More is more?
I've moved on from Shadowlords to Dreamcatcher, and it's pretty impressive. I had no idea the NWN engine could do stuff like this - there's a minigame where you ride a dragon while people shoot at you from islands below; there's a whole sequence where you command a troop of elves to scout and fight; there are pirate battles; there are cutscenes. You can tell that Adam Miller had to hack and hack to make NWN do it, and the result isn't terribly polished (die and respawn in the dragon mission and you're running around in the air, sans dragon) but you gotta admire the guy for the sheer ambition.
Normally I'm a *less is more* sort of guy - but there is something to be said for sacrificing polish for lofty ambitions. For one thing, it's hard to market a game that's highly polished - what do you say? "Highly polished experience!" But it's easy to market something new, even if that something didn't work as well as you hoped. Die By The Sword had a "move editor", for example. It performed as advertised - you could record macros in a special tool and play them back in-game. Was it actually useful? No. Did it make the game more fun? Not really, although some people might have had a little fun experimenting with it. Did it sell more copies? Probably. There are better examples...like GTA. Breaks a lot of ground but not terribly polished. Sometimes more *is* more, and I'd rather play a game that does something new poorly than something old well. (Let's all shoot for doing something new well, though.)
NWN itself is surprisingly polished for a creation that is so mind-numbingly huge.
One little thing about Dreamcatcher that you have to be a total D&D dork to appreciate - it makes distinctions between law & chaos vs. good & evil, giving us a sort of moral palette I haven't seen since Ultima 4. I had to break a couple of vows to do the rght thing, and my character shifted towards chaotic good.
Shelf Level Event
I almost shelved it at a particularly hard boss midway through the game. After giving up for the night, I went back the next day, read the cheat sheet, and have to admit that it was my issue that I couldn't get past the boss, not the game's. Somewhere somebody has a game design rule that goes something like: "It should never feel like the game's fault if the player loses." I. E. when a player dies, he should say, "Oh, I know what I did wong. My bad." Nice in theory but I've found, in practice, people tend to be either self-blamers or game-blamers. I guess I'm a game blamer.
Like Shadowlords, I'm a little depressed now that it's over. Story-driven videogames are weird in that I'm usually in a big hurry to get to the end and then when it's over I get depressed. I get this emotion more with videogames than most other media - I think that's because I get more involved with games, and the experience lasts longer, although I also felt it when I finished reading Lord of The Rings the first time...and when The Sandman series ended...
Here's an incomplete list of games that made me sad when I finished them:
Beyond Good & Evil
Max Payne 2
Out of this World
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time
Ultima 2 (probably the first game I ever had that feeling with)
Zelda: Link to The Past
Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Here's an incomplete list of games that I finished but was not sad at the end - these are all good games, but they didn't give me that 'pang' at the end, for whatever reason
Everything or Nothing
Zelda: Wind Waker
Jak & Daxter
Deus Ex: Invisible War
System Shock 2
Here's an incomplete list of games I might have been sad to finish, but the final boss was too hard, so now we'll never know:
The question is: is there a magic ingredient the games from the first list have that we can steal and inject into our own games?
Sorry if there are typos I didn't catch - I decided to switch back to qwerty after all.