell you more", or is complete gibberish. :)
     
  8. Morkonan

    Morkonan Warlord

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    During the skips, in between what was being said in the interview, did you hear a disturbing Whisper...?
     
  9. Jenaelha

    Jenaelha fields of Elanor

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    Agreed. One thing troubled me, Soren, the developer, had a hint of uncertainty on the viability of modding. Even if he seemed to fully appreciate the enthusiasm, feedback and talent to be found in mods he balked at some worries over profitability. He was concerned there may be no market for expansions if a wealth of mods were available for the taking. I personally think BTS proved that there is a way to find a market in that environment, but concede it isn't certain.
     
  10. Valkrionn

    Valkrionn The Hamster King

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    Honestly: In a game where modding is accepted, encouraged, and commonplace, the best bet for guaranteeing an expansion's success is to make the modders like it. If they switch, the players who play their mods will as well.... How many of us here bought BtS for BtS? I frankly bought it specifically for FfH.

    Introduce new capabilities with the expansion, new mechanics. Not just more of the same; If you try that, you will either fail, or have to limit modders.
     
  11. Grey Fox

    Grey Fox Master of Points

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    I can honestly say that I bought BtS for BtS first, FfH was a very nice bonus.

    BtS is still more of a polished and functional game than FfH. I say functional cause it's not as bloated in content. Which FfH is in a way, and our mod Rise from Erebus is even more. It's a streamlined, fun, challenging (even if much of that is just AI handicaps), etc.

    Sometimes many of the issues with the mods get to me and I break down and just play a standard game. It's refreshing really.
     
  12. Jheral

    Jheral Prince

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    Same here, though I rarely play vanilla BtS anymore.
     
  13. Valkrionn

    Valkrionn The Hamster King

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    And I can honestly say, I have NEVER played a game of vanilla BtS, and only around 5 or 6 of vanilla Civ4.

    The mods are all that keep me playing the game, and buying the series. Without them, I would not play Civilization, as I rapidly lose interest in the game. It is too simple, the different factions too similar, for my tastes.
     
  14. Broken Hawk

    Broken Hawk Emperor

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    I agree. Any vanilla Civ release quickly becomes boring without mods. I never did embrace Civ III because of it's lack of mod-ability, at least in my opinion.
     
  15. Morkonan

    Morkonan Warlord

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    I think that concern over the marketability of expansions is very real. After all, if the player has cool mods they can play or even mods that might BREAK due to an expansion, how does that effect the purchase of the expansion?

    I think the only way to go is to bundle additional tools and new game content-based mechanics into expansions. For instance, look at BTS. It came with a bunch of mods and some pretty decent additions to the game mechanics. CIVIV's modability went up and people had a chance to really see some nifty mods.

    Expansions for content are great, don't get me wrong. But, if the dev has worked in a significant modability into their game, they are already targeting for the re-playability/longevity factor of adding those, right off the bat. If they're adding in the possibility for releasing expansions, they either have to limit the toolset in the base game(As Soren suggested) or they have to add additional tools and modable content in the expansion. Which, basically, is the same thing... The end result is that expansions "need" to equate to bonuses for Mod developers to maximize the chance they will be purchased.

    IMO, one thing they have to try to do is limit the negative impact on mods in previous versions. That's very difficult. CIVIV does this, somewhat, by compartmentalizing everything and allowing you to hotload mods. So, you can have a great number of mods that don't mess with the base executables and they can still be radically different. (Thank you python.) With being able to opt to play CIVIV vanilla +mods or CIVIV+BTS+Mods, they broaden the field as wide as possible without breaking mods with expansion packs. Patches, on the other hand, are simply unpredictable and are necessary.

    Soren's concern is real. But, the bonus they get for having a very active mod community that will attract new players because of some cool mod the kid down the street is playing more than makes up for them having to come up with some interesting mechanics to throw to modders in an expansion. A loyal player base is worth its weight in gold pieces.
     
  16. Morkonan

    Morkonan Warlord

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    I've played some vanilla BTS (not a full game) but plenty of vanilla CIVIV. I found vanilla CIVIV to become boring after awhile. Granted, it's a heck of a lot better than most games on the shelf. But, re-playability suffers after awhile... that's what mods are for!

    I bought BTS solely because of the FFH2 Mod for it. I would not have bought it otherwise even with friends who wanted me to buy it so we could MP it together.
     
  17. Link

    Link Scarves

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    Wheres the love for BtS gone? Its a great game, with or without mods.
     
  18. Breunor

    Breunor Deity

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    Agreed. I loved BtS and I still think it is an outstanding game. However, I enjoy FfH so much more that I doubt I'll ever play BtS again, especially related to replayability.

    Best wishes,

    Breunor
     
  19. Azhral

    Azhral Let's get Tactical!

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    I still play BTS on occasion, though I'm currently playing a bunch of other mods. I recommend HOTK to anybody who hasn't played it yet, freaking awesome.
     
  20. Valkrionn

    Valkrionn The Hamster King

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    Essentially what I'd said, just more thought out. :goodjob:

    I completely agree. Making a game easily moddable allows players the satisfaction of being able to play the game they want; It adds a near endless replayability to the game. Yes, it makes it more difficult to produce expansions, and means that the expansion must introduce interesting new mechanics (Or, in the case of micro-purchases, excellent art; That is one area that mods are traditionally lacking, and can make the official version of a civ worth purchasing over a mod), but IMO it is well worth it in the end.

    Modding is what differentiates PC gaming from System gaming, what keeps people coming back. Removing or limiting it would be a very bad move IMO.

    Eh. Civilization is a good game. For a few games. Then I just lose interest; There are not enough differences between factions, so in the end the game is the same each time.
     

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