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Ice-Pick Lodge forums • User stories
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 Post subject: User stories
PostPosted: 02 Dec 2014, 17:09 
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04 Jan 2014, 03:54

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User stories are a software development method that's also perfectly suitable for video games. The idea is very simple: you close your eyes and imagine that you're the end product user—and then you try to describe your wants and needs without thinking about how to implement it. "As a player, I want to feel like an ordinary person in a tough situation, not as Rambo who can defeat half The Town with his hands behind his back". That sort of thing.

Ivan, game designer, has written quite a number of Pathologic user stories, but did he miss something? Rossibly. Or maybe you disagree with him completely. Please share your user stories with us. What do you, as Pathologic players, want?


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 Post subject: Re: User stories
PostPosted: 19 Dec 2014, 17:20 
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I mostly agree with Ivan, but here's my list of things that I'd really like to see in the game:

General
- I want the game to be as smooth and polished as possible, bugs, glitches and balance issues break immersion.
- I want it to welcome any playstyle equally, so my success or failure won't depend on if I did choose the right one, but rather if I am good at what I'm doing. I don't want the game shove down my throat a certain playstyle. For example I need to have an option to complete the game without being forced to kill anyone (diplomacy, stealth, non-lethal options in combat) without getting penalized for my choice with a bad ending either. I don't mean any approach should have equal difficulty, of course in some situation fighting your way through doesn't make much sense and will be quite challenging, much harder to sneak past, but I still want it to be an option as much as being able to complete a certain part without being seen or heard.
- I want the game to be one of the most weird, surreal and mind-blowing experience I had, even compared to previous IPL games.
- I want to see many new things, not just the same Pathologic with better graphics and gameplay that is just a bit easier to enjoy.
- I want the game be equally hard every time I replay it, not being harder the first time just because I don't know what to do and be easier next time, as if actually the Bachelor just pretends he just a doctor from the capital, he's actually a hardcore survivalist that knows the town like the back of his hand, fights the plague like a epidemic expert and acts like he knows in advance what's gonna happen.
- I want the difficulty to be fair and feel natural. The game must be challenging not at the expense of constant frustration.

Town/travel:
- I want the town to be made like an actual town, not just a big game level. I want it built with a thought that people live there, and all the surroundings are shaped by their day-to-day lives. When you see a box near a house, you should be able to have a clue how it got there, who might have put it there and why.
- I don't want to see any invisible walls or obvious game-y artificial restrictions of my movement. If I'd run away from bandits and there was a fence I would climb over it in real life or squeezed through a narrow passage between the buildings or I'd crawl into someone's basement through a small window. I wouldn't do it like a ninja, I don't expect the game characters to be good at it either. I just want that to be an option.
- I want the townsfolk to feel alive as much as possible, have a smart AI with wide variety of behaviors that considers current circumstances and surroundings before deciding what to do.
- I want the generic town NPCs have voice lines, I want them to communicate with player and with each other, be that a bandit who taunts you, or a guard telling his comrade to get some help in a tough situation, or a beggar who asks for food, or someone passing by who shrugs off the said beggar. Also I want the playable character speak too, like say "sorry" if I bump into someone.
- I want the hostile NPCs to be more like people. That means not every encounter has to end with either them killing me or I killing them. Bandits can rob you and if you surrender and give them your valuables might even leave you unharmed. If I have a gun I can threaten someone (even bluff while I have no bullets) with it and make them reconsider their decision to attack me, or even rob them myself if I'm lucky or if they are not that desperate. No one would charge head-on at someone who's aiming a gun at them, right?

Gameplay:
- I want the playable characters to be more than a generic floating camera with hands sticking out of it to hold weapons. I want them to have bodies, legs, clothes, and arms, not just to hold weapons.
- In addition I want the main three characters feel different. Haruspex is a big guy, he's more resilient than others (and looks more threatening), but not as agile, also he's heavier and older. Bachelor is not very fit, but he still can carry more items than Clara and is not that bad at stealth or fleeing from trouble. Clara is young, she doesn't get tired that fast, she's quick and agile, she's more resistant to disease and needs less food while gets hungry faster. She also can get to places others can't, while she can't do things (or is bad at them) that require physical strength.
- I want more natural and believable flow of time, or to be more specific a 1:1 time ratio with real time. I want getting somewhere that would take 5 minutes to take exactly those 5 minutes of in-game time, while cooking some raw meat and eating it wouldn't be instant (not a cooking and eating minigame of course, just skip 20-40 minutes and require to be at "home"). Especially since it's assumed there will be stealth gameplay, which doesn't work as something valid or enjoyable when the game constantly tells you to hurry up. Also I want to explore and investigate, to immerse myself properly in the game, that's why I buy it after all. Tension is a good thing, but I'd be really grateful if it would be achieved by other means than constantly pressing me with tough deadlines.
- I want the environment be interactive and context-sensitive. For example I enter an abandoned house, if it's empty I interact with a chair, and the character sits on it to catch his breath or rest his feet, maybe have a snack. But let's say there are hostile looters, then interacting with a chair means grabbing it and hitting someone with it or throwing it at them. Another example: a hostile group is chasing me on the street, I decide to grab a pole and use it as a temporary weapon (it otherwise would be inactive), or I interact with a door and instead of politely knocking on it try to kick it in, hoping the lock will break and I'll be able to get inside and find another exit or a place to hide.

This isn't all, and I realize that what I want to see most likely will be incompatible with devs vision, priorities or capabilities. If I see a reason to share more, I'll do so later.
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 Post subject: Re: User stories
PostPosted: 15 Apr 2015, 22:05 
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A developer wrote that? Damn, that gives me hope! Do all games developers do this I wonder? It would also generate a lot of good will for developers of anticipated projects that don't ultimately succeed if things like that would be released to the public domain. At least people would see their intentions were good.


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 Post subject: Re: User stories
PostPosted: 19 Apr 2015, 01:09 
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19 Apr 2015, 01:03

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As a player, I don't want to be tempted to savescum my way through the game. Time pressure is an important element of the game, and the clock should definitely be ticking at all times, but it was so oppressive in the original that I played through the game in a fail completely -> come up with optimized route -> reload and try again loop.


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